Monday, July 26, 2010

Dawson, Piniella and trade rumors

Andre Dawson: Congrats goes out to the Hawk for being elected into the Hall of Fame. Finally.

Dawson was a true 5-tool player, with an arm in right field that could gun out anyone at any time. No particular stat jumps out at you, but when you look at all of them, you get a complete picture of the complete player he was: 438 HR, 1591 RBI, 314 SB, .279 avg.

Playing 11 years in Montreal, MLB decided Dawson would be inducted as an Expos. Dawson wanted to go in as a Cub. After all, he won his lone MVP award in 1987 on a last-place Cubs team. Of course, he also hit 49, when 49 meant something.

LOU HANGING IT UP: Earlier this week, Lou Piniella decided that at age 67, it's time to hang it up. One of only two men to rack up 1,800 hits and 1,800 wins (Joe Torre is the other), Piniella may have felt that the Cubs' window of opportunity has temporary closed.

"Sweet Lou" will forever be remembered for countless tirades, including this classic during his stint with the Cubs:

So, who will replace Piniella as Cubs manager next year? Names like Bobby ValeLinkntine, Fredi and Bob Brenly have been floating aroud. But my money is on Ryne Sandberg.

Ryno may not be the best Xs and Os guy with only four years of minor league managing experience, but he does have the Iowa Cubs in first place. And frankly, he'll excite the fan base. Ryno's a no-nonsense manager, who connects with the fans. And above all else, he's the only Hall-of-Famer managing in the minors.

Trade Talk: The second big deal of trading season shook down today as the Diamondbacks traded Dan Haren to Anaheim for Joe Saunders and minor leaguers Rafael Rodriguez and Patrick Corbin.

So, who's next? Roy Oswalt's going somewhere. My money's on St. Louis. The Detroit Tigers love Adam Dunn. There's better odds Jayson Werth is not a member of the Phillies by Thursday's deadline. Stay tuned for the latest as news happens.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rough week for Yankee fans

To say it's been a rough week for the Yankees is as much of an understatement as the franchise normally overpays for free agents every year.

In the span of about five days the pinstripes have suffered several major blows.

1). First, on the doorstep of trading for this year's trading-deadline prize of LHP Cliff Lee, the Texas Rangers upped their offer on Friday and yanked lee out from underneath, like the tablecloth underneath a table full of dishes set for thanksgiving dinner. Fantasy Spin: Lee may get more wins in Texas, but his numbers will suffer across the board when he pitches in Arlington. He's still a Top 10 option.

2). On Sunday, the Yankees family lost long-time announcer Bob Sheppard. And when I say long-time, I'm talking 57 seasons-worth. Sheppard started announcing Yankees games in 1951 and did so until 2007.

His style and voice was so crisp and unique that Derek Jeter has requested a recording of Sheppard announcing "No. 2, Derek Jeter...No. 2" be played when he bats. Players have often said they never truly felt like they made it to the big leagues until Sheppard, also known as "The Voice of God" introduced them as a batter.

Here's a quick clip of Sheppard reading a farewell poem during the final game at Yankees Stadium:

3). The final crushing blow was a big surprise as long-time owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday of a heart attack. Love him or hate him (and most people where in the latter camp), "The Boss" brought back the Yankee Legacy, bringing seven world championships and 11 pennants to the Big Apple during his tenure (1973-2009).

The biggest rap against Steinbrenner was he was too competitive, always wanting his teams to win championships, and paying whatever it took to get them. But don't blame George. He was playing well within the free-agency rules that baseball agreed to long ago.

Personally, the bigger crime would be for Steinbrenner to hoard the money he makes from the Yankees cash cow and not reinvest it into the team. There's no crime in wanting to win as an owner. Even before his death, this tribute ran on the Yes network, and the common theme you hear from his players was that above all else George cared deeply. About baseball. About winning. About his players.

There's a lot to be said for that.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Newsday: LeBron leans toward Miami

OK, so this isn't baseball news, but it's huge.

The LeBron decision that most of us are sick of hearing about has happened. Well, pretty much. Sorta. Depending on who you believe. But yeah, here it goes.

According to, LeBron James will join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and sign with the Miami Heat. Although currently the terminology is "leaning toward choosing the Heat," although that may also be changing by the hour.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer was also reporting the Newsday story that LeBron was gone. ESPN's Chris Broussard says "sources with knoledge of the situation" said LeBron is headed to Miami "barring a late change of heart."

Definitive? Well, this isn't exactly water-tight conclusive reporting, but it's also something. The first real smoke signal of what's going on inside LeBron's head.

So, why am I blogging about basketball on a baseball blog? Good question. But this is one of those stories that has crossed over sports, the first free agent bonanza that may change the way other sports look at free agency. The New York Yankees have been crucified for years for trying to buy their way to a championship, which didn't exactly work for a decade.

Except in the NBA, it's all about the stars and 2 or 3 players can dominate an entire league. Baseball can't say that. Football certainly can't.

The general feeling I get is this new Big Three would be anywhere from bad to extremely bad for the NBA. Where's the competitive balance? And will the public opinion of LeBron be forever that he had to team up with two other superstars, including a mega-superstar in Wade, to ever win that elusive ring. Couldn't do it on his own. That the title is hollow and manufactured.

And maybe he doesn't care what public opinion is. Although perception often times is reality.

Sure, Jordan had Pippen. And Kobe has Gasol. But to have two superstars along side you, including a consensus Top 5 player? And the other 23 other teams around the league, left holding the bag, don't even have one...?

Or maybe this report is completely false. Early reports have a way of coming up empty.

All I know is 9 p.m. can't come quick enough tonight. Let's get this over with already.

And back to baseball.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Braves' Infante the most surprising All-Star ever?

Omar Infante? Really?!? The super-utility guy for the Atlanta Braves an All-Star?

There are almost no words for such an obvious puzzling choice to this year's NL All-Star squad.

Joey Votto? Ryan Zimmerman? Where for art thou, Charlie Manuel?

The problem is, Infante, a nice Swiss Army Knife type of a player, is, well, not even a full-timer on his own team.

For Manuel to skip over obvious All-Star-deserving players like Votto (19 HR, 57 RBI, .313), who might be the N.L.'s first-half MVP, or Zimmerman (13, 40, .280) or teammate Adam Dunn (17, 49, .276) is not just a cause for concern.

It may be a cause to change the way All-Stars are chosen.

Yes, the fans vote in the starters and we've often thought that to be mostly a popularity contest. But even the fans wouldn't have whiffed so bad on this one. Check out the full rosters here.

So, what's so wrong with tabbing Infante? Let's look at his numbers:

1 HR, 22 RBI, 23 runs, .311, 9 doubles, 1 triple, 3 SB.

Get your science lab microscopes out, scrape off the sodium phosphate debris there, and tell me if you can find anything that says All-Star.

Maybe I need my prescription triple-checked by Clark Kent's eye doctor.

But the most startling number is 164: number of at-bats, or about half what most every-day players have.

This head-scratcher will go on for some time. May live in infamy. Even Infante, when he got the call, thought first that he was traded and secondly that it was a joke.

Other notable omissions who likely have been keeping your fantasy team afloat: Mat Latos, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Marmol, Jered Weaver and Andy Pettitte.

Who do you think was 2010's biggest snub?