Rob Iracane: January 2009 Archives

Weekend Anniversary Question

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Hey kids, it's true, tomorrow this baseball blog is turning one. Our very first post was this oft-referenced Hall of Sandwiches post back in the halcyon days of January 2008 when the only folks reading the blog were me and Kris.

True story: when brainstorming names for this blog, I wanted to call it "The Clockless Game" while Kris wanted to think up a name with the word "Ghostrunner" in it. Well, Lloyd's place used that mantle much better, and we both agreed that "clockless" sounds too much like "cockless", so we were stuck for a name. We wrote stuff for a couple weeks without an actual website until Sally suggested we try something with the word "walkoff" in it; the domain name you've come to know and love was registered within minutes.

So on Monday we'll entertain y'all with some special anniversary posts, but until then, we have just one question this weekend:

  • HOW will you celebrate the one-year anniversary of Walkoff Walk tomorrow?

Back on Monday, same WoW place, same WoW time.

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The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.

Click here to check out all the BONILLA age projections.

Today, in no particular order, we look at players born after 1985:

Players born in 1986

Felix Hernandez, SP: Has already passed the point where people ask "Felix Hernandez has been pitching for this long and he's still that young?" and arrived at the point where people say, "Wow, Felix Hernandez has been pitching for this long and he still hasn't won 15 games?"

Phil Hughes, SP: When asked by Ian Kennedy if he wanted to go see Okkervil River, exclaimed "Sure!" and hurried home to put on his fishing pants and pick up his reel.

Billy Butler, 1B/DH: Wanted to grow up and became a famous blues guitarist but gave up quickly when told he had "child's hands that could never wrap around the neck of the guitar". Bo Diddley is a cruel teacher.

Homer Bailey, SP: In 2008, Homer Bailey released a charity wine called "Homer Bailey's Chardonnay" with 100% of his proceeds supporting Outdoors Without Limits, an organization committed to help reduce the barriers that prevent disabled people from enjoying the great outdoors. Ferreals. But it was way too oakey so I spit it back in his face.

Yovani Gallardo, SP: Not unlike a Depression-era child whose parents pass on and is forced to raise his younger siblings, Gallardo will be asked to carry a Brewers team that has seen the departure of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. In this scenario, Jeff Suppan is the wacky older uncle.

Jair Jurrjens, SP: Threw a tantrum on Christmas 1999 when he didn't get any LEGOs from Santa Claus. His parents felt that thirteen was too old to be playing with "silly plastic bricks". Today, Jurrjens can buy his own damn LEGO.

Johnny Cueto, SP: Throws the speedball by 'em, makes 'em look like a fool. But also gives up too many tater tots and has wildly massive pitch counts that makes it hard to get out of the fifth inning alive. Has spent the off-season raising ferrets for disabled dogs to have as pets.

Nick Adenhart, SP: Contrary to popular notion, this right-handed pitching prospect does not spend eight-to-ten hours a day playing Gears of War on Xbox 360, despite the constant presence of someone with the online ID of "nickadenhartstudpitcherforthelosangelesangelsofanaheim". That is an impostor. (hint: totally Chone Figgins)

Reid Brignac, SS: Went hitless in ten July at-bats for the Rays last year, replacing the injured Jason Bartlett for a short stretch. Some blame Reid's poor play for the Tampa media naming Bartlett the team MVP. And by 'some' I mean 'Rob Iracane'.

Chris Volstad, SP: Still argues that The Lion in Winter deserved the Oscar over Oliver! despite the fact that the award was given over 40 years ago and well before Volstad was born. He's also never seen either film, but really liked the lion in Narnia.

Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B: Should get the chance to win a job out of spring training with the Giants. First base, third base, catcher, radio color commentary guy, Pablo will take what he can get. Hit ten doubles in just 145 at-bats last year.

Jon Niese, SP: Spent the winter helping his brother Eric build poorly-designed wooden shanties along the Jersey Shore for needy guidos. Look for them on the new TLC show "Dago Knows Best".

Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B: Born in Bellevue, WA and plays for the Mariners organization now. He practically bleeds wild salmon and pinot noir. Is the son of former NFL'er Manu Tuiasosopo which proves that as the generations of families progress, folks get smarter and choose better sports.

Matt Wieters, C: Finallly, some good news for Orioles fans who are used to bad news! Wieters is the #1 prospect in the world, a can't miss, power-hitting catcher with a heart made of gold and feet made of magic. He'll probably make his debut in late April and be traded by Peter Angelos in August for $5 million in cash and a pizza to be named later.

Colby Rasmus, CF: Has an actual fan page dedicated to his supreme awesomeness. Don't get too excited, Colby. There are web-pages devoted to all kinds of crazy crap on the Internet.

Franklin Morales, SP: Loves that Gary Jules version of "Mad World" that they played over that video game commercial a couple years back until he found out the original was done by Tears for Fears. Really hates British New Wave bands. Really.

Andrew McCutchen, CF: There is not enough room in PNC Park's center field for both Andrew McCutchen and Nate McLouth. Move over, McLouth. McCutchen is Sizz'lean.

Players born in 1987

Justin Upton, RF: Favorite berry is the boysenberry although he's never actually tasted one. Just really likes saying "boysenberry" over and over again, much to the chagrin of the Diamondbacks clubhouse. Kids these days, with their wacky words!

Cameron Maybin, CF: Had a streak of 10 plate appearances in which the end result had him reaching base safely. That's a Marlins record, folks! Is super-scintillating-stoked about the new Marlins ballpark that he considers to be modern architecture at its best.

Jay Bruce, RF: Believes in heaven, hell, and purgatory but will sit you down and argue with you for hours on end if you claim there's such a thing as "Belgium".

Conor Gillaspie, 3B: Was drafted just last year and already saw some hot major league action in September, but it was with the Giants. That's like showing up your first day of college and being asked to teach Philosophy 101 because hey, it's only philosophy and it's just made up anyway.

Players born in 1988

Clayton Kershaw, RP: Had a breakthrough hit in 1984 with the song "Wouldn't It Be Good". Is totally hated by Franklin Morales.

Travis Snider, LF: The slugger of the future in Toronto or just the second coming of Matt Stairs? You decide. Well not really, that's not how baseball works. Travis once ate an entire suckling pig, head-to-toe, bones and all.

Elvis Andrus, SS: Third most popular Elvis in the state of Texas after Fat Elvis and this lunatic.

Fernando Martinez, SP: Will probably serve himself well to get a year in Triple A Buffalo, but with the Mets troubled rotation after the #1 Johan Santana, you never know when the kid might get an August call-up to keep New York in the race for third place. (edit: I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS PERSON IS)

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Nothing happened last night worth reporting. Today's Dutch Oven is empty and it will therefore and henceforth be the final Dutch Oven of the off-season. There are still many (Manny!) free agents left unsigned but I'll be damned if I'm going to wait patiently for each and every one of them to get a deal and fill out these pieces with other, sillier news. My predictions: Bobby Abreu will end up a Giant, Adam Dunn a Met, and Manny Ramirez a Dodger once again. There can be no other way.

So on Monday, we abandon the Dutch Oven until next winter and will only report on free agent signings with remaindered links accompanied by ridiculous animated GIFs. I hope you enjoyed this format and I hope you all went out and bought a dutch oven to make chili in.

Tonight's Questions

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Hey kids, you're supposed to turn it on to make it work.

That's it for today. Come back and join us tomorrow as we finish off the BONILLA projections with two bookend entries, and approach a very special date in Walkoff Walk history.

(Tigers fantasy camp photo courtesy of Tom Hagerty and LakelandLocal.com)

Smell Ya Later, Shea Stadium

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I come to bury Shea Stadium, not to praise it. My eulogy will be vicious and I will not hold back. But that's not quite what Mets fans are planning this weekend. A large group of Shea supporters will gather this Saturday at noon to "to share stories and take photographs of what is left of the ballpark" in what is being described as a celebration and not a funeral. Well of course it's not a funeral, the stadium's not dead yet, it's just hanging on by a concrete-and-steel thread.

I've been to Shea about a dozen times, but as a devoted Yankee fan, I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than head to Shea for the sad ceremony this weekend. Shea was just another one of Robert Moses' 1960's era car-centric ideas to build a baseball park in the middle of Flushing Meadows, far displaced from the Brooklyn and Manhattan fanbases who were being courted after the hasty departure of their beloved Dodgers and Giants. In fact, the mere existence of a baseball park in Queens was the reason the Dodgers left; Walter O'Malley knew he'd make more money going to Los Angeles than helping Moses promote the Worlds Fair site in Flushing.

The place was unimaginatively designed in the multipurpose circle style popular in the era. It was never truly a baseball park; Shea has hosted football games, soccer games, and R.E.M. concerts. Once during a Jets game, a halftime show featuring model airplanes had a grand finale involving a flying lawnmower that lost control, flew into the stands, and killed a spectator. The only thing worse than being killed by a flying lawnmower is being killed by a flying lawnmower in an hideous stadium in Queens.

The building was ugly and had an upper deck that was so steep, you needed a Sherpa to bring your beer and hotdogs up when you ascended to your nosebleed seats. The luxury boxes were narrow and had an overhang that jutted out so far you felt you were in a bunker in 'Nam. It was situated squat in the middle of the LaGuardia airport approach zone so airplane noise progressively got worse as air traffic increased over the years. The city wanted to plop a glass dome on top of the park but couldn't because the structure was built in a swamp and couldn't support the weight.

Worst of all, the place hosted Mets games and Mets fans for forty-four years. There is no wrecking ball or dynamite that can rid the site of that stench, no matter how beautiful and elegant the new CitiField will prove to be. Still, Shea Stadium will always hold one very special place in my heart. It's the place I met my girlfriend, during a group outing in the summer of 2007, despite neither of us being a Mets fan. We shared chicken fingers that night and have been together for nearly two years, thanks to that awful municipal stadium in the swamps of Flushing.

But really, burn the place down, we're done with it.

(Actual destructive Shea Stadium imagery legitimately obtained from Flickr user babyknight)

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

  • Mariners Acquire Recent Orioles Pitcher From Cubs, Mayflower Moving Company Stock Ticks Up: Hope you didn't unpack your bags, young left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson! Mere days after being traded from Baltimore to Chicago for outfielder Felix Pie, Olson is set to head west to Seattle as part of the Ronny Cedeno/Aaron Heilman deal. The M's are stockpiling young southpaws as if they had some sort of magic inside of them that can combat the current economic crisis.

  • Jon Garland Signs With Diamondbacks, Packs Light Lunch For Short Flight: Former Angels righty Jon Garland has inked a one-year deal with Arizona where he will be paid about $8 million for posting a slightly worse-than-average ERA with mediocre strikeout numbers and a decent walk rate. Expect his homers allowed to go up in the dry 'n' high desert atmosphere and expect his burrito intake to remain steady at 2.5 per day.

  • Will Clark Returns to San Francisco, Giants Players Recoil in Fear: Former Giants first baseman Will Clark is headed back to the team as a special assistant to the front office. It's just an honorary title as his only duties will be to show up at fan events and wave, and sometimes visit some of the Giants farm teams to whip them kids into shape. Just keep The Thrill away from the champers, dudes.

  • Barry Bonds Had Naughty Pee-Pee: Looks like Barry Bonds urine had a trace of steroids in it that wasn't related to the cream or the clear. Whoops.
bonilla2009.jpg

The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.

Click here to check out all the BONILLA age projections.

Today, in no particular order, we look at players born in 1976:

Michael Barrett, C: Has his arsenal of haymakers and left hooks stowed away under his passport as he crosses the northern border to join up with the Blue Jays organization for aught-nine. This will be his twelfth season without a playoff appearance. One day he will be on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Lance Berkman, 1B: Has received dozens upon dozens of MVP votes in the last seven seasons but is resigned to be just the second (third?!?) best first baseman in his own division. Fat Elvis hates the nickname Fat Elvis.

Pat Burrell, DH: As a Ray, disappointingly will lose his bevy of annual games versus the Mets, hurting his chances to improve on his 41 career tots versus the Flushing franchise. Will still find a way to torture Billy Wagner, probably with lawn darts.

Eric Byrnes, LF: Completes the typical Rob Dibble exacta of being a shitty banged-up ballplayer and a shitty broadcaster. Will spend 2009 rehabbing injuries he hasn't had yet and quilting a patch for the AIDS quilt.

Scott Downs, RP: Has a very famous syndrome named after him. Yes, it's true: Scott Syndrome, or the inability of people named Scott to not be total toolbags, is named after Scott Downs.

Brandon Duckworth, RP Q: What's a Brandon Duckworth? A: To Dayton Moore, about $600,000. HACK JOKE ALERT

Kyle Farnsworth, RP: Q: What's a Kyle Farnsworth? A: To Dayton Moore, about $9,250,000. Seriously, Royals, what's up with you employing relievers whose last names end with -worth?

Josh Fogg, SP: Usually sings along to the National Anthem but feels, deep in his heart, that the National Anthem should be "Johnny Angel" by Shelley Fabares.

Ryan Freel, CF: Thinks and says crazy things and refuses to put his money where his mouth is. Actually invented the voice in his head prior to an on-field collision with Norris Hopper in 2007.

Eric Gagne, RP: Needed a mental break in 2008 after giving up too many tater tots before ceding his job to the sausage man. Is still a free agent, Omar Minaya!

Troy Glaus, 3B: Snickers every time he hears the phrases "pitchers mound" or "batters box" because really, to Troy Glaus, everything is about female anatomy. Just had shoulder surgery, so don't pencil him in your Opening Day lineup, LaRussa.

Ross Gload, 1B: Is the single most successful Gload to emerge from the Gload family of Brooklyn, New York, even taking into consideration Ross' older sister Suzette, who you may know by her stage name, Donna Summer.

Jason Grilli, RP: Perhaps the single most effective reliever in the Tigers organization last year, which fully explains why they traded him to the Rockies. Broke Charles Nagy's Big East record for most strikeouts in a game with 18 while at Seton Hall back in '97. Is my guinea dago paisan.

Vlad Guerrero, RF: Like the process or not, he's received MVP votes every year of his career since his rookie campaign in 1997. Is so toolsy he might as well be named Scott.

Jose Guillen, CF: Is a dick.

Jerry Hairston, LF: Brother of Scott Hairston, Son of Jerry Hairston, Grandson of Sammy Hairston, and Nephew of Johnny Hairston. Was one of the most productive players on the Reds last year despite playing just 80 games.

Wes Helms, 3B: From his Wikipedia entry, "Often considered to be in the fraternity of "Country Strong" big league players with the likes of Matt Stairs and Adam Dunn." Translation: when on the road in Detroit, won't leave the hotel after sunset.

Ramon Hernandez, C: Perfectly expendable by the Orioles because of the ascent of Matt Wieters, much to the delight of new manager Dusty Baker, who admires Ramon for his grit and ability to wear a catchers mask while dangling a toothpick from his maw.

Aubrey Huff, DH/3B: Once referred to Baltimore as "a horseshit city" which might offend Baltimoreans but is actually the Gaelic translation of the name. Bael ti Mhoir, meaning "city where horses shit".

Adam Kennedy, 2B: Better than you think, unless you think he's an slightly above-average middle infielder with a good eye and some speed. In that case, you're giving the kid way too much credit. Take off those rose-colored glasses!

Paul Konerko, 1B: Peaked at 30, just like all the statnerds told us he would. Is still good for thirty ding-dongs a year and workmanlike glovework at first base and the weekly bouquet of gladiolas in the ChiSox clubhouse.

Carlos Lee, LF: Nicknamed El Caballo, or the wild horse, and has a fan club in Houston called "Los Caballitos", or the little horse turdlets. Enjoys skiing in his native Panama despite the total lack of snow.

Ted Lilly, SP: Is the kind of guy who promises to help you hang your new flat screen TV and then stops by one day with a drywall saw and a twelve pack and then gets wasted after doing some cutting and you end up playing three hours of Madden on the Xbox and then he leaves and you're stuck with a hole in your wall for three weeks because you're too much of a pansy to hang a 50 pound TV by yourself.

Scott Linebrink, RP: Beat Scott Syndrome at the age of 13 when he discovered Depeche Mode at his local record shop. Gave up after "Songs of Faith and Devotion" in '93.

Jason Michaels, OF: Has now had three teams waiting for him to emerge as a valuable everyday player with the fourth team (Astros) getting ready to figure it out in 2009. Arrested in 2005 for assaulting a Philly cop, a violation that is deemed worthy of a wrist slap since he only got probation.

Carl Pavano, SP: Still using a 1997 Gateway desktop with just 256KB of RAM which still plays a fine game of Minesweeper, thank you very much. Allegedly is getting paid to "start" baseball "games" by the "Cleveland" Indians.

A.J. Pierzynski, C: Despite not growing up in Chicago, his favorite sportswriter growing up was Jerome Holtzman. Lost any remaining shred of self-respect when he got involved in professional wrestling in 2006.

Sidney Ponson, SP: Has had more career DUIs than Cy Young Award votes and has somehow convinced Brian Cashman to sign him on two separate occasions. Will be spending the 2009 season doing odd jobs around Nolan Ryan's ranch house.

J.C. Romero, RP: Given his latest troubles with the illegal supplements he accidentally ingested, J.C. refuses to shop at GNC anymore, preferring to purchase his vitamins and energy boosters at the local twigs-n-berries health food store. When told he was actually taking daily doses of lizard semen, he shrugged his shoulders and ate more lizard semen.

Alfonso Soriano, LF: Geez, Alfonso Soriano is turning 33? Now I really feel old.

Javier Vazquez, SP: Along with Derek Lowe, will be asked to anchor an otherwise inexperienced Braves rotation. Is considering asking Derek to join up with his cousin Tito and form a three-piece salsa band but doubts any of them can play anything but the maracas.

Ramon Vazquez, Util: The absolute definition of a journeyman. No, really, he plays keyboards for the band Journey. Any way Ramon wants it, that's the way he needs it.

Randy Wolf, SP: Still waiting for the inevitable contract offer from Ned Colletti after compiling a super-sexy 12-12 record in 2008 with a 4.30 ERA. Hey, he's a lefty. Those things are rare. The only player in baseball history to have Tommy John surgery on his John Thomas.

Brad Lidge, RP: Is made of magic and hasn't blown a save since the day Fukuda was elected Prime Minister of Japan.

Pedro Feliciano, RP: Has had two three-year stints with the Mets that surrounded his 2006 season spent with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Didn't vote for Fukuda.

Aaron Miles, Util: Is a Cub now because St Louis fans kept confusing him with Adam Kennedy. Almost played for the Greek team in the 2004 Olympics but gave it all up to play pro ball with the Rockies. TYPICAL GREEK BEHAVIOR.

Reed Johnson, OF: Is the all time leader in homers hit by players named "Reed". Is also the only player ever named "Reed". Doesn't hit well enough to be a below-average corner outfielder, but that's your problem, Cubs fans.

Matt Treanor, C: Moving from Florida to Michigan to play for the Tigers has caused strain in his marriage since his volleyball-playing wife hates Michigan. Well, Matt, what did you expect? Everyone hates Michigan.

Kenji Johjima, C: Is the bane of Mariners fans for playing like garbage and getting paid a lot to do it. Is just a big ol' worrywart.

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

  • New Marlins Stadium Will Have Decorative and Functional Clamshell Roof: The Miami Herald published renderings of the new Florida Marlins ballpark that is set to go to a vote in Miami next month. The half-a-billion stadium will have a retractable roof and be located at the site of the former Orange Bowl. The roof will be opened up whenever the weather was not too hot and not too humid and not raining, or at most twice a season.

  • Rockies Have Enough Bats: So sayeth the headline of Rob Neyer's latest blogpost. No telling whether or not the club has enough gloves, caps, and jockstraps for the coming season during these tough economic times. Won't you donate jockstraps to the neediest of players?!?

  • Rockies Have Enough Ubaldo Jimenez: The aforementioned Colorado Rockies have agreed to a four-year contract with stud pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez that includes options for 2013 and 2014. Jimenez went 12-12 with a 3.99 ERA and 178 K's for the Denver squadron last season, and was just the second Rockie to ever post 10 wins with a sub-4.00 ERA. The first? Aaron Cook, who also did it last year. Looks like those humidors are working, Bud!

  • Tired of Offending Fans With Poor Play, Nats Set To Offend Fans With Poor Broadcasters: Former Nasty Boy and current radio doofus Rob Dibble is the new color commentator for the Nationals games on the media behemoth MASN television network. He'll replace the permed Don Sutton in the booth and generally annoy Washingtonians with his poor vocabulary and narrow-minded views on the sport.

  • Enter Eric Hinske, Exit Doug Mientkiewicz: Dejan Kovacevic is reporting that the Bucs are on the verge of signing free agent utility dork Eric Hinske to a one-year deal, most likely ending the tenure of Doug M. in Pittsburgh. Hinske hits better than Mientkiewicz but is not nearly as good a fielder, which means that the Pirates are not yet ready to embrace the DER revolution.

Literary Fans Bid Rabbit Adieu

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John Updike died today. Please go read his moving tribute to Ted Williams and his biggest Boston fans from an October 1960 issue of The New Yorker, kindly hosted online at Baseball Almanac.

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When the Phillies declined to make an arbitration offer to power-hitting righty Pat Burrell and then signed lefty-hitting Raul Ibanez to what has proven to be the most lucrative free agent deal signed by an outfielder this offseason, pundits wondered when new general manager Ruben Amaro would snag a right-handed bat. Since Pat Gillick retired at the peak of his general managing game, Amaro has been on the hot seat; besides Burrell, he's also lost Charlie Manuel's pal, bench coach Jimy Williams, over a monetary dispute.

Well wonder no more, punditry, because Amaro has assembled a veritable who's who of potential veteran righties to come in and keep Jayson Werth company. Let's take a look-see at his choices, and gently borrow their 2009 CHONE projections from Fangraphs:

Moises Alou (42): 369 AB, .337 OBP, .442 SLG

Nomar Garciaparra (35): 395 AB, .329 OBP, .420 SLG

Mark Grudzielanek (38): 455 AB, .310 OBP, .363 SLG

Rich Aurilia (37): 378 AB, .313 OBP, .389 SLG

Kevin Millar (37): 450 AB, .344 OBP, .382 SLG

That list doesn't exactly inspire thoughts of home run balls raining down on the crab fry stand in Citizens Bank Park. In fact, it outright stinks. Mark Grudzielanek? Really? But given the already-high Philadelphia payroll (possibly $130 million after Ryan Howard's arbitration) and the fact that the entirety of Philadelphia's starting lineup is set in stone, Amaro's hands are tied. Alou probably has the highest rate numbers but Amaro's number one choice is Garciaparra, who can spell Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz in the infield as they recover from wintertime ouchies. But Nomar is not very committal this offseason, as he is considering retirement:

"We can't be held hostage by Nomar, though he'd be a guy we'd like to bring in," Amaro said.

You know things have gotten desperate in Philadelphia when the general manager is refusing to let a washed-up Nomar Garciaparra hold a gun to his temple. But don't fret, Ruben, there's another, far cheaper option inside the organization. It's your fourth-best prospect, infielder Jason Donald! He's probably (read: definitely) a year away from being ready but hey, there's an economic crisis and everyone needs to do their part. We can't all get that year in finishing school, aka Triple-A Allentown. Giving this guy the 24th seat on your bench between Eric Bruntlett and Matt Stairs won't kill him, and what doesn't kill him will only make him wish he was back in Double-A Reading. Or something.

(That photo provided at no charge by Flickr user ebot)

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

  • Braves Dip Pen In Japanese Inkwell Just One More Time: Frank Wren's frequent flier miles across the Pacific are paying off! The Braves signed Japanese pitching prospect Yoshinori Yamarin to a minor league deal. He went undrafted in last year's NPB draft but don't hold that against him. The hat size, however, is a different story.

  • Yankees Bring Back Andy Dynasty for Another Go-Around: Veteran lefty Andy Pettitte has agreed to return to the NY Yankees for a one-year contract worth up to $12 million after certain incentive bonuses are met. And they will be met. Because if Andy Pettitte is good at one thing it's meeting incentive bonuses. And praising Jesus.

  • Brewers Bring Back Craig Counsell, Refuting Earlier Reports: I thought the former NLCS MVP had signed with the Padres but I couldn't have been any wronger. I also thought the Padres had inked a deal with Omar Vizquel but again, I was wrong. In any case, Counsell returns to a utility role with the reigning wild card Brewers. He'll play a little second, play a little short, dick around at third base, and generally annoy Ryan Braun with constant requests to play Parcheesi.

bonilla2009.jpg

The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.

Click here to check out all the BONILLA age projections.

Today, in no particular order, we look at players born in 1977:

Bronson Arroyo, SP: Brandon has thrown over 10,500 pitches over the past three season and will probably add another 1,500 next year before his arm falls off due to overwork-by-proxy.

Grant Balfour, RP: Living up to his last name, Grant has thrown ball four 5 times for every nine innings in his career. Should regress to the mean along with the rest of the Rays pen in 09.

Joe Beimel, RP: As of this writing, he's still a free agent. If he gets no offers by February 1st, he will be interning at Troy from WV's cracker factory.

Carlos Beltran, CF: Probably the most underrated player in the New York metropolitan area, which really means that he's overrated in the grand scheme of things. Threw out his first baserunner as a toddler.

A.J. Burnett, SP: Famously tugged his left earlobe to the TV cameras after his first career no-hitter in 2001 which some mistook for a secret signal to his mom watching at home. Actually was his way of telling the concierge at the San Diego Ritz Carlton to stock his room with extra Milky Ways.

Buddy Carlyle, RP: Has proven without a shadow of a doubt that there are always odd jobs in the greater Atlanta area for folks named Buddy. Will spend most of spring training learning to play the vibraphone.

Shawn Chacon, SP: Not exactly employable since he choked out Astros GM Ed Wade last season but could make some dough selling "I Choked Ed Wade" t-shirts in South Philly.

Eric Chavez, 3B: Middle name is Cesar. Spent most of 2008 as a creampuff. Peaked at age 23. I cannot objectively talk about Eric Chavez, because I am Eric Chavez and Eric Chavez is me.

Ryan Dempster, SP: Will never really be a true Cub because he is Canadian. Has had a career that is more up-and-down than a bipolar teenager.

Justin Duchscherer, SP: One of three members of the 2008 Oakland A's born in South Dakota. Spent most of the year chatting with Keith Foulke and Mark Ellis about the best place to find the best chili dogs in Sioux Falls.

Chad Durbin, RP: Spends his offseason in Baton Rouge, LA where he stocks his three bathrooms with Charmin toilet paper, and not that Cottonelle garbage his in-laws prefer. Is really a good right handed reliever, no questions asked.

Adam Eaton, SP: The poster boy for bloated contracts of the mid-aughts, Eaton signed a three-year, $24 million contract in November 2006 despite amassing a 5.12 ERA in just 13 starts the prior year. Rewarded the Phillies by giving up 30 tater tots in 2007 and 'accidentally' running over the Phanatic's foot with his '89 Chevy Caprice.

Adam Everett, SS: Dresses like a boob. Cannot safely operate a pepper grinder. Was forced to be contemplative.

Rafael Furcal, SS: Decided he likes Los Angeles better than returning to his roots in Atlanta, and can you blame him? Ever try getting a good dulce du leche in Marietta?

Roy Halladay, SP: Everybody's favorite pitcher because he's gritty, talented, and poses no real threat to your favorite team in the playoffs as a Blue Jay. Easily one of the top 25 pitchers of the past 25 years (i.e. the length of my baseball fandom) and will always be a member of my fantasy teams (if available).

Andruw Jones, CF: Will be paid about $4 million per year to not play for the Dodgers until at least 2014. Hey Ned Colletti, pay me $250,000 a year or I swear to God I will put on a cap and a glove and I will play the shit out of shortstop for your team next season. Likes plantains.

Mark Mulder, SP: 'Starting pitcher' is a bit of a misnomer as he's only started four games in the past two years for the Cardinals. Peaked at age 23 and is now a free agent. I smell a reclamation project, Billy Beane!

Will Ohman, RP: Was born in Frankfurt, Germany, presumably on an American military base of some sort. Still looking for work despite being a perfectly serviceable left-handed relief pitcher. Prefers a medium well hamburger with pickles, tomato and mustard.

Roy Oswalt, SP: Stuck inside of Houston with the Ed Wade Blues again. May have been one of the best, if not the best, NL pitcher from 2001 to 2006 and is now just living out the decline of his career on a terrible Astros team.

Lyle Overbay, 1B: Lyle, the effeminate heterosexual, got kicked out of Milwaukee when Prince Fielder broke into the big time and now makes hay in the Great White North of Toronto. He'll have another workmanlike year with 15 homers and 60 gutsy walks and a charming smile.

Juan Pierre, OF: Juan had an off year in 2008. Not that his production was down, he literally got a lot of time off from a decent Dodgers team who discovered they have Actual Productive Outfielders who don't cost $8 million a year. He's like Corey Patterson with money.

Nick Punto, SS: Slugged just .382 in 2008 which was actually a 100 point improvement over his miserable .271 rate in 2007. Let's just put it this way: Prince Fielder's left nut has greater isolated power than twenty Nick Puntos. But hey, only 8 errors in 60 games at shortstop!

Dennys Reyes, RP: The ultimate Mexican LOOGY, which in Spanish would be pronounced "YOU-ghee". Was once an alternate for a taping of "Jeopardy" but didn't make the show.

Brian Roberts, 2B: Has been the subject of so many trade rumours involving the Cubs that if the trade is ever consummated, my reaction will be a solid 'meh'. Lived with noted steroid users Larry Bigbie and David Segui in late 2001. Might collect 500 career doubles if he continues to play in Camden Yards.

Aaron Rowand, CF: Has broken more bones in eight seasons of major league baseball than Carter has liver pills, but that only makes him gutsy and gritty and willing to run face-first into the outfield wall to snag a fly ball. Raises labradoodles in the offseason.

Kip Wells, SP: Peaked as a Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher prior to profitable payments picked up post-Pirate profession. Pfft.

Jake Westbrook, SP: Kris Liakos' favorite pitcher, Jake will probably miss the entire 2009 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Despite having a new ligament transferred to his elbow, he'll continue to be a drag on society.

Dan Wheeler, RP: Returned to his original Rays team just in time to help them win the American League. Well, he had a 6.00 ERA in the postseason so perhaps I am using the term 'help' loosely. Still, saved 13 games after Troy Percival went down. Secretly enjoys NPR.

Kerry Wood, RP: Gives way too much credit to Thomas Jefferson for the whole Western Expansion thing when he knows deep down in his soul that James K. Polk made great strides getting land back from Mexico and securing the Oregon Territory. Will be bringing down the Indians organization from the inside.

Nate Robertson, SP: Demoted to the bullpen in August 2008 as part of manager Jim Leyland's mass reorganization plan that mimicked tossing deck chairs from the sinking Titanic. In that analogy, Gary Sheffield is the iceberg.

Orlando Hudson, 2B: Still a free agent, people! He's an above average hitter and (depending how you look at it) a decent fielder despite ending 2008 with an ouchie on his wrist. Has 2,500,000 frequent flier miles with Delta he doesn't know what to do with.

Travis Hafner, DH: Being the all-time leader for tater tots among MLBers born in North Dakota isn't going to put oatmeal on the family dining table when you're not getting it done at home plate. He's signed through 2011 so y'all Indians fans can sit back and enjoy.

Eric Hinske, Util: Has been run out of Toronto, Boston, and Tampa Bay in three consecutive seasons. Will probably sign with Baltimore this year and complete the AL East Yankee antagonist Yahtzee.

Fernando Rodney, RP: Picked up baseball in his native Dominican Republic after failing miserably as an underwear model. Allowed 30 walks in 40 innings last year.

Mark Ellis, 2B: Once hit for the cycle and was then rewarded by A's owner Lew Wolff with a custom gold-plated bicycle that he hocked for a $50 IHOP gift card. Now has an $11 million contract which will let him buy all the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n' Fruity's he can eat.

Marcus Thames, LF: The only player in Major League history to hit a home run off Randy Johnson in his first career at-bat and then be traded for Ruben Sierra. Would probably be a DH if he hit better.

Ty Wigginton, 3B: Could form a decent infield with fellow free agents Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera, and Nomar Garciaparra. They could go barnstorming through Wyoming as the Fightin' Free Agents and woo young ladies with their ardent fervor.

J.J. Putz, RP: Reportedly not very happy being a setup man for the Mets. Too much risk and very little reward. Well, except for the $5 million he'll make earning those sexy holds! Woo, holds!

George Sherrill, RP: Didn't earn his first major league save until age 29 at which point he decided it would be really cool to wear his cap with a flat brim. Sometimes rests his crab chowder on the brim.

Scott Proctor, RP: Will be relieving for the Marlins in 2009. When told of this news, his right arm reportedly did a happy jig and expressed its pleasure at finally being separated from Evil Joe Torre. Should be perfectly serviceable.

Kosuke Fukudome, RF: Fell out of favor with manager Lou Piniella, teammates, Cubs fans, announcers, team officials, peanut vendors, local pizzamakers, and pigeons when his .455 OBP at the end of April dropped to .359 at season's end. Will probably win back everyone but the pigeons with a solid 2009. PIGEONS NEVER FORGET.

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

  • Dave Dombrowski Hopes and Prays That Kenny Rogers Is Really Retiring: Forty-four-year-old southpaw Kenny Rogers has been incommunicado this offseason, not returning any reporter's calls or emails. No matter to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski because Rogers had a terrible year, going 3-7 record with a 7.93 ERA after the All-Star break and manager Jim Leyland is probably happy to see him gone. So am I.

  • Sean Casey Hangs Up His Mitt, Focuses On Crappy Vlog: Need a slick-fielding first baseman with a .300 career batting average and one of the best personalities in the game? Tough nuts, because Sean Casey is retiring to focus on his vlog. Wait a minute, I just read the article and it looks like he'll be joining the new MLB Network, where he'll parry and thrust with fellow good guy Harold Reynolds. Just don't accept any invitations to Boston Market, Sean.

  • Rinku and Dinesh Smell What The Rock Is Cookin': I'm not much of a fake wrestling fan (or real wrestling for that matter) but I've heard of The Rock because he's in movies. So have our pals Rinku and Dinesh, who got an early (late?) Christmas present from Mark sir: two autographed photos of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson! Says Dinesh, "If I meeting (sic) Rock i asking (sic) how he getting the muscules (sic) in (sic) biggest." Spinach, Dinesh. Spinach.

  • Nationals Let Fans Put Ticket Package on Layaway: Just like that new convertible sofa that you pay $6 a month for, Nats season tickets will now be available on layaway! Having trouble paying for season tickets for the worst team in the Western Hemisphere? No matter! Stan Kasten's new Grand Slam E-Z Payment Plan will let you pay off your tickets in six easy monthly payments of just $19.99! Act now and Stan the Man will throw in a Sham-Wow and TWO SNUGGIES!

  • Joe Torre Is a Backstabbing Guinea: I'm not nearly impartial enough to report on this matter in a calm and intelligent manner, so I'll just relate how I feel about Joe Torre's new book to you in six simple words: Joe Torre is dead to me. I am going to buy this book and then set it on fire along with my copy of Tim McCarver's "Baseball for Brain Surgeons".
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

  • Freddy Got Fingered for Flushing's Fifth Rotation Slot: Congratulations to Omar Minaya for winning the Freddy Garcia Sweepstakes! He'll get a 32-year-old right-handed starting pitcher well into his career decline who has thrown just 73 innings in the past two seasons for the low, low price of $9 million (with incentives, of course). I guess the bright side of this signing is that it makes the Tim Redding deal look good in comparison.

  • Ned Colletti Is Hungry for the Wolf, Thirsty for the Rosso di Montalcino: Folks, there's a run on fourth starters so hurry up and get yours while the gettin's still good. Cough cough Oliver Perez cough. Rumour has it that the Dodgers are on the verge of replacing Derek Lowe with vet Randy Wolf. He'll be the most powerful Wolf in Hollywood, displacing Scott Wolf who hasn't been paid to act in over three years.

  • Prince Fielder and the Brewers Make Nicey Nice: Milwaukee won't be going to arbitration with their portly first baseman after all. Just a few hours after I talked about the $2 million difference between the two parties, the Brewers signed Prince Fielder to a two year, $18 million deal that will bring the fat man just one year shy of Magical Free Agency. This is a good deal all around, except for the arbitration judge who now has an entire block of time completely wiped off his calendar next week which he'll be forced to spend with his wife.

  • Brandon Lyon and Tigers On Verge of Putting Their Heads Together: The Detroit Tigers are doing their best to shore up a shoddy bullpen, allegedly making a deal with former D-Backs closer Brandon Lyon. Like the Arizona offense, he started 2008 off strong and then fizzled, eventually losing his job to Chad Qualls. The Tigers will make this official as soon as they vet his background and make sure he doesn't own the game "Guitar Hero".

  • Oldest Living Baseball Player Dies: Well Bill Werber's not the oldest living baseball player anymore if he's dead, now is he?
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With arbitration hearings on the horizon, it seems that the two greediest players are also two of the most rotund. Fangraphs is reporting that Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard are, respectively, asking for $2 million and $4 million above what their clubs are offering. Howard set a record last year by increasing his salary eleven times over via arbitration and is seeking $18 million for 2009, while Fielder is looking for a mere $8 million. So, are they worth it?

Ask Mark Attanasio and the answer would be a big fat no. The Brewers owner famously called for a salary cap and would do anything to curb player salaries to help his small market team compete. Fangraphs says that Fielder would be worth about $16 million on the open market, but the point today is that (a) there's an economic crisis! and (b) he's not on the open market.

Sure, we got rid of the reserve clause in 1975, but baseball owners still exercise control over players for the first few years of their major league careers. So the $6 million might be a mere pittance compared to Mark Teixeira's $20 million salary but Prince is entering just his 4th full season in 2009. That cash is enough to cover his Tofutti Cutie bill at least until he's free-agent eligible in a couple years.

So what does the typical fan think of the arbitration dickering? We turn to the typical Phillies blogger, Enrico from the 700 Level, who shares his opinion in a takedown of columnist Phil Sheridan:

I don't think we really care at all about what Ryan Howard makes this season. We simply care more about the Phillies putting the best available players out on the field. If they give RyHo that extra four million, it likely means them being more frugal in other areas.

Way to support your World Effing Champions, Enrico.

(Photo kindly provided free of charge via Flickr user Rich Anderson)

dutchoven.jpg

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

  • Dodgers Throw Caution to the Wind, Million Dollars to Ausmus: Because no team should ever be without their own grizzled backup veteran catcher, the L.A. Fighting Collettis have tendered Brad Ausmus with a one-year, $1 million contract with a tidy set of incentives. Whoa, slow down there, Dodgers. If any of those incentives include playing time, you better make sure Ausmus doesn't Nancy Kerrigan the hell out of Russell Martin's studly knees.

  • Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Vizquel: Noted quadragenarian and gloveworthy shortstop Omar Vizquel isn't ready to quit the beautiful game quite yet. He's joined up with the Texas Rangers on a simple minor league contract and will be allowed to attend spring training. Perhaps he can school young Elvis Andrus in the intricacies of moving to his left, moving to his right, grabbing grounders, and hurtling them across the diamond. Hey, wait a minute...can Omar show up in Tampa and show these things to Jeter?

  • Championship Week! Championship Week! There's Never Been Another Week Like Championship Week!: Sometime in the late nineties. ESPN promoted their coverage of NCAA basketball conference championships with a jaunty jingle that sounded like it came right out of Tin Pan Alley. I vividly remember hearing Dick Vitale sing along to the tune coming out of commercial during a game broadcast, and that's what I thought of when I read about the Rays' "Championship Week" promotion where they'll give out replica rings and cowbells. I wonder if season ticket holder Vitale will sing along again.

  • The Yankees Were Not the Least Frugal Team in 2008: Sky Kalkman over at Beyond the Box Score whipped up the numbers to show which teams spent their money most wisely in 2008. He compared a team's actual salaries to the expected salaries it would have taken to produce that team's X wins. Well, the Rays obviously did the best job and the Mariners did the worst, while seven teams did worse than the Yanks, including the humble Pirates.

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (6)


Hey kids, stupidity is not a handicap in politics.

That's it for today. Until tomorrow, my fine-feathered friends, when we'll throw some more BONILLA right in your face. Moo and Oink video purloined from Save vs. Death.

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The Dodgers issues a press release today warning the media that second baseman Jeff Kent will be announcing his retirement from the game of baseball after 17 years. The five-time All Star and 2000 NL MVP played 2298 games and hit a record 351 tater dongs as a second baseman. He also retired before we ever got to write a BONILLA projection for him. Jerk.

Without the pesky sport to take up hours of his precious life, Kent will now have a ton of spare time to besmirch Vin Scully's good name, fight gay marriage and "wash his truck", which totally doesn't involve doing stunts on his motorcycle.

(Picture borrowed gently from Flickr user malingering.)

bonilla2009.jpg

The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.

Click here to check out all the BONILLA age projections.

Today, in no particular order, we look at players born in 1973:

Casey Blake, 3B: Recently signed an extension with the Dodgers that will pay him until he is 38, or worth fewer wins over replacement than a dead retarded monkey. If I had one nice thing to say about Casey it's that he's a human being and doesn't deserve this sort of criticism from a blogger.

Geoff Blum, 3B: Now there's a man getting paid what he's worth! Is permanently enshrined in a bronze monument at New Comiskey for his 2005 World Series heroics. And you people make fun of the Yankees. Shame.

Mike Cameron, CF: One of a handful of players to smash four ding-dongs in a single game, missing the would-be record-setting fifth tater tot by a cat's whisker. Long considered one of the coolest dudes in baseball, an honor he will retain lest he become a Yankee.

Johnny Damon, CF: The poster child for baseball bloggers who rail against big contracts for aging folks at high-skill positions. Still managed to post a career-high 118 OPS+ last season and collect the second highest UZR among qualified AL left-fielders. So suck it.

Octavio Dotel, RP: Was part of this debacle but had nothing to do with any of these three debacles. Is a charter member of Ozzie Guillen's Existential Book Club.

Shawn T. Estes, SP: Signed a minor league deal and invited to Dodgers spring training. Someone should tell him that Dodgertown moved to Arizona. THE DREAM IS ALIVE, SHAWN.

Nomar Garciaparra, Util: Third cousin to Walkoff Walk patron saint Manny Garcia Parra. May be forced into early retirement because of the recent economic woes that are affecting other industries but are being used by baseball owners as a red herring to keep player salaries down.

Derek Lowe, SP: Signed an over-market deal with a desperate Braves team. A third starter in ace's clothing, Lowe will be praying for wormballs. Recently married that Dodgers TV personality chick he cheated on his wife with back in '05.

Trever Miller, RP: Flipped his excellent LOOGY 2008 postseason with the upstart Rays into a tidy $2 million deal with the Cardinals. Will be used exclusively to humiliate Prince Fielder in the 7th inning of every single St. Louis/Milwaukee tussle.

Guillermo Mota, RP: Another thirty-five-year-old offseason acquisition by the Dodgers! Most notable for his 50-game steroid suspension to start the 2007 season. Runs a financial software company on the side that totally predicted the market devaluation, and also makes a Tetris-like game called Schmetris.

Chan Ho Park, RP: Learned how to make the transition from starter to closer from Padre teammate Trevor Hoffman; saved three games for the WBC champion Korean team in 2006. Trevor Hoffman, if you really want to help the USA win, you'll put itching powder in Chan Ho's underoos next time.

Scott Schoeneweis, RP: New Jersey's own! Beat testicular cancer at age 19, which helped him deal with the sick nuts who call themselves Mets fans. Was the losing pitcher in the first and last games in Shea Stadium's final season.

Ichiro Suzuki, RF: Will almost certainly make the hall of fame and could potentially reach 3000 hits despite not playing a MLB game until age 27. Has 41 more career hits than Ozzie Guillen, who played baseball for 16 years and 29 more than Boog Powell who played for 17.

Mike Sweeney, 1B: Mike Sweeney needs work! If he receives no major league offers, Mike will join his father-in-law's gourmet chocolate company, but he better get in before the Valentines Day rush or the offer is OFF THE TABLE, Mr. Bigtime Baseball Player!

Julian Tavarez, RP: Another soon-to-be 36-year-old free agent. Got DFA'd by two different teams during 2008. Good news, Julian! You probably won't get DFA'd in 2009 because you won't make any roster to begin with! Silver linings, chap!

Dmitri Young, DH: Spent the last two years as a Warshington National and yet I cannot imagine the man playing any position except none position. Played just 38 games at first last year and made a whopping 7 errors. Was charged with 3 extra errors when he put ketchup on his hot dog. Literally, you pervert.

Chris Coste, C: Has probably sold 10,000 times as many books than he got postseason at-bats (5) with the Phillies last postseason. Will probably make 10 times as much money for signing the inevitable movie deal than he'll ever make as a baseball player. He's A Coste to Moste.

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 Continue To Ship Pitchers Outta Town: Boston sent pitcher David Aardsma to Seattle in exchange for minor league pitcher Fabian Williamson. The Mariners will be Aardsma's fifth team in five years; his claim to fame will forever be moving Hank Aaron from the top of the alphabetical list forever.

  • Ryan Howard Doesn't Screw Around, Pal: Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is asking for $18 million in his arbitration hearing. That would double his salary from last season, and it's the third highest amount ever ever ever demanded in the history of arbitration. If you consider that's $50,000 per pound of body weight, it's really not that much money.

  • Florida Marlins and Dan Uggla Reach Impasse, Decide to Settle Matter in Peoples Court: Well, maybe they won't be using Judge Wapner, but they're definitely headed for an arbitration hearing. Uggla has knocked 90 tater tots in just 3 years, pretty damn good for a second baseman, so he's expected to top $5 million this year. Still, he made 83 errors in the All Star Game so that's gotta knock at least fifty grand off the top.

  • Your Daily List of Folks Who Signed a Contract and Avoided the Messy Arb: Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Dodgers catcher Russell Martin. Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett. Mariners starter Erik Bedard. Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino. Yankees rightfielder Xavier Nady. Mets outfielder Ryan Church. Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco.
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Because we're all too busy watching and listening to Barack Obama's Big Inauguration Day today, your afternoon post will simply consist of the above image stolen from Big League Stew about the possible Obama-themed White Sox hat. Not available at a store near you!

If you want to check out the inauguration yourself, head over to MLB.com because they're streaming the whole shebang live. Feel free to share whatever thought you might have in the comments, whether it's baseball-y or president-y or even about your favorite hoagie sandwich. Freedom of Commentdom is our First Amendment.

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

bushbat.jpg

Today marks the last full day of the George W. Bush regime in Warshington, D.C., and a nation (70%) full of Obamaniacs couldn't be giddier. Like him or not (and if you're reading this Intertubes web-site, you probably don't), Mr. Bush did a great service to our national pastime both prior to his presidency and during it. The same man who famously traded Sammy Sosa to the Cubs also introduced the biennial tee-ball game to the White House lawn. The same fella who bought the Rangers for a song and sold 'em for a fortune showed up after 9/11 and single-handedly saved the World Series. Ol' Dubya intertwined the presidency with baseball as much as Clinton intertwined the presidency with public opinion polls.

So how much will W involve himself in baseball in the coming years?

Last week, our pal 'Duk over at Big League Stew told us that our Bush-as-commissioner fantasies were nothing but pipe dreams. Via the transcripts from Dubya's interview with creepy and ancient serial husband Larry King:

KING: If Bud Selig retires, which he probably will pretty soon, would you be commissioner?

G. BUSH: No, no.

KING: Would you get back into the game?

G. BUSH: No. I'm going to be a fan. I'll keep knowledgeable so I can hang in there with you when it comes time to talk modern, current baseball.

Shame, really. As poorly as Bush handled the country over the past eight years, he can at least play dumb and blame it on the other guy. Selig plays dumb and just shrugs his shoulders. So as George and Laura retire to their swank gated community somewhere outside Dallas, we can only expect that his first choice will be to return to Arlington to catch Michael Young and the Rangers sometime this season.

So WoWies, when do you think he'll finally emerge from the shadows and gladhand Nolan Ryan during a Rangers game? Before the All-Star break? After? The 2010 season? Or will he take a road trip to New York and check out the new digs in town?

bonilla2009.jpg

The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.

Click here to check out all the BONILLA age projections.

Today, in no particular order, we look at players born in 1982:

Wily Mo Pena, LF: Wily Mo, he's a vegetarian. He don't eat meat but he sure likes the bone.

Frankie Rodriguez, RP: Relax! Mets fans, you won't have to worry about Billy Wagner blowing important games anymore. Still, with his sky-high walk rate, I foresee many Mets-induced shrimp videos.

Jeremy Bonderman, SP: Missed most of '08 with a blood clot. Oddly enough, the blood clot was invited to Tigers spring training and will compete for the left field job.

Rickie Weeks, 2B: Prince Fielder teases Rickie about two things: his middle name (Darnell) and his awkward May injury.

Jhonny Peralta, SS: Was originally named 'Jonny' but Dominican hospital workers spilled some Mama Juana on his birth certificate; one of the drops looked like a lowercase 'h'.

Chad Cordero, RP: A torn labrum cost the Nationals closer almost all of his 2008 season. No matter, Chad, you weren't going to get many opportunities to save games.

Dontrelle Willis, SP: Constantly re-adjusting his jaunty hat, hoping to find that exact angle and bend of the brim that brought him so much success in 2005. Dontrelle needs to either rediscover his slider or go back to trade school.

Jorge Cantu, 3B: Sassy senior Jorge Cantu was part of a historically powerful Marlins infield in 2008 but he fell just one dong short of being the first infield quartet to each hit 30 taters. Loser.

Yadier Molina, C: Contrary to popular belief, he's not really the youngest Molina brother. That honor goes to 24-year-old Chet Molina, a 5'10", 325 lb catcher for the Moose Jaw Miller Express in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Jason Kubel, DH: Someone named Grant Maki sponsors Jason's B-R.com page with the epigram, "Jason Kubel is my hero. Like if Nightcrawler was real and played baseball." Awesome.

David Wright, 3B: Biggest news out of David Wright camp this offseason was the rumor that he was, and then wasn't, a passenger on the Miracle on the Hudson flight. The geese couldn't do what the Phillies have done two straight seasons.

Corey Hart, RF: I wonder if Corey tires of the "Sunglasses at Night" nonsense. I'd be tearing my hair out but since baseball players are known to have awful musical taste, Hart probably rocks out to the tune every at-bat.

Grady Sizemore, CF: Without a doubt the most underrated player in the American League. Four years in the league and he's yet to finish higher than tenth in the MVP voting despite being the only AL centerfielder with both a good glove and a great bat.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B: The best player in San Diego and therefore totally expendable. Especially with Walkoff Walk favorite Kyle Blanks mashing the ball in the Padres minor league system.

Manny Delcarmen, RP: "The Pride of Hyde Park" single-handedly gave away Game Four of the ALCS last year. Well not single-handedly. The three homers Wakefield gave up helped.

Tom Gorzelanny, SP: Was somehow part of the fan vote to fill the final roster spot of the 2007 NL All Star Team. Finished a distant seventh place despite there being only five players in the running.

Kelly Johnson, 2B: His fourteen rules of management were vital in producing over twenty different kinds of Lockheed aircraft in the 1940s and 1950s. Collected 39 doubles last year.

Paul Maholm, SP: Most notable moment of short career so far was striking out Billy Crystal in a spring training game. Would have endeared himself to Yankees fans had his 90 MPH fastball connected with Crystal's voicebox.

Aaron Hill, 2B: Not related to Henry Hill. Speaking of which, I saw Goodfellas for the fiftieth time this weekend and I would really like to have this painting on my wall.

Conor Jackson, LF: Conor's dad John played Admiral Chegwidden on the CBS drama JAG, which inexplicably ran for 10 seasons. People, hour-long dramas on network television are devoid of foul language and nudity and therefore worthless.

Dustin McGowan, SP: Surgery to repair his frayed labrum may keep him from pitching in 2009. No worries, Jays fans, you've still got Shaun Marcum. Oh, Tommy John surgery? Well you'll always have A.J. Burne...whoops.

J.J. Hardy, SS: James Jerry temporarily removed the periods between his initials when CC Sabathia was his teammate. Tried to bring them back this offseason but had to pay a $150,000 period restoration fee from the Punctuation Management Syndicate.

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS: His glove actually got worse than his bat in 2008. Has the range of Derek Jeter, the arm of David Eckstein, and the bat of Neifi Perez, who is actually dead.

Shin-Soo Choo, RF: Gesundheit. Zing!

Robinson Cano, 2B: For three years, his sweet singles swing was compared to hall-of-famer Rod Carew. Recent struggles have led the horrible broadcaster Michael Kay to compare him to mud.

Carlos Marmol, RP: With the departure of Kerry Wood, gets promoted to closer despite the acquisition of Kevin Gregg. Is very K-Rod-esque with his high walk rate and high strikeout rate. "Marmol" is from the Catalan word for "marble".

Manny Corpas, RP: Should resume his role of closer with Brian Fuentes headed to greener American League pastures. He'd better get his groundball ratio down to 2007 levels or else expect a flurry of tater tots.

Ricky Nolasco, SP: Missed most of 2007 with Joe Girardi-induced arm problems but recovered in 2008 to go 15-8 and collect 186 K's in 212 innings. Total fantasy sleeper. Zzz.

Zach Miner, RP: Is there any worse job in the world than being a spot starter for a Jim Leyland team? Well maybe artificially inseminating walruses with a rubber glove and a turkey baster, but I'll call it a draw.

Ian Kinsler, 2B: Little known Ian Kinsler fact: when the Rangers forced Michael Young to move from shortstop to third base, it wasn't to make room for stud prospect Elvis Andrus. It was because Kinsler said that Young smelled like spoiled milk and beets.

Brian Wilson, RP: GENERIC BEACH BOYS JOKE. Did not have dominant numbers in 2008 but the Giants' need for a shutdown closer was somewhat mitigated by their suckitude.

Jered Weaver, SP: If he loses too much speed on his fastball, Weaver has the risk of allowing 35+ homers in a season. Lost a eight-inning combined no-hitter over the Dodgers 1-0 in 2008.

Michael Bourn, CF: Part of the trade that sent Brad Lidge to Philadelphia. His 57 OPS+ was perhaps one of the worst in professional baseball last year. Good work, Ed Wade!

Andre Ethier, RF: Seems like everyone's a critic nowadays. Spending the offseason taking little old men on romantic dates to Mexican restaurants.

Carlos Quentin, LF: Had the AL MVP in the bag until he slammed his bat down in frustration in September and borkened his wrist. Your impatience allowed that twink second baseman in Boston to have an inflated ego, Carlos.

Sean Marshall, RP: I can't tell the difference between Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher. Which one plays for the A's now?

Micah Owings, SP: Was traded in September to the Reds and made four pinch-hit appearances and zero appearances on the pitchers mound. Second coming of Rick Ankiel?

Yunel Escobar, SS: Regressed somewhat with the bat but was glovey enough in '08 to stay on as the Braves shortstop for '09. After emigrating from Cuba and washing up on the shores of Miami, his first request was for a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast.

Manny Parra, SP: The patron saint of Walkoff Walk. Should rebound nicely in '08. Well he better because he's the Brewers ace now. Sucker.

Nick Blackburn, SP: With teammate Nick Punto they form the Twins NICKGASM. If he pitches a game against the Orioles this year and Nick Markakis lines one to Nick Punto, and I'm liveglogging said game, I'm shutting down WoW forever.

Armando Galarraga, SP: The Little Cat! Allowed 28 tater dongs in '08 and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. The only Tigers pitcher worth his weight in tobacco.

David Purcey, SP: Despite his advanced age for a rook, this lefty will have a good shot of making the Blue Jays depleted rotation. Once drove clear across Missouri on a single tank of corn oil.

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

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 Reward Baldheaded, Goateed Gentleman For His Heroic Awesomeness, Grecian Good Looks: The Boston Globe confirmed yesterday that Boston and Kevin Youkilis have agreed to a four-year, $41 million extension that could be worth $53 million if Youk plays his cards right. Wink wink, nudge nudge. You like-a the contract extension? I give you more contract extension.

  • Padres Continue Slow Descent Into Tanking for Another High Draft Pick: Talented young prospects? The Padres don't need 'em! San Diego has signed free agent David Eckstein to a one-year deal worth some amount of money. In exchange, Eckstein will be allowed to play second base. Wait, the Padres are paying Eckstein? I thought it would be the other way around, sort of a Fantasy Sports Camp.

  • Owners Wisely Agree to Amend Playoff Rules, Fail To Agree on Existential Point of Ziggy Cartoon: First, the owners got rid of the coin-flip that decided home field advantage for tiebreaking playoff games. Good move. Then, the owners voted to ensure that every postseason game is played out to the full nine innings, regardless of weather, act of God, or escaped livestock on the field. Also a good move. Then they decided to go out and see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Bad move.

  • Local Laboratory Looted by Licensed Lawmen: The Champaign, Illinois headquarters of Ergopharm, the company that produced the 6-OXO supplement that got J.C. Romero in hot water, was raided by the feds. The good folks at the Drug Enforcement Agency served a warrant, took some delicious looking pills hostage, overturned bunsen burners and glass beakers, and made no arrests.

  • Michael Young Accepts Fate, Moves to Third Base: Texas shortstop Mike Young backed off his trade request, nay, demand! and will put his little tail between his leg as he shifts about 30 or so feet to his right. This frees up space for little Elvis Andrus, who will have the pressure of a thousand rhinoceroses on his shoulders as he takes over for the Gold Glove-winning...ha hahah...shorstop.

  • Your List of Players Whose Teams Decided Arbitration Would Be Messy: Brewers P Dave Bush, Rangers P Brandon McCarthy, Rays RP Grant Balfour. That's it. Everyone else is going to fight it out.
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It's the middle of January, which can only mean it's time for baseball owners to get together in the sunshine and collude! This year, the small market owners are breaking away from the script and talking about a salary cap, mostly because the Yankees just committed a half-billion dollars to three gentlemen. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is pretty vocal about instituting an anti-competitive cap, probably because his biggest fish from his playoff team just got eaten by the Yankees.

"I would ask, if it's such a bad idea, what sport doesn't have a salary cap other than us?" Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said Wednesday.

The answer, Mark, would be 'none', because no other sport has such a powerful players union as baseball, where players actually get 'compensated' at a fair rate for services provided. Well, almost every player. The collective bargaining agreement between owners and players expires in 2011; does Attanasio really think the players will ever agree to cap their earnings just to even the playing field a bit?

Besides, other sports like the NFL share their television revenue. The individual teams all sup from the gigantic teat of the FOX, CBS, ESPN, and NBC money pit. The games themselves are scarce, so TV ponies up big dough for the rights to show 'em. Baseball's revenue structure is far different; each team makes their own money with their own regional sports network or local TV deal. So we should let the teams dictate their own expenses based on their incomes. If you tell the Red Sox they cannot spend more than $100 million on player salaries, how are they going to spend that $50 million surplus? Perhaps they'll redirect it towards player development costs and signing bonuses, making it even harder for Attanasio's Brewers to compete.

"I think there's a lot of owners that would like to have that right now," Oakland owner Lew Wolff said. "I think the parity is what we're looking for, and the more ways you can get to parity the better. I think it's pretty good now, but I think it could be better.

Parity? Eight different teams have won the World Series in the past 9 years. Twenty different teams have been in the playoffs in the past four years. Tampa Bay made the World Series last year with a payroll that was merely a fraction of a 100-loss Mariners team. How does a limit on payroll force parity when teams are free to make smart (and stupid!) decisions with the cash they have or don't have?

Don't cry too hard for these dudes anyway. They were partying it up at an 'exclusive mountainside resort' in Paradise Valley, Ariz, probably either the Sanctuary on Camelback (with a relaxing meditation garden!) or the InterContinental Montelucia. I doubt they're saving some cash and staying at the Knights Inn.

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

  • Padres Decide to Skew a Bit Older at Shortstop: San Diego is on the verge of signing eleven-time-Gold-Glove-winning, 62-year-old Omar Vizquel to play short in 2009. With Craig Counsell at second, this becomes the single oldest double play combination in history, passing the 1979 Toronto Blue Jays featuring Abe Vigoda and Carl "Oldy" Olderson.

  • Rays Reach Deal to Receate Ultimate Platoon of People Named Gabe: For a few months last season, the Brewers platooned Gabe Gross and Gabe Kapler in centerfield. WIth the Rays recent acquisition of Kapler and their arbitration-avoiding new deal with Gross, the Gabe Platoon is back, this time in right field for the Rays. In related news, GM Andrew Friedman is in discussion with the archangel Gabriel to sell peanuts.

  • Tired of the Same Old, Same Old, White Sox Add Colon to Rotation: Bartolo Colon is returning to Chicago, having signed a one-year deal to become the Pale Hose fifth starter. He missed most of 2008 with a back ouchie and was dismissed by the Red Sox after going AWOL and heading to the Dominican Republic. Could you blame him?

  • Get Ready, Charm City! It's ZAUN TIME!: Famed cinema enthusiast and alleged steroid buyer Gregg Zaun will join the Balty-more Orioles for the '09 season, where he'll back up...well...looks like he's the only catcher on the roster. Enjoy fifth place again, Orioles fans!

  • Your List of Arbitration-Eligible Players Who Signed a Contract: Tigers RP Fernando Rodney, Tigers OF Marcus Thames, A's OF Jack Cust, Angels 3B Chone Figgins.
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The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.

Click here to check out all the BONILLA age projections.

Today, in no particular order, we look at players born in 1975:

Russell Branyan, DH: Seattle snagged this classic Three True Outcomes guy for a song this offseason. Well, he'd be a Four True Outcomes guy if you counted "switching teams". The Mariners are his eighth team.

Chris Carpenter, SP: After Albert Pujols' elbow and Jack Buck's mummified pinky finger, Chris Carpenter's shoulder is the most valuable body part in St. Louis. Nerve damage cost him 2007 and 2008 but expect the pride of Manchester, N.H. to make 2009 count.

Luis Castillo, 2B: Including minor leaguers, there have been SIX players named Luis Castillo active in the past two years. This particular Luis Castillo is the former Gold Glover that Omar Minaya is taking on a Caribbean cruise, just to have the chance to push him overboard during the conga line.

Alex Cora, SS: Lives forever in the shadow of his brother Joey, ten years his senior. Experience of the shadow has helped him back up 26 different shortstops in Boston.

Francisco Cordero, RP: Pitched well enough to retain his closer status for 2009, but just in case, Coco has a brown envelope full of compromising photos involving Dusty Baker, a Shetland pony, and a Ronco juicer.

Doug Davis, SP: Beat the thyroid cancer in 2008 and beat the Braves in his first start back. Doug's favorite movie of all time is Jaws and will beat you, too, if you say any different.

Mark DeRosa, 2B: New Jersey's own Mark DeRosa played quarterback at Penn and can currently be found searching out Cleveland for the best place to get a soppressata sangwich.

J.D. Drew, RF: Is equally despised in both North Jersey and South Jersey, a feat normally matched only by active members of the Washington Redskins football squadron. A devout Christian, Drew doesn't drink, smoke, gamble, dance, or drive an automobile with a woman in the front passenger seat.

David Eckstein, SS: I think we should stop using Baseball-Reference.com as our source for player info. They seem to think Eckstein once won a World Series MVP award?

Pedro Feliz, 3B: Feliz is Clare's least favorite Phillies player and was phillas' least favorite Giants player, which means that neither commenter appreciates the defensive revolution in baseball.

Brian Fuentes, RP: Fuentes will be your new Angels closer in '09. Previous guy set some sort of record, I reckon. This is like a hack comedian going on after Pryor's 'Killed my car' bit. (warning: coarse language)

Carlos Guillen, LF: Moved from shortstop to third base to first base back to third base and will allegedly play left field in '09, as per Jim Leyland. I suppose that's what Jeter's rotation would have looked like if he had corner outfielder power.

Livan Hernandez, SP: If this whole pitching thing doesn't work out for the...ahem...34-year-old Hernandez, there's always that golfing career he's got on the backburner. Had an ERA above 8 during his eight-game stint with the Rockies in '08.

Tim Hudson, SP: This creampuff will probably miss the entire 2009 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Really, really loves this juicy ham, and whatever it is they're cooking in that picture.

Torii Hunter, CF: Likes chemistry. Enjoys nude sunbathing. Has trouble dealing with demons.

Gabe Kapler, RF: At one point during Kapler's stint with the Red Sox, Boston Herald beat writer John Tomase surveyed the entire Red Sox locker room and found out that Kapler was the only Democrat among 24 Republicans. This once again proves my theory, rich white dudes love other rich white dudes.

Mark Kotsay, RF: Mark hates the new Tropicana brand design just as much as you do. He's switching to Florida's Natural.

Mike Lamb, 3B: My clam will platoon with Bill Hall at third in Milwaukee. This is perhaps the least threatening offensive platoon in baseball history. Their combined OPS got beaten up and robbed by David Wright's OPS.

Derrek Lee, 1B: He's the black Kent Hrbek. Derrek Lee might be as valuable to the Cubs as Al Pujols is to the Cardinals and probably deserved the 2005 NL MVP just as much, if not more than his division rival.

Julio Lugo, SS: Julio has probably gotten over the whole parasitic worm by now, just in time to lose his job to young stud Jed Lowrie.

Damaso Marte, RP: Claims to have invented 'ants on a log', or the celery snack with peanut butter and raisins. Obviously this is wildly untrue, but perhaps he discovered and named the tasty treat on his own in a wild act of kismet.

Jose Molina, C: Will always be remembered for hitting the last ding-dong at Yankee Stadium II and also for looking exactly like a panda bear. Hates ants on a log.

David Ortiz, DH: Probably one of the three best designated hitters in baseball history, which is akin to saying that I am one of the three best bloggers at Walkoff Walk. Keeps his mamey in his fridge.

Placido Polanco, 2B: Played the entire 2007 season at second base for the Tigers without committing a single error. Had a brown envelope full of photos of the Comerica Park official scorer in flagrante delicto with a dromedary and a Ronco juicer.

Edgar Renteria, SS: Like Ty Cobb, he sleeps with a revolver under his pillow. The only difference? It's empty and made of Lego. He and Polanco were for one season the Latino Trammell and Whitaker.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B: Earned his entire rookie salary every two-and-a-half games in 2008. Ranked 22nd all time in times hit by pitch. All time home run leader for people born in New York.

Scott Rolen, 3B: Is still reading The Jungle.

B.J. Ryan, RP: Ryan has an entire section of his Wikipedia entry devoted to Notable blown saves. Ryan will once again collect 30 saves for a slightly above average Blue Jays team and spend the All Star break rebuilding houses in storm-ravaged Halifax.

Scot Shields, RP: Still a little ticked off he didn't win the closer job when K-Rod skipped town. Is planning his revenge on manager Mike Scioscia, which will probably involve a cardboard box of empty aluminum cans and a Ronco juicer.

Jeff Suppan, SP: Owns a Los Angeles-area restaurant named Soup's Grill despite the impossibility of grilling soup. Suppan is lucky enough to be employed by a Brewers team with few other warm bodies to actually start baseball games.

Fernando Tatis, LF: Perhaps the only major league ballplayer to have a song written about him by Jenny Lewis. Once played for some strange team named the "Montreal Expos", whoever they are.

Kaz Matsui, 2B: Two words. Anal. Fissure.

Hideki Okajima, RP: Had a down 2008 after a stellar 2007. Manager Tito Francona is still figuring out a polite way to tell him to stop looking at the damn ground every time he throws a pitch.

Hiroki Kuroda, SP: Went 2-0 for the Dodgers in the 2008 playoffs. Was a Whopper Virgin until November, when he mistook his local Burger King for a shoe store.

The Dutch Oven: Soup's On!

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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

bonilla2009.jpg

The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.

Inspired partly by the Nate Silver's PECOTA projection system, Sean Smith's CHONE, Tango Tiger's Marcel, and of course Free Darko's Every Player Preview from 2007, we won't necessarily try to predict how your favorite player will perform, nor will we give you any sort of fantasy baseball insight. Think of these short previews as more of a reflection on the past and a hopeful look towards the future; we're all baseball fans at Walkoff Walk and we want to see everyone shine, baby.

Today, in no particular order, we look at players born in 1984:

Dioner Navarro, C: His middle name is Favian so it's almost like he was named after two teen idols. Navarro's like a tiger.

B.J. Upton, CF: Probably the breakout star in the 2008 postseason. Give this dude back the hundred points of SLG he lost between 07 and 08 and you got a superstar.

Scott Kazmir, SP: True story: Sufjan Stevens is doing an album titled Florida and the first track will be called "Kazmir Pitches Today".

Jonathan Broxton, RP: Georgia's own Jonathan Broxton is nicknamed "Johnny Double-D" by Dodger fans for his ability to consume twelve Dodger Dogs in a sitting. He's a big boy!

Josh Johnson, SP: Fully recovered now from his Girardi-induced Tommy John surgery, Johnson put together a tidy 7-1 record in the second half of 2008. Possibly third-best athlete named Josh.

Brian McCann, C: Not related to the Late Night with Conan O'Brien comedy writer Brian McCann, aka Randy the Pyloric Sphincter.

Scott Olsen, SP: Born less than 20 days apart from rotation-mate Josh Johnson, they'll likely co-celebrate their birthdays this month at the Bradenton, FL Hooters restaurant with a double-size bucket of oysters.

Jeff Francouer, RF: Can't hit the broad side of the barn with any of Chipper Jones' hunting rifles. Another sub-.300 OBP in 2009 and he might be headed back to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B: Part of the solution in Warshington or part of the problem? Hasn't improved much since his rookie season.

Jeremy Hermida, RF: Probably expendable and most likely on the trading block. 'Hermida' is from the Greek root 'hermes' meaning 'overpriced leather goods'.

Prince Fielder, 1B: The plus-sized slugger doesn't overeat to overcome his daddy issues, no matter how much of his signing bonus Cecil gambled away. Became a vegetarian after reading Skinny Bitch.

Matt Cain, SP: With the emergence of Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Cain will most certainly not be the face of the franchise in 2009.

James Loney, 1B: James Loney is the pseudonym of Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen. He grounds into a lot of double plays.

Joel Zumaya, RP: Beat "Through the Flames and Fire" on expert level in Guitar Hero but still can't master the split-finger fastball.

Anibal Sanchez, SP: Can't ride that no-hitter train forever, Anibal. Is every Marlins starting pitcher turning 25 this year? The entire rotation is on the verge of a quarter life crisis.

Alexi Casilla, 2B: The most newsworthy thing he did in 2008 was get hurt and let us write this amusing blogpost about Adam Everett.

Chad Billingsley, SP: Will probably never consider a hobby of ice-fishing. Should remain as the ace of the Dodgers rotation.

Matt Kemp, CF: Nicknamed "The Bison", Kemp benefited from Joe Torre's (somewhat late) realization that Juan Pierre should not be paid money to be a starting centerfielder. The Dodgers have a nice group of 25 year olds.

Jon Lester, SP: The Red Sox, on the other hand, skew a little older. Still, Lester might be the best young pitcher in the majors. Beat cancer. Beat Jason Bay in Red Sox shuffleboard tournament.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS: I totally predicted Tulowitzki's sophomore slump, despite the fact that I made a pre-season fantasy baseball trade for him, giving up Scott Kazmir. Oh, and he did NOT win the Rookie of the Year award.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP: Despite allowing over 100 walks in less than 200 innings pitched, this dude might challenge Aaron Cook for the role of ace in the Rockies rotation next year. Rich Lederer loves the kid.

Elijah Dukes, RF: He allegedly threatened to kill his ex-wife via text message. Elijah Dukes is nothing if he's not direct.

Alex Gordon, 3B: Along with Billy Butler, he's very popular in Kansas City because he is young and cherubic. Another jump in OBP in 2009 and he'll be Rob Neyer's wet dream.

Joe Smith, RP: Wait, who the heck is Joe Smith? If you followed the Mets in '08, you know him as the most consistent bullpen arm. Only two blown saves!

Brandon Morrow, RP: Some exuberant Mariners fan sponsored Brandon's Baseball Reference page with the simple phrase "Brandon Morrow is super awesome". Keep the faith, AngelicaM!

Joakim Soria, RP: Good news, Royals fans! You have a fastball-wielding shutdown closer! Bad news, Royals fans! His set-up man in '09 is Kyle Farnsworth!

Tim Lincecum, SP: I'm not going out on a limb when I dub him the Most Talented Baseball Player Born in 1984. He's made of magic! And ligaments!

Kevin Slowey, SP: With a name like that, you'd expect him to be the second coming of Steve Trachsel. Not so! Slowey likes to speed the game up so he can get home in time for the 11PM syndicated episode of "Raymond".

Kyle Kendrick, SP: Fat, drunk and a 1:1 K-to-BB ratio is no way to go through life, son. Gives up more tater tots than the cafeteria lady at Girls High.

Chase Headley, LF: Had a cup of coffee in 2007 but Kris and I witnessed his 2008 debut at Yankee Stadium. He made an error, just like Kris did getting the supersized cheese fries.

Jo-Jo Reyes, SP: Will probably get 20 more chances to start in a slight Atlanta rotation, which means 20 more chances for us to snicker at the fact that a pro player is named Jo-Jo.

Jensen Lewis, RP: Did a fine, fine job closing out games for the Indians towards the end of 2008. Is secretly hoping the Great Kerry Wood Experiment ends exactly how we all expect it to: in flllllllllames.

John Lannan, SP: Is the least popular non-Met pitcher in Philly because his fastball broke Chase Utley's hand in 2007. His own Washington fans at least honor him with apathy.

Clay Buchholz, SP: Chris Bosio once threw a no-hitter too, kid.

Ian Kennedy, SP: With a last name like that, you might as well try politics. This whole baseball thing is a tough sport.

Wladimir Balentien, RF: Bill James actually projects you'll have 20 ding-dongs in 2009, Wladdy. I'll eat my hat if you come close to that.

Denard Span, RF: Had Lasik surgery prior to the 2008 season; it paid off with a .387 OBP. Now if he could only convince Joe Mauer to get a sideburn-ectomy and the Twins will be ready to challenge the AL Central again.

Jed Lowrie, SS: Should win the starting shortstop job in Boston partly because (a) he's got a high base-on-balls rate and (b) Julio Lugo is a rally killer extraordinaire.

Max Scherzer, SP: Was hot-hot-hot when he was called up in late April, but went 0-4 because the Diamondbacks had an offense less powerful than nine dead retarded monkeys from May forward. Nice fastball.

Matt Joyce, RF: Should be the first choice in right field for the Rays in '09. He's got power and grace in the field but not much patience at the plate. He's the white Corey Patterson.

Jose Arredondo, RP: Say his name aloud. Go ahead. Roll the R's and linger on the "don" syllable. Now doesn't that sound like the name of the guy you want closing games for the Angels, Senor Moreno?

Max Ramirez, C: He's probably just the second best among Texas' collection of 239 catchers, behind Taylor Teagarden. Was once traded for Bob Wickman, and once traded for Kenny Lofton, and may soon be traded again for another washed-up former Indians player.

Kila Ka'aihue, 1B: Might be the best young hitter in the Kansas City organization, which means he'll either waste away on the bench or break the all-time homer record for another team. Has a younger brother named Kala...really.

Josh Outman, SP: With a name like Josh Outman, you'd expect him to get some outs, man.

Thanks also to Sean Lahman for his invaluable database.

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

  • Michael Young Wants to Pick Up His Ill-Begotten Gold Glove and Play Elsewhere: The Texas Rangers asked veteran shortstop Michael Young to move to third base and make room at short for up-and-coming superstar Elvis Andrus. In response, Michael Young threw a shit-fit and demanded a trade. Young actually started his Rangers career as a second baseman but moved to short after Texas lost Alex Rodriguez in 2004. At this rate, Young will be asked to be moved to peanut vendor in 2012.

  • Rays Replace Rocco with Recent Red Sox Righty Rightfielder: Noteworthy Jew Gabe Kapler is the latest free agent to hop aboard the Rays bandwagon, inking a one-year, one MILLION dollar deal to get into the outfield mix for the defending AL champions. The Rays now carry B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, Matt Joyce, Kapler, and Fernando Perez as outfielders; expect Columbia grad and New Jersey native Perez to start out the year in the minors. Thanks for nuttin, Andy Friedman!

  • Yes, But Can He Do the Hully-Gully?: The completely-made-up-sounding American Sportscasters Association has selected Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully as the Top Sportscaster of All-Time. No, not Sportscaster of the Year, or the Decade, or the Century. Of ALL-TIME. Eat dirt, Cosell. Suck on it, Red Barber. Tough nuts, Jim McKay. In response, Dick Enberg exclaimed, "Oh, my!"

  • Your List of B-List Players Who Avoided Arbitration: These guys all signed contracts with their original teams and thus avoided that nasty process of arbitration. Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy. Astros closer Jose Valverde. Braves utilityman Omar Infante. Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach.
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Today, Rickey Henderson (94.8%) and Jim Rice (76.4%) were officially elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. They'll get lifetime passes to a big special building in Cooperstown, NY and a handful of half-off coupons at the local Denny's. The ceremony this summer will be a real hot ticket, if only to hear Henderson shed his typical humility and finally engage in some self-congratulations, and to hear Rice curse out all the sportswriters who made him wait this consarned long.

Make no mistake about it, Rickey Henderson belongs here. There is perhaps no better example of a baseball player who bridges the gap between old-school scouting types who enjoyed his grit and determination and new-school sabermetric types who stand in awe of his patience at the plate and his run production ability. Rickey's the kind of baseball player you want to see your kid emulate. Get some dirt on your pants, hustle out a double, and be confident and brash enough to tell everyone that you are the best player that ever played.

As for Jim Rice, he's not half the player Henderson was, and probably not statistically special enough to be in the hall. That whole nonsense about being the most-feared player was just a bunch of poppycock and applesauce, invented by the Boston faithful and pushed by curly-haired idiots. Still, Jim Rice is famous, if only for his long, Susan Lucci-esque failure to win the big prize. (Also, he probably enjoys Lucci's oeuvre, having admitted to watching Young and the Restless) It's almost as if being barely not good enough for election to the Hall of Fame justified his election to the Hall of Fame. That's why I'm glad that Jim Rice is a HOFer, if only to promote my bizarre theories.

Shame on the BBWAA for continually missing the boat on guys who should be slam dunk votes, like Bert Blyleven (62.7%), Mark McGwire (21.9%) and Tim Raines (22.6%). Perhaps in the future, sportswriters will be replaced by self-aware baseball android writers, each equipped with the ability to make quantitative judgments as well as qualitative ones, and brown cyber-fedoras with the PRESS card firmly stuck in the band. Until that day, we've got to at least make the flesh-and-bone baseball writers as knowledgeable as Posnanski.

UPDATE: Two writers submitted blank ballots. Blank. No names written down. Not one.

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

  • Kenshin Kawakami Must Not Understand American Geography Enough: Frank Wren's multiple trips to Japan paid off, as NPB pitching sensation Kenshin Kawakami signed a tidy three-year contract with the Braves. But really, for someone highly pursued like Kawakami, why would he pick Atlanta to relocate? Does he not realize the high-quality noodle shops we have up here in NYC?

  • Mets See Braves Move, Up the Ante With...Tim Redding?: I guess Redding can't be that bad of a pitcher since he led the Nationals with ten wins. And hey, it's only a one-year, $2.25 million deal for a guy only expected to compete for the fifth rotation slot. Redding was a Yankee in 2005; he pitched just one inning against the Red Sox, allowed 6 runs, and was immediately shot out of a cannon to free up a roster spot for...Al Leiter.

  • Red Sox Continue Picking Up Players Off Scrap Heap; Will Soon Pick Up Prog Rock Albums By Uriah Heap: Boston signed Takashi Saito, formerly the closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, to a one-year deal. With Saito and Brad Penny headed west to Boston, the Dodgers are finally turning the tide on the Boston-to-L.A. route made popular by Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe, and Grady Little.

  • In-N-Out Book To Solve All Your Easter Shopping Woes: BusinessWeek staff writer Stacy Perman has penned a book covering the history of the In-N-Out burger, set to be released in April. Amazon will be selling this book animal-style; when you open the cardboard box, your book will be smothered in thousand island dressing and grilled onions.
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Having spent six and a half years getting my undergraduate degree, I know what it's like to be part of an organization for a long time and then have everybody you know leave you behind. It's depressing! Poor Chipper Jones is going through that pain right now, having his last best bud John Smoltz leave the Atlanta Braves after seventeen years of playing together throughout the minors and majors.

Think about it: Chipper made his big-league debut in 1993; from that point forward, the Braves won twelve straight division titles, a few league championships, and even a World Series. Since that point, he's had to say goodbye to the best pitching trio of Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. Even worse, he's lost his hunting pals like Adam La Roche and Ryan Langerhans, so you can't blame him for lashing out in an interview with the AJC's Carroll Rogers:

Q. Fans are questioning why the Braves didn't offer Smoltz more money when this is an offseason when the Braves have said they had money to spend. Do you agree?

A. For Smoltzy! That's what I don't understand. That's what's frustrating. I'm trying to be as diplomatic and as upbeat as I can possibly be and it is being made very hard on me to be that way. John Smoltz has been one of the faces of this franchise for 20 years. There's no reason for him at 41 years old to be playing anywhere but here.

For Smoltzy, indeed. Don't forget, Chipper and Smoltzy had their own issues last year to deal with; imagine if this was one of Chipper's hunting buds taking the next Delta flight out of town!

To make matters worse, Carroll asks Chipper about his own future with the club:

Q. Were you expecting the Braves to make you an offer for an extension this winter?

A. I was told that it was going to happen by the Braves.

Q. Do you think it still might?

A. We've got over a month until spring training. Yeah, it could certainly happen. I've just been chalking it up to the Braves have bigger fish to fry. But it seems like somebody keeps coming along and eating all our fish.

Hot damn, if there's one thing you don't want to do to a dude who carries a rifle in his workout bag, it's steal his fish. Right now, Chipper's teetering between getting angrier and going on a massive deer-murdering spree, or getting sadder and ending up like his fifth cousin thrice removed, Andruw Jones. Now there's a guy who knows how to be a sad tomato.

So, the Red Sox and the Braves will meet in a two! weekend series at the Ted and Fenway this year. If Smoltz comes up the rotation and faces Chipper, can you imagine that batter-vs-pitcher staredown? They'll probably both break down crying, meet between the plate and the mound, and sit down cross-legged to enjoy some bear jerky.

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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

  • Canada To Reap Benefits of MLB Network Without Pesky MLB Initials: The Globe and Mail is reporting that Rogers Cable is looking to carry the fabulously popular baseball cable network in Canada with one special twist: they'd re-purpose the programming with added Canadian content. So when you watch the replay of the 1975 World Series, you'll see Pierre Trudeau waving his home run ball fair at Fenway Park and when you see the 1951 one-game playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers, Maurice Richard will hit the Shot Heard Round the World.

  • Trevor Hoffman Earns a Job-Specific Bonus: Super-baseball-blogger Dave Cameron compared Trevor Hoffman's new Brewers contract with a statistically similar pitcher's contract and found out that Hoffman earned a significant amount more because he's got that closer tattoo emblazoned on his buttcheek. Good point Dave, but the other pitcher was named Bobby. It's a proven fact that people named Bobby suffer in the open market.

  • Pirates Were Just Kidding Last Year, Totally Want Xavier Nady Back: I hate rumours, but this one is just too baffling to ignore. The Pirates and the Yankees are talking trade about outfielders Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher. This despite the fact that the Yankees acquired Nady from the Pirates just last year for a handful of solid prospects just around the trading deadline. Can you imagine the rebuilding Pirates sending prospects back to the Yanks to get back an outfielder at the peak of his career? Mind-boggling.

  • Padres Avoid Arbitration, Re-sign Scott Hairston: Walkoff Walk is your source for all news regarding the Family Hairston. Two days ago, the Reds signed the elder Hairston brother and yesterday, San Diego signed the younger to a 1 year, $1.25 million contract to roam the outfield at Petco Park. Just covering their ass in case Brian Giles flees the country, I guess.

Which, I suppose, makes January is the new November. Two months after Nate Silver earned his well-deserved pats-on-the-back for predicting Barack Obama's victory in the Presidential election using statistical analysis of polling numbers, the good folks at the Baseball Think Factory have been doing the same thing for the baseball hall of fame vote, due to be officially announced on Monday. For the last week or so, the baseball news curator and secret genius Repoz has been tabulating the votes by those BBWAA members who have deigned to make their ballots public.

As of this moment, Repoz has tabulated 82 full ballots, and here are your current results (remember, a player needs 75% of the vote to earn his plaque):

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98.8 - Rickey Henderson
81.7 - Jim Rice
76.8 - Bert Blyleven
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68.3 - Andre Dawson
48.8 - Jack Morris
34.1 - Lee Smith
26.8 - Tim Raines
24.4 - Alan Trammell
24.4 - Tommy John
20.7 - Mark McGwire
0.0 - Corey Patterson

Rickey Henderson is the only slam dunk in this group (and even he can't earn a unanimous induction); those numbers for Rice and Blyleven seem too close to call right now. The name and number combo that sticks out like a sore thumb is Tim Raines' measly support. Raines got just 24% of the vote last year and I expected that number to go up this year significantly. Maybe Jonah Keri needs to get his pals to make a stronger push next year.

My favorite ballot so far was posted by Joe Posnanski on his JoeBlog. I don't agree with every pick (no Lee Smith? what gives?) but Joe takes his privilege seriously, thinks about his vote, and defends his choices with responsibility. Perhaps the BBWAA would earn more respect from baseball fans if they encouraged all their members to defend their votes online. If creaky old Murray Chass can figure out the Internet, then anyone can. Maybe then I won't have to keep linking to that awful Hall of Sandwiches allegory from last year.

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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

  • John Smoltz Finally Works Up the Courage to Fly the Coop: Rumour has it that lifetime Brave pitcher John Smoltz is on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. The 41-year-old is coming off a season marred by surgery. Braves beat writer Dave O'Brien is so down about the whole thing, he quoted a Hank Williams song. The whole song, natch.

  • Red Sox On Verge of Ruining Lloyd the Barber's Dreams Too: Reports have the Red Sox about to sign former Rays OF and patron saint of Ghostrunning Rocco Baldelli to become the team's fourth outfielder. The Rhode Island native is to be in Beantown tonight for the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner where he's getting the Tony Conigliario Award for being awesome, so it's just easier to sign with the Sox without having to make another trip.

  • John Patterson Retires From Baseball: The man is six days younger than me and he's hanging up his spikes. That makes me feel pretty damn old. John Patterson had a pretty awesome 2005 season where he went 9-7 for a terrible Washington team and posted a 130 ERA+ with 185 Ks. As per his Wikipedia page, he married the 2005 Miss District of Columbia last year so he's got that going for him.

  • I Don't Like Rumours, But Hey, It's a Slow News Day: Ken Rosenthal is reporting that all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman is on the verge of signing with the Brewers. With Salomon Torres' retirement and the complete disappearance of Eric Gagne, this is a worthy risk to take for Milwaukee. As for Hoffman, the groupie factor goes way down from San Diego levels. Oh well.
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When Raul Ibanez signed that three-year deal with the Phillies for $30 million back in mid-December, I assumed it was merely the start of a windstorm of slugger money opening up on the market. I couldn't have been more wrong if I had predicted The Love Guru would win twelve Oscars. Since that point, Pat Burrell, Milton Bradley, and Jason Giambi have all signed short term deals with little money up front and some incentives tacked on. Sure, the economy stinks to high hell, but the baseball economy isn't exactly dying. If anything, baseball might end up being recession-proof just like Hollywood movies. That's if teams are smart about ticket prices and whatnot, but I'm going off on a tangent.

Back to the point. All of these guys have big bats and decent patience but not much in terms of defensive skills. Of course, the new inefficiency in the market to be exploited is defense so it makes sense that these fellas would suffer a bit. Still, $16 million for two years of a fella guaranteed to give you 30 homers and a .900 OPS just seems like a total bargain for the Rays, whether or not Pat Burrell ever dons a glove for a single inning.

Despite the enormous contracts awarded to CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira by the Yankees, folks just aren't getting the money this offseason. I'm not ready to stand on my soapbox and yell out "COLLUSION!!!" but I'm not ruling it out entirely either. Baseball owners are not really individuals. They're more like an amoeba. An extremely wealthy amoeba with poor fashion sense. When a few of them overspend, they all overspend. When a few of them tighten their belts, they all tighten their belts. When the A's started focusing on high OBP players, everyone started looking at high OBP players. Now that the Rays won an AL championship with good defense, everyone wants good defense. Don't even get me started on Barry Bonds.

So folks, if you want to root for your favorite team to snag a few good players for under-market salaries, cheer on. But if you want to support the working class and stand up for the little guy, then you better hope the Mets are dumb enough to give Manny Ramirez $100 million over four years.

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, all human wisdom is summed up in two words -- wait and hope.

  • HOW will million dollar baby Carl Pavano fare in his new Cleveland Indians jersey? Financial terms have not been disclosed on the one-year deal, but anything over $2 million is absolute highway robbery.

  • WILL Jason Johnson find success with his ninth major league organization? He'll compete with Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredro Aceves, Kei Igawa, and the ghost of Wade Taylor to become the fifth Yankees starter.

  • WHY can't Andy Pettitte and the Yankees just get along? Seriously, a one-year, $10 million offer is nothing to spit at nowadays.

  • ARE any of our commenters roasting a chicken tonight like Chief Wahoo did last night? Let it dry out in the fridge first, use a lotta butter, and nuke the hell out of it.

That's it for today. Be good tonight! I stole that nifty picture from Gaetan Lee's Flickr stream.

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As per Buster Olney at ESPN.com, Jason Giambi is heading back to Oakland. He'll sign a one-year deal worth just $4 million with a $6.5 million option for 2010. There's a $1.5 million buyout, so let's just assume that Billy Beane is paying just $5.5 million for the right to upgrade his offense with a proven slugger.

Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs has Giambi worth about 2 wins above replacement; at the going rate of $4 million per win, the A's are getting quite a deal here. In fact, with Giambi, Milton Bradley and Pat Burrell signing under-market deals in the past two days and Manny Ramirez and Adam Dunn still unemployed, perhaps it's time to break out the headline "Miserable Masher Market Makes Many Moneyless".

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Just five days deep into 2009, it's already been a trying new year for President George W. Bush. His wildly popular replacement has landed in town, his wife joined a bunch of his former employees by signing a multi-million dollar book deal, and there's another large-scale humanitarian crisis on the other side of the globe that he can't fix. It's the kind of thing that makes a man want let loose, blow off some steam, and host a gala dinner party for seven of the biggest names in baseball!

This past Sunday, President Bush invited Rays manager Joe Maddon and his wife, and six other baseball couples to the White House for shrimp and steak. The dinner was a set-up by noted talking head-slash-gadabout-slash-baseball purist George Will; the guest list included Brad Lidge, Lance Berkman, Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Dempster, Buck Showalter, and Aaron Boone. That's quite a guest list of accomplished baseball figures, plus Aaron Boone! But really, that's a lot of white folks. George Will couldn't throw a bone to Ryan Howard or Albert Pujols and integrate the party a bit?

What direction do you suppose the dinner conversation took? I assume former Rangers owner and self-proclaimed baseball lover George Bush and the boys chatted about the national pastime instead of national security. Perhaps Bush asked Maddon for advice about turning around a habitually underperforming organization. Perhaps Brad Lidge counseled the prez about recovering from a near-career-ending failure. Or maybe Aaron Boone and G.W. commiserated about being a part-time cog in a terrible Washington organization.

Says Maddon about the affair:

"He's a baseball fan, and he likes our team. I invited him anytime to come see us, and to come address the group, so that's out there."

Yes, Joe. That certainly is an "out there" invitation. Being successful was fun while it lasted, Rays fans.

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The dominoes are falling into place now. Oft-traveled outfielder Milton Bradley is about to sign a three-year, $30 million deal with the defending NL Central champion Chicago Cubs, as per MLB Trade Rumors.

According to ESPN Radio's Bruce Levine, the Cubs signed Milton Bradley to a three-year, $30MM deal. Bradley had a monster .321/.436/.563 line this year for the Rangers, but he spent only 165 innings in the field. This is the first multiyear deal of his career.

He's been an Expo, an Indian, a Dodger, an A, a Ranger, and now he's a Cub, at least until Chicago decides to trade him back to Cleveland to get Kerry Wood to return to Wrigley in 2010. That just makes too much sense to not happen.

Okay, MLB general managers: Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, and Adam Dunn still need work!

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Miniature baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays (it still feels weird to type that) are on the verge of consummating a two-year, $16 million deal with former Phillies slugger Pat Burrell:

Burrell, 32, will serve as the team's designated hitter. The Rays, nearing their payroll limit, could use some combination of Ben Zobrist, Gabe Gross and Fernando Perez in right field.

Rosenthal cites "major league sources," also known as "someone inside the Rays organization who is pissed off they didn't sign hard-partying Jason Giambi". Well, Phillies fans, you lost a gritty hero, but at least you've got a fancy defensive outfielder to prowl left field this season and you can reap the benefit of that Tampa draft pick! Oh, right, nevermind.

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Most blogs and newspapers we read do their year-end nonsense during that week between Christmas and New Years, when there are usually few breaking news items and even fewer people reading. Not us. We took a big fat break and didn't think far enough ahead to do a year-end review until now. After all, we're not exactly a forward-thinking blog here: we still haven't done our "Top Players of August" post.

So on that note, here are the top ten most viewed blog entries during the eleven months of 2008 that Walkoff Walk existed, in reverse order:

  • 10. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel: The Walkoff Walk Interview: Our own Kris Liakos has been on the Rinku and Dinesh beat longer than any other blogger in the baseballblogosphere, and he was rewarded last month with an interview with our Indian heroes. Still, it's too bad Kris didn't ask them about the trucks.

  • 9. 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft: The Liveglog: Back in June, I decided it would be quite the lark to liveglog the amateur draft. Despite the fact that I knew nothing about the players and even less about scouting, I pretended I knew what I was talking about and chugged along. This was not the first time we blogged about the Dodgers' first-round pick, Georgia high-school pitcher Ethan Martin.

  • 8. The Case for Expansion: Perhaps this was the piece I was most proud of during the season. I did actual research and spent a good deal of time putting together a listicle of the top destinations should MLB decide to expand. I even resisted listing North Jersey as the #1 item in the list.

  • 7. Incoming: Conspiracy To Drill High School Ump In Face?: Because, you see, Ethan Martin was the brother of the pitcher in the famous video of the high school pitcher beaning the home plate umpire. Perhaps you remember when the catcher called for the high hard one and then ducked when the fastball came over the plate. It was a huge video in the baseballblogosphere and one of the top YouTube sports clips in the month of June.

  • 6. Umpire Face Beaning Update: The Consequences Of Folly: Even the update post got a lot of pageviews.

  • 5. Yankee Fans Decry Brian Cashman's Inability to Predict Future: Anytime Kris writes about the Yankees, it's a big story. Not because he's a Red Sox fan, but because Yankee fans are a selfish folk and crave coverage of their favorite teams like Rush Limbaugh craves hillbilly heroin. So back in April, Kris shamed Yankee fans for criticizing Brian Cashman and correctly forecasted that 2008 would be a wash for the Bronx Bombers because they passed on Johan Santana. Good for him.

  • 4. Dey Took Our Jerbs: Starters Moving to the Bullpen: One of our first listicles! I think the only reason this post got a lot of hits was because I did it in April, got linked by Deadspin, and included a dated quote from an episode of "South Park" in the blog title. I'm so clever it hurts.

  • 3. Anyone Know If There's An In-N-Out In Peoria, AZ??: Back in March, we noticed that all the beat writers we read in our RSS readers were including shoutouts to their favorite spring training dining destinations. We also noticed that almost every single one of these guys talked about the In-N-Out in Peoria as if it were Mecca. This pretty much cemented our reputation as a food blog disguised as a baseball blog.

  • 2. Joe Morgan Besmirches Ernie Banks, Is Completely Wrong: This wasn't exactly original content on our part; I only reported what I read on other blogs. But hey, that's the nature of the baseballblogosphere and this ended up being one of our most-linked-to pages of the entire season. Joe Morgan said something incorrect about Ernie Banks and then got taken behind the woodshed by bloggers and beat writers everywhere. We were just in the right place at the right time.

  • 1. Mostly Naked Woman At Skydome!: And our number one most-visited blog post of the year included the word "naked" in the title and featured a picture of said woman. Again, not original content, but if this doesn't speak about the nature of the ENTIRE INTERNET, then I don't know what does. In fact, to increase traffic in 2009, we are going to append the following words to every single blogpost: "OMGLOL NUDIE HANNAH MONTANA LOLCATZ OBAMA".

This post is already our most-viewed entry of 2009.

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

A few things of note happened since last we convened. Here are the biggest stories of the holiday break:

  • Giants Offer a One Unit Contract to Biggest Unit of Them All: Believe it or not, Barry Zito is now the Giants' fifth starter. After San Fran's GM Brian Sabean inked grizzled veteran Randy Johnson to a one-year deal, the best pitching staff in the NL West now looks like this: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Johnson, Zito. Maybe with less pressure on him, Barry Z will be able to rediscover his once crushing curveball.

  • Dusty Baker Can't Let Go: Reds Sign Corey Patterson Lite: The Reds miserable 2008 centerfield experiment with Corey Patterson was a total washout, so GM Walt Jocketty went out and got a different quick fast outfielder with a penchant for low OBPs: Willy Taveras! Only, Taveras doesn't even have half the power Patterson did and plays defense significantly worse. "Don't Hit Willy Taveras Leadoff" just doesn't have the same ring.

  • Red Sox Plan Massive Reclamation Project With Ol' Brad Penny: I've always argued that the US Gubmint should eliminate the penny because they're nearly worthless in today's economy and folks just hoard 'em or discard 'em anyway. Get rid of the penny and get rid of the paper dollar, says I. The Red Sox, however, signed Brad Penny who is coming off an injury-plagued 2008 season with L.A.

  • Despite Letting K-Rod Walk, Angels Continue to Not Get It: The Angels replaced single-season-save-stud Frankie Rodriguez in the closer role by signing Brian Fuentes to a two-year deal. Fuentes is the Rockies all-time leader in career saves and is not related to Daisy.

  • Cleveland Continues to Raid Cubs' Pantry; Adds Versatile DeRosa: Just a coupla weeks after signing free agent Kerry Wood to close out games, the Indians have consummated a trade with the Cubbies for a 33-year-old to slightly overperform replacement level at four different positions. Yes, Indians fans, Mark DeRosa will replace Casey Blake as the guy your pal Greg from Akron calls 'scrappy' and 'a gamer'.

  • Andruw Jones Is Coming Home, Maybe: Now that the Dodgers have restructured their deal with much-maligned outfielder Andruw Jones, deferring the remaining money on his contract and granting him a full release, rumours are floating all over the baseballblogosphere about the kid maybe headed to your favorite team. Don't worry, kids, unless you're a Braves fan, because in Andruw's heart of hearts, there's only one place that makes him happy. Plantains for everybody!