November 2008 Archives

Thanksgiving Questions

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turkeybaby.jpg Hey kids, I am thankful for all of you.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! WALKOFF WALK WILL LOVE YOU NO MATTER HOW FAT YOU GET THIS WEEKEND.
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Ever since our heroes Rinku and Dinesh signed their first professional contract with the Pirates on Monday, they've had to endure a whirlwind of media attention and interview requests. They're no longer merely stars in their homeland of India; they're worldwide celebs now! Today, NPR, tomorrow, Oprah!

There have been dozens of news items published about the pair since Monday. Columnists from St. Louis to Mumbai have commented on the historic signing, and the baseballblogosphere is absolutely agog.

If I had to guess, ESPN should be showing their Rinku and Dinesh featurette on "Outside the Lines" next Sunday. I can picture it now: fatheaded Bob Ley will probably talk to their publicist Jeff Bernstein (JB sir) live, via satellite, and bring on another voice to decry the internationalization of America's pasttime. I wonder if Ken Slate is telegenic. Probably not.

But with all of this attention come roadblocks and pitfalls. Dinesh writes:

Since news of signing with Pittsburgh Pirates, Rinku and I saying many interviews.

We like talk with reporter and see they write about us, but we always hoping that reporter would be talking slower so it is more easy for us to understand. I am think that we are sounding bad, but JB, sir says we are doing good job of talking. We practiced for 2 hours with JB, Sir tonight.

Don't worry about struggling with your English, friends. Emmitt Smith can barely read at a third grade level or speak without tripping over his words and, yet, he is actually paid to talk about sports on the biggest sports network on television. Rinku and Dinesh are probably three months away from surpassing Smith's vocabulary anyway.

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Andy Pettitte Talks to Joe Torre About Something Other Than His Faith: Little Kenny Rosenthal says that Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte has been chit-chatting with his former skipper Joe Torre about possibly heading out to L.A. next season and pitching for the Dodgers. Joe, leave the Pettitte, take the cannolis.

  • Marlins Get Good Stadium News...Sort Of: The Miami Marlins new 37,000 seat retractable roof stadium is going to be built, which is good. But it won't open until 2012, which is bad. But it's going to have a cuban sandwich vendor, which is good. But the cuban sandwiches won't be made to order, which is bad. But the restrooms are going to be very spacious, which is good. But the ladies' restrooms will be haunted, which is bad.

  • Rocco Baldelli Wins Tony Conigliaro Award, Tony Conigliario Wins Gold Glove in Heaven: Rocco Baldelli's struggles with mitochondrial disorder are paying off! Since he was able to overcome his illness and kick the shit of the baseball in the playoffs, the good folks at the Boston Baseball Writers Association decided that Baldelli was just a little bit more deserving that someone else who overcame something lame, like cancer. Sorry, Doug Davis!!!

  • Padres Entire Organization in Disarray, Says Mystery Man: An anonymous industry executive throws the entire Padres organization under the bus, especially G.M. Kevin Towers. He sez: "Special assistant Paul DePodesta, the former Los Angeles Dodgers GM, reports not to Towers but directly to CEO Sandy Alderson and must sign off on player moves." Burn!

Tonight's Questions

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bullseye guy.jpgHey kids, put your hands on.

  • SHOULD Barry Bonds be excited that 3 charges against him have been dropped? Well he still faces 12 more, so I'd keep the good champagne on ice.

  • IS an autographed car the dumbest piece of memorabilia ever? That's where your Detroit bailout money is going.

  • IS Thanksgiving your favorite holiday? It's mine. I just wish Burger King had some sort of turkey dish. I hate breaking tradition, especially when I'm alone.

See you in hell. Same WoW Channel.

Via our good friends at The 700 Level and Philadelphia Will Do, we bring you the faux documentary about the magical Hatfield hot dog gun at Citizens Bank Park.


Look out, Maude Flanders!

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The blustery blabbermouths at radio station WEEI in Boston reported today that the Red Sox offered veteran catcher and team captain Jason Varitek a piddling one-year deal at a presumed cut-rate salary. MLB.com picked up the story and it was the number one item on the front page of their website yesterday. Neither source could get a comment from Varitek's main cog and representative, super agent Scott Boras.

The folks at the Boston Globe's Extra Bases blog, however, cashed in one of their Boras Bucks and got the alleged info from Scotty:

Scott Boras, the representative for free agent Jason Varitek, told the Globe's Nick Cafardo this afternoon that the Red Sox have not begun any negotiations with the 36-year-old catcher.

What does this all mean? Someone's lying. Most likely, it's the Red Sox whose pants are on fire. Their best interests are in keeping news on the hush-hush and rumors quashed like so many bugs underfoot.

In the end, the only way both parties can be happy is if Varitek goes back to the Sox. I'm not going out on a limb here by saying that there is a very tiny chance 'Tek gets signed by another team; his entire existence is defined by being the Red Sox catcher and captain, and if the Sox ever want to break in a catching prospect, what better way than learning from Varitek?

He won't get Posada money ($13 million a year) and he won't get four years, but for a ridiculously wealthy team like Boston, isn't $10 million a year for two years worth it? At his advanced age, it's kind of hard to predict how he'll perform next year, but Fangraphs has both Bill James and Marcel projections for Varitek in '09:

  • James: 395 AB, .238 BA, .334 OBP, .392 SLG
  • Marcel: 429 AB, .233 BA, .325 OBP, .385 SLG

Erm...maybe he's not worth $10 million a year. At least those projected numbers are an improvement over his miserable 2008 stats. Still, I predict the Sox will work something out with Varitek, if only to keep his leadership and his, ahem, intangibles.

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Rockies Rescue Don Baylor from Soup Line: Colorado manager Clint Hurdle tabbed former Colorado manager Don Baylor as his hitting instructor, as Hurdle seeks to improve his team's offense back to a 2007 level. Remember 2007? When the Rockies got hot hot hot in September and October and magically made the World Series? Yeah, that lasted.

  • Atlanta Puts Out Feelers for A.J. Burnett, Hypersensitive Burnett Recoils at Slightest Human Touch: Perhaps this is a case of the tail wagging the dog, because this rumor came from Darek Braunecker, Burnett's agent. Sure, why wouldn't Darek want to expand the list of suitors for his number one client? Also, why wouldn't Darek want to file a claim with the Social Security Office changing his name to the more accepted spelling of "Derek"?

  • Mel Stottlemyre and Lee Elia Take Don Baylor's Place on Soup Line: New Mariners skipper Don "Waka" Wakamatsu gave Stottlemyre and Elia the ol' pink slip yesterday, saying that he wanted to hire a new pitching coach and hitting coach for the struggling Seattle squadron. With Elia gone, who is going to yell expletives at Adrian Beltre? Oh right, the fans.

  • Yankees Supposed Deadline for Signing Sabathia is a Red Herring: The good folks at Was Watching (a Yankees blog whose name I still don't understand) note that the Hal Steinbrenner-issued ultimatum was just a bunch of malarkey and then ponder the question, "What about the tax liabilities?" See, CC Sabathia just bought a house in California. If he lives out there and works in NYC, will he have to pay significantly more taxes than if he lived and worked in California?
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That's a screenshot of MLB.com as of 7:30PM EST, displaying our Indian heroes in all their glory. They're the top story because Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has made it official: Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel are now professional baseball players.

"The Pirates are committed to creatively adding talent to our organization," general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement. "By adding these two young men, we are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market.

"We are intrigued by Patel's arm strength and Singh's frame and potential," he continued. "These young men have improved a tremendous amount in their six-month exposure to baseball, and we look forward to helping them continue to fulfill their potential."

Still no update to the blog, but the Twitter feed posted a link to the MLB.com story. Which, I suppose, is pointless because the only people who follow 'mdollararm' on Twitter are Walkoff Walk readers.

Here's what the Pittsburgh Pirates blogosphere has to say about the move:

Bucs Dugout:

Expect some serious mental errors if and when they play minor league ball for the Pirates. One scout quoted in the article gives both of them a good chance of making the majors, but I don't think that will happen. Really, this is about establishing a presence in a region where talent might emerge later.

Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? (comment by 'Emma'):

After reading their blog I've moved from bemusement to unadulterated adoration. I'M IN LOVE.

That's exactly how we feel, Emma.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, everybody is interesting for an hour, but few people can last more than two.

  • WILL Rinku and Dinesh be announcing their big news on the blog tonight? Or will they tweet the news? Or will we find out like every other idiot does in the USA Today tomorrow morning?

  • WHAT exactly is the strategy here for the Pirates? First they get Mpho Ngoepe from South Africa, then Rinku and Dinesh from India. What's next for Neal Huntington? A left fielder from Burundi?

  • WHY did I resign as combudsman? Because I love my WoWies more than anything in the whole wide world.

  • HOW dumb is Brian Sabean for signing another middle infielder on his career decline? It's only two years and $9 million per, but really, it's Edgar Renteria, a guy you want for his bat and not his glove, playing in a severe pitchers park.

Good night and good luck.

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My favorite new Japanese baseball blog NPB Tracker has the biggest and best news of the week: the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed our favorite Indian contest winners Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel to minor league contracts! Hopefully, this means they'll participate in the Pirates minor league camp next spring and try out for one of the low A teams. With the sorry state of that franchise, Rinku and Dinesh are automatically the most talented pitching prospects in the entire organization.

As you know, Rinku and Dinesh won the Million Dollar Arm contest on Indian TV by displaying awesome arm strength and a desire to become baseball players. They've spent the last nine months in California learning the rules of the game and, most importantly, how to throw fastballs and brushback pitches. Their blog has been a constant source of amusement to us, and their recent audition for major league scouts even caught the attention of mainstream media publications.

The news was published on Yahoo! Japan, so I have no idea what the details are, because Google Translate has trouble with words like "Dinesh" and "slider".

Still, this is a major event for Rinku, Dinesh, JB sir, their truck-driving fathers, and Camp Tiger Claw. Sorry, Ken Slate, outsourcing is here to stay.

Old Racist Dude Attacks Rinku & Dinesh

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Seriously. Before we go any further, please read this. In its entirety.

Finished? Ok, let's talk about what a giant turd Ken Slate of The Warren Reporter is.

I don't think there is any other way to do this than to break it down, by paragraph. So let's go.

Several weeks ago, I got up around 6 a.m. and, following my normal routine, made a cup of coffee, sat down at the computer and signed onto Yahoo to check out the baseball news. What I found set me back on my heels: a news report of two Indian pitchers -that's pitchers from India- who were brought to a Tempe, Ariz. sports clinic for a Major League tryout.

He left, "taking my foot off a black guy's throat" out of his normal routine.

Foreign guys playing baseball set him back on his heels, even though his fat bathrobed ass is already poured into a computer chair. We're only to assume he's sitting in one of these

If you ever need proof that someone is completely out of touch, check to see if -they use dashes instead of commas and use four letter state abbreviations. How bout that Louisiana Purchase!-

Back to the scathing racism.

Let me say right off that I have nothing personal against Indians in general or Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel in particular.

"Indians In General" is my second favorite D.W. Griffith movie.
It's just that my head began to reel as I read about this further inroad into my beloved sport, and I became more and more depressed when I tried to imagine the future of America's favorite past-time as we know it; I saw the "O" word creeping in - "Outsourcing."

When most people say "the O Word" it's because they don't want to say orgasm in front of their kids. Ken Slate has never been in the same room as either an orgasm or a child*.

He's back on his heels! His head is now reeling! It's like Glass Joe is writing this column. Our beloved author is now DEPRESSED because foreigners are playing what he claims to be his beloved sport. The grand sport of Clemente, Marichal and APPROXIMATELY 36 MILLION LATIN PLAYERS SINCE 1970 is now being infiltrated by people that weren't born in New Jersey. I think someone just unfroze Ken Slate and he has yet to take his ten minute piss on Walt Disney.

Ok. Time for the superlong unformatted paragraph -sign number two of a batshit crazy old man on the keyboard.-

Truth be told, we brought this development on ourselves. America's generosity and love of the game saw us wanting to share our national past-time overseas. According to MLB.com, American teams first visited Japan in 1908 and the success of the sport there resulted in its expansion by the Japanese to Korea and China. In recent years, American baseball teams have played regularly before foreign audiences, thereby expanding the overseas fan base exponentially. Earlier this year when the Boston Red Sox opened their season against the Oakland Athletics, both teams traveled to Tokyo and played their series opener before a crowd of 44,628.

Do you hear that America? It's our fault. Instead of putting a lead shield over all of our baseball fields as Ken Slate suggested back in 1929, we had to share this game. And now we're paying the price of increased competition.

Last year, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed Cal Ripkin, Jr. a Special Sports Envoy, his mission being to promote baseball around the world. And Ripkin is not our first representative to showcase our national past-time to the world. Since 2006, the Detroit Tigers' young center fielder Curtis Granderson, one of the game's most visible stars, has traveled to Africa, Europe and China as part of major league baseball's ambassador program; he's also a member of an international delegation trying to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to re-introduce baseball to the summer games. Furthering that effort are the many countries outside America that have active baseball leagues; the IOC decision will be made next year.

You can't even spell Ripken, you tremendous dink.

But back to Rinku and Dinesh. I don't expect them to hold out for salaries equivalent to marquee players like A-Rod, Jeter or Manny. To the contrary, we've seen over the past 60 years that what used to be manufactured in America has moved overseas because foreign nationals are willing to work for less than their American counterparts. After all, when work is scarce, people will accept low wages to feed their families. Is it too farfetched to think that owners of American baseball teams, in an effort to curtail the greed of their players for higher and higher salaries, might seize the opportunity to cut payroll by moving overseas? Don't be surprised to see the Detroit Tigers move to India and be renamed the Bengal Tigers, followed by the Kerala Indians, New Delhi Nationals, Madras Cobras and others. Eventually, we'll outsource the whole sport. If you think I'm losing my marbles to suggest this, consider any recent trip to a baseball game you might have made with your family. Did you first stop off at the bank for a loan? Add to the cost of traveling to the ballpark that of tickets, food and souvenirs and you've got a major-league outlay. And with some seats at the new Yankees Stadium going for as much as $2,500 per game (Hurry! Only a few left) and the Mets at $495 for their best seats, it might work out cheaper to head to Kennedy Airport, grab a flight on Air India and enjoy our national past-time there. Watching from your choice seats at New Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium, you can munch on a bag of crispy bhel puri, washing it down with a cold bottle of Belo beer. Life doesn't get much better than that in India. If you have the time, you might also stop off at the tailor for a custom suit or two, or have major surgery performed at discount prices. After several days of Indian baseball, you could take the family on a tour of the whole country for not much more than it presently costs to attending several games here. Is this is a fantasy scenario of baseball's future? Only time will tell. Send comments to tedslate@yahoo.com.

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT WHY DID MY GRANDPA HAVE TO DIE BUT YOU'RE STILL ALIVE YOU'RE TERRIBLE.

At least he left his email address. I'm going to do my part by emailing him this post.

*by law

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

Hank Aaron Vs. Duke Snider- 1959

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If I haven't already urged you to buy these DVDs, consider yourself urged.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, you put the Gin in Gingivitis.

Have a good weekend, friends. Same WoW channel.

(Corey Haim photo stolen from the LIFE Magazine archives at Google Images)

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The libelous and conjecture-filled offseason is in full swing and the Dutch Ovens are steaming! From every good Hot Stove comes a delicious Hot Knife, guaranteed to make your thinking hazy and unclear. There is a chance that Hot Knives will mess you up like a bad accident. The Old Knives Report is more like that episode of Roseanne where they found some old pot, got high and freaked out over how weird it was. Moral: the old shit still packs a punch.

We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.

Today we look to the future by looking to the past: which old buzzard will help your club become eligible for the post season and AARP assistance.

The first name on our list is Randy Johnson. He's first on our list because he is by far the best oldie still showing these whippersnappers a thing or two. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs sums his qualifications up thusly:

8.46 K/9, 6th best in NL | 2.15 BB/9, 11th best in NL | 3.9 K/BB, 3rd best in NL | 3.76 FIP, 15th best in NL |

Or, if you prefer, his closest comparable pitcher in the NL this year was Cole Hamels - their walk rates are nearly identical, Johnson's got a slightly higher K/9, and Hamels has a slightly lower HR/9, but the final product is almost exactly the same.

Johnson pitched 184 innings last year and called a very cozy ballpark home. In other words, Randy can still compete. Since no human alive can resist the promise of balloons and cake, you should know he's just 5 wins short of 300 and 211 Ks shy of 5000! Party time!

Unlike some scared little girls, he has no problem going to the American League and hosing down his driveway with the big boys. Any team with a hole in their rotation and a dream of competing could use the Big Unit. The Cubs have shown interest, as have the Dodgers. The Diamond Backs may keep his canasta group together, while the Jays and Rays could provide an indoor stadium to warm his joints and an outside shot at contending.

Even older guy Jamie Moyer is also a free agent, though the list of places he could land is much shorter. An area with high levels of smoke and/or mirrors is most suitable to his needs. Moyer won 16 games and a World Series title, but his K/BB rate was among the lowest of his endless career while his strand rate was among the highest. Apparently the man wants a multi-year deal, which is astounding. Only two tortoises are racing for Jamie's affections, with the Phillies holding a distinct edge over the Mariners.

The Ghost of Pedro Martinez is available and looking for work, and if your team is desperately low in the comic relief department, he might be a good fit. If you need someone to pitch though, dear God look elsewhere. Poor little Pedro, so mind-bendingly good for so long. The Ks are down, the walks are up, he can't keep people off the basepaths and the ball in the stadia. The Mets and maybe even the Astros are interested, which is really too bad. Retire with dignity Petey, you were one of the greats. Oh and Tiny Tim, watch very, very carefully what is happening to this man at this age.

A different kind of old guy is Trevor Hoffman. Only pitching one inning a night at the age of 40 may sound better, but there aren't too many teams looking to hand him the keys to the 9th inning. Most of Hoffman's numbers for 2008 look pretty good but one: home runs allowed. He allowed tater tots on 13% of his flyballs (up from 2% in 2007), better than 1.5 per 9 innings. The fitness fanatic still maintains good control, but all the long balls may indicate his stuff has abandoned him. Teams that would benefit from any new, warm body pitching the 9th (Mets, Tigers, Cardinals) have expressed interest in funneling royalties to the estate of Bon Scott.

Three of the baldest, whitest men in America may all hang up their cleats this offseason. Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux have all made noise about returning for 2009, with Smoltz considering a Roger Clemens-styled half season (having passed on the Roger Clemens-styled drug regiment and Roger Clemens-styled underage country starlet) and Maddux putting some thought into the Reg Dunlop-styled player coach. Glavine and Maddux show the same "not enough strikes, too many long balls" sign of age, but John Smoltz pitched damn well in limited appearances in 2008. If he's healthy, he'll certainly have a job either with the Braves or a real contender. Signing outside Atlanta for the first time in his career, uprooting his 35 year old son and all 12 of his grandchildren is something no Opa ever wants to do.

(A big case of super-secret Coke Meconium to the sleuths at MLB Trade Rumors for their valuable conjecture)

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The filing period for free agency in the Nippon Professional Baseball league ended two days ago. Or since it was Japan, I guess that was three days ago, what with the massive time difference. Actually, I think it's already Spring Training over there. Regardless, the ten-day window for players to declare free agency produced a grand total of just seven players, mostly because the NPB owners have far tighter labor controls than MLB owners. What, did Curt Flood and Marvin Miller never make it across the Pacific?

Anyway, the good people at NPB Tracker are keeping us abreast of the seven fellas and trying to make guesses as to which of them will sally forth to the welcoming bosom of Major League Baseball. Remember these three names, folks.

Of these three gents, Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami are the most accomplished and most likely to make a splash in America in 2009. (Good news, Braves fans. Frank Wren has scouted 'em both) Uehara was a member of the Japanese National Team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, collecting a tournament-high 16 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched and two wins, including a semifinal victory over South Korea. He'll be 34 on Opening Day and has battled shoulder problems over his career, but he's got good control and a 6.7 K/BB ratio over his career. According to Scouting Book, he throws a 90 MPH fastball, a slider, and a forkball. I'm dubbing him the Japanese Dave Stewart.

Kawakami was rookie of the year in 1998 and pitched for the Chunichi Dragons his entire career, leading them to the NPB championship in 2007. He is not a dominant fastball pitcher, and Scouting Book uses the word crafty to describe him, so I'm going to refer to him as the Japanese Paul Byrd. He also has a blog but has not joined Shaq in starting a Twitter account...yet.

Patrick at NPB Tracker says this about Takahashi, "Veteran lefty wants to try MLB. The Mets seem like a logical fit." Therefore, he must be extremely talented and yet destined to be a massive failure.

dutchoven.jpg

Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Obama Adviser Sits Owners Down, Gives Them the Bad News: Former Goldman Sachs executive and current Obama adviser Paul Volcker sat the baseball owners down and gave them a good talking-to about the current economic situation. Media wasn't allowed inside, but a sekrit insider source tells me that Volcker brought out a whiteboard, drew a cartoon of a frowning man inverting his empty pockets, and then walked out.

  • Selig Learns From Mistakes, Invents New Rule Regarding Rain: Herr Bud Selig announced that MLB would change its rules to state that postseason and all star games would no longer be allowed to end early due to harsh weather conditions. Meaningless mid-September games between the Nationals and Marlins, however, will be automatically suspended at the first raindrop so everyone can go out for milkshakes.

  • White Sox Sign Cuban Player, Jim Thome Consumes Cuban Sandwich: ChiSox general manager Ken Williams signed 19-year-old third baseman Dayan Viciedo, a former Cuban All-Star player. He might have peaked at age 16, though, because recent reports have him unmotivated and ballooning in weight. Hey, I hear Albert Belle is available too!

  • Giants Interested in Orlando Hudson: In what is seen as a perfect fit, Brian Sabean is considering signing a middle infielder on the verge of his career decline. I expect the contract to be 10 years, $250 million.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, man is free at the instant he wants to be.

  • WHY doesn't Chase Utley just get a new titanium hip like my Gramma? Those things are unbreakable.

  • IS Rafael Furcal about to become an Athletic? Well, he's already athletic but I'm sayin' maybe he'll go play for Oakland.

  • SHOULD the writers elect Mike Mussina to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, or later? It's not a question of 'if', more a question of 'when'.

  • COULD the Padres stop jerking us around and just send Jake Peavy wherever he wants to go? You're killing Braves fans, general manager Towers.

Thanks for keeping us in your RSS readers and your bookmarks, folks. I appreciate all our readers and commenters!

(photograph stolen from If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger)

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Massive creampuff news today from Todd Zolecki at Philly.com via the good folks at the 700 Level via my Google Reader, which aggregates news very well, thank you very much: Chase Utley needs hip surgery, y'all! He'll be out four to six months. Here's the news release:

"Based on the diagnostic studies and examinations, it has been recommended that Utley have surgery on his right hip, which is scheduled for next week. The procedure will be an arthroscopic evaluation with treatment of any labral or bony injury. The recovery will allow for the initiation of baseball activities between three and four months, however, the total recovery time may require four to six months."

Phillies fans, how do you live like this? Is it too late to bring back Tadahito Iguchi?

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New Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik isn't playing by the books in his new job, and why would he? He inherited a veritable scrap pile of a team that, for some reason, had high hopes for success in 2008 but ended up crumbling like a house made of taffy and dog biscuits. His predecessor Bill Bavasi did the team no favors with his bizarre trades and free agent signings. The team ran through two ineffective managers after erstwhile Bee Jay Mike Hargrove left Seattle high-and-dry in the middle of the 2007 season.

Worst of all, the newest M's beat writer Geoff Baker seemed to be on the verge of self-immolation with every blog post. Surely Zduriencik would go out of his way to ensure his new managerial hire could cheer up the city, the fans, and the sadsack beat writers!

With the hire of Oakland A's bench coach Don Wakamatsu, he's well on his way to cheering up the sports columnists. The Post-Intelligencer's Art Thiel wrote a jolly column today about Zduriencik's super-careful search for a new skipper, and mentioned the rookie G.M.'s preference for deep background checks. Heck, if John McCain had Zduriencik on his staff to do some hardcore veep vetting, he might have only lost by three points.

To check out Wakamatsu, he upgraded the vetting to include not just past employers, but his former teammates from 25 years ago at Arizona State University. He also called up clubhouse men at his earlier employment stops.

Like college guys, the clubhouse workers see all aspects of personalities, including the dark side's back stabbing, undercutting, fighting, sloth, avarice and the remaining deadly sins, plus fresh ones. If they give a thumbs up to a candidate, it's far more valuable than scuttlebutt offered by five scouts and 25 sportswriters.

So let this be a lesson to you college kids out there. Don't be a dick to your friends, or else they may one day prevent you from being manager of the Seattle Mariners. Actually, that might be a good thing to avoid, so go ahead and leave an upper-decker in your buddy's turlet down the hall.

I wish the best of luck to Zduriencik and his newest employee, Don Wakamatsu. You've both inherited a real sticky situation in Seattle, but luckily, you play in the American League West where the competition is by no means insurmountable. Sure, competing in 2009 is simply out of the question with all the overpriced spare parts you're saddled down with, but if you eliminate the junk and let the youngsters get some experience, 2010 might be a good year to get back above the .500 mark.

dutchoven.jpg

Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Dodgers Beat Columnist Wishing and Hoping for CC: Tony Jackson blogs that the Sabathia Sweepstakes might come down to two teams: the Giants and the Dodgers. What, no Yankees? According to Jackson, the fact that Sabathia still hasn't accepted the Yankees mega-offer from last week seems to say that CC don't wanna pitch in no New York City. Why the Dodgers? Because CC likes to hit and just bought a house in SoCal. Why the Giants? Because Sabean doesn't learn from past mistakes.

  • Oakland Signs Relief Pitcher I've Never Heard Of: Seriously, this guy has been in the majors for three years, but I guess I never heard of him because he pitched for the Nationals, a team that needs relief pitchers like a fish needs a bicycle. What is there to "relieve" in Warshington when the team never has a lead? Enjoy the Chris Schroder Era, A's fans.

  • Mike Mussina Retirement Rumors Leak, Agent Hollers at Media: So the Mike Mussina retirement rumors leaked last night (via Ken Rosendwarf) and we all cried a single tear. But then Mussina's agent Arn Tellem issued this statement: "Given the significance of this to Mike, I would hope you can respect his desire to be the author of any such announcement consistent with his own time table. A decision of this magnitude should not be the subject of unconfirmed rumors and speculation." Yeah! You tell 'em, Tellem.

  • Cardinals Sup from the Teat of Tampa's Bullpen: St. Louis liked what they saw in Tampa's many-headed bullpen beast, so G.M. John Mozeliak threw some sheckels at lefty Trever Miller and brought him in for a physical. Things I did not know: Miller has been in the majors since 1996.

Tonight's Questions

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  • WILL Coco Crisp help improve the Royals low team on-base percentage? No.

  • WILL Ramon Ramirez help improve the Red Sox pitching staff by allowing Justin Masterson to return to the rotation? No.

  • WILL Shrimp Baby taste as good in a nice risotto? Absolutely.

See y'all tomorrow.

Who Is Don Wakamatsu? No Seriously, Who Is He?

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The job fair that is the 2008 Mariners postseason rolled on yesterday. One month after hiring a new GM, they've announced Don "Waka" Wakamatsu as their new manager. Of course! Don Wakamatsu. What a no brainer. Let's look at his resume.

  • 5 minor league seasons as a catcher before a sip of coffee with the White Sox.
  • 4 seasons as a Minor League manager.
  • 5 years as bench coach with the Rangers. Apparently people are enthused about his working with Buck Showalter. Screw Buck Showalter.
  • Bench Coach with the A's last season.
  • He made Joey Cora cry.

The cynical take is that the Mariners are just trying to regain their position as Japan's team, but Wakamatsu is a third generation American making him as Japanese as I am Greek. He's familiar with all the teams in the division as something of an "AL West guy" and according to Geoff Baker the choice was all Zduriencik's choice. It makes some sense. In any respect, it's important to have our first Asian MLB manager.

So let's all give a big Walkoff Walk hello to Don "Waka" Wakamatsu the Asian baseball team managing Barack Obama.

As per sports radio station WHB 810 in Kansas City, via the Extra Bases blog, via our commenter D. Chuck fka UTFLW, Coco Crisp is headed to the Royals in exchange for young relief pitching stud Ramon Ramirez. Without confirming or denying the report, Royals senior adviser Mike Arbuckle had this to say about Crisp:

"I would say Coco is a good player and we're always interested in getting good players."

I guess the Royals are pretty satisfied with their pitching staff and the Red Sox are pretty satisfied with Jacoby Ellsbury in center field. This looks to be a deal that helps both teams immediately.

UPDATE: The trade becomes official at high noon.

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If you're one of those newfangled sabermetric nerdy types like me, you should feel pretty darn good about the results of the six major postseason awards as voted on by the BBWAA. That's the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year awards. No, I'm not talking about the Manager of the Year awards; how can we give that award any provenance when the winner is always "the guy whose team performed better than we, the writers, predicted" aka "the guy who must be a fantastic manager because he took a team that we, the writers, felt wasn't very good and led them to a winning record"?

Okay, back to my point: the writers collectively did a great job in rewarding the best players this year, but some folks are taking umbrage at the ballots of individual voters and the overall results past the number one spot. I'm not claiming innocence here either, yesterday I bashed the fella who gave a fifth place AL MVP vote to Jason Bartlett. Our own Lloyd the Barber bashed the AL MVP voters for giving nary a vote to Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. Yes, the same Roy Halladay who finished second place in the Cy Young voting, ahead of Frankie Rodriguez. Yet Rodriguez still got a first place MVP vote and finished fifth overall.

You know what? We feel pretty satisfied with the winners, let's leave it at that and ignore the down-ballot mumbo-jumbo. Individually, writers are always going to make personal choices, sometimes smart ones based on facts and player performance and sometimes dumb ones based on bias or arbitrary reasons like "Player X was more gritty" or "Team Y made the playoffs."

Collectively, though, the writers didn't make any grievous errors! When all the votes were tallied, the best players won the top honors. Look at the NL MVP race between Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols. Howard had Pujols beat in the traditional slugger counting stats: home runs and RBI. In past years, the writers would lean on those and reward folks like Juan Gonzalez despite the fact that he was a one-trick pony. On steroids. Not so this year, as Pujols won the award for being a better overall hitter and a far better wielder of the leather in the field.

So to all you sabermetric folk out there, don't fret about the details today. The big picture is quite clear.

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • After Tough World Series Loss, Tampa Bay Rays Trim the Fat: The chick inside the Raymond costume at the Tropicana Dome got canned. Kelly Frank, who played the creepy Raymond for five seasons, was told by Rays owner Stuart Sternberg to, in his words, "Hit the bricks, sister." Note: those were not his words

  • Detroit Columnist Defends His K-Rod MVP Vote, His Gone With the Wind Commemorative Plate Collection: Tom Gage, columnist for something called a "newspaper" in some place called "Detroit", voted for Francisco Rodriguez on his AL MVP ballot. Why? Because he saved a lot of games, and the team he covered (some group of gentlemen called the "Tigers") blew a lot of saves. That explains why the Atlanta guy voted for Brad Lidge. OH ZING

  • Evan Grant Defends His Omission of Dustin Pedroia: Grant, the only AL voter to leave eventual winner Pedroia off his MVP ballot entirely, apologizes and says that he was trying to be too "cute" with his 10th place selection of Carlos Pena instead of Dustin. Then he throws Dustin under the bus by saying the kid finished just 18th in OPS and that the second baseman preferred Wendy's burgers over Animal Style at In-N-Out. Quelle horreur!

  • Brian Cashman Opens Up Purse, Pulls Out Giant Oversized Check: So the Yankees may be offering A.J. Burnett $80 million over five years. Not a bad payday for a dude who has been on the D.L. nine times in the last eight years. Meanwhile, ROBOTHAL says that the Sox are interested too, preparing a shorter offer with a larger annual salary. The World Champions may be priced out.

  • Jake Peavy Reconsiders His Relocation Plans: Hey, remember when Peavy's agent Barry Axelrod said that Peavy would only accept a trade to five National League teams? Yeah, he was only kidding. That was just a "rough sketch", he says. Translation: Peavy wants some of that New York City money!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I like that. Gimme it.

  • WHO is a bigger Scrooge: Cal Ripken Jr. or Scrooge?

  • DOES the Phillies front office dare eat a peach?

  • WHAT the hell is wrong with these kids?

  • AM I alone in not being totally stoked for Chinese Democracy? You snooze, you lose dude.

  • WHY do people think that Mark Cuban ever had a chance of owning the Cubs? This headline would be a hilarious understatement... if it he ever had a realistic chance.

BYE! Same WoW channel.
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Dustin Pedroia is a sprite. He's a little, miniature doll of a baseball player. He's scrappy and he has elfish features and tries to hide the fact that he's so adorable by growing out his scruffy facial stubble. He's barely 5'7", which means that he's half a foot shorter than the average baseball player and the same height as me, and probably the same height of most sportswriters across this great land. Which is why I claim that most sportswriters probably take a look at this kid and say to themselves, "Hey, this Dustin Pedroia kid overcame his teeny frame and put up some great numbers for a playoff team...let's name him MVP!" So they did.

Pedroia (Adjusted OPS+ of 122) beat out such notable baseballers as teammate Kevin Youkilis (143), frequent MVP club member Alex Rodriguez (150), and sideburn-laden catcher hunk Joe Mauer (137) because he was scrappy and hustled a lot. He played some mean second base defense and frequently walked around with a dirty uniform because he was constantly divin' and slidin' and yellin' and just basically being intense.

But enough of my sarcasm, Dustin Pedroia had a wicked good year for a second basemen, and I mean that in a historical sense. He set the Red Sox record for most hits, doubles, runs, total bases, and extra-base hits by a second baseman, and even got hisself a Gold Glove, becoming only the third Red Sox middle infielder to snatch that award.

Notable voting results: K-Rod picked up just one first place vote and finished in sixth place, while Rays team MVP Jason Bartlett got just one vote, and it was a fifth place vote. Who the heck did that? Also, someone left Joe Mauer, my AL MVP pick, completely off their ballot. I want his head on a platter.

UPDATE: My math is poor. Pedroia was also not named on every ballot. Our pal Evan Grant left him off and voted Youkilis first.

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There are only nine days left before we gather around a large table and ritualistically consume turkey and potatoes, which means that there are only ten days left before we gather around a mall and ritualistically consume slippers and cheese logs. Yes, Black Friday, the traditional start of the American Christmas shopping season, is just around the corner, and before you start throwing your dollar bills around, I'd like you to listen to my plea:

There are millions of hungry and poor people in the United States and you should help them out by donating a small percentage of your holiday shopping budget to your local food banks, because they are struggling.

"We're seeing more and more people coming to the front door and less and less food coming through the back door," said Aine Duggan of the Food Bank for New York City. "We're being squeezed from both sides and we haven't seen the worst of it."

That's it, folks. Corporations are donating less to the food banks at the most vital time, when thousands of people are losing their jobs and those of us who never thought they'd go hungry can no longer afford to feed themselves and their families. So please, I realize that this is very difficult to ask you to open your wallets at a time when everyone is suffering, but if you can afford Internet access to read this silly baseball blog, then you can afford to send a few bucks to your city's local food bank.

Here's a nearly complete list of food banks in MLB cities. Pick your favorite.

And if your town isn't represented on that list, head on over to Feeding America, the website formerly known as Second Harvest. I'll be donating to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey because Bruce Springsteen told me to. Join me, and give a couple of sheckels. Your money will go further than you can possibly imagine to feed some needy folks.

(photo credit: Mr. Kris at Flickr)

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

Tonight's Questions

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baby-lobster.jpgHey kids, I'm going to jump you at recess.

  • WHAT do Ken Griffey Jr. and Fran Drescher have in common? They're both special US government envoys. Of course they are.

  • WHO will win the AL MVP tomorrow? Probably not either guy that we picked.

  • IS filling the 6 hour gap between my afternoon shift and my predawn shift with a Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos show a bad idea? I guess I'll find out sometime tomorrow.

Till then. Same WoW channel. You too, Lobster Baby.
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One of the best pieces posted by the good folks at ESPN Page 2 this year was Jonah Keri's September reflection on the baseball-addled public's love/hate relationship with Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. Keri insists that Pujols is so consistently sensational at the plate and in the field that fans and writers fail to properly appreciate his greatness. Well, the gap between Pujols' actual appreciation level and projected appreciation level closed a bit today as the BBWAA folk have elected Pujols your 2008 National League MVP.

Face it, the other big time sluggers played great baseball but not a single one of them could match Pujols' overall numbers. He outslugged Ryan Howard, outhit Manny Ramirez and saw half the strikeouts that Lance Berkman did. Only Chipper Jones beat him in the batting race but did it all with almost 100 fewer points of slugging percentage. Pujols didn't just outperform the rest of the N.L, he outperformed his own career best numbers: he drew over 100 walks for the first time in his career and had his career-high OPS of 1.114.

So thank you, baseball writers, for giving Albert Pujols his second MVP award and helping him avoid finishing in second place for the fourth time in his career. I'm sure he appreciates the appreciation.

Addendum: Yes, Camp Tiger Claw has now predicted his seventh straight award correctly. If Carlos Quentin wins the AL MVP tomorrow, I'm quitting the blog.

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It's a big day for knuckleball news. First we go to Japan where, in what is in no way a publicity stunt, independent league team the Kobe 9 Cruise have drafted a 16 year old girl to pitch for them. Before we get to the baseball analysis, let's just state the obvious. There are no bigger perverts than old Japanese dudes. The only thing that would have put more asses in the seats than a schoolgirl pitcher is an animated schoolgirl pitcher. Know your audience and you will succeed. The Kobe 9 Cruise have that down.

Anyway, 16 year old Eri Yashida is a sidearm knuckleballer who clocks in at all of 5 feet tall and 114 pounds. Watch out for those comebackers to the mound, Eri! She hopes to model her career after Tim Wakefield, which is a pretty good goal to have. Pitch for 17 years, win a couple of titles and... retire at 42?

That's the word on the street. Apparently Wake is having some shoulder troubles and is seriously pondering hanging it up. There isn't much to say about him that hasn't been said. I've never been his biggest fan but he always pitches when you ask him to. Something to be said for that I suppose. So if it's true, I wish Tim a room temperature congratulations and Eri Yashida says, "Sayanora, brobro. Thanks for the roster spot."

(I owe an RC Cola to YFSF for the Wakefield tip.)

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The libelous and conjecture-filled offseason is in full swing and the Dutch Ovens are steaming! From every good Hot Stove comes a delicious Hot Knife, guaranteed to make your thinking hazy and unclear. There is a chance that Hot Knives will mess you up like a bad accident.

We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.

Today, the top two right handed free agents on the market. Do you want your team to sign Ben Sheets or A.J. Burnett?

That all depends, how is your heart? Can it take a good breakin'? Signing either of these two will ensure you're never bored. As far as pure stuff goes, you can't do much better. Both pitchers are throw as hard as anyone, with Burnett throwing the 5th fastest fastball, while Sheets ranks 22nd. A.J. Burnett is also lucky enough to one of the best curveballs in baseball. Basically, they are the same guy. Look at them, all side by side in the Pitching Runs Created column. They're so cute.

Just like an angered lobster baby, they are cute but deadly. Ben Sheets misses more starts than a NASCAR fan asleep on the infield. A.J. Burnett hates work also, but dont' forget his additional value: he's a total flake! Blue Jays fans have long learned to recognize the signs of Burnett's blow-ups a mile away. Hmmm, he's not getting calls and just gave up a long, loud double. Looks like its time to hatefuck a fastball right down the middle. And there it goes, and here comes the statline-distorting big inning/bad outing. Add his bizarre proclivity for mid-game dabbling and a wife with a thing for limo rides, and you've got yourself a handful! Not to mention you'll have yourself a 32 year old power pitcher with a history of arm troubles! All for the low, low price of $16 million a season. You might as well get two!

And two you could have, if the front office of your local baseball 9 decides to sign Ben Sheets too! Ben Sheets is younger than Burnett and though he's missed big stretches of time, most of his injuries have been to everything but his arm. Inner ear infections, hamstring strains, strained labia, back issues all sidelined him before a torn elbow muscle brought his 2008 season to a close.

If your team is really making a move for 2009, A.J. could be your man. Don't be thrown by the alarming uptick in his performance during contract years, that is merely a coincidence. Bill James figures he'll have a slightly worse than 2008 but still respectable season in 2009. Beyond 2009, what you'll get is anyone's guess. Potential suitors include the Yankees, Cardinals, Braves, Mets, or a hometown discount for the Blue Jays. The U.S.S Mariners suggest Seattle as a potential home for Sheets, thanks to his relationship with new GM Jack Zdruriencik and his great love of umbrellas. The Rangers have also expressed interest in Sheets, but will have to outbid everyone to entice a right handed pitcher into that graveyard.

While the money these players receive isn't yours, you don't want either of these two on your team moving forward. Pain, agony, shouldas and couldas are all you will experience. The flashes of brilliance mixed into the missed starts, the gross negligence and the weight of being an ace will only increase your dissatisfaction.

dutchoven.jpg

Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Yankees Seek Insurance Policy for Posada, Jason Varitek Winks Suggestively: In one of those "too bizarre to believe" rumors that we've been reading about for years, the Boston Herald suggested that the Yanks might sign 'Tek to a two-year deal just in case Jorge Posada's shoulder acts up again. As an insurance policy to Varitek, they'll sign Roy Campanella's wheelchair.

  • Rinku and Dinesh Play the Waiting Game, Will Soon Give Up and Play Hungry Hungry Hippos: Our heroes from India got a third chance to pitch in front of real live baseball scouts and are sitting still waiting for some good news before they head home to that nutty subcontinent on the other side of the world "with a triumphant manner." Meanwhile, the Japanese teams are drafting little girls.

  • Detroit Tigers Seek Julio Lugo in Trade, Red Sox Fans Giddy at Thought: Thought the Tigers couldn't get any worse? Think again. Put Julio Lugo and his 40 errors at shortstop and you've got yourself quite possibly the most dysfunctional team in baseball. Which means, of course, that they're a certainty to score 1000 runs in 2009.

  • K-Rod Takes Manhattan, Manhattan Makes K-Rod Turn Head and Cough: The team and the local papers deny it, but the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal sez that Frankie Rodriguez has a contract offer from the Mets on the table and that he was in NYC for a physical this past weekend. This is just like the time I told my girlfriend I was just at my buddy's house when she couldn't find me, but really, I was in NYC getting a physical by the Mets team doctor.

  • Union Folk Pressuring Large Man to Take a Lot of Money: The MLB players union is allegedly asking CC Sabathia to accept the Yankees' 6-year, $140 million offer immediately because they think that'll open up the floodgates for other free agent pitchers to cash in. Don't listen to 'em, CC. The Yankees best offer is WELL above that number. Take what you deserve, and make them wait.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, fear can build a bridge.

  • WHO was watching Graeme Lloyd?

  • IF I have to see Synecdoche, NY twice as some people are suggesting, shouldn't Charlie Kaufman have to pay for my second ticket?

  • SHOULD AJ Burnett sign the reported 4 year, $54M offer the Blue Jays have reportedly put on the table? I say, "As quickly as his creaky arm will let him."

That's it for today. Have a good weekend chaps and um... chapettes? Same WoW channel.
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While I may be a perfect 6 for 6 on my postseason award predix and the Clooniest dude in WoWville, I gotta say that deep down I never really felt right about shafting my boy Doc Halladay for the AL Cy Young. But you play to win the game, and despite my man live for Doc, I knew Lee would win the Cy by a landslide so I talked myself into him. Ever the contrarian, Iracane went with Halladay and outlined numerous reasons why he did so. I was not so eloquent in my defense of Cliff.

Combing the wire on what is a rather slow day (even for the offseason) I see that two of my favorite AL writers were not so swayed and went out of their way to display the brass balls that made them choose Doc over Cliff. Balls I am apparently not in possession of. First off, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. And hey, Joe. Like the new contacts! Lookin' sharp.

2. Halladay faced tougher competition, mostly because of all the starts against Tampa Bay, Boston and New York. He was 10-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 16 starts against that AL East trio, averaging 7 1/3 innings per start. Lee went 5-0 with a 2.63 ERA against the Royals.

According to Baseball Prospectus, the batters Halladay faced averaged a .766 OPS. That ranked second among all pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched to Matt Garza (.767). Lee ranked 60th on that list, at .735.

Lee missed his final start (Sept. 28 vs. Chicago) because of neck stiffness, and Cleveland sent Bryan Bullington to the mound in its final game of the season. The White Sox won 5-1, remaining tied with the Twins atop the AL Central.

When it came time to make a tough decision between Halladay and Lee, this weighed into my thoughts, but as the above points show, a good case could have been made for Halladay anyway.

He makes other good points, like Halladay's superior WHIP and K/BB ratio. I SHOULD HAVE STUCK TO MY GUNS. Also voting for Halladay, none other than the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker. Why? Because kiss his ass he's Geoff Baker, that's why.

None of this is to say that Lee didn't deserve the Cy Young, just that you could make a serious case for Halladay and look smart about it. But not me. I am gutless. I am a ninny. I'm sorry, Doc. Take me back.

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Psst, buddy...need a closer? You're in luck. Ever since Kerry Wood and Trevor Hoffman were voted off their respective islands, the market for relief pitchers has absolutely exploded. Of all the teams expecting to contend in 2009, I count only seven teams that are publicly seeking out a closer (Tigers, Angels, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Cardinals and Diamondbacks). With free agent contracts not likely to break any records this off-season and the possibility of teams promoting from within, it's a buyer's market out there.

Here's a partial list of current free agents who recorded at least five saves for their team last year (and yes, I realize that the save statistic is one of extreme artifice and little importance in the grand scheme of things, but allow me a momentary pass out of Sabermetric Town for a second):

  • Francisco Rodriguez, rhp, 62
  • Kerry Wood, rhp, 34
  • Brian Fuentes, lhp, 30
  • Trevor Hoffman, rhp, 30
  • Brandon Lyon, rhp, 26
  • Jason Isringhausen, rhp, 12
  • Eric Gagne, rhp, 10
  • Luis Ayala, rhp, 9

That's eight free agent closers who, despite having varying levels of success ranging from K-Rod's record-setting season to Eric Gagne's injuries and demotion, are looking to find work in 2009. And that list doesn't even include all the guys who succeeded as setup relievers, like fan-favorite lefty Joe Beimel, punching bag Kyle Farnsworth, frequently injured Tom Gordon, Everyday Eddie Guardado, or aged righty Mike Timlin. All in all, the market for relievers is a buyer's market.

Perhaps the only guy who will make the big bucks is Frankie Rodriguez. Allegedly, the Mets are all in on K-Rod. Still, his former team, for whom he set the single season saves record, won't even bother to offer him a contract. Besides, outside of Mariano Rivera, who can you really count on these days?

Are baseball owners and general managers finally turning the corner on the concept of closing games, towards a more open-ended bullpen-by-committee strategy? Will a poor free agent reliever season mark the beginning of smarter bullpen strategies by teams, with managers opting to use their best relievers in high-leverage situations in the seventh inning? Will folks take cues from Joe Maddon who mixed and matched his Troy Percival-less but deep bullpen with great results in the September stretch and the postseason?

Probably not, but if so, the current agent-client-owner relationship is in deep trouble. Without top-of-the-line closers collecting 30, 40 or 50 saves a year, the marketplace will have to adapt to newfangled sabermetric statistics like our old friend WXRL. And more WXRL = more jobs for baseball nerds!

dutchoven.jpg

Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Fire Joe Morgan Shuttering Opens Up Gaping Comic Void in Blogosphere: Yes, the day we never hoped would come has jumped up at the very worst possible moment. Fire Joe Morgan, the best-written and funniest media criticism blog in the entire sportsblogosphere, is closing up shop because that Office TV show is too time-consuming. Or something about their families. I don't know.

  • Yankees Ship Wilson Betemit to Ozzieland: Forget Nick Swisher, the best part about yesterday's Yankees-White Sox trade was dumping Wilson Betemit. He was my least favorite Yankee, which means I can now focus my ire on Damaso Marte. I've got my eye on you, Marte!

  • At This Rate, Jake Peavy Will Only Pitch in Atlanta During Interleague: So San Diego G.M. Kevin Towers is now expanding his horizons on the Peavy trade, going past the Cubs and Braves and looking towards the American League. Hey Towers, send him to the Yanks and you can have Damaso Marte and Nick Swisher.

  • Ancient Pitcher Declares Independence from Cactus Corporation: Randy Johnson is going to get his 300th career win outside of Arizona. Unless, of course, he's pitching for another National League team playing a road game against the Diamondbacks. Hey, don't the Yankees need a top line starter?

Most importantly, free agent season starts today, so open up those pocketbooks and empty out your piggybanks!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, boopy bop bip bip.

  • DID you read about the Nick Swisher and Kevin Gregg trades? I give them a C and a B- respectively.

  • HOW will I do on my ServSafe test? I've already learned that it's against code to j/o in the walk-in cooler.
See you tomorrow, suckers.

Cliff Lee Wins AL Cy Young Award

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You don't think Cliff Lee was untouchable this year? Just ask all the pansy-ass AL Central teams he beat down this season. Ask the wimpy Royals or over-hyped Tigers or even his own teammates whose record would have been far under .500 had Lee not dominated the weak sisters of the American League with such aplomb.

But regardless, Lee won the AL Cy Young Award because he was utterly dominant when he was supposed to be. He came off a horribly bad 2007 season where he fluttered between the minors and the majors and started out with a bang; he had a 27 inning scoreless streak in April. Lee got a little extra juice on his fastball, a little extra drop on his curveball, and posted a groundball ratio nearly twice as high as his career numbers to get those easy peasy infield outs. Dude went 22-3 for a miserably mediocre team with no bullpen and barely any shred of offense. That's what Steve Phillips was talkin' about.

My pick Roy Halladay finished in second (with four first place votes!), just ahead of Angels closer Frankie Rodriguez, who isn't even good enough to earn a contract offer from his team. Once again, CTC nailed the pick and moves to 6-for-6 in predix.

If Jake Peavy Goes To Atlanta Will He Take A Midnight Train?

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From the very tiny desk of Ken Rosenthal, on very tiny paper comes news that the Braves are super duper close to getting Jacob Zeus Peavy (not his real name).

The Braves are on the verge of a trade agreement with the Padres for Peavy, according to CBSSportsline.com, but the Padres have yet to communicate their acceptance of a Braves' offer to Atlanta officials, major-league sources say.

It is possible that the Padres have decided internally to proceed with the Braves, then finalize the details later Thursday. The teams spoke again on Wednesday, continuing discussions that have lasted for over a month.

The Padres, according to CBSSportsline.com, will receive shortstop Yunel Escobar, Class A outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, either right- hander Charlie Morton or left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes and either reliever Blaine Boyer or one of two minor-league left-handers, one of whom is Jeff Locke.

See ya, Jo-Jo, see ya Blaine. SEE YA GORKYS. At least the Padres are going to up a Fruity Name Percentage (FNP) that was 14th in the NL last year. And for the Braves, this solidifies their position as the third best team in the NL East.

You get the feeling, however, that Ken doesn't really believe all of this by the way he repeats "according to CBSsportsline.com" like a tic. Talk amongst yourselves. I'm hungover.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, I have painted myself into a corner.

  • WHEN am I going to start writing on a regular basis again? Soon. I promise. But it's tough being the Vegetable Man with the Vegetable Van.

  • WILL you finally try out for the Mexican National team now that Vinny Castilla is coaching?

  • HOW funny would it have been if Jim Edmonds had found this by landing on it?

  • ANYONE have $300 they can loan me?

See you tomorrow, you heroes of the mid-afternoon. Same WoW time, same WoW archetype.
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I guess my 260 write-in votes for John McLaren and Dusty Baker got lost in the mail. I can think of no other explanation as to why Joe Maddon and Lou Piniella just got named Manager of the Year in their respective leagues. The BBWAA rewarded Maddon for taking his underdog Tampa Bay Rays to the top of the American League East and Piniella for leading the Chicago Cubs to the best regular season record in the National League and the Cubs best record in 63 years.

Joe Maddon's nonsensical "9=8" math equation proved, in the long run, that his team was better than Tito Francona's Red Sox or Mike Scioscia's Angels. Whether repping his indie hipster cred or tearing his young team a new one, Maddon was always the cool cat with the media and never blew smoke up their collective asses. Even when bloggers accused him of overmanaging, Maddon stuck to his guns and let his players assemble a stunning 97-65 record. He picked up all but one first-place vote and outdistanced second place Ron Gardenhire by 80 points. piniella.jpg

Piniella shouldn't feel so bad about abandoning that Rays job a few years back now that both teams are so successful. Sure, his Cubs team folded like a beach towel in the playoffs, but the postseason is just a dumb crapshoot for a dumb shiny trophy and dumb bragging rights. Piniella received 15 first place votes and 103 points overall, finishing 36 points ahead of the Phillies' Charlie Manuel and 55 points ahead of the Marlins' Fredi Gonzalez. For some reason, Dale Sveum earned a single third-place vote.

Kudos to Camp Tiger Claw for correctly predicting both award winner. Folks, he's now 5-for-5 in postseason award predictions. Don't expect the streak to continue; for some reason he chose "Dwight Evans" as his AL MVP.

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Deadspin head honcho A.J. Daulerio posed the question yesterday: is ESPN looking to buy Baseball Prospectus, the smart subscriber-driven online publication for geeky sabermetricians? Founded by Gary Huckabay in 1996, Baseball Prospectus is best-known for giving Nate Silver and his PECOTA forecasting system a platform way before he predicted that whole Obama thing at Five Thirty Eight. According to Daulerio, there have been rumors whirling around the ESPN offices lately that, having been swept up by the latest Nate Silver adulation, they are going to purchase B.P.

I've been a B.P. subscriber for a few years; it's absolutely necessary for me as the nerdy half of the Walkoff Walk baseball blog to read up on all the new-fangled statistics and evaluation tools. I'm no expert on sabermetrics. Sometimes I get my VORP and my WARP mixed up and I occasionally think that WXRL is a new alt-country FM station. Still, B.P. is an independent collective of independent thinkers and brilliant minds talking about baseball. I don't have to agree with or understand everything written on that website for me to be a fan and a paying customer.

ESPN, on the other hand, is a much larger, ad-driven corporate entity. Their practice of sweeping up blogs has been largely hit-or-miss (well, mostly miss-and-miss harder). While their acquisition of Henry Abbott's TrueHoop blog last year didn't affect Abbott's credibility in the sportsblogosphere, their NFL blog Hashmarks wasn't well received and led to the creation of NFL Nation, six separate pseudo-blogs for each NFL division written by real live journalists. Calling those things blogs is like calling Walkoff Walk a dissertation on nuclear physics.

Baseball Prospectus is not a blog, but ESPN would treat it like one. Baseball Prospectus is not written by one person like TrueHoop and Baseball Prospectus does not offer quick and snarky takes on the latest news like Deadspin. Baseball Prospectus is a thoughtfully written and sabermetrically-driven collective. ESPN already has a few thoughtful baseball writers on staff, like Rob Neyer or Keith Law. ESPN would merely shuffle the B.P. writers off to the blog ghetto and continue to force Rick Reilly's bullshit on the front page. Also, usurping B.P. would only cloud the message and create a near-monopoly of sabermetrics on the web.

So here's my offer to the worldwide leader: buy this blog instead. I'd like to sell Walkoff Walk to ESPN in order to save Baseball Prospectus from burning in corporate hell. Norby, CTC and I will sell you this website at a fair price and write mildly amusing blogs for two years and even sign a non-compete agreement. You want Nate Silver's newfound fame and Will Carroll's injury expertise? You can't have it. You want Steven Goldman's thoughtful takes on baseball history? You can't have it. You want hastily-written semi-funny takes on baseball and the human condition? It's all yours.

Of course, this is just my selfish take on the matter. Who am I to stand in the way of some good folks making a couple nickels for their work? Good luck to those folks at B.P.

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Cubs Get Freaky With Padres, Introduce Third Team to Sexy Trade Talks: The Jake Peavy future employment drama just took a surprising turn, as the Cubs have been forced to bring a third team into trade talks with the Padres. San Diego wants some pitchin' prospects and the Cubs just don't got 'em. Meanwhile, the Braves are still alive in this discussion as long as they are willing to give up pitcher Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes.

  • Change in Baltimore is Merely Ornithological: Those new Baltimore uniforms? Sure, the road unis have the word "Baltimore" emblazoned across the chest for the first time in 30 years, but I'm more concerned with the new logo. Yes, they changed the oriole's pose. What was once perched calmly is now leaning forward, expectantly waiting for Peter Angelos to either improve the team and/or die off.

  • With Holliday Gone, Rockies Look to Deal the Shitty Players: The Reds and Rockies are in trade talks, with Cincinnati G.M. Walt Jocketty said to be interested in Colorado's thrilling threesome of third baseman Garrett Atkins, outfielder Willy Taveras and catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Willy Taveras on the Reds? He's like a younger version of Corey Patterson. Dusty Baker is already slotting Taveras' .308 OBP and 68 stolen bases at the #1 position in his lineup.

  • Famous Blogger to Miss 2009 With Elbow Surgery: Pat Neshek, the world famous blogger who moonlights as a relief pitcher, will miss the 2009 season after having ligament-replacement surgery. In case you forgot, he missed most of 2008 with an elbow injury. Note to Neshek: stop all this pitching nonsense and get back to blogging. That's where the money be at!

Tonight's Questions

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Thumbnail image for SQUIRRELface.JPGHey kids, I CAN BUY AND SELL YOU.

  • DO the San Luis Obispo Blues owe you any money? If so, don't take a check.

  • HAVE you hugged a veteran today? I highly, highly recommend one from WWII. They're snuggly.

  • IS it getting heavy?

See you tomorrow. Same WoW time, same WoW frequency.
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Walkoff Walk favorite Salomon Torres, who famously agreed to move to Milwaukee last year because his daughters loved the racing sausages, is retiring from baseball. Brewers G.M. Doug Melvin was probably going to exercise the team's $3.75 million option on Torres before the Saturday deadline.

"I wanted to make it easy for him," said Torres, 36, reached at home in Pittsburgh. "I already had made up my mind and wanted to tell him this was my last season."

"It's time for me to dedicate more time to my family and my religion," said Torres. "Doug was very understanding, which I appreciate. I had a wonderful experience in Milwaukee but he knows I am serious about it."

Torres, who won the Milwaukee closer role from an underperforming Eric Gagne in May, leaves the Brewers bullpen in tatters for new manager Ken Macha. No worries, Ken. I hear Trevor Hoffman is available.

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Trevor Hoffman has been a San Diego Padre for so long, it's almost impossible to remember that he made his major league debut with the expansion Florida Marlins back in 1993. It's also nearly impossible to remember that he drafted by the Reds as a hot-hitting shortstop at the University of Arizona back in 1989, and switched over to pitching in 1991 when his bat could no longer make the ball go to happy, safe places. With the exception of a 2003 stint on the D.L. because of shoulder surgery, Hoff saved at least 30 games for the Pads every year since 1995, and is the all-time leader in that stat category of calculated artifice, the save.

Today, however, the team in the city where he is idolized has cut him loose, presumably without "Hells Bells" blasting over the P.A. in San Diego International's terminal D. Sure, the Padres are facing massive upheaval with the pending financial and marital crisis in owner John Moores' pocketbook, but who ever thought alimony payments included future hall-of-fame hurlers?

Yes, Hoffman's fastball has lost some juice over the past couple of years, and his slider just isn't sliding as much anymore: fella gave up eight tater tots in just 45 innings pitched last year. But he's one of the last things bringing the San Diego kiddies to the park; the team lost 99 games in 2008 and don't look to be improving greatly on that number for the next few years. It's rebuilding time, and the Padre higher-ups figure, "Why blow eight million on our legendary closer when he won't have wins to close out?"

Well, the Padres offered him just $4 million for '09...until they reneged on the offer and let him go, via fax. Ken Rosenthal gripes that the Padres pulled their reduced contract offer without even letting Hoffman meet with the higher-ups, something he had personally requested. Hoffman was probably thinking that yes, the Face of the Franchise for over ten years deserved a sitdown with the big bosses.

Folks, I hate to come to this conclusion time and time again, but there's no love and devotion in the business of baseball. None of these guys play the game to make friends or to build relationships, they do it because (a) they're good at it (b) it's fun and (c) they can make a lot of money. Hoffman is off to close out games for the Indians, or the Mets, or the Cardinals, or who knows where.

Still, folks in San Diego are reluctantly mellow and I'm sure Trevor himself didn't want to be uprooting for the final seasons of his career. We'll revisit all this once his next destination is known, but until then, lift your fish tacos and join me in toasting Trevor Hoffman's career as a San Diego Padre.

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Tim Lincecum won the NL Cy Young Award. Perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the National League in 2008, the kid led the league in strikeouts with 265 and trailed only Johan Santana in ERA. Lincecum is just the second Giant to win the award, joining 1967 winner Mike McCormick.

Brandon Webb finished second and Santana came in third. Most importantly, Camp Tiger Claw called the winner so he gets a point in the race to be good at predictin' postseason awards.

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The libelous and conjecture-filled off-season is in full swing and the Dutch Ovens are steaming! From every good Hot Stove comes a delicious Hot Knife, guaranteed to make your thinking hazy and unclear. There is a chance that Hot Knives will mess you up like a bad accident.

We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.

Today: Matt Holliday. Specifically, what on Earth does Billy Beane have up his devious sleeves?

No matter what Billy Beane is plotting, this is an exciting turn of events for A's fans. A big name in the prime of his career on the way in to Oakland? A measure of success that can only be matched by the dizzying heights of a Cakie binge.

Despite the horrible stink of Coors Field Effect that lingers on everything Dan O'Dowd touches, Matt Holliday is the real deal. Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs points out that his fancy ballpark-adjusted numbers (WPA/Li) are excellent, ahead of sluggers like Chase Utley and Carlos Quentin. That doesn't mean Holliday won't rue the day he passed on a big contract extension, because agents love big sexy home run totals. But Matt Holliday will certainly contribute in Oakland, either endlessly crushing doubles into those vast power alleys or slamming his chin into cheap beer at 924 Gilman Street. First one to punch Jello Biafra wins!

The contract extension that never was brings us to the real reason Billy Beane made this bold move: Holliday is a free agent at the end of next year. While Beane swears he won't flip Holliday like a cavalier homeowner now drowning in negative equity, he will be in a good situation to move Holliday as the trade deadline approaches, if not the before the season even begins as Jeff Blair coyly suggests. Should the A's compete for a playoff spot, Holliday stays and turns into valuable draft picks when he signs with the Red Sox.

Could the A's get their shit together and make a run at the playoffs? They scraped together a 75 win season in 2008 with a lineup of random and faceless replacement-level players that wouldn't look out of place at Burningman. Strong pitching and defense (i.e. stuff that comes cheap) that won't be hampered by the loss of one of their dozen soft-tossing lefties (Greg Smith), out-of-favour closer (Huston Street, who is somehow only 24) and a promising young center fielder (Carlos Gonzales). But their offense was so piss poor, even the addition of Holliday's 4 wins doesn't get them to .500. Rumours of Athletics ownership increasing payroll to the $80 million dollar range could bring another bat to partner with the plentiful cheap pitching.

As for the Rockies, they get younger and cheaper. They figure to send Street's pointy toes and chin pubes on their way before he even plays a single game in Denver, likely for someone else younger and cheaper. The Rocks hopes and dreams are tied up in Troy Tulowitzki and Manny Corpas, signed to long extensions after their rookie seasons. Carlos "Niko Belic" Gonzales projects as an every day player in the National League, using his speed to roam the ample acres of Coors Field.

This trade makes plenty of sense of Billy Beane and his cadre of soulless pencil pushers. Hopefully it will give loyal A's fans a reason to take part in joyful acts in the upper deck, even for just one season.

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Billy Beane is ___ Rebuilding: Some people seem to think Matt Holliday's stay in Oakland is merely temporary. Others seem to think he's a key part of making the A's contend in 2009. Tune in later for some Hot Knives coverage of the trade.

  • Orlando Hudson Will ___ Become a Blue Jay Again: Some people seem to think the Blue Jays should bring back Orlando Hudson. Others seem to think he's an overpriced version of Aaron Hill whose defensive skills have fallen off of late and who wears a ridiculous double earflap helmet. Tune in later to see the Mets sign him for 4 years and $60 million.

  • The Nationals Made A ____ Trade: The Marlins sent starter Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham up to Warshington, D.C. in exchange for someone named Emil Bonaficio and a coupla minor league pitchers. This immediately makes the Marlins a significantly less talented team and the Nationals a slightly less bad team, meaning that both will end up at 71-91 in 2009.

  • Trevor Hoffman Will ___ Go Into the Hall of Fame in Five Years: The Padres withdrew their 2009 offer to closer Trevor Hoffman, meaning that the all time leader in saves will not be returning to the team. Fella made $9 million last year and the team initially offered him $4 million, so I guess they never really wanted him back. Will he retire now or go on to be the Mets closer?

  • The Mariners Will Hire a Manager With ____ Experience: Here's a quick list of finalists for the Mariners skipper job: White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, Boston bench coach Brad Mills, Boston third base coach DeMarlo Hale, Arizona coach Chip Hale, St. Louis third base coach Jose Oquendo, Oakland coach Don Wakamatsu and San Diego Triple-A manager Randy Ready. That's a who's who of nobodies, meaning the Mariners are thinking outside the Ken Macha/Bobby Valentine/Bob Brenly same old same old box.

  • Rinku's a Lumberjack and He's ____: JB sir took Rinku and Dinesh to eat breakfast at their local Denny's, and then they went to see the latest Guy Ritchie picture RocknRolla. They gave it two thumbs down, saying, "it was supposed to be big action, but it was no action at all. At least the seats were very comfortable and the theater was very clean."

Tonight's Questions

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sharkbaby.jpgHey kids, what are you gonna do, keep jumping from rock to rock until there aren't any rocks left?

  • WHO gives a shit how you met my mother? Seriously, get lost dude.

  • DO you agree with today's ROY choices? They were pretty much no-brainers.

  • WHICH players will Billy Beane send to the Rockies to consummate the Holliday trade? I hope not Walkoff Walk favorite Greg Smith!

  • WOULD this this look good in your game room?

See you tomorrow, Chuckleheads.

Perhaps G.M. Billy Beane was not quite as satisfied as we thought with Emil Brown's .683 OPS in the outfield, because the Oakland A's are on the verge of making a big splash in the trade market, as per Jon Heyman:

The A's are closing in on a deal with the Rockies that would send star outfielder Matt Holliday to Oakland from Colorado, SI.com has learned. The players Colorado would receive are not yet known.

I'd provide some instant analysis but I'm just not smart enough to analyze something this surprising in just an instant. Still, with exactly one Athletics hitter breaking the vaunted .400 mark of slugging percentage last season (note: there is nothing vaunted about a .400 SLG), this will provide manager Bob Geren with a Real Live Actual Baseball Hitter to pencil into his lineup every day.

UPDATE: A confidential source to Walkoff Walk says that Holliday is coming into Oakland tomorrow for his physical with the A's staff. Turn your head and cough, etc.

Cubs Sale Going About As Well As Cubs Postseason

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The Cubs are still up for sale. The general assumption was that with the team and Wrigley Field all part of the package, the winning bid would be over $1B. But like anything that has a price tag attached to it these days, the whole thing is becoming a tough sell. It appears the final price will be lower than those original estimates.

The Chicago Cubs, who bombed out in this year's playoffs, may be no closer to getting $1 billion in a sale than they are to a World Series.

Sources said Friday that the credit crisis has trimmed what investors are willing to pay Tribune Co. for the team. Tribune Chairman Sam Zell has been trying to hold firm on his billion-dollar asking price, offering seller financing.

But sources said buyers are reacting coolly to that plan because they think a partnership with Tribune could be a disaster. Some financial analysts believe Tribune could default on debt due around mid-2009.

You can see the problems here pretty clearly. The Tribune company wants to keep an approximately 5% share of the team, to avoid taxes that I assume are associated with a full sale. But with newfound buyer reticence (even with Zell offering Seller Financing), the Tribune may need to assume a larger share than that and as you just read, that will be a problem come next year. What potential buyer wants a partner with a forecast like that?

Everyone knows that newspapers are suffering. It's one of the inescapable "new realities" of this century, like global warming or musicians created by The Disney Channel. The idea is so ingrained in our minds that it's easy to assume the turbulence of this sale stems from the Tribune's involvement. But you have to think that team values are down all across baseball. The Red Sox sale for $700M in 2002 looked exorbitant and then 2 years later, like a steal. As the economic fortunes of the country went, so did the fortunes of baseball and sports in general. I'd be hard pressed to put any realistic sale price on the Red Sox now. It's a total crapshoot.

We know that much of the country's prosperity was more imagined than real, and the sale of a baseball team is a pretty tangible way for a dope like me to see the correction. I only know one thing to be true in this entire story. Mark Cuban still has a snowball's chance in hell of buying the Cubs.

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In what will come as a surprise to absolutely no one who watched a shred of baseball this year, rookies Evan Longoria of the American League champion Rays and Geovany Soto of the National League Central winning Cubs won their respective league's Jackie Robinson Award. Longoria was the unanimous choice while Soto was slightly less...ummm....nanimous.

The Jackie Robinson Award? That's what the kids are calling the "Rookie of the Year" award nowadays. It's similar to how the best pitcher wins the Cy Young award or how the best hitter wins the Hank Aaron award, or how the best broadcaster gets to wear the Bob Uecker Memorial Furry Costume.

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In what has become the single most exciting story of foreign born teenagers trying to make a big splash in the United States since the great immigration of Ukrainian high school platform divers in the 1960s, our Indian heroes Rinku and Dinesh have won themselves another tryout with major league scouts! But this opportunity didn't happen without some difficult barriers to overcome. No, not the language or cultural barriers, I meant loose mound dirt. Says Rinku:

We were very excited before the workout. We warmed up inside in a netting and I feel very good. I think I throw 90 MPH with good control. Then we went outside... The mound dirt was loose and my foot was falling each time I throw. Coaches and scouts say I do good, but I can do much harder pitches. There were many scouts there and we were grateful for them to journey to Arizona to watch our try outs.

Adds Dinesh:

I too was very excited and feeling very strong and confident. Inside I think I pitched at 91 - 92 MPH I think also with good control. Outside was very bad. I pitched first and my first throw had my foot slipping because the dirt of the mound was loose. I tell Coach Tom but he say I have t o pitch, so I pitch. The slip make me throw slower and not so accurate. I feel like scouts not see my best, but I sure I can pitch much better than I show.

Sheesh! They're in our fine country for just over six months and they're already using the same lame excuses that lazy Americans also use! "Oh, the dirt on the mound was too loose." What, did JB sir hire Complainin' Curt Schilling to be their public relations coach?

USA Today's own Bob Nightengale is still following the pair in their quest to win an offer from a professional baseball squadron. He reports that Rinku and Dinesh will work out in front of scouts on their 'home turf' in Los Angeles, even putting off a planned trip back to India to see their families. Also, they'll be actual celebrities when they tour their homeland promoting the second season of "The Million Dollar Arm" reality show.

There's a video at the USA Today website of our heroes. I'd embed it if it were possible. Our pal Meech at The Fightins did all the hard work for us, and we owe him many, many Cokes. Please to enjoy.


(Picture credited to Matt York of the AP and stolen from MLB.com because we have no shame about stealing from the hands that feed us)

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Andy Petttitte Files For Free Agency, Sits By Telephone: Maybe Brian Cashman and the Yankees think their rotation is pretty flush already for 2009, having mentally assigned CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe slots in the starting staff. I say this because Andy Pettitte is ready and willing to come back for one year at half his 2008 salary, no questions asked, but still hasn't heard from the team. So, he filed for free agency to totally make them jealous.

  • Brewers Hire Willie Randolph to Give Ken Macha Wise, Morgan Freeman-like Black Man Advice: In one of the snooziest off-season hires, the Brew Crew hired a bench coach in the same way they hired a manager: seemingly picking a name out of the hat among unemployed manager-types. Willie Randolph will now assume a seat at the right hand of the Macha, dispensing advice about when to sac-bunt and what flavor latte goes best with a blueberry scone.

  • Buster Olney Says What We've All Been Thinking, Thinks What None of Us Would Ever Imagine: Yeah, he seems like a nice guy on the outside but when Buster Olney goes around suggesting the Giants would be best off signing CC Sabathia to a multi-multi-multi-million dollar contract, well then, we think he needs psychological evaluation. No Buster, another Zito-esque splash in the free agent pitcher market will do nothing for a team whose offensive leader was a Molina in 2008.

  • Columnist Predicts Free Agent Signings, Cowardly Hides Column Behind Paywall: Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto's weekly "Every Given Sunday" piece intends to make an educated guess as to where each of the top free agents will end up. Here are his big predix: Sabathia to Yankees, Manny to Dodgers, Teixeira to Nationals, Lowe to Yankees, Dempster to Cubs, Burnett to Orioles, and of course Nick Punto to th...zzzzzzz.

Weekend Question

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Hey kids, into each life some rain must fall.

  • DO you care at all about how baseball players are affected by possible tax increases under the Obama regime? Me neither. It's about time Randy Johnson paid the same percentage of his income as he did during the Clinton Administration.

That's all for this week. See you on Monday, or sooner if some crazy shit goes down this weekend with Jake Peavy/Manny Ramirez/Matt Holliday.

(video stolen from the always excellent oobject curation website)

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It was the biggest and most important day of the year, something we've been waiting for with bated breath for months. It was a day like Christmas, Boxing Day, and Diwali all wrapped up into one. Yesterday was the day our Indian friends Rinku and Dinesh finally had their opportunity to try out in front of Real Live American Scouts, and it went quite swimmingly.

Our protagonists were in Tempe, Arizona with their agent Jeff Borris (JB sir) and coach Tom House pitching in front of 30 MLB scouts.

"I don't know if your bosses made you be here, but I'm glad you're here," House, a former big leaguer, told the scouts. "Think of them as two Dominican kids. They're very raw. But I think this has a huge upside."

When a scout asked how the teens had adjusted to life in the U.S., House replied, "They hold their own. They speak just enough English to be dangerous. They're kind of shy, but they get it."

That's good advice, Coach Tom, because to major league scouts, all brown people look the same anyway. And we all know that yes, brown people who speak a little bit of English are indeed quite dangerous; just

Singh and Patel threw mostly fastballs, mixing in a handful of breaking pitches. Most of their deliveries were right around the plate, although Patel uncorked one pitch that whizzed past the screen as the scouts flinched and ducked.

The short, stocky Patel hit 90 on the radar gun during a 30-pitch stint, leading House to call him "a right-handed Billy Wagner." Singh was clocked at 84.

Ouch, Coach Tom. You couldn't have picked a different hard-throwing reliever to compare your student to? Perhaps one without a reputation for...you know...not blowing games and blowing out his arm?

Not everyone is a believer. Jim Walsh of the Arizona Republic was on the scene and filed this report:

"You can't really make a judgment based on this. There's an awful lot of players further along," said Ted Heid, coordinator, special-projects international for the Seattle Mariners. "There would need to be an organization to continue the experiment."

But, he said, "Major League Baseball is about winning at the major-league level, not social experiments."

Tell that to Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner, seemingly set on a social experiment to create the world's biggest collection of bad baseball players.

Anyway, enough snark. We're very proud of Rinku and Dinesh and hope they get many many offers from many many teams and continue their baseball yatra.

golden-toilet.jpgAs anyone not named Rafael Palmeiro knows, the Gold Glove awards are an utter joke. Everybody knows this, and everybody complains about it. Rob took umbrage with Michael Young's selection , Geoff Baker took shots at the entire sham, the Drunk Jays Fans went apoplectic over Nate McLouth's award and so on and so forth. Everybody hates it, everyone knows it's a joke. Hopefully nobody takes it too seriously.

As an unapologetic fielding nerd and saber-dabbler, this drives me mad. I really, really want to take it seriously. I want them to matter like I ignorantly thought they did in the pre-intertube days. Sure, there are Silk Gloves and Fielding Bibles, but what beats an actual golden glove?

There is one reason we can't take the Gold Gloves seriously: they are voted on by the coaches and managers in each league. That's right, 75 ex-ballplayers and professional seed chewers decide who gets a faux-prestigious award. How many cumulative minutes do we think went into the league-wide voting? 15 minutes? Maybe 20. The current wave of incredible metrics and systems grow out of the tall foreheads pouring over game footage and formulating the most objective way to assess the skills of defensive players.

How many National League bullpen coaches considered Albert Pujols excellent +20 plus/minus rating or his superior by 150 points revised zone rating before deciding to follow their gut and vote for Adrian Gonzalez? Nate McClouth rated as the WORST defensive center fielder in baseball, yet he now owns a gaudy statuette. If he doesn't make two key plays during the All Star game, does he even get a single vote?

So here you go, these are the Walkoff Walk Gilded Leather Awards, named after a comment by our very own Honeynut Ichiros. Your panel is me, Lloyd the Barber and nobody else. I watch plenty of baseball, I look at reams of stats. But I'm no robot, I've got a heart, too. I am gladly swept away by the artistry of...fuck it, make with the listicle!

National League
  1. Albert Pujols - 1B
  2. Chase Utley - 2B
  3. Jimmy Rollins - SS
  4. Blake DeWitt - 3B
  5. Chris Young - OF
  6. Carlos Beltran - OF
  7. Randy Winn - OF
  8. Yadier Molina - C
  9. Greg Maddux - P
American League
  1. Lyle Overbay - 1B
  2. Mark Ellis - 2B
  3. Mike Aviles - SS
  4. Scott Rolen/Adrian Beltre - 3B
  5. Carl Crawford - OF
  6. Carlos Gomez - OF
  7. Nick Markakis - OF
  8. Kurt Suzuki - C
  9. Kenny Rogers - P
Chase Utley lost out for both the Silk and Gold Glove awards, despite making an whopping 30 extra plays over Brandon Phillips. His heads up play during the World Series likely won him the Gold Glove next year, so Chutley don't despair. Randy Winn gets credit for playing right field in vast and windy Phone Bill Park, despite his noodle arm. Blake DeWitt lead the NL in +/- in limited time at third base, and he doesn't play for the Mets so he gets my vote. Turns out Greg Maddux actually is that awesome.

Lyle Overbay may seem like a homer pick, due in large part to his being a huge homer pick. Overbay gets the nod over Pena for having a much higher RZR, starting so many more wonderful 3-6-3 double plays, and making Alex Rodriguez feel shame. Mark Teixeira is penalized for playing only 400+ innings in the American League and the mind-blowing riches he will receive in the next few weeks. The AL didn't have a standout shortstop in 2008 so Mike Aviles' +15 is good enough to earn him gilded leather. Scott Rolen and Adrian Beltre will have to share the award for the deepest position in either league. Nick Markakis' strong arm shoves him into contention over the rangy but flaccid Franklin Gutierrez and the credibility-crushing gazelle Alex Rios. Kurt Suzuki is one of the finer defensive catchers in baseball, matching an excellent wild pitch + passed ball rate with a strong caught stealing percentage. The goopy crap on The Gambler's glove apparently helps him be a great fielder, even as an old man.

Carefully calculated amounts of Coca Cola to the glorious Hardball Times and Bill James Online for the free sortable stats.
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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Jake Peavy Chooses His Own Adventure: Padres GM Kevin Towers says that the wheels are in motion for Jake Peavy to be traded, and that three National League teams remain in contention: specifically, the Braves, Cubs, and a third Mystery! team. The Pads want Jeff Samardzija from the Cubbies and probably Yunel Escobar and prospect Jordan Schafer from the Braves. So who is the third team? Houston? Los Angeles? St. Louis? The Bowling Green Hot Rods?

  • A Forty-Five Million Dollar Slap in the Face: Pardon my hack joke, but if somebody offered me even forty-five hundred dollars to blog for two years, I'd jump and clap my hands like a seven-year-old girl. Still, the Dodgers' $45 million, two-year offer to Manny is the lowballs of all lowballs. It's a token offer for Ned Colletti to appease the Dodger faithful, and they should return his gesture with a swift kick in the moustache.

  • Mariners Dig Deep in Managerial Search, Art Howe Updates Resume: New Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik is searching high and wide for a manager for the miserable Mariners, even putting a feeler out for former Pirates skipper Lloyd McClendon. Yes, the same Lloyd McClendon whose team went 336-446 in five years in Pittsburgh. Misery, she loves company.

  • Mystery National League Team Expresses Interest in Noted Kenny G Fan: Mariners pitcher Miguel Batitsta has garnered trade interest from another team, and Seattle fans are just as giddy as can be. Hopefully, that mystery team won't vet Batista too much and find out about his obsession with serial killers.

  • Nationals New Blue Jerseys Are a Hot Mess: I forget, does that mean they're good or bad?

Tonight's Question

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Hey kids, beware the fury of a patient man.

  • WHY were there no big deals during these Winter Meetings?

Seriously, the meetings are over and all the general managers could come up with was a token $50 million contract offer by Ned Colletti (left) to superstar slugger Manny Ramirez. Jake Peavy: still a Padre. Jeff Francouer: still a Brave. Rinku and Dinesh: still waiting for a Twitter update.

See youse guys tomorrow.

Picture stolen from the AP's Lenny Ignelzi via the WaPo

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So while this announcement hasn't been made official quite yet, we here at Walkoff Walk are always game for some juicy rumormongering. The latest monger comes from our pal Evan Grant from the Dallas Morning News who posts a rumor he found on some random sporting goods blog. Typical blogger behavior. Well, here are your AL Gold Glove wieners:

  • Joe Mauer, MIN, C
  • Carlos Pena, TBR, 1B
  • Dustin Pedroia, BOS, 2B
  • Michael Young, TEX, SS
  • Adrian Beltre, SEA, 3B
  • Torii Hunter, LAA, OF
  • Ichiro Suzuki, SEA, OF
  • Grady Sizemore, CLE, OF
  • Mike Mussina, NYY, P

I ain't got no quarrel with these winners, except for one: Michael Young, who I still believe is an even worse fielding shortstop than Derek Jeter. Heck, he makes Jeter look like Mark fucking Belanger. Listen, I know Orlando Cabrera is a total ass and journalists hate him, but he deserved this award. Yes, Michael Young led the league in fielding percentage but that's only because every difficult-to-field ground ball just went past him for a single.

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Our Indian friends are finally getting their star turn. Rinku and Dinesh, winners of the Million Dollar Arm contest in their home country of India, are getting ready for their big league tryouts in Arizona and were interviewed by the good folks at ESPN. Says Rinku:

Today we met Mark sir from ESPN and he spent many time interviewing us today for TV program. It was first time Dinesh and I have to do big talking in English. Pitching is hard, but for us media is even harder.

"Pitching is hard, but for us media is even harder". Funny, that's exactly what Rick Sutcliffe says every single morning. So if you're watching ESPN this weekend (because I certainly will not), be on the lookout for this interview. Perhaps they will include footage from today's big tryout.

Yes, after six months of training and waiting and cooking spare ribs, Rinku and Dinesh are finally trying out in front of MLB scouts. I don't know who is more nervous: their agent JB sir or their biggest fan, Kris Liakos (KL sir). Let us all pray that they are able to strike with consistency and hit 95 MPH on the speed-o-meter. If we're lucky, at least one of them will get an invitation to spring training, where they will have the opportunity to not eat In-N-Out burgers. You know, the cow thing.

In even bigger media news, Rinku and Dinesh finally made their Deadspin debut, thanks to the genius of West Coast associate editor and noted Puppy Bowl enthusiast Rick Chandler. Deadspin commenter Cromartie provides some insight:

And, for that matter, having watched The Million Dollar Arm Hunt I can also tell you that these guys suck. If they were any good, they'd be bowlers in the ICL.

Well that's why they've spent the last year in the U.S. learning, you know, to become an actual baseball pitcher, dummy.

After the jump, check out a picture of Rinku and Dinesh meeting with Spawn comic book creator and action toy magnate Todd McFarlane. Rinku even got a Matrix toy!

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Matt Holliday Comes Clean, Proclaims Love for Winning: Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday told the Denver Post that he turned down the Rockies' 4-year $72 milliion extension offer because they're a bunch of losers. Kid doesn't just want the money, he wants the ring. Of course, he's a big fat liar because as a free agent, he'll make twice as much money.

  • Walkoff Walk Favorite Wins Award Sponsored by Baseball Card Company: San Diego Padres farmhand Kyle Blanks won the Topps Minor League Player of the Year award for the Texas League. His award was thirty pounds of stale chewing gum and seventeen Mark McGwire rookie cards. GEM MINT TEN.

  • Magglio Ordoñez on the Trading Block, Magglio Ordoñez Fanboys on the Brink of Disaster: Our pals at the Big Tilde weblog are flummoxed over the latest rumors that send Magglio Ordoñez to the Angels in exchange for a sampler platter: shortstop, catcher, relief pitcher, and jalapeño poppers. "Send Sheffield instead," they exclaim.

  • Cubs Are Frontrunners in Peavy Race, Still Three Miles Behind in Iditarod: Ken Rosenthal of FOX is a rumormongering, and the latest rumor that he's mongering says that the Cubs are in line to snatch Jake Peavy. Sorry once again, Braves fans, but they're even thinking of hanging on to Ryan Dempster, creating a master race of super pitchers that will still fail in October.

  • Ned Colletti Puffs Out Chest, Struts His Stuff: Dodgers G.M. Ned Colletti is bragging that he made the largest contract offer in team history to Manny Ramirez, either two years at $50 million or three years at $75 million. Manny wants four years and he'll probably get it elsewhere. Ol' Neddy is just making a little show for the L.A. fans, basically saying, "Hey, we offered Manny a ton of dough and he turned us down." Colletti also bought out Brad Penny, declining his $9.5 million option, giving him a $2 million parting gift, and telling him to hit the bricks.

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I'm on vacation for the rest of the week.

Tonight's Question

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Hey kids, bank on it.

  • ARE you going to sign Jason Giambi to your co-ed softball team now that he's available?

  • WILL Jake Peavy be on another team when you wake up in the morning?

  • ARE you going to call me an emo wimp when I say I'm going to see Conor Oberst tonight? I don't care. He understands me.

That movie is from the same auteurs that brought you the Jon Papelbon/Darth Vader Halloween movie. Enjoy this one. It's just as... like that.

See you back here tomorrow. Same WoW time, same WoW channel.
scumicane.jpgCan you believe the luck of the baseball writers of America? Forced to endure the foul weather of early fall in Southern California, then they must contend with public enemy number 1: Scott Boras. He has the audacity to, walk into a room and answer their questions. It is all the ink-stained wretches can do to keep track of the hilariously preloaded sound bites, throw the quotes around the phrase "Boras holds court" and make it to the tee by 1pm.

I understand, as Geoff Baker said, that winter meetings are boring to cover, especially the GM meetings which are generally more about rules and policy changes than player movement. So when Scott Boras orchestrates his kangaroo court, the reporters come running as the Seattle Times' Larry Stone describes:

One of my favorite rituals of winter and GM meetings is the strategic arrival of super-agent Scott Boras in the lobby. He plants himself in the middle and waits for the influx of reporters to surround him -- and it doesn't take long.

We just had that magic moment -- and considering that Boras represents Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Lowe -- among 16 free-agent clients -- it was the usual feeding frenzy.
So the reporters crowd around the agent-come-brand, squeeze in a question about a local player to form the body of an article (Willie Bloomquist? He's a 30-team type player. He can help any club!), type it up and head back to the hotel for the night. The editors get their column inches, Boras' clients get their name in the paper (over and over again) and the fans get to curse Boras' name while the rest of the players line up for his representation.

Why are the beat writers complicit in this boring charade? Of course Boras is going to say ridiculous things about Manny being iconic, or that TOO MANY teams are interested in Mark Teixeira. I'm doubt any writers or the GMs he baits believe a single word that comes over his forked tongue and out of his mouth. He's an agent! His job is to convince people that they can't live without his clients' valuable and/or market-adjusted services!

It isn't news, it isn't factual. It's a sales pitch printed in the newspaper. Consider this gem regarding Jason Varitek:

"When the Red Sox win," Boras said, "they make a lot of money and the franchise and network (NESN) increase in value. Jason Varitek's largest role is about winning."
A money quote like that is entertaining, but that doesn't keep it from being complete horseshit.

Photo via Lenny Ignelzi/AP by way of MLB.com
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Hey, the National League Gold Glove Award winners have just been announced!

  • Yadier Molina, STL, C
  • Adrian Gonzalez, SDP, 1B
  • Brandon Phillips, CIN, 2B
  • Jimmy Rollins, PHI, SS
  • David Wright, NYM, 3B
  • Shane Victorino, PHI, OF
  • Nate McLouth, PIT, OF
  • Carlos Beltran, NYM, OF
  • Greg Maddux, ret, P

It's Maddux' record 18th win, and Beltran's third straight. Somehow, Manny Ramirez' late season surge with the Dodgers earned him no fielding accolades. Al Franken and I demand a recount.

Dammit People, The Rinku And Dinesh Story Was Mine

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Welp. The whole system is crashing down. You and I, the very people who have been following Rinku and Dinesh from their arrival in America to their big tryout next week, are getting left in the dust. Abandoned on the side of the road to fame. Despite the fact that I FOUND THEM FIRST DAMMIT, Jeff Bernstein (JB Sir) found it prudent to give interviews with the guys to everyone but me. Maybe I should have been more subtle than the Dhalsim picture. Let me spin you a yarn.

After a couple of months of following and writing about them every week, I decided late this summer that their adventure had the makings of a pretty good feature story. I shopped it around to a couple of places and one national magazine agreed that it had a lot of potential. I was given enough words to describe them, that incredible blog and get an interview with some quotes. Should have been good for everyone. After all, Bernstein was a marketing agent and this was a pretty big magazine.

Lo and behold after I got in touch with Bernstein all he could ask was "Where did you hear about these guys?" like they were some sort of Indian state secret. I was unaware two guys with a website and a rap song were an unknown commodity. Citing "too much pressure" on the guys he declined the interview saying "they" wished I wouldn't even write the story yet. All of this seemed really curious since The Million Dollar Arm was a reality show in India. Oh I forgot, no one lives in India. No pressure there.

I had a pretty good idea what was going on. Bernstein probably just hadn't figured out a way to monetize the kids yet, and I was about to publicize them before he'd signed any contracts. That was my guess anyway. All the talk about moving them too quickly just didn't jibe with the way they were being handled, especially back home. I wrote the story anyway. It focused mainly on the blog posts since I didn't have too much else to go on. It was detached and not very compelling and as such languished on the desk of my editors. Keep in mind this was about 2 months ago.

It appears the ink has dried on whatever deals Bernstein was trying to work out. In the span of about 3 days last month their blog talked about this USA today story and their new American reality show. They really must have learned to deal with pressure in 4 weeks. The USA Today story has in turn caught on in the blogosphere and alas, Rinku and Dinesh are no longer ours.

Mom was right. Writing magazine articles about Indian teenagers who win a contest to come to America and live on the campus of USC to train and be MLB pitchers, all the while dealing with homesickness and culture shock really is a cruel business. But I swear if anyone uses Dmac's Convoy picture, we're suing.

Hotassknives.jpgThe GM meetings are in full swing and the Dutch Ovens are steaming. From every good Hot Stove comes a delicious Hot Knife, guaranteed to make your thinking hazy and unclear. There is a chance that Hot Knives will mess you up like a bad accident.

We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.

Today: CC Sabathia. Specifically, is signing CC Sabathia to a big money deal good for your team?

Firstly, what are you getting for your $125+ million dollars? A former Cy Young winner coming off a career season. Abetted by a switch to the National League, Sabathia went crazy during his contract year, setting career highs for Ks, innings pitched, complete games and shutouts. He's 28 years old, tall, fat (which apparently bodes well for his career longevity) and motivated. A true power pitcher that has only made fewer than 30 starts once during his 8 year career.

Despite what his Baseball Reference career similar players list says, CC Sabathia is a stud. Alex Fernandez? Jack McDowell? BARRY ZITO? Sabathia's much higher K rate and improved control mean he isn't the type of pitcher who's numbers will diminish rapidly. Most power pitchers hit the wall at 32, which is still 3.5 years away for CC, so teams won't be shy to sign him to a 6 or 7 year deal.

Who's Holdin'?

When signing a player to a deal of this magnitude, GMs and empty suits alike must join together and break it down. Firstly, they ask themselves "Are we the New York Yankees?" If they find that they are not, they move to the next question. Is our operation based in the state of California? If they answer no to this question too, there is really only one real question remaining: "Who are we kidding?"

There are very few non-Yankee, non-Golden Seal teams with enough cash-in-hand to make a deal this size. The Brewers have made an initial offer, but as Rob pointed out, they are more than one player away. Were they to sign CC, the rotation moves to Yovanni Gallardo and then falls off a cliff. The Brewers 2008 payroll was just over $80 million dollars, even with a bump to $100 million, they can't justify giving 25% to one player. Especially since he doesn't want to play there and their offer was for optics only. You do not want this Brewers fans, you would just have to trade him for kids in two years anyway.

CC Sabathia is from the great state of California, and he appears keen to return there. One GM surveyed by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick believes the Dodgers can afford to sign CC because of their cheap young players at many positions. Their young squad could grow around the big ace, assuming they don't retain a very, very expensive position player. Is CC in the Dodgers best interests? With two rotation spots set to open up, they have the need. Sabathia would love the chance to stay in LA, where he could hit Roscoe's whenever he felt like it and the occasional in-game tater tot. You very much want this Dodgers fans, too bad they won't be able to compete with a team bidding against itself.

The New York Yankees are the only team that can think to itself: "We are indeed the Yankees. Let us put down our chalices of virgin's blood, reach deep down into the void where our soul should be, pull out $300 million dollars and make a deal!" The Yankees' new ballpark coupled with the owners madness from a baseball-free October mean the Yanks deep pockets will only deepen.

Ah yes, the new ballpark. The new version of Yankee Stadium that features the identical dimensions to the old Yankee Stadium. The historic building that was long a boon for pitchers, who like CC, throw with their left hands in defiance of God's will. So ownership willing to do whatever it takes; plus ideal fit between player's skill set and team's needs; plus a bottomless pit of cash. That adds up to an odds-on favorite. You feel very much entitled to this Yankees fans.

For CC Sabathia to sign anywhere but New York, he will be leaving substantial money on the table. It is really that simple. Should he choose to play in LA or Anaheim of Los Angeles or Milwaukee, it will be a wholly personal decision. The kind of decision players in their prime earning years rarely make.

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Burnett Opts Out of Canada Entirely: So much for the short period of negotiation that A.J. Burnett and his agent gave to the Blue Jays. Seems that J.P. Ricciardi wasn't going to bite and renegotiate that $24 million option at all; he never put another offer on the table. No worries, Jays fans...you've still got Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan! Oh...

  • Ed Wade Chats Up Mike Hampton: Everything Ed Wade touches turns to gold, but he'll hope that Mike Hampton's injury-addled body turns to solid titanium if he signs an incentive-laden contract with the Houston Astros. Wade is also desperately hopeful that Randy Wolf re-signs with the team. Yes, the Astros rotation is that bad.

  • Braves Looking Outside the Box, Country, Continent and Hemisphere: Atlanta G.M. Frank Wren is a busy bee this offseason, looking all the way to Japan for a new pitcher. The Braves have made an offer to 22-year-old pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who pissed off the Japanese pro teams by stating his wishes to play in the U.S. Then don't sign with Atlanta, because it's too culturally close to Osaka.

  • Congratulations! Now Hit the Bricks: Charlie Manuel's managerial powers cannot be challenged. Now that the celebration hangover has subsided, Phillies third base coach Steve Smith is doneskis. That'll teach you to wave in Carlos Ruiz from second on a hard hit single to right!

  • Eckstein Realizes His Throws Can No Longer Reach First: Former Blue Jays shortstop David Eckstein woke up and realized that maybe his wee little body would be better suited playing second base. Somehow, he wasn't rated as a worse defensive shortstop than Jeter so he's going out on top.

  • Yankees Kick Giambi to Curb, Billy Beane Shows Interest: After the Yankees declined their huge option on slugger Jason Giambi and paid him his requisite $4 million parting gift, the A's responded by re-hiring Giambi's BFFL Bobby Alejo as their strength coach. Alejo was the A's strength coach from 1993 to 2001 and then moved his chemistry lab across the country to the Bronx with Giambi. Hopefully, the A's will bring back John Jaha and Ben Grieve, and create a superpower of swarthy sluggers.

Tonight's Question

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Hey kids, man is by nature a political animal.

  • DID you vote today?

I promise this will all be over soon.


Thanks to our pals at Big League Stew for the video of Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins introducing V.P. candidate Joe Biden at a South Philly rally on Monday.

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This is by no means a complete list nor are these players necessarily the top prospects at their respective positions nor are they guaranteed to get spots on Opening Day rosters. Still, all of these positional players share one important thing in common: they have memorable and unique names. Look for these youngsters on your favorite team's depth chart next Spring!

  1. Taylor Teagarden, Texas, C: Drafted in 2005, Taylor is part of the Texas catcher clusterf**k, seemingly behind Gerald Laird and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and even with Max Ramirez in the depth chart. Still, he clobbered six tater tots in just 47 at-bats with the big club last year and the Rangers plan on trading the other guys for some pitching help. Expect Teagarden in the Opening Day lineup.

  2. Kyle Blanks, San Diego, 1B: Walkoff Walk's favorite prospect, Blanks tore up the AA Texas League this year with 20 dongs, 107 RBI and a .918 OPS. He's tall (6'7") and has fantastic hair. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez stands in Kyle's way of leapfrogging Triple-A and making the Padres roster in '09, but expect him to make noise if Gonzalez gets traded in the Great Padres Offseason Restructuring Event.

  3. Chris Getz, Chicago (AL), 2B: Getz should compete with Jayson Nix for the starting job for the White Sox next year. With everyone's favorite teammate Orlando Cabrera moving on to greener pastures, expect Alexei Ramirez to slide over to shortstop. To be sure, he's no star, but whatever Chris wants, Chris Getz.

  4. Elvis Andrus, Texas, SS Some folks already think Andrus is good enough to bump Michael Young off the Rangers depth chart. I think the only way Andrus makes the squad on Opening Day is if they trade away Young to get some middling power pitcher that Nolan Ryan will attempt to transform into...well...a young Nolan Ryan. He's a former Braves prospect, signed out of Venezuela and then traded away in that Mark Teixeira deal.

  5. Matt Tuiasosopo, Seattle, 3B: Okay, the Mariners already have the huge contract of Adrian Beltre weighing down their necks for one more year, but hear me out. Maybe the Mariners could trade Beltre at the deadline to a desperate contender and then bring up Tuiasosopo to play third. He's a Bellevue, Washington native and brother of Oakland Raiders QB Marques Tuiasosopo (but don't hold that against him).

  6. Kila Ka'aihue, Kansas City, DH: He's a slugger with not much of a glove and will probably be stuck fighting for roster space with Billy Butler, Mike Jacobs, Ross Gload, Ryan Shealy, and the ghost of Willie Aikens. Still, Hawaiian baseball players are all the rage and should always be considered if only for the marketing angle, no questions asked.

  7. Nolan Reimold, Baltimore, OF: A power-hitting righty, he was drafted in '05 out of Bowling Green and is currently heating up the Arizona Fall League. With Adam Jones, Luke Scott and Nick Markakis firmly entrenched in the Orioles outfield (not literally, that would make it hard to field pop-ups), expect Reimold to make the team as a fourth outfielder for the 2009 season.

  8. Travis Snider, Toronto, OF: He's more than ten years younger than me and good enough that Blue Jays bloggers are already offering up their sisters to the kid. Expect him to battle Adam Lind for the starting left field job for the Blue Jays, unless, of course, the Jays sign Rocco. Then, shit is all crazy.

  9. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh, OF: Some folks compare him to Rickey Henderson. That's a good thing, for sure. He's the Pirates #1 prospect and one of the top 20 future stars in the minors. With a little bit more discipline on the basepaths and a little less organizational faith in Nyjer Morgan, young Andrew will absolutely be the starting center fielder for the Pirates in 2009.

So, who did we miss from your favorite team's farm system?

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Orioles Targeting Un-Tejada-like Shortstop in Trade Market: Jack Wilson, Khalil Greene, and J.J. Hardy are among the mediocre shortstops sought by Balty-more G.M. Andy MacPhail. Other wishlist items for Andy: starting pitching, first baseman, leftfielder, bullpen help, and new ownership.

  • A.J. Burnett Delays the Inevitable: Burnett and his agent are throwing J.P. Ricciardi a bone, putting off opting out of his contract for a few days and giving the Blue Jays a last gasp chance to retain the pitcher before he settles down in Boston. Ricciardi has already settled for the low-cost Canadian-born version of Burnett: Adam Loewen!

  • Rays Named MLB Organization of the Year: See what happens when you renounce the devil, kids?

  • Miguel Olivo Fears Success, Stays in Kansas City: Sorry, Tigers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Astros, and Padres. You'll need to look somewhere else to find a serviceable catcher. I hear Chris Widger is available!

  • Theo Epstein Got Paid: And he didn't need to don a gorilla suit to do it this time.

  • Cliff Floyd Needs Work: The American League Champion Rays jettisoned some extra baggage, pushing Cliff Floyd and his $2.75 million option off the side of the cruise ship. When questioned by the porter, the Rays pretended that the splashing sound was a herd of frolicking sea lions, then walked away whistling.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, beauty is a short-lived tyranny.

  • ARE you voting tomorrow?

Yes, we've decided to continue Tonight's Questions for the offseason. The decision, not unlike writing these questions, was a no-brainer.

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The GM Meetings start today in sunny Dana Point, CA. I can only imagine the amount of cream cheese they and the writers assigned to cover them go through each morning at the continental breakfast. The most glamorous (and I use that word as lightly as possible) image of these meetings are trade proposals being run through the Four Seasons by harried bellmen, and Manny Ramirez being put on waivers after a couple of poolside Mangotinis.

Whether or not that is ever the reality, there figures to be little to none of it this time around. Last year limited use instant replay was voted in at the meetings. This year, the agenda includes things like overhauling arbitration and most gallingly, the idea of a neutral site World Series.

In the annals of reactionary baseball thinking this idea is pretty high up the list. I don't think I ever heard this mentioned before last week's rainy denouement in Philly. My aversion to it is pretty simple. I like the showcasing of two different parks each year. I like the element that each fields brings to the game. One of the idea's big proponents is old school icon Whitey Herzog. I have a ton of respect for Whitey, but on this issue I have a big problem with his reasoning for the neutral site Series.

"You could call it World Series Week," he said by telephone Wednesday night before the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays endeavored to finish in windy, frigid weather a Game 5 that was suspended two nights prior.

Herzog is well aware of the opposition for such a proposal.

"You've got the old school people in baseball who say that you're taking the World Series away from the home fans and all that," he said. "That's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. If you're really going to be honest, the hometown fans (because of high ticket prices) don't get to see the World Series anyway."

"Right now," said Herzog, "the World Series is only the fourth most sought-after ticket. It's behind the Super Bowl, the Masters and the Final Four. So, in that respect, you can't say that it's the national pastime.

On the surface, Whitey looks to gain some cred by breaking from traditionalists in his support of the idea. But, in reality the foundation for his argument lies in one of the most outdated and traditional notions there is, and one that I just don't understand. Mainly, that baseball has a divine right to be America's pastime, and it is somehow fundamentally wrong for it to be behind football (or anything else) in popularity.

The media's obsession with sounding baseball's death knell owes much to the feeling that once it was outpaced by football in the nation's consciousness, it was no longer relevant. Forget the fact that they drew 78 million fans this year, and in each of the previous 3 years (where there wasn't a recession going on) it set new attendance records. Arguing numbers against football's absolutely monolithic economics isn't going to get you anywhere.

The reason I don't buy into it, or even care about the argument, is because I can't think of a single instance where football becoming more popular has impacted my enjoyment of baseball. They're totally unrelated. Is the drive to be "America's Pastime" itself a sport, rooted in the inherent competition of athletics? Because if so, that's dumb. There is plenty of art, food and style more popular than the ones I like. That hasn't once made me abandon any of them.

A gigantic baseball complex sitting in the middle of Nashville (where the hell did they get Nashville from, anyway) hosting a manufactured spectacle like World Series Week, would only serve to reinforce the divide between baseball and football. If you love baseball for what it is, the downsides are glaringly obvious. And if you honestly care about making baseball as popular as football again, shouldn't you do something more innovative than hollow mimicry?

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One of my pals, a lifetime Philadelphia resident and Phillies fan, asked me the day before the team clinched their World Series victory how one is to behave when their team wins a championship. More specifically, he asked "HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS, NON-PHILLIES FAN?" Having experienced my first celebration as a Yankee fan 400 miles away from home among a bunch of non-Yankee fans, back in '96 in the sunny state of Virginia, I told him to act like as big of a jackass as possible. Why? Because you never know when this is going to happen again. Of course, my favorite team won three more times in the next four years, so I became the sort of spoiled baseball fan you all hate. But can this happen to the Phillies and their once-long-suffering fans?

In a word: maybe. Let's make a list of the Phillies up for free agency from the World Series roster: Pat Burrell, Jamie Moyer, So Taguchi, and Scott Eyre. Throw in Tom Gordon, who would have been Brad Lidge's set-up man had he not broken his body for the 12th time in the past 12 seasons, and you've got a group of players the team can afford to lose...save one. With Moyer most likely coming back, the team has to only figure out a way to replace a power-hitting Burrell in left field.

Ideally, the Phillies should try to find a right-handed outfielder to replace Burrell in left field. He should be one that doesn't cost too much money since new G.M. Ruben Amaro will be reluctant to increase the team's $100 million payroll significantly more than is necessary. (The Phillies have ten players up for arbitration, which will necessarily increase payroll somewhat). Besides the price-prohibitive Manny Ramirez, there are few free agent right-handed-hitting outfielders in the market this offseason. Mike Cameron? Willie Bloomquist? Rocco Baldelli? It's a veritable Murderer's Row of Mediocrity. (Update: Cameron's out)

What about the current bench players? Although they've got Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, and Geoff Jenkins on the roster, none of these fellas can match Burrell's output of 124 homers and a .500 slugging average over the past four seasons. Also, they all hit left-handed, and would never match Burrell's career .950 OPS against southpaw pitching.

So the Phillies' chances of repeating may rest on the career path chosen by someone their fans have reluctantly loved to hate since he was drafted #1 overall ten years ago out of college. Pat Burrell is the key: either re-sign him, or find someone who can replicate his hitting prowess and wingman abilities. Then, perhaps Phillies fans can experience the thrill of acting like jackasses for two consecutive Octobers.

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Why the dutch oven? Because the term 'hot stove' needs to be retired. This feature will attempt to give you a listicle-driven source for all sorts of off-season baseball rumors. If you have any suggestions, rumors, or recipes that I can cook in my dutch oven, email us

  • Red Sox Fear Future Without Aging Knuckleballer: For now, the Red Sox will be using Tim Wakefield as the fourth starter in their rotation for the 28th consecutive year. This doesn't preclude them from seeking another big arm on the free agent market, like CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, or Oil Can Boyd.

  • World Champion Phillies Name Successor to Pat Gillick: As expected, the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies named former assistant G.M. Ruben Amaro to the position vacated by old man Pat Gillick. Amaro beat out scouting director Mike Arbuckle, who has left the organization in disgust and will move in with his brother Jon as they plot his future.

  • This Jake Peavy Nonsense May Take Awhile: Padres G.M. Kevin Towers ain't messing around with his prize possession. Sez Kev, "There is no time restriction on moving Jake. We will act when we receive what we consider a very good baseball deal. If nothing presents itself that looks to be attractive to us, we will retain him for the 2009 season." Sorry, Braves fans. Looks like you're stuck with Kelly Johnson for another year.

  • The Brewers Rotation Is Going to Blow Goats: Milwaukee G.M. Doug Melvin is well-prepared to make a contract offer to CC Sabathia for his asking price of $20 million a year. Of course, the offer will be for fewer years than other teams are willing to provide, so it's just a way for ther Brewers organization to tell the fans, "Hey, we tried!" They might not even try to keep their other free agent stud pitcher, Ben Sheets, who may be the next in line to ruin his career in Arlington.

  • Maddux Becomes Rangers Pitching Coach: No, not the good one. The other one.