Saturday, December 31, 2005

Surprises of 2005

As 2005 comes to a close, I figured I'd mention ten baseball surprises from the past year.

1. Ozzie Guillen isn't a terrible manager. When he was first hired by the Sox, I was more than a little skeptical. In this day and age, all enlightened baseball fans know that small ball is a loser's strategy. Thank you Billy Beane! Guillen's stated interest in that approach and his disregard for plate discipline, along with his sometimes over the top personality, made me think this guy wasn't gonna lead the White Sox to much. I was wrong. Then again, winning a World Series doesn't inherently mean you're a good or great manager. Relax, Terry Francona, I'm not looking at you. (pssst...nobody tell Francona I'm looking right at him.)

2. Roger Clemens can still do it. I'm sure many of you expected a 42 year old to lower his ERA to below 2. Call me crazy, I just didn't expect it. So we think he's on steroids, sold his soul to the devil, how are we explaining this?

3. Subway sandwiches are both fresh toasted and contain a lot of meat. Thank you Willie Randolph!

4. The Devil Rays are on the upswing. This had to be the most awful franchise in baseball history. Chuck LaMar was a joke. "You want Toby Hall? How about Pujols and Edmonds. No? Fine, I'll just sit here then, Jim Duquette will always trade with me." (stupid Jim Duquette.) Piniella did not belong managing that team. But now they have a front office that knows what's it's doing - have you ever heard any knocks on Gerry Hunsicker, other than the fact that I think spelling that name with a G instead of a J is kind of weird looking? Maddon sounds like the right man for the job. Cantu, Crawford, Baldelli, Upton, and Young make a very strong core. That team might actually be relevant by 2008, which is a small miracle.

5. It doesn't matter who's managing in Philadelphia, they'll always find a way to fall short. Sorry, that really didn't qualify as a surprise.

6. Baltimore was good for two months. Remember that? "Yanks better watch out, these O's are for real!" That was funny, because the Orioles aren't actually good at all. I think Mazzilli got kind of a raw deal out there, and I hope he gets a job again. In the meantime...

7. The Yankees coaching staff has four former managers. This is a joke you'd make if you were doing a sketch about the Yankees. All stars at every position? No, not enough, we need the coaching staff from the All Star game too. So Tony Pena, Larry Bowa, Lee Mazzilli, and Joe Kerrigan, welcome to the Bronx.

8. Baseball in South Florida doesn't work. I know all the arguments about how the stadium is terrible, in the middle of nowhere, rain is a problem, Miami is a football town, too many transplants from other cities, etc. But I just can't get over that a market that big with such a Latino presence can't make baseball work. I'm still not sure a Marlins' move is a done deal (or else we'd be referring to the Tampa Bay Giants and the Charlotte Twins right now), but I don't know what they can do.

9. Chris Carpenter. I don't care how good he was in 2004, did you expect this good in 2005? I'm still not going nuts on him in roto drafts in March, though. I wouldn't bet against him being a Steve Stone/Lamar Hoyt type of Cy Young winner. Not that I'm betting heavily in favor of it either. So really, I guess I just don't like to bet. Probably just as well, as I have no money.

10. Barry Bonds is still stuck behind Babe Ruth. We're going to call this a very pleasant surprise. Obviously as it became clear that Bonds wasn't going to play until September this became less of a surprise - but who thought back in February that Bonds would still be number three? I'm thrilled with this. I hate Bonds and if he has to pass Ruth so be it, but I pray he doesn't pass Aaron (so there, it isn't a race thing).


Friday, December 30, 2005


Ok, I know it's kind of slow in baseball right now. But would somebody please ask the people at to stop with their daily article on why player x belongs in the Hall of Fame? They've gone through Sutter, Gossage, Blyleven, Rice, and today is Dawson. I feel like I'm being assaulted by campaign ads:

"Dale Murphy says he cares about your hall of fame vote. Dale Murphy says he cares about you, the fans. But what Dale Murphy doesn't want to tell you is that he stopped being good when he was 31 years old. Does this sound like a man we want representing us in the hall of fame? Andre Dawson was an effective player into his late 30s, rewarding his fans with thrills years after Dale Murphy quit on the job. Dale Murphy is a quitter. Andre Dawson isn't. Vote Andre Dawson for Hall of Famer."

"Andre Dawson says that he belongs in the hall of fame. But do you know that his nickname during his playing days was "The Hawk?" Does that sound like somebody who can be trusted with your hall of fame vote? Hawks prey on and devour innocent creatures, which is precisely what Andre Dawson wants to do you and your loved ones. Jim Rice has a nice, pleasant name. Everybody likes rice. It's a valuable grain and is good for you. Andre Dawson is basically a murderer; Jim Rice is a source of sustainance. Vote Jim Rice for hall of famer."

If ESPN runs an article in support of Gregg Jeffries tomorrow, I'm boycotting the website.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Not exactly your A-listers today

According to the Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks are going to sign Eric Byrnes to a one year deal. He'll hold down the fort in CF until Chris Young is ready later this year or in 2007. As I said a few days ago, I don't expect the D-Backs to be all that good this year, so this move is what it is. They also don't have such a great lineup that necessarily makes you assume Byrnes will be a great bounceback candidate in '06, but he's bound to improve. That's what happens when you have a horrible year, you're likely to look good by comparison the year after.

This is unimportant. No, the real story is that the Diamondbacks now have a GM and a player with the same last name. That last name is Byrnes, to clarify the matter for any incredibly stupid people reading this. Obviously, this struck me as interesting, and was curious if the situation is the same with any other team. I couldn't think of any such team off the top of my head, but when you're sitting around in your pajamas at 3 pm, no reason not to do a thorough search. The results.... get ready....drumroll...ok, this is getting stupid, I'll just tell you. The Twins have the same deal. Terry Ryan is the GM, and they have Michael Ryan, a crappy utility OF who got 117 ABs for them in '05. I know many things off the top of my head, but I'm not embarassed to admit that the existence of Michael Ryan wasn't one of them.

And you guys thought there wouldn't be something to say every day.

In other news, the Marlins are obviously done rebuilding and are back to signing marquee players, bringning in Joe Borowski and Pokey Reese. Remember when I said Joe Borowski would help some team out there? Well unless the Marlins are allowed to compete in the International League playoffs, I guess that ain't gonna happen. Pokey Reese missed all of '05 due to injury. This meant that his OBP was zero, only .003 lower than his career mark. (If anybody out there is thinking, "wait, it wasn't ZERO, it was just incalculable," then I thank you for taking time out of your busy dungeons and dragons schedule to read this blog.) Anyway, Pokey Reese gives Neifi Perez a run for his money for the Rey Ordonez Shittiest Hitting Shortstop Award, and I think he might even win. Remember when the Reds wouldn't trade him for anybody, including Griffey? Gold glove defense is nice, but you know what else is nicer? An OPS that comfortably cracks .600

Did I just write a blog about Eric Byrnes, Michael Ryan, Terry Ryan, Joe Borowski, and Pokey Reese? Either I'm very good, very pathetic, or both. Ok, I know nobody is voting for very good, so let the heavy campaigning for "both" begin!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Three guys who make more money than I ever will

I just spent a while writing an e-mail with info about a party, and tried to give it a human feel for the recipients. This prompted Mr. Sinensky to say:
AvSinensky: its not enough for you to just give the info and directions
AvSinensky: u had to put jokes
Now that you know Sinensky's screenname, please bombard him with spam IMs.

Anyway, I just threw in a couple of jokes, no big deal. I do feel like I've done my writing for the night, but I'm still here, reporting for the duty that only I seem to really care about.

Mets signed Chad Bradford today. As Ander said, "My problem with it is that its not big enough to legitimately get excited about, nor insignificant enough to mock the importance of." Good job by Ander, I think that sums it up. I knew to make a big deal of Delgado, and knew to make a sarcastic mock big deal out of Tike Redman. The Mets need bullpen help. Bradford qualifies as bullpen help. But he's coming off a down year, and is definitely not of the Farnsworth-Baez ilk that I was hoping for at the start of the offseason. I applaud Minaya for the signing, because I'm quite sure that Bradford doesn't speak Spanish. (No, that joke will never get old, I don't care what you say.) As a Mets fan, this pen still worries me. The mission was to land a closer and a strong setup man. Closer's here, where's the strong setup man? Heilman may or may not be that. Bradford isn't that. Padilla isn't that. Hell, let's just open it up in spring training and see what happens. Is Greg McMichael still on this team? How about Jerry DiPoto, can we bring him back? I have the number for Doug Sisk's agent handy, let's give him a ring.

Orioles sign Jeromy Burnitz. The Orioles stink. Burnitz will stink at some point in the very near future. There, that's my damn analysis of that.

Jon Garland signs a 3 year, $29 mil extension with the White Sox, avoiding arbitration. I like this. Why overpay some other team's pitcher based on one good season when you can overpay your own team's pitcher based on one good season? Streamlines the process, I think. I have mixed feelings about Garland. This guy was a big prospect when he was traded for Matt Karchner. Anybody who'd thought of the existence of Matt Karchner at any point this century until reading the previous sentence gets $500 from me. Yeah, that trade took place in 1998. I could illustrate the point by cleverly listing all the differences between now and 1998 (Dontrelle Willis was in 10th grade, Mike Piazza was still a force, etc). But how about this to underscore the point? 1998 WAS A LONG FUCKING TIME AGO!!!! I think that did it quite nicely. My point is, there was a serious delay between the prospect stage and the actually helping the White Sox stage of Jon Garland's career. This makes me a little skeptical.

However, Garland is only 26, which I think is just as important. He had a breakout season just as he entered his prime. This should bode well for the future. In 2005 he cut down his walks substantially, which no doubt factored into his success. He pitches a lot of innings. But he doesn't strike out a ton of batters and gives up too many homers (although he cut this down also in '05). For a team that has Buehrle, Garcia, Contreras, and Vazquez, I'm tempted to say they could have played a little bit more hardball with Garland. $10 mil a year for what he has actually done is quite generous. But if he has another good year in '06, he'll easily get $13 mil as a free agent, and the Sox would regret not having locked him up now. Tough call. Any White Sox fans out there want to weigh in? I'm torn. Gutless of me not to have a strong opinion either way, I know. I hope you won't all lose respect for me now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Glaus to the Jays

Yeah, I may just stop altogether trying to come up with a clever title. It's hard enough as it is writing this crap in the blog itself, so you can't really expect more than that.

The Blue Jays-Diamondbacks trade is now official, with Troy Glaus and minor leaguer Sergio Santos traded to the Blue Jays for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson. Glaus adds to the Blue Jays group of corner infielders, which includes Lyle Overbay, Corey Koskie, Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske, John Olerud, Ed Sprague, Kelly Gruber, and Willie Upshaw.

Glaus excluded, could you imagine a team assembling as similar a cast of characters as the Blue Jays have done? It's like they lost Carlos Delgado and said, "Well, Delgado was good for 35 homers a year, so if we get four corner guys who are good for 15 each, then golly, we're gonna be nearly twice as powerful!" The reactions I have to these players runs the whole gamut from "eh" to "uh huh." When the Jays got Overbay I wondered aloud just what the hell he gave them that the other fourteen underpowered corner men didn't. I still wonder that. But I like the Glaus addition. Only Vernon Wells had legit 30 homer power on this team, and that doesn't cut it. Glaus makes this lineup better.

The Jays didn't even give up all that much, in my view. Batista had no place left on this team and was thoroughly expendable. Hudson is a gold glover and not a terrible hitter, but should be ably replaced by Aaron Hill. Hill started red hot and then turned ice cold; if he can even out a bit then the Jays should be fine with him in the lineup, and he also played good defense in his games at 2nd last year. My biggest worry if I'm a Jays fan is the Glaus injury risk that always looms, and whether the money Glaus (who isn't a great player) is owed will prevent the Blue Jays from making moves a year from now. My second biggest worry if I'm a Jays fan is whether the money Burnett (who isn't a great player) is owed will prevent the Blue Jays from making moves a year from now. My third biggest worry if I'm a Jays fan is whether the money Ryan (who isn't a great player) is owed will prevent the Blue Jays from making moves a year from now. Good thing I'm a Mets fan - I don't have to worry about any spending. Tike Redman? I like the name Tike, give him $7 mil this year!

J.P. Ricciardi claims the Jays don't have to make another deal. He's either playing coy or he's taken a great quantity of drugs. If Glaus is healthy, where the hell are you getting ABs for Hinske, Hillenbrand, AND Koskie? My guess is Hillenbrand is gonna be traded. Hinske strikes me as totally unmarketable, what with the being terrible and all. I knew last year they'd get sick of Koskie at some point, he's not nearly as good as they were pretending he was when they signed him. But he's Canadian, and they seem to like that, so I think he'll stay too. Hillenbrand can play both corners and would strike me as being most able to bring something back in a deal. They might go to spring training with all these guys, but I can't imagine they'll all be with the team on April 4th.

I think this is a decent move for the D-Backs. With that pitching they're gonna be mediocre at best this year. I don't care how bad the NL West was this past year, the Padres and Dodgers are still better. The Giants are better too if we wake up tomorrow and it's 2001. So if the D-Backs won't do much in 2006, why not unload Glaus' contract and get ready to reinvest it more wisely in 2007? They wanted to move Chad Tracy back to 3B, and he's looking like he could be a pretty good player. So they have the in-house replacement for Glaus. With Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, and Chris Young approaching the majors (Jackson slated as the starter at 1B this year), the D-Backs could have a strong nucleus by 2007, provided they effectively spend the money saved by trading Glaus. That's no given, but since Josh Byrnes wasn't in charge when the D-Backs signed Russ Ortiz to one of the worst free agent contracts of the past five years, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.


Interesting little contrast today in baseball. Kevin Millwood signed with the Rangers for $48 mil over 4 years. Did you know that in 2005 his ERA at home and his ERA on the road were identical? 2.86 at the Jake, 2.86 everywhere else. Isn't that cool? Jason Johnson signed a one year deal with the Indians, who were looking to fill the void left by Millwood. Johnson's home/road splits were, let's just say, somewhat less even, as he pitched to a 2.76 ERA at Comerica Park and a devilish 6.66 ERA (what a pun!) on the road. To add a wrinkle to this, Johnson also pitched for the Tigers in 2004 and had the opposite results - 5.98 ERA in Detroit, a respectable 4.14 ERA on the road. Strange, right? Say, I've never been to Detroit - is it true that Axel Foley's music follows the Detroit cops around wherever they go? I'm sorry, that had nothing to do with anything.

Incidentally, Jason Johnson singlehandedly cost me over a hundred bucks this year. Knowing his drastic splits, I picked him up in my daily change roto league, starting him only at home. He was due to start on Sunday and was on my bench Friday afternoon in favor of other players. On Saturday night I went to my comp to check my team and what do I see? He had been moved up and started on Saturday! And, because he pitched in Detroit, he pitched very well and got the win. Yippeeeee!!! Fast forward to the end of the season, when I finished tied for 3rd in wins, and overall half a point off a tie for first in the league. That's right, one more win all year and I get that extra half point in wins, and, thus, a share of first place. So thanks Jason Johnson, and thank you Alan Trammell. I don't want to say that God is on my side, but we see who received several job offers from big firms in NYC and who was fired by the Detroit Tigers and doesn't have a shot at making the Hall of Fame. Yeah, that's right, kiss it Trammell.

But really, how peculiar is that 2004/2005 split result? Not that I've really looked before, but I can't imagine something like that is all too common. I'd love an explanation. Perhaps Rob Neyer has some Bill Jamesian formula that none of us truly understands: "This phenomenon is easily predicted by taking the number of day games Johnson pitched in 2003, divided by the starts he got in Boston, minus all strikeouts he had from the sixth inning onward in 2004, plus eleven, which was his uniform number in high school. Of course, this all must be computed in base-6. I call this formula, How to Predict When a Pitcher's Home/Road Splits Will Go From One Extreme to the Other in the Span of a Year, or HTPWAPHRSWGFOETTOITSOAY. In ten years we'll marvel that this stat was once not commonly used."

As for Millwood, he isn't a bad pitcher, and he's certainly coming off a very strong year. But "he isn't a bad pitcher" isn't the same as "he's an ace or damn near close." Generally, $12 mil a year should go to the latter, not the former. I think Millwood is gonna help the Rangers, and they needed his services. But his career has been too up and down to justify paying him like that. You'd think the organization that is just finishing up paying Chan Ho Park's contract would be a little more cautious. I also question just where the market for Millwood was. There's always a market for pitching, but was there such a clamor for him that the Rangers couldn't have gotten him for a Matt Morris type of deal ($24 for 3)? So yeah, the Rangers get better on the field for 2006, but at quite the hefty cost. I don't see how they aren't gonna regret this thing midway through. Well at least Tom Hicks doesn't have like $60 mil locked up in a star player to play for anoth....oh....oooh boy.... really put my foot in my mouth there, didn't I?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Herry (or is it Mappy) Chrismika to You and Yours!

Merry Christmas to all. Hope that your Christmas Day has been filled with family, gifts, goodwill, cheer, tinsel, ham, and whatever else it is that's supposed to happen on Christmas.

Alternatively, Happy Chanukah. Hava nagilah to all my Jewish readers. Isn't that how you people greet each other? Hope you all enjoyed your matza ball soup and gefilte fish, which, if TV has been correct all my life, are eaten by Jews at every festive gathering, regardless of the holiday or occasion.

During this holiday period, it is incumbent upon us all to reflect on what is truly important. To think about what every man, woman, and child deserves above all else. I'm talking, of course, about gifts. Ah yes, gifts. What's that you say? You want to live simply, and only exchange items of small worth with your intimate family and friends? Who are you, Ebeneezer Scrooge? We ought to send the bee from the Honey Nut Cheerios box after you, that will change your tune. (By the way, I think they finally stopped airing that commercial, presumably because the actor who played Scrooge in it died some time during the Reagan administration.) Gift receiving is what makes the holidays so exciting for people. It sure as hell ain't the religion, because if it were, I think we'd see a lot more commercials for Ash Wednesday and Tisha B'Av than we currently do. So in that vein, a few baseball related gifts that I'd like during the coming year:

1. People will stop complaining about interleague play. Every other sport has interleague play and nobody bats an eyelash. You don't hear, "Man, these interconference games are a waste, why have the Chargers play the Panthers?" It's a given that at some point every few years all the teams in the sport will play each other, because they're in the same league. But in baseball, every year you have people bitch and moan about how terrible it is, holding onto this relic of a notion that the AL and NL are two separate entities to meet only in the All Star Game and the World Series. Tell you what we can do. Why don't we get rid of interleague play, free agency, and go back to two leagues of 8 teams each, sound good? And while we’re at, how about we draft your son into the Korean War. This year will mark the tenth season of interleague play. It’s time for the holdouts to stop lamenting it and accept it as a regular part of the schedule. Sure, there’s nothing all that exciting about a Tigers-Pirates game, but there isn’t anything all that exciting about a Rockies-Pirates game either.

2. We’d know the actual ages of every Latin player in baseball. I’m just tired of this guessing. “Furcal says he’s 28? Probably 31. El Duque says he’s 36? Nah, gotta be 39. Julio Franco says he’s 47? No, no he’s probably a corpse – have you seen Weekend at Bernie’s?” I’ve become so in the habit of doing this that I read that Alberto Gonzales turned 50 and concluded that he must really be 53. This is a problem.

3. It's the holidays. No time to wish ill upon your fellow man. So I will request my first gift as follows - I would like John Sterling to remain in perfect health and financially solvent for many, many years. I would also like him to do so while remaining as far away from a broadcast booth as is humanly possible. If you haven't heard John Sterling call a game, then you're missing out. For, did you know that Jason Giambi's name can cleverly be converted to the "Giambino," in a brilliant play on the nickname of Yankees legend Babe Ruth, a/k/a "The Bambino?" And that Alex Rodriguez may be lauded after hitting a home run by calling him "Alexander the Great," in a reference to the famed Greek general? Or that it is not the Yankees who win games, but theeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees who win games? See, I'll bet you didn't. Alas, if my gift wish is granted, you never will know, because John Sterling will be replaced by somebody who doesn't currently suffer from severe brain damage. (And that isn't wishing ill, that is merely diagnosing it.)

These three gifts and I'll be happy for 2006. I'm very easy to please. Happy Holidays everybody.

Just call me Ripken

As some of you know, I got engaged tonight. So you might be surprised to see an entry for today. If you are, shame on you. This is a DAILY blog. Not every day that it's convenient, not every day that I feel like it, not every day that I don't get engaged. DAILY! This is a commitment I made to you, the readers. Without our word, all is lost. I hear you: "Hey, shmuckface, there is nothing more pathetic than getting engaged and then making sure above all else that you write an entry in your stupid little journal there." All I can say is if you think that, well then you just not down with the program, and I'm sorry for you.

(Disclaimer, lest anybody think I really am crazy. It's been a long and exciting night, I'm very happy. But my fiance has to be up early tomorrow and I would have taken leave of her anyway. Now that I'm home, no reason not to write a thought or two. It's not like I shoved a ring in her face and said, "Sorry tutz, gotta go write a reaction to the Endy Chavez signing, or the world will collapse.")

With that said, I don't actually have all that much to say anyway. Not a ton of transactions on Christmas Eve. I want to mention football first. How weird is it that all the games (basically) were played on Saturday this week?
I knew that Paul Tagliabue was a powerful man, but I didn't know that he could actually move Sunday to Saturday. This really threw me off. I saw football on the schedule for today and figured I must have already done the sabbath thing for the week. Now evidently I'm fated for eternal damnation. But at least I got to watch the Detroit - New Orleans game, so it was all worth it.

You know what this is like? It's like in college when they would sometimes make the last Wednesday of the semester a Thursday schedule. Those days always confused me. I think it was to compensate for Thanksgiving or something, but nobody could ever give you a straight answer. It was kind of cool though that you'd be sitting in your "Thursday" morning class, thinking "man, I'm not in the mood for a dairy day in the caf today," and then you show up and, behold, meat day! I should mention that if you don't keep kosher or didn't attend a college with the classic Mon/Wed meat Tues/Thurs dairy schedule, you don't know what I'm talking about. Well...screw you.

The Giants lost to the Redskins, which is not good for me. I'm having an engagement party next Sat. night, and the Giants game is now more important with this week's loss. So now I'm that guy who has that thing scheduled in the middle of a sports game you want to watch. I never wanted to be that guy. My cousin had his bar mitzvah in the middle of Super Bowl XXV, and I refused to forgive him until he agreed last year to suit up and recreate Scott Norwood's missed field goal.

I'm sure ABC is thrilled with their choice of Monday night game again. Is it me, or is it a karmic law that at least half the Monday night games after mid-November end up being the worst possible matchups? I'd like to watch the Jets though, since I haven't gotten to see too many in Philly. It's actually exciting for me, 3-583 season aside.

I feel compelled to do a little baseball, but there just isn't much I'm in the mood to discuss, and I don't want to use up one of my backup topics. The Blue Jays are rumored to be close to getting Troy Glaus and a prospect for Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista. I'd imagine this won't get done until after Christmas. I'll save my thoughts for when/if it goes down.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Out of Right Field

Quick thoughts today, as I turn into a pumpkin on Friday at sundown.

Those free spending Royals are at it again, signing Reggie Sanders to a 2 year, $10 mil deal. Sanders, having played for every team in the National League, including a brief stint with the Cleveland Spiders (Jesse remembers them well), decided it was time to move on to the AL. Sanders is a talented player whose power/speed combo is always welcome on a club. But call me crazy, I don't think his ability to be on a team just as they're making the WS is going to extend to KC this year.

The Cardinals reacted to Sanders' loss by signing Juan Encarnacion to a 3 year, $15 mil deal. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been kind enough to give us a sneak peek of their sports page from July 31, 2007: "Cards desperate to unload Encarnacion and his contract as deadline looms." His power is pathetic for a corner OF, he seems to have stopped running, he doesn't walk much. Eh. The Cards have a strong lineup and didn't necessarily need Manny out there, but I think this is a very generous contract.

The Padres signed Mark Bellhorn to a one year deal and I think...yeah, right, like I'm gonna sit here 10 minutes before shabbat to give my thoughts about Mark Bellhorn. I'm pretty sure I don't even have any thoughts about Mark Bellhorn.

Tender and Non-Tender Thoughts

Before beginning, I would like to take a moment to reflect upon the tragic death of Tony Dungy's 18 year old son, James. A situation like this reminds us of the sheer triviality of whether or not a football team is going to win all its games this season. No family should have to go through what the Dungys are going through right now. My thoughts are with them and hope that they will manage as best they can through this ordeal

On to the thoughts for today...

I would like to first establish the ground rules as I perceive them for this blog. I have said that my entries will be daily, and so far, in my mind, I haven't failed. I do not consider the daily deadline to be midnight, but, rather, when I go to sleep. Considering how often I wake up at noon (ok, 1:00)(ok, sometimes 2:00), midnight doesn't really resonate with me as a time to conclude all activities for that "day." So that should shut you up, Adam.

A few things of interest to discuss. First is Matt Lawton's admission that he was well aware that he took the steroids that resulted in his suspension. This is refreshing. I've grown tired of hearing the litany of excuses: "I speak Spanish and couldn't read the packaging." "I thought what I was eating was Pez." "I routinely take horse tranquilizers, how should I have known they were banned?" "I thought my teammate was only shooting me up with heroin." "I was really sure it was just Viagra." (Rafael Palmeiro only) Nice to hear a player just admit he screwed up. Now, do we believe him, that it was only this time? I'm not sure. I do know this - if Matt Lawton has been on steroids the whole time and the best he could do was a career high 21 homers in 1998 - yikes. I don't blame him for wanting us to think he only just started doing them now. Steroid speculation just doesn't interest me, so I'll leave it to you guys to decide when he really first did them.

The Angels send Steve Finley to the Giants for Edgardo Alfonzo. If you didn't see it coming that the Angels would quickly regret the idiotic contract they gave Finley last year, then you probably also were surprised when the USA beat the Soviet Union in Miracle. Who signs a 40 year CF to a 2 year deal with that money? Dumb. But I have to hand it to Brian Sabean. I would have put money down that the Giants could not possibly have gotten any older, but he found a way to make it happen. Jerry Crasnick has reported that they also intend to trade Lance Niekro and sign Willie McCovey to a two year deal, but that hasn't been confirmed. Anyway, Finley is the presumed 4th OF in SF, with Bonds, Winn, and Alou (Moises, not Felipe) starting. Whatever. My rule of thumb is that we don't say that a 40 year old suddenly had a "bad year," we say he is now "washed up" and should probably "retire." But the Giants wanted to move Alfonzo, Finley might help with late inning defense, the deal is a financial wash, and the team can gain extra revenue by hosting AARP events at SBC Park.

As a Mets fan, I hate to see Alfonzo struggling. We loved him in NY and still do. I was at a Mets-Giants game at Shea this past summer and even now, three years into his Giants career, Alfonzo got a long standing ovation when he came up. So I hope he can have a nice year in Anaheim, although he has no assurances of a starting job. Chone Figgins moves to CF, but McPherson and Kennedy are the presumptive starters at 3B and 2B, respectively. Fonzie's power numbers have become truly abysmal for a 3B, and Kennedy is coming off a good year. No disrespect to Fonzie, but I'm glad that the Mets gave their $26 mil over 4 years to Cliff Floyd instead. But I do wish the Fonz well.

I'd also like to discuss the non-tenders. I don't mean that as introduction to a discussion. I mean I'd really like to discuss them but have nothing much to say. Ah hell, let's try something - don't want to lose respect as the baseball authority that I am. A few notables:

Eric Byrnes. Wow, talk about turning to shit in a year. This guy looked like a reliable 20-20 type of player just a year ago at this time, and I was very comfortable having him on both my roto teams. After much deliberation, I do not believe I will draft or bid on him this year. I have to imagine he won't sign for that much, and he could rebound and make a team look pretty good.
Chad Bradford. One of the guys Michael Lewis wrote about in "Why Billy Beane is Amazing and I, Michael Lewis, Want to Have Sex with Him," I mean, "Moneyball." He's a situational righty, and can probably help a good number of teams. Then again, in this day and age, you could be a 400 pound blind man with no arms and still help about half the teams in the pen.
Joe Borowski, Lance Carter, Dan Kolb. Former closers. Kolb was very good for Milwaukee, just a bit less so for Atlanta. Borowski was decent too when he served in that role. Lance Carter made the All Star team, which makes a prima facie showing of having been good. Good thing that all prima facie showings are rebuttable.
Wade Miller. Non-tendered by the Sox to be the living reminder to other teams that most players are non-tendered for a reason, and you shouldn't too strongly expect to be picking up a sleeper through this process.
Dewon Brazelton, Kurt Ainsworth, Alex Escobar. These guys were big prospects once. They are not big prospects anymore, as evidenced by the non-tendering and Brazelton's immense suckiness since reaching the bigs.
Shawn Camp. They shouldn't non-tender this guy, he needs a contract. He's got 9 illigitimate kids to feed. He was pretty good on the Sonics though.

Ok, if I don't stop myself I'll come up with some stupid remark for every non-tender, as is shown by my little Shawn Kemp joke. Jesus, what is wrong with me. More again tomorrow folks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Johnny to the Bronx

Before discussing Damon, I'd like to amend my comments on the Padres-Rangers deal. I said it's not bad for both teams, and it's not, in a vacuum. It's a fair trade as these things go, but my analysis shouldn't have stopped there. I think it's a problem for Texas that in order to get one pitcher they had to give up another. Even with the earlier acquisition of Vicente Padilla, this was far from a deep pitching staff (remember, Padilla only replaced Kenny Rogers, not that I'm in love with Kenny Rogers, as I've said earlier). Now, I don't know what else Jon Daniels has up his sleeve (the fact that he's four years older than me is insane, by the way), and there are rumors that Kevin Millwood may be headed to Arlington. But it strikes me as unfortunate that they only way to acquire a pitcher like Eaton was to trade Chris Young in the process, even if they do ultimately get Millwood.

So, Damon to the Bronx. First, I'll admit it - I was wrong. I predicted that (a) he wouldn't sign for a few more weeks and (b) that he'd return to Boston for $60 mil over five. At least I was right that he wouldn't get seven years.

As we know, the Yankees have a no facial hair/long hair policy. This is because the Yankees are assholes. So now Damon will have to clean up a bit. I'm actually thrilled about this. Those of us who actually follow baseball with some degree of regularity remember that Damon played the first nine years of his career with normal hair, no beard, etc. And he was a good player, but no superstar, no household name for the non-fan or maybe even for the casual fan. Then on opening day 2004 he shows up looking like a gay caveman and then he's Mr. Mainstream Celebrity. "Wow, that Johnny Damon is so outrageous, he's like Dennis Rodman or something! He's on Jay Leno tonight!" I mean, I guess if I had to play in Kansas City for six years I'd want to let loose too. (Just watch - Beltran is gonna show up in spring training with blue hair and a dress). But something always pissed me off about this Damon hair thing - I resented how it served to elevate his baseball accomplishments (which aren't bad by any means) to more than they were. That's right, I actually RESENTED Johnny Damon - this is because I'm crazy, petty, and unbalanced.

Now, as for the baseball element of this, I don't know how I feel. I've heard/read both sides. Avraham Simcha Yaakov Shmuel Adler said that this move is great for the Yankees, as having Damon leadoff will give A-Rod a lot more men to leave on base. It's indisputable that Damon is an upgrade over Bernie or Bubba Crosby. But the Yankees didn't exactly have trouble scoring runs in '05 - they were second in baseball (to Boston, interestingly enough). They also were second in OPS. So this is not a team starved for offense. Considering the players they have, this shouldn't be a shocking revelation.

I know that the Yankee fans have been screaming that the CF defense just wasn't cutting it, and I'll take that as a given, as I don't watch the Yankees on a day to day basis. Damon is good, but he has a terrible arm (I don't watch the Red Sox every day either, I'm kind of just repeating what I hear on that). But taking that Damon, while being an offensive upgrade, wasn't really a critical offensive upgrade, you have to focus on the value he's giving as a defensive upgrade. And you don't pay $13 mil a year for a defensive upgrade, certainly not when the player will be with you for ages 32-35 and is bound to progressively decline.

Oh, right, the Yankees can afford to overpay, they're the Yankees. At some point, they'll have to stop. I thought that point had arrived; I guess not. It's gotta catch up with them though soon. Regardless of the money (it's the Boss' money, what do I care?) - the Yankees know by now that a lineup full of all stars doesn't correlate to postseason success. And I think any argument about the intangible benefit of demoralizing the Red Sox is total crap. Think David Ortiz is gonna say "Oh no, Johnny Damon went to the Yankees, now I won't be able to hit a game winning 3 run homer every other night." No, I don't think so. (By the way, the Yankees have been doing just fine, grabbing Damon and four relievers to give them a criminal surplus of pitching, so I don't want to hear how the Mets have become the new Yankees. The Yankees are still the Yankees.)

As for the Red Sox, yeah, this hurts them for now. They've targeted Jeremy Reed as a replacement, offering Bronson Arroyo. Reed has a lot of potential and the Mariners had high expectations, but he was thoroughly underwhelming in '05, and lots of prospects never pan out. Maybe that's Reed's fate, who knows. So the Red Sox offense is in trouble now, remembering also that their 3B, Mike Lowell, is coming off an awful, awful, awful year and they traded their SS without replacing him yet. But as I said, they were first in runs scored in '05, so they have a little room to fall. They also have Andy Marte on the very near horizon. I agree with Rob Neyer's argument that the Red Sox might suffer a bit in '06, but they'll quickly find a way to apply the money more efficiently and usefully than they would have by tying in up in 4 years of Johnny Damon in his mid 30s. And as I said, I don't think the emotional impact of losing Damon accounts for that much. I don't think it will make a difference at all in the W-L column. With Ortiz on board, that team has plenty of heart.

Speaking of which, Ortiz won DH of the Year today. Anybody who gives two shits about an award that has four nominees every year, raise your hand...Mrs. Ortiz, you can put your hand down now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Addendum: breaking news

The Yankees have agreed with Johnny Damon on a 4 year, $52 million deal. As I correctly predicted (shhhh). Thanks to Ander for the scoop. Analysis tomorrow.

More thoughts from other time zones

We stay out west for today's thoughts. First, Kenny Lofton officially signed a one year deal with the Dodgers. The other day I mentioned that I question just how much this will help the Dodgers (remember, I made that cute joke about how it isn't 1996 in which I pretended to double check that it isn't, in fact, 1996? Good times) He happened to have had an excellent year with the Phillies in limited action, and he's actually generally been a useful player ever since his too-early decline from the elite level in the late 90s. If the Dodgers were counting on him to be the leadoff man and a main cog in the offense, I'd be much more down on it. But with Furcal on board, I think Lofton makes a nice #2 hitter for them.

Lofton was also pursued by Arizona. Oh heavens, that sentence was in passive voice, I'm terribly sorry. Let's try again. Arizona also pursued Lofton. An article on the D-Backs site said that they entertained him at Chase Field last week. What's Chase Field you ask? Is that some minor league complex somewhere in Tempe or something? Nope, that's the new name of the BOB. Did you know that, because I sure as hell didn't. Can we discuss this problem for a moment? It's bad enough that every stadium and arena is sold to some corporate name (hey man, I hate corporations, they're evil...pass the bong). But why do they always have to be to banks and insurance companies that are (1) boring as hell and (2) the most likely to have an abrupt name change? It becomes hard to keep track. The Ballpark in Arlington has been Ameriquest Field since last year. The FleetCenter in Boston is now TD Banknorth Garden, which must rank among the dumbest names I've ever heard for an arena. Wachovia Center has changed names twice, most recently from FirstUnion Center. The list goes on. It's disorienting for fans, and most of the times the teams just do it in the middle of the night. "What? No, it's always been US Cellular Field. Yes, even before there were cell phones. Who Comiskey? Never heard of him - you're probably insane."

I propose several things. Ideally, go back to calling stadiums names that meant something - crazy things like naming it after the team. You'll never hear anybody complain, "Uch, Dodger Stadium sounds so dumb, I wish it were called H&R Block Park." Failing that, only sell to corporations that are fun and probably won't change. I could get behind Nintendo Arena, Ben & Jerry's Stadium, or Hustler Field. And if you do have to sell to some financial corporation, only ones that create cool acronyms, like the (former) BOB. So the Associated Credit Reporting Agency Center could work - "Hey Kevin, want to catch the game in the AssCrac tonight, the Heat are in town."

Interesting trade between the Padres and Rangers today. Six player deal, so watch me do all my cool bolding. Ready? Ok: The Padres send Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka, and prospect Billy Killian to Texas for Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez, and Termel Sledge. Damn, that was some kickass bolding. A few thoughts on this deal. First, you might be thinking that this Chris Young dude is getting traded a lot. But no, the Chris Young traded from the White Sox to the D-Backs in the Javier Vazquez deal is another Chris Young. Then you might be thinking - hey, this Termel Sledge dude is getting traded a lot. But no, the Termel Sledge traded from the Nationals to the Rangers in the Alfonso Soriano deal is another Termel Sledge. I'll tell you this - I will put $5000 down that there never has been, isn't currently, or ever will be 2 guys named Termel Sledge in the history of the planet. ("attention: we are out of Bort license plates" - Simpson reference for those who think I'm on crack)

Both Adam Eaton and Adrian Gonzalez were supposed to be huge players, Eaton since he was in the Phillies farm system. If you don't remember that he was in that organization, it's because he was traded for Andy Ashby. Bet Eaton suddenly sounds a lot older, doesn't he? This past year he was starting to put it all together, went down with an injury, and wasn't the same when he got back. Well I'm sure pitching in Texas will help that. Yeah. Gonzalez is still young and hasn't really had a shot - it's conceivable that he could still become a player. But he was pretty much blocked in Texas, as they have a pretty good first baseman last time I checked. Otsuka had a big 2004 and a decent but not great 2005. I'd say that Scott Linebrink's success had made him expendable, but is relief pitching ever expendable? Chris Young had a better year than I thought he did - 4.26 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 137 Ks in 165 innings. Those 165 innings came in 31 starts though, which means he didn't even average 6 innings a start. Eh, don't love that. I have nothing to say about Termel Sledge other than to make fun of his name, which I covered already. I don't know anything about Billy Killian. I know about Tim Stauffer - if we pretend he's Tim Stauffer I could analyze that more easily. Don't laugh, I did that on a final today (well not with Tim Stauffer, but you get the point).

Anyway, I like the trade for both teams. I think Eaton and Young may be fairly comparable, Texas got a nice arm for the pen, and a prospect about whom I know nothing. He played in rookie ball, he's 19, and my friend told me that he got a report that the Padres did like his talent. But he's not on the major league radar for anybody right now. Obviously if he becomes something, that will shape our view of this trade in three years. The Padres did well too. They've got Vinny Castilla and Ryan Klesko at the corners, which means that situation is ripe for a young guy like Gonzalez to get ABs and prove himself. I still have nothing to say about Termel Sledge, but he's a useful bench player. I think Young could have a nice year in SD pitching in that park, and is a good roto sleeper for 2006. If you're in either of my roto leagues, please pretend you didn't see that.

Cubs sign Jacque Jones. At this point you're probably getting verrrrry bored of my baseball analysis, which is probably mediocre at best. I'll say this quickly - 3 years, $16 mil is pretty reasonable. Jacque Jones is consistently nice. Not thrilling, but nice (reference also, but it ruins it if I tell you where), but considering Juan Pierre is in center, that's kind of an underpowered OF they have in Chicago, unless Matt Murton comes on strong right away. I think they'll be ok considering they've got Lee and Ramirez in the lineup, but you might like to have a little bit more out of your RF. The Corey Patterson era seems to have ended in Chicago, and you have to wonder if a change of scenery will really help him or if his career trajectory has been set.

I spent way too long on this one tonight. Good thing I've studied very extensively for my final tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Money money money money money

Note: The above title should be sung, but not with the tune that begins The Apprentice. Please only sing it to the tune of Ted DiBiase's entrance music. Any fond memories of Virgil are optional.

Jarrod Washburn signs with the Mariners, 4 years at a reported $38 million. You know, these numbers just become monopoly money, but have you ever actually thought about it? A first year lawyer makes $125,000. I'm excited about that, I think that's going to be a lot of money. And it's not bad. I'm very happy to have a chance to earn that. Now let's say somebody from the firm comes to me one day and says, "Eric, we're giving you two paychecks this week." I'd be thrilled. And then if they added, "Oh, and by two, we mean SEVENTY," then I'd be Jarrod Washburn. Or Kris Benson, or Matt Morris, or Eric Milton, or any other ok but not particularly accomplished pitcher in his early 30s. $8 million a year with several months of vacation, that isn't a bad job at all.

From another perspective, remember that the major league minimum is roughly $300,000. That is the figure to which either the youngest or the worst player in baseball is entitled. (Oooh, for a future post, please submit your suggestions for the worst player in baseball. I often go with Travis Lee, anybody with me?) Now, $8 mil is about 25 times more than that, and it's being given to players who I think are far from 25 times better than the worst player. 25 times better is a lot. I would say a guy like Johan Santana is only ten times better. Who would be 25 times better? Well, perhaps if you had Superman, but made him invulnerable to Kryptonite, gave him Babe Ruth's greatness at two positions, and granted him Bob Uecker's humor and acting ability (for a post-baseball announcing and movie career - "juuuuust a bit outside"), then that sounds about 25 times better than the worst. I don't think Jarrod Washburn is quite there yet, but he's being paid that way.

It's kind of like if this scenario were to unfold in the future: "Well Eric, you've been here at the firm for a few years now. You have by no means been the worst, don't worry about that. But I think we all know that you aren't exactly one of our superstars, if you know what I mean. Sure, you haven't really been a liability, and I guess on some days you've been a help. I did hear that you wrote some memo for a partner last year that supposedly wasn't half bad. But in general, you aren't really turning heads, and there were all the times we felt that a paralegal could have done your job just as well. But, I guess you're ok, I mean, we can use you as our third guy on most projects I suppose. And you do know how to use the photocopier. Anyway, you're due to make $150,000 this year, but I guess by virtue of the fact that you are by no means the worst lawyer we've ever seen, how does $4 million sound?"

This isn't an indictment of the Mariners really. Obviously things are what they are. Just something to think about. As a baseball move, it's ok for the M's I suppose. As we know, Washburn had an impressive 3.20 ERA in 2005. He's also 5-4, 3.53 ERA in 11 career starts at Safeco Field. I checked on that myself before I realized that the Mariners put it in the press release. (This is because I am an idiot.) He doesn't strike out a lot of guys, which makes me nervous. There's also the fact that he allowed more hits than innings pitched each of the last two years, and his pretty lousy ERAs in 2003 and 2004. He's certainly a useful starter, but I think the Mariners are nuts if they're going to rely on him to be front end. Contrary to reports out of Seattle, Felix Hernandez probably isn't actually God, which means you can't assume a 19 year old pitcher is going to have a flawless transition to stardom. (And anytime a player is compared to Dwight Gooden, I get a little easy about what the future holds.) Jamie Moyer is bound to die at some point. Piniero, Meche, and Franklin had ERAs in the 5s, and I feel like only Piniero has real bona fide promise to be an impact pitcher. There are rumors that they might send Jeremy Reed to the Red Sox for Clement or Arroyo, which would help, I suppose, if Clement can return to the form he showed before going to Boston. We'll see what develops.

In other news, Steve Karsay and Danny Graves signed minor league contracts with the Indians today. I was challenged to write an entire blog about them. I'll decline. Have you seen Danny Graves pitch recently? There's nothing funny about that.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

This, that,...and the other

Can somebody tell me why the hell the president is preempting Family Guy? He couldn't have preempted Michael Rappaport's idiotic show that comes on at 8:30? This is crap. And if you're gonna interrupt Family Guy, please don't come on and spew the same things we've heard for the past three years. Oh, really - so the terrorists hate freedom? They want to destroy our way of life, do they? Interesting, I haven't heard that one yet.

Anyway, I had a final today. Law students - have you ever sat in a final where you're trying to get your bearings, get comfortable with the fact pattern, spot the issues, and then, four minutes into the test, you hear somebody already furiously pounding it out on their keyboard? It's times like that when I think to myself "Ok G-d, listen. I know that I haven't done much in my life, so You don't owe me anything. But if You want to help me out, please, just kill that person for me. Thanks a bunch."

So, no undefeated season for Indy. Colts lose today, off day for Manning. To practically quote Shannon Sharpe's ever so eloquent remarks on the postgame show, the Chargers stopped the run and made him one dimensional, which, by stopping the run, made him one dimensional, whereby he was one dimensional, because he was forced to pass, as they were unable to run the ball, therefore causing a situation in which Manning became one dimensional. Yeah, Shannon Sharpe was, and still is, a fucking idiot. I'm glad that we get treated to his words of wisdom long after his retirement. I had a feeling the Colts weren't going to go undefeated. See, apparently, no team has gone undefeated since the '72 Dolphins - you could be forgiven if you didn't know that, because that nugget of information hasn't been stated 348 times an hour in the past week alone. Anyway, 1972 was a long time ago, and I therefore concluded that it is very difficult to go undefeated. Rightly or not, I subscribe to the lose one in the regular season theory, get it out of your system, etc. Now they can rest without being accused of pooping on their chance at history. They can save the pooping for when they find a way to lose to New England in the playoffs.

Jets gained a game on Houston today, because Houston forgot to lose for some reason. Texans, you gotta bring your A game here.

This is a baseball blog, isn't it? Sorry, just wanted to give my enormous readership a change of pace for a few moments. On to the baseball thought: NOMAAAAAAAH!!!!! To the Dodgaaahhs!!! I would have commended any team for signing him. The financial specifics haven't been made public, but it's up to $8 mil if he meets certain incentives, which means the base salary is lower. Considering that he missed a lot of time in 2005 to a freak accident, I think there's a good chance he can come back and at least be a productive player again, if not a star. He's gonna play first for the Dodgers, which raises the question of what they'll do when Izturis returns in July. I don't think Nomar would still be willing to play the OF in the middle of the season. Perhaps a trade at that point? I wouldn't be surprised if Jeff Kent is wearing a different uniform on August 1st. Maybe a nurse's uniform, I heard he's into stuff like that. I'm still not sure just how good the Dodgers will be, though. I've said my piece about Bill Mueller, JD Drew gets injured when he blinks, and even if they do sign him, Kenny Lofton isn't exactly a safe bet (unless this is 1996...let's see...wait, no...just's not 1996). Oh, and Dodgers - the statute of limitations is just about up on Edwin Jackson's future. I'll draft him one last time as one of my roto sleepers, but this is this final year, I won't do it for a fifth time.

Ok kiddies, behave yourselves until daddy gets back. (That was kind of creepy wasn't it, I'm not gonna sign off like that anymore.)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Minor thought

I'm studying for a final, so I only have time for a quick thought. But I said this thing was gonna be daily, and DAMNIT, daily it's gonna be!

The Mets signed Darren Oliver to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Whenever these spring invites are offered, I wonder: are there actual invitations? Does it say "Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wilpon request the honor of your presence at their spring training facility, Port. St. Lucie, FL..." Is there a response card? Perhaps there's just an Evite to all the non-roster invitees at some point in February? The answer to all these is probably not, but I'd like to find out more about this. Let's all do some digging folks.

My other thought is that Darren Oliver has to be, statistically speaking, one of the absolute worst pitchers ever to set foot on the mound in my entire life. I mean this guy is awful. Have you ever seen his stats? Have you seen these things? Yikes. Career ERA of 5.07. And he was out of baseball for a year after failing to make the Rockies out of spring training last year. Last I checked, the Rockies don't exactly have a constant surplus of pitching. Man, is this guy bad. Makes you wonder just who else can expect a minor league contract this winter. Anthony Young? Jesus, Darren Oliver is terrible.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Royal Flush

Yeah, I'm not exactly sure what a royal flush is, because I don't play poker. I mean, yeah, I'm aware that it has to do with the jack, queen, and king - is it the jack, queen, king, and ace all of the same suit? I guess with all the poker that's on TV these days, there's no excuse not to know this. Every channel has poker now - ESPN, Bravo, the Travel Channel. I feel like one day I'll be flipping through and I'll see Panda Poker on Animal Planet. "Oooh, Ling Ling played that hand very well, he's going to be up by 200,000 bamboo stalks. What a performance."

Either way, Royal Flush is fitting today because of the big news out of Kansas City. Royals GM Allard Baird has signed not one, not two, not three, but four, count 'em FOUR living, breathing human beings who were actually on major league rosters this past year. That alone is quite the feat. So yes Royals fans, you can now cheer for Mark Grudzielanek, Doug Mientkiewicz, Scott Elarton, and Paul Bako. (I put the names in bold because real publications seem to do that, and I want to feel like a real publication). Some thoughts about these signings:

1. In one fell swoop the Royals picked up two of the most impossible to spell last names in baseball. It looks like a page out of the Krakow phone book. If you weren't already, I'll bet now you're REALLY missing the good old George Brett days, aren't you, Royals fans?

2. The Mets were interested in Grudz, but felt they couldn't bring him in without first moving Kaz Matsui and his salary. So to repeat, the METS were interested in a player, but couldn't afford him, thereby allowing the ROYALS to grab him. Nothing horribly backwards and unsettling about that. You know what it's like to see that the Royals signed a player your team wanted to sign? Imagine you're one of the popular kids in school, normal, decent looking, well liked. You've told some friends that there's a girl you kind of like, but you're not ready to make a move yet. However, before you know it, you heard that she just started going out with the captain of the chemistry club. "No, not the guy who eats his boogers, that's the captain of the physics club. You know the guy who only showers on Tuesdays? Yeah, that's the guy, she's going out with him. WTF???"
Seriously, I'm not actually that bitter. Number one, it's good for the game when the Royals can get a player and the Mets lose out. Number two, the day I get pissed over missing out on Mark Grudzielanek is the day I want one of you to gently push me off the Walt Whitman Bridge. We ain't exactly talking about Joe Morgan here.

3. I recently read an article in the Kansas City Star about how the Royals actually want to spend money this year but couldn't find anybody to take it from them. (shocker!) If you recall, they wanted to be in the hunt for Furcal, Morris, and Byrd, but were basically shot down early. And I truly feel sorry for Royals fans. I do give Allard Baird credit, however, for not compounding the problem by signing crappy players to big contracts and trumping them up (yeah Dombrowski, I'm still on you). I haven't found the financial particulars of any of these deals, but Elarton is a 2 year deal and the other 3 are one year deals, so I can't imagine it's too crazy. He's treating these guys for what they are, ok players who can help, but aren't marquee signings by any stretch.

4. And that's the problem. The Royals are terrible. These players don't exactly make them less terrible. On the one hand, I'm tempted to say that the Royals should have steered clear and played young guys. They have a 2nd base prospect named Donnie Murphy, ranked as their 9th best propsect by Baseball America. Perhaps he should have been given the job over Grudz. On the other hand, I don't really know that much about the Royals' organization, and perhaps they've decided Murphy isn't ready. Bigger than that, there is something to be said for the credibility of having a major leaguer or two on the roster, effectively declaring that you're in the business of winning baseball games and not the business of starting a glorified Triple A team. So I don't know. I'm not sure what major free agents are going to flock to KC because they were able to land Doug Mientkiewicz, but, as I said, Baird didn't hamper the financial situation for the future. I think these moves might be the right thing, even though I wouldn't go around expecting big things from the Royals in 2006. I really do hope we'll see a time when the Royals are competitive again. This was a great franchise for a long time, and it's too bad that they're basically the laughingstock of major league baseball. (And no, please don't remind me of the hypocrisy of that statement next time you see me gleefully wearing my Carlos Beltran jersey.)

Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Handing out the hardware

Well they're in folks. And if you're like me, you were unable to sleep until today's announcement. That's right, I'm talking about This Year in Baseball Awards. Now, every time I read that, I keep thinking of Mel Allen's voice, saying "This Week in Baseball." My Mel Allen impression isn't all that good written, I apologize. Obviously, it would be disconcerting if Mel Allen were to read "This Year in Baseball," like that, because he is rather dead. But I miss him, and I miss that show. Came on WWOR at 1 pm before Mets games when I was growing up, and I always caught it. Never missed Kiner's Korner either, which back then was truly Kiner's Korner and not "Matt Laughlin's Korner with Ralph Making a Guest Appearance to Wave and Mutter Something Incoherent About Stan Musial."

I like awards that are determined as a result of fans being ordered by to vote repeatedly - now that's a process with integrity. I think most countries in Central America have fairer election procedures. Regardless, two Mets took home the hardware, and I think we can safely say that Pedro has earned his $53 million now that Best Blooper is back at Shea where it belongs. I haven't felt this proud since that time Bill Pecota came in to pitch in a blowout loss in 1992. Good times. Seriously, it's a cute award, good for Pedro - it was a sheer stroke of genius to splash playfully in the water there, few would have thought of that.

The real honor goes to the future mayor of New York, the great David Wright, for winning Play of the Year for his catch in San Diego. Just a brilliant, barehanded catch, and words do not do it justice. You know what the best part was? We all moved on from it. If a certain SS who plays for a certain team in the AL East were to make a similar play, we'd be subjected to months of stories about his immesne greatness, how he's the greatest Yankee captain (whoops, gave it away) in the history of the universe, how his touch cures AIDS, how it doesn't matter that none of his quantifiable stats are all that impressive because he just has that certain something, blah blah blah. Nope, none of that with Mr. Wright. Makes the play, we all continue with our lives, quietly knowing that we will bask in his glow for the next fifteen years. (shame on me, this isn't going to devolve into an anti-Yankees blog - that's the last time you'll hear me criticize Isaac Mizrahi, I mean, Derek Jeter).

Another bonus of the Wright play was it will give us something to remember from that day in San Diego besides, "yes son, and that is the day that Mike Cameron had his face crushed to smithereens in a horrible, horrible, tragedy."

In other news:
Braden Looper is going to the Cardinals, 3 years, $13 mil. Enjoy him St. Louis, he's great! I actually think he'll be fine as a 7th inning guy, and wouldn't have minded if the Mets had brought him back. I think he got a very generous deal, and I wouldn't have wanted my team to go that high on him, but I wish him well. Actually, I don't wish him anything, what do I care.
Carl Everett to the Mariners: As long as he isn't baby sitting for anybody, he's not a bad pickup for the M's. I think he can give them 25 homers, 85 ribbies, take some pressure of Sexson and Beltre. Remember the great years in 1999 and 2000 he had with Houston and Boston? Man, those are a distant memory.
Tony Batista to the Twins: There is nothing interesting I can say about this. Everybody, go work on a good immitation of his batting stance and we'll have a contest or something.
Johnny Damon isn't going anywhere yet, and with Boras running the show, he probably won't for a while. But Double A asked for my prediction on where he'll end up, and I figured I would make my prediction public. If I'm wrong, then let's just say this entry might "disappear." It might just have to "sleep with the fishes," as they say. I might have to bludgeon this entry with a lead pipe and bury it somewhere in upstate NY. Well now I've just said too much. In any event, I'm predicting: Back to Boston, 5 years, $60 mil. Why? I think Boston values what he's meant to them on and off the field. Nobody's going 7 on him. Not sure how high the Dodgers will go. And I think if it's a matter of a few dollars, the Red Sox aren't going to let him run to the Yankees. So they'll compromise, go a little higher, the market for Damon won't bear much more anyway, and there you go. Look at me with my predictions, gutsy right?

Alright, good luck studying, test taking, working, etc. Another one tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Meet me in the Heights

Ok friends, welcome back for day two. Yes, I'm going to open up each blog like that. Because that will never grow tiresome. "Welcome back for day fifty five everybody, ready to punch me in the face yet?" Enough of that, to the baseball!

Actually, before the baseball - I went to the Dave Matthews concert at the Wachovia Center last night. Great show, love Dave. On the way out some people were doing the E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES chant. I'm sorry, are you insane? What specifically are you proud of, the loss at home to the Giants on Sunday, the mauling at the hands of the Seahawks last week, or the overall sucky season? The people in this city think everything is an occasion to chant for the Eagles. This is because Philadelphia is a terrible city. "Hey guys, you know what would make this funeral better? 'Dats right, E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!" I actually started to cheer "Go Big Blue" back last night, but then decided that living would be an option more preferable to sticking it to Eagles fans at a Dave Matthews concert. Ok, now really on to the baseball.

Julian Tavarez is being courted by the Yankees and Mets, among other teams. He, just like the previously mentioned Milton Bradley, is one of those "let's hope he stays healthy and doesn't try to run over anybody with a truck" players. Always good to have one of those. Seriously, I do think he could help either the Mets or the Yankees, and while a four year deal is a bit nuts (thank you Scott Boras), I do hope the Mets remain in the bidding for his services. However, what is most interesting right now is this line in today's Daily News:
"Tavarez had lunch with Yankees GM Brian Cashman on Monday in Washington Heights."
I'm sorry?? And just where did they dine - Time Out Pizza? I mean, Billy Wagner got a DVD in advance touting the merits of NYC, a grand tour of the city, the Glavine Family as his personal guide, and a nice dinner at one of Manhattan's top restaurants. Sure, Tavarez is no Billy Wagner, but he's still a professional baseball player. Didn't he deserve more than a can of beans from some bodega on 184th St? I'm picturing tomorrow's article: "As part of the recruiting effort, the Yankees had Luis the groundskeeper show Tavarez the highlights of New York, including the Fresh Kills Landfill and Rikers Island, as well as various housing options in the South Bronx and East New York."
(Note: Mr. Sinensky's own version of this punchline: "Did they eat at the YU caf? I can just picture Brian Cashman going up to random YU guys asking to borrow their cards.")

We also have this nugget from Bob Klapisch in today's Bergen Record:
"the Mets hoped to trade RHP Kris Benson to the Rangers for OF Laynce Nix and RHP Juan Dominguez, and then package the two with OF Carlos Beltran in a deal for Boston OF Manny Ramirez…" I'm sorry, what??? I understand that Beltran had some adjustment problems, but don't you think he's gonna be over that in 2006? And isn't possible Manny would have his own adjustment period? Manny is the better pure hitter, but Beltran runs , is better defensively, and had a little thing we call a monster 2004 playoffs that showed he can handle pressure. And he's a good citizen. I honestly wouldn't trade them straight up for each other, let alone throw in a guy like Benson who could be traded in more useful deals. Man, does Omar have a thing for Manny or what?
In fact, you can just picture it. Fast forward about 20 years from now. Minaya has long since been fired by the Mets when he suggested that Billy Berroa and Juan Alicea become the primary broadcasters on WFAN. And there's Omar, on the steps of the New York Public Library, homeless, crying to himself, "Manny Ramirez...Manny Ramirez...Manny Ramirez," with a copy of Tropic of Cancer by his feet. No?

Also, ESPN ran a sportsnation poll comparing the Mets to the Yankees. The first question was this: "1) Do you think the Mets can ever surpass the Yankees as New York ''favorite'' team?" I can't even tell you how much this pisses me off. I'm sure all my fellow Mets fans will agree on this. Only idiots who haven't been within 100 miles of NY in their entire lives think the Mets are somehow second in the city to the Yankees. I'm being objective here - I'm not saying the Mets are more popular, merely that among all real, serious baseball fans in NY, the Mets are as popular as the Yankees. I think any Yankee fan if he's being honest will agree with this. The Yankees have been better so they get the bandwagon fans, just like the Mets had in the late 80s. But the Mets don't have to worry about surpassing the Yankees as they "favorite" team, because they've been co-favorites since 1962. (I'm like a watchdog for Yankee media bias. Buster Olney once wrote something I didn't like back in the Times in 1998 and I still haven't fully warmed up to him. So move over HonestReporting, I'm on the case.)

Trades and such: I love that Ken Williams has been active in changing the White Sox this winter. Both moves have their question marks, but you can't just be complacent after winning the WS. So good for them. El Duque is no loss, but this prospect sounds like he could be special. Then again, it wasn't long ago that Vazquez seemed poised to really break through and be one of the best pitchers in this game, so he may still do it. I like the move for both sides. My only question is who is supplying Javier Vazquez with maps? Does he have some scoop that Puerto Rico is going to be moved to Gary, Indiana? Because I don't see how Chicago is this big geographic upgrade for him. Ah well, that's for him to worry about in his own blog.

Bill Mueller - no, I don't think I'm going to write at length about Bill Mueller. I will say this. A righty with those offensive numbers in Fenway Park now moving to Chavez Ravine? Yeah, keep him the hell away from me. I guess I mean my roto teams, I don't actually have any problem with Bill Mueller personally. (My apologies to Jae for insulting his team and making him read the same joke twice)

Ok, that's it. Hope you guys will keep checking back, and tell your friends if you like the blog. Don't forget - - The Fades is an old pro at this.


Greetings. Welcome to the first post in what I hope will be daily baseball related musings and observations. Why daily? Because there's always something going on in baseball, and I have no life. Some preliminaries:

1. I make no claims to having any inside scoop or rumors that you don't have. Now, I have been known to check espn and other such websites at an alarmingly frequent rate, so I may hear of things sooner than many other people. But all my sources are the standard sources to which we all have access. And it's not exactly like Peter Gammons is Mr. Accuracy, so who's to say having an "inside scoop" is worth anything anyway? (and I will die a happy man if I can get three people to agree with me that Gammons looks like Paul McCartny and/or Deputy Dog - anybody with me?)
2. I'm well aware that this blog is one of a zillion out there, and I don't think I'm doing anything particularly unique. However, if I can get a small readership group out there, that's enough. Yup, a small readership group, a million bucks, four hos, and a bottle of cris, and I'm good.
3. My roommate has a blog, and this is not an attempt to upstage him. He writes about a wide range of topics, and he does truly excellent work. Very funny stuff. Check him out at It's well worth it.
4. So everybody knows the deal - I'm a Mets fan. LETS GO METS!!!! WOOOO!!!! However, to clear up any future rumors, I am not Cowbell Man.
5. Your final grade will be based on a midterm, final, and two papers.
6. I'm sorry, that joke in #5 wasn't even remotely funny. I'm just nervous.You're expected to be witty when you start blogging, and I'm clearly trying too hard. I'm very, very sorry.

Ok, let the fun and games begin!

I'd like to talk about Kenny Rogers. I'm not a big fan of country music and I've never known when to hold them OR when to fold them. But I do like fried chicken. In fact, I love fried chicken. And I do like the Seinfeld episode about the Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant. So let's hear it for Kenny Rogers.
What, did you think I was talking about the guy who signed an insane 2 year deal with the Tigers last week? Ok, fine since I can see that you're disappointed, let's discuss him. Let's discuss that Kenny Rogers should thank God every single night from this point forward that a team like the Detroit Tigers exists. A team whose supposedly astute GM, Dave Dombrowski, could find nothing better to do with $16 million over the next 2 years than to give it to a 41 year old pitcher. A 41 year old pitcher who allows more hits than innings pitched every year, had a 4.76 ERA in 2004, and, oh yeah, tried to murder a cameraman this year. If Kenny Rogers pitches even half as well in 2006 as he did in 2005, I'll let him push ME to the ground in retaliation for my remarks. This is why these garbage franchises like the Tigers remain garbage franchises. When they have money to spend, they think that the goal is just sign somebody, anybody, who's just good enough to be press conference worthy, and they wildly overpay for these players who will vastly underperform relative to the contract given. How the hell is Kenny Rogers going to help the 2006 Tigers, much less the 2007 Tigers? Save the money for a good free agent next winter. Then again, this is the same team that hired Jim Leyland, who has managed to pull the rare managerial hat trick - quitting on three different teams in his career - and who hasn't really been successful since before Barry Bonds' head grew 6 sizes. So we shouldn't be surprised. Tigers fans, I'm sorry for you.

Why the hell am I getting so worked up over what the Tigers do? Beats me. But these press conferences really burn me up. The Cubs had press conferences to introduce Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry earlier this offseason. I remember last year the Brewers had a press conference for Damian Miller. People - these are very shitty players. Shouldn't there be some limit to who merits a press conference? Is the local media that desperate to meet low level catchers and middle relievers in person? Is the Cubs fan salivating over the chance to buy his very own Scott Eyre jersey? What's next, a press conference for the new assistant to the traveling secretary? And then after you've devalued the press conference, what do you do for a real star? Say the Cubs were to get Miguel Tejada this winter, do they rename Wrigley Field after him? Or if the Brewers were somehow able to acquire an actual star, would they, uh....ah geez, what the hell does Milwaukee have? Um, would they rename Wisconsin after the guy? (yes, that will do). Let's keep things in perspective teams, and don't let your fans think that these crap acquisitions are supposed to get them excited.

And Milton Bradley to the A's, let's talk about that. We've all heard of the trades where you say "if this guy can stay healthy, he could really help them out." But I like the rare trade where you say, "if this guy can stay not crazy, he could really help them out." You don't see those too often, but you have it with Mr. Board Game (hardy har har - betcha never realized that Milton Bradley, while being a baseball player's name, is also the name of a board game manufacturer! ZING!) Seriously, I think it's probably about time to give up the hope that Bradley can stay healthy, sane, and productive from April through October. He hasn't been able to do that with three different teams, and I'm not sure that he'd start doing that now. Hey, wait a sec, he's messed up three different teams. Maybe he and Jim Leyland should get together. Memo to Dombrowski: Reserve $50 million for when Milton Bradley becomes a free agent. It'll be money well spent, I assure you.

Ok folks, that's it for the maiden voyage. Frankly, I'm not that impressed with my work this time, but be patient with me - I'm new at this. Not blogging, writing English - I just got my GED.