Archive for January, 2007

1/30/07: The True-Man Show

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

I remember seeing the movie “The Truman Show” when I was a teenager and I was really upset that not only was the show based on basically making a human being into a zoo animal, but that so many people would actually want to watch another person being dehumanized by millions of legal Peeping Toms. How could you feel right about depriving another human being of one of our most basic rights – privacy? Not just privacy of actual (legal) acts, but thoughts as well. Mind you, I haven’t never believed for one second that “reality” shows, including “The Real World” were any more “reality” than WWF.

Anyhow, I think we are rapidly coming to the conclusion that certain athletes no longer have a right to private lives or private thoughts. It has been true for a long time that when asked questions, athletes are expected to respond with certain answers and “humility” – (or is it umble-ness) giving the media the power to force people to say what they determine an athlete must say or (pretend to) think.

The screams and yells of fury after Barry Lamar Himself had the audacity to tell Roy Firestone “there’s no secret – I’m just good. It’s talent, and you can’t teach talent” that Barry had (literally) a swelled head and a huge ego and wasn’t humble enough sez it all. I seriously disbelieve that even Tony Gwynn is “humble” and doesn’t think himself that he was a great ballplayer. He may not have SAID it to a reporter, but I don’t believe for one minute that he didn’t THINK it.

But things have gotten even crazier lately. This morning, I went to Yahoo.com and the headline screamed (something like) NFL Player Harrison Being Forced To Talk!!!!
Whoa!!! I thought – hey – guess I must have missed either Congress investigating all the steroid use in football (or is it really true that it is natural for a 6’2″ man to be 350 lbs of solid muscle as long as he plays football) or maybe Harrison is a witness to yet another violent felony committed by a football player.

Nope.

Harrison (according to Jason Cole of yahoo sports) http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=Ah9q6q7H6cBRRZGvVMmVE8lDubYF?slug=jc-harrison012907&prov=yhoo&type=lgns is a player who, although very good, doesn’t talk much. He never has said much to the media. He minds his own business, doesn’t get in trouble with teammates, the NFL or the law. Apparently, the NFL commissioner is going to fine the team owner heavily if this man will not submit to interrogation from the 2000 media persons this weekend. Unfreakingbelieveable. Freedom of the press??? What about freedom of the individual to keep his thoughts and life to himself?

From Mr. Cole’s column: “Sure, there have been some good tales about Harrison over the years. A couple of seasons ago, The Sporting News wrote a detailed account about how Harrison was a junk-food junkie. Harrison has Tasty Kake snacks flown to Indianapolis from his hometown Philadelphia to feed his need.”

Now, it is critical for football watchers to know this WHY??? Do they need to know his favorite color is orange? That his favorite candy is Baby Ruth? This makes all the guys who watch football sound like the female teeny bops who read Tiger Beat to find out allll about dreeeeamy Harry Potter (or whoever.)

The Washington Post did a detailed story on him earlier this year. So did the Philadelphia Inquirer and Sports Illustrated. Still, Harrison wasn’t all that revealing. He is one of only four receivers in NFL history with 1,000 receptions. He has gotten there by perfecting his moves and his pass routes the way Greg Maddux perfected his off-speed pitches. Like Maddux, Harrison reveals very little about his art. “

Ah, you KNOW I’m waiting for Harrison to say “there’s no secret. I’m just good. It’s talent and you can’t teach talent.”

Astros 2007 Arbitration Cases All Settled

Friday, January 26th, 2007

The three remaining arbitration eligible players have signed contracts:

Jason Lane – 1.05 mill (up from 454K last year.) Amazing that a player can perform so badly and yet receive double his salary. Of course, if he is cut in ST, he will only receive a small pro-rated portion of the salary.

Adam Everett – 2.8 mill (up from 1.9 mill last year. He can’t make much for being a defensive genius – the bucks come from the bat, and Adam is not on the field for his bat.) He can also earn another 150K in incentives.

Morgan Ensberg – 4.35 mill (up from 3.95 mill last year. I guess he must feel pretty guilty about not being honest about his injured shoulder last year, as he didn’t ask for much of a raise.)

It is, what, a dozen years since an Astros player last went to arbitration. This is a very good thing, because all arbitration accomplishes is really establishing bad feelings between team and player. Compromise is a MUCH better solution.

In other news, yet another ex-Tiger, (yeah, uh-oh) Brian Moehler, has been signed to a minor league deal, and Phil is saying that he has a chance to make the starting rotation out of Spring Training. That, my friends, is, to put it mildly, not a very good thing.
Let’s take a look at his stats. He was a Houston Astro in 2003 line with Houston, but spent most of the time on the DL, then had elbow surgery after the season..

According to thehardballtimes.com, last year he had negative 2 winshares. They project his line to be:
6-10 with a 5.57 ERA over 126 IP – 17 HR, 41 BB, 74 K and a 1.59 WHIP.
He also has a 10.29 ERA at the Box – yes, over 7 IP, yes I know, small sample size…

I’d rather use Wandy.

1/19/07: Catching Up On Astros News

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Yes, it HAS been a long three weeks.

First, I decided to take a little vacation. I meant it to be for two weeks, as I had not taken any time off at all since I began blogging three years ago (except when I had a family leave, and that was no vacation, trust me on this.)

However, I was unable to logon for another week because of the changeover of the MVN servers.

This blog had to be renamed (legal reasons) and will now be “The Astros Dugout.” (Yes, this shows GREAT imagination on my part and I must confess that it was Husband’s, uh, great idea. (Baby, if you so unhappy about not calling your blog “The Dugout” any more, then just call it The ASTROS Dugout. Problem solved what’s for dinner?)
You can’t access this site by typing www.astros.mostvaluablenetwork.com . However, www.mostvaluablenetwork.com does work, and you can click on the baseball/Astros link. Soon, we will be completely switching to mvn.com, and I will post whenever that goes into effect.
OK!!!

Catching up on Astros news:
1Mark Loretta (yeah, old news now.) The fans are absolutely delirious with joy, believing that we have FINALLY found a great hitter to replace Mo Ensberg at third, or Adam Everett at SS. Oooooh, a guy with career .299 BA who does not strike out much and was an ALL-STAR last year!!!!
hmmmmmmmmm
Let’s take a look at some stats, shall we?
(Lee Sinins’ RCAA from  www.baseball-encyclopedia.com)
YEAR AGE RCAA OBA SLG OPS OWP RC/G AVG HR RBI SB G … TEAM
2004 …32 … 44…. .391 .495. .886 .691 ..  7.52  .335 16 .  76 .  5  154 Padres
2005 .. 33….. -1 ..  .360 .347 .707 .494 ..  4.50  .280 . 3 .  38 . 8  105 Padres
2006 .. 34  . -15 … .345 .361 .706 .420 ..  4.46 .285 .. 5 .. 59.  4  155 Red Sox
CAREER 17yrs …  .363 .402 .765 .508 …  5.24 .299  68  525 45 1385
LG AVG 0 ………… .343 .435 .778 .500 …  5.26 .271 157  651 86
POS AVG -  66 …  .338 .405 .742 .453 …. 4.79 .272 107 552 94

All-Star or not, he sure had down year with the bat last year.
He had a great year two years ago, but he has a career OPS of .765 – not exactly better than Mo Ensberg’s 858 OPS last year. He does have a decent career OBP of .363, which dropped a little last year to .345, and IF he were replacing Franchise Icon Craig Biggio’s bat, that would be one thing; but he’s not, except for away games (that is, I HOPE, after Craig gets his 3000 hits.) He simply is not better than Mo Ensberg, no matter what the fans think about strikeouts.

He is primarily a second baseman, came up as a second baseman and has pretty much played exclusively there most of his career.

Let’s see where he’s played over the past 5 years:
2006 – 138 games at 2B, 11 at 1B
2005 – 105 games at second, 1 inning at 3B
2004 – 154 games at second
2003 – 150 games at second, 6 innings at SS
2002 – he was a real utility guy between Milwaukee and Houston, so I’m going to list by innings
………..2B – 40 innings; SS – 106 innings; 3B – 451 innings

As for his glove, Chris Dial didn’t think too much of Loretta, ranking him 12th of 14 AL second basemen, at -7 runs saved/150 games. David Pinto (www.baseballmusings.com) didn’t rank Loretta very highly on his PMR defense system either, saying he made 14 fewer outs that should have been expected (401 total, expected 415.) In case you are curious, Chris Burke was +2 and Craig Biggio was -9.

So he hasn’t been a utility guy for 5 years, and he’s not even as good as Biggio at second with the glove. I’m certainly not looking forward to seeing him at short. I am actually hoping we can use him as a right hand contact hitter off the bench a good deal of the time. I am not nearly as overjoyed as a whole lot of Astros fans, seeing as how I don’t think that a strikeout is somehow worse than a groundout, but as long as he isn’t used to replace Ensberg, I’m happy to see him on the bench.

2 – We signed lefty Steve Randolph, age 32 – will turn 33 in May. From thebaseballcube.com:
“Selected by New York Yankees in 18th Round of 1995 draft Jun 7,1995 – Selected by Diamondbacks from Yankees in Rule 5 major league draft Oct 15,2001 – Granted Free Agency. Dec 10,2001 – Signed as Free Agent by Diamondbacks. Jan 10,2005 – Traded by Diamondbacks to Cubs for player to be named later. Mar 30,2005 – Released by Cubs Jan 9,2006 – Signed by White Sox”

He has pitched 147 ML innings, in 2003 and 2004 – he’s been primarily a reliever, but was pressed into service as a starter by the desperately dreadful Dbax in 04. He has started 6 games, relieved in 89 more. He has 7.12 K/9 and a glorious 7.65 BB/9. Of course, Phil is drooling over him because of his low ERA in AAA Charlotte last year – 3.67, but he still gave up 6.65 BB/9 and that is in a hit happy league.
Color me unimpressed.

3 – signed Richard Hidalgo to a minor league contract with an invitation to ST.
Doggie is the guy we kept instead of Bobby Abreu, in case anyone forgot.

He is one of those guys who decided to, um, work out (ahem) and put on like 40 pounds of muscle in 4 months after his big year in 2000. Let’s say it turned him from outstanding to el-suck (gaining 40 pounds of muscle does not always make ballplayers better, in spite of what all the self righteous sportswriters think…) He lost some of the weight before the 03 season and had a rebound year after 2 fairly lousy years, then again regressed badly in 04 and was traded to the Mets where he fared no better, then fizzled out with the Rangers in 05. He is supposedly back in shape and doing well in the Venezuelan Winter League and now the Organization wants him to compete with Luke Scott for the RF spot. (WHY??? What on earth is wrong with Luke Scott??? He most certainly looked fabulous in 06 – the 3 months he was in the ML. What more does the Organization want???)

Well, it IS baseball and youneverknow – both Julio Franco and Ruben Sierra came back to decent ML careers after being away for a year or two. He DID have an excellent glove and arm, and we sure could use at least a DR, ESPECIALLY in left. If he really did regain some of his former excellence, he would be another good righty off the bench.

Completely off the subject (well, maybe not completely) I sure would like it if ballplayers who used the juice and got WORSE would come forward and say – I tried the stuff and it made me worse, ruined my entire career (hello Armando Rios, for one) instead of letting everyone (sportswriters) think that steroids always turn you from Mario Mendoza into Mark McGwire. Or even from Ken Caminiti 1995 to Ken Caminiti 1996.
Here are Hidalgo’s career stats (from espn.com)

– Arbitration eligible players update:
- signed Brandon Backe to a 1 year 545 K contract. nice. He won’t throw a pitch this entire year and he gets a raise.
- signed Dan Wheeler to a 1 year 2.1 mill + incentives (only 1 year??? He’s gonna be a LOT more expensive next year. Also, I’m not sure what exactly the incentives are, or how much more he might could earn.)
- signed Brad Lidge to a 1 year 5.35 million contract (yes, I know it is more than last year. Yes, I know he had a, um, bad year with 32 saves and 6 BS. However, he’s got the label of “closer” so he’s going to make closer money.)
- signed Mike Lamb to a 1 year 2.7 mill contract. He hit very well, playing mostly at first, with a little third, and coming off the bench. If he hits as well as he did last year, he’ll be worth every penny. Too bad we couldn’t have traded him to the Pirates for one of their lefty starters – he’s better than Adam LaRoche, although not with the glove.
Here are Lamb’s stats with Houston, as well as his career stats. You notice he had a bad year in 05. You also notice that unlike poor Mo Ensberg THIS year, the fans weren’t screaming to got rid of Lamb for having an off year..

You will also notice that when it comes to glovework, comparing Lamb to Ensberg is like comparing Paul Sorrento to Brooks Robinson.

players left are:
Jason Lane – asking 1.37 mill – the club is offering 900 thou (and the club SHOULD win that one)
Mo Ensberg – asking 4.9 mill, offered 4 mill (he made 3.8 mill last year. Backe gets a raise for doing exactly zero, but Mo is offered only 200K more for a .858 OPS season? Like I’ve said for a long time, this Organization does NOT like this guy.)
Adam Everett – made 1.9 mill last year, is asking for 3.4 mill and is being offered 2.5 mill.
Interesting.

I am not understanding why a club has to pay a player more every year if he played lousy, or if he is not going to play at ALL.
Ah well, that’s why I’m a housewife, not a labor lawyer.

5 – The Roger Clemens will he/won’t he saga. Such DRAMA – will he go back to the City Of Boston to be taken back into the hearts of the Town that Cast Him Out??? Will he go back to the City Of Pinstripes to spend his last innings with his Best Friend who explained to the Astros he didn’t know if he really wanted to pitch any more, then signed a contract with the stripes 2 weeks later for 2 more years. Will he stay at Home, where he is worshipped, adored, needed – where he can Be At Home (literally) and has a 10 year personal services contract when he is Finally Retired.

Personally, I am hoping that Best Friend has his butt handed to him on a silver platter by the rest of the AL East – remembering that in 05, he got killed in both his starts against the Blue Jays AND the Orioles. And I am fed up with all the begging and pleading to Roger. He can travel a LOT with Them Up There or he can travel a little here at home.

Whatever, dude. Poopoo or get off the pot.