Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Some Light Reading for Steve Sax

...for when he's not composing haiku.

Lo Duca: How About an Extension? Mets: Is That a UFO?

From the New York Daily News:

DUCA DEAL: Paul Lo Duca's reps brought up the topic of an extension during the winter meetings, but Mets brass wasn't ready to discuss it. The issue figures to be broached again by Lo Duca's side during spring training, though there's been speculation the Mets may wait to see how things play out this season with other catchers before addressing their situation behind the plate for '08 and beyond.

Lo Duca, who turns 35 in April, will earn $6.25 million this season and could be seeking a hefty raise. He hit .318 with five homers and 49 RBI in '06.

Good luck with that extension, Paulie. We'll see if you get any of the love the Mets showered upon David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Phone the Hold!

This just in: The commissioner's office has rejected Barry Bonds' contract with the Giants (AP/ESPN.com):

NEW YORK -- Even after signing a contract, Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants might not agree on what it means.

Bonds' $15.8 million, one-year agreement contains a provision giving the club the right to void the deal if he is indicted, but the outfielder's agent says the language is unenforceable under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

The unusual provision, included in the deal that was completed Monday night, is designed by the team to protect itself in case Bonds is charged in the federal government's steroids investigation. Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, is in a California federal prison because he has refused to testify whether Bonds committed perjury when he told a 2003 grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

In the contract, a list of criminal acts is spelled out in a section.

"Player acknowledges and agrees that an indictment for any criminal act under [that section] ... is proper grounds for termination of this contract," Bonds' contract states.

"Player also acknowledges and agrees that he will not grieve, appeal or otherwise challenge any club action to terminate this contract as a result of player's indictment for any criminal acts [specified] ... nor will he cause or authorize any third party, such as the Major League Baseball Players Association, to grieve, appeal or otherwise challenge any club action to terminate this contract as a result of players' indictment for any [specified] criminal acts."

The language in the contract was read to The Associated Press by a person with a copy of the agreement.

Complicating matters, Bonds' contract was not approved by the commissioner's office because it contained a personal-appearance provision, a baseball executive said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because those details had not been made public.

Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said late Tuesday the team was redrafting the agreement and sending him a revised version by express mail for Bonds to review and sign.

Borris said the additional language in Bonds' contract would be unenforceable if the matter were litigated because baseball's collective bargaining agreement would take precedence. Because of that, Borris said the inclusion of the added provision is meaningless.

"Although it is not my policy to comment on the specifics of an individual player's contract, the reporting that Barry will allow the Giants to get out of his contract if he is indicted on the federal steroid investigation is inaccurate," he said. "The collective bargaining agreement governs the work relationship between the owners and players, not the Giants' unilateral assertions."

Gotta love the off-season, where we hang on contract negotiations with scrutiny usually reserved for a no-hitter.

Bud Black, No Inside-the-Box Thinker He

From "Bucking a trend: Black seeks to prove ex-pitchers can be managers" by Tom Verducci at SI.com:

Give [Padres GM Kevin] Towers credit for making an inspired choice in Black. (Towers also gave some consideration to Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey as his replacement for manager Bruce Bochy, who signed with the Giants.) Black has front office experience with the Indians and attracted some interest from the Red Sox as the replacement for manager Grady Little in 2004.

"Playing in Petco Park, we play at least 81 games where runs are hard to come by and about one-third of our games overall are decided by one or two runs," Towers says. "So the manager has to be very good about knowing when to leave a starter in and when to go to the bullpen. Buddy gives us that. Plus, he's a progressive thinker who's not afraid to think outside the box."

For instance, Black mentioned Brian Giles as "a possibility" as his leadoff hitter because of his excellent on-base percentage. Black more likely will choose from among Marcus Giles and Terrmel Sledge for the job, but even giving consideration to Brian Giles atop the lineup is an inspired bit of thinking among his fraternity.

player 2006 OBP
Brian Giles .374
Marcus Giles .341
Terrmel Sledge .308

Wow, maybe this managing thing isn't so hard after all.

Brad Penny for Adam Dunn?

Mentioned in passing in this critique of the Reds' lack of off-season moves, but an intriguing concept nonetheless.

Rob Neyer Gives Props to Dodgers, Warning to Pierre

Rob Neyer's chat wrap (from yesterday) sets high expectations for the Dodgers...:

Dan (Milton, MA): Who would you say is the strongest team in the NL heading into the season?

Rob Neyer: That's a really good question, Dan. We can poke holes in every candidacy, can't we? I guess without doing any actual analysis, I like the Mets and perhaps the Dodgers best. But those holes...

...and a standard for Juan Pierre (58 SB / 20 CS in 2006):

greg (toronto): Is there a mathematical reason behind saying that basestealers should have at least a 75% success rate?

Rob Neyer: Yes, there is. The number moves around depending on what else is happening in baseball, but these days it's definitely upwards of 70 percent.

Juan's 2006 rate comes out to 74.4%. If he'd have converted one more, he would have made the Neyer threshold.

UPDATE: Sorry, but adding one more point from Jerry Crasnick's latest chat didn't seem to merit a separate post. In his chat, he puts the pressure on Ethier and Kemp for 2007:

Harry (Tallahassee, FL): I'm a HUGE LA Dodgers fan. I'm wondering, with all the off-season signings (but the losses of Maddux, Drew and Gagne), what are the Dodgers' chances of making it to the World Series?

Jerry Crasnick: Harry, I love the pitching depth, but we're talking about a team that ranked 15th in the National League in homers and replaced J.D. Drew with Luis Gonzalez. They need Ethier or Matt Kemp or someone to have an impact.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jason Jennings Gets 40GB Video Ipod, Makes Headlines

Jason Jennings, pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, gets one of them newfangled Ipods, adopting circa-2001 technology. And ESPN.com decided to make this its cover story.

Said Jennings, "I've got some sweet tunes in here, including all of the albums from Extreme, Great White, and Def Leppard. Whenever I want to rock out in the dugout in between innings, I'm ready." Jennings went on to say how fond he is of the gadget's shuffle feature, as well as that "psychedelic" visualizer function on itunes.

There may be some other point to the article, but I didn't read the rest of it.

Giants Taking Less of a Chance with Bonds

"Honestly, Officer, I'm not juicing! My head has always been this size!"

Welcome to Barry Bonds bullet point night!

From "Bonds gives Giants right to terminate deal" (AP/ESPN.com):

NEW YORK -- Barry Bonds gave the San Francisco Giants the right to terminate his $15.8 million, one-year contract if he is indicted.

The unusual provision could set off a legal test between the individual player contract and the union's collective bargaining agreement. The language, included in the deal that was completed Monday night, is designed by the team to protect itself in case Bonds is charged in the federal government's steroids investigation.

  • Not sure how much Barry is risking here. That $15.8 million should be able to buy a lot of lawyers to contest a potential termination.

  • Jayson Stark writes:

    ...even if Bonds were to be indicted, you could very well see him going the Koby [sic] Bryant legal-commuter route, and jetting from court room to batter's box when necessary....

    "The Giants' only concern," [Bonds' agent Jeff] Borris said, pointedly, "should be where to erect the statue of Barry Bonds in the plaza -- and who the sculptor will be."

  • First of all, that's "Kobe." But the mistake is understandable—after all, he's kind of obscure.

  • Secondly, "I'll meet you by the Bonds statue" doesn't sound quite right. But least it should be easy to spot.

  • From an ESPN.com article about the newer, nicer Bonds:

    Bonds met with about 200 club employees. Bonds spoke to the employees, answered questions and even took pictures with employees, most of whom had never met him before in his 14 years with the Giants.

    Also Tuesday, Giants president Peter Magowan admitted that re-signing Bonds was a risky move, but one that he was comfortable making.

  • I bet Barry already knew everybody in Accounting.

  • Isn't a "risky" move by definition one you're uncomfortable making?

  • This Just In: Sammy Sosa Is Not a Jehovah's Witness

    In other slugger-of-dubious-authenticity news, Sammy Sosa officially signed a minor league deal with the Rangers (AP/ESPN.com):

    Sosa said Tuesday that there has always been speculation but "never any evidence [of steroid use]."

    "I am not going to go to every fan's home and knock on the door and say to them: 'Believe in me,' " he said. "This is not my style."

    See, I think they truncated Sammy's quote:

    "I am not going to go to every fan's home and knock on the door and say to them: 'Believe in me,' " he said. "This is not my style. I am more of a doorbell ringer."

    Sophie's Choice (Baseball Edition)

    From Ken Gurnick's latest "Mailbag" at Dodgers.com:

    If they had to give up one of these two prospects, who would the Dodgers give up in a trade for a proven power hitter, James Loney or Matt Kemp?
    -- Alejandro C., Boyle Heights, Calif.

    I can't speak for the club, but if I had to bet, I'd bet it would be Kemp. Generally, when position prospects are the subject, power is the most precious commodity, and Kemp's seven home runs in his first 18 games gave a glimpse of what he's capable of. Loney also is the closest the Dodgers have to a five-tool player, someone who can handle all aspects of the game -- from average and power to fielding and throwing and running speed. Loney appears to be the more polished hitter, and he looks more comfortable at first base than Kemp does in the outfield. The fact that manager Grady Little compares Kemp to Chipper Jones is a clear indication of where he stands in the debate.

    Gurnick also notes, "The Dodgers...have about a gazillion starting pitchers reporting to Florida."

    Milton Bradley Charms Pants Off Press, Fans; Indians, Dodgers Scratch Heads

    From "Emotional Bradley brings out the love at A's FanFest" from the San Francisco Chronicle:

    "Emotion can be good and it can be bad," Bradley said in a pre-event interview. "For me, (before 2006) all the public emotion had been bad. Repairing the relationship with me and the media and the fans, it's not an easy thing to do when you create a situation for yourself like I did, and some of that isn't going to go away overnight. But if I continue to exhibit good behavior, that's the only way to move past that.

    "I'm still going to get kicked out of a game now and then, I'm sure, but I don't want it to blow up into a whole spectacle again."

    At Saturday's FanFest at the Coliseum, Bradley proved to be one of the club's most popular players, and he also did wave after wave of interviews, far more than any of the other A's. He had a big smile on his face all day, both in fan sessions and media sessions.

    When several players were asked during a fan question-and-answer session about their most embarrassing moments on the field, Bradley promptly mentioned the well-publicized incidents in which he tossed balls on the field and threw an empty bottle that had been thrown at him back into the stands.

    "Those are pretty negative embarrassing moments for me," he said. "You live, you learn." At that point, teammate Adam Melhuse jumped in and noted that, while everyone had heard bad things about Bradley before he arrived in Oakland, "Talk about a classy guy," Melhuse said. "No. 1, standup, unbelievable teammate."

    Bradley put down his microphone, got up, crossed the stage and hugged the A's backup catcher to "awws'' and applause.

    Aww. That's sweet.

    Not so sweet: "I'm still going to get kicked out of a game now and then." I'm sure Billy Beane would like to know how many games Milton is planning on being ejected from so he can adjust his paycheck accordingly.

    Prince of Wales Throws Down

    From "The Prince, in the City, Dribbles and Scores" from The New York Times:

    Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were a bit later than expected in arriving at the gymnasium of the Harlem Children’s Zone yesterday, where two teams of seventh and eighth graders were nearing the end of a basketball scrimmage.

    At least twice, the timekeeper restored a couple of minutes to the game clock, to ensure that the guests didn’t show up to find the game in garbage-time phase. All of which was moot, anyway, because as soon as their royal highnesses entered the gym, play stopped.

    The prince and the duchess pressed in close to the throng, shook hands, asked the children questions.

    Handed the ball in the middle of the key, the prince bounced it once, twice, then attempted a one-handed shot that hit nothing but net (literally — the ball peaked about a foot below the rim).

    He tried again and sank the shot off the backboard. The children cheered wildly.

    If this were a Choose Your Own Adventure book:

    Prince Charles then clapped his hands and shouted, "Gimme the rock! Gimme the rock!"

    Upon receiving the ball, the prince retreated to half-court and demonstrated his famous Royal Crossover Dribble (RCD), capping the clinic by performing a thunderous three-hundred- and-sixty degree reverse tomahawk slam dunk.

    He landed and struck a pose with his tongue hanging from his mouth in the style of Michael Jordan.

    The children cheered wildly.

    When asked where he had acquired such skills, Prince Charles replied:

    "Basketball is my favorite sport
    I like the way they dribble up and down the court
    Just like I'm the king on the microphone
    So is Dr. J and Moses Malone
    I like slam dunks take me to the hoop
    My favorite play is the alley-oop
    I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go
    Cause it's basketball, uh, Mister Kurtis Blow."

    photo by Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

    Police Plan to Play for Grammys (and Grandpas)

    News broke this morning that the Police are reuniting for the Grammys, just as SoSG surmised back at the beginning of the month.

    I'm hoping Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers, and that other guy (what was his name again? Andrew Ridgeley?) open up their set with "Mother" from Synchronicity.

    And how bummed out is Henry Padovani? Sounds like an SNL skit.

    Comment of the Week

    The latest Comment of the Week comes from one "al kirchner":

    dear Mr. Sax, in continuing effort to stalk you until you give me a job, I saw you last fall up in EDH and met with you downtown in Roseville. Also to query if you are really actually into any of these chanteuses pictured here? Grew up with a certain soul-man, one Jeffrey Gaines, back east who toured with Ms. Amos -- INTER ALIA. I Heard she is a very boring lei which is simply a Hawaiian floral decorative. I am in Merrill series 7 training downtown on arden, you mentioned March for possible Dain openings. Please let me know, really want to join RBC Dain and get off the LYNCH mob!!!

    to which Sax responded:

    Hi Al. I have never met you in EDH or Roseville and have no openings at RBC Dain. You must have me mixed up with, er, some other Steve Sax.

    And that's why the SoSG are anonymous, people.

    Monday, January 29, 2007

    Happy Birthday, Steve Sax

    Not this one. This one. (Thanks to 6-4-2.)

    Bonds Excited; Helton Unmoved

    Barry Bonds

    Sabean did the deal. From "Bonds passes physical, gets one-year deal from Giants" at ESPN.com:

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants completed a $15.8 million, one-year contract Monday night after the slugger spent hours at the ballpark being examined by team doctors.

    The club announced the deal, which was finalized nearly two months after the sides agreed on financial terms Dec. 7, the final day of baseball's winter meetings. Bonds had to pass a physical, and the parties had to work out complicated language regarding Bonds' behavior and what would happen if the slugger were to be indicted....

    There is a protection in Bonds' contract that says if the player is indicted in connection with the BALCO case and is suspended by the league, it will be treated as any other league suspension, meaning Bonds will not be paid during that period, ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported....

    Bonds can earn another $4.2 million in performance bonuses based on how much he plays. If he matches last year's effort -- 493 plate appearances, 130 games -- he would receive the whole amount.

    "I'm very excited and very happy we got it all done," Bonds said. "I'm just glad to be on the team and glad things worked out. I think we should be talking about team. We've got a good team that's got a chance to do something."

    With the Bonds trade complete, MLB Trade Rumors forecasts the performance of the Giants' lineup.

    Meanwhile, the Todd Helton trade talks between the Rockies and Red Sox fell apart. First the Angels, now the Red Sox. Helton might be grumpy next season.

    UPDATE: Robothal has an unusually sarcastic take on the Bonds signing. Perhaps Robothal has been hanging with Ken Gurnick?

    Nomar, What If Your Boy Wants to Become a Hairdresser?

    From an AP article about Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm's efforts on behalf of the National Marrow Donor Program:

    With an obvious soccer mom and baseball dad, what sport will their children favor? Said Garciaparra: "That will be entirely up to them."

    Bravo, Nomar. Glad to hear you're not planning to go all Marv Marinovich on your kids.

    Then again, how difficult can it be to avoid living vicariously through your children when both you and your wife have excelled at the highest levels of your chosen professions? All parents should be so lucky.

    photo by Branimir Kvartuc/AP

    Mark McGwire Is No Food Critic

    From Buster Olney's blog today, which recapped the New York Baseball Writers' dinner this weekend, including a sweet bit of wordplay involving McGwire:

    "Three hours into the evening and not a word at the lectern about steroids, until comedian Bill Scheft's politically incorrect performance. Not three minutes into his act, Scheft introduced the 's' word. He said that Mark McGwire didn't attend, because McGwire heard one of the dinner courses would be an Italian dish and he "didn't want to talk about the pasta." McGwire, Scheft said, took andro just to be able to lift 'that giant son of his.'

    "Bud Selig wasn't at the dinner, but Scheft posed the question, 'When is Bud going to come down hard on Barry Bonds?' Bonds' reported blame of teammate Mark Sweeney for a positive amphetamines test was, said Scheft, 'the first time Bonds gave a teammate credit for anything.' Scheft went on to take shots at the size of Bonds's head.

    Maybe Bill Scheft reads SoSG?

    Fun with MLB Backgrounds

    The Rockies' website sports a snazzy new background logo that says "GenR", which I suppose is short for "Generation R." I can only assume that this is a nod to the team's youth movement, which would be furthered should they trade Todd Helton to the Red Sox as is widely rumored.

    Which got me thinking, what does the Giants' background look like?

    Why Minor League Teams Are Minor League Teams

    Referencing my earlier comment on the Tulsa Drillers (a comment filed under this great video post), I went to their website to check out how the team is doing.

    On the upside, they've got highly-touted prospect Luke Hochevar pitching for their squad.

    On the downside, they don't have any proofreaders.

    Rare Prehistoric Shark Emerges from Inky Depths, Sees Life at Sea Level, Gets Depressed and Dies

    (Click on picture for article and more photos.)

    That Scott Boras Cracks Me Up

    Okay, so the JD Drew deal is done and he's finally a Red Sock. But I can't help but post one more Scott Boras quote, who must have said this while smoking a Cuban cigar in a state of post-deal delirium:

    "With J.D.'s desire to win, and to pursue a world championship, Boston fit the mold," Boras said. "The ballpark and the nature of his swing, the ability to for power and to the opposite field ... his offensive potential would be maximized."

    Yep, it's his desire to win, and not his 20 HR/100 RBI, that we will miss the most here in LA. Scotty B., you should take your show on the road!

    Looking Like a Vermilion Dollars

    Following the lead of the always-fashionable Arizona Diamondbacks, the Pirates unveiled red uniforms of their own. The new red unis, which debuted at PirateFest this weekend (no Johnny Depp appearances, sorry), will be the Pirates' second alternate home uniform and will be saved for Friday night games.

    "Second alternate home uniform?" Hmm, this couldn't have anything to do with trying to further jack up merchandise revenues, given the pathetic 27th-place ranking in attendance, an injustice for a beautiful park like PNC?

    Or, maybe the red uniforms are designed to better conceal the team's embarrassed faces. No word on whether the team will take Adam LaRoche's lead and wear accompanying denim jeans bottoms.

    photo: Christopher Horner, Pittsburgh Tribune/Review

    Sunday, January 28, 2007

    Can't Give Vin Enough Awards

    6-4-2 notes that The Radio and Television News Association of Southern California has honored Vin Scully with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations, Vin.

    What Do Sammy Davis Jr. and Julio Lugo Have in Common?

    Via Baseball Prospectus comes this Julio Lugo quote about playing for the Dodgers:

    It was a difficult situation for me being on the Dodgers. I wasn’t being myself. I’m the type of guy — I can’t be on the bench. I need to be out there wasting all my energy and trying to play and make something happen and just to be out there everyday and from now on, I’m just going to be myself. You try to improve every day, not only defensively, but offensively, the whole area. Basestealing, everything.

    Not sure how to take this quote. On one hand I want to rip the guy for sucking for us because "he wasn't being himself."

    Wasn't being himself? If I wake up with incapacitating menstrual cramps, do I call work and say, "Can't make it in! Not being myself." No! Mostly because I'm a guy! But still!

    On the other hand, Lugo showed some restraint in his choice of words, thankfully eschewing the "Dodgers disrespected me" routine. So he wins a point there.

    Ultimately, I'll judge Lugo's brief Dodgers tenure based on how Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza turn out. Because even though I know we don't use money to buy poo, that's how my simple mind works.

    Ouch! Was that a cramp?

    Peavy Off the Hook

    Jake Peavy was arrested earlier this month. Now he's escaped that jam.

    From "Peavy apologizes for airport conduct; charge dropped" (AP/ESPN.com):

    MOBILE, Ala. -- Jake Peavy's disorderly conduct charge was dismissed after the San Diego Padres pitcher apologized for a confrontation with a security officer when he double parked to unload baseball gear at Mobile Regional Airport....

    Peavy apologized personally to the officer during a meeting, his attorney, Stoney Chavers, said. Peavy apologized a second time during his court appearance.

    Peavy went on to apologize to the judge, the bailiff, the court stenographer, Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei.

    Saturday, January 27, 2007

    "That Gentleman Likes to Ply His Seed in the Other Melon Patch"

    Via Deadspin NBC comes this hilarious bit as Conan O'Brien visits a re-creation of a baseball game circa 1864:

    Red Sox Looking to Poach Another NL West Player?

    ESPN.com: Rockies talking to Red Sox about trading Helton

    FOXSports.com: Red Sox, Rockies discussing Helton trade

    Buster Olney identifies Mike Lowell and Julian Tavarez as possible trade targets, while Robothal says it could be Craig Hansen and two prospects.

    UPDATE: Helton seems to be on board.

    UPDATE: Whoops! Not so fast.

    Prospects Bright for NL West

    Sax favorite Keith Law profiles six of the majors' top farm systems and the NL West is well-represented:

    2. Colorado: Despite some odd first-round selections in recent years (Greg Reynolds, Chris Nelson), the Rockies have still managed to stack their system with promising hitters. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and catcher Chris Iannetta will see a lot of big league time this year, and corner infielder Ian Stewart and outfielder Dexter Fowler are both promising. The system is short on pitching prospects, though, with oft-injured right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez the closest to the majors.

    3. Arizona: Former scouting director Mike Rizzo can still claim a good chunk of the credit for the wave of young talent showing up in Phoenix, and there's more coming, including homegrown products like outfielders Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez, catcher Miguel Montero and right-hander Micah Owings, as well as players acquired by GM Josh Byrnes via trades, including second baseman Alberto Callaspo and the system's jewel, center fielder Chris Young.

    The Padres rate a dishonorable mention:

    Cold Plate Special: Padres
    There are a number of barren farm systems, but San Diego's stands head and shoulders above ... er, below the pack.

    Since the trade of their best hitting prospect, catcher George Kottaras, for a month of David Wells' time, the Padres no longer have a single prospect who could earn a solid 45 (one grade below average) on the 20-80 grading scale. Their best pitching prospect, 2005 first-rounder Cesar Carrillo, missed the last half of the season with an elbow injury.

    They had the first overall pick in the 2004 draft and went for signability, taking shortstop Matt Bush in a first round that also included Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Homer Bailey, Stephen Drew, Josh Fields and Philip Hughes. Their first pick in 2003, Tim Stauffer, hid a shoulder injury until after he was taken and looks like a four-A player at best. And in 2006, they went conservative again in the first round, taking Wake Forest infielder Matt Antonelli, who projects as a utility player in the majors.

    The other four: Yankees, Devil Rays, Royals and Indians.

    L.A. Times Prints 2007 Dodgers Schedule in Easy-to-Read Format

    APRIL: 2--at Milwaukee, 11 a.m. 3--at Milwaukee, 5 p.m. 4--at Milwaukee, 5 p.m. 6--at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m. 7--at San Francisco, 12:55 p.m. 8--at San Francisco, 1 p.m. 9--Colorado, 1 p.m. 10--Colorado, 7 p.m. 11--Colorado, 7 p.m. 13--San Diego, 7:40 p.m. 14--San Diego, 7 p.m. 15--San Diego, 5 p.m. 16--at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. 17--at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. 18--at Colorado, noon. 19--at Colorado, noon. 20--Pittsburgh, 7:40 p.m. 21--Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. 22--Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. 24--San Francisco, 7 p.m. 25--San Francisco, 7 p.m. 26--San Francisco, 7 p.m. 27--at San Diego, 7 p.m. 28--at San Diego, 7 p.m. 29--at San Diego, 1 p.m. 30--Arizona, 7 p.m.

    MAY: 1--Arizona, 7 p.m. 2--Arizona, noon. 4--at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m. 5--at Atlanta, 4 p.m. 6--at Atlanta, 10 a.m. 7--at Florida, 4 p.m. 8--at Florida, 4 p.m. 9--at Florida, 4 p.m. 10--at Florida, 9 a.m. 11--Cincinnati, 7:40 p.m. 12--Cincinnati, 7 p.m. 13--Cincinnati, 1 p.m. 14--St. Louis, 7 p.m. 15--St. Louis, 7 p.m. 16--St. Louis, 7 p.m. 18--at ANGELS, 7 p.m. 19--at ANGELS, 6 p.m. 20--at ANGELS, 12:30 p.m. 21--Milwaukee, 7 p.m. 22--Milwaukee, 7 p.m. 23--Milwaukee, 7 p.m. 25--Chicago Cubs, 7:40 p.m. 26--Chicago Cubs, 1 p.m. 27--Chicago Cubs, 1 p.m. 29--at Washington, 4 p.m. 30--at Washington, 4 p.m. 31--at Washington, 4 p.m.

    JUNE: 1--at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m. 2--at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m. 3--at Pittsburgh, 10:30 a.m. 4--at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m. 5--at San Diego, 7 p.m. 6--at San Diego, 7 p.m. 7--at San Diego, 7 p.m. 8--Toronto, 7:40 p.m. 9--Toronto, 7 p.m. 10--Toronto, 1 p.m. 11--N.Y. Mets, 7 p.m. 12--N.Y. Mets, 7 p.m. 13--N.Y. Mets, 7 p.m. 15--ANGELS, 7:40 p.m. 16--ANGELS, 12:55 p.m. 17--ANGELS, TBA. 19--at Toronto, 4 p.m. 20--at Toronto, 4 p.m. 21--at Toronto, 4 p.m. 22--at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m. 23--at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m. 24--at Tampa Bay, 10:30 a.m. 25--at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. 26--at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. 27--at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. 28--at Arizona, 3:30 p.m. 29--San Diego, 7:40 p.m. 30--San Diego, 7 p.m.

    JULY: 1--San Diego, 1 p.m. 2--Atlanta, 7 p.m. 3--Atlanta, 7 p.m. 4--Atlanta, 6 p.m. 5--Atlanta, 7 p.m. 6--Florida, 7:40 p.m. 7--Florida, 7 p.m. 8--Florida, 1 p.m. 13--at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m. 14--at San Francisco, 12:55 p.m. 15--at San Francisco, 1 p.m. 16--Philadelphia, 7 p.m. 17--Philadelphia, 7 p.m. 18--Philadelphia, noon. 19--N.Y. Mets, 7 p.m. 20--N.Y. Mets, 7:40 p.m. 21--N.Y. Mets, 12:55 p.m. 22--N.Y. Mets, 1 p.m. 23--at Houston, 5 p.m. 24--at Houston, 5 p.m. 25--at Houston, 5 p.m. 26--at Colorado, 6 p.m. 27--at Colorado, 6 p.m. 28--at Colorado, 5 p.m. 29--at Colorado, noon. 31--San Francisco, 7 p.m.

    AUG.: 1--San Francisco, 7 p.m. 2--San Francisco, 7 p.m. 3--Arizona, 7:40 p.m. 4--Arizona, 7 p.m. 5--Arizona, 1 p.m. 7--at Cincinnati, 4 p.m. 8--at Cincinnati, 4 p.m. 9--at Cincinnati, 9:30 a.m. 10--at St. Louis, 5 p.m. 11--at St. Louis, 12:55 p.m. 12--at St. Louis, 11:15 a.m. 13--Houston, 7 p.m. 14--Houston, 7 p.m. 15--Houston, 7 p.m. 16--Houston, 7 p.m. 17--Colorado, 7:40 p.m. 18--Colorado, 7 p.m. 19--Colorado, 1 p.m. 21--at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. 22--at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. 23--at Philadelphia, 10 a.m. 24--at N.Y. Mets, 4 p.m. 25--at N.Y. Mets, 12:55 p.m. 26--at N.Y. Mets, 10 a.m. 27--Washington, 7 p.m. 28--Washington, 7 p.m. 29--Washington, noon. 31--at San Diego, 7 p.m.

    SEPT.: 1--at San Diego, 7 p.m. 2--at San Diego, 1 p.m. 3--at Chicago Cubs, 1 p.m. 4--at Chicago Cubs, 5 p.m. 5--at Chicago Cubs, 5 p.m. 6--at Chicago Cubs, 11:15 a.m. 7--at San Francisco, 7 p.m. 8--at San Francisco, 12:55 p.m. 9--at San Francisco, 1 p.m. 11--San Diego, 7 p.m. 12--San Diego, 7 p.m. 13--San Diego, 7 p.m. 14--Arizona, 7:40 p.m. 15--Arizona, 7 p.m. 16--Arizona, 1 p.m. 18--at Colorado, 5:30 p.m. 19--at Colorado, 5:30 p.m. 20--at Colorado, noon. 21--at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. 22--at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. 23--at Arizona, 1:30 p.m. 25--Colorado, 7 p.m. 26--Colorado, 7 p.m. 27--Colorado, 7 p.m. 28--San Francisco, 7:40 p.m. 29--San Francisco, TBA. 30--San Francisco, TBA.

    Friday, January 26, 2007

    2007 Las Vegas NBA All-Star Dance Team Poll Closes; Dance Squad Electoral College to Convene

    Of course, the blonde won. Have some imagination, people!

    In other 2007 Las Vegas NBA All-Star Dance Team news, the schedules of Laker Girls Becky and Lindsay just opened up in the third week of February.

    Both losing dancers are said to be disconsolate and looking to drown their sorrows in the company of an anonymous blogger.

    Reporter Coaxes Modest Quote from Reluctant Lasorda

    From "Can the National League turn the tide?: Younger talent signals that NL has the stuff to best AL in '07" at MLB.com:

    Some of the pride that National League teams flaunted three and four decades ago when they were beating up on their American League counterparts, especially in the All-Star Game, returned last October when the NL-champion St. Louis Cardinals defeated the AL-champion Detroit Tigers in a five-game World Series.

    After what happened during past seasons, it could have been the NL's first big step back to respectability, if not superiority.

    "I have a sense that things are turning around," former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, a career National Leaguer, said. "I've always felt that these streaks run in cycles. [The NL] won 11 [All-Star Games] in a row at one time, and I managed three of 'em.

    "We had a good streak going, and now [the AL does]. But I think we have the players to turn it around."

    Come on, Tommy. Why don't you tell us what you really think?

    UPDATE: Maybe Tommy's all cocky because he's being inducted into the California Sports Hall of Fame. Who knew California sports had their own hall of fame?

    Another Reason to Be Thankful the Dodgers Don't Have a Mascot

    "Do you think I should trim my sideburns?"

    From "Mascot's antics nearly cost D-League team a victory" at ESPN.com:

    The Austin Toros of the NBA Development League put up with some unneeded Bull-loney when their now-suspended mascot lost his head -- figuratively and literally -- and nearly cost the team its game against the Colorado 14ers on Wednesday night.

    The mascot, known as Da Bull, prematurely ran onto the court and hung from the rim with .4 seconds remaining, apparently to punctuate center Loren Woods' breakaway dunk that gave the Toros a four-point lead over Colorado.

    While hanging from the rim, the Toros detailed in a news release Thursday, Da Bull collided with a Colorado player. At the point of contact, the mascot's head, to his horror, fell to the floor.

    The Toros were assessed a technical foul. The 14ers' Von Wafer made the free throw, but Rick Rickert missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the score as time expired.

    Da Bull was suspended for two games and assigned by the team to 50 hours of community service. A replacement mascot will perform in his absence; Da Bull is expected to return to duty Feb. 2 when the Toros play the Bakersfield Jam.

    Austin's 101-98 victory came before a sold-out kids matinee at the Austin (Texas) Convention Center. "I've never seen that in all my years of basketball," Toros coach Dennis Johnson said in a statement, "and I hope I never do again."

    A two-game suspension and 50 hours of community service for a premature celebration? That's almost more than some NBA players get for entering the stands.

    Regina Spektor Formula, Revealed

    The square root of [(Tori Amos) + (Fiona Apple)] = Regina Spektor.

    Note: Sorry, people; the picture and formula I had originally posted contained an error in the transcription. Please adjust your lab notes accordingly.

    Kaiser Wilhelm, Brooklyn Dodger

    "Hey Juan Pierre, I started the tilted cap thing."

    From "Today's Birthdays" at 6-4-2:

    Kaiser Wilhelm BRO b. 1874, played 1908-1910, d. 1936-05-22. The last Hohenzollern to sit on the throne of Prussia, Wilhelm II was megalomoniacal, overbearing, and (it has been suggested by historian Barbara Tuchman) paranoid. His judgement may have been affected by the fact that he was a breech baby, a condition that also may have contributed to the fact that his arms were of differing lengths; he had Erb's Palsy, and worked to conceal both conditions his entire life.

    Taking the throne from his father, Frederick III, a scant 99 days after Frederick inherited it from his own father, Wilhelm I, in March, 1888, Wilhelm II forced the resignation of the great German chancellor Otto von Bismark two years later in 1890, starting a reign whose belligerance, incaution, and susceptability to German warmongers would eventually plunge Europe into cataclysm. With the advent of World War I, he became increasingly isolated and inert as the German empire turned into a military dictatorship under Generals Paul von Hindenberg and Erich Ludendorff. He abdicated after the 1918 Berlin riots, fleeing to the neutral Netherlands, where Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him to the Allies. He lived the remainder of his life in Doorn as a country gentleman, perishing of a pulmonary embolism in 1941.

    Dodgers Have More Than Enough Pitching

    From "Dodgers wind up with pitching glut" (ha ha, get it?) at USATODAY.com:

    "When you can add somebody to your top half, be it your order, your staff, your bullpen, you can have everybody else slide down one spot and give them a better chance to succeed," [Ned] Colletti says in explaining his pursuit of [Jason] Schmidt. "One of the quotes yet to be said in the history of baseball is, 'We've got more than enough pitching.' "

    Done! SoSG has just made baseball history!

    The article also features some quotes from Kim Ng, notable because she doesn't often seem to be interviewed:

    Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng said if [Matt] Kemp doesn't earn a regular job in spring training, the club would prefer he play every day at Triple-A rather than come off the bench in the majors. When he returns next time, the Dodgers expect it will be for good....

    [Chad] Billingsley, 22, went 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 18 games (16 starts) with the Dodgers after posting a 6-3 mark and a 3.95 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas. As with most young pitchers, he needs to improve his command and his secondary pitches. But he already handles himself with aplomb.

    "He's got great poise on the mound and dealt very well with the pressure of late-season games," Ng said.

    Billingsley projects as the Dodgers' fourth or fifth starter in 2007, though the team has so much pitching depth that Ng said it's not certain he'll start the season in the majors....

    [Hong-Chih] Kuo, 25, opened the season in the bullpen, went down to the minors to get stretched out and came back as a starter, doing some of his best work out of the rotation. The native of Taiwan pitched in 46 minor league games before making his big-league debut in 2005 and "needs to trust his stuff," according to Ng, but the club is high on his potential.

    Good: Next time the Dodgers promote Kemp to the majors, they want to keep him there.

    Possibly not so good: Billingsley might start the season in the minors? Does this mean the Dodgers are considering Mark Hendrickson in the starting rotation? Hope he has that noted sports psychologist on speed-dial.

    UPDATE: Here's an article about Matt Kemp's Dominican Winter League postseason heroics.

    Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Pro Sports, Hollywood: Not So Different

    From "Young, several others, still seek an opportunity" by Jerry Crasnick at ESPN.com:

    Meanwhile, lots of established players inhabit a more stressful universe. For Steve Finley, Steve Trachsel, Mark Redman, David Bell, Ronnie Belliard, Bernie Williams, Preston Wilson and others, life is all about calling their agent, reassuring the wife and kids that everything will be fine, and coping with the realization that their skills are no longer in demand.

    It's not only players who feel the strain. Now that budgets are almost tapped out, 40-man rosters are nearly set and teams have turned their focus to salary arbitration cases, free agent shopping is less of a priority. Agents, in the quest to find jobs for their clients, walk a fine line between persistence and pestering front offices.

    "Nothing is as hard as having a client that you believe has the ability to contribute, and not being able to find the right spot for him," said San Diego-based agent Barry Axelrod. "You find yourself in the position of calling and calling and calling again. It's very difficult and draining. It's hard on the client and hard on the client's family."

    Substitute "actors" for "players" and "shows" for "teams" and you might as well be reading Daily Variety.

    FoxSports Releases Harmon-ious Position Player Rankings

    FoxSports' Mike Harmon (no, not the UCLA quarterback from "Summer School") is quite the prolific guy, releasing position-by-position rankings for all of MLB. Though the rankings are from a fantasy baseball perspective, they are still interesting. Here's the Dodgers highlights, recapped in easily digestible format.

    At catcher, Russell Martin slots in at #9:

    9. Russell Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Martin emerged as another young star at the catcher position in 2006, producing 40 extra-base hits in his 121 games played with 10 stolen bases in 15 attempts. More impressively, Martin demonstrated a tremendous eye in his debut season, walking 45 times against 57 strikeouts. The fact that Martin also hit 75 points higher at Dodger Stadium than on the road with eight of his ten home runs is also encouraging for the 23-year old emerging star. A high doubles total is a predictor of future home run glory, and this youngster has a chance to be a five-tool player for years to come.

    At first, Nomar ranks lower than Todd Helton of the Rockies (#12) and Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres (#17):

    18. Nomar Garciaparra, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Garciaparra contributed a phenomenal comeback season in his first year with the Dodgers. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 93 runs in spite of the fact that he missed 40 games. That's the reason he lands so low on this particular list. He has played in 122 or fewer games in three consecutive seasons. The possibility for a big year is still there if he can avoid the injuries that have plagued him the last several seasons. Garciaparra possesses a lifetime .318 batting average with seven 20-home run seasons. The Dodgers' lineup should offer him opportunities to plate runs. He'll just need to stay healthy.

    At second, Jeff Kent is #5, a notch below Ray Durham of SF:

    5. Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Kent was limited to 115 games in 2006 with two extended stints on the disabled list, one for his wrist and another for a strained oblique. His 14 home runs and 68 RBI marked his lowest power output since 1996. Kent changed his hitting M.O. during the final two months and worked primarily to put the ball into play instead of his normal deep flies. He hit .348 in the final month of the season, but hit only one home run. Kent spent the off-season working with a conditioning coach to try and return to form. Remember, Kent had hit at least 22 home runs and driven in 93 or more runs in nine consecutive seasons before last year's injury-shortened campaign. Given last year's injury concerns, some owners will point to his birthday (he'll turn 39 in May) and stay away on draft day. If this conditioning regime works, those taking a chance on Kent may get a bargain.

    At short, Rafael Furcal leads the NL West rankings at #7:

    7. Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Furcal thrived in new surroundings after shifting to the West Coast in 2006. He played in a career-high 159 games and established new career highs in RBI (63) and batting average (.300) and tied his career high with 15 home runs. Additionally, Furcal scored 100 runs for the fourth consecutive season and swiped 37 bases. Stolen bases have been Furcal's calling card for years with seven consecutive seasons with at least 22 steals. But, it must be noted that Furcal has reached double-digit home runs in four consecutive seasons as well, and that 12 of his 15 home runs in 2006 came at Dodger Stadium. He also hit at a .333 clip in the home park. That portends to another big season in 2007 as Furcal has now reached his hitting prime.

    At third, the Dodgers have no mention of Wilson Betemit, who is not in the top 20. Garrett Atkins of the Rockies is at #5, and the Diamondbacks' Chad Tracy is at #17. Oh yeah, and Adrian Beltre is at #16 with the M's.

    In the outfield, only Juan Pierre slots in at #21. #7 Matt Holliday of the Rockies is the only other NL West player above Pierre. But no mention of Andre Ethier or Luis Gonzalez in the top 50 is a little harsh.

    21. Juan Pierre, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Pierre remains one of the game's top speed producers, having averaged 53 stolen bases in his last six seasons. He has posted four 200-hit seasons and owns a strong .303 career batting average with 96.8 runs scored per season. Pierre has been a durable player during his career. In fact, he's played in every game for four consecutive seasons. It's far from Cal Ripken, Jr., but it offers some level of security on draft day. Expect more of the same from Pierre this season, great production in three categories.

    Pitchers' assessments come soon.

    Red Sox, Drew Agree to Agree

    From "Red Sox, Drew resolve contract issues" (AP/ESPN.com):

    BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox and J.D. Drew finally resolved their wrangling over the outfielder's five-year, $70 million contract -- more than seven weeks after agreeing to everything except what to do about his surgically repaired right shoulder....

    The Red Sox reached a tentative agreement with Drew on Dec. 5, but the deal was delayed over possible damage lingering from September 2005 shoulder surgery. After wrangling for weeks -- interrupted by the holidays and Boston's pursuit of Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka, another Boras client -- the sides agreed on language that would allow the team to opt out of guaranteed money in 2010 and 2011 if a specified pre-existing injury recurs.

    The language is similar to that in Magglio Ordonez's deal with the Detroit Tigers. Boras and the players' association agreed that if the Red Sox exercise their rights under that language, neither Drew nor the union would contend that the language is unenforceable.

    Sons of Steve Garvey warmly wishes J.D. Drew a hearty congratulations and hopes he finds continued success with his new team.

    Nah, just kidding. We hate his guts.

    Betemit, Outfield Identified as Weakest Links

    "John Donovan, I don't want to lose your love, tonight!"

    John Donovan at SI lists the problem areas for each MLB team, and with the exception of a passing swipe at the Mets, he counts 29 other teams with issues. In the NL West:


    • The Padres have been power-hungry forever. And they come up with Marcus Giles at second, Kevin Kouzmanoff at third and Terrmel Sledge in left. Huh?
    • The Dodgers have an awesome rotation -- maybe the best in baseball -- but look iffy at third (Wilson Betemit) and defensively challenged in the outfield.
    • The Giants are slow and absolutely ancient in the field, but they do have a nice, mostly youngish rotation. You wonder how Rich Aurilia will do at first, though.
    • The Rockies' biggest unknown -- other than how long GM Dan O'Dowd can hang on -- is what they'll get out of rookie Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop.
    • The Diamondbacks' rotation is better than you'd think, with the Big Unit back on board. But Chris Snyder's going to have to show more punch behind the plate.

    Given this rundown, I think the Dodgers are sitting pretty well.

    Sele? Really?

    Just a quick post on 2006 Dodger Aaron Sele, who has taken his 8-6 record and 4.53 ERA to the New York Mets. Sele signed a minor-league contract and gets $1M if he makes the team (plus an additional $1M in incentives). Robert over at Trolley Dodger gives a good recap of how the Mets' Omar Minaya covets anyone who had playing time with the Dodgers.

    There is upside, though. If that all-former-Dodger relay throw had gone from Shawn Green to Jose Valentin to Aaron Sele before reaching Paul LoDuca, in last year's NLDS Game 1, Jeff Kent may have had time to score the tying run.

    JD Drew, however, would have still been tagged out trying to tiptoe his way in (rather than bowling over LoDuca, as he should have done).

    Dodgers Get More Publicity Over Voracious Appetites

    As if the Olmedo Saenz Pavilion didn't do enough public relations damage to the Dodgers, ESPN profiles the Dodgers as its Hot Stove Heater Team of 2007. Consider the lead paragraphs in John Shea's article:

    The Dodgers are hungry. Missing from the World Series the past 18 years and winning just one playoff game in that time, the Dodgers are more than due. They're two years from matching the longest drought in their history -- they failed to reach the World Series annually from 1921 to 1940.

    Will it happen in 2007?

    Oh wait, they're not talking about food. My mistake!

    It's actually a pretty comprehensive, albeit not insightful, article. Shea underscores the importance of the pitching staff, the youngsters, and Luis Gonzalez. As for the Juan Pierre acquisition, Shea offers this:

    Furthermore, Pierre's arrival as part of a 1-2 stolen-base threat with Furcal will prompt manager Grady Little to orchestrate an enhanced running game, which could allow Garciaparra, Kent and Gonzalez to see more fastballs.

    That of course assumes Pierre, who sported a .330 OBP last year (trailing Furcal's .369 OBP), gets on base. We're hoping he does, as I can't wait to see the on-field ballet Grady Little will be choreographing as he "orchestrates an enhanced running game."

    Shea ends with this:

    Ned Colletti, who has been among the game's most active general managers since he was hired away from the Giants on Nov. 16, 2005, won't be afraid to pull the trigger approaching the July 31 trade deadline if the Dodgers need to bolster their roster for the push to the playoffs.

    Atlanta's Andruw Jones could be available. Or Minnesota's Torii Hunter. Both are eligible for free agency next winter, and the Dodgers, without a World Series appearance since 1988, have waited too long not to go for it all.

    The youngsters had better show their stuff early on (and here's hoping they at least get the opportunity). We all have a pretty good idea how this Ned Colletti story will end.

    Steiner Chats, Without the Express Written Consent of Major League Baseball

    "And he hits one into the gap!...Why are you laughing?"

    Dodgers.com has posted a transcript of a recent chat with announcer Charley Steiner.

    The former Yankees announcer raised my eyebrows with this response...

    Question: Being a New York native who would you root for if the Dodgers met the Yankees in the World Series?

    Steiner: The Dodgers. Period. End of story. The first time my father took me to a baseball game was Ebbets Field. The Dodgers played the Cincinnati Reds. I was always a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I was an employee of the Yankees. But the Dodgers have always been my team. That one was easy to answer.

    ...but redeemed himself with the next question:

    Question: What's it like to work with Vin Scully?

    Steiner: Vin, simply put, is in my opinion the best baseball broadcaster who has ever lived. Now in my third year working in a parallel universe with Vin, I can't tell you how much I have learned both as a broadcaster and how a broadcaster conducts himself in the booth and away. He has an elegance and an ease and a confidence and a rhythm to his broadcast like no one else. And so to be around it and him almost every day of the season has been an absolute joy. One of the highlights that I have on a daily basis, especially at Dodger Stadium, is at about 5:30 in the afternoon before every home game, Vin, Rick Monday, Billy Delury and I have a bite to eat and just talk about life. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

    Steiner seemed pretty enthusiastic and informed in his chat. He also flashed some nice verbal glovework in talking about doing a broadcast with Rick Monday:

    We do it 100 or 115 times a year, every single day. We eat together, we broadcast together and when we do a game, we're about three feet away from one another. You can't get any closer than that and so my heartfelt sympathies go out to Rick.

    Trust us, Charley, you're the one who should receive the sympathies.

    Also at Dodgers.com is Ken Gurnick's preview of the Dodgers' outfielders.

    photo by John Soo Hoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

    Going, Going, SHALOM!

    What do Mike Lieberthal, Hank Greenberg, Brian Bark, and my fourth grade teacher Rabbi Portal have in common? That’s right, they all play baseball! And they’re also part of that slim percentage of America that greenlights Big Momma’s House 2, makes early withdrawl from BofA punishable by lashing, and defends O.J. In fact, these Semitic warriors could be considered the cornerstones of America’s pastime. Where would the 1995 Braves have been without Brian “Kosher” Kowitz’s 10 games of .167 ball? Jason “Chaim Potok” Hirsh’s 6.04 ERA kept last year’s Rockies in the running right until the final gun. And Cincinnati’s still talking about the magic that Keith “Goychaser” Glauber’s gefilte fish (and 15 career relief innings) brought to the clubhouse. So what is the source of this remarkable Jewish talent, that dwarves sub-par athletes from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico? Is it the math skills? Overbearing mothers? Rejection of pork as an entrĂ©e?

    To find the answer, one only has to look at the Dodgers one-time favorite Hebrew Hammerh Shawn Green. Mr. Green’s refusal to play on the opening night of Rosh Hashanah sent shockwaves through Chavez Ravine. Just as his decision to play on the second night of Rosh Hashanah sent shockwaves through Nate N’ Al’s Deli.

    And if you look at his time with the Dodgers, his best and worst games seem to be taken straight out of the Torah:

    Sept 30 – Oct 1, 2000 - While I, Delino Deshields, languished in synagogue, Shawn Green rings in the Jew new year (Rosh Hashanah) with a 1 for 9 performance over two games. As my Uncle DeIrving would say, “serves that bum right (swearing in Yiddish for next two minutes follows).” May 28, 2001 - Shavuot, aka Jewachella, celebrates both the harvest season and commemorates Moses getting the Fifteen (crash)… TEN Commandments. Shawn Green brings his own four commandments down from Mount Rockie, spanking Colorado with four hits, three RBIs, and a vegetarian latka. April 9, 2002 In honor of Yom Hashoah (the not-particularly-funny-to-write-about Holocuast Rememberance Day), Greenie single-handedly smites the S.F. Goliaths with 2 RBIs. 2004 At the beginning of his final season in Blue, Green eats his matzah and PASSES OVER many a pitch, going 4 for 23 during his exodus from a hitting. But on Yom Kippur, he atones for his sins (and a mediocre year) with a two run dinger.

    So what does this all mean? Does G - D have a hand in the success and failures of all hischosen athletes? Maybe piano and bar mitzvah lessons interfered with little league time? Unti l we figure it out, this intrepid blogger will feel a little bit of pride every time Mike Lieberthal comes to bat, and will always be looking for another Sandy Koufax chachkee to give my father-in-law.

    For Your Reconsideration: Jeff Weaver?

    MLB Trade Rumors tells us teams interested in World Series hero Jeff Weaver are the Cardinals, Pirates, Mariners and...Dodgers?

    The Mariners or Dodgers could still make a play for Weaver as well. The Dodgers would really be stacked in the rotation, but maybe it would be to complement a trade.

    Stacked? Like a game of Jenga!

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Lugo Gives This Trade The Finger

    So I'm strolling through some of Baseball Prospectus' Unfiltered content as I am wont to do from time to time. In this afternoon's post by Marc Normandin regarding Red Sox SS Julio ("I Left My Power At Tropicana Field") Lugo, Marc linked to an older story on MLB.com which you can read here. What galled me was the following blurb:
    Lugo's finger: It won't stop infielder Julio Lugo from playing, but when he was acquired from Tampa Bay in last month's deadline deal, he reported with an injured middle finger on his right hand.

    Trainer Stan Johnston said the injury is to a ligament around the knuckle nearest the fingertip, making it difficult for Lugo to fully straighten the finger. He said the discomfort is felt both while throwing and batting.

    Johnston fitted Lugo with a metal splint to wear when he's not playing in hopes the injury will heal without requiring surgery.

    While hindsight is 20/20 (or, in the case of Lugo's production for the Dodgers, .224/.285/.267), didn't The 'Stache do any due diligence on Lugo before he pulled the trigger on the deal. Shouldn't he have known that Lugo wouldn't be able to pull a trigger with his injured digit? Hadn't Neddie heard of a medical exam, or was he just flushed with the notion of trading away a couple of prospects for someone who would make Cesar Izturis look productive?

    The Only Poll About Attractive People That Doesn't Mention Los Angeles

    ...but only because we don't have an NFL team.

    From Sports Illustrated:

    SI PLAYERS NFL POLL

    Which NFL city has the most attractive fans?
    Miami 33%
    San Diego 15%
    Atlanta 8%
    Dallas 7%

    FAST FACTS: ...A separate SI PLAYERS' poll asked players for which team other than their own they'd like to play, and, coincidentally, the top four were Miami (8.4%), Dallas (8.1%), San Diego (7.8%) and Atlanta (7.5%).

    Such an ironic use of the word "coincidentally." For once, "It's not about the money" may actually be true.

    Apparently, Darin Erstad Just Died

    The media coverage of Darin Erstad's signing with the White Sox has read like one eulogy after another, overwrought memorials to his intangible qualities.

    From the L.A. Times:

    The Angels lost another link to their 2002 World Series team and a big chunk of their heart and soul Tuesday when Darin Erstad agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Chicago White Sox that includes an option for 2008.

    The deal, which is pending a physical this week, ends an 11-year Angels career marked by highlight-reel defensive plays, a spectacular 2000 season, several years of injury and frustration, and an endless reservoir of grit and determination.

    "He's almost the last real gamer we have," Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke said. "I don't mean the other guys aren't gamers, but Darin is the old-school type, like David Eckstein and Adam Kennedy. He's probably the biggest gamer I've been around as a coach. He really doesn't play for personal success. He plays to win the game."

    From the Angels' official website:

    Another piece of the 2002 World Series squad has been lost as Darin Erstad signed a one-year deal with an option for 2008 to play for the White Sox....

    Tim Salmon retired at the end of last season and Adam Kennedy signed with the Cardinals. Other key players from the Angels' championship season to have moved on include David Eckstein, Jarrod Washburn, Troy Glaus, Bengie Molina and Scott Spiezio, but Erstad will be remembered by most fans for his leave-nothing-on-the-field approach to the game.

    Note the repeated usage of the word "lost" as well as phrases like "a big chunk of their heart and soul"..."an endless reservoir of grit and determination"..."the last real gamer"..."his leave-nothing- on-the-field approach to the game."

    Gee, do you suppose he's the type of player who would play the game for free?

    When both fans and reporters love a guy, it's unsurprising his departure from a team feels like a death of sorts. It would just be nice to keep the guy off the obituaries page while he's still alive.

    UPDATE: Also unsurprising: Fire Joe Morgan puts it much better than I ever could:

    This is the power of personality and perception in sports. With virtually any other guy, you get hurt as much as Erstad did and play as poorly as Erstad did with that fat contract and you get absolutely crucified. You're stealing money from the club! You've got no heart! You're a bum!

    But with the Punter, guys'll bend over backwards to say good things. Hey, he wasn't playing well, but he wasn't healthy -- and he's a leader in the clubhouse. Well, no, no he didn't really say much, but he didn't need to. He just lived the part. He was just there. Living. Breathing. Looking tough. Having stubble. Dirty hat-ting it. Smelling like sweat, like only a football player could.

    I guess we could find someone to replace his smell ... but I doubt it.

    Alternate-Dimension Dodgers: 2007 Preview

    Much has been made, on both Sons of Steve Garvey and Dodger Thoughts blogs and message boards, about the potential interchangeability of the letters K and G in the pronunciation (or Romanization) of Dodger pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo's last name.

    The Dodgers website (and one can assume 2007 uniform names) indicate his last name is spelled “Kuo.” However, one holdout contributor continues to pepper his postings with the alternate spelling “Guo.”

    As a public service, here’s a glimpse of the alternate-dimension Dodger Stadium, taken from the future (next season). Don't ask how we got it here at SoSG. Just be thangful.

    ESPN Posts Rare NL West Story (VHTF)

    ESPN.com's Bob Klapisch posted on the NL West, which he calls baseball's hottest division, fueled by the strength of the pitching corps in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Arizona. And he does give passing reference to that other guy up in San Francisco (what was his name again?).

    Two points of note from the article:

    1) He not only calls the NL West "hot," but Klapisch also gives the Dodgers the nod as front-runners:

    And as for [Jason] Schmidt, it was a no-brainer. He opted for the pitcher-friendly National League, then narrowed his choice to the Dodgers, where he was reunited with Colletti. The two had a relationship that dated back to their days in San Francisco, which made the courtship that much easier. Now teamed up with Derek Lowe and Randy Wolf, another free agent who spurned the East (Phillies) for a chance to play out West, the Dodgers will enter the season as the favorites in this suddenly glamorous division.

    2)His deliberate use of the spelling "glamor", sans-"u", is very interesting (the headline of the article, "NL West is baseball's glamor division," echoes the usage in the above paragraph's last sentence). Much like any ESPN article on the NL West (see exhibits (a) (b) (c)), this spelling convention is pretty uncommon. According to dictionary.com:

    While the -or spelling of the suffix -or is characteristic of American English, there are occasional exceptions, as in advertising copy, where spellings such as colour and favour seek to suggest the allure and exclusiveness of a product. The spelling glamour is somewhat more common than glamor—-not actually an instance of -or, but conformed to it orthographically in the course of the word's history. In British English -our is still the spelling in most widespread use.

    But enough sniping about spelling. We wanted to just pass along or thanks for the favour of this ESPN article.

    Why SoSG Won't Be Posting Exclusive Dodger Clubhouse Interviews in 2007

    ESPN reports that an 18-year old New York Mets fan who forged a press pass and impersonated a reporter, in order to meet his idol Mike Piazza and interview him, has been fined $1,000 and banned from all Mets organization home games for three years.

    Ryan Leli will not be able to attend Mets home games, nor Brooklyn Cyclones home games, nor Mets spring training games. And the $1,000 fine is at least a couple of weeks' pay on his paper route. Said the no-nonsense Mets organization:

    "This is a message to anyone who thinks they can impersonate a press person and sneak in," Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said, according to The New York Times. "We take this seriously and if anybody else tries it, they'll get the same result."

    Before you start thinking that Horwitz and the rest of crackpot Mets staff was sharp enough to identify an 18-year-old kid who shows up in the clubhouse for the first time in August (when the Padres came to Shea Stadium), consider this: Leli was only ejected from the clubhouse when he tried to pose for a picture with Piazza. And even then, he was not arrested until he tried to come back a week later and use the same forged pass for another game against the Rockies.

    I suppose he could always try disguising himself in that Barry-Bonds-head-sized Mr. Met costume to maneuver his way into the clubhouse. (Although said maneuvering, even if orchestral and in the dark, would not be much of a secret if he tries to get another player interview by talking loud and clear, and then proceeds to call my name only to find then you turn away. Take SoSG's advice, Ryan: If you leave, don't look back. Don't look back!)

    By the way, the Oakland Athletics' security staff has no idea what you look like.

    Crasnick Profiles Dodger Dog; Bud Black Mentioned in Passing

    Above: partially eaten Dodger Dog. Below, right: partially eaten Dodger Dog.

    photo by Annie Liebovitz


    From Jerry Crasnick's profile of Bud Black at ESPN.com:

    The notion that only position players make good managers ranks up there with other narrow-minded baseball precepts -- like the one that says only Red Sox and Cubs fans know what it means to suffer, or that Dodger Stadium is the only big league park that serves a decent hot dog.

    The skeptics believe there are more Ray Millers than Tommy Lasordas out there. Last summer, when ESPN.com surveyed 60 players, coaches, managers and executives on which active players would make good managers one day, only two pitchers -- Greg Maddux and Woody Williams -- received even a smidge of support.

    "This is not a negative thing, but I just don't think pitchers are baseball players," said former Braves catcher Todd Pratt, displaying the same anti-pitcher bias as many of his position-player brethren.

    "Dodger Stadium is the only big league park that serves a decent hot dog" is a baseball precept, albeit a narrow-minded one?

    Dodger Stadium + Dodger Dog = one of life's finest experiences. But I can't imagine enjoying a Dodger Dog (or a Super Dodger Dog, or a Picante Dog, if they still existed) outside the confines of Dodger Stadium.

    Now, and Sax can confirm this, Miller Park in Milwaukee serves brats that would be delicious anywhere you ate them. Friendly fans there, too.

    (By the way, which hot dog won that recent "Best of L.A." poll?)

    Oh yeah, back to the article. Crasnick also mentions the top six "most intriguing story lines" among other returning managers:

    • 1. Lou Piniella, Cubs
    • 2. Bruce Bochy, Giants
    • 3. Ron Washington, Rangers
    • 4. Bob Geren, Athletics
    • 5. Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins
    • 6. Manny Acta, Nationals
    • Cold Plate Special: Mike Hargrove

    Crasnick practices admirable journalistic diplomacy in writing, "Gonzalez is considered more of a people person than his predecessor, Joe Girardi."

    Isn't a stick of wood with a rusty nail in it more of a people person than Joe Girardi?

    (Whoops! Sorry, johnny hatchett!)

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Colletti Addresses Power Bat Void with Fernando Tatis

    "Power bat? I got your power bat right here!"

    So screamed Ned Colletti (allegedly), right after signing 32-year old Fernando Tatis to a minor-league contract with the Dodgers' organization. Tatis is most fondly remembered for hitting two grand slams in one inning against the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park on April 23, 1999. Park ended up pitching 2.2 innings against the Cardinals and gave up 11 runs, six of them earned.

    What, Tatis was out of the game for two seasons, before playing with the Orioles in 28 games last year? And he may have never recovered from a 2000 groin injury?

    "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," Colletti replied.

    Uh, yeah. So, about that power bat issue....

    Watch Out for the Snakes, Says Robothal

    Ken Rosenthal posted today on four teams that could surprise in 2007. He mentions the Diamondbacks as potential challengers in the NL West:

    Diamondbacks
    2006 record: 76-86.

    Key player: Randy Johnson.

    There is a lot not to like about the Diamondbacks, who lack a proven leadoff man, proficient cleanup hitter and veteran clubhouse presence. The team's most experienced position player, left fielder Eric Byrnes, has only five years of major-league service. It is quite possible that the D-Backs will be just too young.

    Here's the thing, though: The Arizona kids are among the game's most talented, and the starting rotation, led by NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, is not only experienced, but also accomplished. Johnson, right-hander Livan Hernandez and lefty Doug Davis alone should make the team more competitive.

    The D-Backs ranked seventh in the league in runs last season. Outfielders Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green are gone, but club officials believe the offense will be just as productive with center fielder Chris Young and right fielder Carlos Quentin becoming regulars and Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero replacing Johnny Estrada at catcher.

    Young, Quentin and Byrnes will significantly improve the outfield defense. Shortstop Stephen Drew and second baseman Orlando Hudson are strong two-way players. If third baseman Chad Tracy rebounds from a disappointing '06, the lineup might truly click.

    Late-inning relief is a question; the trade of right-hander Luis Vizcaino creates a void in the setup role, and Jose Valverde is hardly a sure thing as the closer. Tony Pena must prove a viable successor to Vizcaino and ideally, a possible successor to Valverde. But the Diamondbacks should have enough arms — including several young arms — to sort it all out.

    On paper, the Dodgers and Padres are the best of the NL West, but they're not nearly as dominant as the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East. The D-Backs could leap forward if two or more of their young position players emerge as potential stars — and if Johnson can revive himself in his return to the NL.

    Like the Dodgers, the Dbacks have a decent starting rotation on paper, a productive lineup, and no power bat. Unlike the Dodgers, they don't have a strong relief corps. In addition, unlike the Dodgers, they actually have an outfield with strong arms and legs (see: Pierre, Gonzalez). So focusing on the rival circus that is the Giants, as well as the division rival that is the Padres, may indeed not be enough.

    By the way, Rosenthal also mentions the Rockies as one of the surprising four teams for 2007, but the Rockies text doesn't seem as serious as the Diamondbacks; it's almost more of a "they're moving in the right direction" sort of piece.

    Rosenthal's prolific standard is impressive, which has earned him the nickname "Robothal," as mentioned in this great Maury Brown interview on The Biz of Baseball. Rosenthal not only acknowledges the nickname, but also (at the end of the article) indicates that, on a words-per-pound or words-per-inch-of-height status, he is probably unrivaled (except maybe by Buster Olney--he looks kinda skinny to me, from his headshot, and he sure writes a lot, too.)

    Comment of the Week

    The latest Comment of the Week comes from "johnny hatchett," who takes a broader view of our Albert Pujols flip-flop:

    Thanks for posting this &, especially, owning up to the fact that you'd previously called out Pujols.

    Yup, Pujols made some dumbass remarks, but, it seems to me, we're wrong to so quickly judge a guy's character by a few stray sentences he utters. We've been very wrong before (think: Kirby Puckett, think: Kobe Bryant) &, I have no doubt that we'll be wrong again, again, & again.

    peace love gap
    Johnny Hatchett

    to which I responded:

    Excellent examples in Kirby and Kobe.

    The Internet is conducive to snap judgments; Pujols' case is a reminder that human complexity can defy the words of some glib blogger.

    I then proceeded to type up a zippy little headline regarding a certain slugger who is strongly suspected to have taken steroids.

    Thanks, Johnny, for helping to keep us honest!