Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In memoriam

Some of the former big leaguers who died in 2005:

Don Blasingame
Nelson Briles
Chico Carrasquel
Donn Clendenon
Pat Kelly
Al Lopez
Rick Mahler
Gene Mauch
Vic Power
Dick Radatz
Bill Voiselle
Earl Wilson

Friday, December 23, 2005

National Bohemian vs. Budweiser

The St. Louis Cardinals signed former Orioles drunken party boy/starting pitcher Sydney Ponson to a 1 yr deal. Ponson's agreement with the Cardinals calls for a $1 million base salary and allows him to earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses based on starts.

Ponson amassed a 76-91 record with a 4.81 ERA while in Baltimore, presumably on a diet of National Bohemian ("It's crisp, It's cold and we're proud to say..... It's brewed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay").

Perhaps the move to St. Louis and a switch to Budweiser (King of Beers) will prove to be an upgrade for the sot.

The last drunk to be banished from the Orioles to the National League was Dennis Martinez.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


The Padilla Flotilla is heading to a new port in Texas. As Randy Miller wrote on

"Uncle! Or so Vicente Padilla can comprende: Tio! At last, the Phillies waved the white flag and gave up on a reclusive Nicaraguan pitcher who never consistently transformed his so-called great arm and great stuff into stardom."

Nuff said.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

How about a closer from Houston?

Yesterday's Houston Chronicle tossed out the idea of the Astros trading Brad Lidge to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu. There was no indication this deal was under discussion by the teams, but it is interesting.

Although it seems the Phils are shopping Abreu for a quality starter (Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano have all been sought, reportedly), a deal for Lidge could make sense if Philly can't get a starter and decides to move Ryan Madson to the rotation.

The Phils signed Tom Gordon with the idea of him being the closer, but he could easily slide into the set-up role vacated by Madson. It would seem an unlikely move, but one that might have some merit? I think most fans would feel better with Lidge closing -- despite his World Series meltdowns -- rather than Gordon.

Also, the Phils are reportedly close to signing Braden Looper. Unfortunately, I'm not making this up. Looper-to-Gordon doesn't do much to instill confidence.

Finally, Phils radio host Tom McCarthy will be heading to WFAN to join the Mets broadcasting team. Tom is a fine announcer and classy guy. Good luck to him, although he will be missed in Philly.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Detroit has jumped into the winter signing fray by bringing back Todd Jones to be the team's closer. Jones saved 142 games for the Tigers from 1997-2001 when he was traded to Minnesota for starter Mark Redman. Last season with the Marlins, Jones saved 40 games, just two shy of his career high that he set with Detroit in 2000, and had a career-best 2.10 ERA.

Jones will get $11 million for two years, which looks like a steal compared to the going rate for relievers. He will be the Tigers fifth closer since the start of last year, following Troy Percival, Ugie Urbina, Kyle Farnsworth and Fernando Rodney. Gee, is it any wonder Alan Trammell got fired?

It seems Jones' 2005 season compares favorably to that of Wagner or Ryan, who got wheelbarrows filled with $$$$. Jones converted 40 of 45 save chances, Wagner 38 of 41 and Ryan 36 of 41. Jones had a WHIP of 1.04 while Wagner was 0.84 and Ryan was 1.14. Jones had a K/BB ratio of 3.88 while Wagner was 3.95 and Ryan was 3.57. Opponents had an OPS of .559 vs. Jones, .494 against Wagner and .572 vs. Ryan.

So, Wagner has a slight edge statistically, but I'll take Jones' contract over Wags any day. Ditto for Ryan, who couldn't even match Jones. Plus, Jones actually liked playing in Detroit, which should be a plus.

Detroit also is rumored to be signing Kenny Rogers for $16 million over two years. Here is where the trouble begins. The Tigers want a veteran to help their young guns like Bonderman, Maroth, Robertson, Verlander, etc.

But is a guy who had very public outbursts against the media the dude you want showing the way? A 41-year-old guy, at that. I'm not thrilled with this move, but maybe all Kenny needs is a fresh start. He has averaged nearly 15 wins and 32 starts over the past four seasons.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Quote me

It doesn't seem that time away from the game has dulled Jim Leyland's edge -- which is a good thing. Here is another offering from the Tigers new skipper, who was asked about having veteran leadership in the clubhouse:

"I'm supposed to be the leader," Leyland said. "That's why they hired me. The leaders on the team are the guys who hit .330 with 30 homers and knock in 140 runs. I never saw a guy who hit .200 be the leader. I don't buy that stuff."

Speaking of speaking up, new (and very rich) Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Burnett pulled no punches about the fire sale the Florida Marlins are undergoing: "They'd better teach Dontrelle Willis how to play all nine positions," he said yesterday.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mets appease fans nostalgic for the old days of inexplicable trades

The Mets have acquired catcher Paul Lo Duca from the Marlins for minor league pitcher Gaby Hernandez and another as yet unnamed minor league pitcher. Hernandez had been the best pitching prospect in the Mets' system for a good week and a half following the trade of Yusmeiro Petit to Florida in the Carlos Delgado deal. Hernandez is only nineteen years old and a long way from the majors, but he had put up excellent numbers in rookie ball and low A ball before having some trouble in high A. He had a lot further to go than either of the two top pitching prospects the Mets have traded in the last year and a half. But given that the top honor now goes to either a guy who hasn't signed yet or a guy recovering from Tommy John surgery, this trade has really left the ranks of Mets pitching prospects barren.

And for what? The New York Daily News says that Lo Duca "is regarded as one of the top offensive catchers in the game". I wonder if the people who regard him as such realize it's not 2001 anymore. Last year he hit a dismal .283/.334/.380 and that was the second time in the last three years that his slugging percentage was .380 or lower. Even free agent defensive specialist Bengie Molina has managed to slug .400 each of the last three years. Molina's played in a better offensive environment than Lo Duca has, but when a player needs his numbers to be put in context to explain why he didn't hit as well as Bengie Molina, he's not going to be much of an offensive force in any environment. Lo Duca just isn't a good hitter anymore. And he's never been known as a good defensive catcher. The Daily News also brings up his reputation as "a team leader and positive clubhouse presence," but really, that's the sort of thing you say about a guy who's actual baseball abilities don't merit much praise.

So for this nice guy who's not very good at playing baseball, the Mets gave up Gaby Hernandez. And another pitcher. And, oh yeah, 12.5 million dollars over the next two years. The only thing that made sense about the Mike Cameron/Xavier Nady deal was the money the Mets saved. And now they've given that all away to a guy who didn't even hit as well as Ramon Castro (.244/.321/.435) last year. There is some speculation that perhaps the Diamondbacks want Lo Duca as part of a deal for Javier Vazquez, in which case this may make sense. But if not, this is a really awful trade.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Big news

Just when it seemed the Tigers would fail to make a move, the Free Press reports today that Detroit signed Bobby Seay to a minor-league deal.

Seay is 27, left-handed, and had been sent to the minors on an outright release by the pitching-rich Colorado Rockies. He had an 8.49 ERA in 11 2/3 innings for the Rockies before going 1-0 with 3 saves and a 2.38 ERA at AAA Colorado Springs.

Feel the excitement.

Rumors, rumors, rumors

The NY Post is reporting that the Phillies have moved into the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes, saying that the Fightins would trade Bobby Abreu. The deal is being held up because of the disparity of the players' contracts, the paper said.

This would be a very curious move, regardless of Ramirez's offensive prowess. It would throw the Phils outfield into shambles, presumably with Manny in left and Pat Burrell moving to right. That's two lousy corner outfielders, so I guess we'd find out if Aaron Rowand is truly a Gold Glove in center. He'd better be.

The Post also reports the Mets are talking about sending Kris Benson to the Orioles for Jorge Julio. This, I think, would be a good deal for the Mets. Julio, despite his troubles last season, is only 26 and has produced in the past. We're still waiting for Benson, 31, to blossom into the star he was supposed to be. No one, perhaps in the history of the game, has clung to the "potential" tag longer than Benson.

Of course, the tabloids will regret losing Mrs. Benson.

Tom Gordon reportedly will determine his destination in the next two or three days, his agent said.

A year or so from now, Joe will be disappointed with the Wagner signing. He wasn't as automatic last year as the NY press would have you believe. And he hasn't hit 100 mph on the gun in a while, outside of one game in Washington.