Friday, December 28, 2007

Jim Leyritz Accused of Vehicular Manslaughter

In another wonderful story for Major League Baseball, former player, Jim Leyritz, is charged with driving drunk and killing the driver of the other vehicle in a crash. Leyritz, a player never well liked while he was playing, had some spectacular moments in the post season for the New York Yankees.

Drinking and then driving is a serious issue and can't be downplayed as an offense. There certainly is enough warnings in the media concerning the issue and anybody who drives while impaired is seriously flawed in their thinking--especially in this day and age.

All that said, this is unfortunate because the news reports indicate that the driver of the other vehicle was ejected as a result of the crash. We all know that you won't get ejected from a vehicle if seat belts are involved. If that driver was using seat belts, he likely would have walked away from the accident. So two people who thought they could get around laws put on the books to protect people are either dead or in a lifetime of trouble for their actions. Stupid and very sad.

Astros Sign Villarreal

The Astros signed former Diamondback prospect, Omar Villarreal to a two year contract. The young pitcher (26) pitched the last two years for the Braves. Villarreal is a talented pitcher who has a history of walking too many batters. His career average is close to four walks per nine innings, but that number increased this past year, showing a decline instead of improvement.

Unless he can find the strike zone more often, he is a decent middle reliever who keeps the ball in the park.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ho Hum

Another scintillating transaction day in Major League Baseball as most teams are still in the holiday lull. Two transactions today typify the action lately.

In one deal, the Florida Marlins signed third baseman, Jose Castillo. Castillo broke into the majors in 2004 with the Pirates and played with them all or parts of the last four seasons. His power numbers in 2006 were decent with 16 homers in his only year as a starter, but with a batting average of .253 and an on base average of .299 (right around his career mark), he doesn't appear to be much help for the Marlins. He has played all infield positions except first base and his fielding isn't spectacular either. Looks like roster filler unless he improves dramatically.

While the Marlins picked up a borderline player, the Kansas City Royals picked up another one who used to play with the Marlins, catcher Miguel Olivo. Again, Olivo has decent power and hit 30 homers in his two years as the Marlins' starting catcher. But he never takes a walk. He only walked 23 times in 882 at bats in those two years and has a lifetime on base average of only .275. Yuck! And while Olivo fared okay throwing out runners (34%), he added up 16 passed balls in 2007. So the Royals picked up a low-on-base, high-strike-out and marginal-fielder-behind-the-plate kind of guy. That will boost season ticket sales for sure.

In other transaction news, the Yankees picked up LaTroy Hawkins, your typical 35 year-old career reliever. Hawkins, who failed in previous lives as a closer had three excellent years between 2002 and 2004. His production since has been marginal. He is a solid innings guy who will keep the ball in play, but he doesn't do much to get the ball to Rivera. Hawkins is probably a mild upgrade on Luis Viscaino, who signed elsewhere this year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fighting for the Only Life They Know

There have been some excellent posts recently regarding the human element to the recent drug allegations. Most have focused attention on talking with the young people about looking up to ball players who are just talented people in a profession that happens to pay a lot of money and garners a lot of attention. That slant works for me when talking about the bigger names. But what about some of the names that sparked only a small shred of a memory or were forgotten completely? Do names like Exavier Logan, Cody McKay, Bart Miadich and Mike Judd ring any bells? Perhaps there is a human element there as well.

One of the favorite pastimes of this blog over the years has been watching the transaction wire. In the past couple of weeks, we see fringe players signing minor league contracts. Players like Keith Ginter, Chad Paronto and Sean Barker are trying one more time to hang on and keep their careers going. These players, like Logan and McKay have only known the dream of playing baseball at the highest level. At one time they were the stars of Little League and high school teams and made all state teams. Perhaps they were the best players in their South American country.

Who among us who ever dreamed of making it as a baseball player wouldn't have been tempted if it was the difference between giving up the dream and having a chance? Those big names made their millions. The difference for them might have been to make more millions. For the McKays, Logans, Miadich and Judds who rode dusty buses for most of their professional career, they made the choices they made. We can all understand that can't we? Just recently, in my own career, I had to make the choice between losing my soul and doing the right thing. I did the right thing. But don't think for a moment that I haven't had buyer's remorse ever since.

Monday, December 24, 2007

There's a Kind of Hush

I'm dating myself with the title of that old Herman's Hermits song, but it adequately describes the lull in baseball news with the Christmas holiday. There have been no major news stories or transactions since Thursday, which is probably as it should be. I'm in the mall myself selling our books and this is the last day of what has been a successful season. The halls are empty on this Christmas Eve day and the canned holiday music is blaring to no one but us poor venders.

While I am sitting here on this quiet (considering) morning, I thought I would list my Christmas wish list. So in no particular order, I wish that:

- Ken Griffey Jr. would have one more successful season and play on a contending team.

- Santana stays with the Twins and the youngsters the Red Sox and Yankees did not trade have big impact years.

- Francisco Liriano comes back from his surgery and comes back better than ever.

- the Mitchell Report fades into the background so we can concentrate on baseball. I know...fat chance of that.

- Mariano Rivera has one more great year.

- Willie Randolph starts having some fun and confidence in his managing.

- Jim Edmonds has one more good year in San Diego.

- Scott Rolen decks Tony LaRussa.

- Mark Prior and Kerry Wood have very good seasons.

- Derek Jeter has another 200 hits and continues his pace to overtake Pete Rose.

- the Bay Rays have a season over .500

- the Royals have an encouraging and competitive season.

- Prince Fielder continues making gains in his career with a monster year.

- the Home Run Derby is canceled as a remnant of the steroid era. It's boring anyway.

- each league has exciting pennant races, with lots of surprise performances and fans happy everywhere.

Merry Christmas everyone and happy holidays.