Jo-Jo Reyes, Your Life Is Calling!

Oh, wait, that’s Jo Jo Dancer.

It could have been Jo Jo Starbuck, or Mrs. Terry Bradshaw (for a while).

Actually, my life is calling. Work has been quite busy. I have some early morning calls to our development team in India coming up. I’m learning a new process and product, and there’s some, well, discussions about money and deliverables.

Fun. So that’s why I haven’t written much.

I can say that Mr. Troll sent me a few cards I needed and I’ll return the favor soon! Thanks, my friend!

As for Mr. Reyes, his career is calling. Well, what’s left of it.

Last year, he was 7-11, 5.57 (76+ ERA) with Toronto and Baltimore, and for his career, he’s only 12-26 with a 6.05 (70+ ERA).  He was the bad part of the trade that saw the Jays steal Yunel Escobar from the Braves, and Toronto just waived him on to the Orioles. Well, it’s not like the O’s had any better alternatives at the end, trotting out folks like Matusz and VandenHurk.

Jo Jo needs to step up, or he’ll be gone gone.




Stolmy Weather?

Scarlet Pimpernel?

Stormy Petrels?

Well, whatever the case, when you’re 0-8, 9.20 at any level, you’re in for a storm of some sort.

And it’s never good when you get your start pushed back because the bullpen is too tired!





How Long Can You Be The Catcher Of The Future?

I’ve had a crazy few weeks. Life is, well, interesting at times. Challenging. Yet you have to live it. And that’s what I’m doing, as best as I can!

Since 2006 (or maybe before) Iannetta has been tabbed as “the catcher of the future” for the Rockies. When you hit .336 in AA and AAA as a 23-year old catcher, you get noticed. He played fairly well in 2006 for a cup of coffee in Colorado.

And each year hence, he’s the ‘catcher of the future’. In fact, he STILL is listed as a possible fantasy baseball breakout player. My gosh, though, that’s 4+ years of being ‘the future’. Are we in fish or cut bait territory?

What’s happened?

In 2007, he didn’t hit much for average, but showed some on-base skills and decent defensive metrics. He spent a brief time back in Colorado Springs.

In 2008, he had a great OPS+ of 125 and had 18 home runs. Iannetta started 96 games and looked to be, at age 25, a rising young catching star.

In 2009, he started 87 games, showed power and patience, but didn’t hit well for average. Still, his OPS+ was over 100 and his offensive WAR of 1.7 was good for a player hitting .228.

In 2010, he hit .197. He showed good power (9 home runs in 188 ABs). But his OPS+ was 78 and his defense backslid.

Who’s been ‘blocking’ Iannetta since 2007?

Well, Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo.

He’s going to be 28. If you can’t beat those guys out to be the regular catcher (mind you, he did get the most starts in 2008 and 2009 but in the playoffs in 2009, Torrealba was the catcher).

He’s no longer a ‘prospect’. In fact, he’s one season away from becoming a pledge in the backup catcher’s fraternity. But yet, on websites it says “he’s blossoming with the bat”. I’ll see it when I see it.




All Hail Everyday Eddie

Baseball isn’t the same without characters.

“Everyday Eddie” Guardado was such a man.

He was a good, fun guy to have on the ballclub. Ron Gardenhire was a victim of many of Eddie’s pranks (I’m sure Bert Blyleven helped to inspire Eddie). He also loved to play the game, and mentor the youngsters on the team.

Guardado is a prime example of how closers are made, not born. Any time you hear a team needing a ‘proven closer’ just needs to remember Everyday Eddie. He went from LOOGY to closer when LaTroy Hawkins was deemed unfortunate.

Looking at his stats – they’re rather pedestrian. He had just a 12.2 WAR over his long career – but it’s hard for a reliever to generate a lot of WAR especially if they’re used as a LOOGY much of the time. But even closers don’t pile up a lot of WAR. Mariano Rivera’s best WAR season ever was 4.8. The 100th best WAR season for a set-up reliever (IP < 100 and SV < 10) was 2.3 (Joaquin Benoit’s 2007. He went 7-4 with 6 saves, 18 holds and a 2.85 ERA in 82 innings)

Guardado was more than stats, though. He exhibited a joy in playing the game. Not everyone has to be exuberant, but you need a few guys who love being out there and will take the ball every day.

So here’s to you Eddie on your one-year anniversary of your retirement (give or take a few days).

Is It Too Early For “Where Are They Now”?

Well, you know I want to prove that I scan these cards myself sometimes. So sorry for the less than stellar square-up. You can deal, right?

If you didn’t know, Miller is a non-roster invitee for the Red Sox this season. Other non-roster invitees for the Sox include Brandon Duckworth, Dennys Reyes, Tony Pena, Matt Fox and the immortal Clevelan Santeliz.

He’ll be 26 this year? Isn’t that a bit early for the NRI scramble? Especially for someone who was a uber-hyped #1 draft pick just five years earlier?

Well, for once in MLB, they’re looking at results more than pedigree.

Miller’s been stinkin’.

As you know, Miller signed a major-league contract after he was drafted. And he’s pitched in the majors every year since his signing.

His WAR as a pitcher? -3.8. He’s never had a positive WAR. You know what that means? It means that someone like Brandon Duckworth could have pitched better than Miller in the majors. And at 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost.

At the end of 2007 (5-5, 5.63 in Motown) he was sent along with an entire pu-pu platter o’ pu to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.

Miller struggled in 2008 and 2009 in the majors and spent some brief time in the minors. But 2010 was fish or cut bait for the Marlins.

In the majors, Miller was 1-5, 8.54 and gave up 51 hits and 34 runs in 32 2/3. He had 28 K’s, but 26 walks. His OPS against was 1.054. Holy 1899 Spiders!

He had been decent in the minors, but in Jacksonville (AA) in 2010 he was 1-8 with a 6.01 ERA.

So Florida decided to cut bait for Miller, and traded him for marginal LOOGY Dustin Richardson. Then, Boston took him off the roster, only to sign him to a minor league deal two weeks later.

Will Miller make the team? Will he go down with David Clyde, Brien Taylor and Eddie Bane and others as hugely hyped draft busts?

My guess…yep.

But it’s baseball, so you never know. And that’s why we love it.

Should The Twins Have Kept Hunter?

Torii Hunter probably would have given the Twins some sort of ‘hometown’ discount, maybe. He was coming off of a pretty darn good offensive season, and won the Gold Glove at age 31.

But I believe the Twins made the right call in not signing him to a long-term contract after 2007.

The Twins were still payroll-shy at that point, and knew they had to deal with Justin Morneau’s and Joe Mauer’s contract. Hunter wanted not only big money, but a long-term deal that would take him to his age 36 year. They have money to spend now, thanks to two events. First, Target Field opened and the fans supported outdoor baseball with a passion, beyond the wildest dreams of Twins management. Second, Carl Pohlad died – and the old man controlled the purse strings.

But more than financial, Hunter was a sound baseball decision that looked beyond 2008 and 2009.

He had his typical offensive years the past three seasons, but his defense slipped. Actually, his defense started to slip earlier (he had a -1.6 DWAR in 2007 when he won the Gold Glove) but it would have been really noticeable with how often Jason Kubel and Delmon Young played out in the outfield. Hunter’s probably giving away to Peter Bourjos this season.

While Carlos Gomez had the hype at first, Denard Span became a legitimate offensive threat. Yes, he stunk in 2010 but he’s still got a greater upside than Hunter, and I think he’s focused on improving all aspects of his play this year. (His defense was pretty bad in 2010 as well.)

And the Twins have decent outfield prospects coming up as well; they would have been totally blocked if Hunter, Span, Kubel, Cuddyer, and Young were all around. Now, one of the youngsters can be a defensive replacement and ease in, and Kubel, Young and Cuddyer can all rest a bit while Thome gets his at-bats.

But the most important reason is that Hunter would have three seasons left on his deal (2011, 2012, 2013). That would have totally handcuffed the Twins.

First, they couldn’t have signed Nishioka, who is going to be a pretty darn good player.

Second, they probably couldn’t have taken care of Joe Nathan, or acquired Matt Capps, or signed Carl Pavano.

Third, as much as I derided Delmon Young when I first moved up here, he was a pretty good offensive player in 2010. With Hunter around, he’s probably not around or not playing much.

Fourth, the Twins probably don’t have the flexibility to sign Jim Thome in 2010, and then get him back for 2011, if Hunter’s around, since that’s a roster spot that the Twins would need to give to someone like Kubel, Young, or Cuddyer.

Fifth, in 2013, where could Hunter play? How much would he hit? Would he be a better player than Ben Revere or Joe Benson?

Hunter was one of those guys that could have spent his entire career in one place. Had he not wanted a six-year deal, he may have. Sometimes you need flexibility, and Hunter was going to be moving down the defensive spectrum. And in Target Field, playing CF like Kenny Lofton post-2003 was not an option.

Now Hunter’s probably a corner outfielder for a team that is probably needing to rebuild. And the question is could he outhit the Cuddyer / Kubel / Young / Thome cotillion? Probably not.

But when Torii comes back to Minnesota, we’ll all cheer – at least his first time at the dish.



Safe, Out, or Nothing Happening?

Big news today.

First, got great cards from Lifetime Topps Project, Mark’s Ephemera and e rayhahn rayhahn (a/k/a Rhubarb Runner). They whacked a great deal off of my want list.

Second, I’m bindering up my complete sets or my close-to complete sets. What it is doing is giving me some quality control. Already in a few sets I’ve noticed a stray card or three that weren’t in the box I thought they were. Either they’re in another place or misplaced in my doubles, so my want list is fluxing right now.

Third, before the end of the month I want to move out a lot of doubles, relics, parallels and miscellaneous cards. I know there are a few cards that some people want but for a lot of them I want to just send a random bunch of cards to people with some great, some junk and some, well, interesting. I mean, yeah the box will have some 1988 Donruss but also a relic or three and a non-junk card and stuff. It’s like those miscellaneous packs at Target except you don’t have to pay $4.99 and I’ll fill a big ol’ box fer ya.

Fourth, this week is big, big, big for me. Cross your fingers.

And now…Chris Coste.

Actually, read his book. It’s pretty good and says more than I could about him. It seems his baseball story is at an end. He had surgery last year and as of right now is a free agent. But he made it to the show against all expectations. What more do you want?

‘Knuckle-Dragging’ Is A Complement To Him

Yes, I have a fascination with submariners. They’re odd ducks, like me.

Bradford was an effective odd duck. Me, well, I’d like to think so.

Chad (born Chadwick – and he was born in Mississippi – doesn’t Chadwick Lee Bradford scream “old south” to you? Can you picture him in a seer-sucker suit sipping lemonade on a hammock ‘neath a magnolia?) was probably the most extreme example of a submarine pitcher in recent memory. As you can see above,  he got really down and dirty when he slung the ball towards the plate.

Late in his career, he was a ROOGY, but he was what he was and he was a good to great pitcher when his delivery and mechanics were working and he kept the ball down.

What I dig is that baseball, whilst normally a conforming bunch, allow someone like Bradford to keep his real light shining, and do his own thing.

Yes, that song just appeared on my iPod whilst I was typing this and I felt the need to insert it, so I had to wiggle and wrangle to get it in there.

At least it wasn’t something like Hair Of The Dog. I’d have a hard time explaining that one away!


I’m Conflicted

I’ve always been programmed to dislike the Mets. Of course, since I’m a recovering Cubs fan, it wasn’t so hard after the Mets got good in the mid-80’s.

It was actually easy to hate the Mets. Gooden, Strawberry, Hernandez, Knight, Dykstra, Backman, all of ’em. Something about their attitudes and cockiness and, well, they won more than the Cubs.

And I’ve carried that over since then, even though the Mets have stumbled more than often than not. It’s just a knee jerk reaction. How I’ve laughed when big money free agents signed by the Mets have gone astray.

But what’s there to hate about David Wright? Can you find anything?

I’m not talking about jealous hate. Sure, Keith Hernandez had talent, but it was easy to hate his “I’m Keith Hernandez” attitude. Is it rational? No, of course not. It’s sports fandom. Like that’s rational.

David Wright, though, is a good guy without being a goody-two-shoes. He’s a humanitarian, he works hard, likes pets and animals by all accounts he’s a good teammate and he never wants to come out of the lineup.

So how can I hate him? It’s not his fault he was drafted by the Mets, so I can’t even hate him for signing with them as a free agent.

Face it, I can’t. I’m going to have to resign myself to liking one Mets player.

To be honest, I do still like Santana, and I liked Pedro and since I like knuckleballers I do dig Dickey. I do kind of feel sorry for Ike Davis, being Ron Davis’ son and all.

But Piazza? Nah. Ventura? Hell, naw! Rey Ordonez? Get that slappy away from me.

David Wright, though, is one that I can’t be on the fence about. Maybe he’s got a secret dark side. Perhaps there’s a lair in his suburban Jersey home and he dresses up in women’s clothes and has women in a pit putting lotion on themselves.

It doesn’t seem plausible, but you know, it’s either that or I truly like a Mets player.



Be Careful What You Wish For

Scott Boras has done a lot of good for some of his clients, but some of his ideas have derailed his clients careers, and his emulators have really done some damage.

Bobby Seay is one of those who arguably was hurt by Boras’ tactics.

Seay was drafted in the first round in 1996, but Seay, Travis Lee, Matt White and John Patterson were all declared free agents because Boras found loopholes in how they were tendered contracts. It was all very much minutiae and technicalities but it made Seay and the other three a lot of money because they were top draftee prospects.

What happened, of course, is that they were paid bonuses out of alignment with any other rational measure, and gave a false value to their talents. Of course, one could argue that they were paid what the market would bear, but Boras has always been able to get teams to overpay for his clients.

It could be said that the Matt Harrington debacle was inspired by the inflated value given to these players.

At any rate, White never made the bigs, Lee was a disappointment, Patterson had injury issues, and Seay basically became a LOOGY.

Don’t get me wrong, LOOGYs have their place, but I don’t think that when Seay was drafted the were expecting that he’d just be a generic lefty reliever.

There was a lot of pressure on Seay to recoup his big bonus that the Devil Rays gave him after he became a free agent. There is always pressure on high draft picks, but Seay had a target on his back. Yet, he seemed to be doing OK. By 2000, he was in AA and had a decent year in Orlando.

But the injuries hit, and with that any chance Seay had to become a star lefty starter. Also, the Devil Rays may have not been such a well-run organization. After his 2000, he was back in Orlando in 2001 and then was called up even though his stats were pedestrian (I think they may have been contractually obligated to call him up, though I don’t know for sure). He never was in Tampa Bays’ plans again, though he was called up a couple of times before being traded to Colorado in 2005.

He then started his parade around the baseball world.

Now, after a couple of years in Detroit, he’s hurt again and a free agent. That’s not a good combination.

We’ll never know what would have happened if Seay had taken the White Sox’ offer and reported there. But what happened is that baseball started to pay attention to the little things on minor league contracts to stop such shenanigans.

And that can’t be all bad.

(BTW, are you proud of me? I didn’t reference the odious hit by Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson…just think about it. You’ll be happy I didn’t link to it….)