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Check out Homestar Runner's new Hallowe'en toon.

Because it doesn't have to be all baseball unless I say it has to be all baseball.

Or if Coach does.
Okay, here's a collection of the usual off-season stuff. Paul Molitor won't be managing in Boston, New York or anywhere else next season, since he's signed on to be the hitting coach of the Seattle Mariners. Frank Thomas picked up the 2004 option on his White Sox contract; at just $6 million next year, the Big Hurt (.267/.390/.562 in 2003) is a big bargain. Local boy Paul Quantrill declined his option year and became a free agent -- but before getting too excited, consider that he blew off a guaranteed $3.1 million from the Dodgers; don't expect to see him wearing the Fighting Jay next year. And for the silliest rumour of the day, ask yourself this question: would you trade Nomar Garciaparra for Alex Rodriguez? In the unlikely event some team claims Manny Ramirez, then that deal could -- possibly -- happen.



In honour of Halloween (bonus points to anyone who can provide the etymology of the name), this thread will be devoted to the worst, most horrifying, scariest, most blood-curdling thing you've ever seen a baseball player or team do. Was it Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park? Bill Buckner not bending down quite far enough? Steve Rogers throwing a fastball down the pipe to Rick Monday? Boston trading Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen? Gord Ash giving Homer Bush a three-year contract? Terrify us all!
Thanks to Andrew Edwards for this item at Baseball Prospectus about the top-of-the-line outfield at AA New Haven this past season. Most of what's there will be familiar to regular Bauxites, but writer David Cameron provides a detailed and intriguing breakdown of various stats, concluding that Gabe Gross, rather than Alexis Rios, is the safest bet for major-league success (though he readily admits that all three have terrific upside). It would be good to see someone tackle all the Ravens' stars in 2003, which included at various times these three players as well as Guillermo Quiroz, Russ Adams, David Bush, Dustin McGowan, and Tyrell Godwin. A more talented bunch the Jays' system may never see again on one roster.
Some smart person elsewhere asked what happens if the Red Sox try to assign Manny to the minors if he passes through waivers, and he refuses.
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We're starting a new feature on Batter's Box today, called "Ask Craig About the CBA". Essentially, I will take any and all questions you have about the CBA, the Uniform Player Contract, or the MLB Rules (not the Official Rules of Baseball, but how waivers work and so forth), and I will do my level best to answer them. Anything transaction-related or the like is welcome as well. I can't always answer these - the MLB Rules, for example, are secret and I can only work from public sources - but I'm always willing to give them a shot.

E-mail me at tybalt4@yahoo.com with your questions. I will answer about one a week, more if I get lots or if anything is time-sensitive.
Congratulations to Carlos Delgado for winning his third Silver Slugger award as the AL's best hitter at first base, and to Vernon Wells for the first of many as an outfielder. The voting is done by major-league managers and coaches, though they can't vote for their own players. In the Toronto Star this morning, Allan Ryan also reports that Roy Halladay was the best player in baseball in 2003, according to the Elias Sports Bureau rankings.

Elias' complicated formulas gave Halladay a 98.476 rating on a scale of 100. Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez was second at 98.293, down from last year, when he became just the fifth player with a perfect 100. Los Angeles reliever Eric Gagne, a Montreal native, was third at 97.347.

The ESB rankings are used to determine free agent compensation, and as I expected, Kelvim Escobar is a Type A player, because he was ranked as a reliever. Harder to believe, until you remember it's a two-year ranking, is that Cory Lidle is also Type A, meaning he was in the top 30% of free agent pitchers. The Jays can be sure of two draft picks now by making a qualifying offer to Escobar, but it would be foolish to go to arbitration with Lidle and pay him another $5 million, so he'll almost certainly be non-tendered.
Manny Ramirez has been placed on irrevocable waivers. Any team with a spare $20 million in payroll for the next five years can get their very own superstar, free. From the story by Michael Silverman in the Boston Herald:

The Red Sox grew fed up with Ramirez' defense and his man-child moments of inattention and immaturity this season, and the team clearly is positioning itself for greater payroll flexibility this winter, as it faces several critical decisions on players signed through next season only.

This is a risky move by Epstein and company. If Ramirez isn't claimed by tomorrow at midnight, they have further alienated a guy who is already a head case. If he is, they can sign a free agent hitter at 5-10% of the cost and spend the rest of the money on guys like Colon or Millwood. It's entirely possible that this is a ploy by the Sox to get Manny into pinstripes and get the Yankees out of the Guerrero sweepstakes. Who else can afford him?
Here's a list of the players potentially eligible for major league free agency. I will update this list throughout the offseason when I get the chance; once various deadlines pass, the information will be updated.

Feel free to use this thread to discuss anything free-agent related!
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The end-of-season minor-league wrap-ups continue, and today's contestant (thanks to Jonny German!) is an interesting site called On Deck Baseball Prospects. The site rates organizations from top to bottom, which is very unusual: most places don't pay attention to any teams below High-A (here are the league rankings), let alone go into the depths of each organization (I mean, that's more than 200 individual clubs to keep track of). The site also has the right idea about contextualizing the results: players receive bonuses or demerits if they're young or old for the league, account is taken for leagues that are more power-friendly than others, strikeouts for hitters are not punished, and extra points are awarded if the player is close to the majors. All sensible approaches to incorporate into a minor-league review.
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A friend at work asked me yesterday if any manager had been fired after a season as successful as the one Grady Little just enjoyed. The answer, of course, is yes. But what has happened, historically, after playoff teams have gone in a different managerial direction?

It hasn't always been a cure-all. Since 1901, twenty-two teams have started a season with a new manager, fresh off a playoff berth (Boston will be the 23rd). Of the 22, thirteen missed the playoffs the next season and nine returned. Since the advent of the Wild Card, four of the seven have missed the playoffs.

But three managers have stepped in and immediately led an inherited playoff team to a championship: Ralph Houk (NYY '61), Alvin Dark (Oak '74) and of course, Joe Torre (NYY '96).

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A little CanCon over at Baseball America today. First of all, the newest off-season Prospect Hot Sheet positions Syracuse and Team USA outfielder Gabe Gross at #6, with this commentary:

In case you missed him, Gabe Gross is back; he ripped 39 doubles and drew 83 walks between Double-A New Haven and Triple-A Syracuse this season, then added a .343 average and .686 slugging during Team USA play in the AFL.

The PHS isn't so much a ranking of actual prospect status as it is a "Who's Hot, Who's Not" list of minor leaguers. That list would not include Russ Adams right now, who struggled with a .179/.289/.256 line for the Javelinas of the AFL. Mind you, this is in 39 at-bats, which is as useful a sample size as the Sheila Copps Leadership Committee.

Also at BA, the Montreal (for now) Expos' top ten prospects receive the Post-Season Wrap-Up treatment. We're going to be adding more Expos content in the near future, so this is a nice introduction to their system.
Today's BBLVPA awards are the Rookie Hype of the Year awards, intended to go to the rookie in each league whose performance is the most disappointing compared to his pre-season or in-season hype.
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He couldn't stay away...

Frank Catalanotto has re-signed with the Blue Jays, a one-year contract worth $2.3 million. This is according to The Globe & Mail. Thanks to Steve Z for the tip!
OK, so you believe you know exactly what move(s) every GM in baseball should make in order to be next year's version of the '03 Marlins or '02 Angels.

Now's your chance to prove it with Da Box's One Move Challenge. Read on, make a move, mock the moves of others ... play along.

A former Jay in Beantown? A Hall of Famer headed to Wrigley? A salary dump DeepInTheHearta? You betcha. It's all in the magic of the Hot Stove's ONE MOVE.
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