Saturday, January 28, 2006

Oh, Coco!


After weeks of yes-no-maybe-wait-I-don't-know trade talks, Prince Theo and Mark Shapiro finally hunkered down and the Sox of Boston got their center fielder. Guillermo Mota failed his physical (which shouldn't be surprising if you heard about this) and Boston had to throw in a PTBNL or cash to sweeten the already-pretty-sweet pot. Meanwhile, Cleveland had to wait out the formalities on the Arthur Rhodes-for-Jason Michaels trade to Philadelphia. Y'know. Just in case they should suddenly need a left fielder who can also beat up cops. I'm not sure if that's the kind of slugging teams look for but whatever. He's still a heckuva fourth outfielder.

For all the players exchanged, this is basically a challenge trade of two terrific young players so it may take upward of five years to see who wins out. Though I'd be reluctant to forfeit Andy Marte (possibly the best prospect in the game), the Red Sox desperately needed a replacement for Johnny Metro and found a great one in Covelli Loyce Crisp. In addition to being a speedy leadoff hitter who will be younger, oh-so-much cheaper and (dare I say it? Yes. I dare.) better than their last speedy leadoff hitter, Coco Crisp has one of the best names in Baseball since me. Because of this, the Sox should recoup half his salary in jersey sales alone.

As for the other guys, they serve as slight upgrades for the Indians. I like Mota ever-so-slightly better than David Riske, who will be pelted by tomatoes all summer long as he comes out of the bullpen to give up lead-blowing home run after lead-blowing home run in Fenway. I like Kelly Shoppach less than I did a couple years ago but the exact same thing could be said for every single prospect in the history of ever that doesn't live up to my expectations, however modest. Still, I'd recommend him more than Josh Bard, who will battle John Flaherty in spring training for the miserable privilege of catching Tim Wakefield's knuckler.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's hard to miss somebody who didn't even really leave.

Prince Theo of Boston has shedded his gorilla suit and returned to preside over his loyal subjects. His retirement was short-lived and by many accounts, wasn't even all that retired, as he was reportedly still making phone calls on their behalf. Still, while this is certainly good news for the front office, it's not like they were in the shambles that many believed it to be and they weren't worse off without him. In his kinda-sorta absence, co-GMs Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer snagged Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota for prospects they were never really going to use, fleeced an All-Star second baseman for a back-up catcher and cut their losses on Edgar Renteria by trading him for grade-A prospect Andy Marte. They have no center fielder or regular shortstop, though I think the latter can be filled with a creative platooning of Loretta, Tony Graffanino and Alex Cora until Dustin Pedroia is ready, which could be much sooner than everyone expects. Still, I can't imagine them doing things much different than Theo would've done; for all his boyish charm and people skills, even he wouldn't have kept Johnny Damon from bolting. At any rate, a formal announcement to his official title is expected in a few days and in the meantime, I have complete faith of their ability to replace their old caveman-turned-metrosexual center fielder.

In other Boston news, Bronson Arroyo signed for the low, low price of approximately 3 years, $12 million. Considering what the Mr. Anna Bensons and Alyssa Milano's Ex-Boyfriends of the world are making, this is a terrific deal for Boston. On the other hand, Arroyo's agent is right in thinking that this is somewhat naive of the guy named after one-seventh of The Magnificent Seven. It's one thing to pledge your allegiance to Red Sox Nation but it can be another thing to make yourself cheap enough so you'll be more vulnerable to be traded to a crappy team. In terms of dollars versus performance, Bronson is one of the better values around and could find himself on a crappy non-contender if the right deal presents itself. If I were his agent, I would've told him the same thing. But I also would've advise him to keep the white-boy cornrows and to not put out shitty cover albums of shittier mid-90s grunge songs, so I might not be the best guy to ask.

Isn't it presumptuous to call it a classic if it hasn't even happened yet?

In the great debate over the relevancy of the World Baseball Classic, Buster and Jimmy offer their collective four cents. No one cares about the opinion of an anonymous blogger posing as a dead 19th century ballplayer but for the record (as long as I'm recording it), I've been having my own internal debate and here is the full, unedited transcript of my Point-Counterpoint on the subject:

Point: I don't care.

Counterpoint: Me neither.

Point: Let's play video games.

Counterpoint: Okay.

In a perfect world, it would be a nice idea but it's just going to be a glorified spring training exhibition. Not all of the best will be playing and those who are will be mailing in half-assed performances in their completely-justified paranoia of getting injured in a meaningless game. Not to mention pitch counts will be monitored more closely than the Bush Administration does your telephone. But if it makes a couple people happy I just might ended up paying a little attention to it.

Still, there's been a humorous (if you're the type to find humor in poking fun at the weaknesses of others) subplot to all this and I agree with B & J on one thing: A-Rod is a passive-aggressive pussy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Philadelphia is still Phtupid.

You can call Pat Gillick brutally honest if you want to and I realize he's only had the job for 77 days but I'm wondering if his tenure in Philadelphia is going to be just like his one in Seattle; a series of non-moves and missed opportunities to better the team and push them over from coulda-shoulda-woulda almost-contenders to actual perennial contenders. I mean, they don't call him "Stand" Pat for nuthin', folks. Like a guy in a poker game who doesn't want any more cards because he likes the hand that he already has. Y'know. Stand Pat. That's why they call him that. Because that's what he does.

Phil Sheridan from the Philadelphia Inquirer sez:
The new GM rightly says that it will all come down to his ability to find a true No. 1 starting pitcher. Not somebody else's carefully sheltered No. 2 and not a No. 3 with delusions of grandeur, but a legit top-of-the-rotation ace.

"I'm talking about a guy with power, a guy who can stop a losing streak, who can strike people out," Gillick said yesterday.

What? Like who? Even if they use Bobby Abreu as a bargaining chip as rumored, who the hell is available on the market that can bring that to Philadelphia? Nevermind that Abreu is easily the best player on the Phillies, arguably the most complete all-around hitter in the game and has a complete no-trade clause. Who can they get? Barry Zito? Possible, but Oakland can't afford the $28 million Abreu is guaranteed through this year and next. Even if Patty-Cakes agrees to eat even more salary than he's already chewing for Jim Thome, Zito has been continuing his steady decline since his 2002 Cy Young campaign, with his strikeout rate going down at the same rate his walks are climbing. He doesn't have power and he won't strike people out. Dude'll get hammered in Citizens Bank. Matt Clement? Another maybe, in a package deal, but he's certainly not the top-of-the-rotation star that Philadelphians have in their eyes. I've also heard the oh-so-low Mark Prior rumblings but while Jim Hendry has made some dumbass moves, trading Prior will not be one of them.

Given their needs and a prolific-ish offense, I can see how Abreu is expendable in the right deal. But if it's pitching they were after, then why didn't they make a run at the Let's Overpay for A.J. Burnett Sweepstakes? He wouldn't have been the stopper they're looking for, but at the very least he would've continued Philadelphia's fine-honed tradition of compiling a rotation full of #2 and #3 starters. Going into 2006, their rotation options consists of a guy who could actually be pretty darn good, followed by a guy who's just okay, two guys who suck, one guy who's out until at least July with Tommy John surgery, a completely unpredictable 23 year-old, a guy they can't figure out a role for, and some guy named Robinson Tejeda, who somehow started 13 games for them last year without my noticing.

Is it really necessary for the Phillies to play this year? I mean, can't we just award them third place and get it over with?

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Nomar to play for Mexico in World Baseball Classic.

Funny, I thought he was Jewish. What with the nose and the cheap contract and all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

1986 Topps #649

Y'know, Ronny boy, you might've gotten the starting job over Kid Carter if you're weren't so busy congratulating the opposition on their run-scoring abilities, especially when they were actually in the middle of scoring a run.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Since I don't want to be one of those illiterate bloggers shooting off at the mouth and presenting things that aren't true as facts, I would like to retract my last post about available pitchers and note that two days before I had opened my big stupid mouth, Al Leiter had signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees and Byung-Hyun Kim re-signed with Colorado. I also completely neglected to mention Jeff Weaver as an available option, which he should take as an insult since he's a pretty good pitcher who should make plenty of teams happy with his performance, if not the dollars he'll eventually get.

Unlike, oh, say, everyone else, I'm still a believer in Kim. People forget that the kid is only 27 and probably the hardest-throwing submariner in Baseball's history. When Prince Theo traded one of the most overrated players in the game for him during the 2003 season, I remember wondering just how drunk he must've gotten Arizona to screw them up the ass like that, to say nothing of trading nothing for Curt Schilling when he finally decided to call them in the morning six months later.

Alas, it didn't work out for Boston. Though he helped stabilize an otherwise shaky bullpen with a 3.16 ERA in 79.1 innings of work, he blew a 12th inning save in Game One of the 2003 playoffs against Oakland, which preceded flipping off the booing Fenway faithful as he was introduced before them a couple days later. Closing championship games clearly isn't Kim's strong suit, as he also blew two 9th inning saves for the Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series. And that was when he was just 22. That said, you'd have to wonder about the emotional psyche of a kid who has clearly demonstrated not only the inability to handle high-pressure situations but also the public humiliation that comes in its aftermath. Fucking up three different crucial games in front of a televised audience of millions by the time you're 24? That's enough to make any man sensitive enough to give the middle finger to anyone else that boos him for it.

Psychological evaluations aside (which I won't pretend to be smart enough to accurately make), Kim is more than talented enough to justify the $1.5 million he's guaranteed in 2006. He's still young enough to get his shit together and have a damn good career but unfortunately for all the natural talent they may possess, some people just aren't mentally wired to handle being professional athletes and Kim may be one of them. Which is kind of exactly why I root for him.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Another Philadelphia Pholly.

Because the Phillies are dumb, they signed pitcher Ryan Franklin to a one-year contract worth $2.6 million. It isn't the dollars that I'm concerned with (in fact, that's damn reasonable money for a fifth starter these days); it's that they signed him at all. I mean, are they aware that the man has given up 95 homes runs in the past three years, all while calling Safeco (a notorious pitcher's park) home? I realize that the pickens on the FA table are slim these days, what with Byung-Hyun Kim, Kevin Brown and Al Leiter being your best options. But why, why, why, why, why, WHY in hell would Pat Gillick make such a dumbass move as to sign the most flyball prone hurler in the game to play in Citizens Bank Park? Look, Pat, getting Aaron Rowand to cover center and gobble up those extra flies was a nifty move but the fact remains that he can only catch balls that fall INSIDE THE PARK. Anything that goes over the wall is pretty much out of his hands. I also realize that moving out the fences a few feet will help as well but if I haven't said this before (and I'm too lazy to scroll up a couple lines to see), Safeco Field is a notorious pitcher's park. If it didn't make any difference there, why should it make any difference in Philly?