Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jonah Ramirez

In the bible Jonah is called by God to prophesize in the city of Nineveh. Jonah instead tries to sail to Tarshish. God sends a great storm and Jonah realizes that the storm is his fault. The sailors throw Jonah overboard and the seas calm and Jonah is swallowed by a great fish.

Manny Ramirez was called to be a great baseball player but instead this season he was the middle of a great storm of his own making. Today the Red Sox front office has traded him away - thrown him overboard if you will - with the hopes that the seas will be calmed and a tranquility will descend upon the Red Sox clubhouse.

That was the analogy that struck me with the trading of Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers with the Red Sox getting Jason Bay on their end.

Taking a closer look at the trade - here are my thoughts.

Red Sox - this is more than just addition by subtraction. Yes - Manny Ramirez had become more than mere distraction and shipping him out of town automatically improves the atmosphere in Fenway Park. Jason Bay is not chopped liver though. Manny will probably feast on NL pitching but he will be hitting primarily in pitcher's ballparks. It should also be noted that this is the 2008 Manny - not the 2004 Manny that many people seem to be describing. His skills at the plate are in decline. He put up an OPS+ of 140 to this point for the Red Sox. I can easily see Jason Bay matching that production both for the rest of this season and also for 2009.

The Red Sox also gave up Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen in the deal. I'm happy for Moss because he'll get to play full time in Pittsburgh. Hansen is a Scott Boras client and I have to wonder if that played into the decision to include him in the deal. Now the only Boras clients on the team are Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury and JD Drew. It will be interesting to see how the team handles the Varitek negotiations with Boras. I almost expect them to make a take it or leave it one-year offer (with Varitek taking it).

It should also be pointed out that with Manny gone and Curt Schilling probably retiring - the Red Sox will have $21 million freed up for next season's salary budget. That is no small item and why they did not hesitate to pick up the rest of Manny's 2008 salary.

Dodgers - they get Manny and his bat but they also get Manny and his creaky legs and his leaky defense. They lose Andy LaRoche who has not lived up to his hype yet (but he's still only 24). They also lose AA pitcher Bryan Morris who may be a diamond in the rough. I think if Ned Colletti organized a picnic - he'd have seven deserts, no sandwiches and potato salad past its expiration date. He's not a very good GM.

Pirates - normally I'm against trading a quarter for 5 nickels but this may work out for Pittsburgh. They get an outfielder to replace Bay in Moss (who could be better than David Murphy who has prospered in Texas since getting to play full time). They get a LaRoche brother on both hot corners (think of the marketing potential). They get a player who could turn into a legit MLB closer in Hansen (who could then be traded for even more prospects). And they get a top pitching prospect in Morris. Most importantly they get players who are all cheap and under team control for a few years to come. In addition - they don't have to pay signing bonuses to any of these guys. If they took the 2 first round picks when Bay walked after 2009 - the combined 2009 salary for Bay and the signing bonuses for those 2 picks would be much more that what they will pay LaRoche, Moss, Hansen and Bryan Morris probably for the next 2 seasons.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Here's the trailer for the new movie. Looks great!

The Bostonian

Oh my gawd! The Sox have lost three in a row! Theo better do some-thin and it better be wicked good. The Yankees have traded for Pudge Rodriguez and the Angels got Mark Tex-share-ah. Those Angels look awesome!

ESPN is saying that the Sox are talkin' to the Marlins. Maybe Theo can trade Manny for Hanley Ramirez? That would be a wicked pissah move. It would be great have have that kid back. He's even better than Rooster Burleson.

I'm just sayin' that Theo better do some-thin quick because the season is going down the freakin' toilet.

[sarcasm off]
Heh Heh

This was sent to my email.
Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question?...What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.

Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer.

But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.

The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!

Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.

He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur.

He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.

Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus:

What a woman really wants, she to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared

And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.

The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened

The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.

Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day....or night?

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?

What would YOU do?

What Lancelot chose is below. BUT....make YOUR choice before you scroll down below. OKAY?

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.

Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

Now....what is the moral to this story?

Scroll down

The moral is.....
If you don't let a woman have her own way...
Things are going to get ugly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dewey, Garret and Manny

Compare the career numbers of these two players:

Player A - .272 BA / 1470 R / 385 HR / 1384 RBI / 127 OPS+
Player B - .295 BA / 1000 R / 266 HR / 1259 RBI / 105 OPS+

It should be noted that Player A played 20 seasons while Player B is in the midst of his 15th season. I'm not treating this as a quiz because I'm guessing the title of the post was too big of a hint. Player A is 3-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glove winner Dwight Evans. Player B is 3-time All-Star Garret Anderson.

Why am I making this player comparison?

It occurred to me that when Anderson is done playing the Angels will be retiring his number. That's fitting seeing that Anderson holds almost all the franchise batting records except triples, stolen bases and home runs. Also consider that the Angels only have a couple of player numbers retired and those players (Fregosi, Carew and Ryan) didn't even play 90% of their careers with the Angels.

It can be argued that Dwight Evans was the much better all-around player. Anderson can play for 4 more years and still not pass Evans in many offensive categories. Yet Dwight Evans won't have his number retired by the team he played 19 seasons for while Anderson will. Irony isn't quite the word that I'm looking for but the comparison struck me nonetheless.

Where does Manny Ramirez fit into the discussion?

Going into this season a perfect storm was brewing to get Dwight Evans' number 24 retired by the Boston Red Sox. It looks like Jim Rice may finally get elected to the Hall of Fame this year and that opens the way for his number 14 to be retired by the Red Sox. Rice has to be honored by the Sox before Evans is - that's just the way it is. Going into the season it looked like Manny wanted to retire as a member of the Red Sox and that would have made retiring his number 24 (the same 24 that was worn by Evans) a no-brainer. Now it looks like Manny may separate from the team at the end of the year on maybe not the best of terms. That could dash any future plans to retire the number 24.

My guess always was that the Red Sox would honor both Manny and Dewey during a retirement of the number 24. I could see a 24 on the right field porch with a DE (for Dwight Evans) above and a MR (for Manny Ramirez) below. Now my guess is that the number 24 may not be retired at all.

But Garret Anderson's number 16 will.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Manny Drama

If you've read this space for any length of time - you probably realize that I'm a fan of Manny Ramirez (and often an apologist as well). Like many Manny defenders - I'm done.

The situation as I see it is as follows:

- Manny Ramirez is a future Hall of Fame player who at 36-years old is past his prime but still very productive and still one of the top right-handed bats in the game.

- Manny's antics have gone from puzzling to cute to just plain annoying distractions.

- Manny has two team options each at $20 million per year on a contract he signed in 2001 negotiated by then agent Jeff Moorad. Now Manny's agent is Scott Boras who will not see a penny if those team options are exercised but who will get paid if Manny gets to sign a new multi-year deal elsewhere.

- Manny has said he is open to being traded if the trade helps the Red Sox.

The first question to ask is can Manny be traded? I'd assume that only a playoff contending team would be interested. It's unlikely that the Red Sox would trade him to an AL team. The Yankees are obviously out of the running. I doubt the Twins would make such a deal. The White Sox are set in the outfield and at DH. Ditto to a lesser degree the Tigers. The Angels could use a DH but I doubt the Red Sox would make a trade to a team they will probably play in the postseason.

That leaves the NL. The Mets have long coveted Manny but do they have the prospects to make it worth while? Ditto the Phillies. The Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals are pretty well set in the outfield. The two most logical places for Manny to land are the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. Both teams need offense and both teams have fairly well stocked farm systems. The problem with prospects is that they don't help you win right now and the Red Sox want to win this year.

That means that logically what will probably happen is that Manny plays out the rest of the year with the Red Sox and then the team declines the 2009 option making him a free agent. That's the popular belief right now. However, I can see another scenario that in my mind is even more likely. Manny plays out the season and the Red Sox pick up his 2009 option with the intention of trading him. That would be a big "screw you" to both Manny and Scott Boras for bringing these distractions down upon the Red Sox in a pennant race. That's my best guess to what will happen.

The Red Sox pick up the 2009 option and then allow Scott Boras to broker a deal so that Manny gets a new contract (at I'm guessing less than $20 million per year) and the Red Sox get prospects in return. If Manny's agent brokers the deal how can he say no? This also puts the Red Sox in the drivers seat as they would have final say on yea or nay to any deal.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mike Hall

Do you remember Mike Hall? He was the "winner" of the vastly over-hyped (but then again anything ESPN produces is bound to be over-hyped) reality show Dream Job. Mike won a job as a SportCenter anchor but I guess it turned out to not really be a dream job. I mean who has a dream job that has a shelf life less than an Ivy League running back trying to make the NFL? Hall now works for The Big Ten Network. Maybe that was really his dream job.

I'll have to give thought as to what my dream job would be but its not being an ESPN anchor.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bill Belichick - Defensive Genius?

The Cold Hard Football Facts thinks not.

Interesting read. I don't necessarily agree but it does make for an interesting argument. In defense of Belichick let me just say that TCHFF cherry picks big games and opponents for big games don't get there by fluke. I must say the Tom Brady factor can't be ignored though.
Top 5 - Blake Edwards Movies

Today is director Blake Edwards' 86th birthday. In his honor - here are my 5 favorite Blake Edwards movies.

1. The Pink Panther
2. Breakfast at Tiffany's
3. 10
4. Operation Petticoat
5. The Pink Panther Strikes Again

Not included on the list but worthy of mention are 1981's S.O.B. (Julie Andrews' boobs!) and Skin Deep starring John Ritter and the famous "light saber" duel. Both films are guilty pleasures of mine.

At 86 I would assume (given that he hasn't directed anything for 15 years) that Blake Edwards days directing a film are done. It should be noted that he made quality movies most of which have withstood the test of time. Thanks for all the laughs.
Harry Reid - Racist

I had to chuckle after reading this post on the defeat of an energy bill that did not include provisions for off-shore drilling. What I found amusing was Harry Reid's reaction which included this bit:
Another reporter explained she had watched the Senate proceedings and said it was not clear he was … offering separate amendments, to which [Harry] Reid asked the reporter if she “spoke English.”
This is the same Harry Reid who called making English the official language of the US a "racist" proposal. Harry Reid judging people by how good they speak English makes him a racist by his own standards.
I'm Back

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week. It was a combination of things. One one hand I was extremely busy at work this past week living out of hotels in New Jersey from Monday till yesterday. On the other hand - there really wasn't anything that piqued my interest enough to post about it. The Red Sox were on the west coast and being in New Jersey - I didn't get to see a single inning of any of their games. Other stuff? Well I did think of reposting my bit about TV Tourettes because there are a large number of Jared's Jewelry Stores in New Jersey and every time I passed one I couldn't help but say out loud or think the words, "He went to Jared's!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

American Digest

Five years and still going strong.

Some of the most intelligent and thought provoking writing on the interwebs. If you don't have the site bookmarked or have a feed - your are a poorer person for it.

Mazal tov Doctor Vanderleun.
Moneyball Indeed!

With the recent trade of Joe Blanton to the Phillies - the last of the players who were both drafted by the A's in 2002 and who subsequently were featured in Michael Lewis' book Moneyball are now all out of the Oakland system. Major League Jerk recently did an excellent Moneyball recap of "Where are They Now".

I'm not concerned so much with "where are they now" but two facets do interest me. What did the A's really get out of the 2002 draft? And how money really plays into moneyball. Let's take a look at the players who made the bigs to answer these questions.

Of the nine players drafted and featured in the book - three are still making contributions at the major league level. Those three are:

- Nick Swisher (16th pick overall) had three solid seasons for the A's averaging 26 HR and better than 82 RBI per season for those three years. Prior to this season Billy Beane traded Swisher to the White Sox in exchange for left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez, right-handed pitcher Fautino De Los Santos and outfielder Ryan Sweeney. It should be noted that Sweeney actually leads Swisher in several offensive categories this season including 3B, SB, BA, SLG, and OPS. That's not to suggest that Sweeney is as good a player as Swisher but the drop-off isn't really that, that much. Besides - the White Sox will pay Swisher $3.5 million this season compared to the A's paying Sweeney just $395,000 - plus the A's got two top pitching prospects in the deal.

- Joe Blanton (24th pick overall) was just traded to the Phillies for prospects second baseman Adrian Cardenas, left-hander Josh Outman and outfielder Matt Spencer. In his career for the A's Blanton was 47-46 with a 4.25 ERA. Blanton signed for $3.7 million this year and next year's contract is sure to be north of $5 million. That's for a guy who had exactly a league average ERA and who was one game over .500 for a team that was well over .500 in his time in Oakland.

- Mark Teahen (39th pick overall) never played a day in the bigs for the A's and now plays for the Royals. He will make a little more than $2 million this year. Teahen was part of 5 player trade in 2004 that in part sent Teahan to the Royals and Octavio Dotel to the A's. Dotel saved 29 games in a season and a half for Oakland but is widely regarded as an awful, awful closer. It should be noted that 15 of the 38 players taken ahead of Teahen never made it to the big leagues.

So what conclusions can we draw from this information? The A's had 6 first round picks in 2002 and 3 of those picks have turned into productive major league players. A 50% success rate for first round picks isn't bad (consider that the Pirates had the 1st overall pick and they chose Brian Bullington over such names as BJ Upton or Prince Fielder). The A's got 6 combined productive seasons out of Swisher and Blanton and then turned around and got 6 top prospects for them before the big money started kicking in. When they sold a prospect (Teahen) for a "proven" player (Dotel) it backfired. The main lesson of Moneyball was that the A's success was due to buying low on undervalued assets and selling high on over-valued assets. The prospects for veteran players (Swisher and Blanton) is just a continuation of that lesson and should lead to continued success for the small market A's.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You Make Lovin Fun?

Today I heard the Fleetwood Mac song You Make Lovin Fun for the umpteenth hundred time but this time for some reason the words struck me funny. Isn't "lovin" supposed to be fun? It would be more remarkable for a song to have the lyrics "You make lovin feel like work." Or how about "You make lovin feel like a burning sensation when I urinate"?

You can tell a girl wrote the song.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

James Posey and Ryan Gomes

Yesterday the Boston Celtics lost free agent James Posey to the New Orleans Hornets. This has been greeted in some circles around New England with a "woe is us - what a mistake!" attitude. It should be noted that many of the same people who are bemoaning the loss of Posey are the very same people who were saying that the Celtics bench was awful before the season started.

I am comforted in the fact that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have proven that they know what they are doing. Sure Posey was an important component to their championship run this year but championship teams often lose important components. The Patriots weren't any less of a team after losing players like Adam Vinatieri. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 despite losing Perdo Martinez after their 2004 chamionship. Was Posey more important to the Celtics than Vinatieri or Pedro were to the Patriots or Red Sox?

This year the Celtics are expecting improved contributions from PG Gabe Pruitt and from this year's draft picks JR Giddens and Bill Walker. Of course the roster is going to look different from last season. Losing Posey is perhaps the biggest manifestation of these changes.

I would never presume to think I know better than Danny Ainge but I will admit that Ryan Gomes is one of my favorite players. I'd love to see Ainge use the mid-level exception to try and get Gomes back to Boston. Would that be rubbing Kevin McHale's nose in it though?
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Mississippi State University

In honor of Bobby Thigpen's 45th birthday - here are who I consider the top 5 players from Mississippi State University.

1. Will Clark - he started over Palmeiro in college and for the Orioles - so he gets the nod on this list too
2. Rafael Palmeiro* (gets the asterisk for obvious reasons)
3. Bobby Thigpen - it's his birthday so he gets the nod in 3rd place
4. Dave "Boo" Ferris - won 21 games his rookie season and 25 games the next year for the Red Sox
5. Jonathan Papelbon

Just missing the cut - Buddy Myer and Jeff Brantley (who used to really annoy me when he was on Baseball Tonight).
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

There are five players on the Red Sox 40-man roster whose last name is the same (at least phonetically) as a city or town in Massachusetts. Can you name them?... The Red Sox have the question of Manny's $20 million option hanging over their heads. Going into the season I felt that unless Manny completely dropped off the map offensively wise then the option would definitely be picked up. I still feel that it will be but I'm not 100% sure anymore. "Manny Being Manny" has worn on the nerves of many people and an OPS of .908 is not exactly Manny being the Manny we had grown used to. Likewise the Yankees have Jason Giambi's $22 million option hanging over their head. Going into the season I was sure this was an option that would not be picked up. Now I'd guess that it will be picked up. Giambi is very popular both with the other players on the team and with the fans. Plus his production has been back up this season (currently 8th in OPS and 6th in HR). In the end - I see both options being picked up by the teams... If the AL Cy Young Award was presented today - there is a very good chance that Justin Duchscherer would win it (or at least finish second to Roy Halladay). For Red Sox fans Duchscherer is the fish that got away. He was a Red Sox draft pick who was traded away for Doug Mirabelli back in 2001. This is in no way Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell but it is worth noting... Today is Bobby Thigpen's 45th birthday. There is a good chance that this will be Thigpen's last birthday that he can have as the holder of the single season record for saves (the Angels Francisco Rodriguez looks poised to shatter the record). It's interesting to note that Thigpen set the record but still finished 4th in Cy Young Voting back in 1990. I guess that tells you how much the voters value saves... Answer to the question: Tim Wakefield, Mike Lowell, Jon Lester (Leister), Craig Hansen (Hanson) and Eric Hull. You'd have to be a real fanatic to get Eric Hull...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

MLB All-Star Game

Interesting - the AL is the favored team in tonight's All-Star game even though most people agree that the NL's starting team is better. The AL is at -$147 (meaning risk $147 to win $100 - the NL is at +$127 meaning risk $100 to win $127). I guess the home field means that much. Terry Francona managing the AL probably also factors into the equation. As much as Clint Hurdle talks about wanting the home field advantage for the NL - let's face it - Francona has a much bigger stake in the outcome.

The over/under for runs is at 10 which seems a lock for the over.

Josh Hamilton is the betting favorite to be the MVP of the game at 2-1 followed by Justin Morneau at 4-1. I think Morneau is a sucker bet. My money is on Alex Rodriguez at 15-2. The hometown guy seems to win the MVP more times than not in these games.

Odds via Bodog.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Tim Wakefield continues to be the best bargain in baseball. With his win last night he's now 6-6 on the season - which is the least impressive thing about his statistics. Consider that he's started 19 games and averaged better than 6 innings pitched per game all the while posting a 3.60 ERA at the age of 41. You don't think of Wakefield as a strikeout pitcher but with his 6 strikeouts last night he broke his tie with Hall of Famer Kid Nichols to take 78th place on the all-time strikeout list all by himself... Only two teams in the AL have a winning record on the road. The Angels have been great on the road this year with a 30-18 record and the Yankees just qualify by going 23-22 so far this season... Bobby Kielty has been granted his release from the Red Sox. With Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss standing in his way - there was no way he was going to see any action on the big league level... If Jed Lowrie proves to be an everyday shortstop - can the Red Sox afford to eat the $18 million left on Julio Lugo's contract? There are many, many Red Sox fans who hope they can... Speaking of contracts fans would love to drop - how many Phillies fans would love to see Philadelphia's front office shed themselves of Adam Eaton's $9.5 million 2009 contract? Eaton's ERA is 5.71 and it's still more than half a run BETTER than it was last year... It doesn't make me happy that players like Eaton get all the chances in the world but yet a player like Charlie Zink can go 10-2 with a 2.28 ERA in AAA and not get a sniff of the big leagues. Just because Zink is a knuckleball pitcher and he's stuck in a farm system that is pitching rich. Don't try to tell me that a team like the Phillies wouldn't be 100% better with Zink taking the ball every 5th day than it would be with Adam Eaton. Hasn't anyone learned anything from the lesson of Tim Wakefield?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

All USC Baseball Team

I have no idea why I do these things but here’s my all-USC baseball team made up of current and former big-leaguers who went to USC.

C – Jeff Clement
1st – Mark McGwire
2nd – Brett Boone
SS – Roy Smalley
3rd – Aaron Boone
OF – Freddy Lynn
OF – Jacque Jones
OF – Geoff Jenkins
DH – Dave Kingman

Starter – Tom Seaver
Starter – Randy Johnson
Starter – Bill Lee
Starter – Mark Prior
Starter – Barry Zito

Closer – Tom House

Just missing the cut: Jeff Cirillo, Brian Bannister, Steve Kemp
Tony Snow

Tony Snow has passed away.

He always seemed like a smart, decent man with a good sense of humor. I can't help but wonder if his final joke was to time his death for a late Friday night after all the reporters had gone home and the type for the next day had been set. They say that Friday night is the best time to leak bad news because by Monday in many cases it will be forgotten. I'm pretty sure Tony Snow will be remembered longer than that.
The Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels has a contract through the 2011 season. The way I see it - Daniels is safe (as long as there is no major collapse) until he gets to field "his" team in 2010.

The Rangers are solid up the middle. They have Gerald Laid at catcher; Ian Kinsler at 2nd (locked up till 2013); Michael Young at short (also locked up till 2013) and Josh Hamilton in centerfield. In addition David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia look like they will be productive low-cost players in the starting nine.

That leaves 3rd base, a corner outfielder and a 1st / DH. Hopefully Chris Davis who has hit 5 HR in 14 games this year in Arlington will be the answer at 3rd. The Texas farm system is getting better and maybe the holes can be filled by prospects like Chris Davis. However, to become a playoff threat team - some free agents will need to be signed. But where will that money come from?

Consider the situation of the following players:

Kevin Millwood is the highest paid Ranger but his contract is actually very favorable to Texas. Millwood has to pitch 273 inning between this season and next (or 180 innings next season) or the Rangers can opt out of the last year of the deal ($12 million in 2010). Who knows though? $12 million may be the going rate for a 180 IP per year pitcher with a league average ERA.

Vicente Padilla also has a $12 million 2010 option. So basically if neither pitcher is performing up to club expectations then the team can save more than a third of their payroll and start anew for new starters.

Hank Blalock has a team option of $6.2 million for 2009. Unless Blalock catches fire in the second half - I don't see the Rangers picking up that option. You can't catch fire from the DL.

That's over $30 million of payroll that can be shed by the time the 2010 season comes around.

If I were in Jon Daniels shoes' I would target the following 3 free agents to field as competitive team as possible in 2010.

1. Derek Lowe - free agent after this season. His sinkerball could be just the right pitch in the heat of Arlington.

2. Jason Bay - free agent after the 2009 season. He would add another big bat to an already potent line-up.

3. Justin Duchscherer - free agent after 2009 season. This has been Duchscherer's breakout season but I think he's the real deal.

Those three players would cost more than the $30 million that was just trimmed but it would be worth it. Justin Duchscherer and Derek Lowe at the top of the rotation with that potent Ranger line-up would make the Rangers a very competitive team come 2010.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Indians Draft Picks

Every once and a while you read some minor detail that shocks you. Yesterday while reading a post on the Indians' pitching - this fact jumped out at me:
Jeremy Sowers - The former #6 overall pick is the only Indians first-round pick in the last 10 years on the roster.
Really? Mark Shapiro took over in 2001 and he's supposed to be the baseball equivalent of Scott Pioli of the New England Patriots. Right? I looked it up and the facts shook my beliefs. With the 1998 first round pick - CC Sabathia - now traded away Sowers is left as the only Indians first round pick on the roster. I don't know why that's so shocking to me.

Maybe its because I'm spoiled by the Red Sox success? Between 2001 and 2005 - here are the Red Sox top picks; Kelly Stoppach (2001), Jon Lester (2002), David Murphy (2003), Dustin Pedroia (2004) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2005). All of them are contributing for teams on the MLB level. And all the Indians have to show is Jeremy Sowers? Heck even the Yankees have a Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to show as top picks since 2001.

I thought that Mark Shapiro was a sharp GM and a sharp judge of young talent. But looking at their starting line-up -Ryan Garko was a 3rd round pick and Ben Francisco was a 5th round pick in 2002. That's really it for draft picks. He did trade Bartolo Colon for Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore. He did trade for Travis Hafner. But he did trade Kevin Kouzmanoff for Josh Barfield. He did trade Coco Crisp for Andy Marte. He did draft Jeremy Guthrie in the first round in 2002 but then again he also gave up on Guthrie too. Now Guthrie has as many innings pitched this year and a better ERA than CC Sabathia but of course that's for Baltimore not Cleveland.

Maybe Mark Shapiro isn't all that and a bag of chips like I thought he was?

HT The Big Lead

EDIT: To clarify that Guthrie was another 1st rounder by Shapiro

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Brett Favre and Barry Larkin

There has been lots of whoo-hah about Brett Farvre possibly coming out of retirement. My first reaction about such talk is "Jeez - enough already!" However, then I think about Barry Larkin and I think "Maybe Green Bay should welcome Brett back as the starting QB."

Barry Larkin retired after the 2004 season. That year Larkin was more than adequate - in fact he was an All-Star that season. However, many think that Larkin was partially forced out by the Reds in order to make way for the shortstop of the future - Felipe Lopez.

It is true that Felipe Lopez was an All-Star in 2005 but by the end of 2006 - he had been shipped out of town. In the end the Reds got flotsam and jetsam for Felipe Lopez but they also took his side and possibly damaged their relationship with a potential Hall of Fame player and hometown hero.

Is the comparison valid? While Barry Larkin was an MVP who led his team to a World Championship - he's not at the level of a Brett Favre who is an all-time great in his sport. In my mind, however, that makes it even more important for the Green Bay Packers not to miss out on another season of Brett Favre in favor of the quarterback equivalent of Felipe Lopez - Aaron Rodgers.

If Brett Favre wants back - the Packers should welcome him back with open arms.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays Starting Pitching

The Boston Red Sox are very careful about overworking young pitchers. You can see this in how they are handling Clay Buchholz. The Yankees are treating Joba Chamberlain in a similar manner. I was curious about how the Tampa Bay Rays pitching will look at the end of the season and if possibly - overwork could be a factor down the stretch. Here's what I found.

James Shields is on pace to pitch 215 innings - the same as he did last season.
Andy Sonnanstine is on pace to pitch 201 innings this season - also the exact same number as he pitched in 2007 (MLB and minors combined)
Edwin Jackson, however, is on pace to pitch 192 innings. Jackson has never pitched more than 161 in a season.
Matt Garza is on pace to pitch 168 innings when the most he's pitched in the past is 135.
Scott Kazmir is on pace for only 133 inning because he spent so much time on the DL to start the season. His arm should be relatively rested and I'd guess he'll end up with much more than 133 innings but well shy of the 206 he pitched last year.

Fatigue probably is a concern for the Tampa front office in regards to both Jackson and Garza. David Price will probably be called up to give Jackson or Garza some rest but injury to one of the Rays starting pitching could be a huge issue. That's why I expect them to be active in the trade market for a starter like a Randy Wolf or possibly Rich Harden.

It should also be noted that going into today - Tampa Bay has played 11 more home games than road games so far this season. The Red Sox have played 9 more road games than home games. I've said it before - but when that even out - the Red Sox will be back in first place.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I Miss Football

The CFL and the Arena League just doesn't cut it with me.
Lou Merloni - the Luckiest Man in Massachusetts

Many people remember Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech that he gave on July 4th in 1939. Not as famous is the speech Lou Merloni gave Friday at Framingham's American Legion Post #74.
"Fans, since the beginning of spring training you have been reading about the bad break I got in not being picked up by a major or minor league team. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I have been in ballparks for fifteen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

"Look at the great players I got to watch. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Nomar Garciaparra when he was a god in Boston? Also, the builder of baseball's best strip club guide, Mo Vaughn? To have spent five years with that wonderful little fellow, Pedro Martinez? Then to have spent three of the next four years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Eric Wedge? Sure, I'm lucky.

"When the Syracuse SkyChiefs, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and peanut vendors remember you with requests for Nomar's autograph - that's something. When you have a wonderful friend like Mia Hamm who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own husband - that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.

"So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."
Commie Ball

An excellent article by Michael Lewis on baseball in Cuba. Per the successful Lewis formula for storytelling - Lewis tells the tale by focusing on two people. In Moneyball it was Bill Beane and Bill James. In this article - it is Gus Dominguez and Kit Krieger.

Gus Dominguez is the accidental agent who gets arrested for smuggling Cuban baseball players into the US. Kit Krieger is the retired Canadian teacher who has become obsessed with the past and present of Cuban baseball. The past and present of Cuban legendary player Victor Mesa helps to tie everything together.

I went into the story hating communism and Fidel Castro. The story changed none of that but it added Seattle shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to the list of people I'll never cheer for (if Betancourt gets beaned the next five time he steps into the batters box - that would be just fine with me).

If Gus Dominguez loses his appeal - I hope President Bush pardons him before leaving office.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Jeff Francoeur

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9

The Braves have optioned Jeff Francoeur to Double-A Mississippi. I admit that Francoeur's performance was a surprise. I thought this was going to be a break-out 40 HR season for Francoeur. Instead he gets optioned back to the minor leagues after hitting .234 with eight homers and 41 RBI.

Normally a player who bursts on the scene has a sophomore slump as opposing pitchers figure out where his weak spots are. Francoeur seems to have fallen off a cliff performance wise in his third season. Francoeur did get married in the off-season - maybe its his new living arrangement and marital bliss that is the root for his drop in performance? Francoeur wouldn't be the first guy to lose focus and confidence once getting hitched. Hopefully it's just a mechanical thing in his swing which can be worked out by joining his old coach in the minors.

The above Bible quote is the quote Francoeur has written on his batting glove. I hope it gives him comfort as he goes to Mississippi.
WSOP Main Event

Pauly at the Tao of Poker has a recap of the first day of the Main Event at the WSOP.

The Tao of Poker is THE place to keep track of the WSOP. Bar none.
CC Sabathia to the Brewers?

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Brewers are serious in making an offer to acquire CC Sabathia from the Indians. The cornerstone of the Brewers package would be top outfield prospect Matt LaPorta - who could play a corner outfield, 1st or DH. The Indians could sure use a power hitting outfielder but 1st and DH seem to be clogged with the trio of Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko (though LaPorta could prove to be an improvement over Garko). LaPorta, who went from a 14th round pick in 2006 by the Red Sox to the 7th overall pick in 2007 by the Brewers, seems like as good a person as he is a hitter. Rosenthal mentions another top Brewer prospect - shortstop Alcides Escobar - but that combination seems a steep price to pay for Sabbathia. Maybe JJ Hardy and LaPorta? Hardy may be a 3rd baseman in the next few years and 3rd is a sore spot for the Indians. Sure Casey Blake has done a yeoman job but he's 35 and prospects Andy Marte and Beau Mills may be more smoke than fire. Filling holes at a corner outfield position and shoring up 3rd base would seem to me to be the biggest needs for Cleveland and a Matt LaPorta and JJ Hardy deal for CC Sabathia would seem to accomplish that.
Top 5 - Memorable Things That Happened on a July 4th

Happy 4th of July. Here are the top 5 things that happened in US history on the 4th of July. Don't forget that July is American Beer Month.

1. 1776 Colonies declare independence
2. 1826 Presidents, patriots, rivals and friends John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die on the same day
3. 1863 The surrender of Vicksurg to General Grant (the town of Vicksburg would not celebrate the Fourth of July for 81 years)
4. 1804 Lewis and Clark celebrate first 4th of July west of the Mississippi
5. 1939 Lou Gehrig gives his "luckiest man alive" speech at Yankee Stadium

Thursday, July 03, 2008

14 Science Questions the Next President Should Answer

Very interesting questionnaire. It makes you think about what your own positions are on the issues and questions raised.

Worth the read and worth some time thinking about it.
This Was Awesome

Funniest thing I've seen in a while.

I can't believe he didn't include Magic Johnson though. That has always been the most obvious one to me.

HT Sports Frog

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Jose Lima Time

Hey - just a thought but with the Yankees getting so desperate for starting pitching - can a Jose Lima sighting be far off?

Nah - but good excuse to post the picture.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The Tampa Bay Rays are for real and what is scary is that down the stretch they will probably also add highly touted prospect David Price.... Of course the same could be said about the Red Sox and Clay Buchholz... For those Red Sox fans who are pressing the panic button - I say relax. It's not even the All-Star break yet and keep in mind that so far the Rays have played 5 more home games than road games while the Red Sox have played 4 more road games than home games. When that flips in the second half of the season - it will also flip the Rays out of first and the Red Sox back where they belong... Happy birthday to super nice guy Sean Casey who is currently the Red Sox back-up 1st baseman and pinch hitter extrodinaire. For some reason I thought Casey was older than 34... I wonder if the Red Sox would make a run at free agent Pat Burrell instead of picking up Manny's option? Burrell has 20 HR already this season and sports an OPS+ of 156. Before you think that he's putting up numbers because he plays his home games in a bandbox - consider that Burrell has only 6 HR at home and 14 on the road.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Top 5 - Canadian Born Baseball Players

In honor of Canada Day - here are who I consider the Top 5 baseball players born in Canada.

1. Fergie Jenkins - Hall of Fame pitcher - 284 career wins and 1971 Cy Young Award winner
2. Larry Walker - 1997 NL MVP and 7 time Gold Glove winner
3. Justin Morneau - 2006 AL MVP
4. Eric Gagne - 2003 Cy Young Winner
5. Jason Bay - 134 HR and counting

Honorable mention goes to Russel Martin - the up and coming catcher for the Dodgers. Also it should be noted that blue collar Matt Stairs is second all-time on the HR by Canadians list with 249 and counting (Larry Walker is first with 383).
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Ken Rosenthal raises the interesting question about the Red Sox NOT exercising their option on Manny Ramirez for 2009. I think the Red Sox will exercise the option but if Manny finishes the year with 30 HR, 100 RBI and an OPS+ of 130 - then they will definitely think about it. And if Manny acts up again between now and the end of the year - then they will think long and hard about whether having Manny around is worth it. Manny is lucky that there are no big name outfielders available in this year's free agent crop. I think Rosenthal is correct that the Red Sox will check with the Rockies about the availability of Matt Holliday before they re-up Manny.... LyfLines has a great review of the Red Sox performance in June. I had forgotten that the Red Sox entered June a game back of Tampa Bay. It also looks like the Red Sox were actually a better club with Coco Crisp in the line-up. Crisp had an OPS of .880 for the month (compared to Jacoby Ellsbury's anemic .592). Good stuff... David Pinto points out that Edgar Gonzalez has been a hit for the Padres. A 30-year old career minor leaguer making the most of his opportunity is always a great story. I would like to point out that the Red Sox also have a career minor leaguer playing second in Pawtucket who I think would do well with a shot at the bigs. Joe Thurston is leading Pawtucket with a .324 BA but at 29-years old - time is running out for him... Tom Verducci has an excellent article on Tim Lincecum. Well worth the read...