Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Fun: Happy Halloween

Happy Friday. Happy Halloween. Here's a twisted video, funnier if you know the Doobie Brothers at all. If not, go slam your fingers in a desk drawer.

(h/t to's Hot Mustard)

Ideas to speed things up

The natural (over-) reaction when things don't go perfectly, especially post-season baseball, seems to be "tear it down and fix it". Sometimes, like the monsoon that hit Philly Monday and Tuesday this week, these things are unavoidable and equally rare. Some things, however, can be addressed and changed without meaningful impact to the game, the season, the teams, the almighty revenues.

Troy Renck from The Denver Post has a few brief ideas which do have some merit, within reason. And why he chooses to single out the Sox and Yanks is beyond me as there are plenty of teams who slow the pace.

Shorten the postseason. Eliminate off days. The quicker we get to the end of the book, the better. While you're at it, throw in a daytime World Series game so people not living in California don't have to set their alarm to see the final out.

Shorten the games. Seriously, can we start enforcing the time between at-bats, namely with the Red Sox and Yankees? These guys have routines between pitches with more gyrations than Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. If there's no consequence for those two teams, there's no way other players are going to abide by the pace-of-game rules.

Shorten the season. This has no chance of happening. But I wouldn't mind a few regularly-scheduled doubleheaders during the summer where kids get in free with a paying adult.
I agree with the 10,000 foot view of these ideas, but the devil's in the details. Here's my thoughts on these three ideas:
  • Shorten the postseason: I like the idea of reducing the off-days, particularly when there's no change in time zones between the teams. It's a 3 hour or so flight from Philly to Tampa. Does that require an extra day off?

    If they start the games at the regular season start times, which I have been saying for ages, we'd finish the games at a more reasonable time.

    Kill the 37 minute pre-game show. This isn't football. We're not breaking down film here. The show comes on at 8pm, first pitch at 8:07pm. Game on. Of course, I'd say do that an hour earlier if there is no West Coast team involved.

    The fifth game of each series will be during the day, allowing the team to fly out that night and play the NEXT day.

    Most importantly, put the power back in the hands of MLB to make changes to the scheduling. This will be fought by the networks who want everything scheduled to increase their programming viewers. It will be a hardship for those attending the games to manage the changes in start times (or even dates), as well as the field staff to get everything ready. But this can be done. Bud can't let Fox dictate everything. This might not change until the next contract negotiations, but is should be front and center in the next contract.

  • Shorten the games: The ads aren't going away; we've got to feed the engine somehow, but can they charge more per spot and just run FEWER spots? Make it a highly sought after ad space rather than flooding each break.

    Enforce the pitch clock. Keep the batters in the box.

    Restrict the catcher/pitcher conferences. We can't restrict the number of pick-off attempts as that would put the benefit too squarely in the runner's side of the ledger but after watching the 5 or so attempts that Hamels took to keep Upton close, even I was barking at the TV.

    Again, start the games at a more reasonable time.

  • Shorten the season: Agreed. Host day/night double headers so the teams can keep the gate receipts on par and double dip their parking receipts, too. I don't know if I am in favor of reducing the absolute number of games, but I'd like to see a double header once a month.

    Having the World Series potentially end (and I say potentially since we haven't seen a Game 7 in years; we haven't even seen a Game SIX since 2002!) on November 6, 2009 is preposterous.

    There isn't much to do here, but the additional double-header a month will shorten the regular season by about a week. That's worth trying.

  • Other ideas: I love this idea that I read somewhere (no idea where, otherwise I'd give the due credit), have the home team broadcasting crew announce their home games. Let the viewers hear some new voices. Considering the general disdain for Buck and McCarver that's out there, this might be fun. I'd only hope the Cubbies make it to hear their crew! And Harry Kalas must announce every starting line-up. In fact, have Kalas as the stadium announcer for every game.

    Give the Mayor's bet some teeth. The LOSER of the bet has to come to the city of the winning team --with his entire senior staff-- and help clean up AFTER THE TICKER TAPE PARADE. It combines real risk along with real shame in losing, plus it makes for a great photo op with a sitting mayor of a major city, broom in hand, cleaning the streets with his/her senior staff as the victors celebrate with the winning mayor at City Hall.

    No neutral site World Series. I riffed on this the other day and I still think a neutral site proposal has no merit. Then I thought of only one place where I'd be supportive of such an event: Las Vegas. If you hold a week-long World Series in Vegas, well, I might have to reconsider my stance. That might be an incredible party. So long as MLB compensates the cities for their lost revenues. Will still be priced out of reach for most "average" fans, though, factoring in travel, hotels, meals, "incidentals".

    No more All-Star game determining HFA.

What am I missing? What would you add?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Switch-Pitcher wins award

Remember the fun video of the Yanks minor league switch-pitcher Pat Venditte? Well, he was awarded the MiLBY for Best Short-Season Reliever, whatever that means. For me, it's just another chance to post a great picture of this kid, who can pitch equally effectively with both arms.

The Creighton University alum finished his rookie campaign 1-0 with an 0.83 ERA and a New York-Penn League-leading 23 saves, allowing just three earned runs in 30 games with Class A Short-Season Staten Island.

Stop the "neutral site" chatter now!

My message for those out there pounding their chests in defense of a neutral site World Series: STOP IT NOW.

Yes, the 2009 season, if the WS lasts until Game 7, will end on November 6th, the latest ever. Yes, if it includes a northern team not in a dome, the elements will play a huge role. But you know what? Tough. Stuff happens.

Former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog wants the following:

Herzog suggested that baseball already should have built a grass-field, retractable-roof stadium in a neutral Central time zone city, such as Nashville, Tenn., which could have plenty of land for such a venture.

Herzog would have the whole World Series played at this venue, which ideally would seat 75,000 or 80,000 people, with an off day after Game 4.

You could call it World Series Week," he said.

With all the respect due to a man of Herzog's stature within the game, I can't stress how much I oppose this idea. I understand how it works for football (one game, early February dates, etc.) but it can't work for baseball.

It's not just taking the game from the local fans, it's the essential stealing of money from the local economies that participate in the game. Remember, it IS about the money, stupid. Why reward a neutral site city, one that doesn't have its own team and little chance of landing one?

We can cry about the fans who won't get to go see the games in person, but we all know that most of the tickets are snapped up by the corporates or are priced out of reach for mere mortals. Besides, the games start so damn late that the kids aren't there anyways. But the real reason this can't (and won't) happen is CASH.

The City of Philadelphia boosted their budget by an estimated $20million from this playoff run alone. Think they would willingly let that money flow to Nashville? Me either.
Up to $20 million could be poured into Philadelphia’s economy as a result of the Philadelphia Phillies advancing to the National League Championship Series, which begins Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.

An extended post-season run by the Phillies could generate more than $17 million in direct spending from visiting fans, media, sponsors and Major League Baseball partners, according to estimates from the city Commerce Department and the Philadelphia Sports Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. The city could bring in up to another $3 million in direct revenues if the Phillies go the World Series through various taxes, such as the amusement, sales, parking and hotel room tax.

I think that figure might be light given the whopping figures I spoke about some time ago. Remember, this is the economic loss to NYC. Do you really think the Yanks, the Mayor, Governor, Senators, and other politicos would LET the Yanks play anywhere else but their new billion dollar masterpiece?
The report conducted by NYU adjunct professor John Tepper Marlin shows that if the Yankees snag at least a wild-card berth, a first-round appearance could fill the coffers of bars, restaurants and other businesses across the city with $26 million.

An appearance in the American League hampionship Series could potentially bring in another $54 million, according to Marlin's calculations.

Reaching the World Series would add another $61 million to the pot, he said.
That's some big loot, kids. No way, Nashville. No way.

So, what do we have to do to "fix" this? In short: nothing major.
  • Stop the over-reaction. Weather happens.
  • To be precise, what we need Bud to do is work with his network partners to wrest control of the start times and build in some flexibility. If rain is in the forecast, start the game earlier. It would be a hardship for the fans going to the game but that's the chance we have to take.
  • Games do not have to start at 8:37pm EST when both teams are East Coast-based. Start the games at 7:05pm just like in the regular season. That puts the game end around 11pm, much more reasonable than the midnight (or later) trajectories we've been on.
  • If the teams are on different coasts, then the later start could be in play to be fair to those West Coasters. But when the game is in the West, the start time should be 4:05pm LOCAL time, or 7:05 Eastern (assuming the team is in the East; adjust for Midwest as needed).
  • Lastly: Stop the All-Star Game winner determines Home Field Advantage. That gimmick sucks.

What would you have done?

Let me quickly set the stage: A college buddy of mine lives in Philly. He and his 8 year old son are huge Phillies fans. He went to the game on Monday, much to the dismay of his son. So he had his ticket stub to return last night, with a chance to see his team clinch the World Series, at the home ballpark. Would you have gone, leaving your son disappointed that you weren't there to watch it with him... or would you stay home to have him sit by your side to celebrate together but miss the rush of seeing it live and the partying that goes on after?

My buddy's answer: "I gave my ticket up to watch it at home with Noah. Before I left for the game on Monday he was very sad we were not watching together. I definitely made the right decision."

Nice call.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Believe it or not: 10 years have passed

Remember Scotty Brosius' home run off eventual Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman? Feels like yesterday. Well, maybe yesterday TEN YEARS AGO! Ack.

I feel old. I'm getting old, that's for damn sure.
In that magnificent postseason run, Brosius batted .400 in the divisional series sweep of Texas, then .300 in the ALCS triumph over Cleveland. He left the best for the World Series, during which he dominated the Padres with a .471 average, two home runs and six RBIs. He drove in 15 runs in 13 postseason games that October.
And that's the benchmark that the all-world ARod has to live up to. Nevermind that Brosius batted .203 the year before and during the entirety of the 1998 season he hit .300 with only 19 HR and 98 RBI. Solid numbers, no doubt. Very similar to a typical Mike Lowell season, if you will. And like Lowell, both players elevated their play in the post-season, when the stakes got higher, too.

It's fairly telling that Brosius will be forever worshipped in NY for his incredible 3 week stretch in 1998 whereas fans will always treat ARod with a skewed glance until he has HIS own post-season masterpiece. Fair? Most say no. I say yes. The Yanks, for better or worse, are expected by their fans and management, to deliver a World Series every year. Any player, role or star, who is instrumental in doing just that, hoisting a trophy, will be forever loved.

Once ARod does that, IF he does it at all, he'll enter the Pantheon of Yankee Lore. Until then, we'll marvel at his stats and wonder how it could all go so wrong in October. ARod knew this when he agreed to the trade in 2004. He knew it when he re-signed this past off-season. He knows it now. And he knows the answer to the fair/unfair question, too.

Hell yeah it's fair.

So what happens after the season ends?

Well, blogger/buddy Paul DePodesta of the Padres gives you a small taste of the mindset of a front office exec in his latest entry. Naturally, I added a ton of questions via the comments section (which are moderated, meaning Paul only allows those which he wants or are acceptable to him; unlike here where anything goes!). Thankfully, he allowed my comments to go thru. I hope he answers them, which he's done with others via comments. I'll check back and provide an update if there is one.

My "questions" to Paul:
Jason @ IIATMS said...

Being a senior member of the team, do you guys set up a war-room for free agents? How do you prioritize and then plot your strategy? Are the scouts deployed to the various leagues already in action? How often do they report in?

Do you get involved in the marketing/community affairs stuff?

What about the things that don't directly impact the players, such as stadium issues/upgrades? Do you get into that minutae or do you stick strictly to the "talent" side of the operations?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yankee rumors 10/28/08

Looks like there are some folks who really think Sabathia and even possibly Holliday will be in pinstripes come Spring Training. Oh yeah, maybe the reason why Cashman chose to stay in NY, too.

First Sabathia:

Jimmy Rollins, a friend of superstar free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia dating back to their upbringing outside Oakland, Calif., and one of the best prognosticators in the game considering his lofty and correct predictions for his own Phillies, didn't hesitate when I asked him where he thought Sabathia would wind up.

"New York, American League,'' Rollins, an Alameda, Calif. product, said. "They've got enough money, and they need him.''
As Heyman rightfully noted, it IS about the money, stupid (where have you heard that before?):
As is typical, the choice may come to the usual: love or money. In that skirmish the loot usually wins out.
And regarding Holliday:
Yankees people have heard good things about Holliday. However, their one concern is his home-road splits, which show he has been more successful at Coors Field than on the road. This year the difference was minimal, as Holliday hit .332 with 15 home runs at home, .308 with 10 home runs on the road. But his lifetime numbers reflect a significant variation. He's a .357 career hitter at Coors Field, with 84 home runs. On the road he is a .280 hitter with 44 home runs.
Color me concerned about the splits. But he runs in addition to bopping HR's. Too bad he doesn't play 1B.

On the cesspool that is the Mariners ownership (as compared to our cesspool, mind you):
Brian Cashman is still a Yankee in part because of Gillick's stories about working for the current Mariners regime. Gillick told Cashman for years what it was like to answer to Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, and Cashman is said to have never seriously considered going there in part because of those stories.
Now, if Cashman chose Hank and Hal (and George) over Lincoln, how bad does Lincoln have to be? Seriously.

Now, back to that Gillick-as-special-assistant-to-Cashman-next-year stuff...

Great moments in Barkley-isms

A bit of a tanget-alert here, but sometimes you just have to take witness to the beauty of someone who has no internal editor. Doubly so when that person is Charles Barkley.

Ever lovable, ever t-rrrible, ever opinionated. Thanks to Deadspin, I ran across this (emphasis mine):

Brown: So are you going to run for governor?
Barkley: I plan on it in 2014.
Brown: You are serious.
Barkley: I am, I can't screw up Alabama.
Brown: There is no place to go but up in your view?
Barkley: We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere.

And also this pearl (emphasis mine):

Barkley: I know that, but this thing didn't start with him. It started with President Bush and these gifts to rich people like myself -- all these tax cuts and things like that. That's my biggest problem. Uh listen, John McCain, you gotta respect anybody who goes to war. But these Republicans who ran this economy into the ground. We've got to end the war in Iraq and we got to stop giving rich people like myself and people who run big companies tax breaks. We've got to do that.

Wonder if the casinos will give him gifts and tax breaks.

(10/28/08, 4:20pm)
: Reader Steve clued me into this one, which is so far over the line it's astounding.
In discussing ways in which the Knicks should be improved this season, Barkley said, "I think they have a better coach. This coach probably won't try to kill himself."

Peavy's demands could land him in...

....San Diego, of all places!

Translation: if you don’t give us [a] cut, we’ll exercise the no-trade clause. Peavy can use his veto power to make sure that he captures a good portion of the economic rents generated by his contract. And it sounds like he’s negotiating for more money, possibly through an extension or a salary supplement (I’m not sure
if the latter is allowed under the current CBA). When it’s all said and done, the prospects the Padres can expect might be so bad and few—as his salary demands rise—that the Padres decide to keep him on the roster. And hey, if he likes playing in San Diego so much, maybe the Padres should reconsider their desire to trade him. Jake Peavy didn’t agree to a below-market contract so that the Padres could enrich themselves by trading him.

Meaning: As Peavy demands more to sweeten his side of the deal (almost free agent-like), the less the Padres will get in return. That plays right into the Yanks (and other large market, big salary appetites) hands. When have the Yanks let a few extra dollars of "sweetener" get in the way of getting a deal done? Posada, sure. Mo, ditto. Contreras, Pavano, Wright....wait, nevermind. I feel ill.

I've said all along, I'll believe the Yanks are out of it only when the ink is signed on some other team's letterhead.

Tim over at has the latest. Have at it.

UPDATE (10/28/08, 1:40pm): Buster's update on the Peavy/Braves/Dodgers chatter:
The Braves want to keep their best prospects, like Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward and Gorkys Hernandez, and unless Atlanta and the Padres can find some kind of middle ground in their Peavy trade talks over the likes of Yunel Escobar and Jordan Schaefer and some pitching, San Diego figures to look elsewhere. The Dodgers remain an intriguing possibility, because they have the kind of young pitching that the Padres would need in return for Peavy; L.A. might have to part with Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw as the centerpiece of the deal for a division's rival ace and Cy Young Award winner.

Climbing the summit of HGH

Buried within this article about the Mets shopping the trade market for a closer that than pay thru the nose for K-Rod, we get this:

Major League Baseball will hold an "HGH summit" on Monday, Nov. 10, at UCLA. Chaired by UCLA doctor Gary Green, who works with MLB, the summit will feature a discussion on what must be done in order to add human growth hormone to routine sports drug testing.

Of course, by the time baseball and other sports test for HGH, the athletes will be on to some new drug. But there's little harm in mounting a public-relations front.
More to come on this as I am totally on-board with storing blood/urine samples until reliable HGH tests are available, whenever that might be. Put the fear into these guys.

The world's leading anti-doping experts and scholars will convene in Beverly Hills, California for the summit and will be chaired by Dr. Gary Green, Clinical Professor in the Division of Sports Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Major League Baseball's consultant on Performance Enhancing Drugs. Entitled "Growth Hormone: Barriers to Implementation of hGH Testing in Sports," the summit will attempt to identify the scientific, medical, legal and ethical issues that must be addressed before Human Growth Hormone testing can be considered a routine part of sports drug testing.

Said my main man, Bud Selig:
"After the Mitchell report, one of my main goals was to bring together the leading anti-doping experts for an hGH summit," said Commissioner Selig. "The effective regulation of hGH remains one of the foremost challenges for anti-doping efforts in all sports. This summit is a significant step forward, and Major League Baseball is pleased that Dr. Green, one of the foremost experts in the field, will head this initiative."
We'll see. I am really interested to see what sort of proactive stance they take.

Quick shots on last night's game

Everyone is all over the place on last night's World Series game that didn't reach a conclusion. Some quick thoughts:

  • Bud is like Charlie Brown; he just can't seem to do right, and even when he does, he looks terrible doing it.

  • Should the game have even been started? Considering both teams agreed to give it a shot, the answer is YES. Unless, of course, the banks of meteorologists could tell with certainty that the weather would get worse before it gets better.

  • I think he did the right thing in postponing the game. I also like that he would have insisted that the game be played to it's conclusion, no matter the date.

  • Why, if it was pre-determined that if a game was unable to be finished, it would resume at a later date, even if it was "official" by definition with a winner determinable, did we and the players did not know this?

  • If the managers knew that if the weather forced a postponement without truncating the game, why didn't they (especially Maddon) protest to have the game postponed once it got really nasty out?

  • How on Earth did Upton get that big a jump on Hamels after Hamels threw over there a half-dozen times?

  • How can Upton wear pants that hang below his cleats with no elastic to keep them tight to the leg without tripping?

  • Complaining about the start times is redundant and fruitless. That bed has been made and we're stuck with the pre-game lasting from 8pm EST until 8:30. Until MLB's contract with Fox expires and they force the decision with the next network to start the games earlier, this problem will continue. Remember, it IS about the money, stupid!

  • Regular season games start roughly at 7pm. They are punting that start time (and by proxy FINISH time) by an hour and a half. If it was good enough for 162 games, why not keep it going in the post season? Would you rather have more viewers from 7-8:30pm or from 11:30-1am? Where are the more valuable viewers?

  • Considering that both teams are East Coast-based, shouldn't that be a consideration with regards to start times? If it were an East/West coast match-up, I can better understand the later starts. But when both teams are in the same time zone, shouldn't they have some preference?

  • My baseball-loving 8-year-old son goes to bed at 8:30. He has to mope his way to his room as the first pitch is being tossed. I have to leave him notes so he knows what happened when he wakes up. Way to get that next generation hooked, MLB/Fox.

  • I read this somewhere (can't remember, sorry) and I thought it was a fun idea: Rather than being forced to listed to McCarver and Buck, why don't they allow the home team to use their home town broadcasters for the game? Sure there are probably contractual hurdles, but the concept is pretty cool.

  • How different was this rain from the midges last year in Cleveland that swarmed on Joba? Couldn't they have done this last year?

Your take?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Outside The Lines: Yankee Stadium Controversy

You decide:

Thanks for the explanation, Charlie

"Ryan Howard is a carrier. That's somebody that can take your team and get big hits and knock in runs and carry you. Ryan Howard is a carrier. You can say what you want about him, but his numbers are right there for you.''
Gee, thanks Charlie. I had NO idea what you were talking about. That's sooo much better. Did you consult John Maddon on that one?

That machine is a toaster. You put bread in it and it comes out toast. That is a toaster. ***

*** With a wink and a nod at the late genius Mitch Hedberg:
"I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. Toaster, refrigerator, blender....all you do is say what the sh*t does, and add "er". I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute. Hey, what does that do? It keeps sh*t fresh. Well that's a fresher....I'm going on break."

NY Post missing the point

Bless their hearts, but the NY Post just has to take the low road, the caustic approach with the teams they cover. Rather than focus on what is the real story within this Joel Sherman article, they bury it behind the title and thrust of "YANKS' DECISION LOOKING BAD".

Sure, after Year 1, the decision to keep Hughes and others rather than deal them all AND pay $140 million-ish for Johan doesn't look good. Who would disagree with that? But there is some harrowing scouts-take buried in here worth reading:

But scouts who have watched him in the AFL say Hughes' delivery, command and array of stuff have not been impressive.

He started the Rising Stars game and permitted four runs (one earned) in three innings, allowing two homers and walking two. One scout who has seen multiple starts in the AFL by Hughes offered this report from the Rising Stars game:

His velocity was fine. He threw some at 93-94 (mph), but mostly he was in the low 90s, but the problem was that they were straight. He gave up two bombs and even the outs were mostly hard hit. He couldn't command his fastball to the corners at all. Only about half his curves were good and only about one in four were in the strike zone. He is working to add that changeup (to use against lefties), threw three and all were up and out of the zone.

"I think the problem is that his elbow is too low so he is not commanding because he is not throwing downhill. His command stinks because his motion stinks. For example, his curve has good rotation and break, but I think because of that delivery it breaks early and so hitters pick it up."
OK, that's some good insight that we can't see. But to focus on the deal not done is just plain lazy.

What we also have to consider is the fact that we still have Hughes, et al, and we now have the financial flexability to go after a younger CC Sabathia. Perhaps I am simply being foolish, but I'd rather have a younger horse like Sabathia than a slightly-older greyhound like Johan. We may wind up with neither and that's the risk.

But they have to stop harping on the Johan non-trade. That ship is LOOOOOONG gone.

UPDATE (10/27/08, 12:50pm): Pete Abraham from the LoHud blog has a bit on the Shermanisms above:
But this is definitely true: Of the 120 pitchers in the Arizona Fall League, 108 of them are older than Hughes. That stat courtesy of Brian Cashman, who shuffled papers in his desk until he found it this morning.
Hughes is 22. Give the guy a chance to pitch before you decide whether he can or not.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Mayors' bet

I always think the annual bet by the Mayors of the two cities appearing in the World Series is lame. This year, it's for sandwiches. Wooooo, risky! Here's my idea, which just came to me as I was reading Shysterball's entry about the bets:

The LOSER of the bet has to come to the city of the winning team --with his entire senior staff-- and help clean up AFTER THE TICKER TAPE PARADE. It combines real risk along with real shame in losing, plus it makes for a great photo op with a sitting mayor of a major city, broom in hand, cleaning the streets with his/her senior staff as the victors celebrate with the winning mayor at City Hall.

This must happen.

Peavy's choices: Padres or AL

Seems that the Padres are slowing down the process to keep Peavy in the loop.

"There's certainly a lot of interest from other clubs," Towers said. "But we've slowed it down the last three or four days because, after doing some fact-finding, and talking with other teams, I didn't want to go further until I got the go-ahead from Jake."
"...talking with other teams". What's that mean? It means, to me, that the five teams who Peavy has (supposedly) agreed to waive his NTC in a trade have either backed off entirely or not willing to part with the prospects required to get the deal done. Knowing rumors are merely just that, rumors, here's what we think we know, not to steal any thunder from Tim at MLBTradeRumors:

: The Braves have the young/cheap talent to deal but apparently have decided against it, so far. Methinks we haven't heard the last from Atlanta.
General manager Frank Wren insists the Braves won't trade their most valued prospects, apparently not even to bring Jake Peavy to Atlanta.
"Many of the trade speculations that have been written over the past few weeks are inaccurate," Wren said. "For the most part they are simply an outsider speculating what we might do and not what we would do."
Houston: Doesn't seem likely that Peavy will land here. A lack of high end prospects seems to be the oft-cited reason.

St. Louis: Also passing on Peavy.
According to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are not a serious player for Jake Peavy. Miklasz's Cardinals sources downplayed the idea and noted that they've only had one conversation with the Padres.
They always have liked Peavy, but probably would enter the discussions only if they lost right-hander Ryan Dempster as a free agent, which is unlikely. Even then, the Cubs might not match up with the Padres.
When the Rockies were entertaining offers for Holliday last summer, they told the Dodgers that the price for them, as a division rival, would be higher than it was for any other club. The Padres almost certainly would take the same approach with Peavy.
So what's the next move? I think the Padres tell Peavy that unless he wants to consider an AL team (which seems more and more unlikely) the Padres are just going to go quiet on the talks until some comes to them with something palatable.

Also, what I heard from Peter Gammons this morning really surprised me. I was driving so I couldn't note it verbatim, but he discussed the lack of outs recorded by Peavy after the 7th inning this year. Also, how that 6 inning start in the NL West translates to the 5th inning in the AL East.

Here's some data on Peavy's late inning stats and some others that piqued my curiosity (yes, selective stats):
  • Peavy faced only 69 batters in innings 7-9
  • With only 27 games started, Peavy averaged facing 2.56 batters after the 6th inning
  • Batters hit .290 against him later in games
  • Peavy faced only 38 batters after throwing his 105th pitch; Averaged 106 pitches per game in 2008 (103 PC/game for a career).
  • Peavy's away ERA in 2008 was 4.28; .258 Batting Average Against (BAA)
  • Peavy's home ERA in 2008 was 1.75; .205 BAA
  • Peavy's almost a neutral GB/FB pitcher, with a 1.11 GB:FB ratio in 2008, in line with career numbers. The bigger Petco keeps the flyballs within the fences for long outs.
  • K-rate of 8.60 lowest since 2003, down from 9.67 in 2007. As a result, his K/BB rate of 2.81 was also a low since 2003 and down from 3.53 last year.
Lookie here, would I be psyched to see Peavy coming Eastward to the Bronx? Sure, within reason. Are there some very real concerns about his health, his ability to succeed in the rough-and-tumble AL East, his reluctance to come to NY specifically and/or the AL generally? Absolutely.

Anyone can cherry-pick stats that help their side of the story; just ask Scott Boras. But, stats are indeed facts. We have to consider all of them. Sometimes they tell the story; sometimes they are misleading. We need to keep digging.

For more on Peavy, please click here. Thanks!

{And I just loved the clarity on the picture to the right, Peavy's circle change. Kids, if you want to see how that grip looks, study that picture!}

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What 19mph looks like

I recommend you taking a quick hop over to THT to check out Alex Eisenberg's latest review of some of the recent draft picks. If you want to get a decent feel of what a 93 mph fastball looks like relative to a 74 mph curveball thrown by the same pitcher, wonder no more.

No wondering by me why I am behind a keyboard not winding up a long and servicable career in the Majors. Who can hit that stuff? And he's just a prospect. Sheesh.

K.Law sets the record straight

Leave it to uber-analyst Keith Law to douse me in an icey cold water bath that is sometimes called reality (Insider Access required).

The team acquiring Peavy would get something similar to what Arizona got financially in Haren -- three years of control at below-market prices -- but they're not getting the same pitcher on the field. Peavy missed time this year with elbow trouble after notching a career high in innings in 2007. When he did pitch, his strikeout rate was down, his walk rate was up, and his home run rate was back up after an exceptionally low rate in 2007. His velocity was about normal, sitting 92-93 on the four-seamer, a few mph below that on the two-seamer, but his slider didn't have the same bite. He uses the slider heavily, which isn't good for the elbow, and without that as a primary weapon, he's not going to be as effective.

Peavy has also benefited tremendously from his home environment. Petco Park is one of the toughest places in baseball in which to hit a home run, good news for pitchers like Peavy who don't keep the ball on the ground. In fact, Peavy has allowed far more home runs (81) in his career on the road than he has at home (47), despite throwing 95 more innings at home. And that's before we consider the soft competition that he's faced, between his league and the weak offenses in his own division.

I know Petco skews heavily as a pitcher's park and certainly the competition is easier in the NL West than it is in the AL East. Maybe Peavy knows this and that's why he wants to stay in the NL, which I had been surmizing for some time now:
"Maybe Peavy looks at likely AL teams (for now, let's just consider the two financial superpowers, NY and Boston) and tells himself that he wants no part of pitching against the rest of the AL East. Could you blame him?"

And a bit more on these topics from Padres Assistant GM Paul DePodesta, interviewed here earlier this year:
IIATMS: Do you think people make too big a deal about “park effects”?
PD: I think it might be a little overdone. Park effects are definitely important when evaluating an individual player’s performance, but on any given night our collective mission is to beat the other team and we’re both playing in the same park. In short, I think there’s a fine line. You can’t ignore the nuances of your own park since you’ll play there 81 times a year, but you can’t be myopic either.


IIATMS: In your blog, you question how difficult the trade/rumor mill process must be for the players. How do you deal with players during this time? Do you actively seek them out to keep them in the loop? Do they call you? Are you able to share info
with them?

PD: It depends on the situation. There are times when I’ve kept a player in the loop about his situation when I thought it was appropriate. Other times it’s more difficult because trades are tenuous, and you don’t want to burden a player unnecessarily.

The man behind the logo

I'll admit it, I love these stories-behind-the-scenes stuff. Tell me about what goes on in the lowest levels of an organization. What the clubhouse boys have to do. How the laundry gets done. How the concessions get distributed. Anything. I'm a sucker for that minutae. So naturally, the story of the designing of the MLB logo is fascinating to me.

Now 76, Mr. Dior is retired. He says he enjoys seeing his creation whenever he and his wife, Lita, watch his favorite team, the Yankees. He has one regret: Major League Baseball has never acknowledged his contribution.
Mr. Dior says that he would be grateful for official credit, if only to share his hardball legacy with his four children and four grandchildren. "
Just to be recognized as the person who came up with the logo," he said, "that would be great. It's what I'm most proud of in my entire career as an illustrator."

And just WHO is the guy in the logo? The NBA used Jerry West's silouette as the logo. Anyone serve as the inspiration for the MLB logo?
His son once heard a radio broadcaster say that Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew served as his model for the logo. Mr. Dior's response: "That's completely untrue. It's not Harmon Killebrew. It's not anyone in particular."

Long on dollars, short on years

So the Dodgers have bought into Manny Being Manny. OK, I can understand why. When you only see one side --an incredible, glorious, breath-taking side-- you are willing to dismiss the bad stuff other people are telling you. And then there's the chatter that they are willing to get close to the annual dollars being paid to ARod:

One person who's spoken to Dodgers people suggested that the team is considering proposing a contract that may come close to matching Alex Rodriguez's record $27.5-million average annual salary but on a much shorter term, perhaps only two years. That person hinted he could see the Dodgers even exceeding A-Rod's salary, as long as the length of the deal was to their liking.
Is it me, or is this starting to feel a bit like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? Manny started off as an incredible fling. He was a god-send, better than anyone could have hoped for the Dodgers. But at some point, won't he be fighting you with knives (or threats of sitting due to a bad left, errrr right, um left, knee)?

Pardon my Bill Simmons-esque take on this but to borrow one of his favorite phrases, this can't end well, can it?

Sure, let's add another OF

Seems the last thing the Yanks need is another mid-30's OF. No matter that he's a quality defender, he's a K-machine and the Yanks are already slogged with outfielders, young and old. This makes no sense, unless there are a few trades yet to happen. And even then, why Cameron?

According to an industry source, the Yankees are waiting to see if the Brewers pick up a $10 option on Cameron, who will be 36 in January.

If they don't, the source said, the Yankees have targeted him because they consider him an upgrade at center field, where they have Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon.
Plus Matsui. And Nady. And some other kids who may or may not be worth some PT. How will this team ever know if they have an Ellsbury in their midst unless they give them the chances?

My head hurts already.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Definition: Lieber-contract

I realized that I twice suggested a "Lieber contract" recently without much explanation. For those of you who don't remember, the Yanks signed Lieber to a two year deal knowing he would not pitch the first year. He then returned the year after and was pretty darn good.

He missed the entire 2003 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2002. Lieber signed a two-year contract with the Yankees following the 2002 season. After recovering from the surgery, Lieber rewarded the Yankees' investment in 2004 by winning 14 games (tied for the team lead) and becoming the team's most consistent pitcher down the stretch.
I'm a big proponent of this sort of thing with a club like the Yanks who can afford to take the financial risks required to possibly capture the upside of a recovering proven commodity. I would not recommend this for a mid-/small-market team who can't readily write off such an expense.

Other Lieber contract candidates: Jason Schmidt, Mark Mulder. However, something about those two make me more nervous. Age, timing of recent surgeries, etc.

More Prior-ness

Yesterday, I suggested that the Yanks take a flier on Mark Prior, signing him to a Lieber-like deal. The Yanks drafted Prior way back when but never signed him. He re-entered the draft, was taken by the Cubs, rocked the league in 2003 and then turned into an injury-riddled version of Carl Pavano.

Last year, he signed for $1m, under-market value, to play in his hometown of San Diego. He did not pitch an inning for his hometown nine. Rather, he underwent season-ending surgery in June.

Prior had surgery in June performed by team doctors Heinz Hoenecke and Jan Fronek to fix a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder.

It was during surgery when Hoenecke and Fronek discovered that the capsule in Prior's right shoulder had torn away from the humerus bone -- an injury neither Hoenecke nor Fronek had heard of another baseball player having before.

There's no timetable for him to pitch in games yet; they think he can start pitching to hitters in the Spring. Prior now says he wants to return to the Padres. Can't say I blame him. He effectively stole that $1m last year and if you have to rehab anywhere, doing it in SD ain't too bad.

Except I think that the Yanks should come in and offer a multi-year deal, low on guarantees but high on incentives. Offer him a million or two guaranteed for 2009 and double that for 2010. Provide incentives for the # of games started. Maybe he'd be another Pavano, maybe he'd be Lieber, who came back to be effective. Not great but effective. When you have a 28 year old who once had proven great "stuff", isn't that worth a risk? Could it work out any worse than the Ponson experiment? With a limited downside, I think a guy like Prior is worth the risk.

If he can't handle the workload of a starter, perhaps he can develop into a nice middle reliever. Hell, didn't the perennially-injured Kerry Wood develop into an ace closer?

Stranger things have happened.

I love a good obsession

So long as it's relatively harmless, legal and in the spirit of fun and entertainment, a good obsession is a great thing. Like this wacky Phillies phan and his streak that dwarfs Ripken's:

Since Aug 8, 1986, Bogart has kept score of every Phillies regular-season game. In all but the rarest instances, he has watched or listened live and methodically recorded each out, each hit, each run as they occurred.

For the record, that's 3,554 straight contests.

Sort of makes Oriole great Cal Ripken's consecutive games played streak of 2,632 seem a little light.
Naturally, he'd name his son after some Phillies great, right? Um, not so much:

Their son is named Ryne Michael -- after Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg first and then Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.
Why not Michael Ryne? Ya got me, but if you're questioning the logic of man who has methodically listened/watched and recorded nearly 4k straight games, you're the one who might need their head examined.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tell me if you've heard this before

Oh, what might have been....

Mark Prior, who had a second, less-invasive surgery on his right shoulder earlier this year, is in the midst of a throwing program and should be ready for the start of the 2009 season, said his agent, John Boggs. Prior is expected to file for free agency. "He said he feels good, that his shoulder has never felt better," said Boggs.

Someone will sign him to a Jon Lieber contract, hoping for the best. Wouldn't surprise me to see the Yanks do that.

Peavy Sweepstakes update

If you believe the writers, the Cardinals are out as are the Astros. That leaves the Dodgers, Cubs and the Braves as the three likely NL landing spots for Peavy.

Re: The Cardinals:

According to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are not a serious player for Jake Peavy. Miklasz's Cardinals sources downplayed the idea and noted that they've only had one conversation with the Padres.
Re: The Astros:
Peavy's first choice, according to the source, is Houston, but it is unlikely that the Astros have enough Minor League talent to offer the Padres, who are seeking starting pitching and, possibly, a center fielder.
I don't believe the Cubs have the depth to deal to get Peavy, especially after dealing young/cheap talent to land Harden. They could send Pie, a disappointing Rich Hill and a bunch of others, but I can't see that being the winning bid. I admittedly am not fluent in the Cubs farm system so if any Cubbies fans can put together a deal that you think works, email me.

The Dodgers clearly have the goods and they will have to overpay to get the Padres to agree to deal him inter-division. Package some prospects with Kemp. Kemp and Billingsley (they'd never do that!)...?

The Braves seem to have some talent to get the deal done but are the reluctant to do so? Seems that way.
With such attractive prospects as Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Tyler Flowers, Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen and Jordan Schafer, the Braves have the ability to put together a blockbuster package to land Peavy.

But right now they're obviously reluctant to put too many of those pieces in the same package. Thus it appears that they'll remain patient until it becomes apparent exactly what it would take to bring Peavy to Atlanta.
If the Braves are unwilling to part with Hanson, Schafer and maybe Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar, will the Padres look to the AL and present Peavy with his options.

I still claim the Yanks/Sox/Angels are not out of it until the ink is down on the trade paperwork elsewhere.

UPDATE (10/21/08, 9:41am): Update courtesy of Buster:
There may be other considerations, as well, Axelrod said, without elaborating. But Peavy certainly would have the leverage to extract more guaranteed money from his next team. Players in a similar situation as he is in have asked that a contractual option be exercised in return for waiving a no-trade clause, and Peavy has a $22 million option for 2013, with a $4 million buyout; he could just ask for more money in the buyout.

Another factor for Peavy to consider, Axelrod said, is what other types of moves the Padres make in the weeks ahead -- what moves are made to improve the team, or if there are more cutbacks. No matter what he ultimately decides that he wants, Peavy will hold the hammer that could break apart the trade talks.

Yet again, I assert that if the only thing separating Peavy from the AL is monetary concessions, that's not a hurdle that can't be cleared. If more money is all Peavy is looking for --in the way of guarantees, additional years, etc.-- then the Yanks will meet his demands. The only question that I can't yet answer is if Hughes is the dealbreaker for the Yanks.

The Axis of Evil?

Tell me you're shocked when you see this picture:

I'm not. Except it's not really what you think. It's not a regularly scheduled meeting of the Domineering Owners Club. The Old Rich White Guy Ownership Association? The Loose Skin Gray Hair Society? Aviators and Dr. 90210? Turtlenecks and Neck-tucks?

These guys are uniting to form a new stadium hospitality company. In short, they want to make your stadium experiences better.
The New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, Goldman Sachs and CIC Partners today announced that they have founded Legends Hospitality Management, LLC), a new company that will offer a broad range of sports business services. Legends’ initial focus will be on operating catering, concessions, retail merchandising and other facility management enterprises for major sports and entertainment facilities.
Pete Abe provides his usual spot-on analysis and wit:
What this means: Teams have traditionally provided concessions via an independent company such as Aramark or Centerplate. Those companies pay for the rights to operate in the stadiums.

The Yankees and Cowboys borrowed $100 million from Goldman Sachs and will form their own company to handle food, team stores, etc. at their new stadiums. Much of this will be to enhance the atmosphere in the suites. The company hopes to branch out to other teams, arenas and colleges.

By cutting out the middleman, the teams theoretically should make more money. This seems like a smart move by the Steinbrenners. Hal Steinbrenner spoke about a year ago about such ventures and Hank Steinbrenner, you may recall, once predicted the Yankees could work with the Red Sox. This is the kind of thing they were talking about.

In time, I suspect you’ll see teams share a cable network or a radio network. The Yankees and Cowboys reach across a lot boundaries and demographics.

Meanwhile, George Steinbrenner is apparently going for a
Weekend At Bernie’s look as he meets Jerry Jones.
Let it be thusly noted, it's once again about the money. And, for all the anti-Yankee fans out there, this is just another way the Yanks are flexing their financial might. First it was the YES Network, then there was the agreement with Man U. And now they are getting into hospitality. So when your favorite team cries poverty, ask them why they haven't branched out vertically or horizontally.

Hate them all you want, but you have to be impressed with the behind the scenes management team who probably got this done. There are probably some really bright strategy guys as well as creative bankers (what credit crisis? Need $100 million, sure!) who made sure this got done.

Of course, it was just yesterday when I noted the Jerry Jones "I'm not like him" comment with the great retort, even though the original comment by Jones wasn't made yesterday. Good times, my friends.

Any chance Marion Barber can play 1B?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Peavy not diggin' NY

OK, Peavy doesn't love NY. He'd rather bat. Yawn. Just tell me when he agrees to waive his NTC, otherwise, I will assume that NY is still a player in this chessmatch.

"Jake strongly prefers the National League, and it would take major enticement to get him to agree to go to any American League club," [agent Barry] Axelrod e-mailed. "He has obviously had a lot of success in the NL and feels very comfortable there. Also, he is a pretty good hitter, and he views that as an advantage."
Since when have the Yanks been reluctant to add a major enticement? I'll believe the Yanks are out of this drama only when the news crosses the wire that Peavy has been dealt somewhere out. You just can't count out the richest guy in the room flashing his wallet when he wants something.

What would Peavy want? Another year guaranteed? CHECK. Special suites on the road? CHECK. Flying home on off-days? CHECK. Pinch hit during blow-outs when you're not pitching? Sure, why not!

Maybe I am crazy, but it seems that those who fear the NYC have something to hide. If you have the skills, there's no bigger stage on which to perform. If he was a singer playing to nice quiet, mid-sized crowds in Balboa Park and was offered to come play Carnegie Hall, only someone who doubts their abilities would balk at such a chance. Perhaps that's just me, but if you're among the best, why not take the chance to steer yourself to a team that you know will be at least competitive, if not better, for the next decade? Perhaps that means going to the Red Sox not the Yanks, but why the fear of the AL? And don't hide behind the "I am a good hitter. I want to bat" crap. I don't buy it for a second.

Sorry for the NYC-bias.

UPDATE (10/21/08, 9:41am): Update courtesy of Buster:
There may be other considerations, as well, Axelrod said, without elaborating. But Peavy certainly would have the leverage to extract more guaranteed money from his next team. Players in a similar situation as he is in have asked that a contractual option be exercised in return for waiving a no-trade clause, and Peavy has a $22 million option for 2013, with a $4 million buyout; he could just ask for more money in the buyout.

Another factor for Peavy to consider, Axelrod said, is what other types of moves the Padres make in the weeks ahead -- what moves are made to improve the team, or if there are more cutbacks. No matter what he ultimately decides that he wants, Peavy will hold the hammer that could break apart the trade talks.
Yet again, I assert that if the only thing separating Peavy from the AL is monetary concessions, that's not a hurdle that can't be cleared. If more money is all Peavy is looking for --in the way of guarantees, additional years, etc.-- then the Yanks will meet his demands.


Even I have gotta admit, this is pretty good:

"I am so grounded in the thinking that higher payrolls don't win Super Bowls. I've never experienced success throwing money at players. I never see myself [being a Steinbrenner].''-- Dallas owner Jerry Jones, at the NFL Meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., last March.

"Welcome to the Yankees.''-- Dallas Morning News Cowboys beat writer Calvin Watkins, to fledgling Cowboy beat writer Brian Davis, last Tuesday in the middle of the Pacman/Roy Williams mayhem.
Hard to argue, eh Jerry?

The Brass Balls Award goes to...

...Joe Maddon! For bringing in highly touted, greener-than-a-Prius-from-New-Hampshire, little-used David Price in the most pressure filled moment of the organization's brief (and brutal) history!

Rays manager Joe Maddon then called for Chad Bradford to pitch to Kevin Youkilis, who drew a walk to load the bases. David Price became the fifth and final Rays pitcher of the inning, when the 23-year-old rookie left-hander was brought in to pitch to J.D. Drew. He struck Drew out looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the threat.

In the ninth, Price issued a walk to Jason Bay, then struck out Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek, before getting Lowrie to ground into the forceout to end the game.

"I felt really good about David tonight," Maddon said. "David, when you talk about him prior to the game, this young man is composed beyond his years, he really is, and I think you've all had a chance to understand that if you've even had one conversation with him.

"So it was just important to get through that murderer's row that they have there, and then eventually turn it over to him. That was my thought. And again, it was just about throwing strikes, and he's been a strike-thrower his whole life."
There are gutsy calls, hunches and calculated risks. Then there is Joe Maddon turning to David Price, with the bases loaded, against the defending champs, in the 8th inning, with the bases loaded. And Price K's Drew, then the first two outs of the ninth (after a walk) before getting the grounder to second to end it. Reminds me of when K-Rod burst onto the scene for the Angels out of nowhere back in 2002.


More on The Move That Iced The Pennant:
Tampa Bay’s worst to first saga was the feel-good story of this season, and it probably was fitting that Price—the least experienced of the young Rays— was on the mound at the most critical point of the ALCS.

Minimal experience, but I was not hesitant,” manager Joe Maddon said.
I wanted the ball,” Price said. “I think everybody down there in the ‘pen wanted the ball tonight.”
And no, David, I will bet not everyone wanted the ball. I'd bet a bunch of guys had that sphynchter-tightening feeling and were content watching you go out and nail it down.

May as well sign him to a multi-year deal now!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cashing in bonds; Bonds cashing in

While the rest of the economy is squirrelling away cash in their mattresses, cashing in bonds and their 401k's early and generally not spending much on anything not essential, good old Barry Bonds and his collusionary claims might result in a massive payday.

Barry Bonds could seek $100 million or more if an arbitrator finds baseball owners colluded to end his career, according to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, which allows for triple damages from lost earnings.
[Willie] Mays, Bonds’ godfather, recently told HBO’s Bob Costas he believed Bonds could play as many as three more years. The $100 million figure, while seemingly ludicrous, could be sought by arguing that Bonds might have earned more than $30 million in three years, and tripling the damages.
I don't think Bonds was methodically colluded against. I actually think that the owners and GMs all came to similar conclusions on their own. A stretch given Mgmt's historical stupidity and impulsiveness, but given his looming lawsuit, the excess attention and PR, the requirements of mgmt to blindly support Bonds, and his not-to-lovable presence in the lockerroom, I think it's a pretty obvious conclusion. Groupthink*, perhaps, but not collusion. I think the Mgmt was simply afraid to go near Bonds.

* Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.

(thanks to for the tip)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Leverage, behold thy name is NTC

So my favorite non-free agent --Jake Peavy-- has laid out his five NL landing places. Nice choices, if I say so myself. Of course, by limiting himself to just the NL and only these five, he's using all the leverage afforded to him via his NTC. Which is well with his contractual right.

San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy, the Cy Young Award winner currently being dangled in trade talks, initially indicated to the Padres that he would prefer a deal to one of five teams -- Atlanta, St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.
Naturally the Padres front office will explore some other options, presumably some in the AL. Otherwise, these five teams have little incentive to hand over the gems of their farm systems. It seems that Atlanta has the best array of high minor league talent to offer the Pads but appears to be reluctant to do so. I'd also guess that if LAD wanted to dangle Kemp, Dewitt and another arm or two, it could get done, but will LA want to do that? Especially if they are already going to make a serious play on CC or Manny. Can they take on $20m for Manny plus Peavy's deal? The Cubbies dealt some young talent to land Harden; do they have much left to hand to San Diego for Peavy? Does their changing ownership scuttle taking on another fairly sizable contract?

So that leaves San Diego exploring the AL teams 1) who can afford to take on the contract, 2) deliver the bounty that the Padres want in return and 3) who are contenders that would appeal to Peavy. To me, that's Tampa (they have the talent and should have some loot to spend), NY, Boston, LAA, maybe Detroit. Who am I missing? Could Cleveland be a dark horse? Chicago?

If I were the Yanks, I'd send guys like Moose, Pettitte (yes, they are both free agents, but let's assume they both want to return and will, at least for the sake of this exercise) on a recruiting trip. Moose, from a small town in PA, and Pettitte, from Houston, can attest to how the Big Bad City can be a friend, not a foe. Of course, they can't do this unless there's some window of negotiation or something for fear of tampering. And if the team couldn't have these guys do the talking, I'd hope Cashman would tell Towers to describe their situations to Peavy to let him know guys from small towns have come to NY and been beloved. Or at least be-liked.
Peavy, 27, has a full no-trade clause, and he has not given San Diego any indication that he would accept a deal to the Yankees or any other American League team. But the Padres are in the process of gauging interest from those clubs, as well -- and if they were to identify an offer that they find acceptable, perhaps for a couple of pitchers and a center fielder, officials with other teams sense that San Diego would move quickly to complete a deal.
The Yanks need to go to Towers with an aggressive offer to show they mean business and then hope Peavy isn't a shrinking violet.

Of course, I said much the same when the Yanks got Javy Vazquez. I told my Dad how great this guy is gonna be, how he was an emerging stud in Montreal and with his big K rates, he'd thrive in NY. Um, not so much. History, schmistory.

Meh, I still want Peavy!

TNYS: The grass is down and the video is huge

The sod is being laid and watered, the cranes are still up and there's a ginormous video scoreboard in dead center field. The center of it is huge, but consider the wrap-around balance of the video display.... crazy big. And the lettering across the left-center field monitor looks nice.

Haters can continue to hate but I'm liking what I am seeing.

Click here for all of the pictures

Video is here:

Joba to start

Yes, there are risks about his shoulder, but with proper physical therapy and training this off-season, there is no reason why Joba can't be a starter from 2009 forward. In fact, this is the only logical solution.

"The plan as of right now is Chamberlain is going to be a starter," the Yankees co-chairman said Thursday after five hours of organizational meetings at the team's spring training complex. "Everybody's pretty much in agreement with that."
Including all the piss-ants?

Shocking but not surprising

As hard as it is for me to watch, you just have to be impressed with the way the Sox clawed back from certain death last night. If this was in a movie, you'd laugh it off as improbable. If this was a soap opera, the scene would have been the doctor removing the tube on the patient, the priest administering last rights and then having the patient sit up and ask what's all the fuss about.

With the Sox, it's no longer surprising, but it's still shocking. I remember back to the early phases of the Yanks run in the mid-90's; there was always a sense of calm, a feeling that the team not only could come back, but would. The Sox have that same mojo right now. That's the element of experience that can't be taught. Sox fans, enjoy this win and enjoy this team. It's hard not to be impressed, even as a Yanks fan.

I think Maddon has the right mindset, of course, but the Rays better come out guns a'blazing in Game 6 or that momemtum shift will be real and hard to turn back.
“Of course we’re upset, of course, we don’t like losing that game, of course,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “But to dwell on it does no good whatsoever. We’ll lose heart for about a half hour or so, get on that plane, go home and then we’ll come back out for Game 6, and roll it out there again.”
Go Rays!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Behind the scenes: Trading Peavy

Paul DePodesta, assistant GM of the Padres, is incredibly honest in his discussion about trading Peavy and this is a MUST READ.

In short, we are charged with fielding the best possible team in both the short and long terms. Believe me, we wish we could put together a dynamic team comprised of players who would remain as Padres for the duration of their careers. On a personal level, we don't enjoy trading players. I don't know any executive who does. However, that just isn't the reality of today's game. Because of that fact, the best organizations out there can't really believe in the concept of "untouchable", because one can lose great opportunities with such blinders.

So, to answer the most basic question: are we going to trade Jake Peavy? We'll see if someone offers us a compelling deal that makes us better.

So maybe it WAS collusion after all

So much more to follow on this, but I wanted to get it out there quickly:

The baseball players' union says it has found evidence teams acted in concert against signing Barry Bonds but it reached an agreement with the commissioner's office to delay the filing of any grievance.
We have the agreement about the timing of a potential grievance," [Union general counsel Michael] Weiner said. "Our investigation revealed a violation of the Basic Agreement. It's a violation of the Basic Agreement related to Barry Bonds and free agency."

Weiner said the section that had been violated was Article XX (e) of the collective bargaining agreement, which states, in part: "Players shall not act in concert with other players and clubs shall not act in concert with other clubs." Weiner would not say how long the agreement runs to allow the union to file a grievance.

UPDATE: Just to give another POV, from my interview with Matt Sosnick earlier this year:
IIATMS: Do you think owners are united in their stand against guys like Sosa, Bonds, Gibbons and some of the other Mitchell Report guys? Or is it simply a matter of teams trying to get younger/cheaper?
MS: It’s a joke to think that there is a conspiracy. I have no doubt that Barry could be a productive hitter right now. But the risk doesn’t equal the reward. It’s not the on-the-field production for these guys, but the off-the-field distractions, headaches. There’s a lack of continuity as well and no GM will stick his ass out on the line for that risk.

Peavy talks warming up

Starting to simmer is more like it:

The San Diego Padres have begun to exchange names with teams interested in All-Star pitcher Jake Peavy, in what appears to be an aggressive effort to maximize return on the right-hander, who is signed to a contract that keeps him under a team's control through 2013. And increasingly, it seems that team won't be the Padres.
If AL teams get involved, the Yankees might be a fit, although New York GM Brian Cashman has made it clear in the past that he wants to adhere to a path of player development. That stance could change if the Yankees have changed their internal evaluations of young players who struggled in 2008, such as Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera.

Multiple sources consider it likely the Padres will deal Peavy in the weeks ahead, and that is a virtual certainty that he will be traded before the July 31 deadline next season. The Padres are seeking at least two young pitchers in return, along with someone who can become the team's everyday center fielder sometime in the immediate to near future.

Last year, the Twins found that the market for Johan Santana to be relatively lukewarm, primarily because Santana was in line to become a free agent after the 2008 season and teams like the Red Sox and Yankees were leery of absorbing the double-barreled cost of the prospects and a big-money, long-term contract. But in Peavy's case, he is under contract for the next four seasons, meaning that the Braves or the Dodgers or some other team would be assured of cost certainty.

There's a bunch more on all the other likely landing spots so I'd go check out the source article from Buster. Otherwise, I'd be blockquoting the whole thing....

I still think that if Hank finds out he can get Peavy for Melky, Hughes and another part or two, he'll really hold Cashman's hands to the fire to get it done.


For more on my Peavy man-crush: click here.

Wait and see: Pettitte

In short, I think the Yanks outta take a wait-and-see approach with Andy. Let's see what the trade market and free agent market yields before filling the available seats. Pettitte is pretty much down to NY or Houston as choices. I'd advise Cashman, not that he's asking, to do his external-looking business and if there is a need for another veteran pitcher, then make an offer that he thinks matches Pettitte's projected 2009 performance.

Pettitte was overpaid ($16M) last year and he was mediocre at best. Offer him a one year, $10M deal loaded with incentives (including # of starts since I think his elbow is hanging on, barely). If he wants more, he can go to Houston or pack it in. It's time we dictated terms rather than have the terms dictated to us and to not let our nostalgia cloud the decision-making process any longer. We all love what Andy had done for us during the great run in the 90's, but he's not that same guy. Not personal, just business. This is a team that needs reliable horses, not shaky-elbowed aging average starters.

Sources said on Wednesday that Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, has informed the Yankees of this recently.

No contract for 2009 has been negotiated between the pitcher and the team, but he has made it clear that he wants to play for the Yankees and the Yankees have made it clear that they want Pettitte, who went 14-14 with a 4.54 ERA for New York this season. Pettitte made $16 million last season.