Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
So Bartolo Colon has been traded. Finally. The long-anticipated, long-rumored trade has happened, proving once again how senseless trade rumors are, especially the ones generated by professional journalists who know better but who operate under the umbrella of titillation, where hard facts come second. None of these experts had mentioned the White Sox as a possible destination, but voila! El Gordo lands in the windy city, and stocks in companies that make Polish sausages go up five bucks a share. What interests me most about the deal are not the players involved—obviously the White Sox gain the most—but the continued and bewildering tendency of major league teams to help, via trades, the New York Yankees, who, at last, present, and future check, don’t need anyone’s help, even if it is only in the form of an aging, injury-prone RH relief pitcher, the kind available in the minor leagues, the independent leagues, and your local Wal-Mart. Trading the Yankees anything, be it a back-up catcher or an extra baseball, is the equivalent of a country giving the United States a nuclear weapon. Speaking of empires, the recent branding of the Yankees as an “Evil Empire” elicits some questions: Are they really an empire? And, if so, are they an evil one? Or are they simply products of an economic model that increasingly makes less-and-less sense, that being free-market capitalism, alive and well in the baseball world? It is worth a closer look.
[More] (1,574 words)
According to the Star's sports media guy Chris Zelkovich, Tom Candiotti will do 30 games on Sportsnet this year as analyst. This is an excellent development; it means we'll only have to suffer through 90 games of John Cerutti, who is one of the main reasons the term "colour man" is rarely used any more.

"John has proved himself as a solid broadcaster and I look for both he and (play-by-play announcer) Rob Faulds to be even better now that they've had a year together," said Scott Moore, Sportsnet's vice-president of production.

You say solid, I say stiff.

One down, four to go. As reported in the Star, Chris Woodward has accepted a well-deserved raise. The Jays' starting SS will make $775,000 in 2003, a slightly more than 300% raise.

Nobody wanted to play Arbitration Price Is Right with me, so I win, but I had budgeted $600 K as a base and suggested bonuses for plate appearance thresholds. This seems like a fair deal, and I hope he plays well enough this season to join the millionaire's club the following year.

This just in: Woody has finished writing his 500 lines of "I will not swing at a 3-0 pitch," and J.P is pleased with his penmanship progress.

Bartolo Colon has been traded to the Chicago White Sox in a three-way deal involving the Yankees. The Expos receive Jeff Liefer, Rocky Biddle, Orlando Hernandez, and cash to pay some of Hernandez's salary.

Details are here.
The Batter's Box summit lunch today is almost as important, but in Arizona, the annual gathering of millionaires and billionaires may have a bit more on their plate. Topping the list is how to milk the most out of "their" team, the Montreal/San Juan Expos, before selling the bare bones of the franchise to a new crony in Washington or Portland. The committee that will ultimately decide their fate consists of Jerry Reinsdorf, Tom Hicks and Bud Selig, with the Commissioner's right-hand man (Bob DuPuy) and his daughter (Wendy Selig-Prieb) added, obviously for balance.

The owners, basking in the glow of victory in last year's labour skirmish, will also discuss the proposed changes to the All-Star game, a minimum age for bat boys, and other relatively insignificant issues. I've often wondered whether there are "off the record" discussions of serious matters -- how tight to wind the baseballs, or what kind of spin to put on allegations of collusion -- but I'm not expecting much real news out of Scottsdale, and I'll swallow what they do feed us with appropriate seasoning.
Here's a Boston Globe report that suggests Kevin Millar will play at Fenway this year, despite denials from his agent. Theo Epstein, no doubt encouraged by his boss, former Marlins owner John Henry, came up with a creative way to get his man, and can't understand the fuss. ''It was not our intention to violate any unwritten rule,'' he said.

Theo's plan is to "allow" Millar to reject the Red Sox waiver claim, as is his right. Then, the Chunichi Dragons will accept compensation (rumoured to be Benny Agbayani, who the Japanese fans will adore, and enough cash to pay the transfer fee they owe the Marlins) and Millar will end up in Boston after all.
[More] (299 words)
Jamey Newberg is reporting that RHP Ismael Valdes has agreed to terms on a one-year contract to return to the Rangers. Perhaps the single-season hard-luck pitcher of the decade (so far) in 2002, Valdes will be the #2 starter in Texas behind Chan Ho (That's Outta The) Park and Colorado reject John Thomson.

This news furthers the likelihood that vastly underrated lefty Doug Davis, who is destined to turn into Jamie Moyer, will be available for cheap trade or on waivers before the start of the season.

A couple of short months ago, when we were all alone here at Batter's Box, I posted this praise for my "new" co-blogger's witticism on Baseball Primer. At long last, the nominations are in for the 2002 Primey Awards, presented to the finest baseball writing on the Internet; that hilarious thread is nominated in the "best non-baseball" category, and Gideon's punch line is up for "best humorous post." I would never encourage anyone to vote against their conscience, or stuff the ballot box, but you will enjoy checking out all the nominations, and I'm sure you'll agree that Jordan should get a Primey.

Primer-related congratulations are also in order for "our" own Craig Burley, who has joined their excellent writing staff. That's wonderful, and well deserved. Before I started this exercise in Blue Jays fandom, Craig B and Gideon were my favourite Primer posters, and their contributions here have been a huge factor in making us whatever we are. This isn't a farewell; Craig may be an important baseball pundit now, but he's also a Jays fan, and will continue to honour us with his presence.

The timing of all this great news is interesting -- we've all become friends electronically, but haven't met. Tomorrow, we're having lunch, and I expect we'll be in a celebratory mood. Well done, guys!
From the Official Site: Batting Around with Frank Catalanotto. Spencer Fordin asked the new Jay RF about his position, and F-Cat isn't worried:

"The year when I played exclusively in left field -- 2001 -- I had my best year and I think I was able to focus more at the plate. When you're in the middle infield, your mind is working every second that you're on defense."

The best news is the health report; after some bad luck in 2002, this sounds promising:

"I've been on a pretty aggressive back program the whole year. The doctor said I have to do my exercises every single day and that's what I've been doing. My back feels great. Hopefully, doing these exercises will keep me from re-injuring it. The hand injury, I got hit by a pitch and broke it. There's nothing you can do about that."

Cat's one of the few players who admits a preference for artificial turf; he believes it turns more of his singles into doubles. Coming from an older club with several Hall of Fame candidates to the younger, developing Blue Jays, he's keen on assuming a leadership role.
By request from a concerned Canadian baseball fan named Jurgen Maas, here's an online petition from the Montreal Gazette concerning Gary Carter's wardrobe at his upcoming Hall of Fame induction.

While I was adamant that The Kid belongs in Cooperstown, his behaviour since his election has done nothing to endear him to Montreal and its beleaguered fans. He's been rude, and (no surprise) selfish, caring only about his future marketing opportunities. He doesn't seem to realize there's a certain cachet to being the first, maybe the only, member of his team to be so honoured. The Expos probably won't exist next year, so if you believe he should wear their cap, add your name and optional comments to the list, which will be forwarded to officials at the HoF and to Carter.

I think he should have a special logo made, featuring a big dollar sign superimposed over a grinning picture of himself. That's where Gary's loyalty really is.
Ken Rosenthal, the Sporting News's less arbitrary answer to Peter Gammons, is back with another article reviewing the majors in the depths of baseball-free January. A few points of interest and one very intriguing Blue Jays-related observation.
[More] (339 words)
A nice little article here on Orlando Hudson from the Florence (S.C.) Morning News. It paints a very different picture of Hudson than the one he drew for himself -- with more than a little help from the Toronto media -- with the "pimp" comment. It's another facet of someone who appears to be a little deeper than first guessed. As usual, the truth about someone lies somewhere in between all the things said and written about him, but it's certainly good to see Hudson demonstrate a maturity and generosity beyond what first impressions might have led us to believe. Nice piece.
Interesting note from Dave Till in a previous thread that seems worthy of breaking out into a separate discussion: "[Roy Halladay] ... stands a chance of becoming the Jays' best pitcher ever [...] Right now, if you're just measuring peak performance level, I'd already rank him about sixth all-time, behind Stieb, Clemens, Hentgen, Guzman and Key."

Without necessarily limiting ourselves to peak performance level -- frankly, that seems kind of unfair to the near decade of Jays pitchers who endured the pre='85 pennantless stretch -- what would be the Jays all-time rotation? Figure a minimum of two righties and two lefties plus a fifth starter who could be either a righty or lefty.

I don't think Jerry Garvin or Dave Lemanczyk are going to be banging on the door of this all-time rotation, but what about ...
[More] (49 words)
In Canada, and across the baseball universe, most people slight one of the game’s best pitchers every time they say his name. Roy Halladay, the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays, got his nickname -– Doc –- because he’s a Colorado boy, like the famous Old West gunslinger, "Doc" Holliday.

That’s how Roy’s family pronounces their surname: “Holiday.” If you’re reading it, and have never heard it spoken correctly, it’s easy to make the mistake; the first three letters spell HAL, like the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the first four letters are “hall,” and that’s the way Doc says it, so why shouldn’t we?
[More] (326 words)
Pistol referred to this in another thread, and while there's no earth-shaking news, it's worth a look. Alan Ryan of the Star talks to a "very happy" J.P. Ricciardi about his budget and other financial matters. Paul Godfrey reminds enthusiastic Jays fans (guilty, sorry) that the team is only at the second stage of a four-part rebuilding process, and credits the GM for his patience, while J.P. says this about Roy Halladay:

"Next year, we'll definitely be thinking about doing something long term."

That's a vague commitment to an extension, but there's no hurry: Doc is a Blue Jay for three more years via the arbitration process, which begins in earnest next weekend. Now it's time to play a Batter's Box guessing game -- what do the five arb-eligible Toronto players want, and what will they get?
[More] (421 words)