Monday, January 15, 2007

Fouled-Off Bunts: Nothing To Say Edition

The worst part of this offseason has been the lack of real news or the lack of anything worthwhile to investigate. The last few years there've been things that I've wanted to look at -- whether it was learning who these players were in '05 or taking my best guesses at how Soriano would do last year. This year? The questions surround Jason Simontacchi, Joel Hanrahan and a cast of thousands -- none of whom we really know much about. There questions surrounding the teams are mysteries. They're things we won't uncover until the later days of Spring (if even then). I've got some rough ideas for expectations of certain players (sell on Beltran Perez and Mike O'Connor, for example), but how many ways can you say that Guzman sucks, and we need him to rebound? The only thing I've thought about 'investigating' is the offense/defense trade-off with Nook Logan and Ryan Church. But even that doesn't interest me that much.

So I'm reduced to reacting to short news blurbs and pointing to links from other blogs. Yee-haw. On we go.

  • Don Sutton was ofishully named the color commentator. My immediate reaction? Which one was he? Other than Skip (Hip? Lip? Rip? Gyp?) Carey, don't the other three TBS announcers sound the same? Three droll, monotone voices that sort of blend into the background. Other than the silvery mane of pubelike curly hair (retro!), could you pick him out from Pete Van Wieirn?

  • Buried at the bottom of that blurb is the real news of the day:
    "Chad Cordero, Alex Escobar, Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, John Patterson and Chris Snelling filed for arbitration Friday."

    Maybe that'll be worth a post later. I think the Nats need to work on long-term deals with Cordero and Patterson to buy out the next two years of arbitration. Cordero stands to make $3.5-$4 million next year, and that'll only go higher in the next two years as he continues to pile up the saves.

    I'd wait before making a long-term commitment to Lopez to see if he can adjust to second. It's assumed, with a wave of the hand, that'll be an easy adjustment, but it might not be. The throws, which is what he had the most problem with, are from a different angle and, although they don't require as much juice, can be more difficult, especially on the pivot. I'd want to see Kearns replicate last season -- staying healthy, mostly -- before signing him beyond his arb years.

    (As a reminder, players who have between three and six years of service time (and some guys with nearly 3 years also qualify, but let's not worry about that here) can go through the arbitration process. The player and the team each submit salary figures and argue before an arbiter using similar players based on stats and service time to make their case. The arbiter picks one side or the other; he can't split the difference. Generally, the player and team come to an agreement before the hearing, because nobody wants to hear their boss tell them they're incompetent to pay them a lower salary than they feel they deserve!)

  • I thought it interesting that our good friend Bill Ladson doesn't think that Tim Raines is a hall of famer. If that's his opinion, I say that Bill Ladson doesn't know baseball. No less an authority than Dayn Perry (the late and lamented Distinguished Senators' favorite writer) says that Raines should be a lock.

    Raines is probably one of the four or five best lead-off hitters of all time. He just had the misfortune of playing in the same era with the best leadoff hitter of all time: Rickey! (the late and lamented Distinguished Senators' favorite player).

    Raines, for what it's worth, has more career WARP (one of Baseball Prospectus' wonky stats that tries to estimate how many wins a player was better than the typical AAA dreck that fills in during injuries) than Andre Dawson does, despite about a bazillion fewer homers. Other than slugging, Raines was a better hitter -- more average, more walks, more steals at a better clip. Add it up, and he gets the nod over Dawson.

    That being said, given the explosion in power and the hanging-on he did at the end of his career that clouds the short-term memory of our stinky little pea brains, I don't anticipating him getting in any time in the next few years. But, I think he'll get in before his eligibility is up when people look at the body of his career, and not just the pine-riding at the end.

    (Despite all of that, I like this guy's mailbag answers better anyway)

  • The Cubs seem content to give rookie Felix Pie (mmmm -- When in Duluth, try Betty's Pies. Thank me later) the first crack at center field, and they're calling the prospect of acquiring Ryan Church a "long shot". Given that this was a Tribune report and that Tribune owns the Cubs, I'd give it about as much credence as... ummm... Iraq War analogies are still prolly outta line, huh? Nevermind.

  • I heard the John Thompson/Stan Kasten exchange referenced on this BPG thread last week. Kasten handled himself really well (as you'd expect) on a very delicate issue. During the interview JT emphasized the respect he has for Kasten and how he knows he's not a racist. I didn't hear the post-interview discussion that's talked about here, where JT apparently went back on it, arguing that Frank Robinson's dismissal had a racial component to it.

    What a mess. Kasten's right, though, in getting it out of the way now. Nobody's paying attention to the team, and they're certainly not going to get much lower PR-wise than they are this offseason. By next April, all sins'll have been forgiven -- well, most of 'em, anyway.

    The interesting thing that I took from the interview, and I really wish that JT were a competent enough interviewer to ask the right follow-up question was Kasten's insistence that he had honest intentions of offering Big Frank a legit job entering the offseason, but that he had recently come to a different conclusion. I'd love to know what changed his mind? Buck sez it's money (and that's not a LERNER IS TEH CHEAP!!!! response).

  • Federal Baseball helpfully provides us with some Minor League Equivalencies. Essentially, it's an attempt to translate a minor-league batting line into a major league contract. In short, if Larry Broadway hit like he did against AAA pitching, how would he have fared against the NL (Answer: Not well!)? Here's his intro. You'll have to scroll up for the rest.

  • At the top, I did say that I didn't have anything to say, right? What was that? 4,500 words ago? Jesus.

    Two quick recommendations for ya: 1) See Pan's Labyrinth. It's one of the best movies I've seen in a while, a beautiful sort of adult fairy tale that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. If you're looking for a good night out, see it at Cinema Arts Theater in Fairfax (A cute li' independent cinema that cares about quality movies) and mix it with dinner/lunch at China Star -- my favorite Chinese restaurant. If you like spice (and even if you don't) you'll love it, and it's not nearly as nasty as half this stuff sounds!

    There's supposed to be a 2), but I've forgotten it. Oh, I didn't know this, but those stupid Coinstar machines don't charge you service fees if you dump your money into a gift card. I lugged a bunch of jugs to the grocery store today and bought half a Wii on Amazon.

    (Just be glad that I'm not posting cat pictures again)

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