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 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


They proved me wrong....

and everyone.


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.