Rob Iracane: December 2009 Archives

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

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

On with the listicle:

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

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

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

Runners-up: Jesus, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

(via The St Petersburg Times)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What say you on these first-timers?

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

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

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