December 27, 2007

Take Mike Pelfrey -- Please!

So there's no real news on the Johan Santana front. But I just wanted to go on record as saying that if I were running either New York team, I'd give the Twins what they reportedly want these days. I would also give away front-row seats, send a little person up to bat, hire players based on their names, and be fired within days, but that's neither here nor there.

From the Yankees, that would mean Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Marquez, and some other unnamed guy who isn't Ian Kennedy. I'm not down on Phil Hughes at all, I think he's eventually going to be excellent... but as good as Johan Santana? Almost no one is. Most of the sharper Yankee fans I know want the team to keep Hughes, and I can see the logic (it's certainly vastly more cost-effective), and I'll enjoy watching him pitch if they do. But it's Johan Sanata!

Of course, as you know if you've read this blog for even a few weeks, I have an only semi-rational fixation on the guy, so I may well be wrong here. I just thought I should get these thoughts in writing, so that years from now, either:

A) When Phil Hughes blows out his elbow while resisting arrest on charges of dogfighting and perjury, I can link back to this post and crow about how right I was; or

B) When Johan Santana blows out his elbow while resisting arrest on charges of dogfighting and perjury, you can link back to this post and crow about what a moron I am. Fair's fair.

The truth is, though, I would much rather see Santana land with the Mets. They need him more right now, and watching him in his prime against the bottom of the National League batting orders would be simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. Also, nothing would get the taste of the last few weeks of the Mets' season out of everyone's mouths faster. Yes, they may have to "rip up their farm system" to get the guy... but I mean, their farm system's not that great these days anyway.

I think one reason I'm fascinated by Santana is that I know so little about him, which is what happens when relatively quiet people play for teams in the middle of the country. I don't get to see a lot of interviews or quotes from the guy, which means it's easy to make him into something of an ideal figure. (Plus I used to read a lot of Bat Girl; she referred to him simply as El Presidente).

The only off-field Santana antic I can remember made me like him even more -- it happened this past summer, when the Twins came to Shea. Minnesota broadcaster Bert Blyleven bet Santana he couldn't throw a complete game shutout (note to Blyleven: this works much better with Sidney Ponson); it turned out Santana could, and indeed did, so Blyleven had to let him shave his head:

I think the best part of all this is that while pitching his complete game shutout, Johan Santana was apparently thinking about how he would get to shave Bert Blyleven's head.

I say trade every minor leaguer that isn't nailed down.

December 24, 2007

Eephus Pitch Would Like To Wish...

... a Merry Christmas to you and yours, from 1978 Mets manager Joe Torre!:

(Awesome/vaguely disturbing photo from the Daily News archives, by Anthony Casale).

Tomorrow I look forward to Chinese food, not one but two movies, and absolutely no discussion whatsoever of the Mitchell Report.

December 19, 2007

Let's See Him Break The HR Record From INSIDE 2,000 GALLONS OF WATER!

Only A-Rod would hire, to "help him have more control of his image and brand”, the guy who represents Madonna and David Blaine.


December 16, 2007

Baseball Player Name of the Week

Slim Love, of Love, Mississippi, who played for the 1916-1918 Yankees. I'd hoped he was obese, but no, Slim was a Randy Johnsonish 6'7" beanpole of a pitcher:

Bonus points for having been traded for such well-named players as Chick Shorten and Ossie Vitt.

Love also played for the Senators and the Tigers, gave up Babe Ruth's 42nd career home run, and according to Wikipedia, embarked on a career as a Navy Yard steamfitter when his playing days were over. I have no idea what a steamfitter is, but it sounds badass.

As an aside, if you were wondering what a town called Love in Mississippi might be like, it's hard to say, because Love is listed as "extinct" (har!).

December 15, 2007

There's No Hope With Dope

As is the case with almost all tragedies, this entire steroids mess could have been avoided if more baseball players had only watched Saved By The Bell:

Amen, Brandon Tartikoff.

Meanwhile, this is off-topic, but I'd just like to point out that in the last few weeks, it seems three separate internet users have found this blog by Googling "fairy raped," for which Eephus Pitch is currently the seventh result listed. Needless to say, I have never been prouder.

December 13, 2007

A Nation Shrugs

Say it ain't so, Glenallen!

Mitchell Mania is upon us, and Roger Clemens is the big name, but I don't think many baseball fans were shocked by that one. This is what I wrote when he rejoined the Yankees back in May:
"Or maybe, though I hate to bring it up today, it'll come out that he took steroids. There's no hard evidence, but the rumors have swirled for a while, and anyone with that kind of late-career surge has to make you wonder. Clemens also has that "my actual skull has expanded over the years" sort of look to him, plus roid rage (and little else) could explain the Mike Piazza-thrown bat debacle. But you know what? I'm going to ignore that for the moment, and hope there's no fire underneath all the smoke. Or that he never gets caught. Whichever."
Oh well. Clemens is denying it -- vehemently! -- but I don't think there's much doubt at this point. And if you argued that Barry Bonds should get an asterisk and be barred from the Hall of Fame, you'd damn well better argue the same about Clemens, or else all Bonds' ranting about a racist double standard will look a lot less like ranting.

The rest of the report, though, is largely useless, just because it's so clearly (and admittedly) incomplete. This can only be a fraction of the players who used PEDs, since Mitchell leaned so incredibly heavily on one source, Radomski, for so much of his information. We still don't know the whole truth, and we never will; time to work on better drug tests and move the hell on.

But, before we do that: While there are, by my quick and probably incomplete count, 15 players in the report who were on the Yankees at one time or another (I've got 10 Mets, but I might be missing some -- I don't recognize a few of these names), there's not one single mention in here of Brian Cashman or Steinbrenner (or Minaya or Phillips or Wilpon).

How could the front office have been unaware of what was going on, when at LEAST five players** on the 2000 Yankees --the World Champion Yankees -- may well have been juicing? And if they were aware, what, if anything, did they do about it? McNamee, the trainer who says he injected Clemens, was hired by the Yankees at Roger’s request, but dismissed after 2001. Why? Because they realized he was distributing PEDs? That’s just speculation of course, but it’s a natural question, and Mitchell doesn’t seem to have asked it.

The one front office guy who comes out looking truly awful is Giants GM Brian Sabean, and if the Giants have a modicum of integrity left -- unlikely, at this point -- they'll fire him immediately. It's one thing to look the other way while Bonds took steroids. But Sabean apparently heard as far back as 2002 that Bonds' personal trainer, who was allowed in restricted clubhouse areas against the advice of the Giants' own training staff, was getting other players on the team interested in steroids and probably distributing them. And Sabean did absolutely nothing about it (pgs 121-125). Staggeringly spineless and uninspiring leadership there, from the man who once signed Armando Benitez to a three-year, $21 million contract.

Anyway, it will be sort of morbidly interesting to watch the fallout from this, but outside of the Clemens confirmation, I don't think it changes much in the long run.

The day's other interesting story was Alex Rodriguez's conference call officially announcing his new $275 million contract: he said Scott Boras convinced him to opt out by telling him that the Yankees had no interest in keeping him. Can that really be true? Is Boras even creepier and more manipulative than we all assumed? Or is Rodriguez just trying to look like the good guy in all this? Does anybody still care? Tune in next time...

**Note: I'm not counting Pettitte because there's no indication here that he took anything before or after 2002; and David Justice, Mike Stanton, and Chuck Knoblauch are all described in the report as starting their (Radomski-related) PED use after the 2000 World Series. But if you're not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt -- and I would certainly understand if Mets fans felt that way -- you could make it nine. I've still got: Hill, Canseco, Neagle, Clemens, Grimsley.

December 11, 2007

How Long Have I Been Asleep?

Well, I'm back. And I've decided not to explain my absence at all, in a blatant and no doubt futile attempt to seem mysterious. Though I will just say that the persistent rumors of my role in the Johan Santana negotiations, while flattering, are completely unfounded... really, how on earth do these things get started?

Anyway, many things have happened in the last few weeks, and while all of this news is now not only old but in fact decrepit and being gnawed on by its own cats, I thought I'd do a very, very quick rundown of recent (ahem!) events, just to catch up.

Torre to the Dodgers: When the season ended, I felt a major pang over losing Joe Torre -- genuine pathos. I'd watched him grimace at middle relievers for 12 years, and I assumed that no matter how the Yankees fared without him, I'd miss him for seasons to come.

But you know what? I'm pretty much over it already. Go figure.

Slightly off-topic: I can't believe they voted Walter O'Malley into the Hall of Fame without a fight. That man is the embodiment of valuing greed and business and calculation over loyalty and individuality and emotion -- which I realize is a major part of any corporate entity, certainly including baseball, and I've generally made my peace with that, but do we really have to go and honor it?

Rivera, Posada, and Pettitte re-up: I like this now, but I know I won't like it in three years, and yet I am apparently unable to truly think that far ahead, so: yay!

A-Rod: Totally torn between feeling privileged that I'll get to watch Rodriguez make history firsthand, and being so fucking tired of talking about this guy already.

Johan Santana: Man, I was so psyched about the idea of Santana in New York -- I don't care which team, I've always said, as long as I can watch the man pitch every fifth day -- but then it was all talk, talk, talk, and no action, and unfulfilled excitement, like the Winter Meetings had been replaced by a 1960s Antonioni movie. I freely admit that I'm not really rational about Santana; if I were a man, you'd call it a man-crush, a blind, fierce, platonic devotion. I can see that trading Jose Reyes or Phil Hughes as part of a package for Santana is maybe not a rational move, and in fact I love both those players, but I just don't care -- my god, that changeup...

Snapping out of it and moving on, some highlights from the last few weeks:

Best Name Picked Up In The Rule V Draft: Callix S. Crabbe, 2B, and it wasn't close. Congratulations to the San Diego Padres.

Healthiest Way to Look at the Mets Offseason: While most of the Amazins fans I’ve talked to are disappointed with the Mets’ tepid moves so far, it’s become clear that it all feels much better if you just apply the Guillermo Mota Standard (GMS) to all incoming players. This began, of course, with Johnny Estrada, a mediocre catcher who nevertheless has the clear and much-lauded advantage of not being Guillermo Mota, for whom he was traded. But it works with other players, too. Lastings Milledge for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider!?!? Well, think of it this way: neither of those guys is Guillermo Mota, am I right? Doesn’t seem like such a bad trade now, does it?

Most Depressing Management Quote of the Fall: From the Orioles, of course. Just beating out Hammerin' Hank Steinbrenner's declaration that Jennifer Love Hewitt is his favorite actress, it's Baltimore President Andy MacPhail, as quoted in the Boston Globe (via Baseball Prospectus): "When the Egyptians were building the pyramids, they didn't think about what they had to build, they just carried the rocks up. I think that's what we have to do."

This explains so much. Never mind that I'm pretty sure the ancient Egyptians actually did put a fair amount of thought into creating structures that constitute, in context, some of the greatest engineering feats of all time; more to the point, I believe the Baltimore fans of my acquaintance -- those who are not yet institutionalized and heavily medicated -- would be very intrigued by Mr. MacPhail's view that the problem with Orioles management is that they've been thinking too much. Turns out we've been looking at this thing backwards all along!

Sorry, Balmer. At least The Wire will be back soon.