Saturday, July 31, 2010

For The Condemned And The Saved

  • Your creepy trade deadline special----my way:

The trade deadline is 4:00 PM Eastern Standard and teams are scouring, wheeling, dealing and pleading. I'm not speculating on what might happen; go to the supposed "insiders" for that; but I'm perfectly willing to analyze what has happened or is officially unofficial.

Let's take a look.

The Yankees get Austin Kearns from the Indians and are going to get Lance Berkman from the Astros.

I'm not sure I understand the Kearns acquisition as anything more than "he's available and I'll take him". He's an okay player; isn't making any money; has some pop in his bat; is having a solid season; can play all three outfield positions; and they only gave up a player to be named later which is presumably not much of a prospect. He's not someone who is going to hurt the club, but it's a "meh, whatever" move. The Yankees have had luck with obscure names for whom the initial reaction was a shrug, but they've arrived and contributed. Why not?

With Berkman, they're surrendering very little----RHP Mark Melancon and INF Jimmy Paredes----to get a power, switch-hitting bat who's inexpensive and is only a rental. He's had an off year for him (.245 batting average; 13 homers); but he's still got an on base percentage of .372 and the smell of the pennant race, a chance at a ring and upcoming free agency will spur a renaissance.

The Yankees hole at DH wouldn't have hurt them too terribly moving forward, but again, he was available; the Yankees can afford him; the risk is non-existent; and he'll hit. Plus getting Berkman keeps him away from the Rays and White Sox (to whom Berkman rejected a trade earlier in the day).

This won't preclude the Yankees from doing something else like getting a starting pitcher or a reliever.

The Indians are willing to sell anything and everything. They signed Kearns to a minor league contract, he replenished his career after a rotten year with the Nationals in 2009 and they got something for him; the Indians have been pretty smart in getting prospects for veterans, so one would assume the PTBNL has some quality----a power fastball for example----that could warrant use down the line.

The Astros are clearing out the house of the last vestiges of their run of contention from 5-15 years ago. They're paying parts of the contracts for both Roy Oswalt and Berkman and put both loyal soldiers in great situations to try and win. They're starting over. In his brief big league trials, Melancon has exhibited that he has no idea where the ball is going once it leaves his hand, but he's been very good in the minors and has a strikeout fastball. Paredes is a 21-year-old infielder in A ball who has speed. The Astros are collecting players with speed.

Time will tell with the Astros haul from these deals. We've seen clubs try to replenish their teams with unheralded deals and be criticized and others have been celebrated for their brilliance; both assessments have turned out completely wrong.

The Red Sox were raked for trading Jeff the Astros....for Larry Andersen in 1990, but Bagwell was a slap-hitting, right-handed batting third baseman and they had a couple of third base prospects then that were rated higher than Bagwell. Who knew he'd develop into the power threat he became? And it's questionable as to the *legality* of the way he did it if you catch my drift.

In retrospect, it was a bad trade for the Red Sox and a great trade for the Astros.

The "genius" Billy Beane traded Tim Hudson to the Braves and was lauded for the deal in which he received Dan Meyer, Charles Thomas and Juan Cruz----none of whom did anything at all for the Athletics.

Many times it's about luck; coaching; opportunity; and *other* means; or all of the above.

Immediate reaction is meaningless and arbitrary.

The White Sox acquire RHP Edwin Jackson from the Diamondbacks for RHP Daniel Hudson and LHP David Holmberg.

My admiration for White Sox GM Kenny Williams has never had as much to do with his substantial baseball acumen and intelligence as it has with his sheer fearlessness and lack of concern about what the "experts" say.

The James Bond villain of the baseball world again defied conventional logic by eschewing the acquisition of the bat the White Sox are believed to need and acquired the well-traveled, but talented Jackson. In exchange for Jackson, Williams surrendered one of his top prospects in righty Daniel Hudson and lefty David Holmberg.

Holmberg is 19 and has been getting rocked in A ball. Hudson is 23 and pitched well in the minors, but poorly in two of his three big league starts this season. Jackson has struggled as well, but he was pitching for a terrible team. There was talk that Jackson was only stopping over with the White Sox as Williams was going to try to spin him off for Adam Dunn or another bat. The Nationals were said to want Jackson----we'll see, but if the White Sox keep Jackson, it won't be a bad thing. He's a good pitcher and is gutty and mean.

Williams is a sharp judge of his personnel and acts quickly without fear or regret. Hudson wouldn't help the White Sox now; Jackson might whether he's in a White Sox uniform or traded. What also has to be kept in mind is that while Hudson is 23, Jackson is about to turn 27. This isn't a trade of a young minor leaguer for a grizzled veteran that can be ripped as trading youth for a mid-rotation expensive luxury because Jackson is entering his prime years.

Did Williams look at the fact that Jackson is a contact pitcher and that his team is poor defensively? That there's a chance these factors along with the power-laden American League will result in Jackson giving up a lot of hits, runs and homers? Of course he did. But he doesn't care.

The Diamondbacks are collecting arms. Hudson can slide into their starting rotation; he's cheap and fresh and they got him for Jackson, who was a possible----albeit unlikely----non-tender candidate this winter; plus he's represented by Scott Boras which makes a reasonable contract extension all but impossible. The 19-year-old Holmberg is in the same category of the young pitchers they got from the Angels in the Dan Haren trade----low minors arms who won't be in the majors for awhile.

Another good move for both sides.

The Rays acquire RHP Chad Qualls from the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later.

Qualls has been horrendous this season. Was it that he was on the Diamondbacks? Was it the transition from set-up man to closer? Or was it the overwork he endured with the Astros as a part of their superlative bullpen that has sapped his pitches of the extra movement and pop on his fastball?

He looked great against the Mets in his final appearance with the Diamondbacks; his fastball was popping and moving. I tend to believe that the move to a contender with the Rays will revert him back to what he was with the Astros and he won't be asked to close. He's going to be a free agent and will be motivated to get a nice contract for next season.

It also has to be noted that Rays VP Gerry Hunsicker was Qualls's GM with the Astros and Jim Hickey his pitching coach; both should know the difference between him having lost a lot on his stuff and if ancillary factors were affecting him negatively.

This is a great move for the Rays.

  • I feed on your weakness:

Joining Jon Heyman (AKA SI_JonHeyman on Twitter) in the ranks of prominent sportswriters (for places of employment rather than content or ability) is New York Post columnist Joel Sherman (AKA JoelSherman1) as both have now....blocked me from following their tweets.

I almost feel embarrassed for them.


The players have thin skins? What about the writers who can't handle someone telling the truth about their inane baseball assertions and absurd mistakes in reporting? Their answer to honest questioning of them in any way warrants a block?

It would be one thing if I was abusive; if I called them names; if I cussed at them, but I don't. What truly spurs their fear of me isn't anything other than my point-by-point attacks on their work----in the present and past----to exemplify that which they got wrong and refuse to acknowledge. Like the murderous creature in Alien, I enter, wreak havoc and explode from the inside until there's little left but the dead carcass. Yes, I'm merciless, but I'm never cheap.

Being cheap would make me easier to dismiss.

Think about it. Joel Sherman currently has 12.221 people following his tweets. What does it say that he took the time and effort to block me? I hadn't even noticed that he'd done it until his account was linked as having Tweeted something about a trade and I clicked on to see what he'd said....and saw that his tweets were locked from people who aren't following him to see.

If you're unfamiliar with Twitter, you can block people from following you; and you can lock your tweets from being viewable by people not on Twitter or those who aren't following you.

Sherman locked his tweets for what appears to be a brief time; he's unlocked them now, but I'm still blocked. Frankly, I couldn't care less. His tweets----like Heyman's----provide little-to-nothing for much use as anything but entertainment and fodder for ridicule; but a columnist from the New York Post----hardly the bastion of journalistic integrity----locked his tweets from public viewing?!? On the eve of the MLB trading deadline to boot?!?

What does that say about him? About his reluctance to engage in debate with someone who has something to say and the ability to debate with an organized argument and no misgivings in stating his case and admitting he's wrong if need be.

Joel Sherman is a cheap shot artist who clearly can't handle my fire. This is the same person who has advocated the dismissals of baseball people with no compunction about them in the human sense; the same person who borderline slandered Art Howe when he managed the Mets as if he was the epitome of stupidity. Was Howe a good fit for the Mets and New York? No. But did he deserve to be ravaged so completely by the likes of Sherman who is proving to be so spineless that he has to block someone who disagrees with him?

So immersed in his own agenda, as recently as March of this year he played up the brilliance of Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik (I discussed this recently and linked his insipid and ill-thought-out case) as the Mets having missed out on an "Amazin" executive----Posting July 19th.

Yeah. Amazin'. It's Amazin' that Zduriencik has made the Mariners worse than they were when he got there.

Ignoring me doesn't make me go away. In fact, blocking me was a hugely idiotic mistake since all it did was prove that I'm getting to him in some way; that he knows who I am and he can't deal with me and what I do.

These little men with their "sources" don't want to argue over issues or acknowledge the existence of a "blogger", but blocking me does just that.

If he has any shame, it should be eating away at him right now. Do you think that's happening? I don't. If he wants to scrap, we can scrap; but it's easier to run; to write garbage and avoid the criticism that comes with a public forum from a recognizable venue.

I have enough confidence in myself and my beliefs that I'm willing to engage with anyone. Shouldn't similar self-belief be a prerequisite for being a baseball "expert"?

Apparently not.

The problem is that they have no answers; no reply; inadequate firepower to retort----they won't run the risk of being publicly humiliated; but isn't it better to lose an argument than to be perceived as afraid. Running and hiding is easier and safer.

Locked tweets? Blocking? Cowering in the corner? He calls himself a man?

It's good try, but here's a flash----no one can hide from me.

  • Viewer Mail 7.31.2010:

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Roy Oswalt and the Phillies:

Meh. Despite this Oswalt deal, I still think the Phils miss the playoffs this year.

That's 50% wishful thinking and 50% analysis (albeit half-assed).

Hey, at least that one famed fan won't have to sell her body for playoff tix.

I'm sticking to my pre-season call on the Phillies fading, but if the Wild Card winds up at around 87-88 wins, they'll be within striking distance late.

I found it ludicrous that people were taking the twin events of Oswalt getting knocked around and losing to the Nationals and J.A. Happ's solid start for the Astros as an opportunity to lambaste the trade. It was one start for each.

What will be very interesting is if how the Phillies react to a missed post-season. The Red Sox and Yankees fans have accumulated a sense of entitlement that has affected their team's decisionmaking process and spurred them to (over)spend at times and make staff changes when they were unwarranted or unwise.

Sometimes I think it's easier for an organization like the Rays or Marlins----who have such an ambivalent fan base----that they can do what they want without repercussions. The Angels fans are reasonable as well and might be willing to accept their club's past success and give them time to retool on the fly if 2010 is indeed lost. Such is not going to be the case with the---ahem----demanding (let's be kind) fans in Philadelphia.

There's good chance that the overmatched Ruben Amaro Jr. will trade and spend his way out of trouble and only succeed in accelerating their demise.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Phillies, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Oswalt:

The trio of Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels make the Phillies very formidable, no matter what their other weaknesses are. I'd be scaaaared if I were in that league.

With that bullpen and the dogfight just to make the playoffs, the Phillies are going to need to push their top three starters harder than a club with a trustworthy corps of relievers would. They can't afford to let Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, et al, gack up close games if the starters are more likely to slam them home.

Despite assertions to the contrary, Halladay isn't Superman and he's been pushed hard with the complete games; Oswalt has had nagging injuries; and Hamels is still a young pitcher who struggled in 2009 after his necessary overuse in 2008 on the way to the title. If they do make the playoffs, their top three might be gassed by the time they get there.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE Jorge Cantu and the Rangers:

I like the Cantu trade. He'll probably play 1B, and he'll at least bolster his stats in The Hitters' Heaven in Arlington. I want the Rangers to win this year's pennant.

Cantu's the type of player who people forget about until he's hitting a clutch homer in extra innings in a big, late-season game or the playoffs. The Rangers are going for it and while the acquisition of Cliff Lee was flashy, getting Cantu may end up being more important.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE the Phillies:

Damn that Amaro is one strange...strange...strange cat. I don't get his thinking when you look at the whole Lee/Oswalt saga.
JA Happ...Gone! I can't fault the move on it's own merit in so far as making the playoff push. It's more of a case of what is that Amaro doing? Strange way of doing business. Oswalt is taking shots and has disk problems etc. It can work out for Phila...but can very easily blow up in their face. Happ was a good live arm.

As I said the other day, success is a dual-edged sword. Amaro worked his way up the ladder organically, but appears in over his head. It would take courage to be the one to step back and say he's not going to do certain things that could hurt the club's long-term future, especially in Philadelphia. But he's trying to be everything to everyone----maintain a prospect base; get Halladay; get Oswalt; keep Domonic Brown; considering trying to get Lee back----and it's very, very, very hard to do with a limited payroll.

Amaro's young; he can't be portrayed as the man who demolished the Phillies, but Pat Gillick knew his time as the Phillies GM was going to be short because of age and his penchant for moving around late in his career; Amaro can't say that; what he's doing with a championship club is going to follow him for the next 30 years as he works in baseball.

What's he's specifically trying to avoid----wrecking the place with desperation deals, overspending and losing with a team that had championship aspirations----could be exactly what's happening in a gaffe-laden, self-fulfilling prophecy.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz last Friday. You can listen directly here----link----or click on Sal's site and download it from I-Tunes.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.


She-Fan said...

Berkman? Fine. I'm not expecting much. But he has to be a better DH than Nick Johnson, just by virtue of showing up.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

The silence in Flushing is deafening.
I'll be on Twitter soon. LOL Looks like we'll have to out-flank them.