Admin Note – Writing Plans – The Next 10-12 Days

Here is what I hope I will be able to do over the next 10-12 days:

  • I want to do a rant on Monday 26 December.
  • I want to do the annual “Bad Ads” compendium sometime next week.
  • I want to do an abbreviated version of Mythical Picks on Friday or Saturday next week

Note I did not say was certain that I would be able to do those things; those are my basic objectives.  If things break right in terms of family/social commitments, I might be able to sneak in some other writings.  If not, I plan to be back on the air in “regular mode” on 5 January 2017.

Stay well, everyone…

 

The Start Of The MLB Off-Season

The MLB general managers are about to convene for the annual GM meetings.  While the off-season began for most teams a month or so ago, this annual convocation is the ceremonial beginning to the preparations for the 2017 season.  I saw a list of more than 130 free agents who are out there looking for another gig.  Not to worry, I am not going to go through that list here; however, there are some names on there that are sort of interesting.  There are “name players” who might be interesting additions to teams but who may not draw a lot of interest because of advancing age and/or high price.  I put many of these folks into 5 categories that I will present here:

On Sale/As Is/No Returns/All Sales Final:  Category descriptor is self-explanatory – –

  1. Tim Lincecum (been a while since he was effective)
  2. Koji Uehara (age 41)

Bargain Basement:  For a short-term deal at reasonable cost, look here – –

  1. Peter Bourjos (injury issues resolved?)
  2. Ross Detweiler
  3. Jeff Francouer (tempted to put him in the category above …)
  4. James Loney
  5. Colby Rasmus
  6. Jared Weaver (veteran 5th starter in a rotation?)

Take a Shot: These are players getting up in years who may want a long-term deal; that makes them a bit of a risk – –

  1. Jose Bautista (Age 36)
  2. Edwin Encarnacion (Age 33)
  3. Rich Hill (Age 36)
  4. Mike Napoli (Age 35)
  5. Matt Wieters (Age 30)
  6. CJ Wilson (Age 35)

Worth Pursuing:  This guy can give a roster plenty of flexibility – –

  1. Ian Desmond

Good for the Bullpen:  Relief pitching is very important – –

  1. Kenley Jansen
  2. Mark Melancon
  3. Drew Storen

The GM meetings often lay the groundwork for trades that culminate in December and all the discussions/evaluations regarding off-season trades must be put in the context of free agent availability and price tags.  There is no baseball action at the moment, but that does not mean there is no baseball activity at the moment…

There is one other baseball free agent that is interesting because of his reputation.  A. J. Pierzynski is on the market at age 39.  He has been in the major leagues for 19 years with 7 different teams.  Here is a comment attributed to Ozzie Guillen – not known for being “politically correct” at all times – regarding AJ Pierzynski:

“If you play against him, you hate him.  If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”

In the NFL, the trade deadline came and went with nothing of great importance happening.  There are “contending” teams with significant needs out there (the Eagles really need a WR; the Seahawks and the Vikes need offensive linemen) and there are teams going nowhere with a player who might fill one of those needs for a contender (Browns and Niners each have a good offensive lineman who could help a lot).  The fact that nothing happened says that the “sellers” were asking too high a price for the goods they were peddling.

The thing that I like about the NFL trade deadline is precisely what frustrates me about the MLB trade deadline.  When the NFL deadline passes, there are no more trades; the deadline means what it says.  In MLB, the “trade deadline” is 31 July but everyone knows that is nonsense since player movement happens after the “trade deadline”.  Here is the system that I would prefer for MLB:

  1. The trade deadline is hard and fast on June 30.
  2. As of 1 July every year, each team has its roster and its minor-league system.  That is the cadre that will take teams to the playoffs – or not.
  3. If a player is waived/cut/released, he still collects his guaranteed contract, but he cannot sign with another MLB team.  He can go and play in the minor leagues somewhere as an “unaffiliated player” and then sign on with anyone who wants him in the subsequent season.

That would be a simple system – and it would put a premium on building a team down through the minor leagues for depth from the beginning of the year.  It would discourage teams from throwing together a roster in April with a wait-and-see attitude regarding a position of buyer or seller at the end of July.

I will not be holding my breath until MLB adopts my approach here…

Finally, here is an item from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Cha-ching: The sale at an auction of one of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s bats for $583,500 illustrates how ridiculous some people can be with their money. Imagine how much somebody might be willing to pay for Joe’s shoes – if he had any.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

MLB Playoff Thoughts …

Having been off the air for a few days, I realize that some of this commentary is a tad late, but I want to make a few points about the MLB playoffs. The Washington Nationals lost in the final game of their series with the LA Dodgers after leading the best of five series two games to one. Lost in the heroics of Clayton Kershaw winning Game 4 and then coming in to pitch in the 9th inning of Game 5, is the fact that Nats’ manager Dusty Baker so over-managed that game that it was laughable.

Many of the folks who commented on that series were reluctant to indict Baker for many of his “strategeries”. I get that; Dusty Baker is a baseball-lifer; he is obviously a likeable person; he is accommodating with regard to the access he gives to the commentators. Notwithstanding any or all of the above, he stuck in his thumb and pulled out a turd last week:

    Max Scherzer has been and remains the stud pitcher on the Nats’ staff. He had thrown a shut out until a leadoff home run – to the opposite field and just over the wall – on the first pitch of the 7th inning. That tied the game. That was Scherzer’s 99th pitch but it is not as if he never threw that many pitches in a game in the past. As Baker came to the mound, I figured he was going to tell Scherzer to shake it off and the team would get him another run to win this thing. But Baker took him out and went to the Nats’ bullpen.

    If there was a weak link in the Nats’ season in 2016, it would have to have been the bullpen. It had been good in the series against the Dodgers but it was not the strength of the team. So “strategery #1” was to take out the best pitcher on the team and to rely on the weakest link of the team.

    What followed was a parade of pitchers to the mound in the 7th inning giving the Dodgers a 4-1 lead. What was even worse was the start of a series of double switches that used up position players when new pitchers went to the mound. After the Nats closed the game to 4-3 in the 9th inning, there were no more pinch hitters in the dugout and many of the better offensive players on the team were out of the game. Second-rate hitters had to face Clayton Kershaw and – as you might expect – they were over-matched. The reason they were over-matched is because Dusty Baker over-managed.

One other observation about that series… It was likely the final curtain call for the core of the Phillies teams of 2008 – 2012. Let me cite the following:

    In Game 4, Chase Utley had the game winning hit.

    In Game 5, Carlos Ruiz – batting for Chase Utley – in that fateful 7th inning drove in a run and scored the winning run.

    In Game 5, Joe Blanton came in for the Dodgers and threw one-and-a third innings of perfect baseball.

    In Game 5, Jayson Werth was thrown out at home plate – by about 10 yards – when the Nats’ third-base coach did not hold him at third base on a double down the left field line. I could have made that relay throw from shallow left field to get Werth at the plate on that play. The coach clearly had a brain-lock there.

In other MLB playoff commentary, may I ask where the phone booth is that Andrew Miller uses to put on his Indians’ uniform and cover up the big red “S” on his chest? It is not that opposing players are not hitting the ball hard; they are not hitting the ball at all. It looks as if he is throwing to high school players on many of his pitches.

The Indians acquired Miller at the trade deadline. This was not a “rent-a-player” sort of deal because Miller is signed through the 2018 season at $9M per year. If he continues to pitch like this, he is an ever-loving bargain.

Should the World Series come down to a face-off between the Indians (leading 3-0 over the Jays at the moment) and the Cubs (tied 1-1 with the Dodgers at the moment), MLB could market this as the Exorcism World Series. Both teams have demons and one of them will rid themselves of said demons in that Series:

    Cubs’ last World Series victory was in 1908. The “Billy Goat Curse” was put on the team in 1945 which is the last time the Cubs were in the World Series – they lost to the Tigers that year.

    Indians’ last World Series victory was in 1948. The went back to the World Series in 1954 having won 111 games in that 154-game season. [Aside: the Yankees won 103 games that season and finished 8 games out of first place.] Nonetheless, in the 1954 series, the Indians lost to the Giants 4-0; that was the series where Willie Mays made the famous over-the-head catch of the deep shot to center field by Vic Wertz.

Linda Blair should throw out the first pitch if the Series comes down to the Cubs/Indians…

Rich Hill is starting playoff games for the Dodgers and getting people out. That is a bit strange. He has been in MLB for 11 years – but not pitching at this level. In fact, after shoulder and Tommy John surgery, he was in the Nats’ minor league system just last year until they released him. From there he went to the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball as a stepping stone to signing with the Red Sox. The Dodgers acquired Hill at the trading deadline from the Oakland A’s; he is playing on a 1-year contract worth $6M and will be a free agent in less than a month. Given the way he has been pitching for the Dodgers in the last couple of months, he will likely make more than that starting next year.

Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“Barry Bonds, fired as Marlins hitting coach after one season, thanked the club for what he called ‘one of the most rewarding experiences of my baseball career.’ Which I think officially lowers the bar on rewarding experiences.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Admin Note

An important family event will have me off the air for a short time. I should be back on schedule sometime between July 16 and July 18.

Please check back then.

Meanwhile, stay well everyone…

Admin Note

Over the weekend, I encountered e-mail gremlins. Some readers here have requested an e-mail notification when I post a new rant; that mailing list was one of the files corrupted by the gremlins. I have reconstituted it from memory – but my short term memory is not what it used to be.

Therefore, anyone who fell off the mail list who wants to be back on – – or anyone who wants to be added to the list anew – – just send me an e-mail at:

    [email protected]

Sorry about that…

Admin Note

My writing schedule for next week will be sporadic. Family events will consume much of the time during the week.

My plan is to write on Monday morning and then see what happens after that. Sometimes plans work out; other times … not so much.

I should be back on normal schedule by the week of February 15.

Stay well, everyone.

Recommended Reading

Scott Ostler has this column in today’s SF Chronicle. It is an open letter to Mark Davis regarding what happened to him and the Raiders at the recent NFL owners’ meeting and things that Mark Davis might do now to make amends with Raider fans who reside in Oakland.

I think this column should be read in its entirety; it is vintage Scott Ostler. Here is the link…

Off The Air…

I will be off-the-air until January 6 or 7 in 2016. Please check in around then for more sports commentaries.

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope 2016 is a healthy and prosperous year for all.

Stay well…