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You may have heard that Astros outfielder Lance Berkman will likey miss the start of next season s he need 5-6 months of rehabd after tearing his right ACL while playing flag football.

While perhaps this opens the door for Richard Hidalgo to return to Houston, it raises this question: what single player can any team out there least afford to lose to injury (i.e., without compensation)? Take into account their ability to replace the player (either with bankroll like the Yankees or with a ready-to-step-in player, perhaps even like Jason Lane in Houston). And don't only consider statistics ... intangibles matter, too. That's what makes this opinion rather than a simple measure of "Above Replacement Level" players.

Question of the Day: What single player's off-season, season-ending injury would most cause you to cringe, "Ouch, their 2005 is over"?
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According to wire reports published on, a bat signed by Shoeless Joe Jackson sold for $137,500 Saturday at a memorabilia auction in Kentucky. At the same auction, a Cleveland Indians jersey worn by Satchel Paige was sold for $110,000. A letter handwritten by Babe Ruth, with six of his signatures at the bottom, and its original envelope went for $41,800. A baseball signed by Ruth and Lou Gehrig went for $31,900.

Question of the Day: Forget about price for a second; what piece of memorabilia from the entirety of baseball history would you most like to own?
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Today is Justin Speier's 31st birthday. Yes, I remember when his daddy Chris was a young shortstop with the Giants. Do you? That is not today's Question of the Day.

Also having birthdays today: Trammell, Munson and D. Dean ... but in each case, not the one you're thinking of. Don't there seem to be lots of scrub-level ballplayers with Hall of Fame names? That is also not today's Question of the Day.

Finally, one last birthday wish ... he would have been 117 today ... the great right-hander, The Big Train, "Barney" ... Walter Johnson.

And that brings us to ...

Question of the Day: Who is the best pitcher you've ever seen in a live game? Try to give a non-Jay answer so we don't have 500 "Roy Halladay" and "Dave Steib" entries.
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I'm writing to remind you all to vote early and often for Tom Cheek for the Ford C. Frick Award ...
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HOUSTON -- Houston Astros free agent center fielder Carlos Beltran is seeking a 10-year contract, his agent told a television station on Thursday, according to ESPN reports.

In other news, as you've surely heard by now, it slipped the minds of the Arizona Diamondbacks to perform a background check on new manager Wally Backman before introducing the former Met 2B as their skipper.

UPDATE: D-Back-man No More: Arizona Cans Wally

Question of the Day: It's a two-parter. What's the worst long-term signing of the free agent era? And what's the worst managerial choice of your lifetime?

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For those who discovered Batter's Box during the season, you're probably not familiar with Hijack Central. Its purpose is to be a clearing house of the latest links, news, and rumours from around baseball. Rather than "hijacking" another thread, feel free to post whatever your heart desires here. When Hijack Central gets too full to manage, or it falls off the main page, it'll be replaced with a shiny new thread.

Of course, in keeping with tradition, this thread has a contest associated with it. Read on for details.
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Back in the "real world" of baseball politics, two managerial moves were made in the last 24 hours, as Charlie Manuel will run the Phils and at long last, finally, the Mets' new skipper, Willie Randolph gets to embark on his nascent Hall of Fame managerial career. It's the Joe Torre arc -- even starting with the same team Torre did, though let's hope he has better luck.

Question of the Day: Who doesn't have a job managing that should? Who would make a good manager among current players or recent retirees, regardless of what you've heard of their potential interest in the field?
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As many of you will have noticed, Batter's Box is under attack by spammers seeking to use us to boost their search engine rankings. Their posts consist of a bunch of links and keywords, over and over and over again. In the last few days it has gone from an occassional annoyance to a constant deluge.

To attempt to combat this, we've had to ban a whole range of IP addresses, so if you've found yourself suddenly banned from posting you are simply a civillian casualty in what is increasingly becoming a war. But all is not lost: drop one of us roster members a line and we can see to it that your IP is unbanned as quickly as humanly possible.
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Okay, just for the record: we know there's a big election going on in the U.S. today. But as per ongoing informal Batter's Box policy, we do not invite political commentary here unless it's the politics of signing Carlos Delgado. If you want to talk about Kerry or Bush, please keep it Jays-related or at least baseball-relevant.

Further point of clarification: we are not discouraging you from having or sharing an opinion; we just want to point out that this ain't the place for it. There are many, many Election Blogs out there, and we encourage you to visit one or more of them to vent or question or seek updates or even counsel.

Any politically-motivated posts to any thread today will be responded to with a link to this thread and genuine encouragement that you take your political commentary to a more appropriate arena.

If you really must -- you're seriously just about to burst -- post something on Da Box that is related to the U.S. Presidency, please consider contributing, on topic, of course, to yesterday's Baseball Hall of Names entry.

You might spoil your face
If you walk in the crowd
You won't leave any trace
It's always the same
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Over at The Hardball Times, "Studes" (Dave to the rest of us) has a look at batted ball types and other such goodies. He also has a sneak preview of the 2004 Hardball Times Baseball Annual, our forthcoming book which will be released next week.

The Annual will be packed chock-full of stats stuff you can't find elsewhere, of which this is a small sneak preview. It'll be a lot of fun.
Unless we find out what’s to blame
What a shame
And we won’t be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same
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To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable
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On the radio at the local bar
In the hot traffic
By the red tail lights
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For now, I'll just say that. There is no such thing as a curse. It means nothing.

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, 2004 World Series Champions.