2. Red Sox
5. Blue Jays
I imagine it must suck to be the Tampa Bay Rays. You wake up every morning knowing that no matter how hard you try, you may not succeed because you play in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees. Now take that feeling and imagine you are the Orioles. Its like you wake up and someone tells you that Santa does indeed exist but he finds you to be utterly horrible and will never visit you or your city.
The AL East, also known as the douche-bag division houses two teams that literally throw money at their problems. Rumor is George Steinbrenner came down with a bad case of SARS but then just rubbed a finsky on his chest and, voila! It wouldn’t be so aggravating if it didn’t actually work.
It will once again be a coin flip at the top of the table. More than likely the loser of heads/tails will still get into the playoffs as the wild card. It is my hope however that the Rays can bounce back from a less than stellar year and show us all that youth and vitality is not wasted on the young, or the vital.
The Blue Jays should bring up the rear on the division. They are gutted and want for any semblance of a star. But please don’t count out the Orioles and their amazing ability to play really bad baseball.
I had my fantasy baseball keeper league draft this past weekend. One thing I have noticed about fantasy owners, they always think they drafted the best and you drafted the worst. You can follow every mock draft and pick with the precision of a scalpel but you’re still an idiot. In the end, the grass always looks greener on your own front yard post draft. So here is the information you didn’t ask for:
The eleven team league I am in is a collection of dudes I have known from college. They range from the obsessed waiver wire pick-up guy to those that lose interest sometime in April. The constant rule is you keep your six best players from the year before. This has posed a detriment to me when I had to keep the likes of Adrian Beltre from lack of star power. This year is different. It just has to be. Because I am horrible at fantasy sports. I am the Washington Nationals of our league. Perennially in last place, it all changes here and now. I feel it with this list of studs:
There it is, speed, pop, and pitching. That’s even before I drafted.
This is what separates the men from the boys. Championships are won and lost through season long tinkering but immediate scolding and draft smack talk happens immediately. Here are some of the finer points in this years draft:
- In the first round of the keeper draft Mike starts a closer run by picking three straight closers. This is for lack of a better term, a dick move. No one like drafting closers. They are unreliable messy entities. They are kind of like pubic hairs. Very messy up-keep but everyone has them. So you may have to trim Brad Lidge every once in a while but rest assured this particular pube is on someone’s team.
- I take Nate McLouth in the fifth round (13th overall). A great pick until after the draft when I find out he forgot how to hit. Now the next few weeks will be dedicated to stalking the progress of McLouth like he was an ex-girlfriend on Facebook. Unhealthy, but it happens.
- Adrian Beltre goes to Keith in the 23rd. I always have a special place in my heart for this steaming pile of 3rd baseman. I put so much trust into him for so long and he always underachieves. I feel like a disappointed father season after season as I see this man who could have been a mixture of Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt. Being a loafer myself I can appreciate when someone is phoning it in. And I hate it. So I make special note when he gets taken.
- We added a 25th round this year. Usually the last couple picks are poop you wouldn’t scrape off your shoe but for some reason the guys really wanted to draft more poop. I am particularly proud of mine because he backs up Billy Wagner. Being Billy Wagner must be tough because you live everyday knowing you are going to get shelled and/or hurt for a 15 day spell. Here is to Saito in the 25th.
Well despite my fantastic picks I am sure to suffer from torn hamstrings, bloated ERAs, and the like. But I will be sure to keep you up-to-date on my ineptitude.
There is no doubt that Big Mac could crush a baseball. His shot off of the back wall of Seattle’s King Dome wasn’t a fluke. He was one of the most prolific power hitters the game has ever seen. He was go good at hitting home runs that in a span of 4 years (’96-’99), he hit 245! That’s insane.
That was then. Now with the admission of something we all knew, and Barry Bonds coming along and smashing all of McGwire’s numbers, Big Mac isn’t the legend he once was. I don’t want to get into the whole PED use area but I do have to touch on it briefly. Mark was a power hitter, simple as that. What he did helped with his power. How much extra strength did he get?
No one can really say for sure, but we all know it helped inflate his numbers along with his arm.
What really gets me though, is why the St. Louis Cardinals would bring him in as hitting coach. They want Matt Holliday to be more of a power hitter, but why McGwire? There is obviously the history there, the people he knows, and a certain comfort level that is just right for Mark to return to the game in some form. But should he really be a hitting coach?
McGwire boasts some great power numbers, but he also has more career strikeout than walks. In fact, that same 4 year span in which he hit 245 homers, he also had 577 hits, 512 walks, and struck out 567 times! Pitchers weren’t pitching to him. Either they were too afraid or managers didn’t want them to, so they would pitch around him.
Now don’t get me wrong, 577 hits is nothing to sneeze at, but having struck only 10 fewer times then he got a hit and considerably more than times walked, yet you want him to tech guys to hit? Really? Do you really want Colby Rasmus or Ryan Ludwick to pick up the same free swinging style McGwire had? I certainly hope not.
Holliday is already a solid hitter. He may not have huge power numbers but he carries a .316 avg with him so he does know how to hit. If I were the Cards I would have pulled for a coach to help him with watching the ball, location, patience. He strikes out a lot as it is, so why have him work with someone who is a free swinger. If anything have him work with Albert Pujols, who is perhaps the best all around hitter in the game today. I think he could certainly help Holiday with more of the fundamentals than McGwire could.
I see where the whole situation is supposed to go in theory. I see that the cards want to make Pujols and Holiday the modern day bash brothers. But to me, this feels like nothing more than a personal image rehab for McGwire than it is about the contributions he can actually make.
No-Mah retired Wednesday. Now I can stop feeling bad. The last few years have been really tough on me, perhaps even on Mr. Garciaparra himself. Everyday I saw him try to hit the ball with power or play first base with seriousness I lost a little of my soul. No-Mah was a Hall of Fame talent with a brittle body. Imagine what he could have done had he taken steroids. He may have hit 8 home runs last year. The world will always wonder.
Every year we are treated to a baseball injury. A player might sneeze to hard or dream about spiders and then wham, 15 day disabled list. Now Jose Reyes may miss eight weeks because of elevated Thyroid levels. He may have to cut down on his seafood intake but that’s about it. The great thing is it is not career threatening, not that any baseball injury ever really is.
Cubs GM Jim Hedry lambasted Milton Bradley this week. His sentiment was basically that Bradley needed to look into the mirror to find all his problems. He then relayed that his signing of Bradley was “a mistake.” The GM’s of the Expos, Indians, Dodgers, A’s, Padres, and Rangers were heard to yell “No, Shit” immediately. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was quoted as saying “oops” to the signing of Bradley.
What gets me is how many teams Bradley has touched with his awesome craziness and superhuman ability to deteriorate team morale. Yet he keeps getting passed along to the next sucker. Why not send him to MLB oblivion, or are the Royals all set in the outfield?
Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman recently wrote that two executives in baseball believed it’s possible Derek Jeter may be looking for a six year contract at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent. Should that happen, he would be well over 3,000 hits (currently at 2,747) by the end of his contract. At age 42, he may want to retire and walk off being the greatest Yankee to step onto a field. But, he may want to stick around for one more season.
His current career average of hits per season is 195. Now, let’s say he plays well next season and gets his six year deal. At the end of those six years, at his pace, he would be within 144 hits of Pete Rose’s major league record of 4,256. Now, Jeter has never been the type of player to focus on his own numbers, but wouldn’t it be hard for anyone so close to such an amazing record to not go for it?
He is already a first ballot hall of famer. He already has the rings. In his storied career he truly has nothing to prove to anyone. But how could he not be tempted to go for it if he has the chance? He has to, right?
Now, I am not a Yankee fan by any means, but I can’t think of a single person that would deserve to hold that record more than Jeter. He is a great captain, plays on the biggest stage the game has to offer, and has been nothing short of brilliant. He is a great teammate and stand up person. Barring a major injury, he should definitely be able to accomplish this feat.
If he is within striking distance by the time his deal is done, I really hope he sticks around and goes for it. After all, there isn’t a better fit for the crown.
Some of you may have heard that one of the top prospects of the Oakland A’s, Grant Desme, has retired from baseball. It’s not that Desme wasn’t good enough to play in the majors.
No… he was good all right.
In fact, this past year, Desme was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League, hitting .315 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 27 games.
No, the reason the 23 year old outfielder is laying down his bat is because he’s being called up to an even bigger league than the “big leagues.”
Grant Desme is retiring from baseball to enter seminary school. That’s right… he’s going to become a priest.
Which, if that’s the case, I can’t help but wonder why the A’s wouldn’t trade him to the San Diego Padres?
In the last seven days we have seen some of the craziest sports stories of the new year… from Mark McGuire finally admitting to his use of steroids during his chase of the homerun record in ’98, to the coaching carousel in Seattle, Southern California and Knoxville.
Winter meetings continue with absolutely no information as to where and to whom Doc Halladay will go. He is like that really hot girl that everyone wants to take to prom. But she is waiting to see what car the boys are driving before she chooses a date.
The Yankees take a step closer to repeating. Some are saying that it’s a bad trade with Granderson’s plummeting OPS. My take is he is as good as or better than Johnny Damon. The Yankees will be fine. Also, if he doesn’t work out, they will just buy someone who will.
Success for Mike Scioscia’s Angels has always been predicated on their ability to get on base and steal. Chone Figgins was the catalyst to that. Anyone they can muster to take his place will be a significant downgrade.
Randy Wolf will move once again from the friendly confines of Dodger stadium. The Brewers get a quality starter that will eat innings. Watching Dodger games all year I am particularly aware of what Wolf brings to the table. Brewer fans will enjoy two to three runs being given up in the first three innings. This will be followed by lights out artistry that will have you questions who the guy pitching the first three innings was.
The Texas Rangers have just made one of the smarter moves this off-season. By saving money on a trade of Kevin Millwood, they were able to sign under-achieving Rich Harden to a one year deal. Harden has tremendous upside when healthy. He probably could have squeezed a three year deal from somewhere. But unless your name is Hank Blalock, no one wants to be a Ranger for more than a season.
It seems the Colorado Rockies are having a wee bit of difficulty trading their very expensive 3rd baseman. It seems there is no market for Garrett Atkins, a power hitting 3rd baseman that has trouble um, hitting.
Here are some updates from a little birdie we call the hot stove.
It looks as though the Sox will keep Victor Martinez, posing the question of what to do about Jason Varitek. If he does return they may want to use the DH for his spot. Varitek hit .209 last year. This is well within the range of any Red Sox pitcher to hit.
While the money owed to him was supposed to be a hurdle, FoxSports.com is reporting that Milton Bradley trade talks are heating up. Milton Bradley would go to the Blue Jays. The Mets would get Lyle Overbay. And the Cubs would get Luis Castillo. If this goes through it would be an even trade across the board. The Mets would get a first baseman if the decomposing Carlos Delgado does not return. The Blue Jays would get a solid outfielder that may or may not implode their team. And the Cubs would get far away from Milton Bradley.
Baseball general managers failed to vote on expanding the use of instant replay. I for one am thrilled for the news. I may be in the minority here but instant replay in baseball needs to be slowly brought in. Granted the games pace would be perfect for side bars on the correct call but the culture of baseball would falter. Ghost tags on a double play, fooling the ump on a close play, even a great pickoff move that may be slightly illegal are all plays that teams and players count on. If these and other examples would disappear the game and players would suffer for it.
Sammy Sosa’s most surprising secret may not be his alleged steroid use but the fact that he is actually a white man. That and the fact that the McCourts were not the happiest couple in the world, and well, nothing really surprises me anymore.
The Yankees win… again. That’s a lot like a fat kid eating a hamburger in front of a homeless shelter. While the rest of us have to abide by the “wait till next year” chant, New York faithful are busy thinking of a better, more improved lineup next year. The lump in my throat is the knowledge that John Lackey is available this winter and we could very well see a stronger Yankee team with more than three starters in the playoffs. This is a thought that will keep me up at nights.
The Phillies are fine. There is no need to jump ship yet. They still have the second best lineup in baseball and will concentrate on their bullpen and pitching staff this off-season. Hell, if they just took Brad Lidge outback that would net them five extra wins next season easy.
While I am sad that the baseball season is no more, I am stoked to give out some very prestigious awards:
The Scott Brosius Award for Least Likely MVP – Hideki Matsui
If you would have told me that Matsui would win the World Series MVP a week ago I would have called you a liar. They just don’t give those out to designated hitters. Well except for 2004 when Manny Ramirez won it. He is essentially a DH that walks around left field for nine innings.
World Series Foot-in-the-mouth Award – Cole Hamels
Mental note: Never insinuate that you may be quitting if you live or work in, at, on, or around the city of Philadelphia. It may be the City of brotherly love but they will kill you in your sleep if they think you’re not trying.
That’s the last time we will see him in a meaningful game Award – Pedro Martinez While he made the Yankees his daddy, he now has to ask his mommy if he can pitch next season.
Done celebrating because I will be a Blue Jay next year Award – Johnny Damon
Look for the Yanks to upgrade over the whithered outfielder. He has a very slim chance of coming back to New York, unless of course the Yankees are just giving money away. Oh, WAIT.
What a difference a year makes Award– Cole Hamels and Alex Rodriguez
Last fall Cole Hamels was described as Sandy Koufax, wrapped in Bob Gibson, enveloped with bacon, and stuffed in a Christmas stocking. Now he just leaves hanging curveballs to anyone who asks for them. Rodriguez on the other hand, has renewed his career. He is no longer a choke artist, steroid taking, money grubber. Well at least not in New York. The rest of America still needs more convincing.