As I Write This Post…

Kelly Shoppach is the only person that stands between the Rays and total disaster. If he gets hurt or ejected, then the Rays have to put in Elliott Johnson behind the plate.

Elliott Johnson, backup infielder.

(It’s midnight in Minnesota, and the Rays and Red Sox are in the 14th tied at 0.)


So Upper Deck Thought They Could Have Gotten Away With It?

This card is part of Smed’s Spring Cleaning. I added more cards to the kitty today from sets that I don’t think I’ll complete in the near future. There may be some gems (not rare, of course, but cards you don’t see much of) in there, along with a bunch of UD Collector’s Choices and stuff and things.

The late, unlamented 2010 Upper Deck set I think would have looked good if it was licensed. It’s sad that a once mighty company that shook up the baseball card world was reduced to skullduggery, though. They weren’t supposed to use any licensed logos or uniforms, as I recall, yet almost every card had a partial uniform and or hat that was easily identifiable.

No wonder they were sued and had to scuttle their plans for any other sets, and the ‘second wave’ of the 2010 set.

I’d love to see a competitor to Topps as long as both card companies don’t go hog wild with sets that really can’t be completed by the average collector in a year. I’d also like to somehow make it so pack searchers are publicly ridiculed. I’m going to start a part-time job at a Target on Tuesday while I look for a full-time one in my career. Perhaps I’ll find a pack searcher and put him in the stocks so we can throw tomatoes at him.



Marco! Scutaro!

I am trying to confirm whether children around New England played Marco! Scutaro! instead of Marco Polo last summer.

Any tips, please call…


Next Stop, Frisco

Jeff Suppan, the man who would not die. Well, at least his career will not die.

Let’s count his escapes:

1998 – The former Red Sox propsect was deemed expendable.  After being drafted by the Diamondbacks, he went 1-7, 6.68 for the first year NL team, then he was sent to the PCL. The Royals purchased him, and he rebounded.

2002 – He signed a big money contract and went 9-16, 5.32 with Kansas City. Not that it was that horrible (OPS+ of 93) but he wasn’t going to get big money.

2003 – He pitched well for the Pirates, and Boston reacquired him in the Freddy Sanchez deal. It wasn’t such a good deal for Boston, as he struggled. But St. Louis took a chance and put him in the Duncan rehab program from wayward starters.

2010 – He pitched OK for St. Louis from 2004-06. So Milwaukee spent $40 million over four years for him. He was OK in 2007, bad in 2008, awful in 2009, and egregious in 2010. So St. Louis snapped him up, again, to patch their staff. A 3-6 record belied some good work for a 102 ERA+.

So he escaped again. Had he not signed the $40 million deal, he may have been gone in 2009. But the Brewers were loath to cut ties and admit sunk costs until he was batting practice fodder.

Now can he continue his semi-resurgence as a Giant? There’s not going to be any expectation that he’ll be a starter, obviously, but can he contribute as a middle man?

Well, it’s not going to cost the Giants $40 million to find out now.

Will the Real Brennan Boesch Please Stand Up?

The first half for Boesch – .342 / .397 / .593 – .990 OPS.

The second half for Boesch – .163 / .237 / .222 – .458 OPS.

If you are a Tiger fan, can you trust him?

What would concern me is Boesch’s minor league record. At AA in 2009, he hit .275 with 28 home runs, but only 33 walks and 127 K’s.

Now as a Twins fan (up here in Minnesota – BTW after a week of 40’s and 50’s we’re going to get 10 inches of snow tomorrow. Gentlemen, start your shovels…) while I don’t hope that Boesch falls down into a minefield, I do think that his scorching start masked what could be his fatal flaws. And it seems that major league pitchers figured him out and well.

Some of the Kool-Aid drinkers (each team has them) will insist that Boesch will be fine. Baseball fans are like that. Some will believe that Boesch will hit .340. Others will believe that Boesch will never hit .200 again. The truth, of course, is in between. I remember hearing all the time about how “Sammy Sosa was horrible when it counted”, and when I looked at the stats he was pretty much in line that season late-and-close as to overall. It’s just that some fans will always remember the strikeout with two on and two out in the 9th down by a run – and others will always remember the base hit in that situation.

So, Mr. Boesch, I guess it is up to you. Are you better than a .256 hitter with modest power?


Have A Heart, Mariners Fans

As you know, Silva had heart surgery during the season, and came back to pitch after he went under the knife. Fairly remarkable. Though he only pitched one game, the fact that he was able to take the mount at all after having his ticker worked on is pretty amazing.

That he was pitching well for the Cubs before his cardiac ablation surgery is quite remarkable for Mariners fans.

You see, Silva, despite his so-so major league performance (he had some good years and an absolute stinker in 2006 where he gave up 240 hits and 38 home runs and didn’t crack 200 IP), signed for $48 million for four years after 2007.

Yes, the Mariners gave a pitcher $48 million one season removed from a season where he had -1.3 war, only 32% quality starts, and had a .538 SLG against. Yes, Silva didn’t walk people. But sometimes walking people is better than having them rocket balls all over the yard.

So it’s not surprising that Silva channeled Mike Parrot with his 5-18, 6.81 mark as a Mariner.

What is amazing is that Seattle found a taker for him. Sure, they had to take Milton Bradley, but it was worth it.


Silva had a 1.8 WAR and a 103 ERA+. Decent numbers. I think Mariners fans would have taken that performance over what they received.

However, Seattle being Seattle, there wasn’t a huge national clamor for Silva’s head. Yankee fans still haven’t forgiven Carl Pavano or Hideki Irabu or Ed Whitson, so if Silva was a Yankee then his head would probably be impaled on a halberd and posted at the players’ entrance to Yankee stadium.

As Robyn Hitchcock said in “Viva Sea-Tac” – Seattle has the best coffee, computers and smack. A combination of those probably tempered the Mariners fans displeasure.

Or they realized it’s just baseball…



When I first pulled this card, I had no idea it was Jason Giambi. I thought it was some serial killer in a Rockies uniform.

With no hair, Giambi’s not Giambi.

Last year, his OPS+ was 98 with a 0.1 WAR, though -0.4 WAR was defensive. Why Giambi is in the NL, I have no idea.

But he’s a Rockie again this year – and they have a mutual option for 2012.

The biggest oddity is that the player that he is most similar to is Willie McCovey. And like McCovey, in his mid-30s he was better than people thought (take a look at McCovey as a Padre – not that bad considering who he was playing for) but then cratered at 38. At age 39, they both came back a bit.

But now Giambi will be 40. He can’t run, can’t play defense and if Helton gets hurt again he’s probably stuck at first for a while.

Maybe all Giambi will need to do is grow his hair back. And stay away from chicks named Delilah.

Bill Butler – 2010 Topps

February 15, 2011

The One

How does it feel to be the one and only player on a team that can produce runs?

Tigers Rookie Loses Arm In Freak Incident

CHICAGO – Tragedy struck today at US Cellular Field as Tigers’ rookie infielder Danny Worth’s right arm fell from his body at the elbow as he was taking infield practice before the Tigers loss to the White Sox.

A hush fell across the diamond as the Detroit training staff moved swiftly to contain the damage, wrapping the fallen limb in ice and placing compresses at the stump. An ambulance was called and whisked Worth to Mercy Hospital where surgeons worked to re-attach the limb. There is no word at press time on the status of Worth’s arm.

“It’s a damn (bleepin’) shame,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “Worth was really excited about being up with the big club, and he just tries so damn hard. But he really over-extended himself during the infield and this throw was just one too many at maximum velocity.

“I need a Goddamned cigarette,” continued Leyland.

Worth was a 2nd round draft pick of the Tigers in 2007. He has missed time during the past two seasons with injuries, but nothing as serious as a dismemberment. Ironically, Worth was called up to the bigs to replace Adam Everett, who is missing at this time. There is evidence that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski fed Everett to the tigers at the Detroit Zoo, but Dombrowski denies this.

“Everett was making just $1.5 million. We can just charge a quarter more for the Domino’s Pizza at the park,” said Dombrowski. “Now, I gotta find another shortstop, so we’ll probably raise the pizza price 50 cents.”

Worth never lost consciousness during the incident. Ballpark observers reported that Worth said word to the effect of “Holy (bleeping) (bleep), what the (bleep) happened to my (bleeping) arm? (Bleeeeeeeeeeeep) it hurts!”

Updates to this story can be found on our web site.

From Penthouse To Outside On A Winning Team

First off, I am done with buying packs, etc. of 2011 Topps Series 1. I’ll update my want list very soon and at some point sort out what goodies I have for you all for trading purposes. But I only need about 20 base cards to go!

(I almost typed in trading porpoises…)

(Beware! They will offer you a LOOGY, an injured prospect, and Frenchy Francouer for your 23-year old stud starter…)

Bobby Cox is going to the Hall of Fame as a manager, no doubt about it. But his 2010 performance is one of his best.

A. The Braves traded a head-case underachieving shortstop for a veteran underachieving shortstop with worse defense.

B. Their all-star HOF third baseman’s body basically unscrewed itself.

C. His left fielder had a SLG of .354.

D. His stud 24-year old starter was injured for over 2 months and then basically lost on the mound after that.

E. His #5 starter, a high-priced Japanese import, went 1-10 thanks to no run support, then lost his confidence and was basically exiled into Oliver Perez land the second half of the season.

F. The back end of the bullpen was a revolving door until some green kids took over.

G. Thanks to some handymen, they were able to fill holes due to injuries, but they had players moving all over the diamond all year.

H. And, their starting CF, a former All-Star (yes, for Pittsburgh but still…) and Gold Glover (not due to stats, though) started on a 2-18 slump and only had three days over the Mendoza line after April 9.

Thankfully, the Braves had great pitching from three starters, a good bullpen, and timely hitting from some of their roster.

McLouth is 28 years old. There was no reason for this decline, even though he declined last year as well. Baseball is a mental game, and figuring it out can make you mental. I’m sure Bobby Cox would have loved to bench Melky Cabrera, but McLouth made Melky seem like Tony Gwynn.

Will McLouth recover? Is he in the mix at all? Or will he go on ‘semi-permanent special assignment in NYC?’

Oh, wait, that last one is McCloud….

(Oooh, Barbi Benton!! I’m sold!!)

(Do a GIS for Barbi Benton without any blocks…and you’ll know why Hef drooled over her back in the day.)

Though personally, I prefer Dennis Weaver as the weird hotel caretaker in Touch Of Evil, not in McCloud.

(What a hell of a movie. One of the best ever – and the cast: Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Zsa Zsa, and the guy that played Dennis The Menace’s dad on TV.)

(Who were we really talking about? Nate McLouth? Oh…)

Basically, it’s put up or shut up for Nate. The end.

Now, the best opening crane shot, ever.