Friday, December 15, 2006


Matsui who?

Josh Beckett will have a dominant year, and he'll be their number 3 starter. Ridiculous.

Now all eyes can turn to Barry Zito. Yawn. More Scott Boras in the news. At least he'll be talking to more than one team.

"I'd like to meet Curt Schilling," said Dice-K. Umm, pretty sure you'll get the chance dude. He's learning Japanese for you buddy. What a pal.

The whole Red Sox brass flying to California and lighting bags of feces on fire in front of Boras' house reminded me of the Thanksgiving dinner Schilling deal. I remember the excitement and palpable energy there was surrounding the team then, and look what happened the very next season...

Not a prediction, just a thought.

The real prediction? Royals v. Cubs in the series, but they only make it to two games and the world as we know it implodes on itself.

Now, votes on who the hell is going to anchor that (still) travesty of a bullpen for the Sox come '07? Tavares?

Monday, December 11, 2006

People I intensely dislike may or may not look like insidious members of a sci-fi classic

Scott Boras is going to be the reason that the Sox don't sign Matsuzaka (if indeed they end up not signing him.) That pisses me off so much, but not as much as it irks Mike.

Clock's ticking down to the end on this one, and all the rumors swirling around don't sound too good. I'm hoping for the best. This business with Schilling learning Japanese is such a transparent PR ploy (although he may indeed be doing it with good intentions) it makes me ill.

Jim Allen on ESPN (from where I got the picture at left) makes some good points in this article. Namely, that it will ultimately be up to Matsuzaka to decide whether he signs or not. No, and he goes back to Japan for another two seasons and the Lions get jack. Boras can finagle all he wants, says Allen, but ultimately the prospect of earning the most money he's ever earned in his life and the chance to bring pride to his old club and home country will be the deciding factors for Matsuzaka.

We'll see how that goes very soon.

Coming up later: Why signing Juan Pierre was a great investment for the Dodgers: Definitive proof courtesy of MVP Baseball '05.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Yay for Sense!

After all that chatter, Barry Bonds is not going anywhere. That's probably the most logical move. No other team would offer him that cash, and no other fan base would likely support him. 16 million is too much, but whatever. At least we can focus our rancor in the same place.

And, ho, Pat Gillick! I wanted a top starter and we got one in Freddy Garcia. That's a good deal. Yeah, Gavin Floyd might be great down the road and we could end up regretting all this in the future, but as I've been saying for a while, the Phils can't keep waiting with the farm system and young pitchers who may or may not pan out. They still have Hamels and Myers, who have looked good, and now they have their ace. Add them into a rotation with solid vets Lieber and Moyer (or maybe Madson, who knows how they'll move people), and now their rotation is solid... in fact, one of the best in the NL. I can't think fo anyone hugely better for now.

See how nice it is when people make deals that make sense?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Collusion part 2, electric boogaloo.

I'm hoping that the whole Barry Bonds issue is a big conspiracy. Back in the days of collusion, owners got together and decided that, in order to cut back player salaries, they would work together despite their equal desires to spend money and sign the best players. This, of course, was illegal and tainted MLB for a long time.

Now in the days of throwing money around and player salaries that are nearly unfathomable, I find it odd that the best baseball player ever is a free agent, spurned by his former employer and still jobless. This, of course, could have a little something to do with the fact that a. he is almost certainly guilty of taking steroids and b. he is a consummate asshole.

Never the less, I can't see how an AL team desperate for wins like the Indians or Rangers don't throw a contract with performance bonuses at this guy. Sure, he says he wants to go to a playoff-bound team, but money talks. Now he's gone to the winter meetings personally to bully around teams. Wonderful.

His agent says there are plenty of interested teams and that "their first question is always about Bonds." It seems if that were the case he would have reached a deal with someone by now. The best player ever is just flapping in the wind, a free agent that nobody wants to take on.

Is this some sort of big conspiracy among owners, GM's, managers, etc. to finally rid baseball of this media centerpiece/freak show? It just seems odd that he's not signed yet, and that the only one talking about him is Jeff Borris, his agent. All I've read is vague, PR type quotes from Borris; none from GM's, nothing from anyone. Are GM's just getting together to say 'hey, this guy is a catastrophe' and not signing him? Do they even have to get together? Anyone could really come to that conclusion on their own with a few simple google searches.

I, for one, and hoping that Bonds gets signed somewhere. True, he may have taken steroids, and he may be an asshole, but the fact remains that he is the best player ever to play the game, and watching him hit, despite the fact that his power may be derived from something outside of the gym, is a thing of pure beauty. Of course, I hope he doesn't get signed to a team I like.

Looks like the Sox are going to be "stuck" with Manny's 35+ homers and 120+ RBI's (barring injury) again next year. Oh well. I think their trying to "trade" him every year is all a front. Unless they traded for Pujols, Howard or A-Rod, there is no way they're getting value from the deal. And none of those trades are going to happen. That said, the Sox lineup looks to be shaping up for next season. I hope Lugo does well, or else the revolving door shortstop charade will continue.

It unnerves me that I haven’t heard anything about Matsuzaka recently. I know the negotiations are confidential, but at writing, there is only a little over 8 days left to sign this guy. I haven’t heard anything at all, save for the fact that the team and Dice-K are ‘far apart’ concerning the terms they are each seeking. I know I said bidding that much for him was a mistake, and I hold to that, but not signing him makes the Sox look horrible. He seems like a good pitcher from the scouting reports, so if you’re willing to put up that sort of money, why not go for broke (hopefully not literally.) Again, hopefully this is not some clever, shady backdoor deal to keep Dice-K out of Steinbrenner’s hands for one more season.g

Jason Schmidt, whose head looks like a fake goatee affixed to a pumpkin, signed with the Dodgers. I like that for one of the better pitchers out there this year, I didn't hear too much about him. All I've heard is where will Ted Lily come to rest? What about Gil Meche? Who cares. I think tonight or tomorrow I will make a photoshop of Schmidt's head as a pumpkin. And why not, right? Expect that.

The arms race, part laaaame

In an off-season already being hailed by critics as the most freewheeling in ages, one team is taking the bidding war and frustration with the pitching drought to a new level.

The New Y0rk Yankees offered Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn $7.5 million a year to shore up their bullpen. When reached for comment, GM Brian Cashman said that they were most worried about his control, though he had shown promise in the California Penal League.

Cashman also added that in such a dry market, having a fictional character as your setup man isn't necessarily the worst thing.

"I mean, it's not like we signed Vicente Padilla for 11.3 [million] a year," he said. "That would just be stupid."

Actor Charlie Sheen, who portrayed Vaughn in the 1989 film "Major League," said he was excited by the opportunity.

"It's been a while since I slipped on those horn rims," said Sheen. "It's also been a while since I had a free pass to start seeing those hookers in Cleveland again."

"Cleveland rocks, indeed," he added.

Cashman also said that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner might be willing to give Steve Nebraska another chance.

"Maybe we bailed on him too soon," said Cashman. "That funny little man with the hat who reminded me of Woody Allen seemed pretty convinced he was something special."

"Besides, let's face it - who are we going to sign, Ted Lilly for 10 [million] a year? Give me a break."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills or something

John Lester is in remission. Here's hoping he'll be at spring training.

In a right and just world, there is no way that Gil Meche gets $10 million per season from anyone. He's good (Beat Jason Schmidt back in June) but he's not $10 million good.

Vincente Padilla would, in a normal world, never think of making $11.3 million per season. Yeah, he won 15 games, but he lost 10 to the tune of a 4.50 ERA.

Jayson Stark has a great article about the lunacy of this offseason's pitching scramble on ESPN.

The headline should be "Welcome to Bizarro World."

You know something is wrong when the thought "Gee, the Orioles rotation looks decent this year, but how 'bout that bullpen. Boy Howdy they look sharp" creeps into your head. That and when Omar Minaya keeps balking at dela because the price is "too high."

My favorite part is where he points out that in 2002, Zambrano was a 4th starter behind Kerry Wood, Prior and Clement. Now the Cubs are looking for two starters. Alas.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

what did i just say last week

Dear Albert Pujols:

85 is more than 83.

I would LOVE to have the Phils playing in the same division as the Pirates, Cubs, and Brewers. They might've won 90 with those clowns.

Wait! You have a ring and MVP trophy already. You have no reason to complain. Ever. Again.

In conclusion, shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Passing the torch?

Buster Olney is slowly replacing Peter Gammons as the go-to guy for baseball insider information. He's broken a lot more stories such as all the dirt on the Japanese imports this off-season.

The Cubs and Dodgers are spending like the Mets did last year, which is kind of depressing. I love when a team gets good players right from their farm system, a la Papelbon. Looking at the deal Soriano got, I kind of hate the world.

When it's all said and done, the Mets, Cubs and Dodgers will be spinning their wheels going into the post season in '07 because the AL is simply a better league. The Cardinals won the World Series this year, yes, but that's not going to become a trend.

Tuesday's coming...

I realize that his contract is huge, and that he did give up during the last third of the season in '06, but there is no real trade involving Manny Ramirez that would make me happy. There isn't anyone the Sox could get in trade who could replace his productivity, and there is hardly a batter in baseball that can hit good pitching as consistently and with as much power as Manny.

I sincerely hope all these trade rumors and hearsay involving the Predator look-alike fall through, and that he's back in the shadow of the green monster in '07. As much as I don't like his personality, he's the best thing the Sox have on offense, and while the guys at baseball prospectus tend to disagree with me, Ortiz needs that protection.

Years in the left field at Fenway have honed his skill at playing balls off the monster. Watching Willy Mo struggle in right on the days he filled in for Trot made me realize just how quirky the Fenway outfield can be, and with the defense heading the way of the buffalo this off-season, it's important to make damn sure that whoever is in left can play the monster.

I like Manny, and as long as he puts up 100+ RBI’s and 30+ HR’s a year, I don’t give a crap who he is (Manny or otherwise), or what he’s like in the clubhouse.

Speaking of teams in the AL East, the Orioles sure are going at their bullpen with a chainsaw, which is great. Their pen was crap last season (and has been for a long time.)

I haven’t heard a damn thing about Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt yet this off-season. Strange.

A note: When I said the Phils should sign Adam Eaton in a comment a few posts ago, someone listened. Now if they had retained Randy Wolf, I would have said they had great odds to have the best rotation in the NL East. May still be true, but I digress.

Monday, November 20, 2006

well fancy that

I had a rant planned today for how Ryan Howard should've won the MVP over Albert Pujols, regardless of the Series, for doing great in the second half with Jeff Conine as his only protection, for belting almost 60 in the post-steroids era, for lifting a team that had dumped players and given up into the playoff race, and how it's not his fault his team played in a division with a good team (85 wins is more than 83, morons). But then something funny happened... he won.

Good for you, writers. You escape my wrath today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Just a thought (edited)

I am glad the Sox didn't bid $42 million on Matsuzaka. HOWEVER, they did bid an inconceivable $51.1 million. I can't even imagine throwing that amount of money away to just TALK to someone. They could have signed Barry Zito for that and been done with it, and still have had all the money they're going to throw at Matsuzaka left to get another pitcher. What a gyp. He'd better be the business or I'm going to be pissed all of next season. Look at that picture. He might as well be holding a chalice filled with diamonds and blow for as much as he's going to rake in.

I really hope the Red Sox didn't bid $42 million on Matsuzaka. Sure, the guy will give you near
200 innings per year, but he's not going to give them the stability that solid defensive player with some pop could. Just thinking about who they have in the docket currently for next season, it seems that they don't need more bullpen help than anything else. I mean, if Lester makes a comeback, then there is also Papelbon, Beckett (who should do infinitely well in his second season in Boston after getting over the Renteria hump) and Schilling. I'd rather see the Sox get a starter that doesn't have the potential to turn into Hideki Irabu part deux.

If they did bid $42 million on him, this is kind of silly for several reasons
1. That doesn't guarantee that the two will even agree to a contract
2. If they wanted to trade negotiating rights to another team, they would want some of if not most of that money back. If teams wanted to pony up for Matsuzaka they would have done so at the bidding.
3. He's going to play in 30+ games a year perhaps. However, a position player is going to play in 100+ games.

I guess we'll find out very soon what's up. It's like buying a hooker from Craigslist. She might be amazing, or she might be male. and a cop. And angry. Oh well. I'm sure they did bid that much, I'm sure they'll sign him, and he'll more than likely have a stellar season. If that happens, check back for my 'buy high/sell high' post.

In an April 7 story on Page 2 which I remember reading and enjoying thoroughly, Nate Silver says that Matsuzaka is the 50th most valuable player in baseball. He's ahead of both Zito and Schmidt, who aren't on the list. Interesting.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I Can't Stand It anymoremoremore

I apologize for my discourse here, but I have to rant while I still can (i.e. not employed) and I’ve been wanting to make an argument for something that has bothered me immensely for the past few years. And this site is the perfect place for me to finally get it off my chest. In my season previews for both pro basketball
http://jleohalleyscomet.blogspot.com/2006/11/leos-2006-07-basketball-preview.html

and hockey http://jleohalleyscomet.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-went-to-fights-and-hockey-game-broke.html
, I suggested maybe dropping some teams or just reorganizing things to go back to four divisions, like they both used to be. Six divisions is too much for either league, with crappy teams routinely getting high playoff spots for winning awful divisions. Four divisions means that teams have to do better to get in. And how awkward is it to have four or eight playoff teams in each conference/league with three divisions? It doesn’t add up. Only football, with 16 teams in each conference and a 16 game season set up well, has a mathematically and sensibly perfect format. Everyone else needs to change.

Naturally, I’m going to make the same argument for baseball. Call me bitter, (and make no mistake: I am very, very bitter), but the Phils have gotten screwed the past two years in the playoff hunt. You can say that they didn’t come through in the end, and that’s true, but I’d like to point out that each time they actually had a top-four record in the NL. They lost out, because of divisional arrangements, to mediocre teams winning bad divisions (St. Louis this year, San Diego before that).

Now, I know St. Louis is not giving me any support in this matter after their great postseason. But still, should they have even been there with 83 wins? That just doesn’t seem fair. Going back to the old two division format in each league would let the best teams make the postseason.

Now I know that baseball has an amazing history and that many purists don’t like the idea of a wild card. Two wild cards would have many traditionalists furious. But this is how the game evolved. Sure, in the old days, only one team from each league made it. They just had the World Series and that was it for the playoffs. But, there were only 16 teams playing for the first half of the century.

The original AL: Yankees, Red Sox, St. Louis Browns (now the Orioles), Washington Senators (now the Twins), Tigers, Athletics (in Philly and then Kansas City), White Sox, Indians

The original NL: Dodgers (in Brooklyn), Giants (in New York), Reds, Cubs, Braves (in Boston and then Milwaukee), Cardinals, Pirates, Phillies

So, traditionalists, please don’t fret, because I’m advocating for a league like that. I think 7 or 8 teams in a division is a good number. Honestly, the old system was nice. It’s just that baseball has almost doubled in size since then. And with expansion, it has naturally added more playoff rounds. After the major expansion of the 1960’s, baseball stood at 24 teams, with four divisions of six teams each, and a new playoff round. In 1969, they started the League Championship Series. This made sense because they had gotten much larger.

AL 60’s expansion: Angels, New Senators (now the Rangers), Brewers (now in the NL), Royals

NL 60’s expansion: Mets, Astros, Padres, Expos (now the Nationals, of course)

This is where things stood until 1994, when baseball reached 28 teams with the addition of the Marlins and Rockies (the Blue Jays and Mariners started in the late 70’s). It is during the 90’s, with the extra expansion and the shaky leadership of Bud Selig, that things started to go wrong. After getting to 28 teams, baseball decided to add another round. No harm in that – they had grown in size again, they already were planning on going to 30 teams soon, and they wanted more postseason cash. It’s perfectly understandable.

But they wanted to be cool and cute and go to an awkward six division format. This was odd mathematically, since there were two divisions of four teams and the rest with five. It was unbalanced. It also spread the good teams out, and though it worked most of the time, bad teams still got in. While no team has ever gotten into the postseason with less than 80 wins under this format, we’ve come close (like, say, the LAST TWO YEARS!!!) And it should be noted than it its first year of existence, the six division format produced a division without any team over .500 (the AL west). Of course, we never got to see a losing team in the playoffs because that first year was also the strike year of 1994. Remember the year that the Pirates were leading the NL central at the all-star break with like a .480 winning percentage? The Astros eventually got it by just barely getting over .500. But you see my point. (By the way, I also remember a year, maybe the same one I just described, when four out of the five teams in the NL east had better records than anyone in the NL central.

Of course, the fifth team that didn’t was the Phils.)

Although this upset me, I figured that having six divisions of five would at least be somewhat sensible in a league of 30 teams. So when Arizona and Tampa Bay began play in 1998, I admitted that it was at least a decent solution, if temporary. But then, Bud Selig continued to be cute and stupid and, I must say, extremely guilty of a conflict of interest. Instead of using the expansion to get to the even format, with five teams in each division and fifteen teams in each league, Bud surprised everyone by moving the Brewers to the NL. Instead of balance, baseball now has 16 teams in once conference and 14 in the other. Now one division has six teams, while another has four, and the rest have five. WTF???

It’s not just the math that bothers me about this move, though seeing those weird standings every day irritates me to no end. And I didn’t even look before how it affects the schedule makers. Let’s see here: the Yankees had 74 divisional games. The Twins had 76. Looks like most of the AL teams had around 75. But in the AL west, they all had 57 games. In the NL, most of the east and west teams also had about 75 divisional games. But the central teams, with their six team colossus, had weird results – Cardinals 81, Astros 77, Reds 84, Brewers 82, Pirates 78, and Cubs 84. Where’s the balance?

But again, like I said, it’s not just about the math. Selig’s reasoning for this was very shady. Instead of doing the natural thing and moving the Tigers and Royals over divisions, he just moved the Tigers and put the Brewers in the NL. He claimed that this would keep rivalries intact and satisfy people. Huh? He claimed, more specifically, that the Royals did not want to move to the AL west, that they had “deep roots” in the AL central, and that fans in Milwaukee had been clamoring for a return to the good old days of the NL, like with the Braves.

Come on, Bud. The Royals haven’t done anything since the new divisions were formed. They haven’t had any significant rivalries, or hell, any significance at all, since George Brett retired. I thought, if anyone, they were rivals in the old days with the A’s and the Cardinals. So I really doubt they cared. And as far as people in Milwaukee go, I can’t honestly say I know, but they hadn’t been an NL city since the mid 60’s. They seemed to support the Brewers pretty favorably for the past 30 years in the AL, especially when they won the World Series for that league.

What was the deal, then? Why create this imbalance and weird shifting for apparently no reason? Well, Selig was owner of the Brewers for years before becoming commissioner. When he accepted the job full-time, he had to sell the team. And he did. But he sold it to his daughter and her husband, so it stayed in the family, and he obviously still cared about baseball there. He knew that moving the Brewers to the NL would create noise/ public interest and opportunity for his beloved team. Most importantly, he wanted to create a rivalry with the nearby Cubs that he knew the team could market. Thus, even though he was a commissioner and not the owner anymore, he changed the baseball format just to get the team more cash. I call that a major conflict of interest, but it happened. And we’ve had that zany sextuplet of misfits ever since.

Well, my plan is going to put a stop to all of this nonsense. I’ll let him have his Brew Crew in the NL, but these divisions will be better off. Since both leagues have an even number of teams, we can simply slice them down the middle. The AL will have two divisions of seven teams, and the NL will have two of eight. Maybe the extra membership will help the NL get back to respectability. Of course, they can always add two more teams… or drop two.

Here’s how I would do it, much like how it was before 1994:

AL EAST: Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, D-Rays, Tigers, Indians

AL WEST: White Sox, Twins, Royals, A’s, Angels, Mariners, Rangers

NL EAST: Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Nationals, Pirates, Reds, Cubs

NL WEST: Brewers, Cardinals, Astros, D-backs, Rockies, Padres, Dodgers, Giants

There. Doesn’t that make much more sense?

I know some rivalries are a little split, but they’ll still play each other. Maybe we can get the displaced central teams in each league to play a few more series. I don’t want to ruin your precious Cubs-Brewers, Bud. (But seriously, we need Tigers-Sox and Tigers-Twins and Indians-Sox and Cubs-Cardinals to stay alive. I’m sure it can be managed.)

Playoffs: Division winners host each wild card; records determine home field advantage (though I suppose wild cards will have to be away every time).

(And let’s dump the all-star game as the way to determine Series home advantage. That’s a whole other topic, but I’m just saying…)

Again, I’m not looking to drop playoff rounds. Maybe they do last too long, and maybe they could finish the season earlier and/or cut the LCS to five games. Who knows. The point is, I think having the best four teams in each league is the most fair. I mean, isn’t that what they want now? Yes, conceivably, a team could finish third in its division and still win the Series. This will piss off the purists, I’m sure. But is it so bad? The other leagues I spoke (hoops and hockey) of have the same number of teams, but twice the playoff participants. And football has 12. Baseball is still the hardest sport to make the playoffs in by far, mathematically.

But this will allow good teams that make a run at the end of the season to get in. People won’t be able to sit on big leads and watch the other teams in their division screw up. This will also put heat on people like, say, the Yankees, who will have to deal with more than just the Red Sox.

And again, this is the only way to ensure that THE BEST TEAMS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. Eight teams make it; one goes home happy. It’s really not much different from now, in the end, but it makes more sense. I suggest we demand this from the good old American pastime before it loses any more fans. It’s fair, it’s balanced, and unlike FOX news, it won’t make you stab yourself.

Now if we could just get a salary cap and revenue sharing going…..

Meh. Forget it. This is all I’m asking for now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Heating up

Thanks to Josh Barfield, the Hot Stove is officially 'on.' He says that Cleveland is a 'much better place for him.' He's lying, because the Padres have made the playoffs the past two years (in the weskest division in baseball, but they still made it.)

But forget that for a moment. MLB reports that the Diamondbacks are changing their uniform colors from purple and teal to red and black. Those aren't the technical names for the colors, but that's what they are. They've also changed the typeface for the jerseys to something more angular and sharp.

I like the new uniforms. Now they won't look like the entire team is headed to some horribly creepy easter egg hunt. They're quite overdue for the new look, too, since the whole pastel colors thing doesn't really do much to strike fear into the opposing team. The fact that your team, minus a few players, pretty much sucks too. Oh well.

The new color scheme and font, however, do not excuse the D-backs from their grave mistake of letting Eric Byrnes walk. Like the prodigal son, though, he's back in the desert now. Shame on you too, Orioles.

Seriously though, look at the dude. He's so slovenly. Even during his glorious stint as a commentator on Fox he couldn't pull himself together long enough to say, comb his own hair.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Memo to Pat Gillick

Recent news reports say that the Phillies:

1. Are very interested in Alfonso Soriano.

2. Are looking for another top line pitcher.

3. Are hoping to figure a way, any way possible in the entire cosmos, to trade Pat Burrell.


So Pat, that sounds nice.....

But honestly, there's only one thing I can say as a lifetime Philly sports fan....



DON'T TEASE ME WITH THESE THINGS UNLESS YOU MEAN IT!!!!!!!!!


Seriously, I'm going to look back at this post in four months and see if any of those three wishes came true. Then, I will be able to easily scale my hopes of the 2007 season on a scale of zero to three. Zero wishes? F--- the Phils, though I guess I should've expected it, and I might just have to endure with the Dodgers and Angels (shudder). Three and I'll be ecstatic, especially since this is the NL and 86-90 wins would easily get them into the playoffs. One and two are meh.... actually two would still be nice.

My money's on zero. Prove me wrong, Mr. G.M.

Monday, November 06, 2006

To the victor goes the gamble on the 29 year old player who may or may not be named Mark Mulder...

Free agent season will officially begin in a few weeks when teams can start looking outside of their own organizations. Lou Piniella is sweating to get Aramis Ramirez to sign that dotted line, I'm sure (and just sweating in general, the man isn't exactly thin.) That said, here is a look at some of the free agents of any worth this off season, and what their market value is based on nothing more than my own, semi-informed opinion.

All of this is based on the ESPN free agent tracker, which at this point indicates that none of those who have filed for free agency have been retained by their current teams.

Also for this post, when I want to put a players picture by their brief, I am going to pick the first or second thing that comes up on Google when I type their name without quotes. Let's start with Ronnie Belliard as an example, and see how this works out...

Ronnie Belliard - So the guy is 31, but he looks and acts like he's still a rookie. However, there are a lot of younger second basemen out there who are decent, so he'll probably be with the Cards next season. He still plays pretty o-k defense. Watching the Cardinals I'm constantly amazed that his pudgy self can move as fast as he does. He'll be a good buy for a mid-market team looking to upgrade their fielding slightly but aren't really willing to invest in a superstar.

Barry Bonds - Hopefully he stays on the West Coast, far far away from any AL team I may have to see play more than once. That said, I like the guy insofar as his talent is concerned, and I think he would be a good fit for an AL team looking for an aging slugger to DH (not like, say, Albert Belle.) However, I think he'll take a one-year with SF to finish out his career. Here's hoping.

Alex Gonzalez - The Red Sox need this guy. He's the most steady fielder they've got, and he wasn't too bad offensively. Should have won the Gold Glove this season at short. He'll probably make a move somewhere else unless the Sox can get him some money. Hopefully out of the AL East if so. I hear Gonzo is pretty sick on drums, too.

Gabe Kapler - Bye bye, Boston. Hello NL.

Mark Loretta - As goes Gonzo, so goes Loretta. The Sox should definitely keep this duo alive. If they plan on doing something about their pitching (which they should), they'll need some solid defense on the middle infield behind some young pitchers.

The Cardinals Rotation - I wouldn't sign any one of these guys before taking a long, hard look at what's available in trade. Suppan, Mulder, Weaver and Marquis are all available, and despite the recency of their postseason triumphs, they're not someone I would want on a team I root for (Hi Matt Clement). Maybe a healthy Mulder. Weaver, who seems to thrive on that adversity and tension, could do well playing in a big market where the fans are more aggressively critical than in St. Louis. I'm thinking New York, perhaps... (SIKE!)

Trot Nixon - I'll miss ya, man. Good luck with the Padres. (Boston lite)

Juan Pierre - Lou Piniella would go on a diet if it meant the Cubbies would definitely sign Pierre. He's a light hitter, but ranked 2nd in the NL in steals with 58, started all 162 games in Center, and had 0 errors. I'd say he's worth the money. If he goes back that SWEET moustache I'd be eternally happy. Also, I'm still bummed that Tony Almaeda won't be back for Season 6 of 24. I'll miss his Cubs mug.

Jason Schmidt - He has a huge head. Also, he's kind of overrated, I think. He's finally coming down off of his stellar '03/'04 campaign, but I he's in for a decent ERA next season if he stays in the NL. His ERA has been climbing, but I think at 33 he still has a few good seasons in him. I certainly think he's better than the 3.59 he pitched last year, and the years following 2001 back me up on this (just not 2005). He's comparative to Jack McDowell (who retired at 33) and Kevin Milwood (who just finished off a not-so impressive season.)

Alfonso Soriano - Yeah, he's good, and he's the best player in the Free Agent class this year. Not much to say about him really. He'll be decent wherever he is. I liked him in the outfield this season though, I think it really helps that he's not getting in the middle of double play combinations at second, either, since there's less likelihood of injury that way. You can't afford to have him out of the lineup.

Craig Wilson - Reminds me of the fat kid blonde with the mayonaise stained hawaiian shirt who just wants to tag along. I bet he's still under private contract to clean Torre's gutters or something for putting him on the postseason roster. Doesn't help that he's fat. And blonde. He's not a bad player, he's just slovenly.

Preston Wilson - No thanks. How the hell he did better than the Tigers in the WS I will never know.

Randy Wolf - The Phillies need to sign him if they want to improve themselves for next year. If they don't, they're basically saying 'we know we almost made it, and we could make it with this squad, so let's get rid of a pitcher and see if we can come alllllmost close enough for a third consecutive year.' He's a good pitcher who didn't do so well in '06 because he was coming off of the DL. He should be strong next season, and will make a solid front three with Brett Myers and Cole Hamels. Hopefully other would-be suitors get scared off from his DL stint and lowball him, and he re-signs with the fightin' Phils.

Barry Zito - I am obsessed with his curveball as are most baseball fans. Not just the trajectory of the pitch, but how he throws it. Watch it sometime up close, it's sick. I think Zito (which in German means 'The Toe') is due for another 20-win season if he can get himself into a pitchers park, or the NL (not Colorado). He'll go for big money, probably the second highest paid player in the class. I know it's not really a pitchers park, but I would LOVE to see him in a Red Sox uni. I balk at how he would handle all the variables though, like the fans and the weather. The A's folded like a wet newspaper against Detroit, and he didn't help his cause, with 5 earned runs in 3.2 innings. We'll see. If he goes to the NL his stats wins will balloon (this is called the Arroyo Effect).


So that's about all I have to say about the Free Agent class this year. There are still a few more days for players to file, but anyone really notable has already filed. This years class is really, really weak, but I don't mind.

I like the idea of having a strong farm system brought about by good scouting and recruiting, and improving your team through shrewd trades. More players are signing deals during the year for contract extensions or new contracts, and for longer, meaning that less good players are ever even reaching the free agent market. A lot of people don't like this, but I think it will allow a more old-school type of ball to return, in that teams reward player loyalty, and vice versa.

As a fan, I hate seeing my favorite players get traded or lost simply because of money. That's why I like the fact that this free agent class is weak. Although, that does put more of an emphasis on lesser known but still stellar players like Alex Gonzalez and Mark Loretta who can now hamstring the Sox if they want to. Oh well.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Take a pencil, sharpen it...

Roll this around in your mind for a minute or several: the words Molina, Rogers, Suppan and Weaver were all, at one point this past week or so, placed in the same sentence as the phrase "postseason hero." And nobody who said it was joking. If you're not upset about this, you haven't been paying attention. DAMNIT, how does that HAPPEN? The Cardinals limped into the postseason riding nothing but 7 losses in 10 games and a freaking WISH and they win the world series.

That's why I think that this was the best postseason I've ever seen, though, because of how unpredictable it was. Unfortunately the TV ratings didn't seem to impart that it was all that good. Oh well. I still watched it.

Congratulations to the Cardnials. Tony LaRussa looks like Pete Rose. Literally. Yes, we all looked foolish in our picks. So did every expert, even when there were only two teams from which to pick. Moving on...

The 2006 season is over, and now Hot Stove discussion can commence.

I think that CBS columnist Gregg Doyel is very nearly correct in this article that the new collective bargaining agreement is detrimental to many small-market MLB teams, I think that it does have perks that will make this offseason interesting.

Most notable among these is the dissolving of the free agent signing deadline. Remember last year when Clemens was in the news so damn much after the deadline for him to re-sign with the Astros passed? Yeah, that's not happening anymore. Even if the Alfonso Soriano's and Jason Schmidt's of the world want to hold out for offers from other teams as long as they want, they don't have to worry about the lease on their current apartment. They can re-sign with their former team at any point, even if they don't accept arbitration.

This should make for some good, late-spring surprises I think. Basically, it means that players can just wait and see where the best offer comes from for as long as they want.

Another new aspect of the agreement does not have a direct impact on most of the Major League clubs directly, but will certainly help in streamlining the draft and the incorporation of new players into the A-AAA levels. Until at least 2011, players selected in the June amateur draft who aren't college seniors must sign by Aug. 15. This will reduce players holding out for more money or a better placement with threats to go to college or elsewhere, since they must sign before school starts anyhow.

Maybe later, in a week or so, there will be a fuller picture of just how the market for free agents will shape up for the winter.

Only 107 more days until pitchers and catchers... Moyer and Hamels part II are the first to report, on Valentines Day none the less. Must be a sign.

Mr Leo makes a good point

But really? Who gives half a crap about the Cardinals? We're all just bitter because our teams and/or adopted teams didn't make it.

But, friends, there is sweet justice in store for us. That's right - so long, Camden!

Friday, October 27, 2006

what just happened

Wainright strikes out Inge. Series over.




So ends one of the stranger seasons in baseball history. Really, we have an NL champion? Who won 83 games in an awful division? Jeff Weaver is the winner for this game???????

WTF mates?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

shut up about dirty hands

You know,

in some nursing home, or old house with plastic on the furniture, or hospital, or Florida senior community...

there's gotta be one or more old guys who want everyone to shut up. And why not? In the old days, there were like a million different things pitchers did to balls to liven them up. Nowadays, your belt looks a little sharp and suddenly Buck Showalter is sending three forensic experts to the mound to check on it. I, for one, like to imagine a crusty old ballplayer, much like Ted Williams (but alive and at room temperature), going on about how stupid Dirtgate is.

Cue Grandpa Simpson voice:

"Rosin? Bah! In my day, we had the spitball, the nickball, the slimer, the St. Louis special, the wazzu, the whizzer, and a bunch of other balls all doctored and dirtied up. Why, Dizzy Dean and his brother used to take moustache wax and spread it all over their gloves before each game. We called it the Van Buren. We also slid on fields with nails and razor blades on the grounds. And played through rain. And snow. And the war."

Okay, I'm making all this up, but you get the point: it's over, the Cardinals are doing good now, and Rogers pitched better with a clean hand anyway. So shut up, you national media members (not Lou).

And you tell 'em, Whitey.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The return of Old Man Curveball

ESPN.com is reporting that Jamie Moyer, who will be 44 at the beginning of next season, has been signed to a two year, $10.5 million extension by the Phillies. Cole "kid changeup" Hamels will be really pleased.

The article noted that the Phillies hope Moyer has "two more strong seasons remaining in his left arm."

I would like to point out that this is a really, really long shot, seeing as he has not had a 'strong' season with his left arm in years. He is not a power pitcher, and he's going to get shelled on occasion because he pitches so softly. However, he is a great asset to a team with good young pitching like the Phillies.

If he ends up with a sub-.500 record next year (and in '08), he'll still be a good influence on the team. I hope he comes back somewhere as a pitching coach somewhere down the line.

For a taste of your whiskey I'll give you some advice...

So I don't really want to get in to the Kenny Rogers bit, other than to say that there is no clump of dirt on earth that looks like what was on his hand. The old dude's amber topped cane in Jurassic Park? Maybe. The bucket of Pine Tar in which Trot Nixon dips his helmet? Perhaps. But not the pure, refined soil of the ballpark. Thanks to Todd Jones, we have this little witticism:

"It could have been anything on his hand... It could have been chocolate cake."
But wait Todd, cake wasn't served on Sunday in the Tigers clubhouse.
"Well, no. But there was steak and gravy. So the gravy could have been on there."

Thanks Todd. Thanks. Love that guy.

Now, I'd like to point to this poll on ESPN, in which almost 60% said that they don't think they underestimated the Cardinals. Memo to those people: You're effing liars. EVERYONE underestimated the cardinals, including the writers in this blog and, I should note, all 19 baseball experts who weighed in pre-postseason (what?) on ESPN. Not one of them picked the Tigers OR the Cardinals to go to the series. And yet here they are.

And that leads me to my ultimate point. This postseason is really what baseball's October should be: competitive. The two 'best' teams in baseball made their exits, and now the two dirt dogs left are trying to stake their claim atop the baseball world. I guess it should come as no surprise that two of the teams that were atop the standings all season, and were considered serious contenders to win it all at the beginning of September, are here in the end. They both went on skids to finish the regular season, but the playoffs reset everyone at 0-0.

I'm also sick of all the Kenny Rogers / Kenny Rogers references, jokes, etc. I'm also a big fan of hypocrisy.

I want to see Joel Zumaya break the Hefty (of Glad, whichever) bag in the commercial. You know, the one with Eric Gagne? The one with the injured Gagne? I bet Zumaya could do it. Also, he's going high in my fantasy draft next year.

What do you think the odds are that they deal him to a team looking for a closer this off-season, as the market is pretty thin. I know I wouldn't mind seeing him in a Red Sox uniform...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sweet Lou: Wallet Thief?

I completely agree with Gerry Callahan and his opinion on the Steve Lyons firing. The bit about Lyons and Piniella going to dinner after the game makes it all the more appropriate (the article, not the statement on-air by Lyons). And while I don't agree with his take on Eric Byrnes (see my previous post for reference), I can get behind most of what Eric Wilbur says in a recent piece about baseball commentary.

I think that Lyons definitely got a raw deal, but I also think that Piniella has an obligation to make a public statement. If they indeed felt that a camaraderie was developing between them in the booth, and Piniella wasn't offended as the initial media reports said, I think he should go on record and say as much. Don't let Lyons take the fall if it is unwarranted. Piniella isn't out of a job anymore, having signed a contract to manage the Cubs. What's he worried about?

I hate the Yankees and I'm glad to see them out of the playoffs. Now that that's off my chest (yeah, as if anyone outside of New York didn't agree with me), I'll get to the point. Joe Torre is a great manager. It doesn't hurt to have a $200 million dollar payroll of players, but all the same, Torre knows what he's doing. He's an honest, classy manager. Any man who manages the Yankees and still gets a standing ovation in Fenway (the day he returned from his cancer treatment) speaks volumes to who and what he is to the game.

That said, I'm glad that the public push and common sense are going to bring Torre back to New York. It was a gem of a job to manage the bombers through the injuries they had, and engineering another rise to the top of the standings by the end of September. The Yanks averaged over 5 runs a game on the season. How is it Torre's fault that they went all anemic in the playoffs? He tried tweaking the lineup in the final game, dropping A-Rod to8th, a spot he hasn't seen since nearly the minors.

I don't know, I guess it is more of an expectation to win every year when your payroll is that enormous and your owner is that irrational, but there are always going to be teams out there that simply want it more, or hit their stride at just the right time like the Tigers of '06. Keep in mind, this is the same city and same fanbase who consider Alex Rodriguez a failure this season (not in the playoffs, in which he was a failure) despite hitting almost .300, driving in 120+ runs and swatting 30+ homers. The guy is good, just not New York good... Maybe the wallet-stealing Piniella will take him under his wing (again) in Chi-town and he'll thrive again. He was great in Texas and Seattle, but neither of those markets are big on baseball. Texas is a football state, and Washington is, umm, rainy.

On a completely unrelated note, when Joe Buck compares Craig Monroe's shattered bat to Alex Rodriguez's psyche, I want to hurt him. What a tool. Yeah, Joe Morgan and John Miller aren't much better. Morgan can't predict a pitch to save his life. Seriously, listen to him some time. I detest Tim McCarver as well. Okay, you got me. I hate Fox commentators.

On another note, I hate when writers say that the Tigers are 'blue collar.' If being blue collar means making as much as Joel Zumaya, the lowest paid Tiger at $327,000 a year, count me in. There is no major league baseball player that is blue collar. Sure, many of the guys schleping around in the minors work hard and gets paid less, but the fact remains that their job is to play a game.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

DETROIT WHAT!!!!

They proved me wrong....

and everyone.

YES!!!!

Tigers vs. A's for the AL pennant. Who'd have thunk it?


(Yeah, A. Rod ........ you do suck.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's always sunny in Center Field

Eric Byrnes and Vernon Wells are guest commentators on Baseball Tonight. How awesome is that? Byrnes is such a good personality and kind of a nutcase (see this for reference). I mean come on, he traded himself. A smart livejournaler once said "When the bombs fall, I want Dr. Eric Byrnes at my side." I couldn't agree more.

Speaking of Byrnes, his former team is kind of ruining my whole prediction thing for the ALDS. I wouldn't mind seeing the A's win, I just wish it were more of a series. Maybe the Twinkies will climb back in this one. You know, if Radke's arm doesn't fall off. I give him an over/under (hi Drew) of 25 pitches. Unsettling stat for Billy Beane: The A's are 0-7 the last 7 times they went up two games in the ALDS.

Verlander says he may not be able to get as pumped up for the game on Thursday because he used all of his pumped-up-ed-ness on Wednesday. What a moron. He'll do fine.

If you blame Torii Hunter for the Twins loss, by the way, you're not thinking with your head. Hunter has been a gold-glover caliber center fielder this year, and you know if he makes that play, it's all over Sportscenter: web gem, top play, etc. There aren't too many center fielders in baseball that could have made that play. Sure, if he pulls up short and lets it bounce, it gets Reyes another batter and a chance to get himself out of it. However, it puts two men on base. Hunter catches that ball and there's an out and nobody advances.

Ron Gardenhire, in the post-game press conference, said that Torii has great instincts and that he never second guesses him. That's a good manager. Hunter took a good route to the ball, he just came up short. His bat is the reason the twins have done so well in September, so maybe he can keep carrying the Twins that way.

Eric Byrnes would have made that catch, though.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Red Sox Obervations

The Red Sox are (inconspicuously) absent from the playoffs this year. With all sorts of deals going on since the end of the 2004 season, the team currently heading back to their minor league assignments bears little resemblance to the championship team of two years ago. Watching the Padres yesterday afternoon was ridiculous. They traded away some decent players in the past two years, the following being a few.

Currently in the playoffs on the Padres active roster are:

Cla Meredith- In 50 2/3 innings, he has a 1.07 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP, and has only given up 6 runs on 30 hits with 37 K's. Yeah, glad they traded him for, umm, Doug Mirabelli. This dude was rated as one of the better prospects in the organization. Doug Mirabelli doesn't wear batting gloves. I suppose this trade might have made SOME sense had Tim Wakefield not been out most of the season.
David Wells - Still fat, but does well in the playoffs (10-4 with a 3.15 ERA, giving up more than 3 runs only 4 times in 26 appearances)
Alan Embree - I bet he misses Timlin. Poor guy.
Rudy Seanez - He pitched 1 2/3 innings yesterday with 2 K's. WTF.
Josh Bard - Batting .333 on the season (.378 in September) and slugging .522
Mark Bellhorn - Has lustrous hair
Dave Roberts - Great in left now that Mike Cameron is in Center. Less ground to cover, he somehow looks faster.


Yeah, it's was definitely odd watching the Padres. Then of course there's the other players the Sox traded, like Jay Payton (clutch hits in the A's win yesterday), Derek Lowe (Dodgers Game 1 starter and ace), postseason pusher Nomar (still don't like him though, despite) and Johnny Damon, who somehow gets base hits even though he has the ugliest swing ever. And Mike Myers. He's 'aight.

Not in the playoffs but still notable are Cy Young candidate (not winning, though, for sure) Bronson Arroyo, who had a decent season pitching to the light-hitting NL, ROTY candidate Hanley Ramirez, and Andy Marte. Okay, so maybe only the first two count. How about Kelly Shoppach, let's just throw him in there too.

Anyhow, it's kind of depressing seeing none of the teams I even remotely root for (Red Sox, Orioles, Phillies, Royals and Devil Rays) in the playoffs. It's nice, though, because now I can root for any of 7 teams to oust just 1. Go Tigwadomecarpads!

Predictions for the heck of it

Okay, so it's been since May. Sue me. In this post: Playoff picks and observations.

Okay, so I'll get to the predictions: I say the Twins are going to take the whole thing. I'd love to see a Twins-A's ALCS, but clearly that's not happenig

Division Series
Twins over A's, 3-2
Yankees over Tigers 3-1
Dodgers over Mets 3-2
Cards over Padres 3-1

Championship Series
Twins over Yankees 4-2
Dodgers over Cards 4-2

World Series
Twins over Dodgers 4-3

But why the Twins?

Since Pitching wins championships, I'm staying with the Twinkies. But Lou, Liriano is out, and he was clearly their #2 man. Radke is pitching on a MacGuyver'd arm and a wish. Okay, okay. Did you also know their bullpen is 71-1 when the Twins lead after 7? They have blown ONE GAME ALL YEAR. One freaking game. Yeah, pitching. Oh, they also have AL MVP Joe Mauer, September MVP Torii Hunter, and Justin Mourneau running protection for a not particularly stellar rotation (after Santana). Don't forget that their bullpen Juan Rincon (2.91 ERA), Pat Neshek (2.19), Jesse Crain (3.52) and Dennys Reyes (0.98) is anchored by one of the best closers in the league this year, Joe Nathan. Nathan is 36 for 38 in saves with a 1.56 ERA, .158 BAA, 12.51 K/9. The entire bullpen has a cumulative ERA of 2.91 ERA. That's what you call good pitching. That said, I think this is the year that Santana blows a game or two in the playoffs.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

of course

Of course the Phillies are offically done today. Naturally, they're gonna finish one or two games back of the wild card. What else could you expect? What did I predict at the beginning of the year? Another late season run that would captivate people yet just fall short? Of course. Because that's how they do it.



Hey, at least the Braves aren't in the playoffs this year. That's something.


I guess I'll do picks....

Yankees over Tigers in 3 (prove me wrong, Detroit!)

Twins over A's in 4

Mets over Dodgers in 5

Padres over Cardinals in 4

----

Yankees over Twins in 7

Mets over Padres in 6

-----

Yankees over Mets in 6 (boooooo)

(By the way, I hope to God that this doesn't happen, but it probably will. Baseball has just been lame like that recently. I want Padres over Tigers, but there's no way.... is there?)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

For the record

Fuck the Red Sox. You dickwads have been phoning it in since '04. Get over yourselves and win a division once in a while.

...


I didn't mean that! Papi, you're so loveable! And you played well, I admit. First Sox player since Jimmie Foxx to hit 50 - not shabby. But as for you...




...you're dead to me, boy. More dead than you're dead mother.

Here comes the Phillies bandwagon! Wait for me!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

ahhhhhh not again

I don't want to jinx anyone, so I've been silent as the Phils improbably crept back into the wild card race. They're only one game out now, with the Reds looking bad. Hell, the whole league looks bad.

But then...

(sweating)

I notice that a certain team has won 8 straight...

(clamming up)

And they're just two games behind, even more improbably, with a cast of youngsters.....

(choking)

the Florida Fucking Marlins.

(getting flashbacks of 2003, diving under tables)




(Honestly, you're at .500 right now. Just stay there. Just go even for the rest of the way, and you'll probably win this thing. I don't care if it will be the least impressive playoff berth in baseball history. Just freaking be medicore and let there be a playoff game in Philly for the first time in 13 years.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Maybe Bud is not Paul's bitch?

The following is a letter I sent to Bill Simmons, the Boston fan / columnist for ESPN's website. I've been wanting to discuss this topic with an expert for some time. Yes, it's more about football, but it brings up a good point about baseball, because most of America has chosen football over baseball (including me, I'll be honest) and Tagliabue is much much much much more respected than Selig. I argue in this piece that while that's true, Tags has a major fault that Selig at least trumps him in. Hopefully, this will incite some debate on this space.

---------------------

Hey Sports Guy,

With all the commotion surrounding the search for a new NFL commissioner, and the talk of inheriting a position held by such great men recently, I thought of something people seem to be ignoring. I know this sounds crazy, and I'm asking for a lightning bolt, but has it ever occurred to anyone that Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue were overrated? Or at least, that they were kinda bastards when you think about it? Bear with me.

People commend Tagliabue for getting a lot of new stadiums built. And he did that. But it's how that happened it that bothers me. Tagliabue allowed the whole Cleveland Browns debacle to happen, which was one of the sadder parts of football history. Those fans lived and died with football, then watched as Art Modell hoisted a trophy for Baltimore. But the people in Baltimore were celebrating, because 15 years before they had been screwed over by the Irsays. And so on with a number of other cities. The commissioners allowed Bill Bidwill to ditch St. Louis (though, yeah, they were eventually better off with the Rams) and L.A. to lose both teams (though, yeah, no one here seems to care).

For years, Tagliabue allowed owners to blackmail fans with the threat of moving. Give in to the tax money for a new stadium, they were told, or watch your team jump ship. People in Houston and Cleveland watched as their former teams made Super Bowls in new cities, and not only that, they were then given crappy expansion teams with many more restrictions on them than Carolina and Jacksonville had. The two recent expansion redux teams haven't done much, while those new market teams in the Southeast had the chance to be good right away. Why stick it to those football-crazy people in Texas and Ohio? Why not make it easy for divisions to be organized?

Compare this with baseball, which has many more problems, but fewer moves. Few people respect Bud Selig remotely as much as Tagliabue, and he's made a lot of mistakes, but only the Expos have moved in the past 30 some years. There are still teams in places like Pittsburgh and Kansas City and Milwaukee, even if they are hopeless (that's another problem).

As a Philly fan, I've suffered a lot, but I never had to worry about anyone leaving town, and I think that's a much worse fate than perennial chokers. I hope that Goodell keeps the great business of the league going, but not by alienating fans and threatening moves to any team that doesn't have a brand new stadium. Am I the only person to think so? Does this make any sense?

Thanks,

Justin Leo,

Orange, CA

(well, not for long, but whatever)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

damn you all

So a while back I was gonna write a piece about how the Phillies should not trade Bobby Abreu, one of their most consistent players over the past decade. Even if they were losing, and they are, I was going to go on and on about his solid hitting and base stealing and how they should get rid of Pat Burrell first. Ther just wasn't enough reason for it.

Then I saw it on TV when I was at the beach: Abreu in a Yankees uniform.

NO!!


NO!!!!!!!






KAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!



(why?)


I guess the Phils figured it was better to trade him away from the NL, away from any rivals.... but seriously, the Yankees? I kept reading how depleted their farm system was.... so how could they offer something nice in return? And why do you keep helping Satan, even if he's not in your league, to hang around? There was a chance, with all the good teams in the AL, that the Yankees would miss the postseason this year. How glorious would that be? But no, they had to boost the Yanks up at a spot they desperately needed, and now they're even with the Bosox (or ahead of them, pending results).

Meanwhile, the Phils keep unloading people, albeit with decent moves (Bell and Lidle were not worth it). But they could have kept Bobby. He's worth the money he was seeking, and even if he was having a slightly down year, his numbers from the last few seasons prove that he's always reliable. Get rid of Burrell if you must, but not Bobby.

By the way, the NL is still awful, and even though they keep losing, they're not out of it. If they think these moves will give them a jolt, then by all means, but sending Abreu packing seems to me to be sending the message that they're giving up. Don't give up, Phils. You absolutely have a shot to be in it. The Reds, Braves, Brewers, Dodgers... who else is in it? There's no one great.

I'm leaving the East Coast now, but I'll be back to knock some heads in if this ball club does not get its act together.

Friday, July 07, 2006

All-star? Game?

One of the most chic things to do in baseball around this time is to bash the all-star game. Go ahead and check any sports network that hosts opinion columns, and you're sure to find one. My favorite was one written by Jeff Passan for Yahoo Sports. First of all, how do you become an opinion columnist for Yahoo? It seems akin to being an executive chef for McDonalds. Lots of people are gonna eat your food, but no one's gonna care who made it. Anyway, Jeff came to the conclusion that the fans suck because of how the all-star teams turned out due to voting. No White Sox and no Nomar Garciaparra. He says fans suck for not voting those in, but instead he goes to blame the fans of the players who did get in for vague things like "stuffing the ballot box". Frankly, I think the issue is that White Sox fans and Dodgers fans must really suck for not bothering to vote for their favorite players. Then again, I don't think I've taken the time to fill out an all-star ballot since I was 15, so I'm not one to judge. Maybe it's because players from my favorite team never have a problem getting on (even if for years it was just Mike Piazza and no one else). Not the case this year with Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Lo Duca, Glavine and Pedro going.

In the all-star game's defense, I actually watch it. I was brought up to think of the All-Star game as this fun sorta carnival thingey where you get these weird team amalgamations that would never happen in real life so you may as well enjoy them while you can. Of course I was also brought up with stories of when the difference between the American and National League meant soemthing to the players (it still means a hell of a lot to me, but more on that later). Now, the leagues are little more than an organizational distinction, but because it used to be much more difficult to trade between leagues, the teams actually did develop a real rivalry between each other. Plus, this was before interleague play. If Bud Selig is looking for a reason All-Star game viewership has fallen off, he needs look no further than inter-league player.

In the all-star game, I root for the National League on principle. Why? I fucking hate the American League. I hope you're not hoping I'm going to elaborate.

The end.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I love it when you call me Big Papi


I think it's safe to say that David Ortiz, aside from being someone who I would clearly love to hug, is almost certainly the best clutch hitter of our time and perhaps of all time. He won two of the three games against the beloved/hapless Phillies in extra innings. Hurrah. He has some of the mostr memorable hits in the recent history of the game. And aside from all that, look at those threads.

Also, let me be the first to congratulate the Phillies on losing their division for certain. Thanks to the man I like to call Brett "The Hit Man" Myers. And now the nickname will finally stick.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Write your caption


From today's AP photo-wire, write a caption for this picture in the comments.

Friday, June 16, 2006

flags at half-mast

Is it too early for me to do a State of the Phils address? I don't think so. This week was a perfect time to start complaining, and as a Philadelphian, it doesn't take much, does it?

The boys in red got swept by the division rival Mets, who are like 9 games ahead of them now and look to have stopped underacheiving on their big-name, big-budget lineup. Philly is not going to catch them... unless they do something. As in, make a move. Will they do it?

Right now Philly is right at .500 and there's a bunch of teams in front of them in the NL. I really doubt the Reds or all those NL west teams who've started off well will hold up, but the Astros and Braves always might come on. The division looks lost, but it's early and the Mets could be peaking (although, they will likely add people if they can, cough, ahem, Alfonso Soriano, ech). So... it wil be a rough road to the playoffs, but they can do it. IF THEY ADD SOMEONE!!

This is a good year for management to prove they care about winning. They can send a message to fans that their nice new ballpark is giving them reason to spend more cash, that they're not going to dick around and hope the farm system comes through. Last year, it looked lost, with them dumping Kevin Millwood early on and falling behind early in the year. When BIlly Wagner said they were done, we believed it. But they came on strong and finished just one game out.

Based on that strong finish, they would do it in the offseason, right? Get the job done with free agents and stuff? Nope. Even though they brought in a new GM, Wagner still left to the Mets - a real killer this year - and they dumped Jim Thome, hero for the past few years, thinking he was dead. Well, Thome is not dead, although I don't argue the logic of the trade. They needed a centerfielder who could hit at the top of the order, and Ryan Howard did great at first and cleanup. But isn't there a way they could have put Howard in the outfield? Wouldn't you rather have him and Thome, even with bad defense, than him and Pat F-----g Burrell? By the way, if they swing a trade, is there any possible way that Pat the (weak) Bat can be a part of it?

Oh, and they didn't pick up a front-line starter, instead going with youth and some guy named Cory Lidle. Their pitching staff might have potential, but for now it ranks as the least intimidating out of all the NL teams trying to make it. I don't want to give up on these guys too early, but if you could get a known commodity like Barry Zito or Dontrelle Willis, why not? They still have some years left.

So, Pat Gillick, it's up to you. You walked into a situation where they never paid money and waited for the farm system. Well, you can change that. You can use some of those prospects to get good players for now and for the immediate future. I assume that's what you were hired for... to change things. You need to get a good starter for the stretch run. Wolfpack coming back isn't going to cut it. Ryan Madson certainly is NOT cutting it. Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, and Gavin Floyd mgiht make a good rotation someday, but again, stop waiting.

I'll be watching the transaction page for the Phils as much as I watch the scoreboard and standings. If they don't make a move, soon the new ballpark will be just like the Vet, only more costly.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Turning Japanese

In a deal that stunned baseball pundits around the nation, the Mets traded top 2nd baseman Kazuo Matsui to NL West juggernaut, the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies were so overwhelmed at this accquisition of top talent that they immedietly did the right thing and assigned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Remember the 90's when people actually got excited about newcoming Japanese players? Reality has set in, especially for Mets fans. The Mets have always been the first people to acquire mediocre Japanese talent from Kazuo Matsui to Masato Yoshii to Tsuyoshi Shinjo. Although I can't really complain about Shinjo just because he was hilarious. He wore these gigantic orange arm-guards and his nick-name in the New York media was "Mr. Sparkle". Became first player to complain of "funny bumps" in the outfield at Shea (each bump signifies a dead body).

I kinda wish someone would tell these Japanese players what's going to happen to them when they leave behind their multi-million dollar contracts and legions of silent fans in the far-East. That people will talk about them for a few months and bandy about exciting terms like, "The next Ichiro?" for a few months until they're forgotten. Maybe that should be Bobby Valentine's responsibility as manager of the Chibba Lotte Marines.

Anyway, always be skeptical of hyped players from Japan. The talent pool is no where near Major League level. Think of it as Triple A plus One. That goes for GM's too.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Closing the deal

So yeah, it's been about a month since my last post. I blame the negative chi of my New York home. When I'm using the computer, I'm no where near a cable equipped TV, so I can't watch baseball while I do something else, and baseball is the perfect background sport. So if you're gonna blame something, blame feng shui. But my sister lleft her laptop out tonight, so here I am: computer, tv, and provolone hummus mix, raring to go.

And that's all I have to say about that.

I was watching the Mets play the Dodgers out in L.A. tonight, and the Mets lost 8-5. The Dodgers brought in Cy Young award winner Eric Gagne to seal the deal, and he earned his salary AKA got three batters out. I'm not even going to get started on the irony of giving a closer an award named after a guy who pitched nine innings every day. That's ancient history. What I noticed at tonight's game was how the crowd reacted.

They were absolutely electric, everyone on their feet just for his walk from the bullpen to the pitcher's mound. You'll notice this is a typical reaction for closers. They always get the biggest cheers and the most applause. I first noticed it for Mariano Rivera on the Yankees, but it works that way for almost any closer in the majors.

They're really lucky bastards.

For one, they only come in to a game when their team is winning. So right away they benefit from the good vibes of a winning home team crowd. Then, assuming they don't blow it, they're the ones on the mound when the game ends. So no matter how great the starting pitcher was or how clutch the hitting, there's an isntant association between the closer and the win.

You can probably tell by now I don't have a terrible amount of respect for the position of closer. John Smoltz proved to me that any good pitcher can close. I mean, compare it to the starting pitcher role. Would you rather pitche every five days for as long as you can until you mess up and get a stat that labels you as the loser or would you rather just get three outs every few days and only get a stat if you win.

So what's the gist of what I'm trying to say? Ummm...closers aren't that great, yet they get a lot of adulation anyway? Yeah...I guess so.

Maybe I should've just written that

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Domo origato, Mr Leo

J. Leo has enough chutzpah for this entire blog. I like your moxie, kid. And other such generic old-timey motivational phrases.

Yes, it's true - The Dough Boy is back, and he generously accepted a $22 million prorated salary. Thank goodness he's not charging for a full season. Oh, and just to stick it to the league a little bit more, he tacked another 22 bucks on the end of the figure so it could all match his uniform number. $22,000,022. For maybe 20 starts. Dick!

The AL East is indeed a good-looking race once again. If the Jays ever get a decent pitching staff, or at least something to match their bats, the Yanks and Sox had better watch out. Rios is leading the league is batting? WTF? Wasn't he Troy Glaus' bat boy last year in Arizona?

And yes, still don't care about Bonds. Can't stand him. Can't stand the League dancing around the issue and the man himself playing it up. He loves this shit. At least ESPN finally cancelled his infomercial show. Again: Dick!

And as a personal addendum, my hiatus has been due to little more than excessive heat in the loft of my apartment, where my computer is. It's unseasonably cool right now, which rocks, so I'll try to update as much as I can while I have things to say/it's not ungodly hot up here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

oh, but we've just begun

Well, it is the end of May and I'm not ready to give up on this baseball blog yet. In fact, I'm just about to get started. The end of student life for me means more time to write and pay attention to various sporting things (this has been an interesting and exciting NBA playoffs... not that we endorse that sort of thing on here). As the baseball season is very long, I usually pay no attention to the first month and its fast starts because it almost always won't matter in the long run. And even though the second month is a better gage, it gives us just a fewmore answers.

Now of course, the third month, with the all-star break giving us time to pause for reflection, is when you should really start paying attention. But still, with what is going on now, as Memorial Day closes and we head into June, we have reason to pay attention to baseball. Here's a few of my notes (i.e. ramblings) why...

- the Detroit Tigers are still in first place, and their pitching staff is holding up well. Sure, it probably won't last, but then, the White Sox kept up their hot start last year and held on. With the Tigers and Chisox both doing well, they have sufficient motivation to keep it up for the rest of the year, much as the Indians and Sox did last year.

- at time of posting, the seperation in the AL east between Boston and New York? Zero games. Ya gotta love that. The best race to watch all season....

.... and the Blue Jays are a few back, despite their pitching problems.

- the NL west, which last season almost gave us the first non-strike division to have zero teams over .500, has EVERY team over .500, and the Rockies were leading it for a while. Now Arizona, similarly mocked at the start of the season, is in front.

- speaking of that, the entire NL is doing much better than expected this year. There's a host of playoff contenders, and they held their own in interleague play....

....and that group of contenders includes the Phils, trudging along and staying in the race.

- also, the Atlanta Braves might finally NOT win the division. That makes me smile, even if it's not the Phils who take them down.

- I can't believe I'm the first person on here to (recently) post this, but Roger Clemens officially came back to the Astros today. Even though the league is tougher, as I just said, he gives them a good shot of getting back to the series. I knew when I saw him pitch here against Mexico that he would never go out like that. Even though the Astors have struggled lately, he can give them a huge lift, and they have to be considered extremely dangerous to get another wild card.

- amazingly, as good as the NL west has been, the AL west is falling apart. The Rangers have hung in only because Oakland and Local Team with Regional Issues have both struggled. And Seattle still sucks and might even get rid of Ichiro. Of course, I'm thoroughly enjoying the Angels' demise - I can't have any respect for these fans. I just can't.

- oh, and no one cares about Barry Bonds. Not at all. Even the media have stopped hyping him up - I didn't even hear about 715* right away, I had to read about it.


See? There's reason to care about baseball again. I'll be continually updating this for however long it before I get a job that takes up every ounce of free time I have (and then I'll sneak on here at work and complain). Swing free, mis amigos.

Monday, May 29, 2006

THE END

As our scholarly advances have ceased for the duration of the summer season, so have our attempts at combining humor and baseball.

Perhaps as summer closes, autumn begins (baseball becomes interesting again what with approaching playoffs) we shall reconvene and Insurance Runs will continue.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sharks!

Poor Dontrelle Willis. That guy just can't catch a break. The guy won the effin World Series only a couple of years ago, now he's stuck with a 11-25 team full of losers and Miguel Cabrera. Dude's young, but he's got some nasty stuff. I know that he's 1-4 and hasn't looked very good, but I really do think that it's probably just the shittiness of the team that's gotten to him. I don't think I would have any will to play well if I knew that my bosses would just sell off all the good players once we got good. It's amazing that this has happened not just once, but twice now, and that the Marlins have somehow won two World Series in spite of, not because of, their front office. Apparently, the owners would rather have cardboard cutouts of players instead of actual ones, so long as the cutouts were happy with three hundred thou a year.

Baseball - and professional sports in general, I suppose - as business is a terrifying thing. I feel like the front office for the Marlins have watched The Producers one too many times. Somehow they've managed to figure out that if they have a team of youngsters and shitty players, they'll make more money for themselves. Both times they won the Series they've ended up selling off all their good players. This time it was more like a slow bleed, but it's getting to the point where Cabrera and Willis are the only decent ones left, and it's likely that they'll be gone this year or next. Good thing the Marlins don't have any fans.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A whole new meaning for changeup

I've always wondered how successful a switch-throwing pitcher could be in the big leagues. I tried doing some research and found that there has only been one guy, Greg Harris, who has done it since 1900. As an Expo, he pitched to four batters and had a shutout inning in 1995 against the Reds. For years he had wanted to try it out in the Majors, and after being told no for his whole career, good old Felipe Alou finally let him.

As a sidenote, the first guy to do it was Tony Mullane (shown at left), starting back in 1881. Dude didn't even wear a glove, he just toed the rubber with the ball in both hands and picked one to throw with.

Anyhow, what got my interest going was this article. While I don't think the kid will ever get to the big leagues, it's interesting to think how effective someone who could pitch well from both sides, and was allowed to do so, might be.

Did anyone else know that Bucky Dent is the bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds? I didn't.

Recently, Simmons wrote a great article about his obsession with fantasy baseball, and how his wife doesn't quite understand his fanaticism over his team. As I find myself six weeks into my Yahoo Fantasy League, the article was quite poignant to me. I no longer care about the fate of entire teams, just players. Oakland lost to Toronto 8-3? Who cares, Nick Swisher went 2-4 with two HR's, and he didn't strike out. I don't care that the Twins are 15-19, I care that Torii Hunter is only hitting .268. I won't even dane to glance at the Orioles box score until Brian Roberts comes off of the DL.

It's kind of pathetic, in a way. I've turned into even more of a box-score and stats person than I was before. It's fun, though, at the same time. I have been following baseball much more closely all season, and since I don't have any money invested in this league, if I lose it's still okay. All the same, I wish Joe Mauer was doing as well as everyone thought he was going to.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Our new hero

We here at Insurance Runs have expressed our distaste for Barry Bonds. We have spoken against him in the hopes that there are people elsewhere who share this unabashed apathy towards his horse-testosterone-driven swipe at almost-glory. (If these people exist, and we are certain they do, they obviously don't work at ESPN. Honestly, don't care. Don'tcaredon'tcaredon'tcare.)

My personal faith was reaffirmed tonight by this lovely gentlemen who goes by the name of Juan.



Pierre robbed Bonds on a hit to center during the fifth of the Giants' systematic dismantling of the woeful Cubbies. If the media could stop sucking Bonds off for three seconds, they would see that this is all a charade, that no one in the public really cares. Well, maybe people in the midwest, but they hardly count as people, now do they? (Browns fans...shudder.) We're more interested in seeing Pujols hitting like an inebriated gentleman from the American South who didn't get his supper, in Thome's resurgence as a power threat, in the Phitin' Phils winning their ninth in a row, in the Yanks getting routed and the Unit getting booed off the field in Yankee Stadium.

Scott Van Pelt: love ya, but lay off the Bonds. Not concerned with it. Besides, you're so good! You even make Nascar highlights bearable! Don't waste your flavor (flava?) with that fat-head.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Goin' Streakin'


I was kind of knocked out of my sports rhythm last week due to my recent move, but when I got hooked back into the Matrix, I was thrilled to see that my Phils has won 5 in a row. I was worried that it was only because I hadn't been watching, but they continued to produce, and I couldn't be happier. Tons of offense, some ego-boosting wins for the starting rotation, not to mention Chase Utley getting named NL Player of the Week. Dude is seeing the ball right now, and the team in general is finally clicking on all cylinders, as far as offense goes. That game where Utley and Ryan Howard both hit two homers? Killer. And now, they've won 8 in a row, heading into a huge series with the Division rival Mets. Everyone will be paying close attention to this one, and not just because Billy Wagner will be returning to Philly. After seeing the reception Bonds got on Sunday, though, even Wagner knows he's going "to catch hell" once he steps into that bullpen. But this series is even more important, as a sweep (however improbable) would launch the Phils to within one game of first place.

It seems that the Phils aren't the only ones streaking lately though. The San Diego Padres have won 9 in a row, going from 8-14 to 17-15 in the past 10 games. They won their 9th straight yesterday against future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs, who were also swept with the win. The Cubs have been on a streak of their own, but going the opposite way. They've lost 7 straight, including the afore-mentioned 4-game sweep from the Padres. Having lived in Chicago for two years now, I'm sure that the fans here are not surprised in the least, but are drowning their disappointment with Old Style and bratwurst.

Some other streaks worth mentioning: before Sunday, the Arizona Diamondbacks had won 7 in a row, keeping them ahead of the Padres. That NL West is gonna be crazy this year, especially with the youthful Rockies playing the way they have been (they've won 4 in a row, by the way).

The New York Yankees have won 5 in a row, and the Boston Red Sox have won 4 coming into the great rivalry starting tonight. There will be some fireworks there, for sure, and no doubt Lou and others will have plenty to say about that in the days ahead.

That's what I'll be looking at the next three days - the two hottest series in baseball - Phillies/Mets and Sox/Yankees. We'll see whose streak can be extended.