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Today was supposed to be a BB site maintenance day for me, adding links and working on the Lineup (authors) page, but now a friend is in need of tech support, and his fridge is well stocked with beer. So I'm tossing out a couple of items, and if there's no breaking news and nobody posts any manifestos, you're invited to make this a catch-all discussion.

As I've mentioned before, there's nothing wrong with Richard Griffin when he isn't blinded by his anti-Blue Jays fury. His recent basketball work is entertaining -- I agree that Rafer Alston's a breath of fresh air in a stinky season -- and this praise of Bud Selig, though contrary to my opinion, is certainly not offensive. However, instead of twisting or ignoring facts, as he usually does in an assault on J.P. & Co., he plucks misinformation out of thin air:

If Dusty (Baker, managing the NL in the 2003 ASG) wanted to annoy his former team, he could bring in, say, Mike Timlin to close out the win in the ninth.

Sure he could, Rich. If Timlin was an all-star (not bloody likely) or if he wasn't an AL pitcher.

Also taking a day off from Jay-bashing -- is it within the realm of possibility that our outrage is reaching these guys? -- is Bob Elliott of the Sun, with a reasonable commentary on Doc's signing and a roundup of local baseball events. In the footnotes, he mentions the Best Ever Coaching Clinic, which for 16 consecutive years, has lived up to its name. I still employ defensive and baserunning strategies I learned there from Rod Delmonico, my hitting philosophy owes a debt to Gary Ward, and on more than one occasion, I chatted with the legendary Gordie Gillespie about intangibles. (GG, winningest NCAA coach ever, admonishing a catcher for not rifling the ball to 2B after warmup throws: "nine times a game, you get a chance to put the fear of God in them. Don't waste it.") Even if you're not a coach, you can expand your knowledge of the game, and it would be fun for any baseball fan; this year's attendees could rub shoulders with Kelly Gruber and Jesse Barfield.

From the London Free Press, presumably the paper of record in St. Mary's, Jim Kernaghan defends the nomination of Pete Rose to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, however dumb. If the CBHoF needs publicity so badly, they could get even more coverage by taking hostages, another ill-advised stunt with just as much chance to "regenerate grassroots interest" in baseball. There's a thread on this topic at Primer that includes this priceless "quote" from "This Just In:"

"The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, on the brink of insolvency, recently received what it called an anonymous donation of $100,000 U.S., which they say will keep its doors open for at least another 5 years, or until Larry Walker retires. The gift was delivered in a plain brown envelope by a mysterious American named Paul Janszen, who sped away without comment."

Very clever, and while probably not true, the best summary I've seen of Charlie Hustler's perspective in the whole fiasco.

Here's your weekly hit of Gammons (mostly about Theo Epstein, who was told by the quotable Ricciardi, "if you start listening to the guys in the stands, pretty soon you'll be sitting up there with them.") Even worse, Theo could end up posting at some baseball blog. He's sure feeling the heat from the Boston press, where fairness and objectivity don't seem to matter any more than they do to the local columnists. I'm outta here; enjoy the football games.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Gitz - Sunday, January 19 2003 @ 05:03 PM EST (#98794) #
Much is made of the Sox making Epstein the youngest GM, but Cashman was only 31 when he took over at the richest, most stressful organisation in the sporting world.

This is old news, but I seldom read Gammons, mainly out of deep-rooted jealousy. For certain I don't read PG when the Red Sox are involved. And I'm pretty sure Epstein isn't brushing up on many blogs, blog you never know. Of course, I'm just blogging out of my blog ...

I see that another of Dusty Baker's favorite players -- guys who don't walk, generate hundreds of outs, but are deemed "professionals" -- has followed him to Chicago: Tom Goodwin signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs, giving them an unofficial lead in the contest for most Proven Veterans. Despite their obvious youth, with Prior, Wood, Hill, Zambrano, Patterson, et al, this is still an old, mediocre team. We'll see if Dusty can do what he always has: take a seemingly middling ball club and crank out 90 wins. Having lived in the Bay Area most of my life, I have consistently predicted the downfall of the Giants; it never happened, so I'm not betting against Baker this time.
_jason - Sunday, January 19 2003 @ 09:53 PM EST (#98795) #
A slow Sunday.

No Jays related info, but Rosenthal's lastest column he speaks a bit about Mondesi's apparent weight loss (he was fast when he was fat, how fast is he going to be now?), and the Orioles addition of Lightenberg to their promising bullpen. I know its just a small move but if the Orioles also pick up I-Rod, and he can remain healthy, and possible Cruz jr. they might not be as bad as I thought.

On a side note, I was corresponding with BP's Jonah Keri about the Expos, and how they should be able to succeed in this Billy Beane economy, and he took the time to vent on the subject. I don't think he'd mind if I share with you all:

"Jason, the Expos actually had a HIGHER payroll than
Oakland last year. They've always been able to use
intelligent decision-making to compete, they've just
never done it right. Beane's a great example of
course, but how about Terry Ryan and his scouting and
player development staff. The Twins also had a lower
payroll than the Expos last yr, and you saw what they
did. They did through great drafting, identifying
minor league talent in trades and developing an army
of young, talented players whose salaries are all
under control for the first 3 years of their careers.

By contrast, the Expos have one of the worst farm
systems in baseball, and whether you like last year's
Colon deal or not, that trade tossed out the Expos'
best and really three exciting prospects.

Also, as long as Minaya's running the show, he's
sticking to a win-now mentality, futile though that
may be.

It IS frustrating, and another year of wallowing, sans
Vlad, will only be uglier unfortunately." - JK (Baseball Prospectus)

I agree.
_jason - Sunday, January 19 2003 @ 11:12 PM EST (#98796) #
CNN/SI lists their picks for top prospects in MLB. Orlando Hudson and Kevin Cash get ranked at their respective positions.
_Mick - Monday, January 20 2003 @ 12:24 AM EST (#98797) #

... if the Orioles also pick up I-Rod, and he can remain healthy, and possibly Cruz they might not be as bad as I thought.

Jason, I see where you're going with that, and it's possible that you think the Orioles are otherwise going to be a team that is cataclysmically bad (and they might be) but I really think signing Pudge or Cruz, much less both, is exactly the wrong thing for the Orioles to do. (Everybody together now: "So that means they'll do it!")

Dropping a "bargain" $8M one-year contract on a catcher who has missed an average of 60 games a season since his MVP year last millenium and a similarly bloated contract on an OF who never lived up to his hype and who, according to regular posters here, can't reasonably play CF every day ... ugggggh. Toss in the rumored deal of Tony Batista, who is probably their best everyday player, for the $10M K machine Jeromy Burnitz, as if the O's didn't alreayd have enough corner IF/OF/DH types (which means, of course, that the injury-prone C wouldn't get much in the way of "DH days off" ...

In this perfect Peter Magowan world, apparently the 2003 Orioles are going to look something like this ...

C: Pudge until he gets hurt backed up by wildly overrated -- and that's saying something! -- Geronimo Gil

1B: David Segui until he gets hurt, then probably Chris Richard, who honestly might be the best dollar value on the team. Jay Gibbons could conceiveably factor in here; alert the media.

2B: Jerry Hairston, Jr. Let's just say he's not the player his daddy was, and Jerry Sr. isn't exactly in Cooperstown.

SS: Deivi Cruz. Can I get an AY-MEN! from Rey Ordonez?

3B: Uh ... Jeff Conine, I guess. Or maybe Melvin Mora?

OF: Already mentioned: Conine, Mora, Gibbons and Richard would show up here. None can play CF worth a damn, though Mora has seen action there. Presumably Cruz would play every day. Marty Cordova is one of their bigger offensive threats (stress "offensive" there), so if Burnitz comes in trade, the Opening Day starters are probably, left to right, Cordova, Cruz and Burnitz ... even though they're playing up Gary Matthews, Jr. in the media, I can only presume because ever since Cal Ripken Jr. retired, the Orioles are desperately searching for the NEXT Jr. to take them to the promised land. If not Matthews, then Cruz or Hairston. Where's Pedro Borbon, Jr., anyway?

I won't even try to guess about the DH, but speaking of Borbon (weak transition alert), how about that pitching? Everyone should breathe deeply and think very, very hard about how you'd feel if your favorite team was counting on a rotation of Rodgrigo Lopez (who did nothing before last year and has to prove he can do it again ... and he's the ace), Omar Daal (the big free agent acquisition who as recently as 2000 was 4-19), Sidney Ponson (one of the most disappointing overhyped pitchers of the past decade) and a couple of guys named Erickson and Hentgen who I understand have had minor injury issues recently.

If for some reason any one of the above doesn't work out -- instead of, let's say, three or four of them -- your fallback options are Travis Driskill, Jason Johnson and Sean Douglass, who last year were a combined 15-27 ... including Driskill's 6-0 pre-implosion start.

Nice bullpen. Seriously. Young closer who unfortunately won't have many innings that actually matter because he'll be preserved for save situations, few those may be; two of the top four or five lefty setup men in the game (Buddy Groom and B.J. Ryan) and a couple of nice righties in Willis Roberts and Rick Bauer.

As the Orioles Cruz -- er, cruise into the All-Star break six thousand games behind the Yankees and Red Sox, I assume all of the bullpen guys except Julio, who would bring the most value, will go on the trade market.

Fearless prediction: Tampa Bay will not finish last in the AL East in 2003. In fact, they will not be close to last ... and with apologies to Lou Piniella, the D-Rays suck.

Now, when the Orioles knock off the Cubs in the World Series, you can all send me the link to this comment to show me just how wrong I was about the Orioles being so bad. But from here, I predict they will win ... think hard about what this statistic means ... fewer games per payroll dollar than the Yankees.
_jason - Monday, January 20 2003 @ 03:15 AM EST (#98798) #
Wow, you really dont like the Orioles. I didnt say I thought they would be good, just not as bad as I thought.

I don't think I-Rod will be getting 8 million from anyone at this point (3-4 million for 1 year is more likely), even the Orioles, and I doubt that Cruz would get more than a 1 million for one year deal.

And I would also disagree with your contention that Cruz can't play CF everyday. He is not the CF that Wells is but he is probably better defensively than most of the OF playing CF these days. (Bernie Williams, Lance Berkman, Terrence Long, etc...) He's got a good arm and covers a reasonable amount of ground. Yes, his first season in CF was rocky but he did improve at that position. At least I thought so.

I can't vouch for his offense only to say that he does have some pop in his bat and some speed on the base paths. He has 30+ HR power and 30+ steal potential, thats not bad. And he does have a higher career OBP than Wells as well. Not to say I'm arguing that he is better than Wells, I dont think he is, but Im just saying that Cruz is not as bad as you make him out to be. True, he never has lived up to his "potential", but regardless he's still a decent player. Certainly an upgrade in CF for the Orioles if he does go there.

Don't get me wrong, the Orioles have been run as badly as any team in recent memory and they have left their farm system barren. I found their lack of player development and constant addition of over-priced vertans baffling as well. But a good bullpen can go a long way and Mike Hargrove is a good manager. I still think they'll finish ahead of Tampa this year.

Just to add, this is the last year they have to pay Al Belle's contract so they'll probably hit the FA market hard in what promises to be a rich crop for 2004. Wether the new management can make better use of the FA market than its predesessor will remain to be seen.
Coach - Monday, January 20 2003 @ 09:13 AM EST (#98799) #
(Mondesi) was fast when he was fat, how fast is he going to be now?

Jason, I have always considered Raul a half-fast player.

BTW, though I agree that Jonah Keri, like most of us, probably wouldn't mind if you quoted from an e-mail, it's a courtesy to get his permission anyway. I hope I speak for all BB authors that we would tell J.P., or any baseball insider, if we met him in public and struck up a conversation, that we contribute to this space, so that he could clarify what's on (or off) the record before we started asking him how many AB Jayson Werth is going to get or whether Mark Hendrickson's sure of a rotation spot. Regular posters on BB and the many other Internet forums aren't bound by the same code of ethics, but if you do have a chance meeting (or correspondence) with someone, they will respect you more if you ask for their OK to share highlights of the conversation, and it has a better chance of becoming a mutually trusting relationship. Just some friendly, coachly advice, which you, like the four teenagers to whom I offer parental "wisdom," are free to ignore.

That said, I agree with Keri on the true cost of the Colon deal. The Expos have an aging El Duque and non-entities Rocky Biddle and Jeff Liefer to show for a trio of brilliant kids who (especially Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips) could be the core of a revival in Cleveland for the next few years. Taken together, the two deals, for a half-season of Colon when you're not in a pennant race, are "shoot self in foot" management by Minaya.

Speaking of which, ya got yer O's. Two GMs, any two, are better than one, if the one is Syd Thrift. "J.M. Beatagan" will have the same problem that handcuffed even St. Patrick Gillick in his tenure in Baltimore -- interference from the owner and his family. There's apparently a belief somewhere in that dysfunctional organization that they aren't really as bad as they are. So they throw patches -- Daal, maybe Cruz and Pudge -- on a sinking ship. It may make them slightly more competitive this year, so I don't think they'll be quite as bad in '03 as Mick does, but it actually worsens their long-range prospects for a return to respectability.

In the NL, only the Commissioner's team (sorry, that's ambiguous, his Central Division team) is as hopelessly terrible as the AL bottom-feeders. It's as hard to predict who will be worst among Baltimore, Tampa, Kansas City and Detroit as it is to forecast the playoff teams. I'm assuming Tampa will do nothing to improve (though they did sign ex-Jay Steve Parris to a minor-league deal and spring training tryout) but Baltimore will make some moves, very probably short-sighted. So I'll side with Jason and take them over the D-Rays one more year. K.C. and Detroit, entering the season with an interesting philosophy (if you've never heard of any of our starting pitchers, they will be difficult to hit) are as bad as the East doormats, but since the Tigers have absolutely no offence, they're my pick as the worst in MLB. Gitz predicted 0-162, but after my usual astute statistical analysis, I discovered they play the Royals 19 times, and therefore state with confidence Detroit will win at least three games, possibly four.

Jose Cruz Jr. at $5 MM is a lousy player. At $2 MM, or whatever he will get on the new "open, but not as far as it used to be" market, he's acceptable. (I still prefer Little Cat.) Pudge at $6 MM (or whatever he finally settles for after swallowing a large lump of pride) will be motivated to prove his true value and might have a great year. But they need to keep him packed in ice. I do like a couple of O's as possible late-round fantasy picks. Hairston's SB are a bonus, and Mora is SS-eligible; either is useful if you're in an AL league where you have to start an extra middle infielder. Jay Gibbons helped my power numbers last year as a FA pickup in a couple of leagues, and might be healthier now. On the field in real games, however, those guys are part of Baltimore's problems. Oh, for Mick and anyone else who's wondering -- Pedro BorBlown got a minor-league deal and a spring-training invite from the Dodgers.

It's a busy day for me, so I won't be able to check in much, but that's a benefit of this site's growth -- it functions quite nicely without me. Better, some might say.
_Steve Z - Monday, January 20 2003 @ 12:25 PM EST (#98800) #
Some random info and quotes from CBS Sportsline's Team Report, including this:

A National League general manager on new Blue Jays right-hander Jason Arnold, 23, who pitched at Double-A in 2002:

"People might look at him as a minor leaguer and think that it's going to be a long wait. Our reports show he's on a fast track, he could be in the big leagues after the All-Star break."

Another general manager, on the Jays moving shortstop Felipe Lopez to the Cincinnati Reds in the four-player deal to acquire Arnold:

"Two years ago, all you heard from Jays people was how Cesar Izturis and Lopez were going to play together as long as Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. Now they're both gone. Lopez I could take or leave because of his immaturity, but Izturis reminded me of Luis Aparicio."

After checking out Aparicio's surprisingly bad career hitting stats, the comparison isn't too bad.
Gitz - Monday, January 20 2003 @ 03:23 PM EST (#98801) #
... but that's a benefit of this site's growth -- it functions quite nicely without me. Better, some might say.

Coach, that's not true at all. Any intelligent being would say the site functions better without you. So keep quiet, Mick ...
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