- The free agent slog:
Are the players and their agents beginning to panic yet?
In case anyone hadn't noticed, the only free agents who've signed contracts are those that have little choice but to grab whatever they can as soon as a decent enough offer is on the table. Fallen stars the likes of Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel have signed with the White Sox; useful but limited Alex Gonzalez with the Blue Jays; middling Ramon Hernandez with the Reds; and Freddy Sanchez with the Giants----all signed early before greed, the economy and the saturated market forced them to take far less than what they were guaranteed to get if they held out.
The days of teams panicking and doing something stupid in November appear over. The prevalent attitude of, "here's the offer, it's on the table; and if you don't accept it in a timely fashion, we're moving on"; and certain players like Kyle Lohse and Bengie Molina seeing their big money dreams evaporate before their very eyes in recent years has given the direct advantage to the front offices if they're patient and/or smart.
Since the days of collusion in 1986-87, I can't remember seeing a free agent market so dead when there are plenty of useful players available. Contrary to popular notion, there are many good players to be had, but since so many options, teams----even the notoriously aggressive ones like the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels----are holding their fire.
In years past, the Yankees would already have signed Mark DeRosa and Mike Gonzalez. The Red Sox would have Matt Holliday. The Angels would've made their annual deep strike for whatever player they'd secretly targeted in their war room. Now, everyone's waiting to see what the other guy's going to do and it's costing the players (and their agents) a lot of money.
Don't discount the massive number of players who aren't going to be tendered contracts within the next month; or the trade possibilities. Two aces----Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson----are out there to be had for any team willing to trade a chunk of their farm system. Derek Lowe and Gil Meche----historically good pitchers who are overpaid----will be given away to any team who'll take their contracts. Then there are Erik Bedard; Ben Sheets and Rich Harden----gifted talents whose injury histories and (in Bedard's case) attitude have sent them to the bargain bin. There's no reason for any team to acquiesce to the Blue Jays demands for Halladay and on top of that lavish a lucrative extension on the pitcher himself if they can wait things out and see what else comes up.
The free agent/trade market is flush with players at every position even in the harder to fill spots like starting pitching, center field and catcher. Closers are everywhere which means a team with bullpen holes like the Yankees and Mets might be able to sign a former closer like Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Takashi Saito for a far more reasonable amount of money to be a set-up man than they would've in years past.
You need a second baseman? Dan Uggla and Michael Young are out there.
A shortstop? You can sign Marco Scutaro or Miguel Tejada; you might even be able to trade for Yunel Escobar or, wait for it.....Hanley Ramirez.
A center fielder? Curtis Granderson's name is bouncing around.
A closer? Bobby Jenks; Heath Bell; Jose Valverde; Billy Wagner; J.J. Putz to name a few are there for the taking.
A five-tool star in his prime? Carl Crawford will be traded by the Rays.
A two-fisted basher in his mid-20s? How about Miguel Cabrera?
Then there are the big name free agents----Jason Bay and Holliday----who want to get paid and could be seeing their dollars decrease exponentially with each passing day.
Moneyball, the economy and financial sanity are referenced as why teams are treading more carefully in the free agent market. Whether Moneyball existed or not, teams would've been cowed by the way horrendous contracts doled to average players Vernon Wells, Carlos Guillen and Alex Rios; or on disasters like Oliver Perez and Milton Bradley, and held their fire, refusing to dive into the empty pool only to crack their heads open and worse.
Years ago, Charlie Finley's idea regarding free agency was to let every single player be a free agent at the end of every year. It was ignored as the rantings of a crank who was trying to reinvent/ruin the game with his wild ideas. For all the vitriol he attracted, Finley was a smart, savvy businessman and keen judge of talent. Because he was seen as such a prick and so unpopular with his players, employees and fellow owners, it was easy to dismiss him, but he was right. And we're seeing it now.
Even the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and White Sox are waiting to see what the other guy's going to do. The reasonably priced players who can replicate the production of what would normally be a hot ticket is keeping the price of every player down. Because of that, teams that wouldn't be able to improve with a household name can do so because so many quality players are on the clearance rack. It's going to get worse and worse and you'll see more players grabbing whatever they can before they're sitting out in February looking for work and firing their agents because of unfulfilled promises.
It's the new world in baseball.
- Let the man retire:
Bud Selig has reportedly rejected the idea that he extend his contract as commissioner to 2012 when he'll be 78-years-old.
First of all, the guy's an empty suit. By all accounts, he's a nice man who means well, but as a commissioner, he's been a wishy-washy butt of jokes for his attempts to bring the game into the new millennium with such "innovations" as the bad-infomercial style announcing of the names selected in the June draft. It's not as if he's creating buzz in the game with his personality and style. A mannequin could do his job they way Selig does it.
Second, he's old. I know I wouldn't want to be dealing with suspending Milton Bradley; handling the steroid mess; or functioning as a ridiculed puppet at that age. Does he need the aggravation? It's not going to be hard to find someone to replace him, so why is this even a story?
- Tiger, Tiger, bleeding profusely:
I have no idea what happened with Tiger Woods and his wife; nor did I believe the story of a simple car accident and injuries when it happened; then it degenerated into disinterest/let me know what really happened when the truth comes out.
I will say this: the embarrassment and trouble for Woods and his image will only get worse as the story spirals out of control. The less he and his representatives say about this, the bigger the explosion will be. Much like Mark McGwire and his cringeworthy bouts public speaking, Woods will learn that it's easier to get whatever happened out there and let the public forget. This is only going to get bigger and bigger the longer he's silent.
As for his wife chasing him with a golf club? I've said this over and over again on Twitter, but I'll repeat it here: those Scandinavian chicks are feisty and he's lucky she was Swedish and not Finnish.
Trust me there. They're smart. Too smart for their own good sometimes.
I speak from vast experience in this area.
- Viewer Mail 11.29.2009:
Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Hideki Matsui and Oliver Perez:
But Prince, don't you remember? Matsui ONLY wants to go where there are other Japanese playing. Haha. I couldn't resist that dig.
I don't know if anyone (Maddux, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver or Cy Young himself) could EVER help Ollie Perez. How is he even in the big leagues anymore? That's what I want to know.
It would probably upset Tim McCarver's world of absurd stereotypes if Matsui went anywhere where there wasn't a compatriot waiting for him (even if McCarver's fantasy of his preferred compatriot---Ichiro----doesn't like Matsui and vice versa). Hopefully, McCarver won't say something about Yao Ming being in Houston without taking into account that the man's Chinese. Then Tim would really have some explaining to do and maybe have to attend a sensitivity class to keep his job.
With Perez? Shhhhhh!!! I'm trying to get him out of here!
All kidding aside, no one's ever questioned his talent. There will be a year in his career where he puts it all together and wins 18 games. In which uniform it'll be is a mystery. Perez will always have a team willing to roll the dice on him in the hopes of hitting the jackpot. Someone will, they'll benefit and then watch him self-destruct again.
James Mason writes RE the Rangers:
A fine article on the Rangers, however, the last thing the Rangers need is a
first baseman. Yes, Chris Davis had a bad sophomore year but he's an MVP
candidate in waiting - aside from that at AAA looms Justin Smoak, probably
the number 3 or 4 top prospect in baseball.
Thanks for the compliment.
The Rangers need a bat to DH or play the outfield. The first basemen I mention----Adam LaRoche, Lyle Overbay, Nick Johnson----are short-term stopgaps who'd fill the need inexpensively. With Adrian Gonzalez, I don't think anyone would question him to replace Davis and in any deal to get hm, Smoak would probably be going the other way.
I haven't seen enough of Davis to know what his problem was last year, but anyone who strikes out that much (238 in 736 big league plate appearances) needs some more seasoning. If the pitchers have figured him out, he's going to have to adjust----and fast. At least with guys like Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds, they're hitting enough homers and getting on base at a high enough clip to swallow the strikeouts. Davis could become that type of hitter, but he's not yet.
I looked at Smoak's numbers and he's not ready.
With the market as it is, the Rangers can get that bat for DH/LF and let Davis find his way; but if a LaRoche or Johnson falls to them, they need to make that move.