Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Transaction Time Again!

"It's transaction time again, you're gonna leave me. I can see that far away look in your eyes. I can tell the way you hold the ball, darlin' that it won't be long before it's transaction time..."

Another week has passed and we are a week closer to Opening Day. That fact was unfortunate for many players who had hoped to open the season with their big league clubs. We honor those unfortunate souls with this week's look at the transaction wire.

- It wasn't Pridie when the Twins told Jason he was headed for the minors. The Twins also demoted another outfielder and told David that some times you Winfree and some times you losefree. But either way, he is free to head out of the big league camp.

- In other Twins news, if pitcher, Bobby, was upset about his demotion, he Keppeled it to himself. Another pitcher, Sean, didn't get to stay in the big league bullHenn, he's going to the minors. His temper upon hearing the news was as prickly as a garden full of Henn and chicks.

- The Braves had a busy Thursday paring down their roster. Bobby Cox had trouble to Sammons up the courage to let catcher Clint know he didn't make the team. An infielder, Hernandez, wrote in his Diory that he'll have to keep trying harder if he's going to be a big league player. The team also sent Brandon to the Hicks and told Freddie he was a Freeman.

- When the Orioles field announcer cries Wolf, they won't believe him because Ross was sent to minors.

- Apparently Cleveland didn't think the Padres could see Ryu front of their faces and thus claimed Jae Kuk off waivers.

- The Diamondbacks were hoping that their outfielder was an Alpha Romero, but he turned out only to be Alex Romero and they sent him down.

- The Orioles tested the Waters with pitcher, Chris, but didn't think much of the taste and sent him down. Speaking of drinks, the Orioles also thought that another pitcher, Kam, was a Mickolio Light. The Fan hopes the Orioles aren't heathens, because in one day they dashed the hopes of a Christian and a whole Parrish when they sent Justin and John down in the same day.

- In a Ben and Jerry moment, the Red Sox signed a Rocky Cherry to a minor league contract.

- The White Sox sent a bunch of guys down. They weren't happy and Torres wasn't Eider. Wasserman was particularly upset because he thought to Ehren was human.

- No one was real Laffey in Aaron's household when he got the news that the Indians were sending him down.

- The Astros released Danny Graves, which just might bury his career.

- Pitcher, Chris, found Narveson to hang around after he was demoted.

- Maybe Graves can get a job with the Marlins since they just signed a pitcher named Eulogio.

- Rays catcher hopeful, John, was Jaso so with his spring results and he was sent down.

- The Cubs didn't weigh the Scales in Bobby's favor and the infielder was sent down. In other Cubs roster-purging news, they told Sam he won't be in the Fuld and Jason Waddelled out of camp.

- For the Indians, Jeremy learned the men are Sowers of what they reap and was sent down. Wait! Isn't that backwards? Oh well. When Toregas found out he was cut, he was heard asking, "Wyatt me?" The club answered the Toregas hurt their eyes. If all that wasn't enough, Kirk was a Saarlooser when he was told he didn't compete well enough for a job.

- In happier news, Athletics' manager, Bob, found out he was Gerenteed a job for at least another year.

- When Twins' prospect, Matt, was asked at the beginning of Spring Training what his chances of making the club were, he knitted his eyes together and said that Macri may make the club or Macri may not. Maybe he'll at least go home with a plant hanger or something.

- If this was Star Trek, the Indians wouldn't have had to tell LaPorta that he was being moved some place else. Did you catch that one?

- And last but not least, the A's didn't feel that Carignan fit like a sweater and sent Andrew down.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jeter Leading Off

According to a story by Jim Baumbach of Newsday, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon will swap lineup positions and Jeter will lead off followed by Damon. According to Baumbach, Damon is fine with the decision as the team comes first. Let's look at the switch from a couple of different angles.

First, Jeter has actually played a quarter of his big league games from the lead off position. That's a fairly large sample size. His OPS (slugging plus OBP) from that spot are slightly higher than his career averages (from - click on the graphic on the left to see the stats). To be square about things, the Fan is not factoring in the amount of times Jeter batted first in the order by age. If he compiled most of these stats in his prime then that would account for some of the difference.

Damon, on the other hand has a fairly small sample size batting second in the order. He's always been a lead off kind of guy. But that said, Jeter gets on base more than Damon. Jeter also does better leading off the game and leading off an inning. All in all, this seems like a smart move in view of the statistics. Jeter should be on base more often and thus promote more first inning runs.

There are two other things this change in batting position does. First, it gives Jeter slightly more at bats per game (there is not a whole lot of difference from first to second). That should slightly help him on his push for 3000 hits and beyond.

The second thing it does is give the Yankees some flexibility with Damon's playing time. He is pegged as the starting left fielder. But the Fan can see Swisher getting some games out there and maybe even Matsui on occasion. When those times occur, the batting order won't be affected every time as Swisher can be effective in the second spot when he plays. Matsui can stay in his same batting position whether he is a DH or the left fielder.

Nice move, Mr. Girardi.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tired of Games That Don't Count

It was quite the buzz when Spring Training finally got started after a long baseball absence. And then it was fun to see how new players would do on new teams and to look for rookies that might break into the opening day roster. But there gets to be a point where enough is enough already. The Fan is tired of games that don't count.

The box scores were carefully checked. Kaz Matsui is still leading off for the Astros and is still batting .105. Trot Nixon did that for the Brewers and got himself released. It's all about perception in baseball isn't it? Nixon is perceived as a guy on the way out. Matsui is perceived as a useful second baseman. The first guy loses his job and the other is still batting leadoff.

But there are only so many of those observations one can make without the ennui setting in that it doesn't count and in the end doesn't matter. All that matters is that the pitcher has his mechanics down and repeatable and the batter is covering the plate and that the fielders know what to do and when to do it. And with it all, make sure your best players are ready and healthy when the gate goes up and the race begins.

So, yeah, it's still somewhat interesting to see that Josh Hamilton is still batting over .400 and that Fernando Tatis of the Mets has really rebuilt his career and that Jon Garland and Lee over in Cleveland look really shaky. But it's like practicing for trick or treat. You are wearing the costume, but there's still no candy in the bucket. Or worse yet, there is candy in the bucket, but it's all the sugar free kind.

At least it's fun picking games over at The Fan is 9-2 this week in baseball games. Not bad. Just as predictably, the Fan is 3-4 in his hockey picks. But wouldn't it be really cool if that 9-2 was picking real games played for real with real results in the standings and in the record books?

The Fan is done and over baked. It's just dry chicken left on the bones. It's time for some real fun and for the real thing. Can these last couple of weeks please get over with quickly!?

Has Baseball Become Too Programmed?

A thought has been rolling around this old head ever since the Fan's rant yesterday concerning David Price and others being sent down to the minors instead of staring with the big club. And while the thought has been rolling around, there has been fear of typing it down. The fear is that the words will sound like an indictment of the age of Sabermetrics because the thought is not that at all. But it might sound like it is. Oh heck. Might as well just say it: Has baseball management become too programmed? Is a master plan all laid out ahead of time and no performance or surprise can deviate from the program put in place? Let's see if the thought can be expanded with some lucidity.

There is a suspicion in this old head that guys like David Price had no prayer of ever making the opening day squad for the Rays. In other words, in this day of a more educated executive branch in baseball, does the master plan become the end all and there is no deviation allowed from the plan no matter how blazing a player might perform? This is the part that will sound like the indictment. But hear this all out before you become offended, okay?

You have to understand that the Fan spent fifteen years of his life building a software company. Software, in many ways is the revelation of our time. It's like our automobile or electricity. And programmers spend countless hours trying to write code for all the variables that can be quantified. But no matter how much code is written or how brilliantly it performs, some end user is going to do something so off the wall, but so breathtakingly practical that it just blows away the programmer and leaves them mumbling incoherently for days afterwards.

Take for example our first senior programmer. This guy was brilliant and basically wrote a program that zoomed the company up there in the stars. But being that smart some times leads to a bit of persnicketyness. For example, this brilliant guy was highly concerned during one bad winter of illnesses that we all had to use the same "timeclock" computer that kept track of every one's time. His concern was that everyone used that same mouse and was passing germs around. His great idea was that there should be a bottle of disinfectant right next to that mouse and everyone should use it. The CEO and founder of the company, another well read chap, thought this was a brilliant idea and it came to pass.

The next executive meeting, we were all sitting around and the Fan asked the typical, lower on the IQ scale kind of question. "Well, yeah, it makes sense what you are trying to do, but doesn't everyone also touch the can of disinfectant? Aren't you just making the contact one step earlier?" After a gigantic fit of laughter, everyone agreed that in this one case, practical observation seemed a little more fitting than programmable logic.

Okay. All that said. What's the Fan's point here? Baseball has made leaps of great thinking over the past few years spurred on by the Sabermetric revolution. The amount of data is staggering and smart teams all around baseball have put a lot of its decision making into the hands of data analysts. And for some teams that has worked out really well. Other than last year, Oakland has consistently put out a good product on a strict budget as have the Twins. The Red Sox overcame the Yankees with smarts and data analysis.

And yes, it's possible that things like the Joba Rules (which is really an idea started by the Twins years ago) might mean that Chamberlain will be an effective pitcher a lot longer than Mark Fidrych was when there was no data. But if the programming is so finite that 90 pitches is all he is allowed no matter what, then you have a situation where the team is winning by a run with two on and two outs in the fourth inning but Joba has reached his pitch count. But who would you rather have in there to get the last out, Joba Chamberlain or Dan Giese? Nothing against Giese, but Chamberlain would seem the better call even if it might mean 97 pitches instead of 90.

The suspicion again here is that data analysis is so ingrained now that David Price had no shot at ever making the Bay Rays opening day roster. The program said, "Bring him in during Spring Training, let him get his work and then he opens at AAA so that he can build his confidence and save his innings for later in the year."

But at some point, it's like Spider Solitaire. Wouldn't you rather know at the beginning of the game that three kings were going to be dealt on the last hand on top of all the other cards and you had no chance of winning? Price never had a chance. But this is where the problem lies for the Fan. There is no room for deviation. The end user, to continue the software analogy, Price, introduced different variables. The post season performance, the overpowering spring.

One place where variables are particularly snarky are in the bullpen. The bullpen must drive the analysts crazy. Take Juan Rincon, for example. The guy pitches in 150 innings for the Twins in 2005 and 2006 and puts up great numbers like a 2.91 ERA and a 2.45 ERA with 149 strikeouts. The PECOTA projections come out and predict an ERa of 3.20 or something with a slightly lower strikeout ratio. Still effective and valuable, right? Well, he came out in 2007 and threw a 5.19 ERA Easter egg. Yup, that's a variable.

How about that other Rincon, Ricardo? If you looked up in the dictionary (does anyone still do that?) for the definition of LOOGY, Ricardo Rincon's picture would be in there. And to be sure, the analysts had to love his lefty/lefty splits. But the guy must have driven them crazy. He would go out there one year and have an ERA of 2.83 and then follow that up with one of 4.79.

But despite this deviation, Ricardo Rincon would still get run out there 59 times because, doggonit, the splits said he murdered lefties. Those deviations cost his team four games.

The Fan can't seem to make this point coherently and is circling around like a buzzard who thought he saw some meat down there somewhere. The problem is that the Fan isn't an analyst and is not as good a mathematician as he should be. So these arguments can't be made effectively. So we are stuck with a itch that can't be scratched, that some parts of the game are becoming a bit too set in stone without looking at fresh results that don't jive with the plan. As much as there is no perfect program, there is no perfect baseball plan.

The Fan can say this much. If the Bay Rays' fifth starter loses three out of his first five decisions and the Rays lose the division by two games, won't the plan look a little suspect? Of course, the following argument would be: "Well yes, but wouldn't it be better to have Price for many years to come instead of just this year?" Maybe. Maybe not.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trot Nixon - Released by Brewers

Trot Nixon was the first round draft choice of the Boston Red Sox in the 1993 draft. After some good years with the Red Sox and a World Series Championship, his stock went down hill in recent years and in a tryout for the Brewers was batting only .104 after twenty games.

The cut was made harder by the fact that Ken Macha and Nixon have been friends since Macha had Nixon in the Boston farm system. But it was clear from the results that Nixon did not have much to offer the Brewers.

Nixon, of course, was fairly famous with the Red Sox for his fiery demeanor and the feisty way he got into it with players on other teams. His home run against Roger Clemens, then pitching for the Yankees was particularly memorable. Nixon felt at the time that Clemens had gone after him with some errant pitches and wasn't happy about it. When he hit his homer, his celebration was an "in-your-face" kind of thing.

It seems fair to say that Nixon was a useful player who never really quite lived up to his number one pick. He almost didn't play baseball at all. He was going to NC State as a quarterback after breaking Sonny Jurgenson and Roman Gabriel's high school records in Wilmington, North Carolina. But he signed with the Red Sox instead. It took him six years to crack the Red Sox starting lineup (which seems like a long time for a first rounder). But when he did, he had three particularly successful seasons from 2001 to 2003.

His stats plummeted after 2003, which in these current days is a bit suspicious. In either case, he ended up signing with Cleveland, had a lackluster year there and then played poorly in a short stint with the Mets last year before missing the rest of the season on the disabled list.

It seems unlikely that another team will take a flyer on him this late in the game. But stranger things have happened.

In another transaction wire story, Ben Broussard was sent down to the minors today. It doesn't seem that long ago when he was an up and coming player for the Indians. He has really sunk in status since he was traded to Seattle in 2006 and has bounced around in several organizations.

What a Waste of Talent

One of the few fun things about Spring Training is muckling on to that next rookie sensation and anticipating how things will go. In the past, that anticipation usually was sated when the rookie started the season with the big league club. Now, whether it is because of delaying the arbitration clock or saving a pitcher's innings or "taking the pressure off" by having the prospect start the year in the minors is the new norm. And it stinks.

Let's start with the old reliable, "Let's save the pitcher's innings for later in the season rather than the beginning." Excuse the Fan's stupid question, but what exactly is the hurler going to be doing in the minors? Sit on his duckus and spit sunflower seeds? Isn't that pitcher going to pitch down there? If so, don't those innings count? And if they do, wouldn't it be nice for those innings to count for the big league club?

But that is the logic Jayson Stark related concerning the Bay Rays' David Price, who seems to be headed to Norfolk in AAA rather than starting the season with the Rays. Didn't this guy blow away the Red Sox in the biggest game of the year? Didn't he have a great spring? Everyone Stark quoted in the story mentioned that the pitcher might be the best talent of all the Rays' starting staff. So, why send him down? Doesn't make any sense.

Daniel Bard threw 98 MPH gas all spring. Blew away every major league hitter he faced. Did not give up a run all spring, but that wasn't good enough to make the Red Sox. They sent him down. Why? Doesn't make any sense.

The Fan has already foamed at the mouth on a couple of different occasions about Matt Wieters. The guy is just flat out ready to go. Why wait? Why hold him (and us) back? And now the Yankees will soon make a decision on Austin Jackson. Gardner has had a great spring and is fun to watch, but Jackson is the Yankees' centerfielder of the future. He might be their best outfielder right now. He is batting well over .300 this spring and hit his third homer in part time duty today (a grand slam no less). But, might as well send him down for more seasoning.

The Fan spent a decade on a farm and planted lots of vegetables and had apple trees and everything. One lessen learned from the garden is that you never let crops get overripe. There is just the right time to pick them for optimum flavor and freshness. It seems all the players listed in this post are ripe and ready for the picking. And we want to see them play.

Geez Louise, GMs and managers! [rant over]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three Cheers for the Florid...umm...Miami Marlins!

The long awaited dream will now become a reality for Florida baseball. The last hurdle for approval to build a new stadium in Miami has been jumped and the Marlins will get a long-needed new stadium. It's been a long time coming and it's about time.

The Fan has a soft spot for the Marlins. Twelve years ago, the Fan spent a special 40th birthday at the Marlin's ballpark in the company of one Karin Jones, young, vivacious, an excellent rollerblader and a huge baseball fan. The Fan taught her how to keep score, which she found very exciting. We watched the Marlins win the game and then sang Melissa Etheridge at the top of our lungs on the way home in her white pickup truck. Karin died two years later of cancer at the age of 25.

Ever since that wonderful memory, the Fan has watched the ups and downs of the Marlin franchise and took special interest in their efforts to secure a stadium. It's not that the old one lacked charm. It was colorful and attractive. Those positives did not overcome the huge negatives that a deluge could occur at any time (and usually do in south Florida in the summer) and when it didn't rain, it was hotter than blue blazes. That's a lot to ask a fan to sit through day in and day out.

The Fan has noted the posturing of the local politicians who have fought the long fight to kill the stadium deal. The cost to taxpayers is high. But so are the benefits. The constructions jobs at a time when construction is dying down there will really help that economy. And the amount of employees that keep a franchise going and its stadium is a large number and all those folks pay taxes and spend in the local economy. It's better to keep those folks working rather than see them in the unemployment lines that would have occurred if this deal didn't work out and the Marlins moved away from there.

Loria pitched this the right way. His stance was: "Do you want Miami to be the only major city in America without major league baseball?" Okay. That was a little hyperbolic. Las Vegas doesn't have a team. The Carolinas don't have a team. But still, the point was dead on. There is a give and take in any of these discussions. The team couldn't keep its players because they didn't have the right stadium to accommodate its fans. Change means spending some money. But the benefits in the long run far outweigh the cost. The team will pump millions into the economy for years to come.

This is a great day for the Marlins and its loyal fans. And it's a great day for you, Karin. I hope you are smiling.

Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer

There. The Fan said it. But it tastes like cough syrup. The Fan has never liked Curt Schilling. His swagger and bravado were somehow galling and a turn off at every level. But, his efforts have always been respected. He was powerful and he was money. He was hated, but he was darned good at what he did.

And it wasn't always that way. He, by his own admission, was a bit lazy and carefree when he first came to the majors. And it showed in his up and down performance. It's been well documented that an encounter with Roger Clemens changed the way he looked at himself and put him on the road to hard work, determination and it all worked towards three World Series Championships.

After nine years in the big leagues, Curt Schilling was 52-52. He had a couple of decent years and a bunch of mediocre ones. In that time period, he was 48-41 as a starter. His walks per nine innings were 2.35 and his strikeouts, 7.34.

After that, he pitched eleven more years. And he was 175-106. His walks per nine innings dropped to 1.69 and his strikeouts per inning to 9.02. During those last eleven years, he won more than 20 games three times. He struck out more than 300 in a season three times and came close a fourth.

He went 11-2 in post season games and his tandem with Randy Johnson in Arizona's championship season has never been duplicated. They singlehandedly won that series and just blew away the Yankees. They were incredible.

So, yes. He was a loud mouth and felt that we should all respect whatever it was that came out of his mouth and his blog. Yes, he dissed the Yankees and showed little respect. But he backed it up and he won the championship just like he said he would.

As difficult as it is to hard as it is to say, there is a grudging respect for his career and his accomplishments, and yes, for even his black and white stances with which he conducted his baseball career. The Fan hated the guy. But he was a winner and he was great. He is a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The WBC - A Debriefing

It has been often stated in this space about the lack of feeling there is for the WBC. Bud Selig, of course, promotes the tournament as one of his legacies. And to be fair, interest around the world has been high and the games have been popular with the countries that participated. Now that it is nearly over, let's debrief a little bit about the "Classic" and the Fan will attempt to be as fair as possible.

First, a lot can be learned from what is said by players themselves. Carlos Lee complained about the pressure he faced into playing the tournament. Chipper Jones complained about the spacing of games. Yet, players for various countries, including those with major leaguers, called playing in the games an honor. So the reaction is mixed.

Secondly, the Classic is a nightmare of major proportions for MLB managers and team executives. Not only can they not evaluate players that are missing, but they cannot get into any kind of rhythm when half of a double-play combination is missing or a starting catcher. Team coaches such as pitching and batting coaches cannot first hand assess mechanics of players that are away and so errors may creep in that take weeks to overcome. And the worst part for managers, coaches and executives is the lack of oversight they have on how their players are used. The Mets could not have been impressed when early in the tournament, their new closer was used in a pressure-packed four out save.

Then there are insurance issues that kept several players from competing. It would be surprising that ANY teams that have insurance on players they hold would be allowed to use those players for anything other than MLB.

There is research that has shown that pitchers in the tournament suffer problems in the first month of the MLB season. Players such as Kevin Youkilis and David Wright were injured during play and those players are extremely important to the chances of their respective teams.

Then there is the times the games have been played. Who wants to watch pseudo-baseball at 11 P. M. on the East Coast? The pitchers, in deference to MLB teams, can only pitch three or four innings which means an inconsistent game where a team starts great and then gets blown out by the bullpen.

There is also an uneven approach to how countries play the tournament. It was highly obvious that the Japanese contingent had a much better scouting report than the Americans did. Give credit to the Japanese, but unless a team is all in, why compete?

The final straw, as far as the Fan is concerned, is that the manager of a country's team is hamstrung by constraints in how they use their players. They can't just go all out to win a game. They have to start Jeter at shortstop occasionally when Rollins is definitely the better fielder (boy it hurt to type that). They have to give all pitchers regular work when doing so might be detrimental to the team's chances. Davey Johnson will get a lot of flack, but he was somewhat powerless in what he could and couldn't do.

The bottom line is that there is no better time of the year to hold the Classic and the time that it is held is unfair to major league teams and their managers (and to a degree, their players). Its only benefit is allowing prospects and fringe players more time to play in Spring Training to get a good look from their teams.

The golden goose that Selig has pushed so hard does not lay a golden egg. It's just an egg that is poached. We already have a World Baseball Classic. It's called Major League Baseball and the world's best baseball players already compete there.

Not Mad About March Madness

The Fan is a baseball fan. Football is fun to watch in its season and golf is enjoyable to watch if you like that sort of thing. But baseball is this Fan's game as is somewhat obvious. What is less obvious is that the Fan will really be happy when "March Madness" is put in its straitjacket and sent home for the season.

Don't get the Fan wrong. There is no put down here for those of you who enjoy the annual college hoop tournament. But the dang thing just takes over everything. It eats up 45 of the 60 minutes on ESPN's SportCenter. It is front page news on all the major sports sites. And worst of all, it seriously messes up programming on CBS. The wonderful wife of the Fan is NOT happy.

The Fan used to enjoy basketball. Growing up in New Jersey, the Knicks were the team and we used to keep score of every game. Phil Jackson was a player on those teams. That's how long ago THAT was. And there were two glorious seasons were Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBussure (how the heck did he spell his name?), Bill Bradley and Earl Monroe made for the greatest show on the court. Actually, Monroe was a part of the second great season but not the first. Can't remember the first guard. But he was the basketball equivalent of Mickey Rivers.

Anyway, those days were fun. But then the NBA became a game of dunking and traveling that was never called and pushing and shoving that is never called and the fun went out of it.

Actually, the Fan was never a fan of ANY college sport. Call it a character flaw if you will, but all that rah rah stuff just felt cheesy and just never resonated for this Fan. There are millions who disagree and that's all fine and good, but this is a democracy right? Well, actually it isn't but this isn't a political blog, so we'll leave that there and dangling.

So no longer a Fan of basketball and never a Fan of college sports, March Madness is an irritation that lingers for two weeks until the darn event is finally over and baseball can take over as it rightly belongs.

Don't even get the Fan started on other sports. Hockey and Soccer are tedious for the Fan. The puck or the soccer ball goes back and forth for a couple of hours and you may have three or four total scores and the stupid games can end up in a tie. At least tennis has cute little gals in short skorts running around and grunting. That's always a good thing. But not really the Fan's bag.

No. Baseball is the game. It's the only sport that brings this kind of passion. Many think it's boring. Many think its time has passed. But it's enduring and relentless and bigger than all the A-Rods and steroid stories. It's the only sport that has the ability to coax 150+ posts out of the Fan in less than three months.

March Madness? Let the Fan know when its over and then it will be March Gladness.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday's Side 2

This post will be like side two of a Beatle album. The band had a bunch of pieces of songs but nothing complete. So they mashed them all together and somehow made it work. There is nothing complete in this writer's head this evening, so in honor of the Fan's favorite band, here is Side 2:

There is a great blog out there called, "If we were General Managers" or something like that. The Fan has been there a few times but forgot to create a favorite. But it's a great concept and fits perfectly with being a baseball fan. We all like to think that we could make smarter moves with our clubs than those getting paid to do so. Such is the case with some moves today and some moves projected to happen in the days coming.

First, Daniel Bard was sent down today by the Red Sox. The guy has shown himself to be an animal and did not give up a run this spring. He throws in the upper 90s and writers have said that he does so with a real easy motion. So why would he get sent down? Are the Red Sox saving money on the future arbitration thing again? Do they see him getting more work on the farm than at the big league level? The Fan would have opened the season with him. Talent like that doesn't need seasoning. It just needs to be let loose.

The same will soon happen to David Price of the Bay Rays and Matt Wieters of Baltimore. Price blew away the Yankees today for four innings and if the post season tour de force wasn't enough to get the guy a job, what is? But apparently, the two pitchers "ahead" of him do not have options. That means that if either of those two pitchers is sent to the minors, they will be subject to the waiver wire and could be snatched by another team. Wieters has appeared in the FanDome before, so if you want the Fan's take on that situation, just look up the post. Bottom line: Any other outcome for Wieters other than starting the season with the Orioles is bogus and not in the best interest of the team or its fans. The ONLY reason for doing so is to save money and delay arbitration for one more year. Bogus.


Only in Spring Training can there be one game which features the Tigers getting zero hits and another that featured two teams combining for fifteen homers. You heard correctly. Fifteen homers. The Fan is meditating and saying his chi (but the knees are too shot to assume the lotus) that Spring Training means nothing for the regular season. But Golly, the Tigers look awful. Really awful.


The Fan recently discovered a site called It's a fun site that is basically a source for sport links. But it has some unique angles. First, they have what they call "Hype It Up." This is a method for giving instant feedback on if you liked the post or not. Posts from the FanDome show up there automatically and the Fan seems to be stuck on one "Hype" a day. So it goes for the undiscovered talent that lies within. The Fan's record was three "Hypes" for the Rickey Henderson's acceptance speech. Alas, the Fan's blog is ranked something like 1847th.

But the fun goes even further than that. Once you sign up (registration is free), you can pick games every day. Just click the "Games" tab. Picking the games is easy. You just click the dialog box of the team you think will win. The site keeps track of your daily totals and your weekly and "career" totals. It's a lot of fun.


The Fan is happy to report that Buster Olney is back in fine form after getting over his foam at the mouth period concerning Manny Ramirez. His posts are back to their normal excellent quality. The Fan doesn't always agree with Mr. Olney, but really appreciates that the guy at least writes a long post nearly every day.


The Fan is falling in love with widgets. That scoreboard at the top right of this blog is a "widget" or a little application that makes something happen on your page. The Fan saw another cool widget on another site that lists the time in days, hours, minutes and seconds until the season starts. The Fan thought that would be fun until it occurred to him that the widget will be useless once the season starts. Know of any cool widgets that you would like to see here? Leave a comment with a link and we'll take a look.


Here's a tip for those of you who use Blogger as your blog tool: Never make a link site a site you click as a "Follow." The Fan did that and now a million posts a day are bombarding the Fan's dashboard. Makes it hard to keep track of what Josh is doing over there at JIB.

There are a lot better tools than Blogger. The Fan uses WordPress, which is a really good program, for his company site. But this blog has always been on Blogger and the Fan is loyal if nothing else. Plus, it's easy and it's painless. Speaking of not painless, there are quite a few videos over on YouTube that give detailed explanations on how to do things on Blogger. They are quite useful but are put together and narrated by some eggheaded guy who is really dull. Oh well.


The Beatles were brilliant. The Fan, not so much. This Side 2 was more like something done by the Bare Naked Ladies. Anyway, the post is done, the needle is skipping off the end of the record. See you tomorrow.

Hughes Sent to Minors by Yankees

Given the choice, who would you rather have as a spot starter and long reliever: Kei Igawa, Brett Tomko, Dan Giese, Alfredo Aceves or Phil Hughes? The Yankees had decided that the first four are still in the running and Phil Hughes was sent to the minors? Say what?

Igawa is having a great spring and has thrown eleven scoreless innings. Got it. But can we so easily forget that the Japanese import that Brian Cashman admits was a mistake has pitched 71+ innings for the Yankees over the past two years and has given up 53 earned runs and fifteen homers?

Aceves fared better for the Yankees last year in six appearances. He showed poise and the ability to change speeds and keep batters off balance. But he does not have dominant stuff and is a bit of a junk-baller. He is useful but not scary.

Brett Tomko is also having a great spring. But the guy is 35 years old with a checkered career. He has pitched with a league average or better ERA in seven of his twelve years. But it's been a while since he had one of those years and even when he was accomplishing those, he was inconsistent and had a quality of not getting quality starts. His inning pitched per start are really low historically.

Dan Giese may be a nice guy, but he shouldn't be in this conversation. He is a career minor leaguer who didn't break into the major leagues until he was thirty years old. Now thirty-two, he is a fringe player at best. He has guts and little fear, but he isn't the answer.

There are probably ten or fifteen teams that would take Phil Hughes in a heartbeat. Hughes is twenty-two years old and has been one of the Yankees' best prospects. He came up in 2007 and was lights out and was heading for a no-hitter when his hamstring popped. That ended his effectiveness for that year. He came into a no win situation last year when the Yankees did not get Johan Santana and was expected to produce those kinds of numbers instead.

An injury and some loss of confidence occurred and 2008 became a nightmare for young Hughes and it was a lost season. But there were raves about him in the winter leagues and he came into Spring Training strong and looked great for the Yanks. He pitched twelve innings this spring and only gave up five hits and three runs.

The problem for Hughes is that Cashman's strategy backfired last year because Hughes and Ian Kennedy could not perform as expected. So the Yankees switched gears and brought in Sabathia and Burnett to go with Wang and Pettitte. Joba Chamberlain was given the fifth spot by default (and by talent) leaving Hughes as the odd man out.

A lot can happen in a season and maybe Hughes will get a shot some time during the year. If not, it is a waste of a great talent and it is too bad. He is a fan favorite and should get a legitimate shot to pitch in the big leagues. It is predicted here in the FanDome that Hughes will be a quality pitcher long after people remember A. J. Burnett. It just may not be with the Yankees.