Catching up with Pudge, Kendall

The Pudge Rodriguez signing became official today, so I can put my stamp on how it works out for the Nats.

It’s easy to say the Nats already look light years better than they were in 2009, Pudge, Strasburg, Brian Bruney, a healthy John Lannan, but let’s not kid ourselves.

Nobody in their right mind will tell you the Nats will contend even for a wild card spot next year, but don’t count them out just yet.

Sure the Pudge signing (especially as a backup) won’t be making a 10+ game swing for the team like it did for the Marlins in 2003. But if Pudge can work his magic on teaching FLores, Strasburg, Lannan and all the other young Nat battery mates and turn them into professionals, Washington could have some fun and will certainly be at least worth watching for the first time in years.

Back in the midwest, the Royals pick up Jason Kendall. Oh how the mighty have fallen. This makes Kendall’s fifth different team since 2004. I’m not so sure he’s going to have the same impact on this Royals staff that Pudge will on the Nats staff, but his veteran expertise (he did work with the Oakland pipeline for a while) could be a minor plus for the Royals. Still nothing to get excited about as the Royals will have trouble climbing out of the AL Central cellar.

The only other add this evening (so far) is Arizona inking Blaine Boyer. And there’s really not much to tell here. Boyer was added off waivers last June and will likely just eat up a bullpen slot and be a fresh arm 50 times next year.

The future of Dec. 10 transactions

Baltimore sends P Ben Snyder to the Rangers as the final piece of the Kevin Millwood deal. – there isn’t much they could have sent the Rangers that would have made this a bad deal. Millwood may not be the savior for this team, but they could have found a much worse role model for the young staff. and the Rangers get a prospect by dumping a salary that enabled them to sign Harden. This is a true win-win for both teams.

Boston gets P Boof Bonser from the Twins. – The Sox like to try and rework pitchers with problems. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Bonser’s never been a high ceiling guy, so the cost of a TBD player won’t be high.

Pedro Feliz signs with Houston. – We knew he was done in Philly after the Polanco signing, and this signals the end of Tejada in Houston, which again we pretty well knew already. I don’t think this is a “good” move for the Stros, but they could have done worse by not doing anything.

Royals release Mike Jacobs. – Why the Hell did they trade for him in the first place????

Pirates sign Bobby Crosby. – Certainly a step down from Jack WIlson and Freddy Sanchez, but the always cost-conscious Pirates have to have some kind of veteran presence to trade away midseason.

Rangers sign Rich Harden. – Rich Harden is now working for Nolan Ryan’s team…. If Harden stays healthy, I give you your AL West Champions in 2010 (so far).

The two Rule 5 picks that got traded immediately by the Nats and Phils. – I don’t understand how this is possible. I understand this “draft” is different from the amateur one in June, but seriously how can they allow it in one and not in the other????

Raffy to the Rays

Tampa added Rafael Soriano to their depleted bullpen after acquiring the former Braves’ closer in a trade this week.

This deal/signing won’t get the Rays any closer to the World Series in 2010.

What it does do, is gives the Rays a lynchpin for their bullpen. Instead of hanging on two aging, injury prone veterans for the most important inning of a game, they now have a 30 year old who held is own as the (most of 2009) closer for the Braves.

Of course, pitching for the Braves against the NL LEast isn’t quite the same as having to face the continuously reloaded Yankees and Red Sox 18-19 times each season, but it’s still an upgrade.

The cost for the Rays was the best part here. Aside from signing Soriano to a 1 year contract (he was arb-eligible), all it cost was an ineffective, mop up guy named Jesse Chavez. Chavez, as you may (or may not) know, was the player the Rays got back from Pittsburgh when Iwamura was sent packing in November.

Chavez held a 4+ ERA for the Pirates, not bad for a team with little to no future for the last 20 years, and will likely hold a similar position for the Braves.

In essence then, this trade really becomes (for the Rays anyway) Iwamura for Soriano. I do believe it helps the Rays pick up a few more wins, but again it’s not enough to launch into the 2010 World Series.

On the Braves side, it made complete sense. The Braves underestimated their hand and guessed totally wrong on Soriano’s intent for arbitration. So after signing Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, Soriano became expendable. Either that or they could have flipped Wagner or Saito.

What I see is the Braves potentially running into the EXACT same problems the Rays had last year because of this deal. Instead of having a 30 year old who’s done the job and did it pretty well, Atlanta is opting for 2 guys on the wrong side of 30 as the end of the night guys.

If Wagner is healthy and throws like he did for the Red Sox, the Braves survive and stay in the penant race, if Wagner breaks down anytime before June, Braves fans can start looking ahead to 2011.

Putz joins the Southside

A precurser to this piece is that I do intend to try and catch up on most of the prior signings and trades, but will begin with today’s big additions and steadily work backword (even if it’s brief wrap ups)

So the White Sox decided a year of JJ Putz looks to be a good addition to their bullpen for 2010.

I agree. Putz may not be the closer he was in 06-07 for Seattle, but lining him up with Bobby Jenks to close out games could be very dangerous for the rest of the AL Central.

The big question of course is how does Putz bounce back from injury this year. But is that really the best question?

I contend that moreso, Putz’s desire to close games and coming in as a setup guy for Jenks could again hinder his performance, not to mention working for the craziest manager in baseball, Ozzie Guillen.

Putz’s best bet here is to stay grounded. Rumblings about Jenks future as a closer grew from a whisper last season, and another ERA uptick could open the door for Putz to regain his old role.

Looking at it objectively, I still believe the 8th should be Putz and 9th Jenks, as I believe Jenks has better stuff and Jenks isn’t coming off an injury riddled season as Putz is.

I don’t believe this move puts the Sox back into the playoffs, but the added depth is certainly a plus in their win column for 2010.

Bet You Didn’t Know! – Putz’s was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 3rd Round 1995, but chose not to sign, eventually dropping to the 6th round for Seattle in 1999. (after not signing with the Twins in ’98, 17th rd.)

I’m back

So a lot happened to me since I abruptly quit blogging last spring.

My wife and I had a baby, Emylee Claire, who was born Aug. 3, and now shares a birthday with her older sister, Alysse McKenna. It was a rough couple of months, even though everybody was healthy, finding the right formula was a battle all in its own.

Her older sister Alysse began kindergarten, and my wife and I have spent the past few months working on our house which is now much to small to support our family.

My music blog, Sonic Dissonance, is doing well. It’s nothing more than an easy hobby, but it’s part of what’s keeping me sane.

I intend to restart and continue blogging about baseball, but with a slightly different premise.

The blog is going to be renamed “Here’s What Happens Next” and will essentially be my take on the transactions of the day in and around baseball. The first of which will be posted shortly.

Early frustration with WBC

It was nice to see a real baseball game this morning, even if it was the WBC and by the time I woke up it was the bottom of the eighth.

Then, in the few minutes I could watch, something really iritated me about the uniforms.

mcds.jpgCorrect me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I saw some golden arches on the back of the helmets. I’m not going to sit here and diss McDonalds, but I’m really not interested in seeing any logo on the back (or side) of the baseball helmets.

I get why baseball and everyone involved would take the opportunity to add more advertising (it wasn’t that long ago that ads weren’t allowed on walls), but I’m just not so sure it’s necessary.

Obviously, I’m not seeing the $$$$ signs that Bud Selig or any other baseball authorities see when they sign-off on something like this, but isn’t there a better way to add advertising than putting it on someone’s noggin?

ads.jpgI mean how much longer before we start seeing the Omaha Steaks Kansas City Royals or the Google Inc. Florida Marlins. Sadly, this trend began with the introduction of the college football bowl games, taking on sponsor names in the recent past, and unless we as the public put an end to it, the advertisers will win.

I’ve worked for a newspaper and we chose not to work with a specific advertiser due to his expectations of being able to control the content of the newspaper. When we ran an article about a competitor (who also advertised with us), he raised holy hell, pumping his fists and demanding more publicity.

I’m not suggesting this will happen to baseball (or any other sport), but the question has to be raised . . . who’s making the decisions to add this type of advertising to the game and is it really necessary?

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Sorry about the lack of posts recently, my music blog has sort of taken off and is getting much of my attention. The change in my available time for blogging will force me to limit my MLB 2009 preview and thus I will post a my final Preview post which will include brief summaries of the final 14 teams sometime this weekend, followed by my postseason predictions.

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On another note, just found a new band called Gliss. If you like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, you’ll probably enjoy Gliss.

 

Baseball break, let’s talk about a kitty

I just can’t help talking about this story. I first heard it on the local news radio this afternoon.

A guy in Lincoln, Neb. was arrested today? and charged with marijuana possession and animal cruelty. He’d been wanted for drug possession already, and the police dept. finally closed in on him.

only when they found him in his house, he was smoking out of a homemade bong. Inside the bong…. a 6 month old kitten. The bong was apparently a shoebox turned into pot bong. he said he thought the kitty needed to relax.

just sick.

Look, I think we all can agree everybody’s done stupid things in the past. I certainly have my fair share, but putting a cat into a weed bong and forcing the cat to breathe 100% pot air while you get high. That’s flat out sick.

Anyway, here’s the link:

Break out the confetti

So today’s a date in Red Sox history that for as important as it was, I bet there are few fans (including myself) who could’ve picked this date out of a lineup.

Duquette.jpg2002: Dan Duquette is fired as Red Sox GM.

We all know he wouldn’t give Roger Clemens enough money to come back and had issues with pretty much every manager that came into town in his decade (or so) of running the Sox.

Before we all stand up and applaud, let’s give the man some credit. If you look at his record, he actually did a pretty good job for the Sox.

TRIVIA QUESTION

Who were three of Dan Duquette’s first free agent signings for the Sox following the strike in 1994? Hint, none of them ever played for the Sox.

In 1995, he pulled the trigger to bring Rick Aguilera to Boston. Even if it was for just a half season, Ags recorded 20 saves and all it cost the Sox was a minor leaguer, J.J. Johnson, and Frank Rodriguez, who went a combined 29-39 for his career with an ERA of 5.53.

1996: Parted ways with Ken Ryan, Lee Tinsley and Glenn Murray to get Heathcliff Slocumb and two other guys I never heard of. At the offset the trade didn’t look that great, but we know what happened next. (Of course at the time, I looked at this trade and was outraged that he gave up Ken Ryan. I thought he was gonna be awesome.)

1997: Slocumb becomes a Mariner. And Red Sox history is changed forever by the additions of Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.

Following the 1997 season, another champion piece comes to Boston, as Duquette reels in NL Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr.

Then in 1999, Duquette brought Carl Everett to Boston, shipping off Adam Everett and minor leaguer Greg Miller. While Carl Everett would end up showing us he’s a head-case, it was fun to watch other teams complain about how close he was to the plate when he stood in the box.

Then there were Duquette’s big signings: Tim Wakefield, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and Dennis Eckersly have to be at the top of that list.

Really, if you look back at what Duquette managed to do, it’s rather amazing how many of the 2004 pieces came into place because of the Duke.

So on this day, March 1, 2009, let’s reflect & thank the Duke for his role (including being fired) in helping the Sox win two World Series in four years. Good day Duke wherever you are (last I knew he was GM in the Israel Baseball League, no joke!)

TRIVIA ANSWER

New Rules for free agency went into place (and were subsequently removed) during the strike of 1994 meaning the Red Sox signing of Sammy Sosa, John Wetteland and Kevin Appier were voided.

Photo courtesy Sonsofsamhorn.com

Dodgers 2009: Train keeps a rollin

Polishing off our first division will be the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

Every baseball fan knows how last season went. The Dodgers were average until July 31.

 

Manny Ramirez Pictures, Images and Photos

 

Over the last two months of the season, the team was still just 30-24, but it was plainly obvious that the addition of Manny Ramirez made the team much more of a threat.

 

Trivia Question

 

Manny finished fourth in the National League MVP race after playing for the team for just two months. Can you name the last player to win the award (NL or AL) after being traded during the season?

 

The Good

 

Orlando Hudson #1 - 2nd Base Pictures, Images and Photos

 

The Dodgers vastly improved their defense with the addition of Orlando Hudson. Plus the team’s overall makeup is full of players most other teams would die for (Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton). The mixture of very talented youngsters with strong veteran presence is something you can’t look past.

 

The Bad

 

As of this instant, Manny is not a Dodger for 2009. If there’s no Manny, Juan Pierre becomes the likely full-time third outfielder for better or for worse. Behind the teams’ best three pitchers, is a logjam of pitchers recovering from injuries (Jason Schmidt, Shawn Estes) and other unknown variables.

 

Trivia Answer

 

It’s never happened. The next player to do it will be the first! There were several MVPs who won in their first season with a team, but none has been traded during the season and won the award.

 

Bottom Line

 

Even without Manny, this team is the class of the NL West. The top of their rotation is the real deal and the “gamer” attitude seen throughout much of the position players is enough to carry the Dodgers to another divisional title with or without Manny.

 

Prediction

 

I believe Manny Ramirez will be a Dodger again in 2009. But since he’s not on the roster….yet, I’m rating the team without him.

 

1st Place, NL West, 88-74.

Manny Say What?

So apparently Manny Ramirez has decided the terms of the Dodgers latest contract offer isn’t good enough.

MANNY RAMIREZ Pictures, Images and Photos

If I’m Ned Coletti or any other GM/Owner in baseball or even a casual fan, I have to read that statement this way.

“I, Manny Ramirez, do not want to play baseball!”

I was a Manny defender for a long time, right up until he pushed the Sox travelling secretary. But this decision on Manny’s part is ridiculous.If earning $20MM when he’s 39 (in 2010) isn’t enough change for this chump, then the Dodgers aren’t going to be able to meet his demands. It’s as simple as that.

As for the Dodgers, the best thing they can do right now is to give Manny an ultimatum, similar to the Packers and Brett Favre after the 2007 season. The Dodgers should keep that offer on the table but put a final “drop-dead” date for Manny before they move on without him.

And that date can’t be too far out. March begins on Sunday and this team as do all the others in baseball, need to focus on the 162 games that begin in a little more than a month. We all know Manny isn’t focused on those 162 games yet. And while we know he could get himself ready, it’s obvious he doesn’t want to.

img_characterGoob.jpgManny knows nobody else is going to offer $45MM over two seasons and likely won’t get a four year deal from anyone else either, which leads to the only possible explanation, he doesn’t want to play baseball. It’s evident in the way he performs, he’s like the kid in 3rd grade who’s tested out at 8th grade math, but still has to learn basic arithmetic. He’s so talented that he gets bored with the game itself, much like the third grader. So to make things more interesting, Manny demands too much money, enough to make it interesting for himself, but leaving himself room to say it’s not enough so I’m not going to play.

As for the Dodgers, would it really be that bad if Manny doesn’t sign? Probably not. They’ve already improved their team, especially up the middle with a healthy Rafael Furcal and the addition of Orlando Hudson. Sure they missed out on all the other outfielders on the market, but really did they need one with Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Juan Pierre, they have enough to compete, especially in this division.

It’s time for the Dodgers to excuse themselves from the table. If Manny really doesn’t want to play, the Dodgers need to call him on it, see if he’s bluffing. If not, they get one of the all-time greats, if he is ready to quit, then the Dodgers can return to being a normal Major League Baseball Club.

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And if you got through all that and you’re interested in some good new music, check out Ume.

 

My interview with the band for Sonic Dissonance, my music blog

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