As managers trot out one prospect after another, and painstakingly
analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly of their prospective teams,
fans anxiously tap their collective feet, counting down the days until
the regular season kicks off. The long and dreary days of spring
training can be just as monotonous for fans as it is for veteran
players practicing the “wheel” play or hitting the cut off man for the
umpteenth time. So, whenever there’s a chance to break up the toil with
some fun, or manufactured excitement, players and fans alike get a
Giddy is exactly how many baseball fans felt today when the Yankees
squared off against the Pirates in what would normally be just another
Grapefruit league game. What made this game different was a small
lifelong Yankee fan wearing the # 60 in honor of his 60th birthday.
Leading off for the Bronx Bombers was none other than comedian Billy Crystal,
or the Yankees “Designated Hebrew” (DH) as he likes to call himself. It
was a perfect moment of levity and anticipation that makes these
ultra-long days of spring barely bearable for the baseball fan.
To his credit, Crystal actually got ahead in the count, 3-1, against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm.
He even hit a foul chopper down the first base line. But then Maholm,
making sure not to be the butt of jokes for the rest of spring
training, bared down. He threw two 88 mph fastballs, that the 60 year
old comic swung over, “strike three, yer out!”. The fans rose to give
him a standing ovation, while Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez
retrieved the ball as one more birthday gift, a gift this life-long
Yankee fan will probably hold as dear as any of his many entertainment
While this moment might not ever be as memorably odd as 3 ft. 7 in. Eddie Gaedel stepping in the batters box for the St. Louis Browns; or Grandstand Manager’s Day, where thousands of fans got to manage the St. Louis Browns for a game through raised placards; or the White Sox’ infamous Disco Demolition Night, legendary major league baseball team owner Bill Veeck (the greatest baseball promoter of all-time) would have been proud.
Bill Veeck Would Have Needed Weight Watchers
On the opposite spectrum of odd promotions, the Pittsburgh Pirates have
announced that they will designate certain seating sections this
season, “All You Can Eat”
sections. So, as Pirate fans gear up to endure a record tying 16th
straight losing season, they can anesthetize themselves on all the hot
dogs, hamburgers, nachos, or ice cream that they want. And if you’re
health conscious, don’t worry, you can even chow down an unlimited
amount of Salad. Ugh!
***Below are You Tube links for anyone who missed Billy Crystal’s Yankee AB:
Exclusive Interview w/ NY Post Writer Joel Sherman at 12:00 PM Sunday!
If you want to start out your Super Bowl Sunday the right way, join us
at 12:00 PM (2/3/08) on BASEBALL TALK Radio with your hosts Carl the
Cabbie & Dugout Joe. Our guest will be acclaimed author, journalist
and the NY Post’s baseball writer, Joel Sherman.
Joel became the Post’s New York Yankees’ beat writer in 1989 and has
been a columnist with the Post since 1996. He is the author of “Birth of a Dynasty”,
the ultimate retrospective on the 1996 Yankees and the beginning of the
Yankees’ latest great run that began in the mid-1990’s. If you have a
question for Joel or want to discuss anything baseball, call in between
12:30-1:00 PM at 646-478-4570. We promise you’ll get on!
If you want to listen live, or even if you wake up too late and miss
the live interview, you can always hear it any time you like by
clicking on the link below:
(Click Above To Listen)
The routine mantra of most GMs is, “never give a starting pitcher more than a five year deal”. The thinking being that the proclivity for injury in that time span is just too high. But, if there’s one exception to that rule, it is probably Johan Santana– the best pitcher in baseball.
SI.com and FoxSports.com have just confirmed a deal between the Twins and Mets for Johan Santana. The Mets now have a 72-hour window to come to terms with Santana on a contract extension. It’s believed that the Mets would like to sign the left handed 28-year old pitcher to a five-year deal, while Santana is seeking a six or seven year deal. If you consider that Barry Zito, who is ten months older than Santana, received a seven year deal from the Giants last season, Santana is almost a lock to receive the same length of contract. It is also highly unlikely that the Mets would agree to this deal if they weren’t willing to meet Santana’s contract demands.
While the nuts and bolts are being fastened, Mets’ fans should expect to pop the champagne cork by this Friday at the latest. While the names of the players going from the Mets to the Twins hasn’t been confirmed, USA Today is reporting that the quartet heading to Minnesota will be, OF Carlos Gomez, SP Deolis Guerra, SP Kevin Mulvey, and SP Philip Humber. Jon Heyman of SI.com mentions that there has been talk of substituting swing pitcher Jorge Sosa for Humber, and there have been rumors that the the Mets’ top prospect, OF Fernando Martinez could still replace Gomez. However,giving more clout to the USA Today report is the news that the Mets did call Gomez back to the states the other day even though his winter ball team was in the midst of the Caribbean World Series.
If the Mets indeed have dealt Guerra, Gomez, Mulvey, and Humber and we were to use the Baseball America’s 2008 Top Prospects list as a barometer, then the Mets would be dealing their # 2 (Guerra), # 3 (Gomez), # 4 (Mulvey), and # 7 (Humber) prospects for the right to sign the best pitcher in baseball to a deal that should be the richest contract ever signed by a pitcher. The contract will probably end up looking something like 7-years/$150 Million.
Once the deal is finalized, the Mets will enter the 2008 season with a rotation that will be hard for the rest of the AL East to compete with:
# 1- Johan Santana
# 2- Pedro Martinez
# 3- John Maine
# 4- Oliver Perez
# 5- Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez
So, rejoice Mets’ fans, it’s almost time to celebrate. Get ready to don your # 57 jerseys, break out your “You Gotta Believe” signs, the Mets just got a WHOLE lot better, and Santana-Mania is about to hit the Big Apple!
Carl the Cabbie
How much is an all-star RHSP, a solid switch-hitting corner OF, and a
gimpy CF who is on the better side of thirty worth in today’s market.
Well, if you consider wunderkind GM Billy Beane the Alan Greenspan
of baseball, the answer is 11 prospects. To be more accurate, that
would add up to 3 Gold Star prospects, 3 Blue Chip prospects, 3 Above
Average prospects, and 2 Average prospects.
In the space of one month, Billy the bean counter has not only
rebuilt the A’s farm system with legitimate prospects, he has acquired
one of the toughest things to acquire in baseball—lefthanded starting
pitching. Of the 11 players acquired in these three deft deals, 4 of
them are LHSP, 2 of which are Gold Star, top of the line prospects.
Breakdown of Trades
Dan Haren Deal
Twins GM Bill Smith might want to study this deal when negotiating
the bounty he is seeking in return for Johan Santana. If we simply go
by Baseball America’s 2008 Top Prospects list, Beane traded his ace pitcher for the Diamondbacks’ # 1 (outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez), #3 (left handed starting pitcher, Brett Anderson), # 7 (outfielder, Aaron Cunningham), and # 8 (first baseman, Chris Carter) prospects, plus two average left handed starting pitcher prospects (Greg Smith and Dana Eveland).
way to look at it is that Beane traded an all-star RHSP, who has three
financially controllable years left on his contract before he hits
free-agency, for what will likely be the A’s starting RF in 2009
(Gonzalez); a LHSP (Anderson) that should be a member of the A’s
rotation by 2010; their possible fourth OF (Cunningham) by 2009; their
possible 1B or DH (Carter) by 2010; and two LH pitchers (Smith and
Eveland) who could compete in 2008 either as back-end starters or long
This trade by Beane is another feather in his cap when you consider
that by the time the A’s are good again, Haren will be a free-agent, a
free-agent that the A’s would never have been able to afford.
Nick Swisher Deal
This deal might end up even better for the A’s than the Haren deal.
While Swisher is a solid, young switch-hitting OF/1B with good power,
what the A’s received fromm the White Sox for him is astonishing. In a
three-for-one steal, the A’s received the White Sox’ three
top-prospects. Though this trade occurred before Baseball America’s
2008 Top Prospect compilation, OF Ryan Sweeney (Baseball America’s # 1 White Sox prospect in 2007), LHSP Gio Gonzalez, and RHSP Fautino De Los Santos almost assuredly would have topped the list.
Gonzalez (the Sox’ 2004 # 1 pick) might be ready to contribute as soon
as 2008. After having been dealt to the Phillies for Jim Thome in 2005,
he was traded back to the Sox for Freddy Garcia in 2007. Only 21 years
of age, Gio dominated the Southern league last year in his second
season at Double-A. If he continues to improve, he should join fellow southpaw Brett
Anderson in the A’s rotation by 2009.
While almost every scout who has seen them agrees that Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los
Santos were the White Sox’ top two pitching prospects, some feel De Los
Santos could be even better than Gonzalez. De Los Santos dominated
A-ball opponents in 2007 and though not as experienced as Gonzalez,
many scouts feel he could arrive in the majors in a hurry, possibly as
a member of the A’s rotation in 2009.
The caveat to this trade could be OF Ryan Sweeney. The left handed
hitting 23-year old could end up being a better overall player than
Swisher, albeit less power. In 2007 Sweeney probably possessed the best
throwing arm in the entire White Sox system, and is a far superior
defensive outfielder to Swisher. In his last two seasons in the
minors, he finally started to show some power and because of his short
compact swing, his .289 career minor league average should translate
well in the majors. Sweeney has a good chance at being the A’s fourth
outfielder in 2008 and could contend for the starting CF or LF job in
Mark Kotsay Deal
At the rate Billy Beane is going, he could pass Ricky Henderson on the
all-time “steals” list sometime soon. After letting Andruw Jones walk,
the Braves needed a CF so badly that they decided to part with their
2005 # 1 pick, relief pitcher Joey Devine,
for a 32-year old left fielder whose best days are behind him. Just to
make sure the trade was lopsided enough, the Braves threw in A-ball
prospect, RHP Jamie Richmond.
Kotsay’s bum back has been so bad the past two years that he’s missed a
total of 139 games in that span. Besides grabbing a young power
throwing right handed reliever who could turn out to be the perfect
set-up man to Houston Street, Beane saves a nice chunk of change,
$3-million, for the 2008 season.
While Devine struggled with his confidence through a rough 2006, he
was absolutely dazzling in 2007 in Double and Triple-A. Don’t be
surprised if the 24-year old Devine ends up as one of the best set-up
men in the AL when 2008 is all said and done.
By the time 2010 or 2011 rolls around, when Dan Haren is looking for
the highest bidder on the free-agent market, and Nick Swisher is
spittng sunflower seeds on the bench as the White Sox DH, and Mark
Kotsay is looking into his first coaching job, the A’s should be ready
to contend again.
With probable deals for Joe Blanton and Eric Chavez on the way, the
A’s farm system will be bulging with top prospects. In three years, if
things work out for Beane and his scouts, the A’s could be the giant
once again looking down at the rest of the AL West. And we can all look
back at the winter of 2007-2008, and say that was the year Billy the bean counter
built a new beanstalk.
Amount Billy The Bean Counter Saved A’s For 2008
Mark Kotsay- $3-Million (A’s pick up $5-million of his salary)
Dan Haren- $4-Million
Nick Swisher- $3.5-Million
*Subtract approximately $2-Million for the 11 prospects
Approximate Total Savings For 2008- $8.5-Million
If you want to listen to an insightful round table discussion about the Mitchell Report with three baseball pundits, join BASEBALL TALK w/Carl the Cabbie & Dugout Joe. Click below to listen:
The Astros signed Kaz Matsui, the best 2B on the market. The Halos shocked the monkey when they landed good guy Tori Hunter, the best CF on the market. The Tigers never even let Pudge Rodrigueztest the waters, taking the best catcher off the market. The Red Sox
gave the rest of the league about a week before re-signing Mike Lowell,
the best 3B on the market. Are you getting the drift? 2008 is shaping
into the weakest free agent market since the days when the likes of Steve Kemp and Ed Whitson ruled the roost.
It’s so bad this year that even the few good relievers out there
have almost completely disappeared. Heck, as a fan you know it’s bad
when you find yourself kicking the kitchen table because your team
missed out on signing a 38-year old middle reliever who has barely
pitched half a season over the last three years. That’s exactly what I
did when I heard the Tampa Rays gave Troy Percival a two year/$8 million deal.
Thankfully, for some teams they had the foresight to look to the Far
East to bail them out of this bear market. While this latest class of
Japanese ballplayers might not include a Daisuke Matsuzaka or Ichiro Suzuki,
they do offer their new clubs solid resumes at a decent value. As for
the teams that missed out on the Seven Samurai, it might be time to
start drooling over Carlos Silva and calculating how many Silva
dollars to throw his way. Here now is a look at the five Samurai that
will be joining the majors in 2008.
Scouting The Seven Samurai
OF Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs)–
The 30-year old Fukudome is the top talent in this year’s Japanese free
agent class. While the Padres and White Sox were in on the bidding, the
Cubs, desperate for a lefthanded bat, won out. They will reportedly
give him $48-million over 4 years to be there new right fielder.
Many scouts project Fukudome to to put up similar production to Hideki Matsui, but with less power. Over his nine year career for the Chunichi Dragons, Fukudome had a .305 career average, a .397 OBP and a .543 SLG. In 2006 he was the Central League batting champ with a .351 average. While Fukudome averaged 21
home runs a season for Chunichi, Japanese hitters traditionally lose
power when they come to the majors because of the bigger stadiums.
As long as Fukudome can handle the NL left handers he will be the
Cubs’ starting right fielder and probably bat sixth in the lineup. If
he should struggle against southpaws, he’ll probably end up in a
platoon with right handed hitting Matt Murton. There’s always the possibility that he could play some center field also if youngster Felix Pie is still not ready, though he’d be a below average man in the middle.
.290 Avg. 18 HR 90 RBI
At His Best At His Worst
JD Drew Luke Scott
SP Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers)–
The Dodgers have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to
scouting the Far East. When they signed Hideo Nomo to pitch for them in
1995, *Nomo became the first Japanese citizen to pitch in the major
leagues. Nomo and his tornado windup were an instant success. Since
then La La Palooza has been hit and miss in the forays into the
Japanese market. In 2002 they signed left handed pitcher Kaz Ishii. He
pitched three mediocre years for them before a brief stop at Shea on
his way back to Japan. In 2006 the Dodgers hit the jackpot again though
when they signed Japanese reliever Takashi Saito. Saito has turned out
to be one of the best closers in the NL over the past two seasons.
In 2008 they will be trying to hit the lottery again. The right handed
Kuroda has reportedly agreed to a contract that could be worth
$30-million upwards for 3 years. Kuroda passed on similar deals from
the Mariners and Diamondbacks for the right to pitch at pitcher
friendly Chavez Ravine.
The 32-year old Kuroda has a 103-89 record in 11 seasons for the
Hiroshima Carp of the Central League. Like Fukudome, his best season
was in 2006 when he went 13-6 with a 1.85 ERA in a 189.1 IP. Fukudome’s
career ERA is 3.69. While Kuroda is not an overpowering pitcher like
Dice-K, he possesses great control- 42 BB in 179.2 IP in 2007 and 21 BB
in 189.1 IP in 2006. He throws in the low-90’s and like most Japanese
starters has at least four pitches in his arsenal. Along with his
fastball, he relies on a forkball, a slider, and a screwball. Scouts
project him as a middle of the rotation guy who should net production
somewhere between a Brian Bannister and a Joe Blanton. The Dodgers plan
on slotting him in as their fourth or fifth starter (depending on the
health of Jason Schmidt).
14 Wins 3.80 ERA 190 IP
At His Best At His Worst
Joe Blanton Jeff Suppan
RP Masahide Kobayashi (Indians)– In this day and age of
specialization, the bullpen has become more important than ever before.
Almost every team seems to be on the look out for some relief pitching.
The Angels were the first to discover the boon that Japanese relievers
offered to MLB bullpens, when they signed Shigetoshi Hasegawa in 1997.
But, it wasn’t until the new millennium that teams really started to
dabble in the Japanese bullpen market. While there were some misses,
the payoff from the hits was significant enough to continue the
investment.The Mariners struck gold with dominating closer Kazuhiro
Sasaki in 2000. The Padres hit pay dirt with Akinori Otsuka in 2004.
When the Dodgers signed Takashi Saito in 2006, they got maybe the best
closer in the NL. And then last season when everyone was guffawing over
Dice-K and Kei Igawa, the Red Sox quietly brought in one of the best
left handed relievers in baseball when they signed Hideki Okajima.
This year the benefactors of the Japanese bullpen market could very
well be the Cleveland Indians. When the Tribe signed the right handed
33-year old closer of Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines to a very
reasonable 2-year/$6.25 million contract, it marked the first time the
Indians have signed a Japanese ballplayer. As one of only three
relievers to ever save at least 200 games (227) Kobayashi is one of the
best closers in the history of Japanese baseball. He is the only
Japanese pitcher to ever record seven straight seasons of at least 20
His arsenal is made up of three pitches. He throws two fastballs in
the low 90’s and likes to use his two-seamer to get right handers out.
But, his best pitch, his out pitch, is a hard slider that he can throw
for strikes with precision. In 2007 he had 27 saves and a 3.61 ERA,
though his lifetime ERA is much lower (2.79). The Indians will most
likely use him as a co-setup man with Rafael Betancourt. But, if Joe
Borowski should struggle, don’t be surprised if Kobayashi turns out to
be the one putting the Ki-Bosh on lineups in the ninth inning.
6 Wins 2.60 ERA 1.25 WHIP
At His Best At His Worst
Scott Shields Luis Vizcaino
RP Yasuhiko Yabuta (Mariners)– If the Indians don’t turn out to
be the greatest benefactor of the 2008 Japanese market, then the Royals
might very well be. The right handed 34-year old Yabuta was Kobayashi’s
set-up man on Valentines’s Chiba Lotte club. The Royals gave him a
similar deal to Kobayashi. 2-years/$6 million. Some of you might
remember him for his great run in the 2006 World Baseball Classic
(WBC). In a tie game against the U.S. he struck out Alex Rodriguez to
end the seventh-inning. In the eighth he got Chipper Jones on a weak
grounder before striking out Johnny Damon and Derek Lee. Royals’ new
manager Trey Hillman will certainly remember Yabuta as his Hokkaido
Nippon Ham Fighters regularly faced Chiba Lotte in the Japanese Pacific
Yabuta was Bobby Valentine’s favorite setup man, and was named the
Pacific League’s best middle reliever after going 4-6 with 4 saves, a
2.73 ERA, and 1.18 WHIP in 62.2 IP. Since converting to the bullpen in
2004, he has a 2.80 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 250.2 IP.
In the tradition of many Japanese pitchers, Yabuta has a very
deceptive delivery and throws a tank-load of pitches. He hits between
88-92 mph on the gun and also throws a change-up, a slider, and likes
to use a split-fingered fastball on left handed hitters. He will most
likely replace David Riske as the Royals main setup man.
5 Wins 2.75 ERA 1.20 WHIP
At His Best At Worst
Chad Qualls Matt Wise
RP Kazuo Fukumori (Rangers)– At 31-years old, Fukumori is younger
than both Kobayashi and Yabuta, but he’s also the biggest question
mark. He has been the closer for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of
the Pacific League for the past three seasons. In 2005 when he saved 11
games with a 3.57 ERA, Fukumori’s skill level seemed to be ratcheting
upward. In 2006 he had his best season to date when he saved a career
high 21 games while posting a dominant 2.17 ERA. But, last year
Fukumori’s suspect control did him in and he ended with a 4.75 ERA and
only 17 saves before his season was curtailed by bone chips in his
If latest reports are true, then the Rangers aren’t gambling too
much on Fukumori, offering him a 2-year deal worth around $3 million.
Fukumori doesn’t throw especially hard (88-90 mph range), but does have
a funky delivery and a pretty good split-fingered fastball. He will
slot in somewhere at the back-end of the Rangers’ bullpen and possibly
become their sixth or seventh inning guy.
4 Wins 4.25 ERA 1.40 WHIP
At His Best At His Worst
Jason Frasor Jason Grilli
OF Kazuhiro Wada (Free Agent)– The biggest problem for Wada in
his search for a MLB team is his age. Wada will be 36-years old next
summer and it’s highly doubtful anyone will sign him. But if they did,
they would get a .317 career hitter who in 2005 won the first Pacific
League batting title (.320) by a right handed hitter since 1993. Wada
was a member of the Japanese team in the 2006 WBC and is a former
teammate of Kaz Matsui. He has hit over 30 HR three times and hit .315
last season for the Seibu Lions. He would probably make a very good
fourth outfielder/pinch-hitter for a year or two.
.300 Avg. 5 HR 30 RBI
At His Best At His Worst
So Taguchi Jason Lane
RP Kazuhisa Ishii (Free Agent)– Remember him Dodger fans. Ishii
pitched three season with LA before spending a year with the Mets on
his way back to Japan. Overall, he turned out to be a fairly effective
left handed starter albeit a wild one. In his four year MLB career he
was 39-34 with 4.44 ERA, a 1.53 WHIP and almost as many walks as
Since 2006, Ishii has been pitching for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of
the Central League. He’s still Only 34-years old and coming off a 2007
campaign where he had his best BB/IP ratio ever (2.65 BB/9 IP). Okay,
so he’ll never be Greg Maddux, but with the dearth of good left handers
in the majors, somebody might just want to give Ishii another chance.
12-10 4.50 ERA 160 IP
At His Best At His Worst
Oliver Perez Kaz Ishii
want to be a star during your water cooler conversations at the office, a good way to remember all these new Japanese names is to tune in to
the 11/25 installment of our radio show, BASEBALL TALK w/Carl the
Cabbie & Dugout Joe.
Enjoy the rhythmic rendition of the special Japanese free agent song,
sung by none other than Carl the Cabbie. To listen click below and
then press play on the 11/25 show.
And remember, BASEBALL TALK is on the air every Sunday at 12 Noon :
* While Hideo Nomo was the first Japanese citizen to play in the major leagues (1995), pitcher Masanori Murakami
was the first Japanese born player to play in the major leagues.
Murakami, who shares the same birthday as Carl the Cabbie (May 6th)
pitched for the San Francisco Giants from 1964-65.
Grab your coffee Met-lo-maniacs! Here is the quick & dirty guide to making the 2008 edition of the Mets better. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy my Cabbie three-course meal, specifically prepared for your Mets’ 2008 dining pleasure.
Both Paul Lo Duca & Ramon Castro are free agents, so the Mets need a catcher. Sure the easy thing to do would be to re-sign both guys and maintain the status quo. This would be fine if there was nothing better out there. And if your looking for something better in the free agent pool you certainly won’t find it, unless your fond of a guy who likes to punch out his pitchers (Michael Barrett), or you honestly think that Jorge Posada will jump ship (Not!). No, to find the pearl, sometimes you have to go diving.
My first Cabbie tip for Omar Minaya is for him to use some of those free weekend cell minutes he’s been saving up to say "Hey" to Bill Bavasi in Seattle. Start with a little schmooze, "Hey Bill it’s Omar, how’s it going?… How is old Buzzie doing?… Yeah, I’m sure he misses Montreal as much as I do. Wish ’em my best huh!… Listen, I heard you might be looking for a young starter and maybe some fresh guns to help Putz out in the pen. And with the success you guys have had with that Johjima kid at catcher, I was wondering if you’d figured out what you were going to do with Jeff Clement yet?…" Yada, yada, yada. You get the drift.
So, let’s assume Bill decides to play ball. The Mets get their catcher of the future, a young power hitting lefty. A guy who might only be average defensively, but has the potential to hit a good 30-35 home runs a year with a .280 average. Think the next Todd Hundley. The only question now is, what’s the final fare? Hmmm, well considering the guy was the # 3 pick in the 2005 draft and he plays a high-need position, you’re not gonna just get him for some sandwich meat. But, I’ll bet a young set-up guy with plenty of arbitration eligible years left, plus a former 1st round starter could do it.
Mets get C Jeff Clement
Mariners get RP Aaron Heilman and SP Philip Humber
What do the Mets need more than anything else? How about a couple of RELIABLE relievers. Yes, yes. But, let’s be more specific. Well, it seems that the only good relievers we do have, pitch from the left side. And if we trade Heilman, we’ll need at least two good right handed relievers. Some might say we even need three, but I’m an optimist. I’m going to count on either Duaner Sanchez or Ambiorix Burgos staying healthy next year. However, since I’m no longer an idealist, forget about Guillermo Mota or Joe Smith being anything more than extra-inning fodder.
What to do? Ah, I got it! Terry Ryan just left for the president’s lounge. That means new GM Bill Smith is probably chomping at the bit to make his mark in Minnesota. Omar, call Bill immediately! He’ll probably just be impressed that you know his number. Since he’s been in their organization forever, I’m sure you’ve run into him at a GM meeting or a Rule 5 draft. So, start out like he’s your long lost buddy, "Hey Billy boy how’s it goin’? Congrats on the job, no one deserved it more than you! Hey listen, I know Pohlad’s accountant must be driving you crazy. My hat goes off to you. Figuring out how to keep Johan and Morneau is hard enough, let alone dealing with Joe Nathan and maybe losing Tori this year. But, that’s why I’m calling Bill. I think I can help." Yada, yada, yada.
Now, before you get ahead of yourselves Met-lo-maniacs, I’m not even dreaming of trying to trade for Johan Santana. Remember, I’m not an idealist anymore. No, we want Joe Nathan, the perfect right handed compliment to Billy Wagner in our pen. And I think I know just how to get him. When Tori Hunter officially leaves, the Twins will have a gaping hole in center. Perfect! We can offer them either Carlos Gomez or Fernando Martinez, two of the best CF prospects in the game. As the old adage goes, ‘you can never have enough pitching’, so we toss them a 6′ 10" 2nd round lefty stud from last year’s draft and WHALLA Nathan is a our new set-up man.
Mets get RP Joe Nathan
Twins get CF Carlos Gomez and SP Scott Moviel
This one is simple. It’s just about cost and risk. With Nathan aboard we have a dominant set-up guy, but we still need a solid seventh inning guy. Now, before you all jump on me about his injury history, I want to point out five reasons the Mets should sign RP Kerry Wood.
1. He’s still only 30 years old
2. He’s an incredibly dedicated and hard worker
3. He had a 3.33 ERA with 24 K’s in 24 IP after his long awaited return
4. He was clocked at 98 mph by the end of the season
5. He would cost you less than what you pay Guillermo Mota
Let’s recap. After this fine Cabbie dining delight, the Mets end up with Jeff Clement as their new catcher, and Joe Nathan and Kerry Wood as their new right handed set-up men. And all this can be ours Met-lo-maniacs for the modest fare of outfielder Carlos Gomez, and pitchers Aaron Heilman, Philip Humber, and Scott Moviel (2007 2nd round pick).
Now Go Chew On That!
If the last three days of secret meetings in Tampa were part of the movie, "The Godfather", Don Corleone would have kissed Joe Torre
on both cheeks, told him he was forever a part of the family, and then
given him an offer he couldn’t refuse. But, Don Corleone isn’t the boss
of the Yankees, and while these meetings were very much about family,
that family is not the Corleones. In the real life story, the name of
the family is Steinbrenner, and in their universe all good things must
come to an end. So, yesterday they gave Joe Torre an offer he had to
For the first time in 12 years, someone other than Torre will be
filling out the New York Yankees’ lineup card. The expectation is that
HGH (Hank, George, and Hal) will name Torre’s bench coach and Yankees’
legend Don Mattingly as the new manager of the New York Yankees. The announcement could come as early as tomorrow.
Why Joe Had To Say, "NO!"
What Joe Torre wanted was simple. He wanted at least two more
guaranteed years, so he could have the honor of managing the Yankees
when the new stadium opens in 2009. After 12 seasons at the helm for the Bombers, and with 12 postseason appearances, 6 World Series appearances, and
4 championship rings, he felt he had earned that right. But, the
Steinbrenners felt differently. The contract they offered to Torre was
a one-year make good deal for $5 million with incentives that would
make the deal worth $8 million should the Yankees reach the World
Series. Torre would have the option of coming back in 2009 if he
reached all the incentives.
In other words, Torre would have to take a pay cut (from $7.5
million) unless he succeeded in the postseason, and since there would
be no guarantee he would manage in 2009, he would have to manage in 2008
with the honorable title of "lame duck".
Yankees Offer To Motivate Joe — Cabbie’s Rant!
Yankees’ president Randy Levine said that all the members of the Yankees’ brass were "unanimous" in their desire to bring Joe Torre back as manager. Later, he called the Yankees’ offer to Torre "extremely fair". EXTREMELY FAIR! This is the type of statement a lawyer makes during a
divorce settlement, not in a unanimous decision to extend the tenure of
possibly the most successful manager in Yankees’ history.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Levine used a more expanded rationale for
the Yankees’ incentive laden one-year offer when he said, "We
thought that we need to go to a performance-based model, having nothing
to do with Joe Torre’s character, integrity, or ability. We just think
it’s important to motivate people." Telling Joe Torre he
has to reach the World Series in order to keep his job is not
motivation, it’s pure idiocy. Do they really think Joe would try less
hard if he had been guaranteed 2009? If they do, then that is a direct
knock on his character, integrity and ability.
Here’s an idea for Levine and the Steinbrenners- if the Yankees’ brass really believes they "need to go to a performance-based model",
how about trying that in the upcoming A-Rod negotiations. Offer him a
one-year extension to his already existing contract. Give him another
$27 million and then tell him they’ll extend him year-to-year, adding a
couple of million should the Yankees reach the World Series. Try it
with Posada too. "Hey Jorge, here’s a one-year deal for $12 million.
We’ll extend you again next year if we win it all." See how fast you
lose all your free agents. See how long it takes the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays to pass your *ss in the standings. See how long it takes before
the crosstown Mets and their new manager in 2009, Joe Torre, take over
the back pages (I hope you’re listening Omar Minaya).
It is a tad ironic that the latest trademark of Yankees’ success, Joe Torre, was let go on the same date, October 18th, that George Steinbrenner
brought the glory back to the Bronx 30 years ago (1977) – when the
Yankees won their first World Series in 15 years. The mantle has now
been passed and hopefully for Hank and Hal, as the new Steinbrenner era
gets under way sans George, it won’t be that long before the Yankees
win another one.
Carl the Cabbie
Statistics, statistics, statistics! Charting patterns, amassing totals,
calculating ratios… statistics are read, studied and followed by
fans, players, coaches, everyone who has anything to do with the game
itself. They are the window we look through to rate the level of success or
failure of the players and teams we love and hate.
In the best light, statistics can help create the story-lines that
entrance fans all year long, they can help coaches and managers
strategize, they give the announcers and writers themes to opine about
in between pitches and games, they help create an historical context, a
way for us to compare and contrast. In the worst light, statistics can
distort, distract, mislead and sometimes just be plain esoteric.
But, regardless of how one views the numbers one is looking at,
statistics are and will always be an important fabric in the game of
baseball. So, as we settle into the post-season, let’s take a look
inside some numbers. Some might give us good insight on what kind of
performances to expect, and some might be just anomalies that explain
nothing more than just how quirky a game baseball can be.
Inside The Numbers
about parody! For the first time since baseball divvied up the two
leagues (MLB in 1969 went to 4 divisions, and in 1994 went to 6
divisions), a team from each division has won a World Series in
consecutive years. In other words six champions in six years, all
representing a different division.
2001– Diamondbacks (NL West)
2002– Los Angeles Angels (AL West)
2003– Florida Marlins (NL East)
2004– Boston Red Sox (AL East)
2005– Chicago White Sox (AL Central)
2006– St. Louis Cardinals (NL Central)
Until the Diamondbacks this year, 1906 is the last year in which a team
had the best record in their league while posting the worst batting
average. The Chicago White Sox of 1906 were known as the "Hitless Wonders". And for good reason, they hit .230 as a team and didn’t have one regular hit higher than .279. The D’Backs hit .250
as a team this year. But don”t fret too much D’Back fans, even with
their low average the 1906 ChiSox and their vaunted pitching staff
would go on tho beat the Cubbies in six games on their way to win the
third ever World Series.
100– This is how many runs Daisuke Matsuzaka
of the Boston Red Sox gave up this year. Now I want you to guess how
many of those runs were UR (unearned runs). If you guessed ZERO,
It was only the fourth time in the history of baseball that a pitcher has given up at least 100 runs and all of them were ER (earned runs).
**** Ruthven of the Atlanta Braves was the first to accomplish this feat in 1976 (112 R, 112 ER). In 1990, Frank Tanana of the Detroit Tigers became the second man to do it (104 R, 104 ER). But, it was righthander Joel Pineiro in 2005, then pitching for the Seattle Mariners, who gave up the most runs without any of them being unearned (118 R, 118 ER). Dice-K became the fourth member of this group (100 R, 100 ER) on the second to last day of the 2007 season when he gave up 2 runs in a victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The main reason this esoteric accomplishment has been so rare,
especially since the 1940’s, is that teams are much better at fielding
than they were in the past. While a .975 Fielding Percentage
(FPCT.) will get you in the bottom of the league nowadays, that same
FPCT. would have been a top the leader board 60 or 70 years ago. And
thankfully Dice-K wasn’t pitching pre-1920 when a third of all runs
scored were unearned. Heck, if he were pitching alongside Al Spalding in the 1870’s, having less than 60% of your runs unearned meant you were on a pretty good fielding team.
Matsuzaka having such a high strikeout total, plus being on the third best fielding club (Red Sox had a .986
FPCT.) might have contributed slightly to this strange accomplishment,
but the most likely contribution to Dice-K’s lack of UR is just plain
old dumb luck. This rare statistical feat truly falls under the anomaly