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They have a winner! Paul Harmon took home the widely coveted HACKING MASS trophy from the good folks at Baseball Prospectus, by drafting the worst possible team of duds and detritus in the major leagues. By choosing such hacksters as Doug Glanville, Roger Cedeno and Rey Sanchez, Harmon guaranteed he'd have the smelliest team in cyberspace.

The HACKING MASS All-Star Squad included one name that will be painfully familiar to Jays fans: Cory Lidle. Under BP's rating system, Lidle did the second-most damage of any major-league pitcher in 2003, though if it's any comfort, no one else saw it coming either (Lidle went undrafted in the HACKING MASS entries). My own entry, The Unreleasables, was chosen for the size of its unswallowable contracts as much as anything else, but I was let down by shockingly productive seasons from Travis Lee, Vinny Castilla and Rey Ordonez. Do any Bauxites have results of their own to report?
Expos fans among us might have been there that night in Olympic Stadium when Dave Dravecky's career ended just by throwing a pitch to Tim Raines. His left arm, weakened by cancer and chemotherapy, was broken, and shortly after was amputated. I write for a living, and I suppose that if I lost both of my hands, that would be comparable to what a major-league pitcher would feel if his arm were taken away from him. Dravercky, who's intensely religious, spoke with a reporter from the Toronto Star recently, a session that resulted in this interview. Dravecky handled this awful turn of events better than anyone could have asked, and he must be an actual hero to fellow amputees who wonder if life is worth living in their post-operation condition. Kudos to him for his courage and attitude.
The Marlins have traded Derek Lee to the Cubs for last year's sweetheart hot rookie, Hee Seop Choi. Is Lee the first of several Marlins to migrate to Wrigley?

Bizarre trade. Discuss.
Aaron Gleeman and Tangotiger, and several others, had a think. They came up with a great number, the GPA (Gleeman Production Average). Go read all about it. The gist : the GPA tastes just like Batting Average, but has 259% more vitamins and minerals.
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Batter's Box pays tribute to one of the game's great lefthanded pitchers, Warren Spahn. The amazingly durable ace passed away in his home in Broken Arrow, OK.
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The good folks over at Baseball Primer have got themselves an interesting discussion on the go, which I thought I'd shamelessly pilfer. In the context of Roger Clemens' retirement, they're wondering which five pitchers would be in the all-time starting rotation. Here's my entry:

1. Walter Johnson
2. Lefty Grove
3. Christy Mathewson
4. Roger Clemens
5. Randy Johnson

Which makes me think: who would be in the Blue Jays' all-time rotation? I'm only counting homegrown starters here, so no Clemens.

1. Dave Stieb
2. Roy Halladay
3. Jimmy Key
4. David Wells
5. Juan Guzman
Lee Sinins is reporting that Arizona has traded Curt Schilling to Boston for Casey Fossum and prospects. The deal is conditional on Schilling waiving his no-trade clause. By "officially" making the trade, the Red Sox now have 72 hours to try to coax Schilling with a contract extension.
Thanks to Gerry McDonald for this timely pinch-hit about the plethora of pitching prospects in the Blue Jays' minor-league system. All those talented arms need a place to go, but there are only so many rotation spots in the full-season leagues. Gerry gives an intelligent, well-reasoned explanation of which pitchers should start where and why. Thanks, Gerry!

While General Managers are putting together their rosters in the winter and early spring, their minor-league farm directors are doing the same. Team rosters at the upper levels of the minor leagues have a mix of prospects and veterans. At the lower levels, teams include prospects and fillers. Syracuse's 2003 roster had veterans like Doug Linton, Bruce Aven and Gary Burnham filling out the lineups, with Jason Arnold, Jason Werth and Gabe Gross representing the prospects.
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About the Batter's Box 2003 Least Valuable Player Awards
2003 BBLVPAs : Mismanagers of the Year
2003 BBLVPAs : The Batter's Box Schadenfreude Awards
2003 BBLVPAs : Allan Travers Awards
2003 BBLVPAs : Rookie Hype of the Year Awards

In the interest of clearing a backlog of articles I have to write, I am going to make this discussion of the BBLVPAs centerpiece awards, the Least Valuable Players, a short one. But that should not detract from the prestige of the award, or from the skills of the winners, which were considerable. There was heavy competition this year, as large numbers of players in both leagues found new and exciting ways to lose games for their teams. So without further ado, our 2003 Batter's Box Least Valuable Players are...
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Strong stuff from Peter Gammons, who considers "the perception of mistrust with the Commissioner's Office" the game's biggest problem, and calls for change.

This past October we saw how good baseball can be, but it needs someone or something to blast it forward into the 21st century.

You'll be disappointed if you wanted more rumours about trades and free agents; this column is a "state of the game" lament, including the steroid issue and the spectre of collusion, directed at Bud and his credibility. Gammons calls it "a resounding embarrassment to baseball" that Wisconsin legislators and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are calling for audits of the local team's books.
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The Hanlan's Point Chapter of SABR (that's the Toronto chapter) will have its next meeting on Sunday, January 18 at 1:00pm, at the Duke of Richmond Pub (20 Queen St. West, near the Eaton Centre). The featured guest will be Anthony Kalamut of Seneca College speaking on "Southside Anthony's Hall of Fame". Also on the programme are "The Lighter Side of Jay Buckley's Baseball Tours", a preview of the 2004 "Spring Training for Fans" Lineup, a trivia contest, and more.

To RSVP, please contact Maxwell Kates by telephone at (416) 515-9578, or by e-mail at

If you're not already a member of SABR, it's OK... guests are welcome. But if you love baseball, join SABR.
As is often the case, this is already being discussed in the Hijack Central thread. Citing "a source close to Escobar," Geoff Baker reports in today's Star that it's a done deal, pending a routine medical examination. Kelvim will be an Angel for $18.75 million over three years. It sounds like the Red Sox were the underbidders at $15 million for three, while the Jays wouldn't budge from their $10 million, two year proposal.

There were rumours about an Escobar trade to Anaheim at least as far back as the 2002 deadline, and he continued to impress his (alleged) new team in 2003, taking a shutout into the ninth on August 3, and pitching five scoreless relief innings in May. The Angels hit just .136 off him this year; no wonder they think he's worth the money. I certainly don't.
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it's official -- the Anaheim Angels have signed Kelvim Escobar to a three-year, $18.75 million contract (lefty broke the news first). The decision will have a number of effects. First, the Jays will now take the $5 million they had offered Escobar and put it towards the team's remaining purchases: another starter (preferably a solid #2), bullpen help and/or veteran infield depth. Second, Escobar was a Type-A free agent, which means the Jays get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2004 draft as well as the Angels' 2nd-round pick next June. Finally, Escobar will be pitching for neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox the next three years, which has to be considered a bonus for the Blue Jays -- they would not have liked to lose a talented starter to their divisional rivals. The news is unsurprising and will surely foster controversy: should the Jays have tried harder to bring Escobar back? Should they have tried to match the Angels' offer? Or are they better off without the enigmatic, frustrating right-hander? Adios, Kelvim.
We've run a thread like this before, but I thought I'd throw the floor open for the input of our many new readers.

It's a simple pair of questions: If you were a hitter on the Blue Jays, what would you select to be your at-bat music? And if you were on the Jays' pitching staff, to what song would you like to enter the game?

I think if I were an ace reliever, I'd definitely choose "Money City Maniacs" by Sloan to get the crowd going in a close game. As a hitter, my imagined tune changes from week to week; now I'm thinking "Can't Explain" by The Who. I have to say, though, that I saw Willie Harris stride to the plate to "Still Fly" by the Big Tymers at a White Sox game -- and it was pretty cool.

It's up to you...except that Murray Eldon's presence, of course, is non-negotiable.
I've kicked the habit
Shed my skin
This is the new stuff
I go dancing in

By popular demand, here's a new Hijack Central, for breaking news, rumours, OT discussions and other Bauxite miscellany.
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