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Random Baseball Thoughts on a Bleak December Day

December 19, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

Here’s an example of why the U.S. isn’t the most beloved country on the planet. Some Americans think they are responsible for all that is good in the world. For instance, this writer is labouring (note the extra “u” in that word – I bet many think I just made a spelling error…I didn’t, but that’s another story, for another day) under the impression that the game of basketball is as American as apple pie. Thankfully, one of his readers set him straight. Beyond that, it’s good to see some chatter on the upcoming WBC – much of which will be held in – gasp – Toronto!

Evan Longoria completed his sweep of the freshman awards when he was named 2008 Rookie of the Year as part of MLB.com’s annual fan-voted This Year in Baseball Awards. One of the smartest things the Rays did all year was pull the trigger early on Longoria, calling him up after a the season was a mere 10 games old. The dude led all rooks in dingers and slugging and paced AL freshmen in ribbies, extra-base hits and total bases. His three-dinger game in September made him the first rookie third baseman to do so since Eddie Matthews did it 56 years ago. Longoria is also pretty slick with the leather, finishing sixth among AL third basemen in fielding percentage. I guess there’s a reason he’s going as high as 15th in mock drafts we’ve witnessed this offseason. (For more on mock drafts, stay tuned for Tim McLeod’s latest mock report, coming soon.)

So, Cliff Lee won the Comeback Player of the Year Award in the AL. Um, what exactly was he coming back from? It’s not like he was the shit before. Okay, he had a pretty good year in 2005, I’ll give him that. But considering Lee also took home the Cy, I would have preferred to see Mike Mussina win Comeback Player of the Year honours in what proved to be his final year. It would have been an especially nice touch considering Moose never took home a Cy Young, but something tells me when all is said and done, Lee’s career won’t be able to hold a candle to what Mussina accomplished. Just a hunch.

The latest word on the street has the Boston Red Sox pulling out of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, saying they can’t compete with the other offers he has on the table. Could the BoSox be calling Scott Boras’s bluff here? Time will tell. If the switch hitter is really done being chased by the BoSox, that leaves the Yanks, Orioles, Angels and Nationals as the most likely contenders. If you’re in a keeper league, pray that the BoSox get back into this and nothing stupid happens like Tex winds up as the Nats’ cleanup hitter.

The Yanks set their sites on C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and got them both. Should they have been careful what they wished for? The Bronx Bombers have on occasional shelled out serious bucks or dealt for an “ace” only to see them flop (see Brown, Kevin and Pavano, Carl for a couple examples of recent vintage). Two aces? $243.5 million. Watching the Yanks fall flat on their faces and miss the playoffs again in 2009? Priceless.

Amazing factoid: the only other time in the last 105 years that a team added a pair of 17-game winners or better in the same offseason was when Houston lured both Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte from the Yankees in 2004.

How bad do you think the BoSox would like a do-over on the Julio Lugo signing? Four years for $36 million? Yikes! And after a horrible first year in Beantown he played just 82 games last year thanks to injuries. In the meantime, he’s been passed by Jed Lowrie on the depth chart and now Boston has a $10 million man sitting on the bench that it would love to deal this offseason.

Can someone please explain after all the upheaval in Toronto how J.P. Ricciardi has yet to be shown the door? Ted Rogers must be turning in his freshly dug grave right about now. How many reasons do you need to jettison J.P.? I’ll give you 126 million of them, as in the number of bucks he convinced Rogers to invest in Vernon Wells for one extremely down year and one injury-shortened campaign.

So Kerry Wood will close in Cleveland and get over $20 million over the next two years to do it. Well, I’m so glad that the Indians have solved their bullpen woes. Uh, yeah.

Look at the Royals! Breaking out their wallets for the likes of Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp. Well, Jacobs doesn’t earn big bucks yet, but he’s eligible for arbitration this winter, so he is due for a kickass raise.

Texas is trying to grab Ben Sheets. What do you think the chances are it will be successful considering how high the money will go for this auction item? And if the Rangers do somehow lure him to Arlington, will he (a) be a major flop; (b) suffer injury after injury; or (c) both (a) and (b)?

If Boston is indeed out of the Teixeira contest, that means Mike Lowell will be sticking around in Beantown and Kevin Youkilis will stay at first base. That could have an impact on Youk’s ability to qualify at the hot corner in 2010.

I’m glad that Rafael Furcal is likely headed back to the Dodgers; if the A’s had landed him, something would have seemed off. Oakland spending big bucks? It’s not working for me, sorry.

Bobby Abreu, a two-time All-Star among his 13 big league seasons, wants $30 to $48 million for two or three years. And I want a scantily-clad 18-year-old woman to hand-feed me Twinkies. Only one of us is going to get what we want (him), and only one of us is going to deserve it (me). Life can sure suck, sometimes.

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4 Responses to “Random Baseball Thoughts on a Bleak December Day”

  1. Matt says:

    just because ESPN pretended cliff lee came straight from the local softball field to the cy young winner doesn’t mean it’s true. All they could talk about was how he spent part of last season in the minors. They fail to include that he was hurt in spring training and tried to rush back for the start of the season and was never the same or that from 04-06 he was one of only 3 AL pitchers to win at least 14 games in 3 consecutive years (santana and the gambler were the others) including 05 which you mentioned where he was 18-5 and finished 4th in the cy young vote. so in every year where he was full time starter and not hurt he has been way above average. It took moose a quarter century (ok maybe not that long) to win 20 games in a season! Brush up on your lee knowledge before you start having hunches.

  2. RotoRob says:

    I did acknowledge that he had a strong year in 2005, but let’s face it — other than that, even when he was winning games, he was never “way above average.” Let’s start with his first full season, 2004. He surrendered over a hit per inning, had a K/BB ratio of under 2.0, and gave up 30 homers. His ERA was 5.43 compared to the league average of 4.63. In 2005, which we have conceded was his “strong” season, he had an ERA of 3.79, which was barely a half-run better than the league average of 4.35. In 2006, he gave up 224 hits in 200 2/3 IP, coughed up 29 dingers, had an unacceptably low K/9 of 5.79 and and recorded an ERA of 4.40, which was slightly better than the league average of 4.56. Let’s ignore 2007, as per your directive. That still does not put him ANYWHERE near “way above average” for those three years he was not hurt. If you’re going to measure a pitcher’s talent on wins, you better do some brushing yourself there, Matt. May I recommend you go straight to a Dirt Devil?

  3. Matt's Boyfriend Cliff says:

    Thanks sweetie!

  4. RotoRob says:

    Ha ha….Thanks for piping in, Cliff.

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