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Archive for January, 2008

Larry Dubrow Doesn’t Think Much Of The (2008) Astros

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Not sure when it became kewl for (some) male sportswriters to sound bitchier than any female in her worst throes of PMS, but what can I say? Besides thank gawd for Joe Posnaski, that is?

Check out Larry Dubrow’s latest column on cbs sportsline.com – “Astros In Despair, Beyond Repair!!!!!”

My goodness gracious – and some of yall thought I was a, shall we say, bit glooomy about this team’s immediate and distant future. Larry predicts that this team has turned into the Baltimore Orioles, thanks to Drayton McLane and his refusal to either rebuild (which, by the way, Angelos actually DID try to do about 5 years ago – unsuccessfully, but at least he actually TRIED) or to step back and hire a competent GM and let him do his or her job. Yeah, you’ve heard stuff like this from me for HOW long now?
Check this:

“But the Astros are the proverbial tree rotting from the inside. They gave away the few half-OK kids in their system for closer Jose Valverde and shortstop-under-siege Miguel Tejada, and now face the prospect of careening toward the next decade with only two young players of note — Hunter Pence and J.R. Towles — in their entire organization.”

Well, that is the major league Organization – and it assumes that they will neither develop nor play any other young players – not the worst assumption, given the fact that both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus think that the Astros have the very worst minor league system in Organized Baseball. And by the way, Astros fan Michael Nash, who watches the Hooks games, has a different thought about the minor league system and its possibilities – click here to read.
Now, back to Larry and his snark:

“The Astros do, however, have a bunch of names on their roster. Lance Berkman! Miguel Tejada! Carlos Lee! You recognize these guys and you love them. Unfortunately, all three are statue-esque in the field, and not in the legs-up-to-her-neck Selita Ebanks way. Along those lines, the defensive downgrade at short from Adam Everett to Tejada will cost the team plenty of runs and possibly send Oswalt into a murderous rage. As potent as the aforementioned bats may be, (they won’t score enough runs to compensate for lousy starting pitching). The two top spots in the lineup will be occupied by untested speed merchant Michael Bourn (no relation to Jason) and Matsui — who, it should be noted, probably earned himself an extra two years and $10 million with his high-profile dinger against the Sillies during the playoffs. Neither of these guys have shown much inclination in the past to accept a walk. Sure, they’ll scurry around the bags with abandon, but like dad always said: You can’t steal first base. “

Sound familiar? Well, except for the Ebanks part. And HOW many times have Cooper and Wade and a lot of Astros fans moaned with ecstasy about the speed at the top of the lineup and all the runs that will score with the potent lineup because of the unwarrented assumption that both Bourn and Matsui will have OBP of .350?
And Larry concludes:

“Everyone outside Drayton McLane’s living room sees the Astros as a house practically begging to be razed. McLane, however, won’t buy into this line of thinking and, this offseason, sat back as flunky GM Ed Wade attempted to cover a nine-inch gash with a Band-Aid.
Some overly simplistic math, then: the 2008 Houston Astros = the 1998 Baltimore Orioles. Those Orioles, despite frontline talent like Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar and the resurgent Eric Davis, dipped to 79 wins from 98 the season before. With a decrepit minor-league system and an owner who couldn’t or wouldn’t stop meddling in baseball decisions, the O’s haven’t won more than 78 games since.
Any of that sound familiar? A prediction: 79 wins for the ‘Stros in 2008, then no more than 75 until 2011 at the earliest. Yeah, it’s that bad. Brace yourself, Astros fans, because things are going to get much, much worse before they get better.”

Well, I hope HOPE I don’t sound that bitchy, but honestly, I think ol Lar is being a bit generous with the wins because I seriously doubt we’ll win THAT many. As for me, unlike a lot of other fans, I don’t necessarily want a DIFFERENT owner – we might could get stuck with Loria/Glass/Pohlad/McClatchy (terrified shudder) but I sure would like Unca Drayton to please hire someone competent and let the guy/girl DO HIS/HER JOB!!!! And yes, I DO know that there are a WHOLE lot of fans who are absolutely delighted with Wade and his moves this year. Me, I think the optimism is sort of like being on that Thai beach before the tsunami hit, saying – isn’t it WONderful how much more beach there is today?

UPDATE: According to the Las Vegas Sports Consultants (gamblers advisors) the Astros have 40:1 odds to win the Series this year. The good news is that 11 other teams have lower odds. So we aren’t the worst team. Isn’t that WONderful???

1/28/08: Many Questions, No (Honest) Answers

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I’ve gotten a few emails asking me why I never write/talk to the players themselves. Well, besides the fact that I have no Press Pass and therefore have no way to corner them, I mean, approach them, what could I ask that isn’t the same old stuff? Even if I asked new and different questions, they aren’t foolish enough to give honest answers. See what I mean:

- Me: So, welcome to the Houston Astros Ballclub. What do you think you’ll like best about being here?
- Joe Ballplayer: All the strip clubs on Richmond and I hear Rick’s has a VIP room for the athletes and… Um, ohmigawd was the tape going? I mean, it is great to be part of a winning tradition and we have a great core of great ballplayers and I’m excited to be playing here.

- Me: Well I’m glad you’re such an excitable boy. Jim Bouton once said that pitchers would take something that took 10 years off his life if it would give him 5 MPH on his fastball. What do you think about that?
- Joe Ballplayer: Well, the Union has a strong drug policy in place, which I support and it’s important because Think Of The Children.

barrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfff

Now if I could ever get honest answers to the following:
1 – Why do you think that so many guys who seem to have great talent can’t seem to make it to the majors?
2 – Do you think that an Organization targets certain people for success and often promotes them over guys who are actually better?
3 – Do you think that an Organization may keep a guy with ML talent in the minors anyway and if so, why?
4 – Why do you think that the media insists on ballplayers having to (pretend to) be sinless humans?
which reminds me
5 – Do you think that there are any ballplayers who give their OWN money, not money they persuaded someone ELSE to give, to charity?
6 – Please explain what “he plays the game the right way” means. Besides hitting into too many DPs or letting too many runners score, what exactly is “playing the game the WRONG way?”
7 – If this was football instead of baseball and the media and public didn’t care if you used steroids and there was no testing, would you? What if you knew for sure that using steroids would make you uncurably impotent permanently after age 40?
8 – How much practicing do you have to do before you can say “well, we gotta play em one game at a time” and “it’s a long season” and “I’m excited to be here” a zillion times with a straight face?

Needless to say, I wouldn’t be gettin no answers – at least no HONEST ones, so I don’t think I’m missing anything at all…

1/26/08: Athletes, Money And Sainthood

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

It is part of our nature that we human beings like to be entertained. We tell tales, we embellish the tales, we re-enact the events that led to the tales, we watch people perform physical feats that we ourselves can’t do and we fantasize about doing all sorts of things that we actually can’t do.

Unfortunately, we then start to demand that the entertainers be more than they actually are, which is just people – we demand that they be the stereotypes that we have imagined that they are. Too many refer to these entertainers as “role-models” for the young. I can’t imagine what on earth “role” they are supposed to be modeling.

When on earth did baseball players suddenly become these supposed paragons of virtue? WHY on earth did we suddenly suppose that baseball players are these paragons of virtue? Or even insist that they pretend to be?

I suppose I’ve been thinking about this ever since the sports media (and, unfortunately, the politicians) started screaming endlessly about steroids in baseball and how it is “cheating” and destroying the Sacred Home Run Record, among other things. I’m not real too particularly upset about steroid use or the revelation that ballplayers will use any edge they can find to get ahead, to be the best, to get back on the field, to keep playing until they drop – really, I never expected anything else and I guess I’m more than a little surprised that so many others expect all these pure goody 2 shoes type characters.

Jeff Pearlman recently wrote a column in which he described his effort to obtain an interview with the now retired Tim Worrell – he described each event which transpires over several hours while he sits and waits for Worrell to talk to him for a few minutes – he describes how Worrell sits, looks at his nails, passes gas, scratches himself, etc – all in all making Worrell look like one of the Gas House Gorillas whose only attribute is his ability to throw a baseball 90 something MPH. He was expecting who, Albert Einstein? Bart Giamatti? David Nieporent?

Me, I don’t really want/need all this excessive microscopic examination of every aspect of a player’s life/personality. I remember once one of my mother’s friends told me how she went to a nudist colony when she was young and all she could think was that she wished people would just wear their clothes so she didn’t have to look at all the faults and flaws now so apparent on every single body.

Ballplayers are just people – just men, and like my mama always said – when it comes to men you gotta take the good with the bad. I live with men. It’s the truth. We all just people and I understand that you really DO gotta take the good with the bad. That doesn’t bother me, but I realize that it has been terribly depressing to me that the media keeps shoving all the (what they think/say is) bad in our faces and screaming about it, as if ballplayers, alone among men, should be “role models” – sin free, paragons. What is the point of continuously pointing out flaws, other than irritating the fans? Why bemoan the fact that ballplayers, who are just people, after all, aren’t paragons?

I keep thinking about the old childrens’ story about the Emperor Who Has No Clothes On. And I think that the problem is that the media wants to tell stories to us that portray ballplayers as “heroes” -as if hitting a ball, throwing a ball or catching a ball is somehow an act of heroism, and that those self same ballplayers are messing up their stories by proving that they are just humans who have skills that the writers don’t. The ballplayers are making the writers look foolish for believeing or even trying to get others to believe that ballplayers are somehow better or superhuman humans.

I guess it is the sportswriters who feel they are exposed as having no clothes. It’s interesting that the story about the Emperor never tells what the Emperor does to the Child after the People laugh at him. I would guess it wasn’t pretty. And the media are having a field day with the “cheaters” who have exposed themselves as being ordinary men, not saints.

Me, I guess I’ve always known that money talks and everything else walks. I always understood that men bought teams to make money. I always understood that they wanted to use the efforts of the players to make as much money as they could at their expense – literally. I’ve always understood that you follow the money. I understood perfectly that the public wanted to see a lot of home runs and a lot of strikeouts and that the owners figured that out right quick and built smaller ballparks, commissioned juiced baseballs and, shall we say, didn’t exactly try to stop the juicing of the players as well. I understood that the players, grown men, decided or didn’t decide to do whatever was necessary to hit more home runs or throw a baseball harder.

In life, you get what you pay for and you really do reap what you sew. But this whole thing reminds me of the old complaint about females being “golddiggers.” Look – if the only real way a woman can survive is to marry because she is banned from any profession or job that pays much more than minimum wage, then she has to go get herself a husband. And if she was lucky enough to even HAVE a choice of men, well, why be shocked SHOCKED if she got herself the best possible contract she could?

sigh

Last week, I was re-reading Leviticus in the Old Testament and even thought some of the rules are, shall we say, um, out of date, most of them say things like (roughly translated) – don’t have sex with your wife’s sister, your parents, your farm animals, little kids, don’t cheat people, don’t murder people, basically don’t be a douche. Things really haven’t changed real too much in the subsequent 6000 or so years, and to expect baseball players to somehow be an exception to the general rule of humanity is ridiculous.

Anyhow, this now out of the way, I am going to go back to my usually more cheerful self and understand that all this idiotic steroid stuff is all about the owners trying to get more money out of the players, all about the politicians trying to avoid the real issues in this country (as usual) and all about the media needing storylines. And me, I keep reminding myself that it is only (thankfully) 3 weeks until pitchers and catchers report…

1/24/08: Astros Go To Arbitration For The First Time In 11 Years

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Although the official deadline for settling prior to arbitration is February 1, the Astros Organization informed Jose Valverde and Mark Loretta (and their agents) that their deadline would be this morning. Neither would settle, so unless they decide to agree on figures this next week, off they go.

The owners have been beating the players pretty solidly in the few cases these days in which they can’t settle before the deadline. Clubs have been pretty careful to not antagonize their good young players who they would like to keep, which is a pretty good idea. I can’t imagine how it could NOT lead to hostilities, a ballplayer having to sit and listen to the Organization giving all the reasons why they think he sucks and is not worth the money.

However, Loretta is a utility guy, a long time veteran, and he has been around the block and back, and by this time, he knows that it really is ONLY all about the benjamins, so it would be pretty hard to upset/shock him. Besides, if he decides to go elsewhere next year, well, there are plenty of utility infielders around. The Stros want to pay him 2.15 mill (as far as I know, without incentives), a salary CUT of 300K from last year’ base salary, which, in my opinion, is pretty obnoxious. He is asking for 4.9 mill, a 1.4 mill raise from his earnings of 3.5 mill last year. He had 508 PA over 133 games with a line of .287/.352/.372/.724 – 23 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 41 RBI, 15 GIDP -89 OPS +, (-)7 RCAA. And, of course, a lead glove.

Valverde, in his second arb year, is asking for 6.2 mill, a 4.2 mill raise over his salary last year. The Astros are offering 4.7 mill. He certainly had a good year LAST year, but he was sent down for poor performance just the year before. He did lead the NL with 47 saves – and he ALSO had 7 Blown Saves (a fact that somehow escapes Astros fans who hate Brad Lidge and think we are getting Gagne 04.) It will be very interesting to see who wins THAT one.

I can’t see how the Astros could justify a salary CUT for Loretta, so I would guess that Loretta will win. And I would guess that Valverde would point to the salaries given to closers, but seeing as how he has been a solid closer for exactly ONE year, and was shaky his previous years (a fact that also has seemed to escape Astros fans, who only will look at stats from the previous year) I would guess that the Astros are going to win that one.

But then again, I’m no lawyer/arbitrator, so we’ll just have to see what happens.
In other news, the Dominican government is offering to help Tejada. Isn’t THAT interesting…

1/22/08: Astros Re-sign Borkowski For Long Relief

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

The Astros just signed Dave Borkowski to a 1 year 800K contract which avoids arbitration. Dave is not, um, what all yall might could call an elite pitcher (ahem) but he can throw multiple innings and I would guess he will be used as the mopup guy. Dave is 13-18 over parts of 6 ML seasons and sports a 5.68 ERA (80 ERA+) and a 1.52 WHIP over 310 innings.

With Houston, he has thrown 71 innings each year; he had a 4.69 ERA in 06 (95 ERA+) and a 5.15 ERA (85 ERA+) last year. he gives up 1 HR/9 IP (8 homers each year), has 6.5 – 8 K/9 IP and last year, unfortunately increased his walk rate from 2.9 – 4.3 BB/9 IP. Last year, he was 5-3 with 8 holds, 3 blown saves and 1 save (the last game of the year.)

Ah well, SOMEbody has to mopup.

This now leaves two open pitching spots. We KNOW that one of them HAS to be a lefty and the other will be the 5th starter, who I HOPE is Chris Sampson, with a healthy arm. But with this team, youneverknow…

And last – ahem – the Astros would be more than happy to welcome Roger the roid Dodger to their elite pitching camp. The HUGE crush of media would get the Astros name on national media constantly. I mean, they feel Roger coaching/teaching would be good for the young pitchers in spite of the media.

Yeah.

Yeah, that’s the story.

1/21/08: Astros Sign Wigginton And Geary To Avoid Arbitration

Monday, January 21st, 2008

I’ve noticed that there are hardly any cases that have to go to arbitration any more, which is a good thing. I always thought it was a very bad idea for a team to have to badmouth a player in front of him. Anyway, the Astros agreed to a 1 year 1.3 mill contract with Geoff Geary and a 4.135 mill contract for 08 with Ty Wigginton.

Amazing – paying 4.1 mill for a guy who couldn’t last on the roster of either the D-Rays or the Pirates. Ah well.

Miguel Te-roider, down in the Dominican, was happy to answer questions from Astros fans as long as they weren’t about steroids. I am absolutely amazed that so many people think that his writing TWO separate checks to a confessed drug dealer for what apparently was the going price for that amount of drugs seems to significantly less convincing to most people than Roger Clemens former trainer, an indicted drug dealer, “confessing” to injecting Roger with drugs that Roger had obtained from some OTHER drug dealer. GM Wade, naturally, said again that he had NO idea and he was shocked SHOCKED to find Tejada’s name on the Mitchell report (I guess he disbelieved Grimsley’s report) and he had absolutely no regrets about getting Tejada.

Anyone who just simply CAINT understand how all the executives/MLB officials had NO idea about the roid use and of COURSE if they did they would have stopped it oh certainly they would but those horrible ballplayers wouldn’t let them – well, read no further. It isn’t “enabling” – it’s not giving a darn if ballplayers shoot up poison as long as it makes em better ballplayers. Me. I don’t want to hear about how Miguel is this wonderful guy even if he did use drugs and how Roger is this horrible terrible guy BECAUSE he did.

And aside from this, no new news. Best I can tell, the Astros aren’t going to sign any other free agents and so the roster is basically set.

Here are the pitchers:
Definite starters:
Brandon Backe, Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Woody Williams

Possible starters:
Jack Cassel, Fernando Nieve, Felipe Paulino, Chris Sampson

LOOGYs
Mark McLemore, Wesley Wright (yeah, that is IT. Think we might could have used Jeremy Affeldt???!!!)

Middle relievers:
Dave Borkowski, Doug Brocail, Paul Estrada (I would bet fer SHER he is in the minors), Geoff Geary, Ryan Houston, Chad Paronto, Oscar Villareal

Closer:
Jose Valverde

The guys we KNOW will make the team are Backe, Oswalt, Wandy, Woody, Valverde, Brocail, Geary, Paronto and Villareal.

That leaves Cassel, Nieve, Paulino, Sampson, Borkowski, Estrada, Houston to fight it out over 2 spots and McLemore and Wright to fight it out for the lefty spot. Me, I’m not seeing this great bullpen that everyone seems to think has to be better because it no longer involves Lidge or Qualls.

So who do all yall think are the 3 guys who will make it onto the 25 man? Who do you think will start the year as the 5th starter?

Seth Stohs’ Top 20 ML Ready Rookie Hitters

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Seth Stohs writes a blog called Seth Speaks, which is mostly about the Minnesota sports teams. However, today, he has written a list of 20 guys who qualify as ML rookies and he has ranked them in order of the impact he thinks they will actually HAVE this year, not by how much “potential” (oh LORD I hate that word) they have if they had an ideal situation to come into.
Check it out.

#20 – Chase Headly, age 23, 3B, Padres
#19 – Carlos Gonzalez, age 22, OF, A’s
#18 – Brandon Wood, age 22, 3B, Angels
#17 – Brandon Jones, age 24, OF, Braves
#16 – Cameron Maybin, age 20, OF, Marlins
#15 – Ben Francisco, age 26, OF, Indians
#14 – Wladamir Balentien, age 23, Mariners
#13 – Joey Votto, age 24, 1B, Reds
#12 – Andy LaRoche, age 24, 3B, Dodgers
#11 – Ryan Sweeney, age 22, OF, A’s
#10 – Ian Stewart, age 22, 2B/3B, Rockies
# 9 – Steve Pearce, age 24, 1B/OF, Pirates
# 8 – Daric Barton, age 22, 1B, A’s
# 7 – Geovany Soto, age 24, C, Cubs
# 6 – Jay Bruce, age 20, OF, Reds
# 5 – JR Towles, age 23, C, Astros
# 4 – Colby Rasmus, age 21, OF, Cardinals
# 3 – Jacoby Ellsbury, age 24, OF, Red Sox
# 2 – Kosuke Fukudome, age 30, OF, Cubs
# 1 – Evan Longoria, age 22, OF Devil Rays

I think his ranking order is pretty good, except for Cameron Maybin because the Marlins ARE going to play him in center. Period, no ifs, ands or buts – unless he gets hurt before the season starts. The Marlins are all about playing cheapest and Maybin is dirt cheap.

Also, I would bet that Brandon Jones starts in left for the Braves because their other options are, um, not good.

JR Towles: There isn’t any competition there, at least I should say that management has told the media this. However, if Towles completely sucks/tanks, then I would guess that IF he is sent back to AAA, and that is a very big “if”, then Ausmus will be the main catcher and some other guy will be backup – probably Humberto Quintero, who, in my opinion, is not very good. I’m not expecting a lot from Towles’ bat, but I would be satisfied if he had the stats from Biggio’s first full year: .257/.336/.402 – which was, by the way, a 114 OPS+ back then; I wouldn’t be surprised, though, or even disappointed if it was more like Biggio’s rookie year: .211/.254/.350. The guy only had a couple games at AAA and he isn’t Biggio, at least that I know of.

Then again, predicting how things will go with a completely new manager and GM is tough. I know that McLane refuses to rebuild and expects to “compete” every year, but this isn’t so with the Pirates and this is why I am not sure about Pearce. The Pirates organization is the dumbest in the NL, no question. (I mean in terms of creating teams that will win, not in terms of making 20-35 mill a year in profit.) I don’t know why they insist on moving players all over the place and refusing to play the few good ones they have in any sort of consistant manner. Pearce won’t displace either Adam LaRoche or Nady unless either is hurt or doesn’t hit at ALL. They also have Nate McLouth, but the stupid Pirates don’t seem to realize how GOOD he is. What can I say. It amazes me that the Pirates still have any fans at ALL, or that the owners have not yet been lynched.

Therefore, I would guess that IF Pearce makes the majors he’ll be a bench guy, or they’ll put him at third or something else stupid. Same with the Reds and Joey Votto/Jay Bruce – they will not take Hatteberg off first and Ryan Freel out of center unless they get hurt or stop hitting.
It will be VERY interesting to see how the Rockies handle the Atkins/Stewart problem. There is talk about seeing if Stewart can play second, but some guys can’t handle the other side of the diamond. Me, if I was running the Rockies, I would have checked out Stewart at second last year, or seen what I could get in trade for either Stewart or Atkins because a whole LOT of organizations need a decent third baseman. Actually, I would have tried to get Noah Lowry/Matt Cain from the Giants because their only choice is Kevin Frandsen (shudder) but hey, it’s not my team…

Now
for something completely different – Astros news!!! All yall know I was NOT happy about the team acquiring a known and unrepentant steroid user in Miguel Tejada. From Justice’s column this morning:
“…Waxman and ranking member Tom Davis have asked the Attorney General to investigate Tejada because the Mitchell Report implicated Tejada in the use of steroids.
Tejada told the Committee that he never used illegal performance-enhancing drugs and that he had no knowledge of other players using or even talking about steroids, Waxman said.  The Mitchell report, however, directly contradicts key elements of Mr. Tejadaís testimony.”

Remember Rafe Palmeiro had stated that Tejada had injected him with B-12 and everyone chose to throw ALL the poopoo at Palmeiro and none at Tejada, who said something like – what is a steroid? What goes around comes around. Tejada, of course, is now in the Dominican Republic playing winter ball, where it is ostensibly a LOT easier to get hold of, um, Vitamin B-12 (ahem) than it is here. Of course, Congress can’t extradite Tejada to speak about something he can’t be arrested for, but it sure will be interesting to see where the “investigation” goes.

Me, I want to see what all the Astros fans, who have been spitting on Clemens, but, um, silent about Tejada, are going to say NOW. After all, Clemens’ “use” is based solely on a he said/he said sort of thing, but there are two checks that Tejada wrote to his dealer for his drugs and as far as I’m concerned, that is actual EVIDENCE instead of unprovable accusations.

1/14/08: There’s No Baseball In January

Monday, January 14th, 2008

This weekend I was out with the kids and we were driving past the now silent Minute Maid Park and #2 son looks out the window and says – Mami, I wanna go to a baseball game now. Can we go to the baseball game now? Please can we go to the baseball game? Please? I wanna see a baseball game now Mama. PLEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZEEEEEEE???

So I told him – we can’t because there’s no baseball in January.

He didn’t like that. It was 68 degrees out, clear, beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, and they had been playing in the park all morning. He looked around, looked at me and said – why not?
I said – because there didn’t used to be baseball in the winter because it was too cold and besides, the players are tired from playing all those months and they need to rest now.

Ohhh, said #1 son. They need to hide-berate. Like bears. Yeah!!! says my 5 year old. They get to come out and play when they see their shadows. And then they be hungry and eat EVERYthing. Mami??? How come they don’t go back to sleep after they eat all that?
Because – I said, then they aren’t tired or hungry and it is the right time to play baseball…

But, you know, I looked at one little nose glued to the window and 2 other little noses leaning as far out of their seats as they could and I thought of Rogers Hornsby 100 years ago telling people that in the winter, he stared out the window and waited for spring so he could go play ball. I feel the same way. It always seems like forever until Spring Training.

There really isn’t any new news – The Astros might could sign Runelvys Hernandez, a very fat righty pitcher who came up with KC, had 2 mediocre years, had Tommy John surgery in 05, had a lousy year in 06, spent last year in 3 minor league organizations and is now playing winter ball and supposedly throwing 97. Shrug. It ain’t the speed, it’s the motion.

Scott Rolen and Tony LaRussa finalized their divorce and Scott went off to show the AL how a real third baseman fields and Troy Glaus is now a Cardinal. It will be interesting to see how Rolen gets along with John Gibbons and JP Ricciardi in Toronto. He might could be missing TLR sooner than he thought. Toronto has a great defensive team, probably the best in the majors BEFORE they got Rolen. It will also be interesting to see how The Pest does with the artificial turf there.

And because I’m lazy and someone else did a great job, let me leave all yall with this link to Birds In The Belfry’s great analysis of the major league hitters at each position. This is ONLY hitting, not fielding. Check it out – and notice how good Luke Scott is…

1/10/08: J.R. House, Victor Diaz and Lance Niekro Invited To Spring Training

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Well, I think we’ve all beaten Roger Clemens and did he/didn’t he do drugs to death, so unless more information comes to light before he testifies before Congress next month – they postponed the hearing, I’m just going to find other topics to talk about.

Unless a miracle occurs, and youneverknow, it looks as if the 25 man is pretty much set right now. I seriously doubt that Smith/Wade are going to sign Kris Benson or Freddy Garcia, both of whom are coming off serious surgery and won’t be ready on Opening Day or maybe for a few months. I doubt either one would be able to demand multi-year contracts, but youneverknow.

At this point, best I know, Jason Jennings isn’t coming back either and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a multi-year deal with somebody. Jon Lieber is also looking for a multi-year deal, and from what we all saw from him in Philly, he doesn’t look as if he really has real too much left.

This is the time that borderline guys are asked to come to Spring Training, usually signed to minor league contracts (hey, they have to find SOME bodies to play AAA ball.)
Here are the 5 guys who aren’t already with the Astros Organization who received invitations: Lance Niekro, Mike DeJean, Victor Diaz, Carlos Hines and J.R. House.

House, age 27, is familiar to all yall because he was with the Astros Organization in 06. He was recovering from extensive shoulder surgery when he was signed, hit .325 at AA, was promoted to AAA, hit .412/.445/.675 over 114 AB, was in the majors for a few pinch hit ABs and went ofer 9 and was sent immediately back down. Good thing that they were a little more patient with Willie Mays, hunh. Anyway, I guess they thought he would never be able to throw very well again, so they didn’t re-sign him and he was picked up by Baltimore and spent most of last year at AAA, and hit .298/.365/.493†playing 54 games at catcher and 24 games at first. He had a cup of coffee in September and hit .211/.268/.500 in 38 AB. I would guess that he’s gonna catch at AAA again and split time with Quintero – that is, if we keep him on the roster.

Lance Niekro, age 29, we’ve seen with the Giants. He was picked in the second round in 2000 and called up in 03 for a couple AB, then again in 05. He’s split time between the majors and AAA the last 3 seasons. He’s a 1B who doesn’t hit very well – .246/.288/.421/.706 over 499 AB – 26 2B, 17 HR, 29 BB, 91 K. In other words, not much better than Adam Everett, who was a shortstop. I’m sure he’s going to be the AAA first baseman this year – it’s not exactly like we have any up and coming 1B in the minors.

Victor Diaz, age 26. He plays right or left field, and it seems as if it was just yesterday that he looked to be an up and coming star with the Mets. He was actually drafted by the Dodgers in the 37th round in 2000, then traded to the Mets for Jeromy Burnitz in 03. He was a AA All-Star that year, with a .902 OPS and he was called up in 04, where he hit .294/.321/529 in 51 AB. He split 05 between AAA and the majors, and he hit .257.329/.458 in limited duty over 280 AB. In 06, he spent pretty much the entire year at AAA, receiving only 11 AB as a Met before he was traded to the Rangers at the end of August, where he spent the remainder of the year at AAA. He’s a guy who was playing for a team with too many OF, veteran free agent OF, and, well, he didn’t really get much of a chance. All in all, he has 25 2B, 25 HR, 32 BB, 135 K (!!!!!!) over 446 AB in the majors with a line of .256/.309/.457. He’s supposed to be at least a decent fielder, if I remember rightly, and at least he has some power, unlike Mr. Gritty.

Mike DeJean, age 37, RH RP. Remember him being the Brewers closer in 02 and 03? He missed all of 06 with a shoulder injury, and only threw 30.2 innings in the minors last year with a 7 something ERA. I guess he’s this year’s Rick White/John Franco. Who knows if his arm is any better this year? But at least it’s just a minor league contract.

Carlos Hines, 27 year old righty reliever, who looks like AAA filler at best. He spent 06 and 07 at AAA, throwing 54 and 40 innings with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP and a 5.90 K/9.

Oh yeah – and I hear tell that Jason Lane is going to the Yankees, who I guess want him to play first base???!!! OK. Well, he’s a good human being so I wish him the best and I certainly hope he doesn’t get booed when the MFY come to the Box in June…

1/7/08: Roger Clemens Proclaims His Innocence, But It Doesn’t Matter

Monday, January 7th, 2008

WHY doesn’t it matter?
Because, unfortunately, to waaaaayyy too many people IF you are accused, no matter who by, you are guilty. Case closed.

Richard Justice, judging by this morning’s blog, is unconvinced because Roger didn’t do and say what Richard thought he should have said and done when Richard thought he should have said and done it. And, unfortunately, seems like most everyone agrees with Richard.

You see, Roger has failed to explain the motives of his accuser. He knows the motives HOW?
Personally, I thought he handled himself very well in his interview with Mike Wallace. Roger’s critics all think he should have thrown himself in front of a pack of vicious attack dogs like Skip Bayless/Mike Lupica who ALREADY have decided that Clemens is guilty of the crimes of which he has been accused and PROVED to them that he couldn’t be guilty.

Oh, yes, crimes. He is accused of committing CRIMES. Purchasing controlled substances is a CRIME. Of course, he could have obtained them by a legal prescription, but then, of course, McNamee would have just conveniently omitted having seen the prescription label. And, of course, it just so happens that the dates given by McNamee just happen to fall outside the statute of limitations for prosecution.

Then again, Mitchell, Selig, Congress and a whole lot of members of the media are interested in PERsecution, not PROSecution.

As for me, I think it is telling that Roger’s attorney waited until his investigators had some facts before he filed a libel suit – to me, it indicates that he has some FACTS, and as I have said, libel suits by or against public figures in this country are pretty rare, as the probability of winning one is almost zero. And as for McNamee filing a libel suit against Roger for claiming that McNamee did not tell the truth, well, that ain’t a-goin nowheres, as it is pretty near impossible to ruin the reputation of a drug dealer/rapist.

As for the claim that McNamee would NEVAH lie, especially in front of the feds/under oath because he would be facing prosecution if he did – well, seems it sure didn’t stop Rafe Palmeiro or Barry Lamar, now, did it? As for the really idiotic question – well, why would McNamee tell the truth about one thing and lie about another – well, that is the best, the VERY best way to get a lie believed, is it not? It is simply preposterous to insist that a person proves he is always telling the truth if he relates ONE true fact.

So, let me ask all yall this -
suppose you child/wife/gf/friend/boss comes up to you and correctly and truthfully tells you the time and date and his/her weight. Does this mean you will now believe every single word out of his/her mouth in the future unquestioningly?

hmmmmmmmm indeed…

Oh yeah. before I forget – if the idea behind persecuting Clemens/Bonds is because of their heinous influence on poor unsuspecting high school and college kids and we simply MUST get roids out of the skoolz THINK of the children their parents had NO idea that no normal kid puts on 40 pounds of muscle in a few months – well, if you REALLY want roids gone, then TEST THE KIDS!!! It’s like duh. Surprise test the high skool kids, surprise test the college kids. Kick them out permanently if they test positive. That will put a heck of a lot better dent in steroid use than harassing Clemens et.al.

Kids don’t look at how Clemens is getting poked at now. They look at the examples of Clemens/Bonds, then look at their millions and think – whoa, if I use roids, I can be as good as those guys. Which, of course, is plain stupid. It’s talent, and you can’t roid-up talent, as Barry Lamar Himself could have said. But then again, teen age boys are not exactly reservoirs of good common sense.