November 29, 2006

ONLY $26 Million?! Pshaw.

As first reported by the seemingly infallible Buster Olney, the Yankees have won the rights to negotiate with this year’s other posted Japanese pitcher, Kei Igawa, with $26,000,194 bid. (194 is the number of strikeouts Igawa recorded this year, which is… kind of oddly whimsical for a major financial negotiation, huh?). Regardless, the Yanks have the Red Sox to thank for making $26 million suddenly seem like a totally reasonable amount of money to pay for NEGOTIATING RIGHTS. I know very little about Igawa; the consensus online seems to be that he’s certainly worth a shot, but not someone you'd count on to save the rotation. Still, given the choice between Igawa, Ted Lily or Gil Mesh, I’d take a flyer on the Hanshin Tigers ace. Cliff Corcoran at Bronx Banter has a good in-depth look at Igawa; he compares his career numbers to Matsuzaka’s and finds that they’re really not all that different. Hmmm. Also, Yanksfan vs Soxfan has vital YouTube footage of Igawa... trying to fly a toy helicopter? Sweet. I'm sold.

It’s been discussed too much already, so I'll keep this quick: the AL MVP was not a logical choice. I probably would have gone with Mauer or Santana, though there's a very strong case to be made for Jeter too. Oh well -- I'm sure he'll struggle on somehow.

Speaking of divisive awards voting, the Hall of Fame ballots are out, and there are some tough calls this year, Mark McGwire being the most obvious. I think I’d probably vote for him, though not without reservations. Remember that when he played, MLB had no rule against steroids – which is a gaping, gaping oversight, but there you are. Besides which, I think you have to take into account more than just numbers with the HOF – a player’s impact on the culture of the game (though many would probably disagree with me here) is also an issue. McGwire was absolutely the face of baseball in the 90s. I mean, he broke Roger Maris' record; it doesn’t seem like such a good thing now, but he did, and it was amazing, and proving exactly how much of that was due to steroids and how much wasn't is currently impossible. That's also why I’d consider Don Mattingly -- he doesn’t have the numbers (stupid back problems!), but because of his impact, totally dominating New York baseball in the 80s, you have to at least think about it... though after you thought about it, you probably couldn’t vote for him. Okay, fine. I'd really, really want to though.

Meanwhile, I absolutely cannot understand why the Mets are letting Chad Bradford sign with the Orioles. That guy kicks all kinds of ass. I just assumed he was going to re-sign with the Mets; if he was really available, the Yankees should have been all over him. $10 million for three years is very reasonable for a 32-year-old reliever this good -- or it is in the current insane marketplace, anyway.

And by the way, WasWatching has this handy chart detailing Manny Ramirez’s performance against the Yankees since his arrival in Boston. Please... please... please trade him. Please? Seriously, is Manny dismembering prostitutes in the locker room, or what? Why are they even considering this? We just must not know the full story.

November 20, 2006

UPDATE: Apparently the Earth Has Been Moving Around the Sun This Entire Time

Felt the need to update yesterday’s post because… holy fuck, Soriano is thirty?!? Already?!? But wasn’t his rookie year just… oh… wait, I guess it was seven years ago. Damn, that makes me feel old. This is like when you realize your friends’ younger siblings, who you still think of as gawky teens, are all over 21 now.

Anyway, this would seem to make Soriano’s lengthy contract look a bit less solid than I thought yesterday. Just thought I should add that, because in my head Sori is perpetually 24, but in life, not so much.

Also, an alert hockey fan emails to point out that what I saw on MSG the other day was NOT Jaromir Jagr getting his teeth knocked out… it was his FAKE teeth that were knocked out. His real ones, of course, having been knocked out years before. Again: Ah, hockey.

Who's the Evil What Now?

Okay, let’s catch up…

-After their $51.1 million (!) bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Red Sox don’t get to yell about the Yankees’ spending anymore, which is nice. On the other hand, if this guy is as good as he’s supposed to be, they won’t even want to. I hope Baseball Prospectus is wrong for once.

-Hey… Barry! Man, you’re looking just great! What is it -- have you been working out? Did you change your hair? Get over here, you!

-Mussina’s reasonable two-year deal should be announced next week. Good. Two years and $22.5 million might sound like a lot, but then you realize that Carl Pavano made $20 million over the last two years, as I’m sure Moose’s agent pointed out. Thanks again, Carl!

-Alfonso Soriano is signing with the Cubs. He's obviously a teriffic hitter, but unless they get some pitching, I’m not sure they’re really “instant contenders”; then again, if Peter Gammons is saying it, there's a very good chance it's true. Anyway, this should finally put an end to all those Rodriguez-to-the-Cubs rumors.

-“Citifield”… oh, dear. Chalk one up for the Yanks in the PR battle for the hearts and minds of New Yorkers. Mets fans seem to be taking the wise perspective that the extra $20 million (!) a year this brings can buy them some serious talent, and this is true, but still… it’s the principle of the thing. Of course, whether the Yankes will stay strong or not on their new Stadium remains to be seen.

-The Mets are on the verge of signing Moises Alou. This is a low-risk one-year deal, but the guy is 40; with Glavine, if he comes back, also 40, Jose Valentin (37), Julio Franco (48 years young) and El Duque (god only knows; recently signed for two more years), they’re getting a little on the Centrum Silver side. Still, I suppose they have enough youngsters – Wright, Reyes, Chavez, Maine, et al – to balance it out. This is probably it for Cliff Floyd with the Mets, which is too bad: when he was healthy, which granted wasn't often enough, he was very good, and he seems like an awfully nice guy. Not to mention a great quote.

-I’ve been paying more attention to hockey recently, and I happened to flip over to MSG the other day just in time to see Jaromir Jagr’s teeth get knocked out. Yeaargh! This didn’t even make headlines, by the way, and he only left the game for a few minutes. Ah, hockey. Good times!

November 13, 2006

"Humbert-Oh! Humbert-Oh!," For Example

Adios, Sheff. I already miss the dysfunction. Sheffield is 38 and coming off a rough wrist injury, but does anybody doubt he'll hit the crap out of the ball for Detroit next year? Still, there's nothing wrong with an outfield involving Damon/Matsui/Abreu/Melky, and the Yankees need young pitching more than anything. If just one of the three prospects they traded for ends up as a solid #2 or even #3 starting pitcher, this will have been another shrewd Cashman trade. Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett: good baseball names all. If Sanchez makes it, do we get to see the Post making Lolita puns on the back page? I can dream.

And I was about to post the following graph when I saw the news about Jaret Wright:

“And now, apparently, the Yanks are about to wash their hands of Jaret Wright. I’m torn about this: he was disappointing and often incredibly frustrating to watch, but he had these flashes of talent and grit that made me think he could be worth holding onto. And getting traded to a division rival is sort of insulting – not to mention possibly unwise, since Baltimore, though fairly miserable last year, has a ton of promising young pitchers and a solid offense. Depends on who they get for him, of course.”

The answer? Chris Britton, a young right-handed reliever with good but unspectacular stats last season, who looks… how to put this… like the love child of Sir Sidney Ponson and... oh, I don't know. He's portly, okay? But he was fairly effective last year, so I’ll reserve judgment. I know the Yanks made the deal because they would have had to buy out Wright’s $7 million contract for $4 million anyway just to release him, but poor Jaret Wright: he got traded to a division rival for a reliever. Ouch. Great deal for the Orioles, though.

Still no news on Matsuzaka, but rumors are flying – the Seibu Lions are taking their time announcing the winning bidder. Supposedly the Red Sox may have won out with a massive bid of around $38 million (again – that’s just to negotiate), but it's not confirmed. I wouldn't have been terribly worried about this yesterday, but today I saw that Baseball Prospectus attempted to translate his numbers from Japan, and concluded that he could produce stats in America similar to Roger Clemens, of all people. Oh, and also comparable? Roy Halladay, Brandon Webb, Chris Carpenter, Jason Schmidt, Josh Beckett, Pedro Martinez, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. Umm.... AIIIIIIEEEEEEE!

Finally, good luck to Bubba Crosby, who has signed with the Reds. He’s like David Eckstein... except he's a little taller... and can't hit. But, you know, otherwise. I'll always remember him for the great walk-off homer he hit against the Orioles down the stretch in 2005 -- you could see him struggling between sheer joy and utter disbelief all the way around the bases.

Oh -- and the Mets might name their new stadium “CitiField”?! Ugh! Don't do it, Wilpons. William Alfred Shea is turning in his grave.

November 09, 2006

Bronson Arroyo Prepares For Inevitable 2016 Post-Retirement Reality Show

The Yankees bid an enormous amount of money today (up to $20 million per Bob Klapisch), simply for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka. Good lord. I don’t like this posting process at all; the expectations are going to be so enormous that there's going to be a massive letdown if he isn't Cy Young good, and quickly. Based on his career numbers, that might be a safe assumption -- if it were easy to predict how Japanese stats transition to the Major Leagues. But talk to Kaz Matsui about that. Baseball is unpredictable enough under more controlled circumstances, as the Yankees' last five or six years of pitching acquisitions demonstrate nicely. Aaron Small? 10-0. Carl Pavano? Insert joke here.

On a tangentially related note, in a story that achieved surprisingly little media attention, the Major League All-Stars swept Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in five games. The US roster included David Wright and Jose Reyes, Ryan Howard, John Maine, Mike Myers, Joe Nathan, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Shields, Chase Utley, Lyle Overbay, Joe Mauer and Jermaine Dye. I actually would have like to watch those games (though not quite enough to buy MLB.TV’s off-season package), but I realize I’m probably in a minority there.

They only have a few short clips online for free–-but, for the brave of heart, Bronson Arroyo has a video diary of the event on Who the hell thought this was going to be a good idea? He charmingly refers to the “midget beds” in the hotel room and staggers through a truly painful rendition of “Wonderwall” on Japan MTV. Less masochistic fans might just enjoy the pictures of Reyes looking like he just got a new puppy for Christmas (following his game 5 walk-off homer), a nice little pick-me-up for the dark winter days ahead. Also, the team got 140,000,000 Yen in prize money for their win. I could easily find out what this comes out to in U.S. dollars, but I kind of enjoy not knowing whether it's $93.00 or half a billion.

Gary Sheffield… oh, you know, the usual.

And I’m late on this, but the Mets’ Guillermo Mota tested positive for steroids last week. Credit Mota for apologizing straight-up and not trying to pass it off on some teammate’s mystery pills or a faulty test, but it’s a sad day when you find yourself admiring players for admitting to their steroid use. Sluggers get all the attention, but second-tier players and middle relievers were using too, and still are; we'll probably never know what the impact of all this has been. And so I am going to continue to try to think about it as little as possible.

And in other dismaying news, the A's are moving to Fremont. Where? Exactly. It’s hard to believe such a successful and entertaining team can’t find enough fans. My longtime fantasy is for a team to move to Brooklyn... which I realize will never, ever happen, but come on: Fremont? Why, what was wrong with Piscataway?

November 01, 2006

Gyroball Pitch

Well, now that we’ve all gotten over the thrills and chills of the World Series (har), it’s time for infuriatingly vague and premature trade rumors.

First of all, is Barry Bonds insane? Well, I mean, yes, obviously he is, but does he really expect anyone to pay $14 million for him next year? He’s old, he’s injury prone, he’s moody and manipulative, and he’s the poster boy for steroids, tax fraud, and girlfriend-threatening. Then again, though I can’t imagine either New York team would be interested, at least he’d serve to distract everyone from Alex Rodriguez. “Tonight on SportsCenter: A-Rod is still mired in a 1-for-19 slump –- but first, Barry Bonds has been arrested for assaulting Chris “Mad Dog” Russo with a baseball bat on live television! Coming up next.”

Anyway. I always loved watching Soriano play back when he was on the Yanks -- sure, he swung at everything in the borough, but he did it with a lot of flair -- and I think he'd do well with the Mets, but they really need pitching, not offense (despite what their last seven games of the season might lead you to believe). I’m very intrigued by Matsuzaka for the Yankees, but it’s so risky – it's very hard to accurately predict how pitching stats will translate from the Japanese league (*cough* Hideki Irabu *cough*). Still, I'd welcome anyone who threw a gyroball. I might have to change the name of this blog.

Okay, this is the last time I’m going to say this, I promise—but here’s one for the road: JEFF WEAVER?!?!

There. It's out of my system. Let us never speak of this again.