2005 MLB Preview: AL EAST
The Veteran Presence 2005 Mrs. Urbina Memorial MLB Preview: AL East
NEW YORK YANKEES
ED: We have reliable word from INSIDE SOURCES~! that five minutes after ALCS Game 7, Brian Cashman was dragged into the bowels of Yankee Stadium, far below Babe Ruth’s grave in LF in the secret Steinbrenner bunker where Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle’s bloated livers are kept around to store water for the stadium sprinkling system. Cashman was bound and gagged by The Boss’s pinstriped militants; Hensley Meulens, Sam Militello and Domingo Jean and forced to sit and wait for the while watching game films of the 1991 Yankees Clockwork Orange-style as Steinbrenner went looking to pick fights with Red Sox fans in elevators. We now present to you this partial transcript of the proceedings:
BC: It’s Brian, sir.
GS: Right. So, Bobby. What do you have to say for yourself?
BC: Umm…I’m sorry, sir. I’m…sorry. I-I…
GS: Sorry? And…?
GS: And what are you going to do about it? I need a plan NOW or so help me I can work out a trade to send you to Tampa Bay. Chuck LaMar was giving me some interesting ideas the other day, you know.
BC: Uhh…Well, we can…
GS: We can what, Bradley?
BC: We can get some pitch—
GS: You know what we need, Billy? We need more of that grit. We didn’t have enough grit! Grit! Look at the Red Sox! Gritty as a gravel road! Beards and long hair! That’s what the gritty kids are all about these days!
BC: Uhh…sir…you have team rules against that.
GS: That’s right, Bucky! Damn straight we do! Figggin’ hippies!
GS: So, Brandy, what are you going to do to get this team back to it’s old glory? We need more Mike Stanton’s and Tino Martinez’ on this club! That’s what we need!
BB: I’m seeing a totally different scenario from sometime in August.
Cashman: Captain Steinbrenner, under operating procedures governing the release of left-handed pitchers we cannot trade for a LOOGY unless both you, and I agree.
Capt. Steinbrenner: [shouting over Cashman] Levine, what’re you waiting for?
Cashman: This is not a formality sir, this is *expressly* why your command must be repeated. It requires my assent, I *do not* give it and further more, you continue upon this course, and insist upon this launch without confirming this message first…
Capt. Steinbrenner: [shouting over Cashman] Son of a bitch. As commanding officer of the Yankees, I order you to place the Gee-M under arrest under charges of mutiny.
Cashman: I will act, backed by the rules of precedence…
Capt. Steinbrenner: [shouting at Levine, over Cashman] I say again, as owner of the New York Yankees, I *order you*…
Cashman: -authority in command, regulations number 815, to relieve, you, of, command, captain.
Capt. Steinbrenner: -to place the Gee-M under arrest, under charges of mutiny!
[Silence all round]
Capt. Steinbrenner: LEVINE!
Randy Levine: Captain, please, the GM is right. We can’t trade unless he concurs.
Capt. Steinbrenner: [Turns on WFAN] ” Yankees: Boston right-handed bats being lined up. Platoon advantage compromised, dissidents threaten to launch over Green Monster onto Landsowne Street. Immediately launch 72 mph curveballs that end up two feet outside the zone.” They’re FUELLING THEIR MISSILES! We don’t have time to (screw) around!
Cashman: Sir, I think you need time to think this over.
Capt. Steinbrenner: *I* DON’T HAVE TO THINK THIS OVER!
Cashman: [stares at Steinbrenner, nodding] Captain, I relieve you of your command of this team. Levine, escort the Captain to his state room, I’m assuming command.
Capt. Steinbrenner: You’re not assuming anything!
Cashman: VICE PRESIDENT OF TAMPA BAY OPERATIONS, Captain Steinbrenner is under arrest, *lock* him in his state room!
Levine: GM, please…
Cashman: NOW, RANDY!
PR: See this section was nice because it allowed for that extra time for my hatred and seething and bile and bitterness to continue to fester before I put keystrokes to keyboard. Oh yes – I love and hate the Yankees. I love and hate the American League East. I love and hate baseball. All of them cruel cruel mistresses. Today’s goal – make one pass through the division without breaking my hand or kicking the dog. Back to Ed and Bill being funny.
ED: Hey, instant nostalgia! I’m trying to remember something from 1998 but I’ve got nothing. The Macarena, maybe? Ricky Martin and Fred Durst having careers? Maybe that horrible second Austin Powers movie? Far too many references to Bill Clinton’s dong? Yeah, these are all things I’ve purposely blocked from my memory. But one person’s kitschy past is another person’s golden years. And for Yankees, 1998 was golden beyond belief. Of course reliving your glory days by bringing back Mike Stanton and Tino Martinez at this point is the equivalent of still showing off your regrettable eyebrow piercing to me, but…who am I to judge? Though I do reserve the right to judge if Hideki Irabu, Chad Curtis and Clay Bellinger are brought back by mid-season.
PR: Sadly, the Yankees know how to continue to win me over. Maybe this will be the year they actually pull the trigger on a deal for perpetually on the block Mike Lowell. I will gladly try and talk Paul O’Neill out of retirement. Heck, they even had Homer Bush in Spring Training this year.
BB: The sad thing is seven years from now, I will be 28 and I will be trying to justify the Red Sox re-acquisitions of Gabe Kapler, Kevin Millar, and Mike Myers to myself while I long for the return of Mark Bellhorn and a 73-year-old Dave Roberts. And then my wife will come in and I will see the unnecessary tattoo in the small of her back and I will regret the last seven years of my life. The strange thing is how vividly I can see the nightmares where I remember awful things that haven’t even happened yet.
PR: I am going to assume that you are going to select your wife based on who pays you for World Series tickets. And while the Yanks can make me swoon with a 98 reunion tour, I was 21 for the 96 World Series and am not clamoring for the return of Mariano Duncan, Andy Fox, Mike Aldrete, Dale Polley or Ricky Bones.
ED: The Yankee mindset this off-season in regards to their starting pitching was to sort of follow Voros’ DIPS theories and pick up strike out pitchers, since they didn’t trust guys who allowed the other team to put the ball in play – the kinder way of stating that you have no faith in your defense. And since your up the middle defense consists of Derek Jeter, Tony Womack and Bernie Williams, one would think this is a pretty sound decision. Of course, the theory was brought about as the result of blowing the ALCS to the Red Sox who didn’t so much beat the Yankees with their own offense as much as they did shut down the Yankees offense. But who am I to shoot holes?
PR: The more I think about it – I could actually see the Yankees signing Womack and then be “forced” to keep Bernie Williams in centerfield just to make Jeter’s ability to field look that much better.
BB: I would give the Dave Roberts & Curt Schilling & idiots speech to Ed but I’m so freaking sick of hearing it that I don’t want to subject anyone, myself included, to it again.
PR: On a side note, I don’t think I have ever hated a person more who didn’t actually cause my source of hatred than Dave Roberts. In non-gibberish, I don’t hate Dave Roberts because he stole a base or because he is fugly. I have nothing against Dave Roberts as a human being. I hate Dave Roberts because of all of Bostonian carrying on like his was Samuel freaking Adams. It is probably for the best that he got out of town when he did before someone encased him in Lucite so his legacy could be preserved forever. Curt Schilling on the other hand…. well I am not paypalling Sweetser money to cover the additional bandwidth cost that would be my hate. Yikes, and I haven’t even gotten out of the Yankees section yet.
ED: Anyway… the point is that the Yanks showed the door to El Duque, Jon Lieber and Javier Vazquez – mostly because they didn’t have high enough K rates – and replaced them with guys who have/had good K rates in Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano: an old, yet great, guy with a history of back troubles; a head-case rehab project; and a guy who had a youth full of arm injuries, fresh off a stint of having his limbs nibbled on by Jack McKeon. I’m not calling a trap yet, but I sure wouldn’t feel overly-confident about this scenario.
|Sometimes I poke holes in Ed…’s theories|
|Pitcher||2003 K/9||2004 K/9||Career K/9|
BB: If that really is the case – the Yankees are in for a bit of a rude awakening. Sure, adding Johnson is going to be an improvement with strikeouts on pretty much anyone else in baseball – but Wright and Pavanoboth are pretty much more of the same when it comes to strikeouts – especially when you consider regression to the mean in the cases of Vazquez and Wright. I’m not particularly sure this Yankees pitching staff is better than last year’s.
PR: There were two reasons to get Randy Johnson – strikeouts and because the strikeouts come from his left arm. Wright and Pavano actually how marginally lower K/9 rates than any of the three they are replacing (though Wright has the same comical injury history that El Duque has). The loss of Lieber was due to the one day the Yanks tried to express fiscal restraint and the Kris Benson contract. Hernandez is about a 100 so Kenny Williams decided he must have him. Javier Vazquez was abandoned too soon but since he replacement was Randy Johnson, I will be stupid and not hate it. So the Yanks dumping said folks wasn’t the bad part. It was the parts they added.
ED: Returning to the Yankee rotation are Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown. Mussina – depending on whether you ask the question inside or outside of the password protected confines of SOSH – is either the most criminally underrated and unlucky starter in baseball over the past 15 years, or a whole lot of wicked suck. He takes the ball every fifth day, gives you quality starts, walks no one and causes no trouble. But he never wins 20 games, is generally on the short side of Yankee playoff failures and is in no way flashy. That and he’s paid according to the 2000 market, which makes him a target for more hate than he deserves.
BB: The only thing to dislike about Mike Mussina is that really obnoxious rising-out-of-his-shell stretch move he has. Oh, and he looks smarmy. AND he went to Stanford, which means he probably is smarmy. And he’s rich. And he gets too much “I’m so underrated” press (no offense Ed) for him to actually be underrated. So actually there is a lot to dislike about Mike Mussina.
PR: Well, if he was stupid and had long, flowing hair and was a drunk, he would be beloved and misunderstood. God, imagine if he had corn rows and didn’t know how to dance.
ED: Kevin Brown, on the other hand…Well, just a guess, since I’ve not asked Phil about this, but I assume the average Yankee fan wants to treat him the way the NYPD treats Haitian immigrants. Just a hunch.
PR: Well, most average Yankee fans loved Kevin Brown because they were Kevin Brown – old, broken down and surly. Oh and drunk. He would never give up his seat to a pregnant woman on the subway. Plus, his education was on the level or the Post or the Daily News. It was the ultimate match. Then he imploded at the end of the year and the average Yankee fan became enraged because Lupica told them to. Of course, I don’t worship at the altar of Derek Jeter’s Gold Glove so maybe I shouldn’t be answering this question. I suck.
BB: All I will say is – Kevin Brown had a lot more to do with the Red Sox winning the ALCS than Dave Roberts did.
|The Most Valuable Properties for a Reliever, 2005|
|Proven Veteran Closer||$4,140,000|
|Joe Torre’s Trust||$2,650,000|
|Dumb, easily memorable nickname/gimmick||$1,750,000|
|Left Arm Capable of Throwing >70 mph||$1,000,000/yr for perpetuity|
BB: Some fun gimmicks: Having a club foot, throwing from 6:00, hopping over the foul line, giving up home runs at crucial points in the playoffs. Byung-Hyun Kim, for example, combines PVCness with the dumb gimmick to extract about $6,000,000 from the Red Sox this year.
PR: And he doesn’t even need to pitch for them to earn this.
ED: In the pen, the Yankees are either going to be really great or really horrible. I can’t decide which. Returning you’ve got Rivera and Tom Gordon, who pretty much were the only reliable arms for the Yankees last year. Then you’ve got Steve Karsay trying to finally earn that fat contract, the return of Mike Stanton and Felix Rodriguez. On top of that, you’ve got Paul Quantrill – if he can lift his arm after the workload he pulled down last year – Tanyon Sturtze and possibly Buddy Groom and Ramiro Mendoza. Therein is the advantage of being a “large market” team: buy enough stuff and hope something works out. Now, how well this will work is a curious question. Rivera, Gordon and Quantrill all pulled down big workloads last season – to the point of all three having bouts of ineffectiveness come October. Mike Stanton was worked like a dog by the Mets the last two years – yet, oddly, his stats are pretty much the same as when he was last a Yankee and everyone assumed he was pretty much toast – and you know Torre’s going to give him the ball as often as possible. (BTW, has anyone else seen Stanton’s L/R splits? When did he become Chris Hammond?) And Felix Rodriguez has pitched for Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Larry Bowa the last three years. The word trap comes to mind. There’s a lot here to like, a lot here to be worried about and a lot here to laugh about; proving that the Yankee bull pen is pretty much a symbol of life itself. But Bill and I will sorely miss Phil’s Felix Heredia rants.
BB: Well – Rivera, Gordon are stone-cold locks. Mendoza and Stanton are proven championship middle relievers and have the all-important Torre Trust. Tanyon Sturtze seems to be locked in as the long reliever/6th starter and I can’t imagine the Yankees actually being brazen enough to waive Felix Rodriguez (well, not yet at least) – so that’s six right there. I COULD see them waiving Paul Quantrill just out of bitterness which wouldn’t be a smart move – as Quantrill was great in the first half last year until his arm fell off. At the very worst, he’s better than Curt Leskanic. God, that was ugly. So I don’t really see a spot for Buddy Groom except for – OH! He’s left-handed! Well, that’s seven. Any innings the Yankees get out of Karsay at this point appear to be gravy so yeah – I could see the Yankees carrying 13 pitchers. I think there was just a lil spurt in Tony Larussa’s pants.
PR: I really have never loved a bullpen as much as I love this one. Not for the quality that it can produce (which could ran the freaking gamut) but for the actual players. This is so how I pretty much play any general manager mode in a sports game – sign the guys I like who may have been great at one point or another. Felix Rodriguez SHOULD have been the Giants closer of the future. Instead, he ended up on the Phillies and since the Phillies and their comical bullpen wanted no part of him – I feel quite giddy about this signing. Mike Stanton helped New York win rings so I look at him with my rose colored glasses. Buddy Groom set the standard for loving WHIP and for what LOOGYs could be. New York was shockingly smart about this as they didn’t waive Groom, sent him down to AAA to start the season because he doesn’t have to be on the big club’s roster until May 1. And you know someone is getting hurt before then… hey wait, Kevin Brown already is! I have zero idea why they haven’t cut bait on Steve Karsay but hey, whatever works. Sturtze I don’t like but someone has to eat innings. The Braves released Gabe White. For the love of God – give him another chance! OH! And the Mendoza signing might be great because they are taking a flier on him until he gets healthy and all he has to do is win one game against the Red Sox and I will laugh and laugh and laugh. And, yes, I am trying to ignore the fragileness that is Mariano. I don’t want my mom to cry.
ED: On to the men with the sticks, the Yanks should once again bring plenty of offense – over the long haul, anyway. Sure, they’re going to be giving up 8-10 outs a game with Womack, Bernie Williams and Martinez, but those three make up for it with their…uh…World Series rings? Veteran Presence? No, I don’t know either.
BB: Williams actually has remained a pretty decent hitter into old age – which is pretty remarkable considering how tired he must get chasing all those balls into the gaps. Fortunately, he still has that bed of money – this is the last year of a contract that he’s getting paid $12,357,143 a year in. That was a nifty contract a few years ago – but here’s the sad news, Yankees fans. If that contract was for five years instead of six – Carlos Beltran would be in the Bronx, not Queens. But yeah, I got nothin’ on Womack and Martinez. I guess when Steinbrenner got out of his room and locked Cashman in the Officers’ Mess, he got busy.
PR: Bernie Williams running has become painful to watch. I figure it must be what it is like to watch Ed run.
ED: Else wise, offensively, you’ve got plenty of bats to keep the Yankees an elite team. Sure, every one of their regulars – sans Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter – are on wrong side of the prime age median and/or coming off the cream or clear, and there is nothing in the Yankee system as far as depth goes, so some sort of decline is inevitable. But there are far too many guys in the line-up with the offensive skills that make the stat geeks stroke their calculators lovingly for the Yankees not to make the playoffs. So yeah, they’ll be able to pound the weak sisters of the league enough that it won’t matter what they do against the Red Sox – in the regular season, anyway.
BB: Ed refuses to admit that he carries a TI-83 in his pocket since “the incident”. It’s ok. I can’t see the Yankees scoring more runs than they did last year – Tony Womack isn’t going to match Miguel Cairo’s fluke year, the older players can be expected to come down slightly, and the only real spot where a player would be expected to improve on his numbers would seem to be at third with A-Rod. And…well…there is Giambi.
PR: I think everyone has figured out by now – I am stupid. I like the Tino Martinez signing. (Not thrilled with Giambi sticking around – mainly for the ginormous contract but whatever). It’s simply. Part of the reason I loved/hated Javier Vazquez being moved was he was the reason Nick Johnson is no longer with the team (not that they wouldn’t have turned around and traded him for… oh, I don’t even wanna speculate). Last year, no Nick Johnson and a crippled Giambi meant Tony Clark and Travis Lee. Ugh. Right there will be an upgrade in offseason (not enough to make up for the declines Bill mentions but still.) They could have kept John Olerud too mind you – that would have worked.
ED: Yankees-Red Sox, Red Sox-Yankees. Blah-blah-blah. This feud is really starting not to play well in the Red States – especially with the Red Sox losing their underdog chic. Fox is really going to have to throw some new wrinkles into this scenario to ensure ratings this post-season. A couple of situations for the Fox mindset (HAH!) to consider – Jeannie Zelasko and that fluffy dog atop her head toying with John Flaherty and Doug Mirabelli’s hearts. They can call it Backdoorin’ Back-Ups or something. Or if they wanted to not have the soap opera element – and this is Fox, so fat chance – they can merely make the games more important by allowing the winners of each game to punch Buck and McCarver in the jimmy. Talk about can’t miss television! I assume the best we can hope for is another crappy animation show by the Family Guy creator involving Curt Schilling’s ankle tendon and Alex Rodriguez’ bank book making fun of Derek Jeter’s teenage girly fans and Kevin Millar’s stupid catch phrases. Meh. When does football season start?
BB: The best thing I saw about the whole thing was a t-shirt someone was selling at one of the eight million stands outside Fenway after Game 1 of the World Series that said “Yankees Sucked”. That is by far the cleverest thing a Red Sox fan has done in a long, long time, myself included. It sums it up well enough – there was a story, some pieces fit into it, others were pushed in, but it was a story regardless. The story is over now – the plotline has been played out to its logical conclusion, it’s time to move on with regards to all sides. Of course, since everyone involved is afraid of coming up with a new marketing gimmick, MLB and the teams will push it for years until people get bitter and stop watching.
PR: So the teams’ play on opening night. Whichever team wins will be declared GREATEST TEAM IN ALL THE CENTURIES THAT BASEBALL HAS BEEN PLAYED! NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO MATCH THE SUPREMECY THAT IS (insert winning team here). The losing team will have lots of “What a failure the winter months was” stories. I really really loathe baseball and fans and Fox.
ED: A Journey Through Fan’s Eyes – New York Yankees: I picture Yankee fans –many of them named Vinnie – cruising around in their bitchin’ Camaro’s, with Mike and the Mad Dog on The Fan. They’re talking about all the fly honey’s that Jeter must get and trying to invent new chants about David Wells’ mother. In the pit of their stomach’s there are pits of acid bubbling about Giambi and Sheffield’s alleged steroid use and how they would rip those two to shreds if they played for another team. Oh, hypocrisy! And yet, they think of Derek Jeter’s smile and everything is better. Oh, that smile! That movie star face! How they’ve seen him grow through the years! The little bits of baby fat melting off into a handsome and distinguished and sophisticated man! How they sometimes stand in front of a mirror with Prince’s “Sexy MF” playing and dream of Jeter…of BEING Jeter, that is. Of being Jeter! Only of BEING Jeter! Because he’s so cool, and the Captain of the Yankees, and has all those rings…the rings they would wear around their neck on their snazzy gold chains…if they were that way. But they’re not! No. They’re not. Oh…Derek…if only…if only.
BOSTON RED SOX
ED: So, did anything happen in Boston over the past year or so?
BB: I meant to write this up at some point but never got around to it so I stick it in here. I dated a girl for a while and we broke up around Christmastime. Over the course of the Red Sox’ playoffs I made some…ill-advised purchases at her behest. Theoretically, there were some benefits I was supposed to receive but…let’s see.
|Game 1, ALCS||4, right field grandstand, row 11||$200 each – us two and her parents
|– Did get paid back the $400 for the parents’ tickets- Got to spend six innings arguing, left seats, standing in food court watching game- Pretty sure I bought her parents dinner for some reason afterwards- Got to find out what her parents thought of me…when theyPhotoshopped me out of the pictures they printed of the whole deal- No sex|
|Game 5, ALDS||2, bleachers, row 23||$450 eachTotal: $900||– Got to walk to first game in pouring rain to find it was cancelled- With night free got to…go hang out with her family. See above- Only fought enough with her to have to leave seats to for four innings this game, fortunately game went 13- Sat next to the only Yankee fan in the bleachers; therefore, was within splash range of thrown objects- Nearly got fired from my internship for skipping out on next day’s work
– Hips crushed by sitting in Fenwaybleacher seat for five hours
– No sex
|Game 1, WS||2, right field roof, Row A||Freaking $1150 eachTotal: $2300||– Before we start, this time I made sure I was promised not only repayment but sex before ticket purchase- Got to pick up the tickets from a sketchy scalper day-of-game at the Howard Johnson outside Fenway- Got to see the entire Red Sox fanbase jump onto Mark Bellhorn’sjunk, crushing me to death- Did NOT get to yell at the 30 year old club guy from Miami sitting next to my girlfriend and randomly interrupting us talking to hit on her throughout the game because “he was nice”- Actually got to sit in my seat all nine innings which was a plus
– Got to see the Manny Ramirez failed-dive-from-God live
– Did not TIVO said failed dive
– Game was played in roughly 3º weather
– Forgot to bring special “Riot Police Proof” goggles to sell outside Fenwaybefore/after game
– …did not receive specified payment for tickets or sex
|3 games||2 tickets||Total Gross
Bill Spending: $4000
|NO GODDAMN SEX|
BB: My therapist says this is part of the grieving process. But onward.
PR: It doesn’t get much better after you get married. At least you have that TV broadcast to relive the memories. Or… maybe not.
ED: Wow! That’s a heckuva lot of turnover. I had forgotten there was that much crap on last year’s Red Sox roster. I mean, that losses list looks enormous but there are only three guys on there who have any sort of value. And of those, the Sox made a big upgrade over Cabrera, made a good little upgrade over Lowe and Pedro…Well, the Sox got bigger. Much bigger.
BB: The Red sox roster was full of crap and random purchases from the 99 cent store towards the end of last season. The great thing was Sandy Martinez somehow sneaking onto the roster towards the end of the season and then somehow getting in a dugout shot (in uniform) every game of the postseason. He also lined up and got announced to the crowd in the Game 1 festivities which was just comical – as maybe 200, 300 of the people there who knew he was. He got the biggest pop from me. I know – you would think my boy Kevin Youkilis – but it’s just a sad story. Boston bastardized him. I’ve learned to let go. The promise of Kevin Youkilis and a new Modest Mouse album got me through the first three years of college, but they’ve both arrived, they were both sort of what I expected, and I can’t help but hate the reaction to them both. So I can look back in the past and say – wow, we had some good times, but there’s new stuff to look forward to now.
PR: There are plenty of places that Youkilis can find a good home. I am not even going to suggest the Yanks. I would love to see him on the Nationals but Jim Bowden isn’t that smart. Of course, Bowden is too busy smacking Nick Johnson around with his d…. must contain rage.
ED: Really, can the Red Sox pitching staff get any pastier? Other than BYK – who, of course, St. Curt will chase back to Korea by the All Star break – it’s like white central. But so is the Red Sox fan base. So…never mind.
BB: I’m pretty sure history has/will be re-written here so that Byung Hyun-Kim was some evil concoction of Grady Little, that the boy fair Theo had to acquire him to get Grady a PVC as opposed to the dreamland that everyone was living in while trying to make him a starter. (Of course – Grady lost confidence in BYK in the ALDS last year – but we can forget that part of the story.) It’s impossible to be rational about him anymore. I have no clue how he has a 3.37 career ERA but he does.
PR: Well he doesn’t have a roster spot anymore. He went to the land where all pitchers go to find their pitching souls… Colorado???? Oh, that just isn’t fair. BYK has enraged Buddha and Buddha is getting his payback in spades now.
ED: A few of weeks ago I made the mistake of catching an ESPNews segment with the usual gang of Baseball Tonight idiots on it – FROM DISNEYWORLD!!! CORPORATE SYNERGY!!! – and they were doing a round table on – ugh – the Yankees and Red Sox. Anyway, talk went to the pitching staffs and they all hemmed and hawed about it until Ravech forced them to pick the better one. So the yucks all took the Yankees since there were, ya know, brand names on their staff. But our boy, Petey, got all huffy and with tears glistening in his eyes, shook his fist at them and told them all not to overlook the Red Sox rotation! Or they’ll all be sorry when he’s a rich and famous writer and they’re all pumping gas for a living as failed jocks! I’m certain Kruk and Harold Reynolds then gave the old man a swirly just because. I had not seen a display that pathetic since high school. And if it wasn’t Gammons, and the display so pathetic, I’d spend some time here to help Pete out with his point. But I’d rather see him get a swirly. So there.
BB: Just to throw the numbers out there – Prospectus projects the Red Sox top 5 starters to produce a 178.4 VORP, the Yankees 168.1; and I don’t think anyone would argue that the Yankees starting pitching depth is better than the Red Sox (the top 5 for the Sox doesn’t include Wade Miller). I am very skeptical of the David Wells signing but even if it doesn’t work out, there is enough good stuff at the back end (Miller, Abe Alvarez, Ed’s man-crush John Halama, and if I can dream…JOHN STEPHENS BABY!!!) to fill in for the Sausage Guy.
ED: I’m with Bill on the Wade Miller pick-up being the nicest on-the-cheap move by any team in the off-season. Of course, I always think I’m stealing him when I pick him up in like the 10th round of a fantasy draft only to curse him when he spends half the season on the DL. Hey look, he’s starting the season on the DL. SHOCK!
BB: I do the same thing with Correll Buckhalter. I think I might do it only to make Rippa happy but he is my boy so once in a while I set him up.
PR: Not only is Wade Miller the best signing by any team this offseason but a healthy Wade Miller is the best pitcher in the American League East. Oh yeah, I said it. And, the Matt Clement signing might be the most underappreciated signing of the same time period. It will be helpful to have those two around when the rest the rotation goes South.
PR: David Wells is weird. You figure each year that this has to be the year he needs the bypass surgery and instead he plods out and gets 15 wins in 200 innings. He might just another one of those freaks who isn’t going away.
ED: In my heart, I can see David Wells and Curt Schilling loathing each other from day one. But if Wells could co-exist with Roger Clemens then I guess he can stay away from Schilling for however long they are together in Boston. BTW, not that I would ever call out Internet stat geeks for being two-faced little BoSox fanboys BUT…David Wells going from fat tub of goo to most underrated pitcher in baseball over the course of one off-season amuses me to no end. Neep! Neep! Neep!
BB: While it isn’t as far of a comical shift as Pokey Reese: The Man Who Would Save 1000 Runs, the sabermetric community has gotten pretty ridiculous at this point at trying to justify whatever moves Boston, Oakland, Los Angeles, or Toronto (er – maybe not Toronto anymore) make. I would point out the irony on Primer but…god, I don’t want to have to go to Primer. Or the Think Factory or the Mind Eraser or whatever they are calling it these days. Can’t they just get corporate sponsorship already?
PR: I haven’t seen them yet but I am excited about the “Scott Erickson – Best 5th Starter in the World” stories.
ED: When I become commissioner for life, the first rule I make is cutting out on the creative facial hair. If I’m stuck seeing far too many Red Sox games this year – and like that won’t happen – and there are morons imitating Matt Clement’s Shaggy beard, I’m starting my coup earlier than I expected. That said; I like the Matt Clement pick-up even more than I do the Wade Miller deal.
BB: Is the Matt Clement beard really that bad? I mean – I watch 162 Red Sox games a year. I have seen Kevin Millar do all kinds of preposterously obnoxious things – and then I go to college and I listen to people talk about how cool it is.
PR: Oh, the Bronson Arroyo corn rows might have been the most offensive thing to happen since Ty Cobb sucker punched a cripple. How the heck did NONE of his teammates tell him what a dolt he looked like. Oh, this is the wrong team to ask that question about. I am starting to realize that I would have accepted a Red Sox teaming with the World Series with a roster of 25 Wil Cordero’s better than I did the one that actually did win the rings. (The thought of Simmons fawning over Wil Cordero is amazing. “I might WORLD SERIES HERO and BOSTON ICON Wil Cordero. He punched the Sports Gal in the face. I am never going to let her face heal.)
ED: The pen is still the magnificent Keith Foulke and a bunch of other guys. I always see Timlin and Embree and expect complete collapse – much the same as how everyone sees BYK and KNOWS there’s nothing to expect but complete collapse. But Timlin and Embree do as fine of a job as the more-heralded Yankee set up guys – at a much cheaper rate. Beyond them is my man-crush John Halama, the aforementioned BYK and…Matt Mantei? Aww, bookend Diamondback closer failures. That’s cute. Not cute if you’re trying to hold a lead, but…whatever.
BB: Oh yeah – I am totally with Ed on Keith Foulke surviving all the hate from last year. I love how there is a debate over whether Foulke is in Rivera’s league as a dominating closer. Foulke’s K/9 numbers over the last two years: 9.14, 8.57. Rivera’s: 8.02, 7.55. But…you know…Foulke only throws 88 miles an hour. So his strikeouts don’t count as much, or something. I don’t know what the freaking argument is. Keith Foulke rules and is one of the three or four Red Sox I actually like. End of story.
PR: See, I tried to not make my mom cry but Bill just went ahead and did it.
BB: I am not with Ed so much on the rest of the pen – there are lots of things to worry about this year. Timlin and Embree have been worked pretty hard (316! appearances between the two of them over the last two years if you count the playoffs) and Timlin is turning 39. One of their arms just has to fall off this year. And Timlin and Embree are making $3 million each – so they’re not super cheap or anything. As usual, there will be 10 or 15 decent relievers sitting in Pawtucket that will do nothing once they are in Fenway. The Red Sox will go through all of them in the first two months, they will fail, and then the Red Sox will trade for someone at the deadline that ends up being useless. It’s just how things go. We are OK with it in Boston at this point, I think.
ED: On to the offensive side of things, the Sox are basically the same as they were last year. Edgar Renteria was added as a major upgrade on both Cabrera AND Nomar. And that means they had no need to keep the out magnet named Pokey around this year. Aww, Gammons will need a little Veddertime to cope. Jay Payton, too, was a nice, pick up to fill in for the various injuries that Nixon and Ramirez will have. Jay Payton’s contract on the other hand…not so much. Of course, these are the Red Sox, money’s no big deal. Oops. Did I mention that the Red Sox spend a buttload of money too?Whoopsie! Broke from the party line.
BB: In all fairness – the Red Sox got $2.75 million in the trade, so Payton’s only costing $750K for the season. For that he is an upgrade on superhero Dave and considering he actually can both hit lefties and play center – he is an upgrade on superhunk Gabe, too.
ED: And then there’s saber-stud Roberto Petagine. God, to think Fernando Seiguinol will have the same fate – getting dorked around by a bevy of teams who can’t understand value, forced to ply his trade successfully in Japan only to come back to hold Kevin Millar’s jock strap. And yet, guys like Pokey Reese and Lenny Harris and detestable wastes of skin like Wil Cordero can continue to get jobs without any problems. The baseball gods are so very-very-very vicious.
PR: Do you think people realize that we really really detest Wil Cordero yet?
BB: Another one of the Red Sox I actually like. I would easily pay $4000 to not have sex with my ex-girlfriend again if it meant Roberto Petagine got 600 ABs and Kevin Millar didn’t. Hell – Kevin Millar can have sex with her for all I care.
PR: Would he tell you how everyone thought the Yankees could have sex with her better and that he was just happy to be a part of the club and to have some sex?
BB: Now me – I want Mark Bellhorn. Bellhorn’s by far my favorite Red Sock because no “real” Red Sox fans like him. He strikes out 180 times. He doesn’t make flashy plays on defense. He doesn’t talk – he doesn’t even have facial expressions. I’m pretty sure the only thing he has going for him amongst most Red Sox fans is that he’s white. But he is everything I could ever hope to be – great hair, walks 100 times, hits for power, scoops up most everything he gets to, doesn’t talk. Earns the scorn of every idiot in Boston and then smacks them all in the face with his bat when they are jumping down his throat. And he hit a 400 foot home run that hit a Yankee fan square in the freaking heart. I want to be Mark Bellhorn.
PR: This is part of the reason I love Nick Johnson so much. But it is easy to love Mark Bellhorn for all of the reasons Bill just mentioned. Heck, I really want Bellhorn to take a dump right on Beacon Hill.
ED: So in a nutshell, what ya chowdaheads wanna know is can the Sawx wicked repeat? Sure. Why not? The division is just Yankees-Red Sox, the Central will be the Twins to lose and the West is a crap-shoot of flawed teams. No reason it won’t be another Yankee-Red Sox showdown in the ALCS. From there, it’s really merely a matter of testing out how much all the Yankees off-season moves improved them. It’s not like the Red Sox got that much weaker as a team, even with the loss of Pedro. So…yeah. Either or. Whoever survives the ALCS wins the World Series. No reason it can’t be the Sox. Unless I cripple Curt Schilling before the season’s out.
BB: You know, when people from outside Boston start using wicked, there’s a little part of me that laughs and says – awww, you don’t understand how to use it in the right context. Then I think for a moment, gather my surroundings, and realize – there is no right context. There are many things to enjoy about New England – well…theoretically. Once you leave you can say you’ve completed it, I suppose. It’s like grammar school.
PR: You can’t wait for your 19 year degree track at Northeastern to end can you?
BB: I am not too enthused about the idea of a potential Red Sox repeat this year. The offense isn’t going to score 950 runs again. David Ortiz…he can’t slug .600 again. Varitek’s going to fall off of a freaking cliff. Bill Mueller is going to have like 90 ABs and Youkilis is going to hit .260/.350/.360 and make me hate him. Johnny Damon isn’t coming anywhere near a .800 OPS again, this year or the rest of his career. Sure, Edgar Renteria will be an improvement, and if Trot Nixon can stay healthy, he’ll be better too. But they’re gonna lose at least 60 runs, and when you consider the losses within the staff, I don’t think it’s an impossibility that there could be a 100 run swing in run differential. That’s 8 or 9 games, and that means they’re not in the playoffs. There’s my big ol’ prediction that we can all make fun of – the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs.
PR: Can we mention Terry Francona falling ass backwards into a World Series ring and now being suddenly consider a wonderful manager. Francona needs to thank his lucky stars that Dallas Green ever existed.
ED: A Journey Through Fan’s Eyes – Boston Red Sox: Somewhere in the inner sanctum of the SOSH password-protected walls, there is chat. Some superficially chat about the overall sexiness of Jim Rice. Some superficially chat about the hotness of Jennifer Garner. Some superficially chat about shot-gunning six packs of barbecue-flavored Pringles. Some chat about all those things – or as close to those things as their poor cloven hoofs can bash out on a keyboard. But the reason real those people all are congregating behind those password protected walls is…yeah. To share their dreams of one day violating the catcher’s mitt that Jason Vaitek shoved in Alex Rodriguez’ face. JASON IZ GAWD!!!
ED: Areas not considered Orioles territory: the first place of the AL East.
ED: WHOO-HOO!!! Third place! Blind squirrels and acorns! Yay!
BB: That doesn’t feel right – getting an acorn implies that they’re getting something that at least has some value. The Orioles are like the blind squirrel finding squirrel crap.
PR: I will admit this. I really enjoy the Orioles because following them every day brings a little bit of sunshine no matter how miserable your life might be. They are a constant source of comedy. But following them so closely does draw you to some of their players. So I already have my mini list of guys I hope eventually end up on the Yankees or Nationals. B.J. Ryan is very much on the top.
ED: The highlight of the Spring for me is catching an Orioles Spring Training game and laughing until I cry as Buck Martinez gushes over everyone in an Orioles uniform. Is this an Angelos policy? Is Buck bucking for the next O’s manager’s gig? Or is he just stupid? I’m guessing yes to all the above.
BB: Give the guy a break Ed. That takes skill. Remember – think about how much crap there is on the Orioles. Do you realize how hard it was, every spring, to say, “Well, the second base battle between Hairston and Roberts is still ongoing and, really, I can’t pick a winner! I think they need to give them both another full year of at-bats and keep them both, because they’re both such great players, real sparkplugs for this team.”
PR: Aww… now you two are just making me feel bad. I was trying to sorta be nice about the Orioles… a little.
ED: That addition list. That wouldn’t have looked so bad…7 years ago. It’s comforting to know that Baltimore is still the land that time forgot.
BB: I’m pretty sure that if The Wire had been cancelled, Baltimore could’ve disappeared off the map and no one farther away than Bethesda would’ve noticed.
PR: I am glad it didn’t. I fear the rats heading South looking for a new home.
ED: Areas not considered Orioles territory: Aruba courtrooms and beaches.
ED: Pooping on the Orioles is basically the same as making fun of a Juggalo. There’s no point in the existence of either party and they are firmly oblivious to their idiocy. At one point, both parties were remotely-sorta-kinda-quasi cool in an insipid sort of way…for like five minutes…to the simplest of minds. And yeah, there’s the whole point about both parties being sad, pathetic clowns you laugh at, not with. Then there’s the whole element about both being hopelessly doomed to suck; the Orioles by creating mistakes via spending too much money on people who were supposed to cover for other high-priced mistakes – and the Juggalo by…well…C’mon, by being someone who still follows ICP. Sure, it’s clear sailing now – rolling around in their stupidity, unaware of the snickers and reasons for why they keep banging their heads against a wall, trying to impress the same group of lunkheads with the same sort of lunacy over and over again – but sooner or later you have to wake up and look yourself in a mirror. Does the idea of wearing clown make-up as an adult REALLY appeal to you? And if so, how many corpses do you have in your crawl space?
BB: See – again we differ Ed. Bill Simmons says U2 is undefinable in terms of sports. U2 are the Baltimore freaking Orioles. A long time ago, people liked them with some sort of passion, I guess. I suppose that there might have been some freshness in them, they could fit into your life in a they-are-not-the-worst-thing-on-the-radio-when-I-am-driving-to-work sort of situation. Invariably you’d date a girl who was a huge U2 fan because she had a crush on Bono (or the Edge if she was freakier) and because they HAD A MESSAGE, MAN (and by a message, I mean a very easy-to-understand and –interpret message requiring little or no work by the listener). So then U2 starts getting older and they hang out with Anton Corbijn too much and they begin to develop their own ideas of art and begin to take the large stage they’ve acquired and do nothing with it, preaching some sort of message to a mass that isn’t really listening but everyone seems to get off well enough on it. Bono sort of became this sort of misguided hyper-approximation of what the ideal rock star could be, using consistent mediocrity to spout off his platform and gather some sort of authority that he never really deserved. Likewise, Cal Ripken became representative of the rebirth of baseball, becoming some sort of hybrid of the working-class stiff and celebrity by being too stubborn to take a day off, even if it hurt his performance, drastically. Eventually, U2 isn’t a band or musicians or a bunch of songs but instead it’s a lifestyle choice – its saying, “I’m comfortable with not exploring. I am happy right here where I am and I am perfectly fine with making noise about being intelligent or interesting, but I am also OK with knowing that, deep down inside, I am not.” And U2 still releases album and plays huge concerts but there’s nothing to it. The statements don’t mean anything. And who do you know who’s a PASSIONATE U2 fan? Bill Simmons? Come on. Invariably, the people you know who are passionate U2 fans are idiots. Likewise, for someone to get behind the Orioles is just idiotic. There are better things to do with your time if you just get out there and look. Open your eyes, people. Well, look past the Nationals. There is a better idea out there.
BB: I’m old enough to have moved on past some sort of indie (or sabermetric) rebellion and I’m not Ian MacKaye and I’m not Don Malcolm but it’s just ridiculous. There’s no substance and no style, it’s mindless and inane and the worst part is that it’s granted some sort of merit because of a sense of importance that, even in the past, was at best exaggerated and at worse comically false.
|Orioles Pitching: We Hate Nice Things|
|Denny Bautista||21||Was decent against AA hitters. Got promoted to majors, after 2 innings, traded to KC for Jason Grimsley.Grimsley himself pitched 2 innings, blew out his arm. Bautista blew away AA hitters, but for KC instead.||Has been lights-out in spring training for Kansas City. Looks like future ace.|
|Erik Bedard||25||Posted 4.59 ERA in rookie season with very iffy control and peripherals.||Will turn 26. Will probably not pitch well. Will get innings anyway.|
|Daniel Cabrera||23||Posted 5.00 ERA in rookie season with ugly, ugly control and peripherals – 89 walks, 76 K’s||As ugly and overrated as his 2004 was, 2005 appears to be set to be much, much worse.|
|Adam Loewen||20||Signed days before re-entering draft, mediocre in low-A||May or may not produce. Will enjoy huge bonus regardless.|
|Matt Riley||25||Awful in the majors, very good in AAA||Maybe he could be a good reliever? Maybe?|
|Eddy Rodriguez||23||Mediocre in AAA, bad in the majors. Ugly control and peripher…you get the idea.||If all the Orioles pitchers walked half as many guys as they do now, they would go from being ill-advised to being a passable rotation. Good luck.|
ED: So the O’s are again going completely with kids in the rotation – sans for Sir Sidney, of course – thanks to no free agent pitcher wanting to go there. And the O’s actually are starting to develop some arms through their system, so that’s not all bad. Mazzilli didn’t Leyland their arms either, so that’s just fine too. Of course, the O’s show that they, ya know, have no plan on what roles they want to use their pitchers in; have shown little ability to develop their arms into big leaguers; and/or have any idea if the pitchers they have are worth planning around or anything like that. So while the O’s talk about creating a Braves or A’s-type situation, they really just have a bunch of arms – some decent, some not so much – who are sent out there every five days in an attempt at evaluating them on the major league level. Umm…does this seem like a good idea to anyone? Really?
BB: And yet, somewhere, the Orioles decided that they didn’t need John Stephens. Never mind that he could’ve been the Orioles’ ace instead of the PawSox’s last year. And this year. Ya know…he doesn’t throw fast. The Orioles’ young arms are really a mess.
PR: Well the Orioles finally gave up on Matt Riley. Probably a year two late but still. Why they chose Riley over Bautista is beyond… oh wait, it’s the Oriole way. A very close friend of mine knew a Matt Riley so every time I saw his I briefly got confused. But that is the same reaction I have to shiny things.
ED: Areas not considered Orioles territory: ballparks full of fans.
PR: Actually, Baltimore still draws a decent crowd. Just don’t expect them to be rooting for the home team.
ED: To be somewhat fair, the O’s are aware that the kid pitchers are a crapshoot and, based on last year’s results, plan on playing softball with teams until they can get the staff settled. OK. Not everyone has arms. That’s a decent enough plan…well, a plan anyway. But if’n I’m gonna play softball on the big league level, I’m sure not going to waste a roster spot on the useless B.J. Surhoffor the corpse imitating Rafael Palmeiro. Add to that the declining Sosa, and the fragile Luis Matos and Jay Gibbons and you think you’re going to play softball with the Yankees and Red Sox? Shoot, at this point, you’d be lucky to hang in a softball game with the Devil Rays. But hey, it’s not like they’re hauling out 700 second basemen on the roster anymore. So I reckon that’s a step in…some direction.
BB: The sad truth is, of course, that the Orioles will be proven to have made the wrong decision merely by making one. Jerry Hairston will outperform Brian Roberts this year – I would bet my house on it, if I had one. It’s merely a fantasy fact of life; if you combine it with the Orioles’ ability to make horrible decisions, it’s even stronger of a move.
ED: I’m not certain, but I’m a-guessin’ the Sosa pick-up rated really high with Bill’s ideal team finder.
BB: Certainly the Orioles were high, but the top 2 spots were the Mets and the Giants. Oh well; there is always hope for the future.
PR: This is why the signing of Sammy Sosa was the epitome of Orioles management. The plan was this: upgrade the starting pitching with an important FA signing. Sign Carlos Delgado to play first base AND be on all the advertising with Miguel Tejada. This would mean Jay Gibbons would have a home in right, Rafael Palmeiro would DH and they would even start to give Javy Lopez some work at first to start preparing for his switch into the field to extend his career. So… Baltimore doesn’t sign a pitcher. Don’t sign Carlos Delgado. The Orioles become the butt of many manyjokes since they have done nothing but release stories about Sidney Ponson’s latest arrest. Peter Angelos takes a moment away from whoring baseball and the Nationals to demand that someone be done. That meant…. trading for Sammy Sosa. Hmmm… so let’s see. Sosa plays right. Gibbons has no where else to go but to first where he is comically bad. So bad that Palmeiro, DavidNewhan, B.J. Surhoff and even Lopez are better than him defensively. So no moving of Lopez and Palmeiro might have to play the field. All to acquire someone who could be the FACE! of the organization… oh wait, he is part of the steroid scandal. Come back Miguel Tejada. We still love you!
ED: Areas not considered Orioles territory: the land of winning records.
ED: The O’s may be the most boring and unimaginative club not in the Midwest. Sure, they provide us with the occasional laugh, but even a legitimately funny joke that we laugh with instead of at gets tired eventually. Maybe if the O’s spent as much time actually figuring out where the club was flawed, rather than fighting the move of the Nationals, they’d finally be on the right track. But the O’s have no clue and every move they make is an effort to tread water in the middle of the pack rather than to move forward. And that’s why the Devil Rays and Blue Jays will contend in this division long before the O’s can luck into something. But at least Rippa will still be able to read all those Tejada for MVP stories over the years. And Bill and I will get all of Phil’s related rants. So, really, we all win in the end.
BB: Even the Orioles’ attempt at progress end up as failures, stalling halfway through out of boredom or malaise or the sheer fact that no one’s pushing the carriage. They’re the dog who’s following a scent trail – while the Red Sox and Yankees are police-quality, being led along by insistent fanbases and ownership who encourage and reward them for eventually finding success, the Orioles are the dog that follow the scent trail for a minute and then stop and lick their balls until they’ve lost the scent. And Peter Angelos is okay with that.
ED: Oh, and bonus points to Sidney Ponson for starring in that Internet ad where he’s humping a glass tube. Ahh, the benefits of knighthood!
PR: That really really is the creepiest thing I have seen in a long time and probably the best selling point for Firefox.
ED: Areas not considered Orioles territory: Clueville.
ED: A Journey Through Fan’s Eyes – Baltimore Orioles: It’s a lazy summer day. The heat and humidity are oppressive. The sun is a swear word. Cocktail hour started three hours ago with no sign of ending. The General and the Senator sit inside the pavilion ironing out a deal neither of which neither can ever speak. There is chatter from inside the house. A radio plays from the patio. The Orioles are losing again. The General and Senator hear Jim Palmer’s voice and think back on their younger days when neither was burdened with guilt and regret, when everything was possible, when this land was full of kings. Sammy Sosa strikes out to end a rally. The past is but a cruel joke. They drink to Earl Weaver. Earl Weaver drinks to Earl Weaver. Earl Weaver drinks to anything. So do the General and Senator. Only booze matters now. Booze and vague memories. The new Oriole way.
BB: That’s beautiful. Ah, trying to drink away the part of the day that you’re not sleeping away.
PR: See, we include Aubrey Huff on our depth chart.
ED: The funny thing is that this off-season was somehow the off-season to dump all over the Devil Rays. I mean, EVERYONE took a steaming dump on the Rays this off-season. Everyone. Now, far be it from me to not ride the fashion train but…really, if you’ve gotta ride the coattails of one of the patsies of the AL East, I’d be hitching my ride to the Satanic Fishies rather than the O’s. But that’s just me. I am no expert.
ED: Of course, I write the above, look over the projected line-up again, see Roberto Alomar, Alex S. Gonzalez and Denny Bautista and wince. Forget me. Listen to the Baseball Tonight guys.
PR: Of course, when you wrote this Roberto Alomar and Denny Bautista were still actually playing baseball.
BB: At least Aubrey Huff is IN the predicted lineup this year. The Devil Rays have also done a nice job of making a whole bunch of signings that they will cut at the end of spring training so in the interest of saving both us and you time, I will not bother to talk about any of them.
PR: Why cut when they will just retire?
ED: So Rocco Baldelli rips his knee up playing wiffle ball. A guy who has shown no plate discipline whatsoever and whose value is based almost entirely on his speed…with a bum knee. Well, it beats giving AB’s to B.J. Surhoff, I guess.
BB: I’m not sure when everyone decided Carl Crawford was the better prospect than Rocco Baldelli but at some point last year, a memo definitely went around. And it wasn’t as if there was some push from one side of the knowledge spectrum – everyone got it. Sabermetricians, Baseball Tonightians, TV play-by-play guys, radio, everyone suddenly picked up on it. I’m not saying he is or isn’t – it was just bizarre. I want to know how this worked and how to use that power for good.
PR: DISTRUPTIVE SPEED~! Of course, the best is that while Baldelli is hurt, the decision will be made that Alex Sanchez is better than him too. Well at least Sanchez had a fairly quite break. Reunited with his family, got released, took some steroids, got caught taking said steroids.
ED: How bad were the D-Rays DH’s last year? The D-Rays only stage with a winning record was in inter-league play…in NL cities…without the DH. How did the D-Rays address this issue? Yes. With Josh Phelps. Chuck LaMar’s failed-Jays prospect fetish is interesting. I am assuming Junior Felix will get a chance at a come-back. Maybe Sil Campusano too, if he isn’t busy protecting player’s moms or something. Maybe Piniella can talk to Glenallen Hill. How could Glenallen be any worse of a fielder than, say, Aubrey Huff?
BB: Surely Rob Ducey can’t be doing anything.
PR: We should reprint the Josh Phelps rant here too. It is entertaining to me that no only does Phelps not play catcher anymore – he doesn’t even play first anymore. Hopefully a ruling about all this was including in the deal where MLB bought the rights to fantasy sports.
ED: Three of the D-Rays projected five starters are nice enough arms that I’d ordinarily be pretty high on their shots of becoming something. Then I remember Lou Piniella is the D-Rays manager and realize that Doug Waechter can probably only dream of becoming Rob Bell.
PR: Much like last year – we write some stuff and then the Devil Rays ruin it all. This year it was the retirees and Waechter not making the opening day club. It would be frustrating if we actually cared.
BB: Have we all given up on Rob Bell? I’m ready to move on if you all are. I mean, I’m not even doing anything, I’m just hanging out here because my bed is comfortable. But if you want to jump off, I’ll follow. I’m down for whatever.
ED: Piniella actually did do a good job of handling the D-Rays, offensively, the way they should be handled. He played Whitey Ball with the speedsters and let Aubrey Huff swing for the fences a la a poor man’s Jack Clark. Well, Jack Clark is a poor man’s Jack Clark at this point, but ya know what I mean. Anyway, for the first half of the season Piniella did a fine job with what he had and was my vote for Manager of the Year. Then came the slumps and fatigue and Lou had to handle the pitchers and…the rest of the season turned out about as well as could be expected, really.
BB: I can’t do better than that Jack Clark joke. That is just pretty.
ED: Are all the fantasy baseball geeks all over Aubrey Huff’s jock again this year? If so, do they understand that he’ll have no one to knock in? I mean, RBI’s are god-like right?
PR: Batting average Ed. Batting average.
BB: I want to see another year of Aubrey Huff trade rumors. Because, you know…he’s really the problem. Not Roberto Alomar. Not Toby Hall. Not the utter lack of pitching, power, or interest whatsoever. It’s Aubrey Huff.
PR: Well he is from Ohio.
BB: The Devil Rays seem utterly insistent on not playing Jonny Gomes because he isn’t speedy. What he is is a guy who posted a .531 slugging percentage last year at 23 at Durham. Denny Bautista should get exactly 0 at-bats when he is keeping Gomes out of a job. 0. He will get 400, though. And then he will become a Giant and we can all die happy as they rush to 92 wins and getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
PR: What makes this funnier is that Bautista retired. So they will play him now. Oh no, gotta sign Alex Sanchez. Aww crap… Sanchez takes steroids. Well, put Rocco in. Poo… still hurt. I guess it’s Gome… YES! we kept Chris Singleton on the 25 man. Grab you mitt son. You are in!
ED: Hey, at least they finally made it out of the basement. It’ll be awhile before they can say that again. But for one shining moment…
BB: I’d like to show some respect to the one Devil Ray fan who sits in the second row behind home plate and yells at one Red Sox player all season like a madman – not with vulgarity or drunkenly, just good-natured ribbing at a ridiculously loud volume, especially considering no one else in that god-forsaken place is making any noise for fear of setting off their pacemaker. The fact that someone can get over on the opposing team’s commentary to the point where they fly him in for a Red Sox series so he can defend the Devil Rays is way too good for me.
PR: For that guy alone, they shouldn’t being signing Alex Sanchez or Hideo Nomo. When Tampa finally fires Chuck Lamar – they better let that guy do it.
ED: A Journey Through Fan’s Eyes – Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Crickets chirp away. Little birdy wings rustle softly. The sound of Lou Piniella’s blood pressure cuff exploding echoes in the darkness.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
PR: Oof… I predicted them to make the playoffs last year. I am keeping my mouth shut this year.
ED: Hey! They’re the only game in town. And, by only game, I mean the only sport – poor li’l dead NHL. And by in town, I mean the whole country. Stand on guard, Canadia’s finest.
BB: I like to think of Canada as one big town, really. Actually – I don’t think Canada exists for me outside of Toronto. Sorry big ol’ country. It’s nothing personal. You’re just desolate. And I am not that desperate.
ED: I heart me some Smooth Pimp. But even I can’t explain trading anything of value for Shea Hillenbrand. Was Canada that short on scrap? Did J.P. just pick him up so they can sit around and make fun of Theo? Does anyone really care?
BB: Irony is the new OBP! Or they decided to throw Richard Griffin a bone.
PR: OH! OH! What is “They Hate Primer”, Alex.
ED: So the Jays decided to punt the season, let their last ties to the World Series years fly away to Miami and are actually trying to show the O’s and D-Rays what a youth movement is all about. Fine by me. Of course, the Skydome – or whatever it’s called these days – sure is gonna look pretty empty. I can’t imagine the promotions they’ll have to have to get people in during a D-Rays or Orioles series. Eat poutine right out of the Stanley…err, Grey Cup! Naked people hotel room windows Bingo! People pastier than Ted Lilly get in free…Oh. Right. This is Canada. Nix that last idea.
BB: The thing is…they did that whole youth movement thing two and three years ago. And it got nice years out of Vernon Wells and Eric Hinske and Josh Phelps. Fast-forward to the present day and Wells has sorta produced while Hinske has become a total nothing and Phelps is on his third team in three months and not in a good way.
PR: And yet… I drafted Eric Hinske… and Corey Koskie. I am a fool.
BB: The total failure of this organization to develop under Ricciardi is a pretty damning statement. Dustin McGowan did blow out his arm, which didn’t help, and there are some B and C-level guys in the system. But Ricciardi’s draft picks have turned out to be mostly the kind of players that scouts mention as being the problem with “Moneyball” drafting – Ricciardi’s two first-rounders have produced two shortstops who project to be, at best, average major league players in Russ Adams and Aaron Hill. Now, I like Mark Ellis. But that doesn’t mean I’d want to throw away two first-round picks in trying to get players like him. The trades with Oakland that got them Jason Arnold and John Ford-Griffin, who were both supposed to be stars? Arnold’s become a mediocre AAA pitcher and Griffin’s spent three years solving AA pitching.
ED: So the more hopeful of Jays fans are pinning their hopes on the additions of Russ Adams and Alex Rios. Uhh…Well, Adams has shown little power and only moderate plate discipline but since he’s replacing Chris Gomez, I guess he is an improvement. Rios looks pretty much like a poor man’s Carl Crawford…which might make him Alex Sanchez but with some potential for upside – and absolutely NO steals considering he’s a Jay. Getting the both of them around Corey Koskie should help – not just in teaching them some on base skills but the ins and outs of the Canadian lifestyle. Maybe they’ll get a really good slap shot out of the deal too. Who can be sure?
BB: NO ED! You don’t understand! STEALS are the new OBP! I read about it in the Toronto Sun – Richard Griffin told me that the Blue Jays have given up on the Ricciardi ideals and John Gibbons is going to have them running all day, every day. Jesus, Canada is desperate. And desolate.
PR: And their country is cold and their money is worthless and their national sport isn’t playing.
ED: I like the Koskie pick-up a bunch. Sure the Jays probably are paying too much for him and he is a touch fragile and they’ll likely need to move him off of third before his contract is done, but putting him in a line-up with Frankie the Cat will give the Jays some base runners. Of course, relying on Vernon Wells, Hillenbrand and Eric Hinske to knock them in is…about as iffy as you can get.
BB: I am not a fan of the Koskie signing at all. Sure, getting a Canuck is nice. And he had a bit of an off year last year. But he’s 32, he’s getting hurt every year, he has old players’ skills, and they’re already committed to Hinske at third base. Moving Hinske to first just creates a different problem, and now there’s less money to spend on solving that problem.
PR: And yet… I drafted Eric Hinske… and Corey Koskie. I am a fool.
ED: I firmly believe that Orlando Hudson is the ideal Twin – overrated glove, horrific bat – kind of like the infield version of Torii Cashman. Someone really-really-really needs to make this deal happen.
BB: Oh god Ed – that is brilliant. Except for the fact that I have no clue who Torii Cashman is.
PR: I so don’t have the energy to roll out my signature spot here. The thought of Torii Hunter and Brian Cashman being rammed together so hard that they become one is going to make me giggle.
ED: Onto the pitching side of things, the Jays are hoping that Roy Halladay hasn’t Pat Hentgen’ed himself – and all context clues so far don’t look too hopeful for that not to have happened. Ted Lilly had a nice little season last year even if he had no luck at all. He’s a touch tater-riffic, his walk total rose to the point of making a few eyebrows raise and he threw the most innings of his life last year. I’m not calling disaster, but I’d be a bit wary of him in the ‘05. The rest of the rotation will be comprised of possibly Miguel Batista, kids – Chacin and Bush – and the never ending Scott Schoeneweisexperiment. Yeah, there’s gonna be some growing pains here.
BB: Well, Schoenweis is going to the pen, where he’s been pretty successful. He will end up being a useful chip to send to the Yankees for…god, I don’t know, Robinson Cano since the Blue Jays love middle infield prospects in August. I want Halladay to come back and succeed, but I want to see it happen before I believe. I’m with you on the Lilly walk concerns and their system isn’t exactly full of pitching prospects. This has a lot of potential to, yet again, be ugly.
PR: And yet… Ted Lilly was stolen from my fantasy grasps. Much like Ed took Nick Johnson from me. No, I am not ready to talk about this yet.
ED: I’d rather not talk about the Jays pen, thank you. At some point in time, I had every Jays closer on my fantasy team last year. And since we don’t work blue here, it’s better just to take a pass. Ugh. The Jays are talking about moving Miguel Batista to closer. And while I like Batista more than Phil and Bill, a guy with his K/BB rate tends not to work real well as a closer. Jason Frasor got a whole bunch of cheap saves at the end of last season but the Jays seemingly have no real interest in making them their closer – which speaks volumes considering that they ARE interested in possibly sending Justin Speier out there to pitch batting practice in the 9th. And of course, there’s always the return of Billy Koch. Eww. Then again, the Jays don’t figure to have many late-inning leads so really, this is just padding.
BB: Considering Batista’s K/BB ratio was 1.08, guys with those kind of rates tend to not work real well as major league pitchers. Koch got waived and so he will be someone else’s concern – the Mets which would be comical since he would become their closer inevitably. Although – if anyone is going to get him into shape – it would be Rick Peterson. The Blue Jays pen really will be made up of the bits that would otherwise be in the PawSox pen, plus Batista as utility pitcher, a role he’s paid far too much for. Whoops.
ED: Yeah, it’s going to be another shaky season in the Great White North. The Jays are getting some organizational depth in place in the minors and of all the AL East lessers, they seem to at least have a plan. There might be enough here to get themselves out of the basement this year, but that’s not really the issue. J.P.’s had to completely rebuild the system after Gord Ash ruined everything and it’s going to take another year or two to show the results. Hey, it’s still better than being an O’s or D-Rays fan. Faith, Canadia’s Finest. Faith.
BB: Hey – at least Gord Ash drafted and signed a bunch of prospects with upside. Sure, they didn’t work out once they got to the upper levels and the majors, but that’s more of an instructional issue.
ED: A Journey Through Fan’s Eyes – Toronto Blue Jays: GOOOOO LEAFS!!!! LEEEEEEAFFFS!!!! Go…Lea…Leafs! Leafs! Come back, Leafs!
BB: Aww…poor lil Toronto.