Friday, December 21, 2007

Josh Hamilton Traded to Texas

The Cincinnati Reds solved their outfield overload and gained a very good pitching prospect by trading Josh Hamilton, the feel-good story of 2007 to Texas for Edison Volquez. Volquez is a 24 year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic and was the minor league pitcher of the year for the Rangers last year. He also made six decent starts after being called up to the bigs last year. The Reds are hoping he can slot right into the rotation this year.

Hamilton became one of my box score heroes this past season after several years out of baseball for addiction problems before returning and becoming an impact bat for the Reds in limited action. Though the Reds are losing a fan favorite (well at least those fans who can root for a guy trying to straighten his life out), this deal makes all the sense in the world for the Reds and no sense at all for the Rangers.

For anyone who is more than a casual fan, what is the first thing thought of when considering the Rangers? Chronic lack of pitching. They have always hit well, but couldn't get anyone out. So, in effect, they have added a bat (and crossed fingers that Hamilton doesn't fall off the wagon) while trading away their best pitching prospect. Does that make sense?

The Reds have been in the same boat as the Rangers with a thumping lineup and not enough pitching. If Vosquez works out, they have gained one more step toward pitching acceptability.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Boston's Balls

The Boston Red Sox sure have trouble with World Series baseballs. A recent news story related how Jonathan Papelbon's dog ate the ball that was in play for the last out. The ending of the story is contradictory in that Papelbon first said that he threw out the remains of the ball while he was in Florida. The story now goes that Papelbon still has the uneaten portion of the ball.

You may remember that after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, Doug Mientkiewicz kept the ball he caught for the final out. He and the Red Sox fought over who should have custody of the ball until it was finally agreed to send it to the Hall of Fame. Well, "Doug" is similar to, "Dog," no?

Mark Prior to Sign With Padres?

Mark Prior has been courting teams since he was non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs. The latest rumor has him deciding to sign with the Padres. That would be a good place for him since it's a pitcher's park and he'll have Maddox and Peavy over there to deflect interference.

You have to root for a guy like Prior. Everyone loves a good comeback story, especially if the person coming back has been unfairly kicked around by critics. The guy was a heck of a pitcher and perhaps the Padres will find lightning in a bottle.

Another kicked around pitcher is Matt Clement, who never recovered from getting hit with a baseball and being booed out of Fenway. I hope he finds a home and wins some big league games again.

Funny how both pitchers were former Cubs. It does not seem that organization is very kind to its pitchers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Slow Days

Roger Clemens is still denying. Curt Schilling is flapping about Clemens. Congress is calling for hearings. Sports writers are speculating about Bud Selig's options. When those writers are not postulating about the steroids flap, they are speculating about Santana and Bedard. Oh, and a few signings squeaked into the news.

The Rockies signed Kip Wells and Mark Redman. Robert Kip Wells seems to fascinate every general manager but other than a couple of decent years in Pittsburgh, has never done very much other than lose. His lifetime won-loss record is 64-91. Hardly awe inspiring. Along with his lifetime on-base record of .353, it seems another GM couldn't quite resist giving this another shot.

Redman had a good year for the Marlins in 2003 but otherwise hasn't fared much better than Wells. His lifetime won-loss is 66-80, but at least his on-base average given up is 30 points lower. So the Rockies tally here is two pitchers with a lifetime won-loss of 130-171. Yeesh! At least they were one year deals. Both pitchers were former number one picks in the draft. Somebody shoot those scouts.

The Royals are having a good off season and signed Ron Mahay, a much sought after lefty. Mahay had a great 2007, but his career is erratic showing good years and terrible years. That seems to be pretty typical for career relievers.

Expect things to stay fairly quiet until after the holidays.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Alex Rodriguez on 60 Minutes

The Alex Rodriguez interview on the long-running, CBS news series, 60 Minutes, was interesting and entertaining. He made it very clear that he has never used steroids or any other drug and that he was never tempted to do so. When interviewer, Katie Couric, tried to pin him down on his teammates and Barry Bonds, he did not bite and held his ground.

Even more entertaining was his remarks about what went wrong with the opt-out and how it went down during the World Series and his regret and apologies for how it happened. He also distanced himself from his agent, Scott Boras, and how the whole "debacle" was handled.

His responses were candid and contrite and it shed new insight on his falling out with his agent. A-Rod's wife, Cynthia, talked about how her husband had to make phone calls himself and how he had to take the initiative. It was a remarkable sequence and left--at least this Fan--quite gleeful at the hit Boras was taking.

The interview was the same night as the Surviver: China finale, and I couldn't help but compare the new Surviver winner and Rodriguez and Boras. The winner fully admitted manipulating the situations and even gloried in his strategy. He duped everyone so masterfully that the "jury" gave him the top prize even though they were the victims.

Boras has been the master manipulator, but unlike the Survivor winner, will never admit it. Let's face it, part of his job is to sell his clients and make them (and himself in the process) a lot of money. He does his job well, but there is a moral fiber that seems to be missing. Rodriguez seems to understand how Boras went too far and had to fix it with the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Steinbrenners.

Or, as Jeff Probst questioned the "poker player" about the flattery the Survivor winner delivered during the "jury" questioning, "But did he mean it." There is something about Rodriguez that makes me ask the same question. "Did you mean what you said, Alex?" He certainly seemed genuine. Or he could be duping us with just another strategic play where he ended up getting what he wanted in the first place.

Being the rube that I am, I am going to be naive and say he meant what he said. Because if so, it makes a great story and a victory for all of us who have hoped that Boras would be knocked down a peg or two sooner or later.

And who knows, hopefully some day, we'll look back and know that Alex Rodriguez did not take any drugs, was a decent human being and finally took a page from John Elway and that speed skater (Heiden?) who finally won what he was supposed to win and capped off a glorious career. Time will tell.