December 2009 Archives

Holiday Questions

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Hey kids, Happy Christmas, war aint over.

Finally, IS there anything more heartwarming than a Christmas card? This year I got one from Curt Schilling. Well, it isn't a Christmas card so much as letter telling me that I'm an idiot for my infocap about Randy Johnson where I mentioned him. To wit:

Kris,

Feelings about me aside, as it's clear you have an opinion of me already, I grew up in Arizona, I loved living and playing there. I 'left' Arizona because after they signed Gonzo to an extension they told me they needed to cut payroll and my contract was how they intended on doing it. I had zero desire to leave there and would have gladly finished my career there.

Curt

So, there you go. I just put that in my pipe and smoked it. I always thought they misspent that money on Gonzo and would have been better off signing Fozzie to a long term deal.

When we return on Jan. 4 it'll be a new decade for whatever that's worth (not much) and Bobby Bowden won't be the coach of Florida State (which no one here cares about but me because this is a baseball blog for people from Boston, New York and Philadelphia). In other words, things'll be pretty much the same. We'll see you then, friends. Happy New Year.

infocaps.jpgThe imminent end of this decade has already been fodder for about 10,000 blog posts, magazine articles and TV shows. Well, far be it from Walkoff Wallk to let an easy angle like that pass us by. Starting yesterday and running through tomorry, we're presenting The Walkoff Walk End Of Decade Personality Compendium Infocaps.

Divided alphabetically between Kris, Rob and Drew, the Infocaps are our choices for the member of each organization who most defined them during this decade. Often it's the best player, but not always. We hope to inspire reflection, debate and stick a finger in your sister's eye for selecting The 25th Hour as her favorite movie of the decade. Ooohhhh, it captured the zeitgeist of post-9/11 New York. Richie Tenenbaum is unimpressed.

On with the listicle:

Philadelphia Phillies: Jimmy Rollins.

He certainly wasn't the best Phillie over the last decade, but he's certainly been the most visible. Winning questionably deserved MVP awards, talking glorious amounts of trash, and appealing to our basest instincts by teasing and taunting the Mets into a full-blooded feud, Jimmy Rollins serves as the face of the Phillies. His offensive emergence coincided with the teams ascent to their current World Series shoe-in status. (So did the arrival of Utley and Howard but hush.)

Runners-up: Pat Burrell, The Phanatic, Jared from Subway.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Green Hitters Backdrop at PNC Park.

Pity the poor backdrop at PNC. Unable to soak in the gorgeous views of Pittsburgh's rivers and bridges, instead overseeing 10 years of abject baseball and row upon row of empty seats. Forced to watch Jason Bay kick the ball around just to his right and Craig Wilson's mullet flutter in the wind. But there's hope for our friend the green backdrop! Now the great and wondrous Andrew McCutchen marshals the area at his feet. Perhaps the next decade will treat his green skin with a little more kindness.

Runners-up: Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, the Primanti Brothers

San Diego Padres: Trevor Hoffman

What can I say about the all-time accumulator of one of sports most meaningless stats playing in one of the most indifferent markets in the league? The Padres started off the decade poorly, peaked in the middle, then finished off with a flourish of mediocrity. Hoffman was there nearly each step of the way, picking up saves and blasting his quads. Until his team needed him to nail down a save in extra innings of rare a one-game playoff, of course.

Runners-up: Brian Giles greasy skin, Tony Gwynn's stretched skin, skinless fish tacos.

San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds.

Whether you think he's an asshole or merely a prick, Barry Bonds mastery of hitting baseballs is not up for debate. The word "porn" gets attached to everything on these here interwebs and rarely does it apply. Looking over Bonds' decade numbers makes me feel dirty and titillated in a way I didn't think anything tentacle-free could. From Big League Stew's own decade listicle, Bonds posted a .517 on base percentage for the decade. A 221 OPS+ for the decade. He slugged .714 for the decade. Bonds was intentionally walked 120 times &mdash in 2004, the same season he posted a 1.422 OPS.

Runners-up: Tim Lincecum, Jeff Kent, Orlando Cabrera, the guy in the kayak, Brian Sabean's shrink.

Seattle Mariners: Ichiro!

Safe to say this was a slam dunk. Not a normal, powerful slam dunk. The kind of dunk where you're running away from the rim and kind of knock it in sideways. It may look and feel like cheating. Ichiro hails from the land hyperbole forgot. His accomplishments are many, his detractors are few. (but vocal!) He's a baseball singularity and we're all better people for it.

Runners-up: Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik & Bill Bavasi as different sides of the same coin.

St Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols.

Speaking of slam dunks. Probably the best player in all of baseball over this time. I would list his eye-popping stats or his admirable work within the community here but I don't want this post to delve into NSFW territory so I'll keep the spitting in the ocean to a minimum.

Runners-up: Rick Ankiel, Scott Rolen, Orlando Cabrera.

Tampa Bay Rays: Carl Crawford.

The urge to award this Rocco Baldelli is understandably strong but I held off because Rocco's story is a tragic one while the Rays are mostly just pathetic. Mismanaged for nearly their entire lifespan, the Rays showed signs of life at the end of the decade with a surprise World Series berth. CC is one of the most talented players in baseball, showcasing all 5 tools as well as a neck tattoo scary enough to ensure he'll never court the blue haired Snowbird the owner of every team in Florida swears will fill the taxpayer-funded building he extorts from the local electorate.

Runners-up: Rocco Baldelli, Greg Vaughn, a thousand unsold tickets.

Texas Rangers: Alex Rodriguez

Because Michael Young is the kind of decent hitter that adds zero value. Because the ownership group of Tom Hicks and friends failed to realize paying A-Rod his endless riches meant Rick Helling ends up pitching 200 innings. Because his deal turned into Alfonso Soriano plus cash which turned into Armando Galarraga, Terrmel Sledge and Brad Wilkerson. Just Because.

Runners-up: Michael Young, Rafael Palmerio, Nolan Ryan's bucket of chaw

Toronto Blue Jays: Roy Halladay.

No matter how hard he tried, it wasn't until Roy Halladay was on his way OUT of Toronto that anybody gave a damn. A throwback to another era, the ultimate workman toiling away futilely against forces far beyond his control. The ballplayer we all want on our team, the quiet statesman we all wish would actually say something.

Runners-up: Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells, a fart in the wind.

Washington Nationals: Youppi.

After soullessly jobbing the people of Montreal out of their team and soullessly plopping them into RFK and building a sleek 21st century ballpark that nary a soul dare enter, the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos need to reflect on something soulful and good, rather than obese and mercinary. Youppi is all that is right with the world, and the empty $600 seats-for-lobbyists behind home plate point to what's wrong. Go on Youppi, shake your moneymaker for a moneyloser.

Runner-ups: A Zimmerman or Zimmermen, Adam Dunn, Jim Bowden.

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The imminent end of this decade has already been fodder for about 10,000 blog posts, magazine articles and TV shows. Well, far be it from Walkoff Wallk to let an easy angle like that pass us by. Starting yesterday and running through tomorry, we're presenting The Walkoff Walk End Of Decade Personality Compendium Infocaps.

Divided alphabetically between Kris, Rob and Drew, the Infocaps are our choices for the member of each organization who most defined them during this decade. Often it's the best player, but not always. We hope to inspire reflection, debate and stick a finger in your sister's eye for that horrid Best Twee Bands of the Decade blogpost she did.

On with the listicle:

Florida Marlins: Jeffrey Loria
A glorified art history dimwit, Loria is is probably more responsible for the disappearance of baseball in Montreal than he is deserving of credit of the Marlins' 2003 World Series win in just his second year of owning the team. Jeff took over the Miami franchise in 2002 and immediately began greasing palms and begging city officials to build him a cheesy new ballpark, which the taxpayers are currently building for him. While the Marlins have had some very talented hitters and pitchers in the 2000s, Loria's skinflint payroll has kept the team from hanging on to the players and succeeding as a team.

Runners-up: Miguel Cabrera, Jeff Conine, Owen Wilson,

Houston Astros: Lance Berkman
The hefty Houston first baseman smacked over 300 homers, collected over 1000 RBI, and posted a 148 OPS+ in the aughts to go along with his five All Star appearances in Albert Pujols' ginormous shadow, all while proselytizing for Christ to whomever will listen. Claims that his proper nickname is "The Big Puma" but any schmuck knows that only a doofus chooses his own nickname. You'll always be "Fat Elvis" to us, chubs.

Runners-up: Jesus, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt

Kansas City Royals: The Royalblogosphere
No other franchise has experienced such a dichotomy between the team on the field and the folks who write about 'em. Kansas City has spent the 2000s putting together overpriced and undertalented teams and having those players fall flat on their faces in an otherwise easy division. Meanwhile, their most ardent fans in the newspapers and baseballblogosphere posit some of the smartest ideas and write some of the most interesting columns. Rob Neyer, Rany Jazayerli, and Joe Posnanski (technically an Indians fan but he covered the Royals) could have done a far better job of assembling a successful team than GMs Dayton Moore and Allan Baird but, well, the Royals were so turned off by outside criticism that they banned Jazayerli from the ballpark.

Runners-up: David DeJesus, Yuniesky Betancat, Joe Randa

Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim: Troy Glaus
History has not been kind to the oft-injured third baseman but let's not forget how well he played for the Angels in the first half of the decade. Fella popped 150+ HR, 400+ RBI and a sexy 130 OPS+ in his last five years in Anaheim while playing a somewhat adventurous third base. His performance in the 2002 playoffs was notable: seven homers including three in the World Series; he was named the series MVP. A shoulder injury ended his Angels career after the 2004 season and he ended up playing shortstop for the Blue Jays and being named in the Mitchell Report. Guess which event was more disappointing.

Runners-up: Orlando Cabrera, Rally Monkey, Tim Salmon, John Lackey

Los Angeles Dodgers: Juan Pierre
Okay, so he only played one full season as the Dodgers starting center fielder, but with a $44 million contract, don't you think it should have been a bit more? Unfortunately, he got bumped out of center by Andruw Jones and then bumped out of left by Manny Ramirez, making the $44 million seem like a ridiculous amount of dough to waste on a fourth outfielder. But the 2000s will always be remembered as a failed decade for the Dodgers; they barely sniffed the World Series and fans can point a crooked finger at G.M. Ned Colletti for poor free agent deals with players like Pierre, Jones ($36 million) and Creampuff extraordinaire Jason Schmidt ($47 million). So consider Juan Pierre to be an easy target for my anti-Colletti sentiments, not unlike how Tommy Lasorda's Tweets are an easy target for, well, for my anti-Tommy Lasorda sentiments.

Runners-up: Eric Karros, Manny Ramirez, Jeff Kent

Milwaukee Brewers: Prince Fielder
Big Fella collected 158 tater tots and 443 RBI in just four full years as the Brewers starting first basegentleman, good for a 141 OPS+. Like Lance Berkman, he's been in Albert Pujols' shadow as a power-hitting 1B in the NL Central, but unlike Berkman, he's put up one of his franchise's best individual seasons in history. Look, Milwaukee might trade Prince tomorrow and all this will be for naught, but Fielder is on his way to being one of the Brewers' all time players, up there with Gorman Thomas and Robin Yount. The question is: will his career follow the Eddie Murray mold and continue to be productive or will his career follow the Cecil Fielder mold and find him passed out drunk on a casino floor at age 36?

Runners-up: CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Orlando Cabrera

Minnesota Twins: Johan Santana
It's not Johan's fault the Twins traded him to the Mets and it's not Johan's fault they didn't get much back in return. It is Santana's fault that a lot of Minnesota folk are sad now knowing that their franchise's best pitcher fled town before he could even record his 100th win. Still, with two Cy Young awards and 1300+ strikeouts (including 983 in his final four years) for the team, Johan Santana wins this one in a walk. Maybe if he'd been a starter and not a reliever in the 2002 playoffs, the Twins might have taken out the Angels in the ALCS and changed the course of history.

Runners-up: Corey Koskie, Joe Mauer, their seamstress, Orlando Cabrera

New York Mets: David Wright
Hits for power, hits for average, draws walks, snags grounders with aplomb, and personifies a franchise that is chockful of schadenfreude. In 2006, Wright signed a $55 million contract extension but flopped in the NLCS against the Cardinals. In 2007, Wright finished fourth in the MVP voting and hit .352 with 6 homers in September as the team folded and blew their huge lead. In 2008, Wright hit .340 with 6 homers in September as the team folded again, missing out on the Wild Card by one measly game. In 2009, Wright exemplified the Mets' inability to smack dongs in their brand new ballpark, collecting just 5 homers at CitiField as opposed to 21 in his final year at Shea. Most importantly, he is a style trendsetter. Yowza!

Runners-up: Mike Piazza, Bobby Valentine, this sad Mets fan

New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez
Because you seemingly cannot personify a New York team without an angst-filled third baseman, I suppose. At least this one closed the decade properly.

Runners-up: Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter, Joe Torre, Mike Mussina

Oakland Athletics: Billy Beane
Billy Beane wrote a book about statistics and then built a baseball team that would succeed in the regular season and fall flat on its face in the postseason and then married a computer and had bionic babies and then came out of the closet and signed Coco Crisp. All in all, it's been a very full decade for Beane, full of as much praise for his smart ideas as there was misinformation about his methods. Make no mistake: Beane was the first dude to find inefficiencies in a money-driven player market and exploit the heck out of 'em while the big boys wasted money on the Juan Gonzalezes and Albert Belles of the world. It was never specifically about high-OBP guys or left handed pitchers who threw a screwball or Scott Hatteberg; it was a system that espoused all of these things and worked...at least until the postseason..

Runners-up: Eric Chavez, Orlando Cabrera, Jason Giambi, HudMulZit

Tomorrow: the conclusion of the Infocaps by the one and only Drew Fairservice.

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As per Mark Feinsand on Twitter, the Yankees and Braves have decided to exchange some players under contract to one another as is the accepted practice among professional baseball teams in the Modern Era. New York will send center fielder Melky Cabrera, pitcher Mike Dunn, and a PTBNL to Atlanta and get back their former employee, starting pitcher Javy Vazquez, and reliever Boone Logan.

Vazquez was a Yankee for one year back in 2004 and even made the All Star team, but was sent to Arizona after he folded in the playoffs and after team owner George Steinbrenner lusted after Randy Johnson. Interestingly enough, Vazquez originally came to the team when New York traded away Nick Johnson, whom the Yankees acquired last week. Vazquez was the Braves ace last year but will slot into the #2 spot for the Yankees, because he's probably less inconsistent than that redneck A.J. Burnett.

Melky Cabrera, 25, lost the starting CF job to Brett Gardner last season but won it back after Gardner's slow start. He's a better fielder than the Braves current guy in center, Nate McLouth, and probably not a good enough hitter to play a corner OF spot. But who knows where the Braves will pencil him in.

Let it be known that this guy (points to self) would rather have dismissed Nick Swisher, who cannot field his position, run the bases, or dress like a grown-up. But hey, Vazquez strikes out batters like it's his job (note: it is his job) so as a Yankees fan, I am pleased.



Mike Massarolli, a ten-year-old Mets fan from Staten Island (he must be ten, look at that horrid wallpaper), does not want Omar Minaya to sign free agent catcher Bengie Molina and decided to express his thoughts via the most ancient of all devices: the lilting human voice, unaccompanied by instruments. It's come to the point that if you want to get your point across in the increasing blather of the baseballblogosphere, you need to sing it like an aspiring American Idol idiot.

Listen, pal, if you want Omar to listen to your advice, can we at least get some verse-chorus-verse?

(via the good folks at Can't Stop the Bleeding)

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The imminent end of this decade has already been fodder for about 10,000 blog posts, magazine articles and TV shows. Well, far be it from Walkoff Wallk to let an easy angle like that pass us by. Starting today and running through Wednesday, we're presenting The Walkoff Walk End Of Decade Personality Compendium Infocaps. Divided alphabetically between Kris, Rob and Drew, the Infocaps are our choices for the member of each organization who most defined them during this decade. Often it's the best player, but not always. We hope to inspire reflection, debate and monster pageviews, lady.

Atlanta Braves: Chipper Jones
The Braves' Bobby Cox Era spans the entirety of two decades and will be defined historically by starting pitching and playoff disappointment. Funny then, that their defining personality for The Aughts is OF/3B, Larry "Chipper"Jones. One of the finest hitters of any team in this decade and one of the finest switch hitters in the history of the game, Jones hit 25+ HRs in all but two seasons and OPS'd over 1.000 4 times. Like a lot of good things from the South, Chipper's greatness seems underappreciated nationwide. The decade he dominated like few others saw him make only 3 All Star teams.

Runners Up: Bobby Cox, Smolmadglav

Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson
The World Series Champion 2001 Diamondbacks are remembered for helping the terrorists beat the Yankees and for their 1-2 aces at the top of their rotation. But whereas Curt Schilling treated Arizona like a desert holiday before moving on to a market where he could get more airtime, Johnson made the team his home and, in my mind, will be a Diamondback even more than a Mariner. Excepting his injury plagued 2003, his numbers from 2000-2004 are astounding. He flirted with 400 Ks, won 3 CONSECUTIVE CY YOUNGS, then finished 2nd in the voting in 2004. His two years in New York were forgettable, painting him (unfairly) as a sort of Anti-Schilling, but he returned to Arizona for two more seasons of spotty health that STILL saw him strike out more than 10K/9IP.

Runners Up: Luis Gonzalez, The Guy Who Cleans The Stadium Pool... Look That Stadium Has A Pool!

Baltimore Orioles: Albert Belle
I know I know, Albert only played one season for the O's and it was in 2000. But did you realize that the Orioles paid $50M to Belle for 144 games and 23 HR? Orioles fans have been a whiny lot, what with their walkouts and incessant griping about Peter Angelos, but this move set the tone for an entire decade of mismanagement and lousy spending.

Runners Up: Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada, Boog Powell

Boston Red Sox: Theo Epstein/Manny Ramirez (tie)
The team that authored baseball's defining story of the decade benefited from tons of media coverage and thus had plenty of memorable characters. But, with two World Series titles they also had plenty of talent. Success came to Boston by uprooting an entire culture of stubborn and vehemently traditionalist baseball thinking and woe-is-us Eeyorism. The hiring of 28 year old Theo Epstein and the injection of fresh logic that it brought remains one of the boldest front office moves the sport has seen. The bridge that linked the Sad Old Sox and the New Sox also happened to be their best hitter. Despite his all world numbers Manny Ramirez and his 10 year deal were the glaring exception to Epstein's vision of the franchise and as such, for 4 straight years the Red Sox would have given up one of baseball's all time great hitters for just about nothing. That push/pull came to a head with the 2008 soap opera that led to Manny's move to LA. With the exception of the two titles, there wasn't a bigger story out of Fenway this decade.

Runners Up: David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Daubach, Orlando Cabrera

Chicago Cubs: Mark Prior
While I was tempted to praise Derrek Lee for 5 years of fantastic hitting and solid glovework, the Cubs' decade is defined by heartbreak, and no one player epitomizes that better than Mark Prior. The can't miss kid from USC exceeded his lofty expectations in his first two seasons of 02-03 and looked like a perennial Cy candidate in the making. He struck out everybody and didn't walk many (245 to 50 in 211 IP in 2003) and was physically imposing. Until he became a physical wreck. He devolved into Creampuffery with tragic speed and despite being only 29 as I write this, hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since 2006. If you feel like Cubs fans complain more about what happens off the field than on it, well this is one you can't argue with.

Runners Up: Derrek Lee, Kerry Wood, Steve Ba...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Chicago White Sox: Mark Buehrle
Mark Buerhle made his MLB debut with the White Sox in 2000 and threw a no hitter with the same team in 2009. Along the way he's pitched at least 200 innings in every single season and threw a CG shutout in his only start during Chicago's World Series sweep of the Astros That's about as complete a resume as you can have for this exercise. Who were you gonna pick, that loudmouth Ozzie Guillen?

Runners Up: Ozzie Guillen, Frank Thomas, Steve Perry, Orlando Cabrera

Cleveland Indians: CC Sabathia/Cliff Lee (tie)
Earlier in the decade, Cleveland was flush with these two All Star caliber lefthanded starters and the conversation was mainly about who would be better. Sabathia debuted at 20 but had a couple middling years showing glimmers of promise before finally finding his control in 2006 and winning the Cy Young in 2007. Lee fell as far as a demotion to the minors in 2007 before his switch got flipped and he won the Cy in 2008. Despite being only the 3rd team in 30 years to have different guys win back to back, the Indians couldn't do anything else right and had to trade them both away. That sums up the decade at Jacogressive Field pretty neatly.

Runners Up: Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Orlando Cabrera

Cincinnati Reds:
All you need to know about the Reds' decade was that I considered Aaron Harang for this spot. Adam Dunn was pretty good, but I'm just gonna post this old video and move on. REDS FANS HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?


Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton
The Toddfather wins this one going away. On a team littered with a history of immense offensive seasons from mediocre players, Helton left no doubt that he would have been the best hitter on nearly any team in baseball. 5 times this decade he had 30+ HRs, netting 40+ twice. He's also the active leader in career OBP and 12th all time. Park factors be damned on that stat.

Runners Up: Matt Holiday, Denny Neagle

Detroit Tigers: Dave Dombrowski
No franchise had a bigger wholesale turnaround in the deacde than the Detroit Tigers. A span of just 4 years separated the historically inept, 106 loss 2002 team from the 2006 AL Championship team, a transformation led by Dombrowski as both President and GM. He brought my old pal Jim Leyland out of retirement, acquired numerous big bats (regardless of their final totals) and has made the Tigers a fixture in the topsy turvy 3 way daisy chain that comprises the top of the AL Central. Even with some recent disappointments they're a far cry from where they were 7 years ago and a beacon of hope for miserable franchises across the land from Pittsburgh all the way to Kansas City.

Runners Up: Tilde, Binge, Tigers Fans That Make Up Silly Nicknames, Orlando Cabrera

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The always excellent Wezen-Ball has a post about an interview the Weekly World News did with Babe Ruth in January 2005 about steroids (Babe's against them), Ruth's called shot (he was just hung over and blocking the sub from his eyes) and the real reason Lou Gehrig was called the Iron Horse (take a guess).

But it seems to me the WWN gets the whole "Curse of the Bambino" thing more right than most people.

Q: Finally, Babe, I want to ask you about the curse of the Bambino. Did you really put a curse on the Red Sox after owner Harry Frazee sold you to the Yankees?

BABE: Glad you asked. I never put a curse on the Red Sox. I was happy to get out of that town. You have no idea what it was like for me, the Great Bambino, to be playing there. Why, they rolled the sidewalks up at night in that city. You couldn't buy a drink on Sunday, and as for partying, those uptight New Englanders are really a bunch of stiffs. In my day, it was a very conservative place. I hear that it's gotten very liberal there now, what with men marrying men, and women marrying women. The next thing you know, they'll have broads on men's teams. That ought to make shower time real popular.

Somewhat topical Massachusetts gay marriage reference, Babe Ruth! What I like, though, is how he replies to the question of the "Curse of the Bambino" with the same reaction any normal person should have: Why the hell would Babe Ruth hate the Red Sox? He got to move to New York and become the most famous baseball player of all time!

Here's a little scoop for you guys, exclusive to Walkoff Walk: The Weekly World News makes up its interviews. (Also, pro wrestling's outcomes are predetermined.) But who knew the place was full of such sensible sports analysts? Just another reason to lament the loss of this great institution.

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The Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Theo Epstein...

What looked like another smooth move for the Boston Red Sox has hit a major hindrance. The team was all set to unload the overpaid Mike Lowell to the Rangers, but were informed just yesterday that the deal is off because Lowell has an ouchie in his handspot.

Mike Lowell will have surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb and need six to eight weeks to recover, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The diagnosis negates--or at least postpones indefinitely--a trade that would have sent the 2007 World Series MVP to the Texas Rangers.

...

Lowell is owed $12 million in 2010, the final season of a $37.5 million, three-year contract, and the Red Sox had agreed to pay as much as $9 million of it.

What's up, deal-killing creampuff? In truth, there's nothing to say this deal still can't happen, but it could definitely be axed for good if the Rangers, who are on a limited budget, pursue a free-agent option in that same 6-8 weeks to achieve short-term peace of mind. More importantly though, this might officially put the skids on any potential Adrian Gonzalez trade.

Agents, Players Could Use A Lesson In Economics

Both Joe Urbon (Jason Bay's agent) and Scott Boras (Johnny Damon's agent) apparently realized a bit too late that teams actually are affected by such things as the Xxxxxtreme Recession. Scott Boras being greedy and overzealous? Oh say it ain't so! As a result of these agents' overvaluation of their clients, the two left-fielders currently have no home.

Do you expect a team to eventually cave to either of these player's demands, or do you think that the organizations will win the "hostage situation" and attain the players' valuable services at a nice discount rate?

Your Weekend Writer Still Needs Your Help!

Remember this post? You probably do because that vauge link suckered you into a click. As it turns out I'm still looking for slave labor volunteers to put together a list of players who finished low in MVP races despite having strong WARs. If we can find enough undervalued guys, I was going to do a followup post on this here blog, tentative title: "WAR, What Is It Good For". If you had a player in mind, just leave his name in the comments of the afore-linked post. Thanks!

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Clever WoWies, I think it's high time we, as fans of baseball who appreciate nice, simple things, come up with a nickname for the Mariners GM. This would accomplish two things. First, it would probably save us the trouble of learning how to spell his last name whenever we talk about him. Going hand in hand with this first objective, is the fact that we probably should be talking about him quite a bit, because over the last two years it has become readily apparent the guy knows how to run a good organization.

He's been indirectly lauded through two pieces about players in whom Zduriencik recognized value where others did not. This, when coupled with his bonanza of offseason activity in recent days, including acquiring a Cy Young winner for a song, and fixing one of Bill Bavasi's biggest mistakes while landing a bat that could still have an impact if used properly, reveals that Zduriencik is not one to sit on his hands and hope for the Angels' egregious amount of Pythagorean record luck to run out. Rather, he's out to get them, and has already positioned his team as not only the favorite in the AL West but also the hearts and minds of adventurous gamblers.

Should we be surprised by all the outpouring of love for the M's front-office man? In truth, no. In digging around Wikipedia (WHICH DESPITE WHAT MY PROFESSORS SAY IS NEVER WRONG, EVER), I discovered some things I hadn't known before. Namely, the man's baseball experience is extensive to say the least. The Mariners are his fifth team, and he has had success in a plethora of different roles around Major League Baseball as a scout and executive. He owns the distinction of being both the first (and only) man to win the Executive of the Year award (in 2007) without being a GM, and he is also the first person in baseball history who was apparently not adversely affected by an affiliation with the Mets. In short, if anybody knows baseball, it would probably be this guy.

He deserves a nickname, and we're going to give it to him. Just look at him, momma always told me never to mess with a bald guy who wears glasses for a reason, I suppose. Let's give this guy a place in HTML history that will remembered forever and ever.

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This one's been stewing for a bit today, but Geoff Baker makes it official: the Mariners are sending pitcher Carlos Silva and $9 million in cash to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Milton Bradley, pending approval by the Commissioner's office. Ponder that for a second. The Mariners added a high OBP, high risk, high reward, high emotion guy and all they had to do was shed one of the worst pitchers in baseball with one of the worst contracts in pro sports and some cash?

Silva will "replace" Rich Harden in the Cubs rotation, unless the team decides it'd be better off resurrecting Fergie Jenkins' bloated body and propping him up on the pitchers mound once every five days. Either way, right?

Bradley heads out from the insane atmosphere of the Second City into the bloggy world of Seattle baseball fandom. Instead of dealing with racist fans in the bleachers, he'll put up with nerds like Dave Cameron shouting things like, "Your wOBA is great!" and "That declining UZR/150 makes me think you ought to be a DH, sir!" at him. Either way, right?

The Mariners are still a couple bats short of a pennant contender, but if GM Jack Zduriencik can pull off some more magical trades with poorly-run teams like the Cubs, it might be high time to bet your 401(k) on the Mariners winning the West.



Here's hipster gourmand Joe Maddon doing a good deed and serving up some vittles at the local Salvation Army in Tampa. It's his annual Thanksmas event where he spreads Rays Fever, goodwill, and braising tips to folks in need. Good on ya, Mr. Maddon. If I send $20 to the Salvation Army, will you send me one of them neat aprons?

Let this be a reminder to you folks out there that hunger is still a yooge problem in these United States. If you can afford to do it, donate your money or your time to a food bank or soup kitchen this holiday season.

(via The St Petersburg Times)

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As per Yankees beat writer Ken Davidoff in the Tweetosphere, the Yankees will bring back fan favorite 1B/OF/DH Nick Johnson for a one-year stint, valued around $5.5 million. Johnson was a Yankee farmhand and played a big role on the 2002 division-winning team before missing half of '03 with ouchies and then getting traded to Montreal as part of the Javy Vazquez trade. Since that point, Nick has played exactly one full season in his shuffling around between Montreal, Washington, Miami, and the free clinic.

Johnson will assume the role of D.H. for the Yankees, but although it seems he's replacing Hideki Matsui on the defending World Champions, he's really filling the departed Johnny Damon's shoes as the #2 hitter in the lineup. Is this a good thing? Well, with a career OBP of .402, he'll outperform Damon in getting on base ahead of the big boppers, but since he hasn't posted a SLG over .431 since 2006, he might not be able to replicate Damon's pop, even as a lefty hitter in Yankee Stadium.

Also, Johnson strikes out more than 20% of his plate appearances, compared to just 12.5% of the time for Damon, and grounds into double plays at a high rate (14.3%). Damon was one of the league leaders in GIDP.

What does all of this mean? I have no idea, I just like to throw numbers and stats around as if I were some sort of sabermagician. I do know this much: folks in the Bronx were very sad when homegrown product Johnson went away and Jason Giambi assumed the role of mustachioed slugger. Still, this is a new New York Yankees team that is willing to let a fan favorite like Matsui walk away in favor of getting a cheaper and equally productive option. I think Brian Cashman is rolling the dice a bit with Johnson's health problems, but even if Nick can be half as productive as he was in his career season of 2006 (149 OPS+ in 628 PA!), he'll be worth the $5.5 million.

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Baseball is a fluid game. The fluid moves slowly like molasses, sure, and changes happen at a pace that would make the Catholic Church guffaw, but no other American professional sport takes as much care as baseball in making massive changes in the way the game is played. Most importantly, no other sport can look back 120 years and basically see nearly the same exact game played, except with more brown people.

One leader who has actually implemented some massive and important change is Commissioner-for-Life Bud Selig, whose reign of terror has included the welcome expansion of the playoffs and the wildly popular interleague play. At the ripe old age of 75, Herr Selig is not done tinkering with the National Pastime; on that note, he's assembling a brain trust of some of baseball's most important minds to come together and deal with some on-field issues:

The committee includes four managers, four former and present general managers, four owner representatives, MLB consultant and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, plus renowned columnist George Will.

"There will be no sacred cows," Selig said on a conference call. "We're open to talk about anything. I've had this in mind for a long time. This is a very blunt group. I want to sit there and listen. If there's anything we can do to improve this game I want to hear about it and discuss it. I will be guided by what this committee comes up with. I have that much respect for this group."

The group will take up such subjects as pace of game, umpiring, further extension of the use of instant replay and various rule changes, among others.

Among the participants are three Italian-American managers in Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, and Mike Scioscia, and ten other white guys over the age of 50 to go along with token minority and MLB representative Frank Robinson, who actually works directly for Selig. Absent from this on-field rules panel are any players or umpires, or the people who are actually, you know, on the field during baseball games. As per Maury Brown, Selig said he will be "getting back to the Players Association" on that point and that the panel was in its "genesis".

In its genesis? Heck, that sounds downright Edenic to me! Maybe Selig is waiting for Ryan Howard or Jeff Suppan or Ed Rapuano to bring the apples before he invites any players or umpires to the grown-up table. After all, if Selig and his cronies are going to attack the DH controversy or instant replay, you'd expect they'd want to hear some input from the folks who make their hay on the field, not in the dugout or the owner's box.

But on the other hand, what can this group accomplish? They have no power to actually make rule changes, just to share their irks with Selig himself. Scioscia is ticked off about the stretched-out playoffs schedule. No problem, Bud's already on that. La Russa wants to 86 the DH rule. Tough noogies, Tony, because the players would never allow that to happen; if anything, we'll see the designated hitter in both leagues before we ever see it disappear.

No, the most important task that this committee has is to address the pace of the game, and without the players or umpires in the room, they'd be more likely to convince China to reduce carbon output than implement rules to quicken Yankees-Red Sox games. The four things that extend games past a reasonable three hours are (a) batters calling time out (b) pitchers dawdling on the mound between pitches (c) Jorge Posada trotting out to conference with Joba Chamberlain and (d) TV commercials.

Bud simply cannot do anything about (d). He can, however, implement rules to fix (a) through (c). It's one thing to exclude the players who value their individual performances over a game's pace, but the umpires are absolutely in support of the quickening of baseball games. Especially when they have 10:30 dinner reservations at Patsy's! Umpires are preservationists of the unique nature of the game through execution of the rules and regulations; keeping games moving along maintains a sense of order and helps assert their well-deserved authority.

So please, Bud, invite some umpires and players to your sooper sekrit meeting. Be it union boss John Hirschbeck or jolly Country Joe West, be it the dreamy but boring Derek Jeter or that opinionated cow Curt Schilling, add some of your worker bees to the mix.

And while you're at it, Bud, open up the proceedings for us, your customers, to listen in and see what's going on. After all, you technically have no competition thanks to the sweet antitrust exemption from the government; the government is a representative of, and employed by, the people. We demand to know how that mush George Will wants to ruin our game.

Which players or umpires do you think Selig should add to his koffee klatch?

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It pains me to no end to compliment Boston's Boy Wonder of a GM, but when he goes out and follows my advice and signs the under-appreciated Mike Cameron, it's hard for me not to give credit where credit is due for an intelligent move. Now the only question is, can Theo Epstein follow through and improve his team even more?

As always, there are reports of the Red Sox being interested in Adrian Gonzalez. You'd have thought with all the interest they're expressing for A-Gon, that the deal would already be in place, but Theo is allegedly balking at the asking price of Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury. To the untrained eye, this hesitancy makes total sense. After all, while Buchholz is a bit more expendable because of the signing of John Lackey, Ellsbury had himself one heck of a year: .301 AVG, 114 wRC+ and 70 stolen bases. That isn't the type of player you part ways with on a routine basis, especially considering his age. And yet, Ellsbury only posted a 1.9 WAR last year, a result of some utterly horrendous defense.

Cameron on the other hand has boasted WAR above 4 each of the past two seasons, a more than adequate replacement for the departed Native American. Plus, the Red Sox would be getting Adrian Gonzalez, an often unheralded, yet supremely effective run producer during the latter years of this past decade. Cameron could serve as an adequate short term stop-gap while allowing the Red Sox to bolster their lineup and still have an effective defensive club in 2010. With players like David DeJesus and Carl Crawford entering their primes and looming in 2011 free agency, and with Josh Reddick among others regarded as a viable prospect for CF, the Sox could just as easily reload for the long term in the outfield and not ever have to to think twice about missing Jacoby Ellsbury.

So if you're Theo Epstein, do you pull the trigger on this supposed trade to get A-Gon?

oldequipment.jpgThe rise of prospect pr0n isn't new, it's just more refined. The nuggets of information and hype leak out and we fans are suddenly worked into foamy lathers at the thought of losing a Kyle Drabek or Casey Kelly.

Brief aside: Guess what? Even if Drabek turns out to be twice as good as he looks, he'll still only be half as good as Roy Halladay. At no point of his career will Kyle Drabak give the Phillies as good a shot to win the World Series as Roy Halladay gives them in 2010. Sorry, I had to say it.

No position is more prone to hyperbole and broken dreams than catcher. The "tools of ignorance" apparently goes for anyone projecting the most recent backstop stud as "CATCHER OF THE FUTURE!" A quick look at recent free agent catcher signings &mdash and the scornful comments they provoked &mdash makes it abundantly clear that the difference between COTF and catcher of the now is quite different. Any time signing John Buck and Ramon Castro (OBPs within whiskers of .300 in tow) rank as major catching coups, we can tell something just ain't right.

That Jason Kendall & Pudge Rodriquez signed deals worth more than $3 million bucks a year in the year 2009 and Rod Barajas and Bengie Molina are sought after commodities tells us all we need to know about the Catcher Of The Future phenomenon. More often than not, more often than any other position, the catcher of the future fizzles somewhere between AAA and the big show. Teams are so desperate to find the COTF that they demand a catcher when trading away star players, like the Royals did when dealing Carlos Beltran. The COTF they received? The recently non-tendered John Buck. If anything, the Catcher of The Future phenomenon accomplishes two tasks:

  1. Proves Joe Mauer and Matt Wieters are hyped for a reason and indicate we still don't appreciate them enough.

  2. Proves the de-generative impact of catching on the human body is far greater than we acknowledge.

I don't think there is any way for us to appreciate the ultimate impact on young backstops the grinding of cartilage and breaking of spirit the act of professional baseball catching entails. 10% of all baseball teams currently employ a Molina, so genetics play a big part, too. Players rocket through the minor league ranks only to stall before they reach the zenith. Does their talent simply dry up or does their body give out? We aren't (quite) at a point were the survival rate of catchers as they mature can accurately be projected. It's little wonder guys like Pudge and Kendall keep getting work. They have, like inner-city public school teachers, only two real skills: they're willing and they're breathing.

Unless you're lucky enough to be a fan of a select group of teams, you know all too well about COTF heartbreak. The quick riser with the power bat and quick feet suddenly disappears from view. Catchers exist within a strange universe of their own, with very unique expectations and basis for judgment. The rest of us watch as retreads and hold-overs float through town until the next great Catcher Of The Future appears on the horizon. THAT guy will be untouchable!

Image courtesy of Johnny Good Times dot com

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Boston made an orca splash yesterday morning when John Lackey was spotted at Logan Airport arriving for a physical in a move that just about no one had been talking about. All indications are that they'll sign Ol' Smiley to a rare-in-Boston 5 year deal right around 82 million, a deal almost exactly that of the one AJ Burnett received from the Yankees last year.

Part of the reason Lackey hadn't been mentioned much in these parts was due to Boston's perceived lack of offense and the troubles it caused for them down the stretch and in the playoffs. Lackey brings a similar "big game" mentality, pitch profile and somewhat balky injury history as current Sox righty Josh Beckett. Hence the Lackey move begs more questions than it answers. Namely, does this free up Boston to trade Clay Buchholz in a package for a big, nay, Adrian Gonzalez sized, bat this offseason, or does it give them more leeway to walk away from the table if Beckett's free agent negotiations spiral out of control next season?

My guess is probably both. I was nonplussed by the move at first, but a deeper look at the options it gives the team (my aversion to 5 year deals not withstanding) makes it look pretty savvy. Friend of WoW Brian MacPherson is right when he says this signing can't fully be judged until you see its fallout on the rest of the roster. He also called it over the summer.

I guess it's finally time for me to rescind this offer to Lackey. Let's be pals.

Boston wasn't done after the Lackey move and gave a 2 year deal to OF and WoWie favorite Mike Cameron. Cameron was all but handed Jason Bay's LF spot and the defensive upgrade from the move is yooge. It's a two year deal that give the Sox their best defensive OF in years and will drop 20+ homers into the order.

According to Dan Shaugnessy, Red Sox fans can finally stop their hand-wringing about a somnolent offseason. Of course, the thing to remember here, as always, is that most Sox fans that were "worried" about a lack of moves during the first week of December were mostly either talk radio goons or pure figments of Shaugnessy's brain. It's gotta be tough finding an angle in a measured front office which keeps it cards close to the vest, especially with him. So now thanks to Theo's Big Monday, CHB can call a resolution to a problem that he made up in the first place. Nice work if you can get it. I just wish someone else could.

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World Series MVPs are not like regular season MVPs; they are an expendable sort who just happened to have an exceptional streak in a short span of games in October. Sure, you have your franchise cornerstones like Paul Molitor, Derek Jeter, and Sandy Koufax who have won the award, but then you have your David Ecksteins, your Scott Brosiuses, and your Donn Clendenons who have taken home the award, only to find themselves off their respective teams within a couple years.

Add to that list the reigning Fall Classic MVP Hideki Matsui, who has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim, as per Tyler Kepner. The Angels gain a well-accomplished left-handed designated hitter with the knees of a 83-year-old and the Yankees lose one of their most popular players...at least when measured internationally.

Losing Matsui means more than losing a player with a very specific value with his bat; the Yankees franchise loses its biggest connection with the Japanese market. Add in the non-tendering of Taiwanese superstar Chien Ming Wang and the Yankees have taken a big hit in the Far East It's possible that they've sunk their teeth deep enough to leave a lasting impression, but still, the international flavor of the Yankees suffers when they lose such a unique player.

Matsui, 35, will replace Vladimir Guerrero, also 35, as the Angels' everyday DH. Guerrero's six-year stint in Anaheim is most likely D-U-N done with this signing. In those six seasons, the Angels finished in first place five times but only won two of seven postseason series, six of which were against the Red Sox or Yankees. Perhaps by importing one of the big Yankee bats, Mike Scioscia's boys can reverse that trend in 2010.

fish_011.gifNobody can ever accuse Ruben Amaro of being gun shy. A zillion reportstweets have Roy Halladay moving to the Phillies as part of a three-team blockbuster. Initial reports claim Cliff Lee would go to Seattle with the Jays receiving a small army of Rainiers, Diamond Jaxx, and AquaSox. Halladay and his agent were spotted in Philadelphia today, negotiating a contract extension the likely reason.

With stories circulating that Cliff Lee would not offer hometown discount when he hits the free agent market after 2010, the Phillies felt they needed to make a move. Halladay is a creature of habit who's focus is on winning rather than securing max money; the widely-held belief is Halladay will sign an extension at a lower dollar figure to stay in a place he's comfortable. Also, Roy Halladay is a massive upgrade over Cliff Lee because he's the best pitcher in baseball. There, I said it.

This Phillies get the finest of top-line starters, coming to an easier league with a contract already in hand. The Phils are primed and ready for another run at the World Series. The Mariners get the perfect piece for their ballpark (provided it's Lee. J.A. Happ/Cole Hamels are attached to the deal and would also fare well at Safeco.)

Roy Halladay pitched in zero post-season baseball games for the Toronto Blue Jays and was part of zero pennant drives. Yet Roy Halladay is, unequivocally, the greatest Blue Jays pitcher of all time. This deal figures to make the Blue Jays a very, very tough sell in 2010 and beyond, Even if the pieces coming back form the core of a very good team in a very short period of time; this will prove to be one of the more pivotal days in Blue Jays history.

Personally, this hit me like a brick in the center of my chest. I knew it was going to happen, I coat myself in a thick layer of detachment and laissez-faire at all times, yet the prospect of soldiering on without Roy Halladay is not an inviting one. This isn't about money or small-market tears. It's about a good team that took their shot and missed and now must start again. Without the face of their franchise. With Ricky effin Romaro as their Opening Day starter. It sucks. I'm not excited. Congrats to Phillies fans, you don't know how lucky you are. May the t-shirts fly off the virtual shelves.

Forget The MVP, 2009 King Of Baseball FINALLY Announced

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Over the weekend, one of sports' most prestigious awards was handed out. No not the Heisman, (suck it, Tebow) the 2009 King Of Baseball! Yes, the King Of Baseball that storied title given out every year since 1955, but that I hadn't heard of until an hour ago. This year's royal recipient was Astros Announcer Milo Hamilton. MLB.com points out that Hamilton joins past recipients like "former New York Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez, who won the award in 1986, and former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who won it in 2008." These two people are completely unrelated but may be the only two winners most people have actually heard of.

A complete list of winners didn't do much to inspire any recognition in me, but it does offer up some good aliases for checking into a hotel. Although, Hamilton is no slouch, and you better believe that aint his first sceptre. He's been in the booth for 64 YEARS! He's called ELEVEN no-hitters! He called Maris' 61st, Aaron's 715th and Bonds' 70th! LOOK AT THAT PICTURE (it's pretty much why this post exists)!

So yeah, Milo is totally deserving of such a lofty honor. But a title as cool as King Of Baseball really needs to start grabbing more of the limelight. We need household names, headline grabbers. Dude gets a cape, for crying outloud. Dmac and I came up with our own picks for King that would really turn some heads and get all the pundits talking about the newest heirs to this fictional kingdom.

I picked 2009 HoF inductee Rickey Henderson mostly because Rickey Henderson would also pick Rickey Henderson and it would be really funny next year when they had to pick someone else and Rickey wouldn't give up the outfit. I was at his induction ceremony this year, and the only way that speech could have been better was if he gave it from a throne. He would be the greatest King since Randy Savage.

DMac chose the cat that ran across the field at Royals game.

Who's your 2009 King?

all.star.76.title.jpg Whenever the hell he feels like it, Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie or TV show for Walkoff Walk. Today in Cinema Varitek: The awkwardly-titled All-Star '76 - Champions of Pride, a mini-movie narrated by Joe Garagiola about the 1976 All-Star Game, held in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

While most baseball media is spending the baseball offseason endlessly tweeting about where Roy Halladay is going to end up, MLB Network has been showing a bunch of old All-Star Games. The more recent affairs get the full-game treatment, with the only differences a few on-screen graphics and introductions from Hazel Mae.

But the older games? Well, maybe MLB doesn't have the complete footage anymore, because we are treated to condensed, half-hour mini-movies, like the one from the 1976 game. I watched the full 1996 All-Star Game (also from Veterans Stadium), and for my money the half-hour mini-movies are much more entertaining. I don't really need to see Ricky Botallico pitching a scoreless fifth inning. I'm not saying I necessarily want all my baseball highlight packages to be trippy 1970s affairs (as you'll see in a moment). Obviously, there's a place for both full game broadcasts and condensed specials. I just hope that, as we move forward, the condensed specials continue to be made.

You're probably wondering why I enjoyed Champions of Pride so much. Well, how about the weird giant Electric Company-style words that open the broadcast?

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Concentration! Power! Acclaim! Challenge! The old All-Star Games may not have had giant St. Louis Arch-shaped magnets, but they sure knew how to encapsulate the game in four words. If this isn't doing it for you, how about this dramatic re-telling of a Fred Lynn homer (the only run the AL got), also in the opening?

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For some reason the 1976 All-Star Game was apparently played with a comet instead of a baseball.



This week's Classic TV post features baseball legends Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams' introduction to the crowd and the both national anthems prior to the 1991 All Star game in Toronto. The duo make a grand entrance to the polite applause of 50 000 Canadians trying to determine which one is Maurice Richard and which one is Bobby Hull.

Bask in the glory of early 90s Canadian fashion, Jean Valjean performing the Star Spangled Banner in front of former President George H.W. Bush and his lantern jawed Canadian counterpart Brian "The Jet" Mulroney. Witness Canadian one-hit wonder Alannah Myles belting out O Canada while a still-cool Skydome struggles to encompass her hair.

The 1991 All Star roster features such luminaries as Danny Tartabull (pre-Seinfeld fame), Ivan Calderon (pre-disturbing gangland assassination), Bryan Harvey (pre-me forgetting who he was), and Wade Boggs (likely post-enough beer to fell a moose).

Canadian Cokes for Dave at Go Jays Go. He's got links to 5 more '91 All Star videos, including Tony LaRussa being booed by the Toronto fans and a neat interview with Williams and DiMaggio .

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If you were to tell me that Nick Swisher was about to make a cameo appearance on a primetime sitcom, I'd have wasted no time in guessing the horrid "How I Met Your Mother" on CBS. Swish is a total cheeseball doofus with bad taste in everything and yet he's bizarrely worshiped by Yankees fans; while HIMYM is a total cheeseball sitcom with bad jokes and yet it's bizarrely worshiped by spellbound TV viewers. It's a match made in hell!

And, well, this match is really happening. Swisher will guest star on an upcoming episode of HIMYM and he might be dragging teammate CC Sabathia along with him:

Word is, producers wrote a part for (Sabathia) too, and there's a strong possibility that he'll be stopping by McLaren's bar with his buddy Swisher.

The episode they're expected to cameo in -- titled "The Perfect Week" -- will probably air Feb. 1.

Swisher and Sabathia are supposedly putting a strain on Barney's infamous game, threatening to ruin his "perfect week" by distracting a potential female conquest.

Hahahah...yeah, wait...what? This is what passes for comedy nowadays? I liked HIMYM a lot better the first time I saw it, when it was called "Friends". Really, I don't expect much from Mr. Swisher but I'm personally embarrassed for Mr. Sabathia. He's got far too much taste and credibility and should be doing guest spots on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or Louis C.K.'s upcoming show.

At these Winter Meetings, Super Agent Scott Boras represents the creme de la meh of an otherwise unimpressive free agent class. Sluggers Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre, wealthy backup catcher Ivan Rodriguez, new Oriole Opening Day pitcher Kevin Millwood, and most importantly, latest Mariner whipping boy Corey Patterson are all Boras clients and have made news this week. Past Holliday and Beltre, there's not a ton of demand.

But does that increase or decrease his visibility and ability to make a scene? Just look at this video from Seattle beat blogger Geoff Baker:


You wouldn't see baseball writers and reporters get this a-tizzy over anything or anyone quite in the same way they hunt down Scott Boras for a bon mot. Well, unless Martha Stewart herself waltzed into the media room with a cardboard box full of In-N-Out burgers. Writers followed Boras through the Marriott lobby, up an staircase, and towards an open space on the second floor where more writers were waiting with gleeful anticipation.

Of course, Baker simply edited the video to show the vital Mariners bits in two quick minutes. But Boras held court for well over 30 minutes with a larger scrum than any other agent, manager, or hefty gadabout could procure. He's a star representing stars.

It doesn't matter what the economics of the day might be: Scott Boras is the alpha and omega of wheelings and dealings. In a bull market for players, he's driving salaries up and we want to read his quotes. In a bear market for players, he's still keeping salaries high and we still want to read his quotes. "How dare Boras demand so much money from those poor owners," we say and our intermediaries in the press get us our answers.

This year, Boras is selling Holliday as his number one client. Holliday is as good as Boras' big-time client from last year, Mark Teixeira, Boras claims. Holliday is better than Jason Bay, Holliday's main competition in the corner outfield market this year, Boras says. Holliday helped Albert Pujols be more Pujolian in the second half of '08, Boras states. I'd link my source here but there were so many columns and articles and tweets written about the topic that it makes my head spin trying to pick one out.

The Super Agent, he is ubiquitous. His thoughts and quotes encompass a hotel lobby and propagate out the door, through the ether, and into our collective consciousness. The writers are our go-betweens. They know who butters their toast. Boras is merely a part of a cycle of news that we desire and he'll continue to be first on everyone's dance card as long as he controls the information...and the best players in the biz.

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Well, the Seattle Mariners missed out on Curtis Granderson and probably won't be dipping into the Mike Cameron pool but that doesn't mean they'll miss out entirely on the athletic outfielder sweepstakes. As per emo-beatblogger Geoff Baker on the Tweetmachine, the M's have inked Walkoff Walk favorite Corey Patterson to a minor league deal and issued him a formal invite to attend spring training in Arizona.

Patterson, who has recently been a National, a Brewer, and a Fightin' Dusty, would join his fifth team in five years since being traded from the Cubs to the Orioles in 2006.

The Mariners have no need for a center fielder, a position that Patterson has played with aplomb in his career despite his inability to get on base with consistency, but have a tidy open spot and some room on the bench for a player like Corey: good glove, some power, good speed, and what I'm hearing is a penchant for sweeping up sunflower seeds.

Still, we implore you, Don Wakamatsu, whether it's the regular season or a spilt-squad March affair: Do not hit Corey Patterson leadoff.



As I note with a bit more substance in this post from that other dark corner of the Internet I usually hang out at while in my mom's basement, I am extremely enthused about Peter Gammons' move to the MLB Network. His Red Sox homerism aside, the move makes me reminisce of the glory days of Baseball Tonight before ESPN wholly jumped the shark with its baseball coverage. Gammons and Reynolds reunited? What shall a man do to celebrate? The above musical tribute, you say? Where did I leave my air guitar?!

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The rich just keep getting richer. The Yankees have acquired Tigers center fielder and erstwhile Big League Stew blogger Curtis Granderson in a three-way trade made possible by some bizarre moves by the enabling Diamondbacks. The Yankees will give up youngsters Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, and lefty reliever Phil Coke to get Granderson; the Diamondbacks will grab Edwin Jackson from the Tigers and send along pitchers Max Scherzer and Dan Schlereth to Detroit. All of this is as per the doughy angels hovering together in a nondescript hotel lobby in a flyover state. (financial deets here)

What does this all mean? Detroit is in deep rebuilding mode and can no longer afford to pay its stars since Magglio Ordonez' 2010 option kicked in. Johnny Damon's days in NYC are D-U-N done. The Diamondbacks are seemingly run by a dead retarded squirrel. But the most important aspect of the deal could affect the whole of baseball in an unexpectedly good way:

One of the most underrated talents is packing his suitcase and moving to the best team in the biggest city in the sport and, oh look!, he just so happens to be African-American. Add in new Yankee CC Sabathia and longtime shortstop Derek Jeter and you've got a 1-2-3 punch of African-American superstars up the middle in the most conspicuous market in baseball. In a sport where African American participation on the highest levels has decreased of late, having three of the best talents concentrated on one very high-profile team could be a boon to a rejuvenated interest in baseball in New York City, and not just the lily-white suburbs.

babytype.jpgCan you believe we're already through one day of winter meetings? I certainly cannot, because A) nothing happened yet B) the amount of 3G bandwidth consumed by the discussion of these nothings is dizzying.

Used to be the Winter Meetings were nothing more than a job fair and conference put together by minor league baseball with the big league GMs tagging along. After a few years some business gets done because there isn't anyone around to bother them and presto: media event. Not a media event as we see it now; just a way for the grimy grunts to get away from the wife after two months house arrest. Enjoy a couple rounds of "Punish the Peeler" at the local Romanian ballet and swap bullshit stories with the assistant to the traveling secretary about Reggie Jackson's contract demands. No big deal.

But now the 24 hour news cycle-beast needs feeding. So the Winter Meetings are a big deal (just like the Fall League), full of credentialed reporters hounding GMs to an uncomfortable extent. The emergence of Twitter not only swells any scintilla of a hint of a rumor into a full blown story &mdash complete with official denials &mdash in a matter of minutes, Twitter also provides a nice opportunity to tsk and tsk again. Even writing about twittering is a cottage industry unto itself; though its an awful precarious position to take when your website features nearly 50 posts during day one of the meetings, the longest of which checked in at 5 paragraphs.

That the beat guys are chasing any story around for in hopes of screaming FIRST like a mouth-breathing messageboard commenter is just sad. That GMs refuse to host press briefings in their own room for fear of writers staking it out to track who comes and goes is even worse. (If only Tiger Woods were so discreet. Topical!)

The whole thing plays out like a pathetic popularity contest. Writers want to break the story to get their chance at a Baseball Tonight segment. The Twitterverse stands poised to heap scorn on any and all moves (for example, I only learned of Ivan Rodriquez to the Nats through snarky "takes" on the Nationals decision making.) Writers "innocently" tweet tidbits of information with asides like "start the rumor mill!" Guess what friend, you just did.

Is this the nature of reporting in the digital age? Are fully trained and accredited journalists now flying by the seat of their pants, grasping at straws just like the bloggers they're so quick to denigrate? Is this a case of the market setting the standard? IS Twitter the US Weekly of sports journalism?

Probably not. As soon as the newspapers and wealthy benefactors realize, as Craig Calcaterra intimates above, they can't effectively capture revenue from the twitterfeed of a reporter in their employ; most speculation and innuendo will go under lock and key much like the very information itself. Through the looking glass we will be! Reporter pit against reporter, each one vying to leverage The Power of The Written Word into a 4% pageview increase to keep their editors at bay.

Perhaps CC and the Circle the Bases team are laying down a new template: overwhelm the RSS crowd with dozens of posts requiring new clicks each and every time. That'll certainly keep the impression rate up. Meanwhile the teams will issue such strict gag orders to keep instant outcry from queering every deal bigger than the Rule 5 draft. Until that time we're left to sift through the glut of information for a morsel of quality. That isn't better, frankly that is worse. Wake me when something actually happens.

Is Nolan Ryan Walking Out That Door A Winner?

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That headline applies only if Nolan Ryan walks out that door at all. For those of you who don't have your fingers on the BBQ stained pulse of Arlington Baseball, there's a touch of drama revolving around a potential new Rangers' ownership group and how it will handle the existing management structure. Current and oft vilified owner Tom Hicks would be downsizing his stake in the team (in order to retain any stake at all) by forging a new partnership with a dude named Dennis Gilbert. Gilbert had tried not only to purchase the Dodgers in '03, but also become their GM. Fears that he'd want that same front office partnership with the Rangers had reports saying that Ryan would be submitting his resignation as soon as the Hicks/Gilbert partnership went into effect.

At the moment, that partnership looks to be on the rocks which would put Ryan's departure on hold. But the rumors presented us with an opportunity to grade his stated objective of improving a Texas staff that has been maligned for... well, ever. He not so subtly intimated that he was less concerned with pitch counts than current trends dictated and was trying to make a "tougher" pitching staff. My colleague, Mr. Iracane was skeptical, mainly of the personnel. Despite noting that Ryan was trying to inject some "badassery," he continues:

The pitchers stink. Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla might be the worst one-two punch in baseball, while the rest of the rotation would be lucky to post a sub-5.00 ERA. It's hard enough to pitch in the humid bandbox of Arlington, y'all, but the collection of arms assembled by the Rangers in the majors and the minors is stinkeroo.

How droll, Anti-Clooney. In fact the Rangers did post a sub 5.00 ERA. 4.38 to be exact, down from 5.37 the season before. That's an ERA+ improvement of 23. A significant improvement to say the least. The team got 30+ starts from 3 of its starters, and the other two were Uber Creampuff Brandon McCarthy and noted sociopath Vicente Padilla. Can't expect too much from them.

Was it really Ryan's tough talk and his wholesale access to Advil that improved the teams standing on the mound? Elvis Andrus was a huge defensive addition at short and the team as a whole improved there. And if the team is indeed "pushing" their pitchers past the generally accepted limits of a modern arm, then short term results will only be half the story. We could see stray ligaments chicken fried and gravy smothered all over the park next year.

But for now, Ryan did what he said he was going to do. He drastically improved the pitching staff. Rarely do results so clear come so quickly. And not only that but he's still more recognizable than any current player on the team. From both a results and PR standpoint, whoever takes over the Rangers oughta do their best to keep Ryan around for the near future.



Surprise! It's time for the baseball Winter Meetings! Remember last year when the Winter Meetings were held in sunny Las Vegas and all the baseball writers put $10 on the Mets to win the World Series? Boy howdy they must be cursing the baseball gods today as they wake up to snow in the world's most mediocre city: Indianapolis! Marvel at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument! Educate yourself at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art! Visit Will Carroll's house and stand in awe at Jenn Sterger's bosoms!

Remember back in nineteen-dickety-eight when the Rangers traded Oddibe McDowell to the Indians for Julio Franco? And then they got Rafael Palmeiro and Jamie Moyer from the Cubs? And Larry Lucchino bought the Orioles for $70 million? It's true, it's all here in the Ocala Star-Banner, a part of the media known as a 'newspaper', sort of an ancient precursor to blogs. Imagine walking to your local bodega and picking up a printed transcript of MLB Trade Rumors on paper. Bizarre, I know!

Here are things that will happen this week: (1) the Veterans Committee will ignore Marvin Miller once again when they induct managers, umpires, and executives into the Hall of Fame, (2) the Rule 5 Draft, when baseball GMs pretend to outsmart one another for the services of a switch-hitting backup peanut vendor and (3) beat writers will be positively agog about nothing and everything simultaneously on Twitter. Worst of all for our pals in Old Media, there is no In-N-Out Burger in the entire state. How will they survive?

UPDATE (10:15AM): Former manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey have been elected to the HOF by Tommy Lasorda and the rest of the nepotistic Veterans Committee. Labor pioneer Marvin Miller came up two votes shy.

Down Ballot Fun From Days Of Yore

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Award season (and the endless debates that go with it) is seemingly all but out of the baseball world's system. We are officially in free agency now. Get your alliterative pants on! However, before you do, let's call on this year's MVP award one last time for a little bit of interactive fun, shall we?

Joe Mauer was the first catcher to win the MVP in quite awhile. You'd have to go back a whole decade to 1999 and Ivan Rodriguez to find another man of his trade being honored with the accolade. Pudge had himself quite the year in 1999: .332 AVG, 35HR, 113RBI, wOBA of .388 and a 6.0 WAR. That's good stuff right there, especially from a position as demanding as catcher.

Why do I bring this up? Well let's take a gander at the balloting for that year. Here is the top 5 in order: 1.) Pudge, 2.) Pedro Martinez, 3.) Roberto Alomar, 4.) Manny Ramirez, 5.) Rafael Palmeiro.

That is quite arguably one of the most loaded Top 5's in MVP voting history. Or the one that has far too many Spanish-Speaking guys, depending on how racist you're feeling. Pedro was so frighteningly good that year, you could argue he belonged in the top spot. But we're not here for Pedro. Rather, we're here to consider the 4th spot, Manny Ramirez. You see, Manny (then on the Indians) had nothing short of a monstrous year himself: .333 AVG, 44HR, 165 RBI, .457 wOBA and an 8.0 WAR.

The point of this post isn't to try and argue that Manny got robbed. Far from it. The vagaries of positional relativism also make this debate impossible (ahem, Pedro). I don't even want to argue that the above order is incorrect, because, in truth, the subjectivity of the award is well-documented, as is the absence of the use of advanced metrics throughout history. Rather, it just blows my mind that Manny Ramirez had the year that he had and finished fourth. An 8.0 WAR player!

This is where you come in, folks. Can you find another player who was that valuable from a WAR standpoint but finished fourth or lower in an MVP race? I would claim, that this phenomenon has never occurred before, but prove me wrong! This fine site offers a WAR index from days of yore, so I would advise you to look there. A word of clarification: The WAR formula they use is slightly different from the one at sites like Fangraphs, so for the sake of consistency, I would limit it to one index or the other, depending on which year you're looking at.

Now go forth and have fun, you little nerds in training!

Bat Attack Roundup: December 4, 2009

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The holidays are a time for mirth, reunion and, if you're lucky, the sharing of bounty. And if you're not lucky it's a time for getting rapped in the head with the ol' hickory stick. It's still too early to tell if the following assailants really have what it takes for a long career in crime or if their high HEBIP (Heads Bashed In Play) is just an abberation. Again, the following incidents are all non-critical and non-fatal, so laugh it up and forward these on to Gramma!

  • It's easy to see how the relationship between a lawyer and client could get contentious. And when it's a criminal case, the expectation for violence could also be somewhat... expected. But you'd think it's the client taking a few rips at his counsel, right? Well it's opposite day in Charleston, WV where a lawyer chased a client off his porch and rained blows upon him with a bat"

    (victim, David Lee) Gump, who spoke with the Gazette at his house prior to his arrest on Thursday, said he didn't break in to (lawyer Joshua) Robinson's house. He said he was knocking on the door and standing on Robinson's porch, trying to confront him about a $1,100 check that he said belongs to him.

    "All the sudden he comes busting out of the house with no shirt on and a baseball bat," Gump said. "I knocked on the door and he comes out just like a madman."

    Wow! Former law school classmates say that Robinson had the same intensity when looking at bank statements or telling people at the bar that he was in law school. Feel the madness, all you weasly aspiring attorneys!


  • Wait did I say all these attacks were non-fatal? I meant non-fatal... UNLESS YOU'RE A PEACOCK. A woman in Makaha, HI is on trial (!!) for ripping the NBC logo to the power alley because "the piercing cries of peacocks, which roam free in the area, deprived her of sleep and drove her to take desperate measures." Her lawyer is arguing that animal cruelty laws don't apply to peacocks. Logical.

  • How fired up were Michael Jackson fans about the passing of their hero earlier this year? They're bat attacking paparazzi for filing defamation lawsuits against Jackson's ex "wife." Oh, well that makes perfect sense.

    The photographer, Ed Frommer, says one of the men began "pushing me with a bat through my window," while the other men told him to "stay away from Debbie." No word on whether any of the suspects are named Tito, Blanket or Captain Eo.




Here's Toronto Blue Jays star second baseman Robbie Alomar gently demanding that we purchase all our fruit punch in the frozen concentrated form. Drew tells me that this commercial was legendary up in Canadia back in the day for Alomar's catchy tag line at the end. Please to enjoy.

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Kris: Hey Rob, guess how many post there have been in Walkoff Walk history.
Rob: 12?
Kris: No, I don't mean good posts. I mean total posts.
Rob: Oh, I hear tell we are on the verge of 3,000 posts.
Kris: You heard tell correctamundo, Brotaint. THIS is our 3,00th post.
Granted almost 500 of them have been ridiculous YouTube videos that I put up when you aren't looking. But, still. We've been around awhile!
Rob: I think it's a testament to our dozens upon dozens of readers that we still keep cobbling together such garbage and posting it under the guise of informative baseball thought.
Kris: You know, 3,000 is a pretty important number in baseball.
Rob: Yes, it's the number of times Jorge Posada visited the mound during the World Series, right?
Or the number of times Wil Cordero has been accused of domestic battery?
Kris: Both. It's also the number of years since Bobby Cox led the Israelites out of Egypt.
And the number of Mets fans with Jr. High educations.
Rob: Zing.
Kris: Not to mention 3,000 career hits pretty much guarantees you a spot in the Hall Of Fame.
Rob: Well what does 3,000 career blogposts guarantee us? A book deal?
Kris: No, we already missed the boat on that. We don't make enough dick jokes or Afrika Bambaataa references.
I guess it just means that we've had enough readers to guarantee that we'll keep doing this for awhile.Definitely not as cool as a book deal, but still pretty neat.
Rob: Perhaps we should just start doing LOLCats
Kris: I CAN HAZ... UM... SHRIMP?
Rob: We owe a debt of gratitude to our contributing editors, you know. Drew and Dmac have done yeoman's work for over a year.
And 310toJoba is coming out of the gates like a drunken Chinaman on fire.
Kris: I don't know who those people are.
Rob: They're picking up our slack and writing far better stuff than you or I.
Kris: Oh yeah cause I quit for awhile.
Thanks guys! And readers! And Corey Patterson!
Rob: No thanks to Darren for failing us many, many times. He still hasn't sent out those Lobster Baby pins!
Kris: We'll thank you all again in 4 weeks with more self congratulatory bullshit for our 2nd anniversary.
Rob: Will there be punch and pie?
Or cakies and artisanal rice wine?
Kris: High Life.
Rob: Naturally.

fish_011.gif He may have had the winning hit in the 2008 World Series, but Pedro Feliz's 81 OPS+ wasn't enough for the Phillies. Placido Polanco apparently passed his physical earlier today and have finalized a 3-year, $18 million deal with Polanco with a mutual option for a fourth year.

Jon Heyman writes the Phillies would like Polanco to bat second. This probably moves Shane Victorino down to the 7-spot, as Charlie Manuel is likely to stick with Jimmy Rollins as the leadoff hitter until J-Roll retires, and maybe even after. (An empty hole in the leadoff spot would have an OBP about 50 points lower than Rollins; no word on said empty hole's surfing skills.)

Polanco had a bit of a down year last season, hitting .285/.331/.396 (an OPS+ of 88), but his BABIP was an uncharacteristically low .295, compared to his .314 career number. Bill James projects him with a wOBA of .325, slightly better than his .321 last season but not as good as his .339 or .371 numbers the two previous seasons.

Polanco hasn't played significant time at third since 2002, when he played 131 games at third between Philly and St. Louis; he played 3B for the Cardinals the year before, also. You may remember than Polanco was on the Phillies before; he was shipped to the team in the Scott Rolen deal, then traded away to the Tigers for Ugueth Urbina. Why didn't the Phillies just move him to third back then? Why, David Bell, of course!

The Phillies did not spend a ton of money here, so they have still have room to get some bullpen help and maybe another starting pitcher. It's possible Polanco has fallen off a cliff and will struggle the next three seasons, but it's also possible his BABIP will normalize, he'll be strong at third base and will end up being a bargain for the suddenly smart-looking Phillies. Who would ever thought we'd ever be in a position to be saying that?

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Right on the heels of award season comes the second best second-guessingstravaganza known as Hall of Fame season! Yes, the ballots have been sent out to the BBWAA folks and are due back at the end of December, which means that your 2010 HOF inductees will be announced the first week of January. We can hem and haw now about who deserves to get in and we can hem and haw later about how poorly the writers missed the mark.

Either way, put your hemming-and-hawing hats on: let's take a peek at some of the first time candidates and figure out if we support their enshrinement or wish them some sort of specific harm:

  • Fred McGriff: The Crime Dog accumulated 493 homers, 1349 runs, 1550 RBI, and 1882 strikeouts, enough whiffs to put him 8th all time. Fella never won a Gold Glove and yet made thousands of dollars endorsing fielding drill videos. McGriff did collect two World Series homers in two straight years, and became the first batter to win HR titles in both leagues. Was anyone a more feared first baseman in the early-to-mid nineties? No, but does it matter? He was never considered one of the ten best players in the sport and there are too many power-hitting first basemen and outfielders in the HOF already. I say "No, sir".

  • Edgar Martinez: A lifetime Mariner, Edgar hit The Double that won the memorable '95 ALDS against the Yankees and can easily be dubbed the greatest Seattle ballplayer of all time. But hey, he was only a designated hitter and never helped his team out on the field. And designated hitters don't belong in the HOF no matter how high his career OBP (.418, 22nd all time), how many doubles he collected (514), or how many porn star moustaches he grew. Okay, I'm being a sarcastic jerk. Edgar was pretty much the best DH in history and actually saved his team some runs by sitting his flat ass in the dugout while the rest of the team was out in the field. He didn't have a positive impact to the Mariners defense but he didn't have a negative impact either. They put Tony Perez in the Hall and that dude had more holes in his glove than a Dickensian orphan. Edgar's value to the team was smacking hits and riding the bench every half-inning. Don't hold that against him.

  • Barry Larkin: Pity Barry Larkin. No, really, pity Barry Larkin, he needs it! From 1988 to 1995, he and Cal Ripken were the outstanding two members of a consummate new breed of shortstop in the game. Fella won six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, and the 1995 NL MVP award in the span while smacking homers, stealing bases, and drawing walks with aplomb. But in the late 90's, a few guys by the name of Jeter, Rodriguez, Garciaparra, and Tejada stole the spotlight a bit: they were bigger, faster, and far more popular than the aging Larkin who, after age 35, never played a full season again. But don't let that cloud your memories of Barry because, as one of the best shortstops to ever grace the field and one of the top five NLers in the early 90s, he deserves to be a first ballot HOFer.

  • Roberto Alomar: One immediate concern presents itself like a veritable Colossus of Constantine gazing upon the voters with caution. Roberto Alomar once spit on an umpire! Character issues ding ding ding ding! Well if the voters were really going to consider character issues, they might as well clear out Cooperstown, leaving behind only Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente, and Gus the janitor with a heart of gold. Let's not allow these haughty BBWAA folk to criminalize the man twice for the same indiscretion. With Craig Biggio, Alomar was the second baseman of record in the 1990s (sorry Mariano Duncan!) He's one of the ten best second basemen in history despite the fact that he never did a damn thing after age 33. Vote yes!

  • Robin Ventura: Better than you think! But not HOF worthy, mostly because everyone still can't get the image of him getting pummeled by Nolan Ryan out of their minds. Sorry, Robin.

Of course, some of the downballot players are getting their share of support. Yes, even Todd Zeile, who once played third base for the Orioles, fielded a grounder, and threw it directly into the dirt about two feet in front of him. You played the game for a long time, Zeile-y, but c'mon, they don't let folks with Z-names into the hall.

Also, I say no to Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Shane Reynolds, and especially to David Segui. Don't think I've forgotten the time you cut me off on the Van Wyck, Segui! Next week we'll peruse the holdovers from past ballots, also know as the annual Bert Blyleven pimpstravaganza.

What say you on these first-timers?

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Well that was fast. Just a day after the Red Sox offered arbitration to an aging Billy Wagner, the Braves have decided to swoop in and snag the veteran reliever for a tidy $7 million in 2010 and an option in 2011 that will vest if Wags finishes 50 games next season. He'll need to pass a physical first but for someone who grew up on a farm, he's used to poking and prodding. The Red Sox were smart to think that Wagner was a hot commodity on the open market; they'll receive a first round draft pick from Atlanta and the satisfaction that Billy will be causing heartache elsewhere next year.

For that kind of scratch, Wags will start spring training as the closer for Atlanta but with word that the Braves are pursuing Tigers closer Fernando Rodney, it could be a real battle of the blown saves in Hotlanta next year.

Odd, this makes the third NL East team that Wagner will be a member of since he left the Astros in 2003, and yet he never quite made it to the Nationals, a team that is geographically closest to his fambly farm outside of Charlottesville, VA.

The Dirty Projectors

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The week's version of baseball limbo is upon us. The winter meetings don't begin for a few days, the free agent pool is a tepid puddle of middle infield mediocrity. What can possibly fill the precious baseball moments of our day and fuel the empty speculation of trade rumours? Why projections of course! The cherry pickers delight.

If you're new to the geek game, you may not be familiar with the assorted projection models and their banal acronyms. CHONE, Marcel, ZiPS, PECOTA, and Bill James are the best known, each with their own faults and strong points. Based on past performances, linear weighting, age regression and magic 8 balls; these systems spit out incredible reams of information that can be taken or left at your convenience. Sometimes the results are bang on, sometimes they're laughably off. Sometimes they make little or no sense, as the playing time they predict simply won't or can't happen.

Projections can serve as guides or indicators of potential future success. They are helpful in attempting to forecast how worsening the offense of your favorite team might be. Pitcher projectors are more tricky, as pitchers are fickle flakes whose flights of fancy cause frequent fluctuations in their FIPs and Fly Ball rates. But in the wrong hands, projections are dangerous. Reading too much into any given projection starts the average diehard down a dangerous line of thinking:

No team in their right mind would trade Stud Corner Outfielder X for 2 years of Proven Starter Y! Look at his Bill James Branded Projection brought to your by BIS, BATS, and The Boston Red Sox Baseball Club! SCOX is a sure thing! SURE THING! I don't care if we're getting Sandy Koufax in his prime, my team benefits from cheap production and I have new face on which to hang all my hopes and dreams! Gimmie the youth! Gimmie the youth!

You may ask "Drew, what's the difference between these systems and the community projections that seem to be in vogue these days?" At which point I will tell you community projections are a fancy way of saying "homertastic orgy of hopefully guesses, offset by spiteful lowballing and simmering self-hatred." As stated above, the bulk of these systems are based on elaborate algorithms and other things I don't understand. That doesn't mean they're better, it just means they're different. And better. But worse. Come o'er the jump for the projector breakdown.