December 2008 Archives

Holiday Questions

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Hey kids, lock the door.

  • IS Mark Teixeira going to sign on New Year's Eve so that none of your loyal WoW editors will be in the proper state to write about it? Wait, I think they celebrate New Year's on a different day in Canada so maybe Lloyd can do it. In any case apparently the Nationals have increased the.....zzzzzzzzz

  • WHAT is the Christmas list equivalent of wanting Brian Fuentes since you couldn't get Mark Teixeira? I'd say wanting a bus pass since you couldn't get a car.

  • DO you know who else writes about baseball and the human condition? Geoff Baker. This piece, and accompanying photos are pretty great.

  • WILL you be making a New Year's resolution? I haven't in a long time. I usually find the whole idea kind of self defeating, but this year I'm changing my tune. I am making one. My resolution for 2009 is to meet Joe Perry. If you have one, please leave it in the comments.

  • HOW will I feel, if sometime during the holidays Manny signs with the Yankees? It's not exact, but I assume it will hew pretty closely to Red's prediction over at Surviving Grady.

  • IS the headline proofer already on Christmas break at the NYT?

  • DO you know what the worst part about the offseason has been? We've hardly been able to say tater tot, funny bone, ding dong, tetratot or king dong. At least the new year will mean we're closer to a new season.

This seems as good a time as any to thank all of you that made Walkoff Walk's first year of existence a happy and successful one. That goes out to everyone that reads and also to our blog brothers and sisters that helped spread the word about what we were doing. I'd also like to thank the people who just stop by for pictures of Lobster Baby. I wish you all nothing but the best for your holidays and that we'll all share a new year that is better than this one.

You know if something crazy happens we'll stop by here and let you know, but otherwise consider yourself (and us) on vacation. We'll see you on January 5th. Take good care.

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I wish I knew how to quit you, baseball, but you just won't let us get on with our holiday break. Corey Patterson, Walkoff Walk's favorite player we hate to love, has signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals. So yeah, Nationals fans, that's your consolation prize for playing along in the Mark Teixeira Sweepstakes.

If Corey makes the team out of spring training, he'll certainly improve the defense and couldn't possibly make the outfield offense any worse.

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We left you folks just a half hour ago and already we're forced to throw the dutch oven back on the fire: looks like the Yankees are on the verge of signing a one hundred and eighty million dollar deal with Mark Teixeira to have the young fella come play first base for the next eight years, as per Jon Heyman of SI.com. Add this on to CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and that's almost $425 million of new contracts for the Bronx Bombers this offseason.

Watch out, American League East fans. Texy can hit and he can glove with the best of 'em. He'll actually make Jeter, A-Rod and Cano just a little bit better by digging their errant throws out of the dirt. Now back to your regularly scheduled Holiday Questions.

The New York Yankee Christmas Dance

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Seasons Greetings from this large Hispanic man who has clearly sustained some sort of head trauma.

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When Kris and I started this blog almost a year ago, we wanted to be able to write about baseball in an intelligent and funny manner while entertaining a bunch of folks and starting a community of sorts. Well, one out of two ain't bad. We've got the best commenters in the entire sportsblogosphere; we didn't quite expect to have such a committed following of Real Live Funny People sharing their jokes and recipes with us!

So in the holiday spirit, I'd like to give out fake gifts to (almost) everyone who commented during the year. Bear with me as I struggle to remember your favorite teams or whatnot. Some of you wear your fandom on your foreheads like a tattoo but others are quite even-minded and rational when talking baseball. In no particular order, our holiday wishes to our commenters:

Happy Holidays to all our commenters, readers, and contributors. We're looking forward to a 2009 season full of Actual Baseball Analysis, wacky videos and hopefully a ton of shrimp babies.

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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

  • Yankees Keep Their Wang Spinnin' in 2009: The Yankees avoided arbitration with Chien-Ming Wang for one more year, signing the Taiwanese groundballer to a $5 million deal for 2009. Kid got a huge ouchie on his foot running the bases in Houston in June, missing the rest of the season and leading to this guy being employed in the Bronx. Thanks, Chien-Ming Wang's lisfranc ligament!

  • False Rumours Make Baby Jesus Cry: Seriously, bloggers: if you don't have a solid lead on a rumour, don't type it up and publish it. Nobody is going to believe the line, "Sources have confirmed to Sons of Simmons, that the Boston Red Sox have agreed in principle to an eight-year deal with first basemen Mark Teixeira..." DID THEY? DID THEY REALLY, SMALL-TIME BLOG THAT I'VE NEVER HEARD OF? Stop mongering the rumours, Sons of Simmons. Even if it turns out to be true, you get no credit for getting this 'scoop'.

  • MLB Hands Tidy $26 Million Luxury Tax Bill to Yanks, Steinbrenner Files It With Dry Cleaning Bill: Really, Major League Baseball? This is how you attempt to equalize the market in player salaries? Twenty-six million dollars to the Yankees is merely a drop in the bucket; distributed among the lower tier teams, the money will only be good enough for the Royals to re-sign Mark Grudzielanek for another mediocre year. Let's stop pretending that revenue-sharing is a solution to the problem. In fact, there is no problem. Last time I checked, high payrolls don't always bring winning records.

  • Former Blue Jay Finally Earns the Notoriety He Deserved: No, Kelly Gruber didn't get a surprise call from the Hall of Fame. Rather, the former choreographer for the Junior Jays dance squadron was added to the Canadian sex offender registry after being convicted of boning a 15-year-old member of the troupe. Sean Debidin had also worked with Shania Twain and Alanis Morrissette but according to Sean, they were too long-in-the-tooth to bang.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, if you know a better Christmas song sung by a cooler dude, then you're lying and you're not my friend.

  • SHOULD we sponsor the World Baseball Classic? It doesn't seem like anyone else wants to.

  • WHAT do you think of changing the 5 percent rule in the HoF voting? Personally, I think I need to make a turkey sandwich.

  • WHY did it take me almost a year to realize what a funny blog name "Inside The White Sox" is?

  • WHEN should Rangers fans expect to be rooting for a contender? 3 years. Or maybe five. Did you just say you're gonna smear mud on your ass? No, I said my bud's in class. I gotta go see how his grades are. Leave me alone.

We'll see you WoWies tomorrow for our last day before Holiday Break. In school that always meant teachers just showing movies and letting you get away with whatever you want. We're gonna try and make it just as fun. See ya.

Rinku And Dinesh News To Last You Through The Holidays

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Oh the weather outside is frightful (unless you've temporarily relocated to South Florida like me), but The Million Dollar Arm (Sound the alarm!) is still delightful. Yesterday those vulturous bastards at ESPN ran their OTL episode about our boys Rinku and Dinesh. It contains stellar wordplay like "baseball was a FOREIGN concept" and "a learning curve as steep as Mt. Everest." In any case it's valuable just for a chance to watch the guys the throw and see the zip on their fastball. Also, to see them look at Mark Schwarz like he's nuts. Please to enjoy, below.



In other news, the guys signed a merchandising deal with Under Armour which is both cool and apropos since the company spells "Armour" like a bunch of colonial brits.

And finally, after my 40+ hours on the bus I arrived here weary, but was quickly perked up by what I found in my inbox. It was a Holiday Card from JB and the gang at 7FM. Since the text thanks everyone that had a hand in helping them have a great year, I thought it was only fair to share it with all of you.

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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 biggest fish left in the pond: Mark Teixeira.

Here's the thing with Mark Teixeira. He's good. Everyone knows this. He's a fine hitter, excellent first baseman, a solid citizen and churrasqueira enthusiast. He ranked in the top 10 in exotic rate stats like OPS, wOBA (weighted on base average, read more here), BB/K, and WPA/LI in addition to accumulating enough home runs and RBIs to make any old codger's heart sing. He even has good "clutch" stats! He's still only 28 years old.

But for whatever reason, the thought of Mark Teixeira making in upwards of $20 million dollars a year just doesn't sit right. Mark Teixeira is, at the same time, everything that is both right and wrong with professional sports. He goes out, puts forth a "professional effort" offering a "professional contribution", and goes home. He will turn from a small market casualty to a free market mercenary literally overnight. His association with Scott Boras and the doubtless riches he's bound to see will place expectation upon him that he can't possibly match, no matter how well he performs. He's the sabrmetrican's dream and the heart, hustle and intangibles set's worst nightmare. Refreshingly free of any hint of branding, guile, or personality.

The teams in pursuit of Teixeira change depending on the day, but mostly commonly rumoured are Baltimore, Washington, Anaheim, Boston and the Yankees. Only Anaheim would have spared him undue suffering. The microscopes of Boston and New York could vault Tex into the stratosphere of super-stardom that he may just deserve. They are just a likely to provide two ravenous franchises with a focal point for their scorn should he fail to deliver in the manner expected of such a lavishly paid young man.

The Nats and Os are looking for a hometown boy to swoop in and save their moribund franchises. Become the face of the franchise while leading them up from the depths of their respective divisions. A virtual impossibility for any one player, no matter their quality. A task made only more difficult with such a large percentage of mid-level clubs' payroll tied up in one big name player.

Is he really a superstar? Of course he's good, excellent even. He gives his team a significantly better chance to win any time he's in the lineup, but there are plenty of players just like that. He's inferior to Albert Pujols in nearly every way, but who isn't? He's going to be rich (note: he already was) and he'll make your team better. But he will divide the fanbase and send radio call-in bros into paroxysms of fiscal indignation, no matter how many parades he attends.

He is the human Rorschach test, you've already decided how you'll see him.

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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

  • Angels Disappear From Mark Teixeira Sweepstakes: One of the newest traditions of the holiday season is telling Scott Boras to go sit on a reindeer's antlers and spin. Anaheim owner Arte Moreno decided he won't be making an offer to Boras' prize free agent Mark Teixeira, just a few days after Red Sox owner John Henry gave Scottyboy the same heave-ho. This leaves the teams remaining in the running to the Yankees, Nationals and Orioles. And the Red Sox and the Angels, because baseball owners are huge liars.

  • Dock Ellis Goes Tits Up: The first and last guy to throw a no-hitter while under the influence of angel dust died last week of a liver complication. Dock Ellis was also famous after retiring from baseball for speaking out against alcohol and drug abuse and was even hired in 1986 by the Yankees to teach their minor league players about the dangers of drugs. Guess it was too late to save Steve Howe.

  • Your Daily Bullshit Rumor Reported by a Foreign Language Blog: As per a juicy news item in the Dominican newspaper Impacto Deportivo, the Yankees are about to sign Manny Ramirez to a three-year $75 million deal. In other fake news, Bat Boy is real and Prince Charles is leaving Camilla Bowles Parker for a golden retriever.

  • Bobby Valentine is Coming Home, People!: Disappointed with a fourth-place finish in 2008, the Chiba Lotte Marines have decided not to extend Bobby Valentine's contract after the 2009 season. So you better hope your favorite team doesn't underperform next year or else it might be managed by that jerk in 2010.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, diamonds in the snow sparkle.

That's it for this week, folks, although we might pop up sometime this weekend if anything happens in the Mark Teixeira Sweepstakes. We'll be live next Monday and Tuesday but then taking an extended holiday break from December 24th through January 4th. After we get back: 2009 Season Previews! In some format yet to be decided! Have a good weekend and we'll see you Monday.

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Expectations are high with just days to go before the official debut of the MLB Network. Here in North Jersey, we've already seen the network pop up on channel 790, at the tail end of the high-definition offerings on the Cablevision cable package. They're just showing World Series highlights on an endless loop for now, but come January 1st, I'll be abandoning those wacky college football games to take a peek at the Don Larsen perfect World Series game re-broadcast.

Baseball may be late getting into the league-controlled TV network game but they're not being meek about the new undertaking. According to Broadcasting & Cable magazine, the MLB Network is going to try and snap up some playoff series once some of the current contracts expire. Here's MLB Network CEO Tom Pettiti:

"We want to be ready to take on anything. Five years from now when those deals come up, we would love to be considered as a viable alternative," Pettiti says. "Our distribution would need to grow some, but production-wise and programming-wise we are more than ready for that."

Add that on top of the 26 regular season games set to be shown on Thursday nights in 2009 and the MLB Network definitely has eyes on reclaiming its product. Although I tend to believe that sports leagues controlling the media's message about their league is bad for the interest of the fans, I don't think it's bad for the MLB Network to control the broadcast of their own games. It's only in their best interest to present this product in the most entertaining way possible; they hopefully won't make the same mistakes that FOX did with unlikeable announcers and needlessly stretched out pre-game shows.

We still need other media outlets to stand apart from the league to provide real live criticism and give the fans an independent voice. Perhaps ESPN, TBS, and FOX are already too deeply invested in the league but if the current trend continues, ESPN might find itself on the outside looking in, completely devoid of live baseball games and perhaps without the right to show breaking highlights on Baseball Tonight. Hopefully they'd continue to provide fair coverage of the sport despite not making money off of it. Probably not.

Two good pieces of news for the fans: the Thursday night game of the week on the MLB Network will be chosen ten days ahead of time; if the game is blacked out locally, the network will have an alternate game on the backburner. Thursday night is baseball night, y'all. Also, every major league stadium will have two robotic cameras that can be operated remotely from the Secaucus studios. I'm not sure if these are fixed cameras or if the MLB Network has poached the FOX robots, equipped them with HD cameras, and will set them out around the concourse at Citizens Bank Park to film thousands of college kids puking behind trash cans.

(We owe Maury Brown a novelty glass bottle of Coke)

BONUS: Darren Rovell interviews Tom Pettiti.

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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 Pull Emergency Cord, Jump Out of Moving Teixeira Bus: It has to be true because John Henry sent an email. After powwowing with Mark Teixeira's agent Scott Boras and some other multi-millionaire owners in Dallas, Henry realized his completely rational contract offer just wasn't going to cut it. So he cut bait and sent an email to various media members saying, basically, that he'd let some other jerk blow their payroll wad on Tex.

  • Rinku and Dinesh Take a Break From Answering Fan Mail to Learn to Hit: Dinesh writes that he and Rinku have been very busy answering fan mail but have still found time to practice throwing breaking balls. Also, they're learning to hit and may soon step up to bunting. Fellas, just learn how to stand in the batter's box with the bat on your shoulder and forget the rest. That's how Randy Johnson do.

  • Brewers Sign Trot Nixon; Otis Nixon Still Attempting Comeback: The Brewers signed Trot Nixon to a minor league deal. He played a limited role as the 8th Mets outfielder last season, hitting .171 with one tater tot in 11 games. His last full year was 2007 with the Indians, he hit .251 with three ding-dongs in 99 games. I only repeat these statistics because I completely despise Trot Nixon.

  • Yankees Parade New Prized Possessions Around Old Park: The Yanks held a presser yesterday to introduce the new anchors to their rotation, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Sabathia will wear #52 as he did in Cleveland and Milwaukee; Burnett will wear #34, the number he wore with the Marlins and Blue Jays. Nobody cares what number Nick Swisher will wear.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, signals, calls and marches.


You all have a good evening. Same WoW channel.
mrmet.jpgSo Frankie Rodriguez was introduced with the Mets yesterday. The only thing dumber than the construction had they made him wear was Jerry Manuel's declaration that he intends to platoon K-Rod and JJ Putz at closer. Ugh.

Manuel said the division of the closer role will probably be along the lines of 70-30 in favor of Rodriguez, but the fact Putz will be in line to get more than a handful of chances is surprising.

"I do think that if we are to be where we expect to be, we'll have to have more than one guy save games," Manuel said after K-Rod's introductory news conference in Long Island City yesterday.

"With what [GM Omar Minaya] has provided for us, it gives us that opportunity to not miss a step, so if we have three or four in a row [where] we needed one guy, we feel very confident that we could use the other guy in that same particular role because he's had success in that role.

Yeah, Jerry. If you plan on going 162-0 next year you're definitely going to need two closers. But if you're like, oh, pretty much every other ballclub in history you're not going to have so many save opportunities that you need two closers. Rodriguez has proved a bit of a primadonna over the course of his quest for the save record and concurrent contract issues. If you think that a guy that cared that much about much the save record isn't going to care about how many chances he gets, then you're nuts.

Is it a bad baseball move? Probably not. The freshest arm in the best matchup is always statistically preferable. But, that's not the issue. The Mets just paid $37M for Rodriguez and made it their big offseason backpage move. He belives it, Minaya believes it, and the fans believe it. Manuel is opening himself up for a beatdown with Putz's first blown save.

This was all done before yesterday's team Christmas party which gives me a chance to post this picture of Mike Cameron. Ho ho ho!

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If there's one general manager I'd hate to be right now, it'd be the Braves' Frank Wren. Dude's gotten burned on so many high-visibility free agents, trade targets, and former players this off-season that you'd almost think he's doing it purposely. Perhaps Frank Wren is merely Charlie Donovan, ordered by new owner Rachel Phelps to make the team tank so it can be moved to warmer climes.

Or if you want a more apt metaphor, the Braves are in danger of becoming the N.L. East's version of the Blue Jays, a team with a good young pitching staff, an above-average defense, and absolutely no pop in their bat whatsoever, perpetually stuck playing catch-up with two high-profile, high payroll teams and an upstart Florida team, and only content knowing they'll never fall behind a crappy last place mid-Atlantic franchise. Of course, in this metaphor, the Mets are the Yankees of the N.L. East and that's simply laughable.

Losing shortstop Rafael Furcal to the Dodgers hurts, but maybe the Braves shot themselves in the foot by asking Furcal to move to second base. If you believe Wren's side of the story as given on WIFN-FM radio in Macon, Ga., the team had a verbal agreement with Furcal and even faxed over their signed term sheet around the same time Furcal's agent started re-negotiating with the Dodgers.

"We got a call last night asking if we would change our terms, and we told them we would not. We had an agreement.

"He gladly would do (move to second base) to come back here is what he told us.

"I don't have to worry about burning it (bridge with the agents). The bridge is gone." (Wren added that it was a "good possibility" that he had an agreement with Paul Kinzer before Arn Tellem got involved.

This is not reported fact, but maybe, just maybe, Furcal wanted to stay at shortstop. That's why the deal fell through. But don't worry, because he's not exactly Glenn Gloves-a-Lot; in over 1000 career games, his UZR is negative. Young Yunel Escobar was far better last year and if Lloyd the Barber is correct, UZR is totally the new OBP.

And maybe Frank Wren will actually luck out by not trading for Jake Peavy or signing A.J. Burnett. If the season started today, his pitching staff would be made up of a bunch of #3 starters, led by new acquisition Javy Vazquez. That rotation isn't going to win any division titles, but there are other free agents left on the market. One notable target for the Braves is Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, who can be obtained without giving up any prospects or draft picks. There's also a Derek Lowe, a Randy Johnson, and a Ben Sheets left without a deal; all three can be had for far less money than Burnett and without giving up the farm for Peavy.

So Mr. Wren, do what you can to avoid becoming the next Charlie Donovan. Maybe there's a Pedro Cerrano or a Willie "Mays" Hayes out there to save the day.

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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 Drop Out of Mark Teixeira Sweepstakes, Still Alive in Maryland Pick 3: A source tells ESPN that the Orioles are no longer pursuing free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, leaving the Red Sox, Angels, and Nationals as (probably) the only three teams after the slugger. The Yankees have already decided that it would be a bad investment and have thrown their scraps to the rest of the league.

  • Furcal Chooses Dodgers Over Braves, Kitty Cats over Puppy Dogs: Free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal spurned a 4-year $40 million offer from the A's and a 3-year $30 million offer from the Braves in order to sign a 3-year $30 million offer from the Dodgers. Got it? I don't. Nobody knows why he dumped his gentleman's agreement with Atlanta to choose L.A., unless he's looking to make it big in Hollywood and planning to audition for Judd Apatow's next bro-dude comedy.

  • Melky Cabrera/Mike Cameron Trade Off the Veritable Table: Seriously, this deal was sitting on tables in both Milwaukee and the Bronx and now, it's been relocated to the waste-paper-basket. The Brewers probably put the kibosh on this deal when Brian Cashman aggressively tried to include Kei Igawa in the deal. I don't blame Doug Melvin for walking away; that guy sucks.

  • Fangraphs Profiles Our Pal Kyle Blanks: Remember Walkoff Walk's favorite afro'ed prospect Kyle Blanks? No? Well he's a big ol' first baseman in the Padres farm system and he's all bat with very little glove. Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs wonders what plans the Pads have in place for Blanks; with All-Star Adrian Gonzalez blocking the way in the big leagues, it'll be a tough row to hoe for Mr. Blanks. UNLESS HE GETS TRADED WITH PEAVY TO THE YANKEES. HINT HINT.

Tonight's Questions

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pouting kid.jpgHey kids, let's put an end to this.


Someone buy me a new IPod. Same WoW Channel.

NBC San Diego is reporting that the alleged Brian Giles lady abuse was caught on surveillance tape. The tape was shot in an Arizona bar back in 2006 and released to the press yesterday; it could possibly earn Giles' ex a $10 million prize on America's Punchiest Home Videos:

According to a Phoenix police report, a man seen in the tape walking toward the bar is Giles, a Padres outfielder. The man is seen talking to a woman who's sitting down at the bar.At one point, it appears he pulls the woman's hair. Moments later, the two are seen walking out into the hallway.

A few seconds pass, then the woman can be seen falling to the ground.

Several witnesses told police that they watched Giles slap the woman in the head, knocking her to the ground. In the surveillance video, one of the witnesses can be seen mimicking a slap to another bar patron.

Here's the video:


Telling!

We owe many, many Cokes to the good folks at Gaslamp Ball. They are always at the forefront of breaking Padre news.

Brian Giles: Alleged Scum Of Earth; Still Overly Tan

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Rather disturbing news out of San Diego today. No, it's not a ptomaine outbreak at Rubio's. As mentioned in today's Dutch Oven, kind of good orangey hitter Brian Giles is batting 1.000 with his formerly pregnant ex-girlfriend. She's claiming a $10M stake in the proceedings, and that the reason she's "formerly pregnant" is Giles' fault. That's horrible as all get out. The gory details:

Padres outfielder Brian Giles is being sued for more than $10 million by a former girlfriend who alleges he battered her while she was pregnant and caused her to suffer a miscarriage.

Plaintiff Cheri Olvera alleges in her complaint that she and Giles lived together since 2002 and became engaged around December 2005. However, the marriage never took place due to Giles' violence toward her, the suit states.

She alleges that the two reached an agreement that if their relationship ended by death, separation or otherwise, that all of Giles' property would be divided for her benefit. But in April 2008, she states Giles breached the agreement. She stated Giles failed to secure her financially according to the standard of living they shared and failed to divide his assets.

The suit, filed in San Diego Superior Court, states the abuse began in 2002. It accuses Giles of "hitting and slapping plaintiff in the face; pushing plaintiff; shaking plaintiff; kicking plaintiff; hitting plaintiff in the chest; knocking plaintiff to the floor, battering plaintiff twice when she was pregnant with the parties' child, causing plaintiff to suffer a miscarriage."

Jesus. If there's truth in that I glean two truths from that. A: She should have gotten that agreement in writing, and 2: Brian Giles uses his roid powers for evil.

We're coming up on our first birthday here at WoW and spending that much time covering athletes unfortunately means you're going to handle your fair share of domestic abuse stuff. The difference between now and the old days is that back then it was much less likely to become public. Just ask Marilyn Monroe. But there's a direct correlation to the amount of these stories you hear and the outrage that's mustered.

Back in April, Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu had some pretty serious accusations leveled at him, that were kept quiet while he was having a "comeback season." It also helped that the charges were dismissed. One has more trouble imagining this Giles story being forgotten so easily with the whole matter of the miscarriage.

In any case, we here at WoW do our part to keep the spotlight on alleged wifebeaters... sometimes even after they're acquitted. That Wil Cordero Memorial Linkpunch didn't name itself. So remember you are handsy rage freaks of MLB: WE'RE WATCHING.

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Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Rocco Baldelli got a second opinion on his health problems and that the free agent outfielder may have a far better diagnosis in the near future. It turns out his mitochondria may not be in disorder; Rocco has something called channelopathy, according to a WLNE-TV report (assume sics all around for the poor spelling, awful grammar, and annoying all-caps formatting):

CHANNEL-OPATHY IS A DISEASE INVOLVING DYSFUNTION OF AN ION CHANNEL. CHANNEL-OPATHIES ARE KNOWN TO INVOLVE THE ION CHANNELS FOR POTASSIUM, SODIUM, CHLORIDA AND CALCIUM.

ION CHANNELS ARE CRITICAL TO THE MEMBRANES SURROUNDING EVERY LIVING CELL.

BY THE WAY, THE BALDELLIS TELL ME ROCCO HAS NOT BEEN CONTACTED BY THE RED SOX.

That's Ken Bell reporting for ABC 6 out of Rocco's native Rhode Island, which is why the Red Sox bit was appended at the end. Gotta keep it local, people!

Besides, Baldelli's free agent prospects just widened a bit and the Sox have allegedly been a target all along. If this 'channelopathy' is really a non-progressive and fully treatable disease, perhaps he will be able to be a full-time outfielder and not just a platoon guy. Still, if you believe Wikipedia, channelopathy is just a way of categorizing other diseases like cystic fibrosis, which doesn't sound very good at all. Either way, Walkoff Walk wishes Rocco a full recovery from whatever it is that's getting him down.

Rocco missed most of the 2008 season with fatigue but returned in time to make the playoff roster and even knock a tater tot in Game Five of the World Series. Our own Lloyd the Barber is a huge Rocco fan and will be thrilled to find out this news, as soon as he emerges from his den of Canadian inequity and newborns.

UPDATE: As per Marc Topkin, Rocco Baldelli is encouraged and hopes "to be on the field on a more regular basis.''

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

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, it's toast.

  • WHAT does Jim Leyland mean when he says Edwin Jackson "can be a horse?" Edwin Jackson is a shapeshifter!

  • IS there a better reason to cancel a baseball trade than for baseball reasons? I'm looking at you Mike Cameron. Why are you in my house?

  • IS this the craziest title for a newspaper blog post in history? Richard Griffin, shine on you crazy diamond.

  • CAN someone buy Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik a dictionary? He says the word "rebuilding" isn't in his vocabulary. That's a pretty basic word. It's amazing he got through an interview.

  • WHO doesn't think paying AJ Burnett this much money is ridiculous?

  • DO you agree with Matt_T's album's of the year? I haven't gotten around to making my list yet. But I could probably be persuaded to start throwing out some favorites if a conversation gets started in the comments.

Welp, that's it for us today. I need to go get a TV cause I just threw my shoe at that new ABC Dick Cheney interview. See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

UZR is the New OBP

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da fence.jpgLet's think back to 2003, when a guy dressed a business book as a baseball book. The book spoke of new and exciting measures of a baseball players worth, mostly as they related to inequities in the baseball marketplace. Unless you're were an old BBWAA hat, who decried Moneyball as deeply encrypted Taliban missives on the destruction of Western civilization. The early Moneyballers found high OBP & SLG guys with "bad bodies" to be both overlooked and underpriced, making them key to low budget success.

Fast forward to the winter of 2008, when high OPS (we're so civilized now) guys are everywhere and commanding huge salaries. As of today, patient sluggers like Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu, Milton Bradley, Jason Giambi, Pat Burrell and Manny Ramirez are unemployed and sitting by the phone, waiting for their $20 million dollar per year phone call. Meanwhile, guys like Adam Everett, Franklin Gutierrez, and Endy Chavez have all been either signed or traded for. Why? They all offer the same thing: cheap run prevention.

The Rays entire team seems based on this philosophy. Trading away can't miss, big bat-no glove prospect Delmon Young for Matt Garza and team MVP (ugh) Jason Bartlett's defense helped turn the Rays into one of the top defensive teams in baseball in 2008 after being the worst in 2007. The very same Rays who will be the subject a book on their Wall Street ways.

It's no coincidence that good teams have good defensive records, while bad teams do not. When money is no object you can afford to load up on offense and free agent pitching, but those on a budget can improve their overall fortunes quickly and cheaply by simply improving their defense. The Mariners acquiring Franklin Gutierrez while letting Raul Ibanez walk away saves them about $10 million dollars and nearly 50 outs in the field. The budget conscious/steady Moneyballin A's are always among the top defensive teams, and even the big bat, big budget, big loss total Tigers realized the preventing runs is as valuable as creating them by signing Adam Everett.

It would seem the fat, patient worm has turned. The order of the day are toolsy guys that like Nick Markakis, Troy Tulowitzki, Alex Rios and Evan Longoria. They won't put up gaudy Manny numbers, but when you factor his defensive shortcomings and the run savings in the field, their productivity is almost the same. Surely not by coincidence, all these players (save Markakis) have been locked up with extensions long before they reach arbitration. It's all about value, and some misguided fools will throw a bunch of money at Dunn and his ilk, but the smart money is on the guys that prevent as many runs as they score.

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Sixteen days from now, your television set will finally be able to provide you with the twenty-four hour a day baseball programming you've been craving all your life. The MLB Network is set to debut on most cable and satellite services (unlike that crappy NFL Network) on January 1st with the rarely-viewed footage of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, interspersed with commentary by Larsen and his batterymate Yogi Berra.

Even better, the network is broadcasting out of sunny Secaucus, NJ, just a few miles from Iracane Headquarters; if they are really putting up bleachers in the studio, I am going to find a way to sit on them.

With the launch of the MLB Network web presence, we can finally see how the network will fill out the rest of the year's programming, and comment on the choices in a snarky manner, as is our wont:

  • Ken Burns' Baseball: Hey, remember when Ken Burns did a documentary about baseball by zooming in and out of old photographs and getting old-timey baseball players to narrate by chattering wistfully with a soundtrack of banjo music in the background? Yeah, I loved it too and now we can watch the series every Tuesday night at 8PM.

  • Prime 9: A show that ranks the nine best in a given category, like center fielders or World Series games or steroid scandals. Originally, this was to be a top ten show but Selig demanded an extra four minutes be sold for ad time, so they lopped off the end of the countdown. I might actually watch this despite my hatred for listicles. Oh wait, this entire blog entry is a listicle.

  • Baseball's Seasons: The website's description says a lot: "Relive some of baseball's most memorable seasons as MLB Network chronicles the events that made each of them great. Whether it is Cal Ripken's streak bringing the fans back after a canceled season or the Mets and Yankees helping to heal a wounded city, you'll see how some seasons are able to stand apart from the rest." Hopefully, they'll go back further than 1995. My memory isn't that bad yet.

  • Cathedrals of the Game: A virtual tour guide of major league stadia across the country, this series was first shown on the all-HD network INHD a few years ago. Host Michelle Beadle spends a day touring the ballpark and tops it off by enjoying a game, except for the Safeco Field episode, because Mariners games are never enjoyable.

  • Rising Sons: I'm not sure if this is a series or just a one-off documentary. Either way, it chronicles the influx of baseball players from Japan and investigates the difficulties they endure with the culture change. Hopefully, the second season will follow Rinku and Dinesh around for a couple months. I would absolutely Tivo that and even buy the DVD set for the extras, like the commentary track by JB, sir.

To fill time, the MLB Network will be showing old game broadcasts, playoff series, and home run derbies. If you're a Philly guy and the Eagles miss the playoffs, you're in luck: on the first Sunday of the NFL playoffs, they'll be showing the entire 2008 World Series. So at least you got that going for ya.

(Thanks for the heads up, folks at BBTF Newsblog)

The Dutch Oven: Useless When Empty

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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

  • Fookie Comes Home: Did you know that Rafael Furcal's nickname is "Fookie"? Neither did I, but that's what Wikipedia told me. Anyway, Fox Sports' own gnome reporter Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Furcal is headed back to the Braves for a three-year deal, one year less than the deal offered by the A's. Furcal could play short, freeing up Yunel Escobar to be traded. Hey, let's open up that whole Jake Peavy rumor mill again! Whee!


Nothing else happened yesterday, so instead, please enjoy this video of Rinku Singh showing his fans around his bedroom:


Thanks, Rinku!

Tonight's Questions

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fish baby.jpgHey kids, my life exploded.

  • NEED a baseball team? The Padres are for sale. I can't really blame John Moores. If I had any assets I'd liquidate them too.

  • IS there a doubt that Andy Pettite is going back to The Bronx? I guess with all the free agent hubbub down there, he kind of got lost in the shuffle. But with the kind of money they're throwing around they could pay him $30M to be a one out lefty specialist. I give this news a bi...zzzzzz

  • ARE you excited for me to write at least 3 posts about Barry Bonds signing with a weak hitting team come spring time? Well he aint quitting and neither am I.

  • IF teams can't afford Barry Bonds, you think they'd sign Dizzee Rascal? He seems pretty good with a bat.

  • IS anyone else starting to feel like the ownership situation leaguewide is something less than stable? These guys are the same rich folk you hear losing money all over the place and you gotta wonder when it starts affecting the clubs. Fred Wilpon's losses in that Madoff ponzi scheme are fueling just that type of speculation.

  • WHY can't I have this kind of stuff in Boston? I'm sick of locking up my bike and leaving it in the rain. And yes, my bike has gears and handbrakes. I'm not a filthy trendjumping hipster.

That's it, Grampy. Show's over for today. Come back tomorrow when the dancers are rested up. Same WoW channel.
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Enrico of the 700 Level tells me that WIP radio in Philadelphia is reporting that the World Champion Phillies have agreed to some sort of deal to bring aged starter Jamie Moyer back for at least one more season. Details are pending. My reaction, however, is immediate: good for him.

UPDATE: It's a two-year deal.

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Cubs fans and Braves fans can commiserate about a few things this holiday season. Neither team has had October success in years. Their favorite sons Andre Dawson and Dale Murphy continue to be snubbed by the gatekeepers at Cooperstown. And both teams' top trade target this winter, Jake Peavy, has teased and tortured them with the thought of an improved rotation for weeks. Heck, we've been droning on about that sonofabitch pitcher for two months! I'm about ready to start a new baseball blog called Please Peavy Me. It will get 1,000,000 hits a day and I can invest my ad earnings into a new hedge fund with Freddy Wilpon.

Anyway, the San Diego Union Tribune's Tom Krasovic came back from the winter meetings in Vegas with a serious baseball hangover. Nothing happened in Vegas so nothing had to stay there, except some stray In-N-Out burger wrappers. Still, Mr. Krasovic filled us in on the background to what happened with the Padres and Braves in November:

As part of Jake Peavy trade talks in November, the Padres and Braves were far along on a 4-for-1 plan that included shortstop Yunel Escobar and center fielder prospect Gorkys Hernandez. The Padres wanted the Braves to include starting pitcher Charlie Morton instead of Jo-Jo Reyes and pushed hard for either pitching prospect Jeff Locke or catching prospect Tyler Flowers to be substituted for reliever Blaine Boyer. Talks regressed from there, and the Braves later traded Flowers to the White Sox.

According to mlb.com, the Braves now would be unwilling to deal Escobar, described by teammate Chipper Jones as the best shortstop in the National League. Whether Peavy would consent to a trade to Atlanta also remains in question, though if the Cubs are out of the picture, it can't hurt those chances.

That's the problem with rumoured trades. They usually make good sense in retrospect regardless of whether or not they were cromulent to begin with, or even if they were, in fact, on the table at all. Point fingers all you want, Braves fans, but Jake Peavy would be practicing his tomahawk chop right now if Frank Wren had a little bit more chutzpah.

Cubs bloggers have even taken to creating hilarious Photoshops to keep their hopes alive that maybe, just maybe Jake Peavy would be the final piece in their super-rotation of Zambrano, Dempster, Harden, and Lilly. It's going to be a long winter for the Cubs fans who, despite cheering for a team with the best record in baseball, saw them fall flat on their face in a short series with the Dodgers. It's going to be an even longer winter for Braves fans who don't have much of a rotation beyond Javy Vazquez anyway. It's enough to make a man sup directly from the bottle.

(via the good folks at Gaslamp Ball; picture snagged from ewen and donabel)

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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

  • Just Because They Were Non-tendered Doesn't Make Them Any Less Tough: Forty-three players were effectively shown the door by their teams, failing to receive a contract offer from their former teams before the Friday night deadline. Some of your favorite players may find themselves working for a new boss next year, including Jonny Gomes, Willy Tavares, and Daniel Cabrera. Actually, if any of those gents are among your favorite players, you need to become a more discerning fan.

  • Cleveland Consummates Deal With Kerry Wood, Jensen Lewis Consummates Deal With Demotion: So Jensen Lewis did a fairly good job closing out games for the Indians towards the end of 2008, collecting twelve saves in August and September. He'll officially take a back seat to Mr. Kerry Wood, though, who signed for two years and $20 million, with a club option for 2011. I have nothing snarky to add here. That's a good deal.

  • Mets Owner Falls Victim to Elaborate Ponzi Scheme, Forced To Auction Off Mr. Met's Comically Enormous Head: You know it's a bad day for your favorite team when one of the biggest headlines in the latest economic crush leads them to release a statement that reads, "This news does not affect the day-to-day operations and long-term plans of the Mets organization and the Citi Field project." Translation: we are abandoning our pursuit of Derek Lowe and Manny Ramirez and will be forced to pay David Wright and Jose Reyes in Monopoly money for the next three years.

  • NASCAR's Own Financial Oopsies May Hurt Red Sox: Add racin' cars to the list of industries to suffer in the recession. NASCAR could be losing money because half of their revenue comes from advertising dollars and one of the first things to dry up in hard economic times are those ad budgets. Meanwhile, the Red Sox holding company owns half of Roush Fenway Racing which could face hard times in the coming months. In response, the Sox will save money by employing Wally to work the pit crew.

  • Oh Yeah, and A.J. Burnett is a Yankee: I'm glad that I'm a general baseball blogger and not a Yankee-specific blogger or else I might have pulled my hair out and mashed my girlish hands on my laptop's keyboard instead of reporting on this deal in a thoughtful manner. I hate it. I just absolutely think devoting that kind of money and that many years to a slightly above-average pitcher with such questionable durability is bad baseball bizness.

Weekend Questions

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Hey kids, only those who have dared to let go can dare to reenter.

That'll put an end to a week full of poorly-factchecked opinion pieces and thoughtful interviews with superstars. Thanks for reading and commenting; we'll see you on Monday.

(Picture of Carl Erskine singlehandedly bringing down Ebbets Field stolen from the good people at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger)

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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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Hey kids, buy it, buy it, buy it, sell it.

  • HOW is it possible that I had never seen Hamster On A Piano before Maura talked about it on Idolator today?

  • DO you have a question for Rinku and/or Dinesh? Well now you can play along at home and pretend you're like me, the handsome interviewer. They've set up an email address where you can ask them stuff and they'll answer it in the blog.

  • IS it possible that Hanley Ramirez may not even make the DR's WBC team? If that happens then Felipe Alou is drinking his son's pee again.

  • ARE you sad that George Bush doesn't want to be Commissioner of Baseball because he's "had enough of the spotlight?" Then you're an idiot like he is. Go read another blog.

  • IF Jim Leyland (that asshole) wants to forget last season, wouldn't I be doing him a favor by hitting him over the head with a sock full of nickels?

  • MEANEST Tonight's Questions ever? I don't care, go cry to your mother.

Hamster on a piano. (Whoa-oh) Hamster on a piano. (Whoa-oh) Eating popcorn on a piano, same WoW channel.

Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel: The Walkoff Walk Interview

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Previous installments of The Walkoff Walk Interview have been straight transcripts of conversations that I had with my subjects. Both Alberta Griffey and Helene Sovern proved charming and engaging, and me, even more so. Both interviews had a flow that lent themselves to that kind of presentation.

But of all the Q&A's I've done for the site, I was obviously the most excited for the one I had on Tuesday afternoon with Rinku and Dinesh. Before they broke worldwide, we'd been cheering them on for months here at WoW. We'd talked about them so much we felt like we knew them. When I contacted Jeff "JB, Sir" Bernstein with the request on Monday he quickly agreed and the wheels were in motion. I had sort of envisioned asking questions through a translator. I knew that the guys had been working on their English but wasn't sure exactly how far along it was.

When I called them, I found out I was wrong. I talked one on one with Dinesh and then with Rinku. While their English was pretty great for two guys who had only started learning the language a couple months back, it still limited the questions I could ask, and certainly limited the scope of their answers. For that reason, I don't think the transcript format will work best here. It's probably best that I just relay some of the high points.

  • First off, they were as polite on the phone as they seem on their blog. I almost crapped when they called me Kris, Sir. I asked them both if they felt prepared for spring training after the training at USC. They both seemed confident saying that they had played with good players there. Delving into the issue of teammates a little more, I asked Dinesh if he felt it was more difficult playing a team sport than individual one like javelin. He laughed and had a definitive answer.

    "Team sport is harder. In team sport you care about everything. Individual sport, it's only one person. Team sports have many things going on the same time."

  • I asked them whether or not they still get homesick. Rinku says they miss their families very much but they talk to them weekly and now with the increased media coverage of them around the world "they get to see more what we're doing."

  • Dinesh's favorite pitcher is Cliff Lee, who would probably also be mine if I had just started watching baseball last year. In any case it's probably a good sign that he hopes to take cues from a crafty lefty. After winning this opportunity based purely on his velocity it seems like he's interested in learning how to really pitch. I didn't understand Rinku when he told me his favorite pitcher because I was interviewing them at work and someone slammed the door to the walk-in fridge.

  • I asked them if they had heard anything about Pittsburgh as a city yet. Dinesh said they were visiting February 15 and were "excited," which leads me to believe that they haven't heard anything about Pittsburgh as a city yet.

    Regarding the Pirates as an organization, unsurprisingly they didn't know much about the franchise's history, which is just as well. It would probably behoove more minor leaguers to not worry so much about the franchise and just work on improving their game. Especially with a team whose futility is as weighty as the Bucs, ignorance to that fact is probably a plus.

  • My final question for each of them was open ended. I asked about their goals here in America, specifically for next year. Dinesh said he wanted to learn more about how to pitch, but Rinku took it a step further.

    "Get better at pitching. Help my team. Help the Pirates win the World Series." Kid's got guts, I'll tell ya.

Before I hung up I got to talk to JB a little. He made the point that more than Rinku and Dinesh being Indian, it's just amazing that two guys signed a pro contract in a sport that they hadn't heard of 7 months earlier. We racked our brains to come up with someone else like that and couldn't. He asked me if I'd seen the "Babewatch" blog entry. I said I had but I didn't want to bring it up since Rinku seemed mad about it. JB said "he wasn't mad, he was INCENSED." That made me laugh.

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Today is the day that your favorite major league team might enjoy an early holiday gift, finding their own Johan Santana or Roberto Clemente under the big tree at the Bellagio Hotel. Why? It's the last day of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas and the day for everyone's favorite young player dispersal mechanism: the Rule Five Draft!

What is the Rule Five Draft? I'm not entirely sure, that's why this is the Idiot's Guide, because I'm an idiot. Basically, it prevents teams from stockpiling prospects. If a player is not on his team's 40-man roster, and is not subject to some mumbo-jumbo age restrictions, he's eligible to be cherry-picked today by the other 29 teams. The draft order is decided by how teams finished during the regular season last year. That's why Washington should get used to having the first pick from this point forward, what with the Rays actually learning to be a real major league team last season.

In exchange for drafting a player, the drafting team gives up $50,000, or the approximate cost of one of Peter Angelos' toupees. If a player gets selected, they have to spend the entire next season on that team's 25-man roster or the team will risk losing that dude to his original team. That would be embarrassing. Teams don't have to select a player if they don't want. I mean, look at the 'big' names available this year: Eduardo Morlan, Donnie Veal, Dmitri Young, Ryan Mullins, Chris Mason, Juan Abreu and Jordan Brown. I've heard of two of those guys, and only because one of them, a once-untouchable Cubs pitching prospect, has a last name that sounds delicious sauteed with a light lemon butter sauce, and the other one was a violent alcoholic.

So cross your fingers and hope that your favorite team ends up with someone like one of the all-time Rule V Draft success stories, Johan Santana, Roberto Clemente, or Bobby Bonilla. Or even better, someone like Shane Victorino, who was selected in this draft in 2002 by the Padres, later returned to the Dodgers, and then selected again in the 2004 Rule V Draft by the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian gets around!

UPDATE: The Nats took Cincinnati's pitcher Terrell Young with pick number one. Donald Veal was taken by the pitching-starved Pirates at pick number four. Also, the Yankees have had three players taken so far in the first round because their farm system is A+++ superfantastic.

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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

  • Mets Putz the Putz in the Pen: So remember yesterday when I dissed the K-Rod trade by saying, "And any reliever like the Mariners' J.J. Putz was out of reach via trade because the Mets cupboard of prospects was bare." Boy, was I wrong. Omar Minaya acquired pitchers J.J. Putz and Sean Green along with OF Jeremy Reed in a three-team trade with the Mariners and Indians, giving up pitcher Aaron Heilman, OF Endy Chavez and a few other gents. I will now eat my crow omelet.

  • Rays Deal With Starter Surplus, Edwin Jackson Deathmarches to Detroit: Hey Edwin Jackson, wasn't it great almost winning the World Series with the Rays last year? Well congratulations on a successful season because now you get to go play in the D! The Rays sent Jackson to the Tiggers in exchange for young outfield stud Matt Joyce. It's so cold in the D!

  • Eighty is Larger than Sixty, Five is Greater than Four: The Yankees have offered A.J. Burnett $80 million over five years, while the Braves have offered the former Jay $60 million over four years. Maybe if the Yanks bring on A.J. to join CC, they can have every starter go by their first two initials. CC, A.J., C.M. Wang, J.L. Chamberlain and J.A. Smoltz. Got a nice ring to it, eh?

  • Matt Treanor and His Groin Shall Be Released: The Marlins dumped catcher Matt Treanor, citing that they want to go with young catching fella John Baker as their guy for 2009. Treanor will have more time to be careful with his package and the blog Fishstripes will have less time to blog about Misty May-Treanor.

  • Phillies Add Another Mediocre Catcher to the Mix: If the Phillies fan hadn't celebrated a World Series win just a few weeks ago, they'd be pretty depressed about the latest acquisition from the Pirates: backup catcher Ronny Paulino. The Phils gave up minor league C Jason Jaramillo in exchange. If only Paulino, Chris Coste, Carlos Ruiz, and Lou Marson could combine forces and great a super-catching Voltron-like creature!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, any amount is appreciated.

  • IF the Yankees are interested in every single free agent on the market, and the team is so bad that it needs a complete overhaul then...

  • HOW does Brian Cashman have a job? And...

  • IF they sign 4 guys this winter to $400M worth of contracts and they win next year...

  • WILL people talk about what a great job he did of getting the team back to the top? Because that all sounds like crap to me.

  • WILL Tony Kubek getting into the Hall Of Fame do anything to stop Upstate Underdog from complaining about Jim Kaat's exclusion?

  • DO you need a date? Ask this broad.

See you, stinkers. Same WoW channel.

Sportswriters Gone Wild: Winter Meetings In Vegas

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By now you're familiar with our nuanced relationship with beat writers. They feed us info, we read them constantly and to pay them back for their dilligence we are constantly making fun of them. Almost all of them we've had contact with have been great guys and seem to like the ribbing. When I realized last week that the Winter Meetings were going to be in Vegas, I knew it was going to be Sportswriter Bacchanalia. Even if there wasn't any movement on the actual baseball front, I knew some of my favorite scribes wouldn't be able to resist throwing some personal tidbits into their blogs. Dudes love looking like insiders.

I was going to save this for the end of the week, but after the Sabathia news this morning we expect that Dutch Oven to start boiling any second. Gonna be a chain reaction, y'all! So without further ado here are my favorite sportswriter nuggets (gross) from the week so far.

  • Our boy Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star does Vegas like it should be done. With a ton of cheap hooch and gradually diminishing faculties. Here's his take on Utopia, from a post titled, and I'm serious, "OY CANADA!":

    "By the way, I appreciate all the advice I have received from readers on future bookings in Vegas, but I happen to love the intimacy of Bill's Gamblin' Hall. Why, three times per day, Elvis performs live in Bill's Lounge. There is a top notch after hours bar with live music until five in the morning. There is a stained glass window in my shower and the water pressure could blow a tick off an elephant. Margaritas go for 99 cents and you can get a hot dog and a beer for four and a quarter at any hour of the day or night. In addition, there is free valet parking and when I asked the guy how long ahead I should call down to get my car out, he said "thirty seconds." Sweet.

    More from Vegas later tonight."

    Not surprisingly there was no post later that night. But his most recent post is titled "Jays inquire about sweet Furcal," with no allusion to why he is "sweet." Good luck getting through customs with whatever the hell is in that suitcase, Griff.

  • Geoff Baker is taking creepy pictures of Nolan Ryan.

  • Evan Grant's mom is a tortured woman with a hallucinating son:

    "Later today, I'll be doing a version the "Fat Joe left Atlantic!" bit in a call to my mom in Omaha, modifying it by exclaiming "Alan Embree signed with Colorado!" This will amuse me and -- sadly -- won't even rattle my mom."

And of course, our pal Duk from Big League Stew piled into a car with Yahoo's Jeff Passan, drove across town to the fabled In N Out, and bought all of these sloths 35 Animal Style Double Doubles, then went out of his way to erroneously call us In-N-Out haters. Pete Abraham was way into the burgers.

UPDATE: John Fay went to BOTH Planet Hollywood and P.F. Chang's last night. Do not try and stop this man. He is a party animal the likes of which haven't been seen since Spuds McKenzie. I fear this is going to end in a strung out knife fight between him and Griffin.

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Here's a bold prediction that's bound to have you nodding your head in agreement: the Mets will not win the World Series in 2009. Nor will they win in 2010, 2011, or 2012 as long as they continue to employ Francisco Rodriguez in the classic closer role. Why? Not because Frankie struggles with control sometimes and walks one hitter every two innings and not because hitters have been steadily increasing their batting average against him each season. No, it is just bad luck for teams to select their closer via the free agency route.

In fact, no just one team has won the World Series with a free agent closer since the 1978 New York Yankees, who famously brought borderline hall-of-famer Goose Gossage over from the Pirates in November 1977. Of course, they made the free agency splash despite already having a closer in Sparky Lyle who helped the team notch a World Championship just a month earlier. Since 1978, every almost every team that has won the World Series has done it with either a closer developed from within or acquired via trade. Think about just the last ten years:

  • 2008 Phillies - Brad Lidge (acquired by trade)
  • 2007 Red Sox - Jonathan Papelbon (developed from within)
  • 2006 Cardinals - Adam Wainwright (acquired by trade)
  • 2005 White Sox - Bobby Jenks (developed from within)
  • 2004 Red Sox - Papelbon Keith Foulke (oops)
  • 2003 Marlins - Ugueth Urbina (acquired by trade)
  • 2002 Angels - Frankie Rodriguez (developed from within)
  • 2001 Diamondbacks - Byung Hung Kim (developed from within)
  • 2000 Yankees - Mariano Rivera (developed from within)
  • 1999 Yankees - Rivera

That list stretches back twenty more years and includes such illustrious names as Jesse Orosco, Dennis Eckersley, and Dan Quisenberry. Granted, this evidence does not prove that developing a closer from within or acquiring one via trade is a guarantee that your team will be successful, nor does it mean that the Mets are absolutely going to fall flat on their face with K-Rod. It's just a thirty-year trend that says that perhaps there are better ways to build your relief corps than throwing a dump truck full of cash at some guy who pitched a couple stress-free innings a week and set a meaningless record.

Of course, the Mets were in a bad situation last year with Billy Wagner's elbow going bust and the trio of Scott Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman, and Pedro Feliciano blowing more games than they saved. And any reliever like the Mariners' J.J. Putz was out of reach via trade because the Mets cupboard of prospects was bare. It's almost as if they had no choice except to bring in the biggest fish on the market.

Perhaps the Mets will prove me wrong and put an end to this trend. After all, they've got a talented core of David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Johan Santana. Find a decent upgrade at second base and the corner outfield positions and they'll easily challenge the Phils for the N.L. East. But really, it's a shame they couldn't be a little more creative with the closer role.

Thanks to commenter piggy bank robber for reminding me that it was free agent acquisition Keith Foulke, and not Papelbon, who closed out games for the Red Sox in '04. I stand corrected with my theory in the crapper.

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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

  • Sabathia Spurns Some Suitors, Signs for Six with Snew York Snankees: Joel Sherman of the New York Post is going out on a limb with this one, reporting that CC Sabathia has finally been persuaded to become a Yankee. After GM Brian Cashman jetted out to the coast to talk face-to-face with Sabathia for the third straight day, CC finally relented and decided to take the tens upon tens of millions of dollars the team was throwing in his general direction.

  • Ryan Freel and Farney Take Their Lunatic Show to Balty-more: The Reds and Orioles consummated a trade that will send utility outfielder Ryan Freel to the O's in exchange for catcher Ramon Hernandez. No telling as to whether Freel's imaginary friend Farney prefers crab cakes over Skyline chili.

  • Phillies Reward Uncle Cholly With Contract Extension, Enormous Brisket Sandwich: World Series champion manager Charlie Manuel can now count on job security through the 2011 season. By that point, the Mets will have gone through approximately 6 managers, twelve closers, and about 38 different actors playing Mr. Met.

  • Jeanne Zelasko Gets Shitcanned: ESPN reports that FOX is going to drop their shitty pregame show next year and most likely dismiss Jeanne Zelasko and dumb Kevin Kennedy. First Joe Morgan gets the pink slip and now Zelasko? Damn, I must have been a good boy this year!

  • Indians Close to Signing Kerry Wood: This cannot end well.

Tonight's Question

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Hey kids, Uncle Salazar knows.

  • WHO dat is? That's just my Cecil Espy.

See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.
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As per Jon Heyman at SI.com, the New York Mets and Frankie Rodriguez have agreed in principle to a three-year, $37 million deal that includes a vesting option for the fourth year. That additional year will come to fruition as long as K-Rod pitches the normal number of innings that his job of 'closer' entails, something around 50 a year, because modern-day closers are fancy boys.

You're on notice now, agents of Brian Fuentes, Trevor Hoffman, and (heh) Eric Gagne.

The Strawman Cometh

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Just about a week ago, our esteemed leader and co-proprietor noticed numerous baseball writers using the tough economic times as an excuse for the slow off season. Now that the Winter Meetings are officially underway, one can assume the free agent taps are about to gush. But the poor economy isn't a crutch for writers searching for something to publish, it's for ownership scapegoating too! Rob's parting words have a different kind of resonance to people all over North America this week:

Times may be tough in other professions but rich baseball teams are still living high on the hog.

With the creative accounting most professional teams are capable of, it's almost impossible to ascertain the true financial status of your local sports franchise. One surefire way to tell that things aren't going so swimmingly, layoffs! The Arizona Diamondbacks laid off 31 employees at the beginning of November while the Toronto Blue Jays recently released 30 employees from their front office, mostly in the sales department. Even Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the cash cow with revenues in upwards of $450 million bucks in 2007, laid off 4.5% of its workforce yesterday.

No matter what kind of collusive handjob the owners are giving each other; layoffs around the holidays stink. Even in a tepid free agent market, the money being splashed around for the services of a Joe Beimel or Adam Everett must be hard to take for one a newly liberated employee. Limited skill sets be damned, 1% of CC Sabathia's 2009 salary is enough money to cover the pay of at least 4 sales staffers.

The Blue Jays story is especially troubling as their layoffs were among 200 by parent company Rogers on the same day. To give you a sense of Rogers size, consider my cell phone, internet, cable TV, and landline are all from Rogers. Not to mention the all sports radio and television networks with nearly exclusive broadcast rights to Blue Jays games. This is one of the largest companies in Canada, founded and run by one of it's richest men. Until very recently, that is. Rogers (and therefore Jays) owner Ted Rogers died the same day all these layoffs were announced! So giant company in cost cutting mode plus recently deceased owner plus vacant president's chair equals rough times ahead at the Rogers Centre (oh yeah, they own the stadium too.)

Convenient as it may be for ownership to shut down spending and rabbit hole a few more dollars during a tough go, baseball is feeling the economic effects right along with everyone else. While the player replacing his Sub Zero fridge with another Sub Zero fridge because "they old one has a funny smell" may not notice a change in cash flow; someone along the baseball food chain is getting the shitty end of the frank.

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Today at the Winter Meetings, Major League Baseball plans to make an announcement regarding the usage of one of the game's most dangerous performance-enhancing substances. No, not Wade Boggs' special fried chicken, it's maple! Baseball bats made of maple made news during the 2008 season because of the soft wood's proclivity to splinter or shatter, sending dangerous shards flying towards coaches, fans, or even worse, those million-dollar investments we call 'pitchers'. After a few months of studying by government forest nerds, they've decided not to ban maple bats and instead make design recommendations to bat manufacturers that should mitigate the problem.

So, sometime this afternoon at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas, expect a press conference that will announce that players can keep using maple bats. Which is exactly what we knew back in September. Remember what David Kretschmann of the US Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory had to say about the problem?

Much of the speculation on broken bats this year has centered on bats made of maple. But Kretschmann said it was too simplistic to ban maple bats. "It's a much more complicated problem than that," he said. "The species itself is not necessarily the root of the problem. There are lots of factors involved, including the limitations on bat size and handle size."

So go ahead and use whatever wood grain you'd like, major leaguers. The catch? You won't be able to swing a weapon that is, effectively, a toothpick with a brick at the end of it because Bud Selig will only allow you to use a 4-inch diameter cylinder of wood with no sweet spot and no handle whatsoever. Still, some players will continue to break their bats because when they're getting jammed inside by cut fastballs, they decide that pitch would be a good one to drive into the seats. I'm looking at you, Robinson Cano.

If only toothpick-thin maple bats had been around in 1989. Maybe then Billy Ripken wouldn't have been so unlucky.

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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

  • Third Team's The Charm: Being the third team in the Jake Peavy sweepstakes is the new black. First, the Orioles were said to be the third team that was going to send prospects to the Cubs so Chicago could snag Peavy. Then it was the Rays. Now it seems to be the Phillies, who are actually interested in obtaining Jason Marquis. What, because Joe Blanton doesn't give up enough tater tots in that teeny park?

  • Prepare Eighty Yards of Dodger Blue Fabric: CC Sabathia Wants L.A.: So says Dodgers G.M. Ned Colletti who claims to have bumped into Sabathia at the Bellagio Hotel during the start of the Winter Meetings yesterday. Hate to break it to you, Ned, but the man you bumped into is actually Reba McEntire's bodyguard Leroy.

  • Tigers Continue to Upgrade Infield With League Average Talent: One way for Dave Dombrowski to improve on poor output by his Tigers team: bring in mediocre players! See, because mediocre players are better than bad players. As long as his stars like Magglio Ordonez or Miguel Cabrera don't regress too badly, they can make up for the presence of such merely satisfactory players such as new Detroit shortstop Adam Everett.

  • K-Rod Set To Make a Lot of Money in Not a Lot of Time: Folks seem to want the security blanket that is a long-term deal but teams aren't so quick to dole them out lately. The Mets and Frankie Rodriguez are on the verge of agreeing on a $37 million deal that lasts but three years. Three years? That's barely long enough to break the hearts of Mets fans.

  • Even the Foreign Talent is Getting Lowballed: The Orioles would like to bring Japanese pitchers Kenshin Kawakami and Koji Uehara over to Balty-more to play some AL East-style baseball, but have allegedly offered just $10 million over two years. Angelos, these aren't like the Guatemalans who mow your lawn; you actually have to pay these two fair wages.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you can't keep them down on the farm.

  • WHAT are the ramifications of Gerald Laird being sent to the Tigers? Well there's this baseball team in Boston that was really hoping to score one head of the Rangers' catching Hydra. Not to mention the fact that the Tigers had been total teases by expressing interest in both Julio Lugo and Jason Varitek this offseason. They've now filled both their C and SS positions and the Red Sox still have to deal with those two lumps. It lowers Tek's value, but still means they have to make a difficult decision on him.

  • WHAT kind of trouble will the Griffins, Bakers, and Fays of the world be getting into this week at the Bellagio? Petey Abraham gonna get the Rain Man suite! And completely soak the bed with sweat! Join me tomorrow for a full roundup on what these dudes are up to. They're our first link to news, and they're just like us. Only a little older and more enthralled with that sinking boat light show thing at Treasure Island.

  • ARE you excited that Baseball Digest, is finally hitting the internet? I read this thing loyally as a kid, but had hardly even noticed they weren't on the web. They have some catching up to do, and I'm interested to see how it works out. Heady times over there. I've even heard some of the editors are beginning to say "Holla."

  • HOW much worse would this have been if it happened in Tim Kurkjian's bathroom? Dude is hung like the Abominable Snowman. Makes you feel bad about yourself.
That's all for today. Thanks again to all of you for sticking with us through this frigid ice queen of an offseason. And since I saw him mention it in the comments the other day, Congrats to Lloyd and his clan on the addition of his new daughter. That officially makes one out of three of us kind of somewhat like an adult.

Same WoW Channel.

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The old farts on the Veterans Committee finally got their act together and voted somebody into the Hall of Fame, but it wasn't any of the three names floated by Dugout Central. Instead of Joe Torre, Dick Allen or Ron Santo, the late great Joe Gordon will be the only player inducted into the Hall by the revamped Veterans Committee. Gordon, the former second baseman for the Yankees and the Indians, was named on 10 of 12 ballots. Of the 20 players up for nomination this year, 10 started their careers prior to 1943 and were considered by this smaller contingent as opposed to the 64 living HOFers who voted on the post-1943 players.

So it'll be another two years for Ron Santo, Joe Torre, and their ilk to wait for their next chance at immortality. And it'll be another two years for Dick Allen to not be a Hall-of-Famer and for Bill James to not be a lug nut.

UPDATE: The National Baseball Hall of Fame's press release has the voting results for the post-1942 players:(48 votes needed for election):

Ron Santo (39 votes, 60.9 percent)
Jim Kaat (38, 59.4 percent)
Tony Oliva (33, 51.6 percent)
Gil Hodges (28, 43.8 percent)
Joe Torre (19, 29.7 percent)
Maury Wills (15, 23.4 percent)
Luis Tiant (13, 20.3 percent)
Vada Pinson (12, 18.8 percent)
Al Oliver (nine, 14.1 percent)
Dick Allen (seven, 10.9 percent)

Not only did Dick Allen fail to earn an induction, he wasn't even close.

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In a couple of hours, the good baseball reporters out in Las Vegas for the winter meetings will file into a ballroom at the Bellagio Hotel for a press conference announcing the former players voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. The tension is palpable. Not really.

The Veterans Committee hasn't always worked this way. In fact, the Veterans Committee hasn't worked at all in the past eight years, failing to elect a single player since Bill Mazeroski walkoff-homered himself into Cooperstown in 2001. This time around, the living HOF members screened a list of eligible players and narrowed it down to a list of ten players from the pre-WWII era and ten players from the post-WWII era.

The ten more modern players included on this years ballot were Ron Santo, Joe Torre, Gil Hodges, Dick Allen, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills. Ballots with these names were sent to all living players in the HOF; they could choose up to four names for election. That last caveat was included to prevent Ernie Banks from checking off all ten names; Banks is just too nice a guy to deny anyone a vote. (this is patently untrue).

Of those names, I'd have chosen only Ron Santo for induction. Cooperstown is severely underrepresented by third basemen and Santo was easily one of the best players at the position. He was a nine-time All Star and a five-time Gold Glover while his offensive numbers were somewhat stunted by playing half his career in an era when pitchers dominated. Still, he managed a career 125 OPS+, higher than other HOFers Charlie Gehringer (124), Paul Molitor (122), and his pal Ernie Banks (122). Also, he has no legs and is beloved by a town full of losers, so he's got that going for him.

So, check back in this space this afternoon and I'll let you know who got in...if anyone.

UPDATE: Meech tells me that it's gonna be Santo, Torre, and Dick Allen. We'll see.

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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

  • Darren Oliver and David Weathers Earn Their Day in the Spotlight: Oliver and Weathers were the only two players to accept arbitration offers from their teams, respectively, the Angels and the Reds. All the other dudes are ready to dip their toes in the free agent market including superstars CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez, and Mark Grudzielanek.

  • Tigers First Team to Sup from the Texas Catching Teat: The Rangers have a surplus of catchers and the Tigers do not. Therefore and henceforth, it makes sense that the Tigers took backstop Gerard Laird outta Arlington in exchange for Detroit's fifth-best ranked pitching prospect, as per Baseball America. Laird will continue the great Tiger catching tradition started by Mickey Cochrane and continued by Brandon Inge.

  • Kenny Williams Trades Players With Aplomb, Great Consistency: Rumour has it that the White Sox are about to send Jermaine Dye to Cincinnati in exchange for pitcher Homer Bailey. Bailey was 0-6 with a 7.93 ERA in eight starts with the Reds last year while Dye successfully defended a creampie attack and injured his teammate in the process. Yes, this was the most interesting thing Jermaine Dye did all year.

  • Rinku Fends Off the Ladies, Learns to Throw Darts: Rinku Singh has finally responded to the Babewatch Controversy of 2008, saying that he is not interested at all in American women and restating his preference for Indian women. Then Neil sir taught him to play darts and claimed to be the inspiration for the movie Snakes on a Plane.

  • Hideki Matsui Chooses New Locker in New Yankee Stadium: At least until he is traded to the Giants for Matt Cain, Hideki Matsui has a place to hang his hat in the new building across the street. The Japanese media follow every move Matsui makes with the efforts of a dozen CNN foreign bureaus and the locker choice (across the room from Jeter's!) is no different. The locker contains several hidden compartments for tentacle porn.
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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

  • Padres Fans Breathe Sigh of Relief, Offer Solace to Cardinals Fans: Happy to have Khalil Greene off their hands, fans of the ol' San Diego Padres have gladly provided a user's manual for the shortstop to his new team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Par exemple: "2a. In addition, do not stare at KhalilBot 5000 for more than six seconds, even though its gaze can by cryptically hypnotic.".

  • Mariners Double Down on 2013 Season, Push Putz Chip to Middle of Table: Remember when I said the Mariners could compete in 2009 with the addition of one or two big bats? Nevermind. New Seattle G.M. Jack Zduriencik is putting closer J.J. Putz on the trading block looking for some prospects; Omar Minaya's ears immediately perked up until he realized he has no prospects.

  • Yankees Giving Pettitte the High Hard One: Andy Pettitte made $16 million in 2008. The Yankees decided not to offer the guy arbitration and are now offering him $10 million for 2009. This is a 38% pay cut. Andy Pettitte and his agent are not pleased. Andy Pettitte's biggest fan (i.e. me) is not pleased.

  • Manny Might Make Many Monies Even If Only For One Year: Buster Olney reports that Manny Ramirez and super agent Scott Boras are finding few satisfactory offers on the free agent market and that they might just take the Dodgers' arbitration offer. Sure, that might be a tidy $30 million for one year of work, but it ain't the four years and $100 million that Manny deserves.

  • Rinku and Dinesh Enjoy American Thanksgiving Festival: Although he might be bewildered as to why Americans were "stuffing their heads" with food last Thursday, Rinku sure enjoyed the sweet potato pie. GAZAB!

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, Darius McCrary.

  • WHAT the hell is this guy talking about in the first two paragraphs of this column? If baseball is so boring to you dude, then go cover some city council meets and get lost. And also, don't speak for me. I'm not disillusioned. I'm so illusioned I'm like David Goddamned Copperfield.

  • WOULD Ron Gant make the HoF if Matt_T hadn't been kicked out of the selection committee for sleeping with Branch Rickey's widow?

  • IS this the vaguest headline ever?

  • DID the Reds make the right move by re-signing Mike Lincoln?

  • IS anyone ever going to do anything interesting this offseason so I can stop talking about people like Mike Lincoln?

Tomorrow is a half day here so bring a book or something to read. Haha. Just kidding. Read Big League Stew instead. Same WoW channel.
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The libelous and conjecture-filled offseason is in full swing caught in a collusive morass 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 much ballyhooed Jake Peavy. The Dutch Ovens have been lousy with Jake Peavy rumours all winter long. Many deals have seemed to be sure things, only to fall through. Is Jake Peavy going to move? What possible destinations remain?Will this legit ace with a below-market contract change teams?

The early favorite to acquire Peavy's services was Atlanta. They went back and forth, Kevin Towers dropped little breadcrumbs from time to time, but nothing ever materialized. The Braves decided that they were moving on and made a move for Javier Vasquez, a player unlike Peavy in every way. They paid a mighty price to acquire the notorious heartbreaker. With stories now circulating that the Braves will offer A.J. Burnett the five year contract he desperately wants, they're clearly out of the Jake Peavy business. I guess the "pull your hair out with frustration" business is more lucrative.

The Chicago Cubs have emerged as new hope for a Peavy deal. They have the cash to make it happen as well as some good (?) young pieces like Sean Marshall, Felix Pie and Ronny Cedano. Let's not forget their plethora of overrated young pieces like Mike Fontenot and The Riot. This trade may just dissolve under the microscope, with reports detailing that all the talk is being generating in San Diego to a possible third team helping to grease the wheels.

Deals as big as this one are always slow to develop and this one is no different. There are too many factors working against the Padres to allow them to pull the trigger. Peavy's no trade clause removes a substantial amount of the Friars' leverage, the lack of free agent movement has everyone hurrying to wait. The Padres simply won't get the boatload of prospects every team/writer seems to think a #1 stud will yield. Johan Santana was traded, essentially, for Carlos Gomez; an excellent centerfielder that will never be confused with one of the best pitchers in baseball.

So will Peavy move? There's only one place left for him to go. If the Cubs do land the former Cy Young winner, watch out. 2009 could be the year Chet and the Zebrahs finally get their wish: mass ritualistic suicide. They'll find a way to screw up a Peavy, Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster rotation. Here's lookin at you Samardjakiaksljdfjjazzi!

Colas once again to the delightfully overworked MLB Traderumors

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With the Diamondbacks cutting costs, the Dodgers in free agent flux, the Rockies trading away their stars, and the Padres being crippled by their owner's divorce, the National League West is ripe for the taking. And San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean noticed! He's made the two biggest splashes in the free agent reliever market, inking Jeremy Affeldt to a contract before the arbitration deadline and snagging Bobby Howry just after the deadline. That's not a bad bullpen upgrade for $7 million. With righty Keiichi Yabu and lefty Alex Hinshaw already doing God's work setting up closer Brian Wilson, the Giants may now have the best bullpen west of the Mississip'.

Toss in the rumor that the Giants are pursuing free agent shortstop Edgar Renteria, and it looks like Sabean is actually going to see if the Giants can contend next season. Some folks are saying that maybe, perhaps, just possibly, the Giants are also trying to collect the big prize of the market, free agent lefty CC Sabathia. CC is said to prefer the left coast and is even (allegedly) building a house in the Land of Milk and Honey. If Sabean throws $100 million over five years at Sabathia, crosses his fingers, and clicks his heels together three times, this all might go down. Imagine then a rotation that is anchored by Sabathia and NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, with Matt Cain in the middle, and what's left of Barry Zito and the hardthrowing lefty Jonathan Sanchez bringing up the rear. Okay, now stop imagining that because there's a 98% chance it won't happen.

Also, stop listening to me when I say the Giants might contend in 2009. Their offense is simply in shambles. Only a few regular hitters had decent OBP's last season and not a single one of 'em could top 16 tater tots. They'll have to rely on young hitters like OF Travis Ishikawa, OF Nate Schierholtz, and C/3B/1B Pablo Sandoval to all make a significant leap and build on late success they had in '08. Perhaps the only real way the Giants can be a competitive, winning team would be to add a big bat in the free agent market. If only they could find that kind of player with a good eye and a prowess for power-hitting out there!

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

  • Red Sox Tie Up Elfin Second Bagger For Years to Come: Boston threw a six-year, forty million dollar contract at Dustin Pedroia and it stuck. The reigning American League Most Valuable Pixie will earn a little bit less than Robinson Cano and far less than Chase Utley but hey, he'll drink for free at the Cask 'N' Flagon for the next 65 years, so he's got that going for him.

  • Actual Headline: "Mariners Come to Terms With Russell Branyan": When you 'come to terms with' something, it usually means that you have dealt with the realization that you are stuck in a less-than-ideal situation and there is nothing you can do about it. So you settle. Just like the Mariners did with Russell Branyan, who actually strikes out more often than Richie Sexson and plays far worse defense. But hey, at least it's not a crippling contract this time! Good work, Zduriencik.

  • Giants Upgrade Bullpen With Aging Cub: Bobby Howry, who somehow managed to be employed for a division winner's bullpen last year with a 5.35 ERA, will be a San Francisco Giant next season. Howry allowed a whopping 13 tater tots in just 70 innings last year but actually had decent strikeout numbers and low walk totals, so a switch to the unfriendly confines of AT&T Park should help him return to form. Either that or he'll threaten to meet another fan by the small wall.

  • Backup Catchers Are the New Black: Having a good second string catcher is like remembering to wear galoshes when it's raining. Sometimes you just don't do it and then you end up with pneumonia. Or a shitty backup catcher. My metaphor is not apt. But the Braves signed David Ross, who was both a Red and a Red Sock last year, to play second fiddle to Brian McCann.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, go ramble.

  • DOES someone have a lint brush for Tim Lincecum?

  • WHO wants to do a chant? When I say BASEBALL! you SAY CHORIZO! BASEBALL! CHORIZO! BASEBALL CHORIZO!

  • HOW many times will I watch this today and guffaw? (NSFW. Turn your volume down, officefolk.)

  • CAN you read that flyer up there? That's for a poetry reading that I am lucky enough to be part of tomorrow night in Brooklyn. If you can't read the fine print, show starts here at 8 O'clock. That name Jeff Laughlin? You may know him better as Business Or Leisure, blogger, poet and WoWie. If you live in NYC and want to come out, well we'd love to see you.

So long, sports fans. Same WoW channel.

WPIX Yankees Commercial - 1979

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Hey, it's Classic TV Wednesday! Long time no see, nostalgia fans. This week we're traveling back to 1979 to watch some baseball and some cartoons. Or commercials for them anyway. Enjoy!

Lee Smith: A Life More Smithy

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When discussing the Hall of Fame voting here the other day, Lee Smith's name piqued my interest. During some of his best years he played for the Red Sox so I remember him but I don't remember too much about him other than that to a 7 year old he looked like a giant and I thought he'd make a good wrestler.

I think it was Iracane that said he'd vote for Smith just because he was better than Fingers or Sutter who are already in the Hall. I'd tend to agree, but then again I just said I didn't remember all that much about the man. So I decided to look back at his career and his numbers and pass the savings on to you.

Smith played for 18 years in the majors and his early years with the Cubs are a story of perseverance and great camaraderie between him and some other incredible black baseball players. According to his Wikipedia page (don't worry I checked the references too), he was discovered in Louisiana by Buck O'Neil. He began his minor league career as a starter and then quit to play college basketball at Northwestern State after being demoted to the bullpen. He was coaxed back into the Cubs organization in 1980 by Chicago great Billy Williams and was mentored in his first full season by Fergie Jenkins. Nice friends.

In 1984, Smith threw 101 innings and recorded 33 saves for a Cubs team that made it one win away from the World Series. Smith lost Game Four, coughing up a 2 run tater tot to Babymakin' Steve Garvey and the Padres went on to the series. Smith would make two trips to the postseason in his career (the other in 1988 with the Red Sox) never finding much success. He pitched a total of 5.1 career postseason innings, allowing 5 ER.

In 2 1/4 seasons withe Red Sox, Smith was the AL's premier closer racking up over 10K/9IP and saving nearly 60 games. But once the Red Sox acquired Jeff Reardon, Smith was traded to the Cardinals for Tom Brunansky in 1990.

Smith would go on to play for five teams after the Cardinals, garnering Cy Young and MVP votes in Baltimore in 1994 and making the All-Star team both there and the following season with the Angels. When Smith retired he was the All-Time Saves leader, a record that would stand for nearly 10 seasons. He was the All-Time saves leader for the Cardinals until 2006, and remains the All-Time saves leader for the Cubs. He played on 7 All-Star teams as a member of 5 different clubs. His career 162 game average per Baseball Reference works out to about 31 saves and nearly a K/IP.

I understand the merits of voting in Lee Arthur Smith based on Iracane's Theory Of Relativity, but I don't like much about Fingers or Sutter and it seems like the biggest reason to vote for Smith was that he held the saves record for so long. But with such a short window of statistical dominance, it may be that his record was more about timing. A strong guy, blessed with longevity that came of age at the same time the role of the closer did.

Lee, I love you buddy, but you wouldn't make the cut on my ballot. I do think it's awesome that you have children named Nikita and Dmitri. Perhaps one day you will be inducted into the Russian Baseball Hall Of Fame.

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

  • Rinku and Dinesh Share Hall Bathroom With Taiwanese Prospects: In his latest blog post, Dinesh mentions that JB sir is chasing future baseball stars in Taiwan and is boarding them at the house before they try out for pro scouts. Also, they met Mark Ciardi, producer of the 'hit' movie The Game Plan starring Dinesh's hero, The Rock.

  • Orioles and Nick Markakis End Contract Talks, Commence Christmas Shopping: Wait a minute, 'Markakis'... what is that, Greek? Baltimore outfielder star Nick Markakis and the Orioles have ceased any discussion about a contract extension, pending any free agent signings this offseason. Seriously, if we're all going to sit on our hands until CC Sabathia signs with the Yankees before the rest of the dominos fall, then maybe we should all shut our blogs down and head to Aruba.

  • Braves Send Bevy of Prospects to Chicago for the Privilege of Employing Javy Vazquez: In the words of the immortal Ozzie Guillen, "Javy is going to be Javy." So enjoy that, Braves fans. Atlanta is giving up minor league catcher Tyler Flowers and shortstop Brent Lillibridge. Not like you need a young shortstop or anything, because Raffy Furcal is coming back, right? Right?

  • Astros Sign Doug Brocail: Houston GM Ed Wade won another free agent coup, re-signing reliever Doug Broc....zzzzzzzz

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, it landed with a sickening thud.

  • WHO said this during a contract holdout with Oakland in the early 90s: "If they want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I'll play like Gallego." Of coursew it was Rickey Henderson. Of course Gallego was his teammate. Read more good Rickey quotes here.

  • DOES anyone else think that Derek Bell was set up by Glenn Davis? Well you're wrong, he was.

  • WHAT is a better use for a defunct baseball stadium: A parking lot or a place for elephants to do it?
That's all for today. Eat my beard squeezins. Same WoW Channel.
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Hey, did you hear? We're totally in a recession! It might even be a global recession, so don't get too excited, Toronto people. FOX Sports reporter and erstwhile pixie Ken Rosenthal must know we're in a recession because he's linking the tough economic times with the Yankees failure to offer arbitration to any of their free agents:

As recently as a month ago, the Yankees seemed certain to offer salary arbitration to free-agent outfielder Bobby Abreu. If Abreu accepted, no problem: The Yankees would retain their No. 3 hitter for another season, albeit at a cost of $16 million to $18 million.

Prior to the economic meltdown, teams actually considered such deals good business, rarely hesitating to overpay players if the commitment was only for one year. Well, the days of such largesse are over -- at least in certain cases, at least for the moment.

Rosenthal is wrong. The days of Yankee largesse towards free agents is far from over, and their attitude towards their own free agents is driven entirely by the new collective bargaining agreement that allows teams to negotiate with their own players far past the old December deadline. Before this year, if a team didn't offer arbitration to a player or sign him by December, they'd lose all negotiation rights with that player until May. Now? They can still make offers all off-season.

Besides, Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman isn't citing the economy as a reason for not pursuing Abreu or Andy Pettitte. Here's Cashman's statement regarding the Yankees attitude towards Abreu and Pettitte, via Peter Abraham:

"The determination we made today was to make sure that we control what amount we'd be spending at least in the event that we're fortunate enough to bring those players back. We did not want to put ourselves in a position of having that determined by a third party without knowing what that figure would be. We wanted to be able to control the cost that we would allocate for every position on the club."

The key term in that statement is 'control'. He's a buyer in a buyer's market, and if he can't bring back Abreu, it's a decent business decision. They've got Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui signed to play outfield in '09 with Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher as possible backups.

"Even though we wanted draft picks if we lost anybody, by offering arbitration we would lose out ability to determine a final cost. So by doing so, we chose to go a different direction, not offer arbitration and we'll still stay engaged with the entire free agent market including those two players."

The important phrase here is 'determine a final cost'. Cashman knows that he can still sign Pettitte and Abreu later on for a lower price than arbitration would have allowed, and yet still come out higher than almost every other team in a contract offer. He can outbid the Seattles and Arizonas of the world because, despite those seven luxury suites that remains unsold, the Yankees have a ton of money to spend. Times may be tough in other professions but rich baseball teams are still living high on the hog.

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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

  • The Following Players Were Offered Arbitration: Mets SP Oliver Perez, Angels 1B Mark Teixeira, Angels RP Frankie Rodriguez, Royals 2B Mark Grudzielanek, Red Sox C Jason Varitek, Red Sox SP Paul Byrd, Rockies RP Brian Fuentes, Dodgers OF Manny Ramirez, Dodgers SP Derek Lowe, Blue Jays SP Derek Lowe AJ Burnett, Mariners OF Raul Ibanez, Rangers DH Milton Bradley, Diamondbacks 2B Orlando Hudson, Twins RP Dennys Reyes, Brewers SP CC Sabathia and Brewers SP Ben Sheets.

  • The Following Players Were Not Offered Arbitration: Brewers RP Eric Gagne, Mets RP Luis Ayala, Mets OF Moises Alou, Yankees OF Bobby Abreu, Yankees SP Andy Pettitte, Tigers SS Edgar Renteria, Cubs RP Kerry Wood, Cubs OF Jim Edmonds, Padres RP Trevor Hoffman, Braves SP John Smoltz, Diamondbacks OF Adam Dunn, Diamondbacks SP Randy Johnson, Angels OF Garret Anderson, Cardinals RP Russ Springer, and Rays OF Rocco Baldelli. More arbitration nonsense later.

  • Houston Astros Roll Dice, Bring Back Mike Hampton: The effusive Ed Wade has struck again, bringing oft-injured starter Mike Hampton back into the fold in Houston. It's allegedly a $2 million one-year deal with $2 million in incentives, so the risk level is pretty low. Unfortunately, the possible reward is pretty low too. I'm predicting a 2-7 record in 80 IP with a 5.20 ERA and 28 homers allowed.

  • Will Carroll Hates Rumours, He Can Go His Own Way: Baseball Prospectus' own ouchie doctor gave up rumormongering for Lent this year. Will Carroll posted a short (well, short by Will Carroll's standards) blog item delineating his issues with mid-winter speculation posting about player trades and free agent signings. He says that about 50% of rumors are untrue; if he heard the garbage I sling around on a regular basis at my weekly Mahjong game, he'd be singing a different tune for sure.

  • Jack Zduriencik Has a Surprise in Store for Seattlites: No, it's not that biofuel-powered low-profile owl-friendly monorail those treehuggers have been pushing for so loing. It's a free agent position player! Who has to this point been unnamed! Except it's definitely not Ken Griffey Jr so don't get your hopes up, fans of 90's nostalgia! So put away your Screaming Trees albums!

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (17)
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Hey kids, I can't sleep.

  • Is a bird in the hand better than one in an unopened 1977 Topps wax pack?

  • IS Jim Rice finally going to sneak into the HoF, on this, his final ballot appearance? I think he should, but doubt he will. The older I get the more I realize the arbitrary nature of the Hall and the less the inductions actually mean. Still an amazing place to visit, though.

  • WHO will get more HoF votes: Greg Vaughn or Mo Vaughn? I thought Greg Vaughn was still playing.

  • WHAT do you think of the girl suing her high school to play on the baseball team? I think she could probably go yard on every single one of our readers so take it easy on the "get in the kitchen" jokes.

  • IS Del Taco the new In-N-Out?

  • DID you know Roy Acuff played baseball? Did you know that Roy Acuff is an anagram for Cay Of Fur, which is what I'm naming my new private island? Did you know I'm losing my mind?

Sit on it. Same WoW channel.
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There are ten new names on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year; only Rickey Henderson is an absolute slam dunk. The rest of them? Feh. Anyone who votes for Ron Gant or Jay Bell gets immediately kicked out of the guild, I don't care that Bell bought you a RC Cola once or that you and Gant did lines off a stripper's thigh at the Gold Club. Voting for the Hall of Fame is a privilege and you writers are constantly blowing it.

That being said, my ballot would include check marks by the following names: Bert Blyleven, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, and Alan Trammell. You can argue with me if you want, but you'd be wrong, so why bother? Jim Rice broke 70% last year so he will definitely get in this year, his final chance.

Here is the entire list, including holdovers from past years who earned enough votes to stay on the ballot:

  • Harold Baines
  • Jay Bell
  • Bert Blyleven
  • David Cone
  • Andre Dawson
  • Ron Gant
  • Mark Grace
  • Rickey Henderson
  • Tommy John
  • Don Mattingly
  • Mark McGwire
  • Jack Morris
  • Dale Murphy
  • Jesse Orosco
  • Dave Parker
  • Dan Plesac
  • Tim Raines
  • Jim Rice
  • Lee Smith
  • Alan Trammell
  • Greg Vaughn
  • Mo Vaughn
  • Matt Williams
  • Who you got?

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    Tonight at midnight, some of your favorite baseball players might turn into pumpkins! Or not really, they'll either be dismissed as worthless by your favorite team or offered a miserly salary that is less a living wage and more like a slap in the face. It's a win-win situation for baseball teams and a lose-lose situation for players in today's dismal economy.

    The good people at Elias rank free agents every offseason based on things like "statistics" and "production" and "propensity to not suck". The top tier of free agent players (like Mark Teixeira) get labeled "Type A" while the second tier of players (like Jason Giambi) get labeled "Type B" and are branded with a cattle iron in the shape of a sad face. USA Today published a full list of rankings (here's the AL, here's the NL). The free agents are listed in bold. What, Juan Uribe is only Type B? I'm shocked!

    So teams have until tonight to make a semi-serious offer to their free agents, or else they won't be properly compensated when another team swoops in and signs that player away. They'll be giving up two first round picks for each Type A free agent they fail to make an offer to and one sandwich pick between the first and second round for each Type B free agent who gets voted off the island. But it's complicated, because teams don't want to simply make any old offer to any old player, because what if (gasp) they accept!

    That's why Anaheim let 58-year-old outfielder and lifetime Angel Garret Anderson walk away without an offer. They declined a $14 million option on him for 2009 and gave him a $3 million buyout. But to offer arbitration and to have him accept, the Angels would have had to pay far more for a player on his career decline, so they cut ties. Also, they already have twelve other outfielders and are probably going after Manny Ramirez. Garret Anderson, another victim of redundancy in the workplace and today's economic strife! In response, Anderson hired Scott Boras and will probably get 5 years and $75 million from the Astros.

    Of course, the Angels will make a below-market offer to Teixeira; he'll easily get far more on the open market and the Angels will get their compensatory draft picks which they will probably waste in a swap for a mediocre middle infielder sometime before 2009's trade deadline. It's the circle of life, people. Some other free agents may actually accept their team's arbitration offers because the economy is in the shitter and they'd rather wait another year before cashing in. Buy low, sell high works for people, too.

    So don't expect the Yankees to offer arbitration to Pudge Rodriguez, don't expect the White Sox to offer arbitration to Ken Griffey, and don't expect the A's to offer arbitration to Frank Thomas. Wait a minute...Pudge, Griffey, and Frank Thomas? What year is this, 1997?

    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

    • Red Sox Sign Japanese Craig Hansen, American Craig Hansen Visits Pittsburgh Sushi Joint: Pending the necessary physical, Boston signed Japanese prospect Junichi Tazawa to a 3-year, three million dollar major league contract and thrust him onto the happiest 40-man roster in all the land. Japanese baseball officials are very angry that Tazawa skipped out on the NPB draft; in retaliation, they are going to murder Bobby Valentine's housepets.

    • Roy Oswalt is Lonely in Houston, Seeks Single White Righthander for Companionship: Well tough shit, Oswalt, because Ben Sheets is married. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo is a rumormonger, and the latest rumor he's mongering says that Roy Oswalt is trying to recruit his pal Ben Sheets, the free agent righty with an injury history longer than Ovid's Metamorphoses, to come pitch for the Astros. Tough shit, Oswalt. Ed Wade pushed all his chips to the middle of the table on Miguel Tejada and a case of Miller Chill.

    • Baseball Blogger Plays Race Card, Momentarily Forgets He Was Playing Old Maid: Gregg Kenny Doyle of Dugout Central thinks the Braves should sign free agent pitcher CC Sabathia because CC is black and folks in Atlanta are black, too. As evidence, he cites the fact that the Falcons sold out games for five straight years when Michael Vick was the team's starting quarterback. In related news, a blogger in Cleveland is trying to persuade the Indians to sign Sabathia because he is slovenly and overweight.

    • Orioles May Be Third Team in Peavy Sweepstakes, Every Single Orioles Fan May Be Third Person In Plot to Assassinate Angelos: Baltimore has been chit-chatting with the Cubs about outfielder Felix Pie, fueling speculation that the O's may be the alleged third team in the Jake-Peavy-to-the-Cubs trade. The O's would get Pie and send young pitcher Garrett Olson to the Cubs, who would send Olson on to the Padres for Peavy. Unhappy with this possible trade? Don't get your nuts in a knot.

    • Cancel Your Plans, Dolores. The Arbitration Deadline is Tonight!: Tonight at midnight Eastern Standard Time, the MLB arbitration deadline will fall on the 30 major league teams like a guillotine, cutting off any chances of reconciliation with their castoff free agents and also eliminating any hopes that compensatory draft picks that come along to replace the departed. Notable free agents who have yet to hear from their former teams: Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Edgar Renteria, and that chick who played Raymond.