Posted on: February 19, 2011 10:39 am
Braves fans may not want to visit Target Field this year just in case they manage to go on the day of Kent Hrbek-Ron Gant bobblehead night.
The Twins confirmed to the Star-Tribune that the bobblehead seen to the right will indeed be given away this year -- at a date to be released in March.
The play, of course, is from Game 2 of the 1991 World Series when the Twins first baseman -- well, either kept the tag on Gant as he came off the base or pulled Gant off the base, the exact wording depends on your allegiance -- leading to 3-2 Twins victory.
I grew up playing first base, so I always identified with Hrbek -- it's all within he rules if you can get away with it. And there's a ton of little things you could do at first base that aren't exactly within the rules. I actually got a job in high school because of my knowledge of playing outside the rules. I was playing first four our team and one of the umpires was keeping an eye on me and noticed what I was doing. After the game, he asked if I was interested in umpiring Little League games in the summer, since I obviously knew the rules enough to know I was breaking them.
I've been wanting to get to Target Field soon, and this may push me to it. Or, you know, at least send me to the electronic Bay.
If you don't remember the play, here it is recreated by Legos:
BELISLE SIGNS: The Rockies signed reliever Matt Belisle to a two-year deal worth $6.125 million plus bonuses, his agency, CAA, tweets .
How far did baseball change in the 90s? I always think about Matt Belisle when I think about the draft and bonuses. When I was on the Reds beat, I remember guys sitting around talking about draft bonuses, and Ken Griffey Jr. was joking that he, the No. 1 overall pick in 1987 received a signing bonus of $160,000.
What was funny, was nobody believed him. To all the younger players, it seemed impossible that the No. 1 overall pick -- and Ken Griffey Jr. no less -- got just a $160,000 signing bonus.
Somebody pointed out Belisle was a second-round pick and I don't remember if Belisle or someone else revealed the Braves gave him $1.75 million in 1998 -- and that had Griffey going for a while. And it had everyone else laughing.
NICE RIDE: One of the best parts of spring training is checking out the rides players bring into the park. Check out Mariners' non-roster pitcher Royce Ring's ride. Not too shabby. (Everett Herald )
HAPPY TEAMMATES: Jason Varitek said he's happy to have Carl Crawford as a teammate, since now he won't have to try to throw him out. (Boston Herald )
Yankees TALE: A good story from Freddy Garcia about throwing a split-finger fastball for the first time during a game. (NorthJersey.com )
HALTED: The 56-game hitting streak of Florida International's Garrett Wittels was stopped Friday in the team's season-opener against Southeastern Louisiana. Wittels, a junior shortstop, was held hitless in four at-bats. The Division I record is 58 games, set in 1987 by Robin Ventura. (MLB.com )
CONCUSSION INFO: FanGraphs.com's Jeff Zimmerman looks at the recent history of concussions in baseball and looks at players' performance before and after the concussions. The small sample of players performed worse after their concussion.
This makes sense, but the bigger problem is concussion are likely under-reported. This has become a huge issue in football, expect to hear more about it in baseball.
THE RESULTS ARE IN: Pablo Sandoval is down 38 pounds since the end of last season. (San Jose Mercury News )
BAD HAIR SEASON: Johnny Damon's new 'do is drawing attention in Tampa -- gotta give it the ol' thumbs down. (St. Petersburg Times )
TRIBUTE: Bill Bergen may be the worst hitter in baseball history. (FanGraphs.com )
WELCOME RETURN : Could the VW Microbus be coming back? I love it. (Road & Track )
TEARFUL GOODBYE?: A ruling in a California court could hurt the future of EA's NCAA series of video games. (CNBC.com )
FEELING OLD: The new bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins is one of the little girls from the Siamese Dream album cover. (Kottke.org )
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: February 18, 2011 2:46 pm
Carl Crawford took a lot of heat for failing to mention his old team and time in Tampa during his introductory news conference with Boston in December. One of his first acts upon reporting to the Red Sox on Friday was to make up for that.
Crawford, who had a sore throat and struggled to speak at the time, said the oversight was just a product of an attempt at economy of words and wasn't meant to slight anyone.
"If I made a few people upset, I'm sorry about it," he told the St. Petersburg Times. "Everybody knew I loved Tampa when I was there. I had a good time there. It's just at the press conference, I was overwhelmed by cameras and I'd never been in this kind of situation before and it just kind of slipped my mind. So to the people in Tampa and the front office, I apologize and I'm sorry about that."
Crawford, who signed a seven-year, $142-million contract with the Red Sox, said he bears no ill will toward Tampa Bay for not keeping him.
"I understand everything,'' Crawford said. "I understand the economics weren't there for those guys. Like I said, we knew at the beginning of the year that I wasn't going to be there again and it was a mutual agreement, so there weren't any hard feelings or nothing like that. It was just something that had to happen."He said he remains somewhat surprised at the size of the contract he got on the open market.
"I never imagined I would command this kind of contract because I never hit 20 home runs, Crawford said. "I was always looked as a speed guy and I knew speed guys weren't really looked as fondly upon as a home run hitter. But I figured if I could add the speed and do everything else at a high level, just maybe I had a chance to be just as valuable. That's what happened. I knew I wasn't going to hit a lot of home runs in my career so I just tried to be the best at the little things ad I could be and it worked out for me."
It certainly did.-- David Andriesen
Posted on: February 1, 2011 6:16 pm
Damon called signing with the Rays a "dream," but Maddon was more focused on what Ramirez can bring to the club. The mercurial outfielder has tons of questions surrounding him, chiefly his ability to hit. And everyone knows about his off-the-field issues, but Maddon didn't seem concerned about that.
"My hair is already white. If he could turn it brown, I would be appreciative," Maddon said, before turning serious.
"I had dinner with him last night, as you know he’s actually a very ingratiating fellow. … We had a good conversation, I explained to him about the Rays and how we do things here and he just continued to repeat the mantra that at 7 o’clock he’s going to play hard and compete. And he said that to me several times. So I think he’s at the point where he feels like he has something to prove. He’s lost some weight, he’s in great shape, he’s been working out with Evan Longoria and some other fellows. It was great to see them [Ramirez and Damon] together, it was a lot of fun."
That's all well and good, but as Cleveland, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago have found out, keeping ManRam happy takes a lot. It was a great move for Tampa at just $2 million, but there's a lot of baseball to be played, and Ramirez is no longer the kind of player in which teams will swallow hard and deal with the bad. It's got to be all good.
Nobody is going to outwork Carl, I can promise you that. Whether it’s offense, hitting, base running, defense, he’s one of the few accomplished outfielders that I’ve known in the last few years that will work a full group during batting practice on a daily basis to get ready for a game. Knowing the Boston fans and how knowledgeable they are, they will appreciate -- if they show up early and watch Carl work -- that aspect … There’s nothing there to not like about Carl as a baseball player. He’s going to make some mental mistakes, but who doesn’t? I really believe the mistakes are going to be so infrequent that the fans are going to dig him regardless.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: February 1, 2011 11:23 am
The Red Sox had a "town hall" with fans last night on NESN, and there was a whole lot of Sox talk -- but one of the things I found interesting (or at least more interesting than the on-going Red Sox-Yankees banter) was general manager Theo Epstein's opinion on the Rays via the St. Petersburg Times):
"I think the demise of the Rays is greatly exaggerated. Even before those moves we never erased them at all from our radar. I think they’re uniquely positioned to lose some really good players and keep their status as one of the best teams in baseball, given the strength of their farm system and the players they have ready to step in. They lose [Matt] Garza, they have [Jeremy] Hellickson to step in. They lose [Carl] Crawford they have [Desmond] Jennings and [Matt] Joyce to step in. They're going to be real tough.''I'm not sure the Rays are the class of the American League East, but it would be important to note that they're not going to revert to the Devil Rays just because Crawford is gone.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: January 22, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 3:09 pm
"If you want to continue to perform at the highest level, you have to keep building the business," Angels owner Arte Moreno told the Los Angeles Times back in October. "And that's what I intend to do."
Moreno, who was very upset about the team's play en route to an 80-82 record, went on to pledge that he would spend what was necessary to return the team to the playoffs.
Well, $70 million is certainly a nice chunk of change, but the Angels continued one of the most baffling offseasons ever by handing all that money to Vernon Wells instead of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre. Yes, Wells bounced back from years of struggles to bash 31 home runs en route to a .273/.331/.515 line in 646 plate appearances, but Wells was the proud owner of one of the worst contracts in the game that rendered him all but untradeable and has four years left on it as he enters the decline phase of his career.
Except to the Angels, apparently. In a confounding deal pulled off Friday, the Angels acquired Wells in exchange for catcher Mike Napoli and left-fielder Juan Rivera. It's pretty hard to call this an upgrade for the Angels, but is par for the course in a regime that has made more bizarre decisions than any other team since GM Tony Reagins took over. And that might be on the owner.
"We know where our weaknesses are, we know where we are thin, we know where we have to go to market," Moreno said in October. "It's going to cost money, but our fans need to know what we're committed to winning."
Moreno cited an outfielder who can hit, plus boosting offense at catcher and third base as offseason priorities. Except to hear him later tell it to the Times, the club never made an offer on Carl Crawford, and that's baffling for an owner who came into the game willing to spend and did just that by grabbing Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar in the 2003-04 offseason.
"There were rumors out there, but we never made an official offer, and no parameters were discussed," Moreno noted of the talks with Crawford.
"It's crazy. I paid [$183 million] for the team [in 2003], and now we're talking $142 million for one player? Seven years on a player is a huge risk financially. [Crawford's] greatest asset is speed, and he's a very skilled athlete who would have fit perfectly in left field for us. But we didn't look at him as a power hitter in our stadium."
Except that the only times Wells has outproduced Crawford in Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs version) were in 2003 -- Crawford's first season -- and 2006, where Crawford only finished 1.1 behind Wells. Is Crawford's seven years and $142 million that much worse than Wells' four years and $81 million on the deal (the Jays kicked in $5 million)?
Sure, that total outlay is around $70 million once you delete Napoli and Rivera's contracts, but Crawford would have only been an extra three years and $56 million more than Wells. Still a pricey tag? How about Adrian Beltre, then, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal that can increase to six years and $96 million with Texas? Yep, you read that right: the Angels chose a subpar defensive outfielder with just as checkered an offensive history for four years and $81 million over a premier defender who would have cost one less million for an extra year. And meanwhile, the Angels balked at any offer over $77 million for five years. Even if you have to add on that team option for the sixth year, Beltre is still the better buy.
Oh, and about upgrading offense behind the dish? The Angels traded away their answer there in order to stick with Jeff Mathis, whom is fantastic defensively but hit .195/.219/.278 in 218 PA for the Angels in 2010.
Meanwhile, Napoli had five less home runs than Wells in 136 less trips to the plate in 2010 and Rivera had an eerily similar line to Wells back in 2009 when he hit .287/.332/.478 with 25 homers in 572 PA. And between Rivera and Wells, their OPS' (.771) and OPS+ (105) are exactly the same over the last two years. And yet, the Angels chose to acquire the center fielder.
Except Wells isn't exactly a center fielder. Those three Gold Gloves from 2004-06 are nice, but not worth the metal that was sculpted. Wells has been a lousy center fielder for three years running now and would be better served in a corner. Torii Hunter may have fallen off in his fielding as well, but he's better than Wells. If Peter Bourjos remains in center (or the team signs Scott Podsednik for that role) and Wells shifts to left, that does help the outfield defense but actually would be negligible in boosting Wells' value as he would suddenly be compared to other left fielders, not center fielders. In Fangraphs' adjustments for positional value, center fielders get +2.5 wins credit, but -7.5 for left and right field -- so Wells' bat has to be that much better to make up for it.
Oh, and did we mention how Toronto waived Vernon Wells in August? All the Angels would have had to do was place a claim and he would have been theirs. Instead, they trade for him in the offseason and give up Napoli and Rivera for that right.
Sam Miller of the Orange County Register nailed the trade by saying "It's the rare trade that makes a team older, more expensive and worse."
And that's exactly what the Angels just did.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: January 22, 2011 2:59 pm
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Posted on: January 22, 2011 2:57 pm
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Posted on: January 19, 2011 7:53 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:26 am
With Carl Pavano signing with the Twins, there are now no Type A free agents left unsigned, which means there are no more possible compensatory reassignments of first-round picks. Compensatory picks can still be added for Type B signings, but those will fall in the "sandwich" round between the first and second rounds.
That's a long way of saying we have our first-round order for the 2011 June draft, which is projected to be one of the richest and deepest in recent years.
7. Diamondbacks (for unsigned 2010 pick Barret Loux)
10. Padres (for unsigned 2010 pick Karsten Whitson)
15. Brewers (for unsigned 2010 pick Dylan Covey)
19. Red Sox (from Tigers for Victor Martinez)
21. Blue Jays
23. Nationals (from White Sox for Adam Dunn)
24. Rays (from Red Sox for Carl Crawford)
26. Red Sox (from Rangers for Adrian Beltre)
31. Rays (from Yankees for Rafael Soriano)
33. Rangers (from Phillies for Cliff Lee)
It's a good time to be the Diamondbacks (who have two of the top seven picks), the Brewers (two in the first 15) and the Rays (three first-rounders). The Rays also also have a whopping seven sandwich-round picks, meaning that as of today (with more sandwich picks to come) they'd make 10 of the first 53 picks.
-- David Andriesen