Monday, March 31, 2008

The High Price of Patience

I regrettably agree with John Harper's theme in his article today about the Yanks and their reliance on the young arms this season. According to Harper and his conversations with scouts around baseball who have seen the Yanks this Spring, it seems likely that the Yanks will miss the post-season this year and the decision to not trade for Johan will be often second-guessed. I can't say I disagree, however painful it might be in the short term.

I try to maintain a long term view for the Yanks. They are not, unlike the smaller market teams, tied to a narrow window before their best players "graduate". Those smaller market studs tend to graduate to teams like the Yanks. If the Yanks have to take a post-season pause this year to set themselves up for another 5-7 year stretch of prosperity, so be it.

Each of the six [scouts] polled made a point of saying they were impressed by the way the young trio performed in spring training, yet four of the six said they believe the Yankees indeed will miss the playoffs in 2008, citing the inevitable growing pains as well as questions about the rest of the pitching staff.

"I love their future," was the way one scout put it. "But if you think those young guys aren't going to take their lumps at times this season against American League lineups, you're dreaming."
Again, it will be a bitter pill to swallow if the Yanks are home in October, the first time in 13 years, but it happens. The RedSox missed the playoffs between titles recently and they are better off for it, it seems, having a deep farm system along with the financial wherewithall to make any move they seemingly wish. And I don't think the RSN panicked. We shouldn't either. I've often joked "In Cashman We Trust" and while Hank's itchy trigger finger does concern me, I know Cashman has our long term health in mind when he makes, or doesn't make a deal.

"Hey, I applaud Cashman for wanting to do it this way," one executive said. "I think those young guys will make it pay off in the long run, but I think they'll take a step back this year. There's always a price to pay for showing patience."

It's a price the Yankees rarely are willing to pay. As such it's the reason the Santana question will hover all season.

The fun thing about the Yanks this year is that they are NOT the team to beat. They are not solely a bunch of older mercenary types. They are again homegrown guys who we can grow with and root for. And if those kids can continue to develop, maybe we'll be surprised. And for me, that's the element that's been missing for so many years. It seems as if making the playoffs brought a sense of relief rather than joy. I'm looking forward to that joy rather than relief. A playoff invite and progression would certainly bring back that joy.

Of course, bowing out in the first round would flat-out suck.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Behind the Scenes of Yankee Stadium

Due to time constraints (dinner plans, sorry), here is an AMAZING link to a story by Tyler Kepner of the NY Times about the hidden gems of Yankee Stadium. Whether you are a fan of the Yanks or not, it's hard not to be captivated by the history captured in the Stadium.

I'll have my own pictures in September once I get my tour, but this will have to do for now.

Audio/Video Tour (a MUST watch!)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday fun: Schadenfreude

schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun: A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others

See also: Patriots undefeated / Super Bowl / 19-0 t-shirts winding up in 3rd World Nations

Thank you, Deadspin.

Additional details on revised MLB drug policy

While the news of a possible change in the MLB drug policy came out a few days back, little was said and it wasn't a done deal. As of today, it's still not (yet) a done deal but at least we have some additional color on what the changes will be. Of course, anytime these two sides try to tango, it gets ugly, so who knows if anything will be agreed to.

As of a few days ago, the commissioner’s office and the union were close to a deal in which none of the active players linked to banned substances in the report would be disciplined. The union would accept increased year-round drug testing and other measures...
That lawyer also said the union had agreed to increased year-round testing to supplement the minimum of two tests — one during spring training and one during the regular season — now required of each player.

Under the current program, there are only about 60 out-of-season tests conducted, a glaring hole in the sport’s testing regimen, antidoping experts have said. <
It seems that the issue about independent testing remains a sticking point, sort of: both sides don't want it. This was a direct recommendation by the Mitchell Report so it remains something that might rear its head again down the road. Stay tuned.

Selected related posts:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Matsui married (secretly); Jeter next?

Evidently there was a bet in the Yankee clubhouse and now Jeter's on the clock!

In what was apparently a surprise to nearly everyone, Hideki Matsui 'snuck' back to NYC to secretly get married to an unnamed, unidentified Japanese woman. Matsui said only that she is “a 25-year-old civilian and had been formerly working in a reputable position at a highly respected company.” They met in Japan after the 2006 off-season.

It was a cute story, but then it took a hilarious turn. Peter Abraham of the Journal News asked if Derek Jeter would be the next to get married.

We’ve got a bet going,” Matsui replied. “If he doesn’t get married within a year, I win the bet. Basically the bet was, whoever gets married first wins. Jeter said he himself doesn’t have a girlfriend, so he’s getting a one-year handicap.”

Back in the clubhouse, we found Jeter and told him the news about Matsui. Jeter, who loves to say that he’s never surprised by anything, was genuinely shocked. Turns out Matsui had played him for a fool.

Non-baseball link

Sometimes, rarely, I will toss a link here to something non-baseball related that was either particularly newsworthy, interesting, or flat out funny.

Here's one for you today.

Buster on the Yanks

Buster Olney, the ESPN baseball-do-it-all, had a dive into the Yanks offense today (Insider access required, sorry). I could copy/paste it all, but that's probably a no-no, so here are some of the most interesting things...

Ah, nothing says "showing up/getting in great shape" like a contract year:

This spring, Abreu and Jason Giambi have come into camp looking like linebackers, as each prepares for possible free agency in the fall; Abreu has been lifting weights at night, after working out in the mornings and playing in the afternoons, and has a .538 on-base percentage this spring. "The best I've ever seen him," said a longtime scout. "He looks more invested."
Buster played Q&A with Posada, who had these things to say:
  • on Damon: "He's a guy that we need to have going, and he understands that. He's our sparkplug. If he has a year he's capable of having, he'll be the one who will make us win. He's more comfortable, being in left field, and he's going to DH a little bit. We just have to keep him healthy."
  • on Jeter: "...I think [he'll have an MVP-type year] because of the way he worked in the offseason, the way he took care of his body and worked on trying to get jumps and [did] speed drills."
  • on Cano: "He can be a batting title champion every year. He's going to hit .300 every year. He's learning to hit for power now, and he's only 25 years old. Last year, it took him a little while to get going, but he's learning."
  • on Matsui: "He played last year hurt, the whole year. Now that he is healthy, having that knee fixed, he's going to be different."
  • on Giambi: "He looks really healthy, and worked really hard during the offseason. He got in great shape."
Now, if Posada's right...AND their pitching develops/holds up... this team can be really good. But, if Ma and Pa (Mother Nature and Father Time) play hardball with this group, it could get ugly with Hank spouting off every 12 minutes. Let's hope not to hear from Hank much this year; that'd be a great sign.

New changes to the MLB drug policy, take 3

Seems that the MLBPA and MLB are about to complete their third amendment to their collectively bargained drug policy. I'm sure Marvin Miller just hurled his clicker at his TV.

Both sides have been talking for months since former Sen. George Mitchell released his report on Dec. 13 analyzing the use of those drugs in MLB.

Mitchell made a bevy of recommendations to strengthen the current program, about a half-dozen of which couldn't be adopted unless the changes were collectively bargained.

Mitchell said that the current penalties -- 50 games for the first positive test, 100 for the second and a lifetime ban for the third, with the right to apply for reinstatement after two years -- were adequate. But he advised that the program should be independently administrated, be more transparent, that year-round testing should be increased, and that new and the best practices are able to be implemented without having to re-open the program on each occasion.

The program currently has an independent physician in partial charge of its administration, but he shares that role with a lawyer from MLB and another from the union. Since Mitchell issued his report, Commissioner Bud Selig has said publicly that he's in favor of strengthening the power of the independent administrator without giving him total power and that is expected to be one element of the enhanced program.
MLB's drug program is already VERY tough, but until there's blood testing or urine-based HGH tests, there will be loopholes to exploit.

Related posts:

The tease of talent

Kelvim Escobar has always been a VERY talented pitcher. You'd read/hear from all the pundits and experts about his "stuff", except each plaudit carried a caveat: "if healthy". And now we hear he might have a torn shoulder. Possibly a career ender. Such a shame but goes to explain why the durable aces are so sought after and well-compensated: there aren't many of them.

Pitcher Kelvim Escobar, an 18-game winner for the Angels last season, revealed Wednesday that he has a tear in his shoulder, an injury that could require season-ending surgery and, possibly, end the veteran right-hander's career."I'm concerned, I don't know what's going to happen ... I don't even know if I'll be able to pitch again," said Escobar, 32, who is in the second year of a three-year, $28.5-million contract.
Escobar has bounced from starter to reliever, once saving 38 games for the BlueJays in 2002. He started 33 games in 2004, his first year in Anaheim, winning 11 with a 3.93 ERA. He then missed much of 2005. In 2006-07, he started 30 games each year, winning 18 games last year with a 3.40 ERA. He seemingly put it all together the last two years but the future ain't looking so bright for him.

If he goes under the knife and is devoted/motivated to get thru the nasty rehab, he is young enough (32 years old now) to make a successful return to the game. Except in reading his comments, maybe he doesn't want to go thru all that:

"I'm still young, but retirement has gotten into my head. It's hard doing the rehab. You get frustrated. You want to get out there and play. And I know I've done everything I can to stay healthy. I work pretty hard, take care of my body. What else can I do?"

Jeter & ARod still most marketable

An interesting article about who in the MLB is "most marketable". No major surprises here, but what was surprising was the relative small amounts these "most marketable" earn annually. I thought it was low; I expected higher, especially given ARod and Jeter work and live in NYC.

The list, with a highlight or two:

  1. Derek Jeter: "...his $7 million annually in endorsements is a pittance in sports. The smooth shortstop plays for the historic Yankees franchise, is well-known nationally for his World Series appearances, yet he earns the same amount as Denver bad-boy guard Allan Iverson."

  2. Alex Rodriguez: "Yet he and teammate Jeter split the big New York market, hurting both in the endorsement world. The best is yet to come: His expected run at Barry Bonds’ home run mark around the 2013 season will launch him into the marketing stratosphere."

  3. Ryan Howard: "Likable and only 28, the one-time National League Rookie of the Year is on the road to a top-notch endorsement career."

  4. Ichiro Suzuki: "...he’s the top-ranked baseball player on Sports Illustrated’s International 20, bringing in an estimated $24 million in salary and endorsements last year." (Note: Not sure what "salary" they are referring to since ARod, for example, has an annual salary higher than that alone...)

  5. David Ortiz: "...the 32-year-old has a few more years to capitalize on his engaging personality."

  6. David Wright: "Topps Cards and VitaminWater (where he made a stock killing when the company was taken over last year) are among his endorsement pacts. Though his fielding may be suspect (64 errors in three years), the 25-year-old’s marketing future is not."

  7. Albert Pujols: "Sports Illustrated estimated $3.5 million in endorsements for the 28-year-old last season..."

  8. Kosuke Fukudome: "Entering his first major league season, the superstar from Japan is already featured in Chicago Cubs ad campaigns, though he’s never set foot in Wrigley Field for a game."
Not surprised about much here, though seeing rookie Fukudome here was the lone surprise. I know he'll be in line to mine the Japanese market like Ichiro before him, but I would have guessed that the more established Hideki Matsui would have been on this list prior to Fukudome. Then again, the bloom is gone from that flower and Fukudome's the new kid in town so maybe that's the reason.

Happily lousy

[With all apologies, I've been unable to post as often due to work warming up. I've got busy season creeping up on me but I'll do my best to get stuff up here as often as possible.]


Now, we all know the Bonds-less San Francisco Giants will be bad this year, possible historically bad. We also have heard the numerous stories coming out of their Spring Training about how much happier, loose, relaxed, etc., the lockerroom is without His Barry-tude casting a shadow.

Except this team is really, REALLY bad. To wit: Zito, Giants beaten by Triple-A Fresno

One of the squads appeared set for Opening Day, and it wasn't the Giants, who lost to Fresno 4-3.

In his final appearance before he starts the opener against the Dodgers, Barry Zito allowed four runs (three earned) over 6-2/3 innings against a Grizzlies lineup in which Nate Schierholtz was the Big Man On Campus, with 112 big-league at-bats. For the spring, Zito gave up 24 earned runs in 25 innings.
The Giants started their regulars and had them all get 3 AB's and yet they still couldn't muster more than 3 runs against a Triple AAA team.

Fantasy note: Downgrade Cain & Lincecum

This is gonna get ugly, folks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday lunchtime amusement

Post-draft post-mortem

So much for expectations....

Well, I ended up with Miguel Cabrera as my first round pick after all, even though there was a little twist in the 5 leading up to me. In short, Johan was available to me and I let him go. I might regret this. Then again, I'm gonna need all that Cabs can deliver.

First 6 picks:

  1. ARod
  2. Pujols
  3. Reyes
  4. Wright
  5. Howard
  6. M.Cabrera
After that, no major surprises, except for Vlad jumping up into the first, being taken 8th, ahead of Johan, Utley, Beltran, Sizemore.

With a surprise, I got Soriano in the 2nd. Quite pleased. Great HR/SB mix, but he won't help my OBP. This will be a theme, sadly. I had targeted one of Teix/Berkman/C.Lee in the 2nd, figuring Soriano would be gone. Except he wasn't and Teix/Berkman were passed over for the speed/power allure. Possibly a mistake as I already had some speed on board.

In the 3rd, I was set, and I mean SET, on taking Adam Dunn, since most conventional rankings had him much lower than a 3rd rounder due to his low BA (we use OBP, boosting his value). Except the guy drafting before me took Dunn. Heartbreaking. I took Aramis Ramirez, a good 3B source of power (even though I drafted one of those in the 1st) but not an OBP hog. Uh-oh. Meanwhile, the guy in front of me just drafted Howard-Berkman-Dunn. I'd rather have his draft so far than mine of Cabrera-Soriano-Aramis.

Here is the rest of my draft:
  1. Cabrera
  2. Soriano
  3. Aramis Ramirez
  4. Abreu
  5. Figgins (more speed? three 3b in 5 picks? Was set to take Carlos Pena, taken by the same guy who took Howard/Berkman/Dunn. He's got a sick offense right now, but no speed!)
  6. Franceour (I think he can hit 30, but a low OBP unless he finally learns some plate discipline)
  7. Chris Young (having a keeper blocking my next pick, I wanted to get at least one top 15 starter and I'm fond of NL starters. If his back holds up, I'm happy)
  8. Morneau (keeper)
  9. Yovanni Gallardo (a bit of a reach as an also-injured Lackey was still available but Lackey's injury is arm/shoulder and Gallardo's coming back from a minor knee scope. I think he's one of those emerging young guns that I really want to have)
  10. AJ Burnett (needing some SP, I took a high-K pitcher on a decent team. Will have to face the Yanks/Sox a bunch but I like him)
  11. Johnny Damon (again I was jumped by the OBP king as he took Thome right before I took Damon. I think Damon's due for a bounce-back year and another source of runs/speed. Except I didn't need that; I needed OBP/power)
  12. Kenji Johjima (I never, ever, draft a C before the end rounds, but Johjima was just dangling out there before the drop into the lower-level C's. The pick was widely applauded, so maybe I got one here)
  13. Wang (keeper)
  14. JJ Hardy (I needed a MI here and having just missed on K.Greene and others, along with a 5 round keeper block coming, I took Hardy, probably a reach. However, he can pop 20+ HR this year from the MI spot so that's a positive)
  15. Percival (big dropoff into closer-hell and with a 5 round rest coming up, I wanted to lock down my 2nd closer. I didn't love this pick then, and I don't love it now. But I need 3 RP and had to get one, so it was him, B.Lyon, K.Gregg, etc. Not much to love down here)
  16. BJ Ryan (I really wanted Ryan this year. Maybe I am too optimistic on his return, but I think he can over-deliver for his draft round. Not to mention, if he does return to form, he's a keeper next year. He goes straight to my DL to start the year)
  17. Papelbon (keeper)
  18. Hanley (keeper)
  19. Phil Hughes (keeper)
  20. BJ Upton (keeper)
  21. Matt Kemp (keeper)
  22. Brandon Lyon (everyone's avoiding this guy because he's had a bad Spring. Can't say I disagree, but he's been named closer of the D'backs, a contending team in the NL West. Needing to start 3 RP, he was the only starting closer left on the board)
  23. Nate McLouth (Grady Sizemore-lite? The next Eric Byrnes? Or the guy I wasted a pick on when I should have a guy like Daric Barton, an OBP machine?)
  24. Mike Mussina (I realized that I have to add at least 1 SP, if not 2 in my last 3 picks due to roster requirements/injury. Adding Moose, who has indeed looked good this Spring, wasn't a bad pick. I preferred to add a young, protectable prospect like Jay Bruce or the aforementioned Daric Barton, both of whom went after my taking Moose. Oh well.)
  25. Manny Parra (was totally set to take Clayton Kershaw but the OBP King stole him from me, again. Bigtime bummer. Parra was getting some hype earlier this Spring, less so lately. But he's starting for the Brewers in a pretty easy NL Central, so maybe he can win a dozen. Maybe he becomes something good, but I know that's a longshot)
  26. Andre Ethier (was targeting Cameron Maybin and Colby Rasmus here but both taken to start off the 26th rd. Ethier has won the LF spot in LA but I fear he will have to split time with Pierre if he doesn't keep hitting like he has this Spring, over .350 with great peripherials. Maybe he blooms.)

Anyways, that's the draft. Comments always welcome.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Feeling a draft

Disclaimer: If you're not into fantasy baseball, please scroll down (or up, whatever) for other baseball stuff.

Tonite is my baseball draft. I'm basically down to just one league. I used to be in quite a few but as I've gotten busier at work, plus kids, I just don't have the time or desire to handle much more than this one great league. It's 12 teams, reasonably competitive. Most of the guys know what they are doing and the ones that don't, well, they fake it well.

Our keeper rules are very well thought out:

  1. Only players drafted may be kept (no undrafted players, even if waived)
  2. Max of 7 total
  3. Each player can be kept a max of 3 years
  4. Each year, the player's draft round is +3 rounds higher than the previous year. In other words, no player drafted/slotted in the first three rounds can be kept. This keeps the top 30 players available, in most cases. It also forces owners to make keeper decisions based upon players' "value" relative to their draft spot if they weren't protected.
For the most part, the best players are available, though the smart/lucky owner will have a few of the best players protected at significant below-market round "slottings". Having sold off my underperforming team last year mid-season, I am one of those lucky owners with a few major values that I am keeping. Going into the draft, my keepers are:
  • Justin Morneau, 8th rd (last year of contract)
  • Chein-Ming Wang, 13th rd (2 yrs left)
  • Jon Papelbon, 17th rd (last year, drafted by me 2 years ago!)
  • Hanley Ramirez, 18th rd (last year, the pride of my mid-year purge)
  • Phil Hughes, 19th rd (2 yrs left)
  • BJ Upton, 20th rd (last year, the other pride of my mid-year purge)
  • Matt Kemp, 21st rd (2 yrs left)
There are some other cheap keepers being protected by others, the best of which is a 22nd round Ryan Braun.

We also use OBP instead of BA, an idea I pushed for since it's a better barometer of a player's ability to get on base than simple batting average. Why should guys who rack up walks be penalized rather than rewarded? Made no sense so we use OBP now, boosting guys like Adam Dunn.

I draft in the 6th slot, a mid-draft position that I hate. I rather bat last or first. The middle sucks. No flow. No way to start a run by double-dipping on closers, for example. I hate it. That said, there are guys I'd be happy with anywhere from 4-10, so the 6th slot gets me one of those guys. Here's how I see the first 5 picks going:
  1. ARod
  2. Pujols (the owner is a diehard Cardinals fan)
  3. Johan (Mets fan; he told me he's taking Johan if available)
  4. Reyes (Mets fan; told me he's taking Reyes if Johan isn't there)
  5. Wright (the owner was set on taking Howard for the power but told me today that if Wright slips, he might have to take him over Howard. I am bummed if this plays out like this)
So, in the event the team with the #5 slot does indeed take Wright, I will likely be looking at Ryan Howard or Miguel Cabrera. I am starry eyed about Howard's power but I have a 1B already rostered, so maybe taking Cabrera to fill my 3B slot is a smarter idea. Will give me a fewer HR (-10 or so) but with the guys already on my team, that's probably OK. I think I can draft power in the 2nd and 3rd rounds reasonably well and get those missing HR back. Or, that's my hope. I am tempted by Utley and Rollins, but also having a top 2B and the top SS makes filling the MI slot with my first pick seem silly. Of course, if I drafted Howard, I'd fill my CI slot with my first pick, but 50 HR power doesn't come often.

So what should I do? Lend me your thoughts, quickly!!!!

I'll recap the draft, possibly, if anyone wants. If not, I still might do it anyways.

Advertising?!? Ack, my eyes

Got a chance to watch part of the "Opening Series" game (or at least have it on, not really "watching") at work this morning. Besides confirming how much I hate baseball in a dome, any dome, we got to see the proliferation of on-the-uniform advertising that's prevalent in Japan but anathama to the US.

Now, the title of the posting is mostly tongue-in-cheek. I don't get as caught up in this as the Religious Right (Joe Buck, Lupica, etc.) or the UniWatchBlog fans, but I don't particularly care for it either.

Part of this little baseball-in-Japan is to promote the game; the rest of it is a big fat cash grab. It is about the money, stupid. I still don't see those on-the-uniform advertising taking off in the US anytime soon. Otherwise, I'd really start screaming like the rest of the Religious Right at anything that they deemed "new school".

Here are some pictures of the offending logos:

Regrets? I've had a few

Seems that ARod is opening up a bit more about some of his past regrets, namely forgoing the Mets in 2000 to chase the $252million in Texas. Hard to argue this one, even if it's ARod. Texas was not a winner and the Mets were on the way to becomming a consistent threat in the NL East. Just imagine what the Mets would look like now, with ARod on their team? Makes you wonder where David Wright or Jose Reyes would be, either on the Mets or somewhere else.

Not much eye-opening to the article, but it's ARod and it will get lotsa press. Some of the more interesting things, to me:

The three-time MVP says that at some point after his opt-out decision in October, he realized he could be headed for a similar scenario, with Boras dictating his next destination.

"So to make the right decision just feels really good," Rodriguez said, "versus being taken down a road where I'm like, 'Oh, my God, where am I? Oh, $400 million to play in some place I hate? Great, I'll blow my --- head off.' "
I really wonder why he mentioned $400 million when it was clear to everyone that the Yanks were again the high bidder with no other team seemingly in contention. I can't see the Angels or Detroit, or even Boston, going that high for anyone. Frankly, $300 million is already ludicrous, and $400 million for one player is so beyond all rational comprehension, I struggle to find words to capture it. But was Detroit really going to go that far? I really wonder.

Speaking of Detroit, he mentions them, curiously, later in the article, leading me to wonder if Detroit had someone whispering in Boras' ear very loudly:

"I want to believe it's the same with me. If I had gone to Detroit or someplace and I don't win, people are going to hammer me, because there's no loyalty, and by moving again, I don't represent anything. Instead, I'm planting my roots here and saying I want to win with one team and represent something as a Yankee the rest of my career. I think it's the right way to do it."
Certainly seems like they might have been ready to go that deep.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Yankee Stadium info, tidbits, etc.

A few (off the field, non-personnel related) Yanks things of note this evening:

  1. The Yanks' brass had another chest-pounding moment this evening, posting a press release touting that the team has already sold 3.8million seats for the 2008 season. The team is 400k ahead of last year's pace, due mostly to the fact that this is the final year of the soon-to-be "old" Yankee Stadium.

    Of course, this means getting tickets are tougher than ever. And forget All-Star Game tickets; you need some major luck/connections to nab those.

  2. Speaking of the All-Star Game, if you are in the area or plan on being in NYC during the All-Star Game this July, you might want to volunteer to help out at the Stadium or in some other capacity. Check here for all the options and details. I volunteered and I want to see if I'm picked and what my assignment would be. Hey, free access and free swag is free access and free swag.

  3. Lastly, I'm taking the family on a Stadium tour 9/6/08, one of the last tours available. I have always wanted to see the dugout, lockerroom, etc. so I'll have some great picks to come later this Fall. You can check here to see if there are other dates available, if interested.

A closer look at the next Dice-K

A pretty fascinating look at Yu Darvish, widely heralded as the "next Dice-K" Japanese export was published today and it's definitely worth a read.

Darvish is half-Iranian, half-Japanese but is a product of the Japanese school systems and baseball systems.

“I was born and raised in Japan, so I believe myself 100 percent Japanese,” he says. “My dad is Iranian, but he’s got a lot of Japanese tastes, personality. I was surrounded by Japanese people, so I totally think I’m Japanese.”
People are already frothing over him coming Stateside. After reading this article, I am, too, so long as he doesn't become Dice-K's teammate.

Last season, most of which he pitched as a 20 year-old, he went 15-5 with a 1.82 earned-run average and 12 complete games. His fastball hits 97 mph, his slider 91, and he throws a curveball, changeup and sinker. With Darvish, it’s a matter of when he asks the Fighters to post him for auction to the highest major-league bidder.
One American League executive guessed if Darvish posted after this season the fee to negotiate a deal would cost “around $75 million.” Another suggested “it could be even higher.” If the Red Sox paid $51 million for a 26-year-old Matsuzaka, a 22-year-old Darvish could command a 50 percent premium.

Pretty lofty stuff.

As a side-note, maybe it's time to rethink the Japanese posting system as only the richest teams seem to be able to pay that sort of entry fee for the best of the best. Not that I mind much, personally, since my team spends that sorta loot eagerly. But if I were a fan of one of the 25-26 other teams who's ownership doesn't spend that much, I'd be concerned.

A good look in back at the Abreu trade

This is one of those things that I wish I had the time for (as well as other things, I guess), but The Hardball Times took a look back at the trade/fleecing that delivered Abreu to the Yanks back in mid-06.

The Phillies had been shopping Abreu for some months, and according to reports, they were initially after a front-line starter in return. The eventual deal saw the Yankees snap up Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle for four minor league prospects. The Phils got the 2005 number one draft pick C.J Henry, hurler Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and right-hander Carlos Monasterios.
It was a bit startling to see Lidle's name there. I forgot he was part of the deal that brought Abreu over. That his airplane crashed into the building next to my old building when I lived in NYC for 8 years will not be forgotten, however.

To blockquote THT's blockquoting of Jayson Stark's comments on the deal:

Now presenting the most lopsided deadline deal of this millennium: Abreu and Lidle for four guys the Yankees already have forgotten they ever employed ...

..."I keep asking myself, 'Is there something I don't know about Bobby Abreu that they know?' " said a high-ranking official of a team that would have loved to add Abreu in a less complicated, dollar-signed world. "I'm just baffled that they could not get anything back for a guy this good. And they paid him $1.5 million to waive his no-trade clause. And they just tossed in Cory Lidle—tossed him in. I know for a fact there were teams that offered better prospects for Lidle alone. I don't get it."

Abreu's review:

Abreu has been a bit of a success for the Yankees. His propensity to get on base for an offensively oriented Yankee team immediately upped their RBI opportunities. When he came across to New York in 2006 the Yankees and Red Sox were going toe to toe for the division. In his 209 at-bats Abreu posted an impressive line of .330/.419/.507.

After the trade the Yankees and Abreu comfortably swept to the AL East title—although faded badly in the playoffs to the Tigers.There was more of the same in 2007, (except the Red Sox, of course, won the division) although as expected, Abreu regressed in all departments. Still in an age of rising salaries he was deemed valuable enough to have his hefty 2008 option exercised.

I'd say he was more than a bit of a success. He's been the quiet, consummate professional that the Yanks wanted. He hits for average, gets on base, plays a reasonable defense and doesn't act like a primadonna. While I think he's still overpaid, I really like him and his game.

The verdict (handily called: "It's all about context stupid!"):

The final thing to consider: had Abreu stayed at the Phillies would they have increased their odds of making the postseason, as that is obviously pretty lucrative? In 2007 the Phillies made the playoffs only to be dispatched with a whimper by the Rockies—Abreu would not have made much of a difference.

In 2006, though, Philadelphia missed out on the wild card by three games, although it seemed closer than that at the time. Abreu would not have made that up despite going on a tear with the Yankees in the last few month of the season.

This remains a tie I'm afraid.

With all due respect, I can't see how dealing a then-serviceable starter (Lidle) and a Top 20 OF for four never-was-and-never-will-be's come out a wash. The deal remains among the most lopsided in recent years. Had Gillick cleaved Lidle from Abreu and sold him separately, I think they could have gotten better/more pieces to possibly groom. Had Gillick kicked in a few extra bucks, he'd have gotten better prospects in return, rather than saving a few dollars and getting 4 guys who haven't amounted to anything.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday fun: How bats are made

A slow news morning in baseball (I don't care much that the Sox are tired from flying, sorry) plus I'm a bit under the weather... therefore you get some early Friday fun, video style. Here's a "How's It Made" about baseball bats.

Get your lathe, protective glasses, the leg from your grandmother's dining room table and have a blast.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Great moments in spring training pranks

We always see some great pranks being pulled on rookies, from dressing up like the Wizard of Oz characters or TeleTubbies to being traded to Japan. But it's not often we hear of one being pulled on a strength coach. Frankly, this is awesome.

Chicago Cubs strength coach Tim Buss felt weak in the knees on Tuesday when players told him to take a look at his car.

According to multiple media reports out of Chicago, his 1995 Nissan Sentra was almost unrecognizable after someone or something destroyed it. The windows were smashed, the doors tied closed, the trunk peeled up and the roof punctured.

When he saw a couple of baseball bats and balls placed around the car …

"I figured [Jon] Lieber, [Kerry] Wood immediately, [Ryan] Dempster" he said, according to The Chicago Tribune. "Then I realized it was every pitcher we have."

Players allowed Buss to fume for a while. The coach was trying to figure out how to tell his wife about her car.

"It's a shame," Lieber said, according to the newspaper. "What kind of person would do something like that? It really just shocks me. I'm sure she'll understand."

Dempster finally told Buss to take a look at something else in the parking lot.

When he walked out, several players handed him the keys to a brand new Nissan Xterra SUV.

Almost moved to tears, Buss said, according to the Tribune, "They're great guys."

Good for the players to do something great for a coach.

Here's why PED remains a concern

Outsiders, like me, continually wonder why the "clean" players won't stand up to the "dirty" players. Why can't they scream from the mountaintops? It'd be awfully pollyanna-ish to just leave it at that. I know the teams want to win and all players are needed to get a team to the title. However, by keeping quiet, the clean players are just making it easier for the dirty players to remain dirty.

Why? Because there's a "code" amongst theives and ballplayers that says you don't rat out your own. I get it, sorta. There are ways to alert officials that there's something illegal going on without actually ratting out a peer. And it takes a pretty darn strong person to rat out a teammate. But don't these players have to be pretty darn strong, mentally AND physically, just to get to the Bigs?

There's a story out today about the exile of Larry Bigbie that's worth reading.

Bigbie broke the code. In baseball, the honor of the clubhouse, of keeping secrets no matter how deep, dark and dirty, is sacrosanct, and when the former Sen. George Mitchell released his report on the rampant performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, there was Bigbie, not only admitting using them but naming names of teammates who did, too.

That’s not how it went,” Bigbie says. “That’s not how it went at all. But right there, I was done. My name – done.”
In news reports, Bigbie was placed alongside Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski as Mitchell’s informants. He stewed. He had talked, yeah, but says he brought up neither Roberts’ nor Cust’s name and only confirmed information with which Mitchell’s investigators confronted him.

They had everything,” he says. “They knew. It wasn’t like I had to sit there and spit names to them.

Then there's this comment by the author which I think is pretty good (emphasis mine):
No one close to Bigbie knew that he had used steroids first, then human growth hormone, not even his girlfriend, who at the time was pregnant. Bigbie started to rationalize: He had a family and life beyond baseball, and he refused to give it up for a misguided omertà.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stop the Madness? Nah!

There are few days in the year where a sporting event dominates everything else. SuperBowl, Opening Day, some Olympic events... it's a short list no matter what. But what those don't have that March Madness has is day-to-night games on Thursday and Friday this week as the opening round gets played.

For hoops junkies and casual fans alike, it's a day to familiarize yourself with the refresh button (or the F5 button if you're into shortcuts) or find a TV to tune into. [Personally, I recommend Slingbox if you have the chance]

Ever wonder what the actual "costs" are to having so many millions of people tune out those two days? How about $1.7B, that's billion with a capital B.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago estimated this whole March Madness obsession at the workplace would cost more than $1.7 billion in lost productivity during this year’s tournament, but those numbers have the ring of exaggeration to them. True, close to 60 million Americans identify themselves as college basketball fans, but of course not all of their teams make the three-week tournament – nor do all of them work.


For the first time, is offering every game via Web video without making users register for the privilege. In past years, has streamed fewer games and, between 2003-2005, charged visitors for access to March Madness On Demand. In 2007, 1.4 million people registered to watch the games online at the site, but with the registration tossed aside, the numbers will soar.

Pretty lofty numbers for slacking to watch hoops, if you ask me. But what do I know, I have a TV in my office so it'd be on anyways.

People to avoid at the ballpark

Great job by Peter Abraham in having some fun in his blog, citing the 10 people to avoid at the ballpark. It's Yankee-centric but it translates across most of MLB. Here's some of it:

  1. People who bring their vanity license plates to games and wave them around.
  2. Drunks. Why would you spent so much money on tickets, gas and parking and then crush so many $8.50 beers that you can’t remember half of what happened the next day? It makes no sense. Meanwhile, they’re loud, obnoxious and usually fans of the other team.
  3. Know-it-alls. Nothing worse than sitting next to the guy who knows somebody who knows Cashman’s dry cleaner and he knows for sure the Yankees are getting Albert Pujols.
  4. People who keep getting up. Over nine innings, you should get up once, twice if you’re female. Go to the bathroom, get something to eat then sit back down and don’t get up again until the game is over. Stop making people in your row get up.
  5. People waving signs trying to get on ESPN or Fox. This isn’t a game show. Sit down.
  6. There are two categories of cell-phone users who need savage beatings. First is the guy who has a friend in the crowd eight sections over and calls him so they can wave at each other. Your friend knows what you look like, bozo. Then there are the people who sit in box seats and call their friends watching at home and wave every time the camera catches them in the background. Teams should employ snipers to wound these people.
  7. People who swear at the players. How badly has your life gone that you feel compelled to come to the park and yell obscene words at somebody playing baseball? Trust me, when the player goes back to his huge house and his insanely hot wife that night, you calling him names doesn’t make him feel bad.
  8. People trying to start The Wave. The Wave is a plague on sports. It’s 50,000 people saying, “Look at us, we’re all mindless and we don’t care about the game.” Thankfully Yankee Stadium is largely Waveless.
  9. Trampy girls at batting practice. This always brings a smile. No matter what stadium you’re in, you see scantily clad women in stripper heels posing near the dugout trying to catch the attention of the players. This strategy may work in the minors. But do you really think Jeter is going to look up and say, “Hey, purple halter, Room 812 at the Westin tonight.”
  10. Adult autograph seekers. I think players should be contractually mandated to sign 10 autographs every day for kids. But once you’re 18, give it up. Let the kids through. I’m always disgusted at the get-a-lifers who jockey for position with children.
The comments section has some other good stuff if you have time for a longer read during lunch (like me).

And mine:
  • Adults who wear Yankee jerseys with PLAYERS NAMES ON THE BACK! Any self-respecting ADULT fan will never wear a jersey with a name on the back because the Yanks have never put a name on the back of a jersey. This is excusable for kids, of course. Modell's and all other chain sporting goods stores should be banned from selling this garbage. Period. Also, wearing any jersey that's not white/gray/navy should be grounds for ejection/snipershot. If you are wearing a red/camo/yellow/green/etc. Yankee jersey, throw yourself out of a car onto the Deegan.

Good for them

Good to hear of a team sticking up for its coaches, no matter the issue. Hell yes, even a Yanks fan applauds at the Sox threatening not to go to Japan unless the coaches are paid, as previously promised.

Manager Terry Francona and his players were extremely irked after learning the team's coaches were not going to get the $40,000 stipend they assumed they’d be getting for making the trip to Japan (players will also receive a payment). Francona had informed the coaches they’d be getting the stipend.

However, the Sox manager was told by members of the Oakland coaching staff that they were not being paid. Francona had thought it was unusual that one team’s staff would be paid and the other not. So he checked into it and found he and his coaches were getting nothing.

More succinctly summed up by David Ortiz: "It's really [expletive] up."

How a minor demotion could be a major benefit

I've been hearing that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been considering sending 3B phenom Evan Longoria back to the minors for some additional "seasoning". Considering his spring training stats (.333 AVG, .488 OBP, 1.255 OPS, 3 HR, 5:9 K:BB ratio), he's proving he's ready to go right now.

Except that a demotion for a short period of time would be a great business decision for the Rays, as unfair to Longoria as it might seem.

There's a great example of why it might be worth sending Longoria back to the minors for a month or two, as recent as last year. Take the cases of Alex Gordon (2007 pre-season fave for ROY) and Ryan Braun (the 2007 Spring Training behemoth):

Kansas City's Alex Gordon and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun were both college players taken in the first five picks of the 2005 draft. (Just as Longoria was in 2006.) Both had strong seasons in Double A in 2006 (just as Longoria did in '07) and came to spring training last year with their eyes on making the big-league club.

The Royals kept Gordon on opening day, and he promptly sputtered to a 1-for-24 start. By the end of May, he was hitting .185, and he finished the season at .247 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs. The Brewers, on the other hand, sent Braun to Triple A for two months. When he was promoted, he tore up the National League, finishing with a .324 average, 34 homers, 97 RBIs and a rookie of the year award.

And, oh, yeah, Gordon will now be a free agent one year before Braun.

But it's silly to ignore Tampa Bay's realities. Having Longoria for an extra month in 2008 is not going to have a major impact on the season, but having him under contract in 2014 could be a godsend.

The subtleties of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are pretty interesting, if you're into that sort of minutae. Otherwise, it's just a fat document full of bureaucratic mumbojumbo and mind-numbing rules and regulations.

Behold: A gyroball?

Hat tip to Rob Neyer at for the video mention:

So does the "gyroball" exist and does CJ Wilson have the goods to throw it? We'll see, I guess.

PS: Great to see blogger-buddy Shysterball getting continued press from Rob on such a well-read platform.

A great gesture

What the Yanks did yesterday was a wonderful gesture, though the cynics among us will call it "calculated" or just a "media ploy". The truth is, George Steinbrenner pledged $1M to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund shortly after the 32 students were assassinated just under a year ago. Part of his donation was also a request that the Yanks come and play a game on campus.

Whether or not having a pro club, forget that it's the Yanks, come and play on campus will help with the healing at all is up for debate, but there's no denying everyone involved in yesterday's events were happy it took place.

"She smiled. This is part of the reason why we're here," Jeter said. "It reminds me a little of Sept. 11, when we had an opportunity to visit a lot of families. People always ask how this helps, and I really don't know. If it just makes people smile and enjoy themselves for the three hours we're here, it's all worthwhile."

Here is a 9 picture photo album, including the photo to the right side here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nothing to all the HGH claims, usage

This just smacks of some group of researchers getting paid by some company/lobby to conduct some half-assed tests just so they can publish a report that says "drugs are bad, m'kay". As usual, emphasis mine.

While growth hormone adds some muscle, it doesn't appear to improve strength or exercise capacity, according to a review of studies that tested the hormone in mostly athletic young men. "It doesn't look like it helps and there's a hint of evidence it may worsen athletic performance," said Dr. Hau Liu, of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif., who was lead author of the review.

Then this little tucked away tidbit:

But the new research has some limitations and sheds no light on long-term use of HGH. The scientists note their analysis included few studies that measured performance. The tests also probably don't reflect the dose and frequency practiced by athletes illegally using the hormone. Experiments like that aren't likely to be conducted.

The end of the article had this pearl:

Dr. Alan Rogol of the University of Virginia and the Indiana University School of Medicine, said the work was a good review but had to rely on inadequate research. "There are just tons of things we don't know," said Rogol.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The End is Near

Between work and staying tuned into the Bear Stearns collapse/Wall Street impending melt-down, I won't have much time to punch up some additional posts today. Unless, of course, there's something, you know, um, interesting happening. I'm easily distracted.

I hope none of you bought any Bear Stearns recently. Lehman, too.

Fantasy tidbit: Why to let others draft SP first

A stats-free fantasy baseball draft tidbit for you, reminding you why you let someone else pay for pitching in the first few rounds: They are both fragile and unpredictable. Within the last two weeks, we've seen injuries to three aces, many of whom were typically drafted in the first 6 rounds.

And then there's the "rest" of the pitchers:

And just because we're discussing pitchers and their injuries, here's a great graphic/explanation about Tommy John Surgery. If the link doesn't work right (it's a pop-up flash file), go here and check for the link on the right-hand side called "How the Tommy John surgery works".

Behold: The Greatness that is Tiger Woods

Seriously, he's treating the PGA Tour like they are weekend hackers on a pitch-and-putt. Yesterday's finish was merely the latest example that he's in his own stratusphere.

Friday, March 14, 2008

When Spring Training injuries strike

First, we had the nasty Felix Pie twisted testicle incident. And if that wasn't cringe-worthy enough...

(wait for it)
Cue that horrible screaming noice now.

If you're really curious about his "issue", go here and read up on it.

I'm now sorry I did, but maybe you're more interested in finding out how someone tore himself a new asscrack. Have fun.

Friday fun: Mickey Mantle

With a tip of the cap to my Pop, some fun stuff about Mickey Mantle, his hero, inspired by Billy Crystal's at bat yesterday.

1. 734 ft. – 5/22/63, vs. Kansas City, at Yankee Stadium, Pitcher: Bill Fischer
2. 660 ft. – 3/26/51, vs. USC, at Bovard Field, USC, Pitcher: Unknown
3. 650 ft. – 6/11/53, vs. Detroit, at Briggs Stadium, Pitcher: Art Houteman
4. 643 ft. – 9/10/60, vs. Detroit, at Tiger Stadium, Pitcher: Paul Foytack
5. 630 ft. – 9/13/53, vs. Detroit, at Yankee Stadium, Pitcher: Billy Hoeft
6. 620 ft. – 5/30/56, vs. Washington, at Yankee Stadium, Pitcher: Pedro Ramos
7. 565 ft. – 4/17/53, vs. Washington, at Griffith Stadium, Pitcher: Chuck Stobbs
8. 550 ft. – 6/05/55, vs. Chi. White Sox, at Comiskey Park, Pitcher: Billy Pierce
9. 535 ft. – 7/06/53, vs. Philadelphia A's, at Connie Mack Stadium, Pitcher: Frank Fanovich
10. 530 ft. – 4/24/53, vs. St. Louis Browns, at Busch Stadium, Pitcher: Bob Cain

I'll also try putting a picture of a great letter/response below (off-color warning):

That wasn't so bad, was it?

With all the senseless whining and complaining about Billy Crystal taking an AB during a Spring Training game, the truth is, he wasn't nearly as bad as I/we expected. For 5'5" 60 year old man who never played above high school, he took a few good cuts.

Good for him.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Great moments in Minor League ballpark promotions

With the hue and cry still raining down about now-former Governor Spitzer's, um, indiscretions, we get this:

A Georgia minor league team is hoping to turn Eliot Spitzer's scandal into a packed stadium.

The Macon Music is capitalizing on the outgoing New York governor's prostitution-related downfall, by serving up a "Eliot Spitzer Night." The man once known as "Mr. Clean" is invited to throw out the first pitch at the June 13th game, although he hasn't RSVP'd.

A South Coast League official says anybody named Eliot, Spitzer or Kristen, the alleged call girl, will get $1 off admission. The team also plans to give out a one-night stay at Washington, D.C.'s swanky Mayflower hotel, where Spitzer's alleged misdeeds are said to have happened.

And since Spitzer was described as "Client No. 9" in FBI documents, the ninth fan will get a prize. So will the 871st fan to buy a ticket, because that's supposed to have been Spitzer's Mayflower Hotel room number.

Amazing. Not to mention that the team name is Macon Music. I woulda figured they change their team name during "Spitzer night" to Macon Whoopie. I'll be here all week, try the veal and don't forget to tip your waitresses.

[And yes, the reason for this posting was solely to include a picture of Spitzer's ladyfriend.]

TNYS updates

Big thanks to Sliding Into Home and River Ave. Blues for the stills and the link to a (terrible)video montage of TNYS, aka The New Yankee Stadium. Here is the direct link to the montage.

New MVOD: Mindless Video of the Day

Back to the Future, with a twist:

Shelley Duncan is half-Sasquatch

All of baseball is abuzz about the Rays/Yanks "tussle". I think Girardi's comments made this all possible, but there's a part of me that's happy to see the Yanks showing some fire. I've been complaining for years that the Yanks have been plunked at a far greater rate than they've been doing the plunking. I also think Duncan's move yesterday was excessive and ill-timed. I think the better move would have been to table that anger and save it for the regular season.

All that being said, I think Shelley Duncan is half-man, half-Sasquatch. Just take a gander at the size of his feet! His feet are as long as Iwamura's thigh, for pete's sake! Now, I know he spiked Iwamura in the leg, causing a cut, but the picture below makes it seem that he spiked him near the groin. That's just the end of the play and it looks worse than it was.

What was reallllly lame was the pseudo-tough "tackle" that Gomes attempted. Sprinting in at a 6'5" behemoth, only to drop to your knees as you got close and only muster a shove?

And just because it's fun to remember, take a gander at the autograph Duncan-squatch gave a young Red Sox fan:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Good luck, Rocco

Some scary/confusing stuff from the Rays today about oft-injured but very talented OF Rocco Baldelli. Without knowing more about it, here's to hoping he can figure out the source of the problem, get treated and back on the field playing soon.

Essentially, his body is not allowing his muscles to work as they should and made it all but impossible for him to sustain any kind of regular activity on the field for any length of time. The problem is he isn’t replacing “ATP”—adenosine triphosphate—properly. This site provides an explanation of how ATP plays into exercise...”

Said Baldelli:

"I was having a lot of problems the last couple years with my muscles and muscle strains. I think a good way to describe it is literally muscle fatigue and cramping, way before my body should be feeling these things. I would go out there and I was pretty much incapable of doing basic baseball activities as far as running and hitting and throwing.

"When I say fatigue, I go out there and my body is literally spent after a very short amount of time out on the field, which makes it extremely frustrating and difficult, but it’s something that’s kind of a reality right now and something we’re dealing with the best that we can."

Good to be Bud

For all our bashing, mocking, handwringing about Bud Selig, how many of us wouldn't eagerly trade places with him and his $14.5M salary! No wonder he doesn't want to abdicate his throne anytime soon!

Selig received $14,515,071 in compensation during the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2006, according to Major League Baseball's tax return, which the commissioner's office released Tuesday. That was up from exactly $14.5 million in the 12 months that ended Oct. 31, 2005.

MLB's contribution to Selig in its benefit plan was $400,999, up from $82,843 in the previous fiscal year, and Selig received $140,603 in expense account and other allowances, an increase from $20,184.

HGH Education 101

No, I am not a doctor and don't plan on going back to school to be one. Even if the idea of going back to school sounds fun. At the end of my previous posting, I noted that I needed to get more educated on the effects of HGH. A (very) quick search brought me to an interesting site discussing HGH, its definition, effects, benefits, risks, etc. I make no claims to its accuracy, integrity or anything else. [If you have other sites/sources you like, send them my way!]

Students, class is in session:

What role does HGH play in the body?
Human growth hormone and IGF-1 (if you need definitions go to: HGH Definitions page) have been shown to play a significant role in:
  • Conversion of body fat to muscle mass
  • Growth of all tissues
  • Energy level
  • Tissue repair
  • Whole body healing
  • Cell replacement
  • Bone strength
  • Brain function
  • Sexual function
  • Organ health and integrity
  • Enzyme production
  • Integrity of hair, nails, skin and vital organs

Basically, anything that goes on in your body is in some way tied to HGH. This is why HGH is often called the "fountain of youth". Elevated HGH levels are what make you feel young again.

What effect does this increase in HGH have on the body?

This is where it gets exciting. While numerous studies have been done on the effects of HGH injections, the most ground breaking study was done by Dr. Rudman and published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 5, 1990. The journal reported that men who had taken HGH injections had shown a 8.8 percent gain in lean body mass with a 14 percent loss in body fat - without any change in diet or activity! It bears repeating that there was no change in diet or exercise - and the subjects who received HGH injections had a 8.8 percent increase in lean body

If you look at all the studies that have been done on HGH injections you get the following list of benefits:

  • 8.8% increase in muscle mass on average after six months, without exercise
  • 14.4% loss of fat on average after six months, without dieting
  • Higher energy levels
  • Enhanced sexual performance
  • Regrowth of heart, liver, spleen, kidneys and other organs that shrink with age
  • Greater cardiac output
  • Superior immune function
  • Increased exercise performance
  • Better kidney function
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved cholesterol profile, with higher HDL and lower LDL
  • Stronger bones
  • Faster wound healing
  • Younger, tighter, thicker skin
  • Hair regrowth
  • Wrinkle removal
  • Elimination of cellulite
  • Sharper vision
  • Mood elevation
  • Increased memory retention
  • Improved sleep

Are there any negative effects from taking HGH injections?
Yes - but then you knew there had to be a catch, didn't you? There are actually a few problems with HGH injections:

Extremely Expensive

  • A year's supply of HGH injections can cost $20,000! Insurance will not cover the injections because you are not treating a "classified disease".

Available by prescription only

  • Recombinant GH is a drug that is available by prescription only. So, even if you had $20,000 a year to spend, you would need to get a prescription.

Possible Negative Side Effects

  • Anytime you introduce a large amount of a foreign hormone into the body there is the risk of side effects. In Dr. Rudman's study he found that some of the patients suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and gynecomastia (enlarged
    breasts). Dr. Rudman believed that with less HGH the side effects would go way, but tragically he died before he could test his theory.

Claim: HGH will give you a 8.8% increase in muscle mass and a 14.4% loss of fat - without dieting or exercise!

This is the old bait and switch. Technically, they are not lying when they quote Dr. Rudman's number. With HGH Injections, Dr. Rudman did see a 8.8% increase in muscle mass and a 14.4% loss of fat. The problem is, they are not selling HGH Injections! These companies do not provide any evidence that their pill, powder or spray will have the same results as HGH Injections. So, they bait you with all the positives of HGH injections and then switch you to their untested supplement.

Now, before you run out to your nearest sketchy medical practioner, go do your own research and speak with a doctor who you trust and knows you.

Got Juice?

SI Magazine published their most recent expose on Steroids and HGH use in America, not just by athletes. Pretty interesting read.

Some facts/tidbits leapt out at me:

  • 2.4 million testosterone prescriptions were filled by U.S. pharmacies in 2004, more than twice the number filled in 2000.
  • Three million people in the U.S. use anabolic steroids, the synthetic versions of testosterone that are illegal when they are used for nonmedical reasons
  • John Romano, senior editor at Muscular Development, the top seller among the dozens of magazines that cover powerlifting and bodybuilding, estimates that 15 million Americans use performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
  • From Dr. Charles Yesalis, a retired Penn State professor and a recognized authority on steroids: "The teens I've talked to say [steroids and HGH] are as easy to get as marijuana."
  • Last May in Australia the 61-year-old Sylvester Stallone paid $10,600 to settle a charge of criminal drug possession after he was found to have 48 vials of HGH and several vials of testosterone. Stallone has since acknowledged that he takes HGH and testosterone regularly, and legally. "Everyone over 40 years old would be wise to investigate it [HGH and testosterone use] because it increases the quality of your life," Stallone told Time last month.
So what's the line? Where is it? Is it OK for me to get a legal perscription for HGH to get myself looking and feeling 15-20 years younger but not professional athletes and entertainers? Is it OK for entertainers like Stallone but not pro athletes? Is my only impediment finding a doctor to prescribe it to me?

As time permits, I need to get more educated on the side effects and long term effects of HGH. Why shouldn't I give it a shot (no pun intended, I swear!) to give myself a boost in getting back in shape? Is being out of shape (even a little) worse for you than taking something that will help you get back into shape? What about someone who is really outta shape? Isn't that worse? Now, I am not talking about steroids; the long term and short term effects are well documented but I have yet to hear much about HGH effects.

If anyone has any good documentation or sources for the short/long term effects of HGH, please send it my way.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Smarter than the average bear?

Seems that while most of the attention goes to fireballing young phenoms Joba Chanberlain and Phil Hughes, it's lower-key Ian Kennedy who is generating a bit of chatter lately. While IPK, as he's oft-referenced in Yankees circles, can pitch to 91-92 MPH when he wants to dial up the fastball, his real skills like within his pinpoint control. This has resulted in many scouts likening his style and approach to a lofty peer: Greg Maddux.

Evidently, IPK's smarter than the average bear, er, pitcher. That's good since the change in pace from the Joba/Hughes heaters will be a nice weapon. Yanks fans certainly hope so as IPK was reportedly a key piece of the offer the Yanks turned down from the Twins in any Johan Santana trade. Pretty impressive.

Last night, for example, he threw four scoreless innings against the Reds that had one scout in attendance likening at least one impressive sequence to the way Greg Maddux made pitching look easy in his prime.

Yes, Kennedy is the artist of the Yankee trio, dazzling hitters more with his ability to hit corners and change speeds than with high heat. Not that he's a soft-tosser - at 91-92 mph, his fastball has some pop - but he zoomed through the minors in his first professional season in 2007 because of his command of the fastball and a changeup that has Johan Santana-like qualities.
It was an inning that made one American League scout at the game last night nod in admiration and say: "That was a Greg Maddux inning."

"A lot of people who have seen him think he's a No.3 starter at best in the American League because he doesn't have the big fastball," one AL executive said yesterday. "But I've heard a couple of scouts say they think he can be more than that because he has such great location with his fastball and he's got a great changeup."

IPK had a nice debut last year, starting 3 games, lasting 19 IP, posting a 1.89 ERA with a nifty 1.158 WHIP. Hope that's just a sample of what's to come this year.

A look behind the lens

As one of many "former collectors" of Topps baseball cards, this article certainly struck a note. Now that my sons are getting into cards, I find myself going thru my stacks of cards reminiscing about them and that time in my life. Yes, Cardboard Gods has the market cornered on baseball card nostalgia, but the Gene Wojo article brings the photographer in front of the camera for his story.
Some of the interesting tidbits:

A Mark McGwire card features a Forwerck photo of the St. Louis first baseman diving for a line drive. Look hard and you'll see the company artist took out the umpire in the background, but forgot to take out the umpire's shadow.
Barry Bonds promised 30 minutes for a Topps shoot. Instead, Forwerck got him to stay for more than two hours. Turns out Bonds is a huge photography geek.

"Of all the big-name athletes I've shot, I've never met anyone more personable or interested in what I did than him," says Forwerck. "I love Barry. He's my hero."
Now, I just have to hope my 1975 Cookie Rojas is worth something.

Quick Fantasy Baseball thing

I know not everyone plays fantasy baseball, so I will keep this to one quick thing: I'd be downgrading Carlos Beltran in your pre-draft rankings. Part of Beltran's value is tied to his speed and when I read this, all I thought was that he's not going to steal many this year unless he shows a dramatic improvement soon. I know you are not supposed to read too much into spring training, but this is a big red flag:

As for Carlos Beltran, who made his debut as the DH, he remains a work in progress. Beltran went 0-for-3, grounding into a double play, and told reporters afterward that his left knee is feeling sore. Not the sharp pain of a year ago, but it seems that his knee is absorbing too much of the pounding lately due to his weak left quadriceps muscle.

Monday, March 10, 2008

At least their lockerroom is feeling good

Thankfully the Bonds cloud has lifted the spirits and joviality in the S.F. Giants lockerroom this season as Keith Law notes (Insider access required, sorry), it's going to be a long, ugly season for the black and orange:

Giants' fans are in for a long, ugly season. The team started nearly all of its projected regulars on Sunday against Morales and a JV Colorado squad -- Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, and Brad Hawpe all stayed home -- and lost 10-2, mustering just five hits and playing some uninspired baseball. The buyer's remorse may already be setting in with Aaron Rowand, who looks out of shape and didn't run out a two-out groundball in the first with a man on third. Ray Durham is a statue at second base. Other than Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, there aren't many reasons to go see the Giants this year; check back in 2010 when the fruits of the '07 draft start to trickle in.
It's good to hear back from Keith after about a month's hiatus from his blog.

Beckett's an ornery sort

Not that I'd blame him one bit, but seems that Sox ace Josh Beckett's back is barking and he's pretty ornery about it. Except that folks are seemingly forgetting his "injury prone" label he wore proudly before last year. Remember the blisters, disk issues, etc. (see bottom of posting)?

He did an admirable job trying not to blame the mound conditions (and grounds crew, by proxy) but he was definitely wearing his angry pants today:

"I don't know. If I'd had as much progress from yesterday to today as I did from the first day to the second day, I wouldn't have ruled that out. Today I'm just holding up my obligation (to talk to media). It probably would have been better to talk to you guys yesterday because I was a little more optimistic. I'm in a pretty crappy mood as far as this thing goes because it was a pretty frustrating day because yesterday was good and today's kind of horse(bleep).''
"Yes. We've done a number of tests. There's nothing wrong with the disks, and I think that's what they wanted to make sure of. It's definitely a strained muscle or pulled muscle, whatever you want to call it. It heals when it heals.''
"I was a lot more optimistic yesterday than I am today. A lot of that has to do with being in a (expletive) mood because I didn't sleep well.''

So the questions are starting to mount for the Sox vaunted rotation:
  1. Will Schilling pitch at all and if he does, will he be any good?
  2. Will Beckett's back be an issue all year?
  3. Will Dice-K be any better than he was last year?
  4. Can Wakefield's balky back hold up to added work?
  5. Will Colon be able to duct-tape his shoulder together to get anything out of it?
  6. Will Lester be anything more than a #3?
  7. Will Buchholz be expected to pitch 200 IP? Can he handle that, if required? He's gotten shelled during Spring Training, FWIW.


Some of Beckett's injury history:
  • May 17, 2007: Finger injury, 15-day DL.
  • May 14, 2007: Finger injury, day-to-day.
  • Oct 4, 2005: Missed the last 17 games of the regular season.
  • Oct 2, 2005: Missed 8 games to the end of the regular season (shoulder injury).
  • Sep 28, 2005: Shoulder injury, day-to-day.
  • Sep 15, 2005: Achilles tendon, day-to-day.
  • Jul 30, 2005: Missed 14 games (lower back strain).
  • Jul 23, 2005: Missed 13 games (oblique injury).
  • Jul 15, 2005: Lower back strain, 15-day DL.
  • Jul 8, 2005: Oblique injury, 15-day DL.
  • Jul 5, 2005: Oblique injury, day-to-day.
  • Jun 30, 2005: Missed 13 games (blister).
  • Jun 17, 2005: Blister, 15-day DL (retroactive to Jun 15).
  • Jun 15, 2005: Blister, day-to-day.

Rangers to close Yankee stadium

I think it's a great idea.

I don't want to hear the "purists" who insist that the last game in Yankee Stadium MUST be a Yankee game. So what? Who'll ultimately remember that? But a rare outdoor Rangers game in Yankee Stadium could be incredible.

The House that Ruth Built is on track to be the house the Rangers bring down.
Momentum has built in recent weeks toward finalizing a deal that would have the Rangers play the final game in the storied history of the current Stadium, the Daily News has learned. The Yankees, who will move into their new Yankee Stadium for the 2009 baseball season, are said to be completely on board with having the NHL close the 85-year-old original.
So spare me the hystrionics and chest beating. This will be great. I'd prefer to see the Rangers play one of the Original Six, particularly the Canadiens (the Yanks of hockey, or are the Yanks the Canadiens of baseball?). But I'd take a nice rivalry game against the Islanders any day of the week. Just to hear the "Potvin Sucks" chant from 57K people outside rather than 19K inside.