November 2009

Talking turkey – but not with the Indians!

Just to be on the safe side, if I were a GM, I wouldn’t swing any deals today with any team named “Indians” or “Braves.” …
If you’re a pitching-shopping Theo Epstein weighing trade vs. free agent options, you have to give a lot of consideration to this:
  • Roy Halladay versus the Yankees: 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA.
  • John Lackey versus the Yankees: 3-7 with a 5.25 ERA.
Free-agent Alex Gonzalez signing with the Blue Jays — could be the first step in them “swapping” shortstops with the Red Sox, who are keen on Marco Scutaro. …
Of course Boston is changing shortstops. The next mystery guest — Scutaro or whoever — will be the Red Sox’s seventh different Opening Day shortstop in eight years. Didn’t Simon & Garfunkel sing, “Where have you gone, Nomar, a lonely Red Sox Nation turns its eyes to you … “
Got a chuckle out of Wally Beckman’s declaration upon being named the Brooklyn Cyclones’ manager that, “No bones about it, my ultimate goal is to manage in the Major Leagues someday again.” Again, as in beyond the four days in November 2004 that he had the job, before the Arizona Diamondbacks changed their mind? …

Matsui to Fenway: No Way

Riffing on some free agents …

Hideki Matsui: The report, out of Japan, that the Red Sox are considering tendering him a multiyear offer is the craziest yet of this offseason. Maybe the seed of it is the idea that in Fenway Park’s left field he’d have less ground to cover, so his damaged knees would be up for it. But Matsui is the antithesis of the Theo Epstein’s type of player — average on-base percentage, non-versatile. Maybe if David Ortiz gets moved … until then, get real.

Billy Wagner: Agent Brian Stringfellow now says he just might accept an arbitration offer from the Red Sox. Sounds like a warning from this fellow for the Red Sox to not make the arbitration offer. Wagner still wants to close, and Boston still has Jonathan Papelbon. An arbitration offer would be the only way the club could receive compensation if someone signs away Wagner, a Type A free agent — but that price tag would shrink his market.

Bengie Molina: His stock might be higher if there weren’t so many ex-catchers managing around the Majors. His prowess behind the plate doesn’t rate very highly with them. Bruce Bochy, one of those ex-catchers, didn’t think much of his synergy with pitchers.

John Lackey: The Mets are gun-shy about a guy who began the last two seasons on the DL; given their recent hospital tab, understandable. But they shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the Texan as damaged goods. Only one of their own (Mike Pelfrey, 184) worked more innings than John’s 176.

Rafael Betancourt: Could be the best of the setup relievers flooding the market. The union’s official list of free agents lists more relievers (42) than any other position. Setup guys are the sport’s foot soldiers, the infantry. As a group, they’re the lowest-paid players and seem expendable by comparison. But when your starter is gassed and your closer is several outs away, you’d swap your soul for a reliable seventh- or eighth-inning arm.

A case of insider trading?

I keep hearing more and more about an Adrian Gonzalez move. Momentum — and the East Coast drumbeat — keeps building for a trade. The feeling around Boston is that the Red Sox absolutely have to bag him, as a year-after counterpunch to losing out to the Yankees on Mark Teixeira.

If the Sox do land Gonzalez, it of course will have been an inside job. The mole being Jed Hoyer, the former Theo Epstein aide who recently took over as the Padres general manager.

In all seriousness: Hoyer’s involvement will actually make a San Diego-Boston swap harder to pull off.

Why? Because the specifics would have to be cynics-proof. Weighted even more in the Padres’ favor than under normal circumstances. Anything less, and suspicious Friars fans will raise a stink specifically about the Hoyer-Red Sox connection. …

My feeling is the Red Sox need to be more concerned with keeping up with the Yankees rotation. Roy Halladay should be atop Epstein’s list, even if Doc didn’t have a personal 18-6 record against the Bombers. …

If Hideki Matsui is the loser in his private game of musical chairs with Johnny Damon — the Yankees will bring back only one of them — the popular expectation is that the Mariners would emerge as his logical landing place. It makes sense — the M’s history with Japanese players, Japanese majority ownership — but ignores one factor: Ichiro and Matsui aren’t extremely fond of each other, and may not co-exist. …

This was a headline part of preseason outlooks, but hasn’t been revisited after-the-fact: No team with a starting shortstop 35-or-older had ever won the World Series — until Derek Jeter’s Yankees pushed that envelope. …

Feliz’ corner REALLY getting hot

How do you think Pedro Feliz’ weekend is going?
The Phillies have until Monday to decide whether to pick up the third baseman’s 2010 option for $5 million — or waive it for $500,000. Now, there’s a lot of such hand-wringing going on these days, when those D-Dates buried in contracts come calling. And, sure, whatever side Feliz’ coin lands on, he won’t be holding out his hat on a downtown corner.
Still … the stark way in which Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed his options had to make you think.
Amaro: “He had a solid year for us. I like the man personally. He’s a great person and a great teammate, but I also believe in trying to improve, and sometimes change can be for the better. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to, but it’s just something that we’re thinking about.” 
Tough game, tougher business. Being placed on public trial like that.
What do I mean? Well, just imagine yourself as the “He” in the above quote, from your boss, telling the world he will replace you if he can find someone to do the job better.
How does that feel? … 
Filing for free agency will be a mere formality for several players who have either already announced plans to retire, or are strongly leaning in that direction: Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Randy Johnson, Jarrod Washburn, Jason Schmidt, Troy Percival and Eddie Guardado. … 
In case you were wondering, Cliff Lee’s postseason batting average (.273) was nearly double his postseason ERA (1.56). … 
Admit it, all you worrywarts — the weather for the extended postseason was overall way better than you expected it to be. Not tropical by any means, but right through World Series Game 6 on Nov. 4, quite decent. Jack Frost essentially was a no-show at The Show. … 
Yes, going by Amaro’s quote above — the offseason is already off to a colder start than the postseason. … 

UCLA Bruins second (base) to none

Us Bruins (UCLA Class of ’71 here) know how to produce second basemen. Jackie Robinson … Chase Utley. …
Something for Yankees fans to not mull over during a break in the World Series: 100-win teams are 0-for-11 in World Series since the 1998 Bombers’ sweep over the Padres. … 
The Phillies’ stolen-base percentage has been pretty good the last few seasons. But what has been their stolen-sign percentage? … 
Seriously, some are reading way too much into Yankees catchers’ frequent mound visits to chat strategy and change signs. The only camera that has been a part of this World Series is the one Alex Rodriguez’s Game 3 home run clunked. Since 2007, the Phillies’ hitting at home has been only marginally better than on the road, nothing to support suspicions of sign thievery in Citizens Bank Park. …  
Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge: Further proofs that the playoffs aren’t always a Second Season. Sometimes, they’re just extensions of the First Season. … 
Here’s my take on the imperfect umpiring we’ve seen this postseason: I didn’t hear Tim McClelland and his colleagues rip into Nick Punto, Bobby Abreu, Scott Kazmir and others for their bonehead mistakes, so let’s cut the arbiters some slack. … 
Wait, I do have another take: How would you like to have your job performance evaluated with a battalion of high-tech devices picked up at James Bond’s garage sale? … 
I get the feeling that the more interviews he undergoes for managerial openings, the less Bobby Valentine is interested in resuming his Major League managerial career. He seems disenchanted about the game’s evolution to increased dependency on statistical analysis. He has fielded questions in those interviews that frankly have floored him. … 
How do the Pittsburgh Pirates get into any World Series conversation? Easy. Of all the teams with at least three historical appearances in the Fall Classic, those lovable recent losers have been the best at closing the deal, winning five of their seven Series. … 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers