Baseball is my best friend. I know. It sounds crazy, but it's true. I mean, I have loads of great friends who are real people and everything, but there is no one I trust more than baseball. It never lies, it never leaves, it always stands beside me. At the age of 8 I moved to a lacrosse dominated society in Denver. I was new, and didn't exactly fit in, but baseball was there. When I was bored I always had my mitt, a ball, and a brick wall to throw at. My whole life, I've done my best thinking with a baseball in my hand. I can stand and just throw my hardest at a wall for hours at a time. With every throw I let some anger escape. With every thud I can forget about the world around me. I can get lost in a simple game of throw and catch with the wall. Baseball never runs out of stories, something is always happening, all year round there is always something unfolding before us, revealing more and more about the sport. From spring training to the season to the all star game to the pennant races to the playoffs to the awards to the Hot Stove to the Hall of Fame voting to the draft, baseball never stops. There is no such thing as perfection in baseball, there is always more to be done, more to be pondered, more to be examined.
To me, baseball, while it is it's own world, is truly a smaller model of the world which we inhabit. For as long as I can remember, every meaningful life talk or explanation I have received has used baseball as a comparison. There are the rich, the poor, and the greedy. The hopeful, the doubtful, and the proven. There is always a need to measure risk versus reward. Every big decision you make, what high school to go to, what college to attend, who to marry, they are like big free agent contracts that will lock you into one gameplan for multiple years. Every life is full of coaches, mentors, teammates, agents, etc. trying to help you do what they think is best, but just like in baseball, what you do, what you say, what you decide is what will have the most effect on your life.
So that's my thought for today. Is your life really just a big baseball game?
Here are some updates on the situation
Seems like it will end up being a 1 year $6mm deal guaranteed. And incentives could make it $6mm more. I'm glad this is finally working out. It seems that, like many other free agents, Pettitte misread the market, and now he must settle for less guaranteed money than the Yanks originally offered. When Andy signs, the Yanks' rotation will look like this
Chien Ming Wang
So basically the first 3 guys would be aces on lots of other staffs, and the #5 starter has ace potential, but is the #5 so that his innings count is limited (predictions on Joba's inning count via RotoAuthority). Then the #4 is a veteran who thrives in the playoffs and in New York. And let's not forget that Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, and Phil Coke are all still available from the farm if injuries hit. That's a solid group of starting pitchers. As big of a fan as I was of a Ben Sheets' signing, having some one who is less of an injury threat is certainly a good thing, which is why this signing makes sense. $6mm is a pretty good value for a guy like Pettitte.
In his book apparently Torre says that the Yankee players would call A-Rod A-Fraud because he is a spoiled brat. It is true, Alex is one of those guys that aggravates everyone because he apparently thinks he above everyone else, but he is one of the greatest players in the game and despite the dumb things he does, he isn't as big of a nuisance as someone like Manny Ramirez. Torre also talks about how Cashman didn't give him support in the final contract negotiations between Torre and the Steinbrenners after the 07 season. As much as all of these things that Torre says upset me, the fact that he is trying to publicly make the Yanks look bad upsets me more. I don't want to make judgements here, and I will always give Joe the benefit of the doubt, but I am a little dissapointed that a guy like Joe would turn his back on his former team. I know that the Yanks kind of turned their backs on him, but I usually put Joe above other people and expect him to be more civil than others. This disappoints me, but I will have to read the whole book before I draw any real conclusions.
I think the WBC is a fun event and is a great way to have international baseball pride, but having it right before the season starts just seems stupid to me. Players don't get to go through the routine their managers want them too, they have to play in big pressure situations before April, and it just seems like a bad idea for players' health. Since the season is so long, I know that it is hard to find another time to have the tournament, but I have one idea...
Move the WBC to right after the playoffs. The season ends at the end of September/beginning of October, and then there are 3 weeks of playoffs. I don't know the exact schedules of the leagues in other countries, but I imagine they would be similar. Lots of players already play fall ball in the Arizona Fall League or in the Dominican Republic, so why not add a few more and make it an international competition. As the playoffs start non-major league players and players who are on teams that didn't make the playoffs could report to their national camp and start working out. Some players will have to play in the playoffs, but start the competition a week after the World Series ends. Perhaps, if the MVPs, Cy Youngs, and Rookies of the Year are in the competition, then Bud Selig could present them with their awards in front of a crowd of their countrymen at a packed stadium rather than at a press conference that fans don't usually attend. This seems like the best solution to me.
I know that most players are tired after a full season, but then should just choose not to play. Players can choose not to play in the spring, but after a full season a player has a better sense for how their body is physically. If a player were injured in the fall, they'd have the whole winter to recover rather than entering the season hurt. Also, I bet the Japanese teams would love this, because if their players played well in the WBC, then they would be fresh on the minds of scouts and would likely garner higher posting bids. Free agents could use the competition to re-establish their value if they had been injured at the beginning of the season. This is just an idea, but I think that seeing tired players play is definitely better than seeing players who aren't ready for the season play and be afraid to challenge themselves because they aren't yet at their potential. This would also allow players who change teams during the offseason to report to their team's camp, without feeling as if they are letting down their country.
That's just my opinion though. Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.
Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, Jesus Montero for Hanley Ramirez. I know, we have shortstop, and AJax is one of our best prospects, Kennedy's value is low, and Jesus Montero can hit. But here's what I think...Hanley would play centerfield(as he would have if he went to Boston). Hanley's only a little over 3 years older than Ajax, and he can hit for power, which Jackson can't. Kennedy is going to be a good pitcher, but the Yanks have CC for 7 years and Burnett for 5. Joba and Wang are still under team control for multiple years, and so are Hughes, Betances, Brackman, and Aceves. Also, Japanese phenom Yu Darvish is likely to be posted after the season and as he will only be 23 when the season is over, expect the Yanks to place a huge posting bid for him. So, with all of those other options, Kennedy isn't as essential to the team as one would think. Then Montero. Montero is probably the Yanks best prospect, but many people think he can't stick behind the plate. He's blocked by Tex at first and Posada is under contract for 3 more years to play catcher. And when Posada's contract is up the Yanks could either put Austin Romine or Francisco Cervelli behind the plate, or try to acquire someone like Joe Mauer, Russell Martin, or Brian McCann. Hanley is signed cheap through 2014 . He has power (33 home runs in 08) and speed (35 SB in 08) which would be great for the lineup. The Marlins would probably love to have a prospect like Montero who could end up being a big slugger for years to come, and they would love Jackson's athleticism as well. Kennedy will be a good #2 or #3 starter which is valuable too. The Yanks meanwhile would have a lineup of
That's pretty good. And having your number 3 hitter be a huge stolen base threat is always a good luxury. Thoughts on the deal for both sides... let's hear 'em in the comments.
This is just a thought, but wouldn't it be cool if one game the Red Sox had Dice-K start, and he pitched 7 innings, then Okajima pitched the 8th, and then Saito pitched the 9th? It would be cool to see a team put out only Japanese pitchers in one game, it would highlight the influence of the international market on the MLB. What would make that situation even better though...is if it was a game against the Yankees, and Kei Igawa pitched a complete game and Hideki Matsui hit a walk-off home run. Ok, I know Kei Igawa most likely won't ever pitch for the Yanks again(at least I hope he won't), but come on, how cool would that be? Can you imagine the headlines on the Post and the Daily News the next day?
This next part is what really aggravated me. For those of you who watched Tex's press conference, you know that his wife played a big roll in his decision. I mean, duh, money had something to do with it, but Leigh Teixeira wanted Mark to be a Yankee, and so he became a Yankee. Gammons says "...his wife doesn't like Boston--apparently she doesn't like the stores on Newberry Street or something..." Really Gammons? This woman hasn't made any big public statements, or done anything uncalled for, but Peter Gammons judges her like this? First off, this is a sexist statement as Gammons is acting like, oh she's a woman, she must like to shop. Secondly, he's insulting her and calling her snooty by implying she only wants to shop in the fashion capitol of the world, New York, instead of in Boston. Thirdly, he is too ignorant to act like there might be other factors that drew Leigh to ask her husband not to play in Boston. As a professional, and highly acclaimed sportswriter, Peter Gammons shouldn't be saying things like this. I'm truly dissappointed. He was a guy I used to have a lot of respect for, and I still do, but now that level of respect is most certainly lessened.
Conor Cashel- The Yankees spent $243.5mm on their two new starting pitchers. Was that the best way to spend the money, or should they have spent it differently?
Tyler Kepner- It's hard to tell now, of course, but it seems to me that they did what they had to do. They lost a 20-game winner and still don't know if they'll bring back a 14-game winner. So they had to do something to address the rotation. Sabathia was clearly the best guy out there, and Burnett's a huge injury risk, but it's the kind of risk the Yankees -- and perhaps only the Yankees -- can take. Never forget how much money they have and how that changes the risk/reward equation relative to other teams.
CC- What kind of return would the Yankees get for Nady if they put him on the trade market. Is he the 1st guy to go with the excess outfielders?
TK- That's a good question, and we'll find out over the next 2 1/2 to 3 months. Swisher has 3 years and $21 million left on his deal; not sure how many teams will pick that up at this stage, coming off a bad year. Nady's still pretty young, and he's coming off a very good season overall. But he'll be a free agent after the season, and he's a Scott Boras client. So both players have complicating factors. So does Hideki Matsui: a no-trade clause and two bad knees. My guess is they would try to trade Swisher first, but that 3-year commitment is a lot to ask another team to take on.
CC- Should the Yankees sign a more capable utility infielder now, like Aaron Miles, or let Ransom be the backup to start the season? If there were an injury mid-season could they pursue a trade for a player in his walk year, such as Chone Figgins or Jack Wilson?
TK- Well, Aaron Miles signed with the Cubs, so he's out. (The questions were sent before Miles signed with the Cubs) They're bringing Angel Berroa to camp, and the Dodgers got by with him at shortstop while Rafael Furcal was out last season. But Cody Ransom is perfectly fine as a back-up infielder; he plays all the positions and has a little power. How often are the Yanks going to sit Teixeira, Cano, Jeter or Rodriguez, anyway? Almost never, unless they're hurt. If somebody does get injured, then sure, you look at guys in their walk years as obvious trade candidates. But it's not a big issue at the moment. They can always find guys to fill in here or there.
CC- Jason Giambi has been regarded as a great, personable, and friendly guy throughout his time in New York. Do you think his absence will have any effect on the clubhouse?
TK- I think they'll miss him, yes, but the trade-off for Teixeira's production in the field and at the plate is a no-brainer. Teixeira spoke about accepting the responsibility of leadership, and that's good to hear; from all accounts he's extremely prepared and serious about his work. Giambi spent a ton of time in the batting cage, and he was great in the clubhouse. He was very popular with teammates, not just for his zany antics but for his generosity -- nobody paid more attention or gave more credit to the staffers and the ancillary people around the team than Jason. He also wasn't afraird to get in a guy's face, and that's important. But Damon is still around to fill that role, and the Yankees' clubhouse is actually fairly harmonious, as far as I can tell.
CC- Which of the Yankee prospects do you think will make the biggest impact in 2009? Who will be the most successful over the course of their career?
TK- If Mark Melancon stays healthy, I tell you what, there's no reason to think he won't be a very successful closer. I could see him making his move to the big leagues this season, giving the Yankees another lights-out setup guy to go with Brian Bruney. Melancon has the stuff and especially the makeup to be very valuable to the team. Austin Jackson's a great kid, too, and he's learning rapidly in the minors. I'd expect to see him in center in 2010 as long as his current rate of progress continues.
CC- This one's just for kicks. What kind of big unexpected trade would you like to see the Yanks make? Who would be the players on both sides?
TK-No idea. Maybe Michael Kay for Vin Scully? One Fordham guy for another.
Thanks again to Tyler Kepner!
For $20mm you can buy a nice collection of pitchers.
I say they should go out and offer contracts to Victor Zambrano, Eric Milton, Mark Mulder, Mark Prior, Jason Jennings, Kris Benson, and Bartolo Colon. These guys aren't great, but they all could be good investments. I say get 4 of them. Pitching is everything, and if one of these guys can perform to his full potential than it's a worthwhile investment. When the trading deadline comes around pitching is gold and they can flip someone of younger prospects if they are out of the running.
The Nats also should try to get some pitching via trade. They have Lastings Milledge, Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, Wily Mo Pena, and Josh Willingham all out in the outfield. Trade at least one them and get some pitching. Those guys aren't going to get you a Jake Peavy kind of guy, but maybe they could pick up an experienced veteran reliever that might give the young guys some guidance.
The Nats should try to sign one of Brandon Lyon, Trevor Hoffman, and Takashi Saito. A veteran closer type on the cheap is a great investment. Having someone they can hand the ball to, and be confident in, is a valuable thing. If you want proof, think Mariano Rivera. Joel Hanrahan is not the answer at closer and the Nats should know that. Personally, I think it would be a cool idea for them to sign El Duque(former Yankee Orlando Hernandez) to close for them. He says he wants to be a big league closer this year, and they could give him that opportunity.
Washington's lucky that they have the 1st pick in next year's draft. Stephen Strasburg is going to be a successful major league pitcher, most likely a perennial all-star. He needs to be signed. None of this crap where you give up on signing a top draft pick because of a matter of less than a million dollars like they did with Aaron Crow.
Pitching wins baseball games. That's the truth. You can win with a crappy offense, but you can't win with crappy pitching. That should be Jim Bowden's main focus. But I understand that pitchers aren't the marketing tools that hitters are, so if they want to focus on position players, then the plan should consist of signing Sean Casey, signing David Eckstein, and signing Ivan Rodriguez. Look, these guys aren't the best available, but here's why they'd be a smart investment. Casey is up there on the list of baseball good guys, right next to Sabathia and David Ortiz. He's a guy that will be a great role model for the young guys on the team and could emerge as a team leader while putting up league average offense. Eckstein is a hard worker who has won two World Series rings (02 Angels, 06 Cardinals). He's a guy that gives it all every game and he's another guy that will be a great influence on the young guys. Pudge is a former superstar. He's a future hall of famer and he can still hit and play defense. Having a guy like Pudge catching the Nationals' no-name pitching staff would be reall valuable. Guys like Pudge that can call a game the way he does, and have his pitchers trust him the way they do, help a team succeed immensely. I hate Jason Varitek a lot and I think he is way overrated, but the reason the Sox and their pitchers have been successful in years past is that his staff trusts him completely. Even though he was practically an automatic out for the Sox this year, his ability as a catcher has been an integral part of the team since he joined the team full-time in 1998. And having a year or two of Pudge doing that for the Nats could have the same kind of impact that Varitek has had on the Sox. You might say, well then why not just sign Varitek? Because he's going to be more expensive.
Those are my thoughts. How would you spend the Nats' money? Let's hear it in the comments.
The Dodgers' Andruw Jones had his contract restructured. This is a precursor to him being traded or released by Spring Training. I know a bunch of you are going to say we should take a flier on him. I'm not necessarily opposed to that, but when you look at Jones' stats he just isn't someone I really want on my team. He's only hit over .280 once in his career (in 2000). And his OBP has never hit .370. The guy has (or had) power there's no debate about that. he played good defense too. However, he's an older(32 in April) not particularly more effective option in center than the Melkman and Gardner. Sure, if the Dodgers release him and we can get him on a minor league contract for 1 year and $500,000 then there's no reason not to, but I don't think there is a big chance that that opportunity will present itself.
Rumor from Roch Kubatko that the O's and White Sox are exploring a Brian Roberts-Gavin Floyd swap. That would be a great deal for the O's. It could help the ChiSox, but trading young pitching for a second baseman in his walk year is questionable.
Jeff Moorad, CEO of the D-Backs, resigned. He might try to buy the Padres. That could end their firesale, depending on how soon a sale happens to Moorad or anyone else. I think it would be smart of Moorad to wait out the firesale. He'd enter an organization stacked with young talent. the team could only get better, and he could have Kevin Towers spend the extra cash in the next two offseasons so he'd seem like a guy that comes in and turns the team around. Also, a team that has sold off all of it's veterans is worth less than a team that hasn't, so he'd get the team at a lower price. Just my thoughts.
Seems like the Cubs will have Milton Bradley in right field for them next year. Yes, the team that has stressed that defense is a major concern for them want to sign a guy who DH'd all year to be their right fielder. They want a guy who has only played in more than 140 games once in his entire career to man right field in front of the brick wall at Wrigley for the next 3 years. The Nats have interest, but can we please not hurt that franchise like this.
Former Yank Scott Proctor is going to sign with the Marlins. Scott was a solid Yankee and I hope he does well down in Miami.
The Yanks are having a clinic in Taiwan. Great idea by the Yanks. I talked about the importance of having strong holds in Taiwan the other day.
PeteAbe listed the things that bug him. I agree with him that Joba should, and will, be a starter next year and that there should be no debate on that. I agree that the Yanks shouldn't even look into signing Manny Ramirez. I agree that giving up on guys like Cano, Hughes, and Kennedy this early is a bad idea and just shows impatience. I agree that the Yanks shouldn't trade Godzilla now(I want to trade Nady). But I can't agree with him saying that people shouldn't overthink things. Look Pete, overthinking is how baseball is won. The Rays won the AL pennant a non-conventional closer-less bullpen. The A's won by using Billy Beane's Moneyball methods. Baseball is completely about overthinking. The best way to get an edge is by doing something that other people wouldn't consider. The Yankees are a baseball team and that means every player should do what the organization wants them to do. You can try to categorize ballplayers all you want by position, or lineup spot, but in the end they are paid to be Yankees, and that means doing what is best for the team. You take the players you are given and try to put the most effective team out on the field, whether it is what other people would think is the most effective or not.
And the new MLB Network is officially the greatest channel ever. I watched parts of Don Larsen's perfect game and it was so cool to see the legendary players of the Yanks and Dodgers actually playing ball. The Hot Stove show is great. Barry Larkin is one of my favorite ballplayers/baseball people and he's fun to listen to, as is Al Leiter. Harold Reynolds has always been a great broadcaster and it's great to see him on TV again. Jon Heyman's one of the Insiders. He's got a lot of sources, but it seems to me that despite all his connections, he just isn't that smart. That sounds harsh I know, but if you read RAB's post on him you understand what I'm saying. I like that he thinks outside the box, but sometimes that outside the box thinking is a tad ridiculous. He's still better than some writers though...like oh, say Dayn "Worst Sportswriter Ever" Perry.