Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Asian Sensation

As the buzz started picking up over Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, the first thing that came to mind was, "Didn't the Yankees already try this once?"

Name me a Japanese starter who made an impact and hung around long enough to be considered a good investment.

Hideo Nomo? Eh, big splash, quick fizzle.

I'm talking someone who spends eight or more years as a workhorse in the majors. Blame it on age or whatever you like, but Japanese starters just haven't made the breakthrough that their position-playing brothers have. ran an article on Matsuzaka today and had a sidebar on Hideki Irabu. My favorite quote:

Conditioning was at times an issue for Irabu, whose portly physique prompted Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to label him a "fat, pussy toad.''


Return of the mack

Once more with feeling, kids - Rich "El Guapo" Garces is staging a comeback and from what I can gather from watching the wires, he might not be the worst pitcher on the Red Sox next year.

According to (via Deportes Meridiano):

Rich Garces, who last pitched in the majors in 2002, hopes to attempt another comeback next year.Garces tried to make it back with the Red Sox in the second half of 2005, but he wasn't called up by the team. If the 35-year-old is going to give it another try, it's as likely to be with Boston as with anyone. He's given up four runs in 5 2/3 innings while closing in Venezuela this winter.

Four runs in 5 2/3 innings?

Sorry MLB, next year isn't your year, campers. Sign me up for the bandwagon! Red Sox in '07.

(Photo from


Friday, October 27, 2006

World Series Chatter

I know, between the Cubs signing a new manager, the threat of an A-Rod sighting every night on North Halsted and quietly staring at two-year-old pictures of Dave Roberts and Kevin Millar, it's been pretty quiet here at Siberian Baseball.

That doesn't mean I'm not watching, though.

After the rollercoaster ride that has been the 2006 playoffs, it's been a good run and not just because the White Sox highlights will soon be wiped clean from Fox promos. So what are we left with?

Two teams that wouldn't have been odds-on favorites to win if you visited Vegas at the beginning of the season. Know what? It's pretty fun that way.

I found myself taking a while to warm to the playoffs this year once the Twins and Yankees made their quick exits. Without teams to love or hate, it leaves you in a strange position.

As much as it stung to see the Red Sox make a quick exit last year, having the White Sox make their run made things interesting. This year has seen moments where I'm unsure if I should cheer for one side or the other - finally choosing to cheer against the Cardinals and wondering if the Cubs/Sox split back home is coming down on the same lines with Cubs fans wanting the Cards to tank and Sox fans praying for the Tigers to tank.

In all, it's been an entertaining series - though with the Twins long done, I have a hard time finding folks to talk baseball with - with the requisite number of unlikely heroes, Tony LaRussa and Scott Rolen's lovers' quarrel and questions about what is wrong with Albert Pujols (uh, no one wants to pitch to the guy, so he never has a chance to bat with runners on?).

Whle I think the series will be lost to the ages except to Tigers and Cardinals fans, it's almost nice to have a down year. After the Sox of both colors ending decades of futility, this series seems pretty muted.

That's OK, though - we all know the Cubs are saving something special for 2008. Anyone can have an off century.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mortgaging the future

One of the decisions I was able to respect as the Red Sox season started circling the drain was Theo Epstein's announcement that the Sox wouldn't risk the future for immediate help in 2006.

Given how the rest of the team fell apart at the seams, this is one of those 20/20 hindsight decisions that paid off. What good is an extra arm if Manny starts to pout and all the other bad luck things start comng down anyway?

I know, it's chicken and egg material, but dumping young players for a rent-an-arm isn't the best idea unless you're looking for someone to push you over the top. Sad to say, the Red Sox didn't have much of a chance once the Yankees knocked the shit out of Boston in that five-game series.

Theo's comments on July 31, according to

"We came close on a lot of things … countless opportunities we were pursuing …We have a long term plan and as much as we desperately wanted to do something to help our big league team, it would have been short-sighted to sacrifice that long-term plan. It just wasn’t worth it."

Very disappointing [not being able to make a deal]. We have a lot of people in the front office and scouts that worked very hard to get things done.

"In the end, we gathered around everybody, thanked them for their hard work. We’re proud of the process, and proud of the results… There’s always an opportunity for waiver deals."

Granted, there were plenty of players who were moved along and went on to good to great seasons (Anibel Snachez pitches a no-hitter, Hanley Ramirez does well in Florida and Cla Merideth holds strong in San Diego) but I took a degree of solace in a GM who has a basic understanding of building a strong organization from the farm up.

I'm not sure if it's as bad as Kevin Hench thinks - "Jon Lester is not Francisco Liriano and he never will be. Craig Hansen is not Joel Zumaya and he never will be. Manny Delcarmen is not Mark Lowe and he never will be. Sadly, Hanley Ramirez is Miguel Tejada, only way ahead of schedule." - but there are questions on Yawkey Way this fall

At least Theo has an office to start this offseason. You'll never convince me that being without a true GM for months last fall/winter wasn't the biggest reason that the Red Sox belly-flopped this year... and lost Johnny Damon...

Today, the rumors indicate that the Cubs are at a similar crossroads, hiring Lou Piniella, who has made no secret of his ongoing man crush on Alex Rodriguez.

If you listen to the buzz, the Yankess want Carlos Zambrano in exchange and the Cubs are just stupid enough to entertain that possibility. If the trade would go through, Chicago fans can save cash on tickets, chalk up another losing season and get ready to take the over on every betting line when the wind kicks up at Wrigley, because there'd be no saving them at that point.

While I'll drink gallons of Cubbie Blue Kool-Aid in the off-season and get my hopes up based on a healthy rotation anchored by Zambrano, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, despite zero evidence to support this hypothesis - In fact, the top two headlines on the Chicago Tribune right now are Piniella takes over as Cubs manager/Prior to have shoulder examined - I can't see a single scenario in which trading Zambrano for Rodriguez results in a winning season, much less a division title.

While it's not a true apples to apples comparison, the Cubs need to snap out of it and not mortgage their season for the big splash signing. Honestly, the rumors that the White Sox are in line as well (Kenny Williams has man-crush on A-Rod, too) make much more sense with a stud third baseman looking for a ticket out of the minors, an extra arm in the rotation and enough support to keep the heat off his fragile ego.

So, while Red Sox Nation steadies itself with reassurances that "In Theo we trust" the Cubs fans aren't that lucky. They shouldn't trust much of anybody after nearly 100 years, especially an organization that hides behind goats and shell-shocked fans to cover for years of futility, bad decisions and foolish spending.

(Photos from /

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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Cubs might kill this man

Reports from Chicago are that Lou Piniella is the new manager of the Chicago Cubs and I have no idea what to do with this information.

Frank the Tank (when not watching his StatCounter tally roll over like a long-haul trucker's odometer thanks to the Deadspin love today) was on the e-mail offensive today as we went back and forth over the Cubs and their impending decision. He's saying that this is the right move for the Cubs and I think he might be right, but I was thinking maybe we'd get someone a little less... combustible.

Put it this way, it's not that hard to find a picture of Piniella going off the deep end.

Even the page I found for the picture at the right was a compilation of managers who'd gone apeshit at one point or another. Number Two? The Lee Elia tirade, still a personal favorite.

One the other hand, you'll be replacing Dusty Baker - known for being nearly comatose (not safe to be narcoleptic with a toothpick in your mouth) and a "players' manager" with Sweet Lou, who may have a blood type of gunpowder.

When you have a historically underperforming team, this just seems like a recipe for disaster.

Piniella excused himself from several positions because he's sick of being around rebuilding years with teams that faded fast. I'm really worried about the guy's physical and mental health.

He's not getting any younger and if the Cubs play the way they have - and remain subject to the obscure laws of physics and bad luck known as Cubdom - there's a very real possibility that Piniella could end up in the hospital like the manager in Major League, screaming at a television from a hospital bed.

Still, I'm feeling better already about the Cubs' prospects in 2007 (laugh all you want) because Dustyball wasn't working. While I think that a heavy hand would have been more effective with the team a few seasons ago - primarily to tell Sammy to knock off all of his silly shit - maybe it'll be the shock to the team's system and help to get things back on track for the North Siders.

My real wish is for a solid, injury-resistant arm or four to take the place of the telethon-ready rotation that's been on the opening day roster lately. Let's just hope upper management doesn't hide behind the signing of a new manager and then go dormant until pitchers and catchers report.

I'm not a proponent of "change for change's sake," but when someone isn't getting the job done, there comes a point where you have to shake things up a bit. This is a good start.

Now, excuse me while I gosay a short prayer to keep A-Rod out of the Friendly Confines.

(Photo from


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

For Hire: Apply within

Torii Hunter and his family are very happy to remain in the Twins organization. Good for him.

It's been pretty steady fodder for the talk radio up here to speculate on whether or not his final two months of production pulled down the club option for him or not.

Management is on record with the company line that you make a decision on this based on his collective production for the whole year, but I'm betting Frank the Tank has a few other thoughts on the matter.

I have to confess that I thought Hunter coasted at times and got endless entertainment when he went on several hot streaks after Frankie dropped him from the fantasy team. That said, I was probably more sensitive than most when it came to Hunter's ups and downs this year.

Let's just say we're lucky Frank doesn't get Twins games on local cable back home in Chicago. He might be in counseling if he had.

More than anything, I was impressed by the way he handled a clubhouse and was the team's face to the local media, something that can't be quantified on a balance sheet. Take a team of young guys and rookie spare parts and that's important.

Other than a few months older, that will be a young team next year and Hunter can try and prove he deserves bigger money next season. It's strange when a fan favorite and franchise player needs to prove his worth, but more than a few Twins fans are questioning his legs after "that play" this postseason.

* Sidenote: My boss is a Twins fan, along with a few other guys at work, but it's still strange to me. It's like saying, "My boss is a unicorn" when I think about it. For the record, they do give me more than enough work to do.

* The Cubs are looking for a new skipper and some front office help, but it still seems too early to get sucked in with all the rumors about who'll take Dusty's spot.

The Chicago Tribune had a piece this morning about a double-signing of Alex Rodriguez and Lou Piniella to reunite the two in Chicago. What annoyed me was the mention up top in the story of needing to resign Aramis Ramirez to have a better idea of what spots to fill.

On a budgetary level, yes, but it made the reporter sound like an idiot forgetting that Rodriguez was a top shortstop before heading to New York.

I'm still trying to squash my hatred for Rodriguez as a player to even think of this rationally, but why wouldn't the Cubs sign Joe Girardi if at all possible?

I'm all for not tipping your hand and all, but this just seems like a simple decision.

Wait, what was I just saying about it being too early to start thinking of the off-season?

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tim McCarver hates the blind

Nothing was quite as entertaining today as watching the Dodgers/Mets Game 3 and hearing the apologies from Thom Brenneman and Tim McCarver having to eat a bowl of shit on national television.

You see, these two dipshits were making fun of the blind on a broadcast this week and it came around to bite them in their ignorant asses.

Now, it's no secret that I hate Tim McCarver and can't wait for him to be put out to pasture, but if openly mocking the handicapped won't do it, what will? Damn, well what about calling for the hook on Greg Maddux in the bottom of the third in a game Los Angeles trails 4-0? I mean, that's pretty stupid, right?

Anything? Can we just fire him for being a douche?

Anyways, I saw the original broadcast and there was an older fan with a set of earphones and what I'll describe as a cross between a jewelers magnifier (with one square lens) and a bunch of circuitry. As this was happening, the first thing that came to mind was that it wasn't an entertainment device and that there were better than average odds that the fan was blind.

I was right.

They made a series of robot and cyborg jokes if I'm not mistaken. All class, those two.

He's a 20-something year season ticket holder and these two jokers had to apologize on the broadcast tonight. Good, now let's fire the bastards.

For the record, if there's even a small chance that the fan you're openly mocking might be handicapped in some way, maybe you should just keep your funny, funny comments to yourself. For my money, it's just a step behind Ty Cobb spiking a crippled man until he bled enough for the Georgia Peach's liking.

Oh, and a little YouTube love, just to pile on.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Hater nation - your team sucks

October baseball jumps off tomorrow at noon at the Metrodome, but my song here has been the same: It's hard to dislike the Twins, but you need pitching to make it anywhere in the playoffs.

This isn't an opinion, it's a simple fact.

Go back a few years and look at what these teams have in common: 2005 White Sox, 2004 Red Sox, 2003 Marlins, 2002 Angels, 2001 Diamondbacks and the 2000, 1999 and 1998 Yankees. Just off the top of your head, most fans can pick out the top guys in those rotations years later.

There's a reason for that.

Fast forward to this morning's drive time here in the Twin Cities where speculation is reaching a boil that the fourth starter will be Silva, Garza or Perkins. Four games out and no one is quite sure who the starter will be.

Actually, the rotation of Santana, Bonser, Radke and Who Knows is the biggest hole in the Twins' post-season hopes.

Not to leave anyone out:

New York Yankees: The odds-on favorites to win it all, the Yankees have been dinged up and Rivera will only be used one inning per day (if that) according to this weekend's stories. Luckily for the Yankees, they'll keep playing long enough this year to make use of the payroll after they were rocked by injuries all season.

Still, when Chien-Ming Wang is your top gun it means things might get sticky... or that you completely disrespect the Tigers. Randy Johnson's back is an issue and the Tigers could go either way here after their top-shelf choke job to end the season.

Speaking of choke jobs, the Yankees are only two years removed from the biggest choke in post-season history... sorry, just had to get that in there. Yes, I know the Red Sox are on vacation this week. It was a cheap shot and I'd take it again...

Detroit Tigers: While we're on the subject, what the hell happened this weekend? My money says Leyland needed a smoke break and wasn't thinking clearly... all weekend. Just a theory, though.

You stumble down the stretch, lose three of three to the Royals... How is this a good thing for a team in the playoffs?

Young players, tired arms and a misplayed rotation (starting Bonderman and spelling him with Rogers?) put them behind the eight-ball against the Yankees. It's never a good idea to spot the Yankees any sort of advantage.

Trust me on this.

Oakland A's: Not even Philly could stand this team - that's saying something...

Also, the Moneyball A's never win in the post-season. Remember the Jeter play where he cut off the throw on the first baseline? That was against the A's.

Remember when the Red Sox had their backs against the wall in the 2003 ALDS? A's again. If they couldn't win with Jason Giambi, what chance do they have with the Big Hurt?

The National League: Go back to the list of World Series winners - the cream of the NL crop was the Fish and the D-backs...

The Cardinals faded down the stretch, the two teams from the West played in a joke of a division (moreso than the basement of the Central), lest you forget the Padres almost earned a berth with a sub-.500 team last year - need I go on?

Finally the Mets ran to a quick lead and are without Pedro for October. May I reference the Cards of the past few seasons? It's enough to make you sick...

Of course, I could also make a less-fun list of why you should feel good about your team, but where the challenge in that?

As a programming note, I'll be at the Dome tomorrow for Santana's start and plan on dropping some knowledge if I get time in the evening. If not, look for something Thursday.

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2006: The postmortem

So close and yet, so far...

Posting a preview was dumb enough, running those predictions every day of the season down the side of the blog? Even dumber.


Final standings: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles and Devil Rays
I said: Yanks, Sox, Jays, O's and Ray's

What went wrong: Sox drop the big set to the Yankees, weird stuff starts to happen, season catches fire and burns to ground. Jays sneak in behind corpse of a passable season. To be fair, I thought the Red Sox would be the Wild Card again this year.

Final standings: Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Indians Royals
I said: Sox, Tribe, Twins, Tigers Royals

What went wrong: The Tigers had a bad case of senioritis in the middle of August and the Twins forgot they were the Twins. Single-handedly the most fucked up division in baseball (but in a good way, not a NL West way. Seriously, find a single person who seriously thought the AL Central would shake out like this.)

Final standings: A's, Angels, Rangers and Mariners
I said: A's, Angels, M's and Rangers

What went wrong: I overvalued Seattle which under-performed. It was a perfect storm, kids. Not bad to pick the 1-2 though. And did so legitimately... not like the AL East.

Final standings: Mets, Phillies, Braves, Marlins and Nationals
I said: Braves, Mets, Nats, Phils and Fish

What went wrong: Atlanta hit the toilet this year, the Marlins were spunky and the Mets ran away with the East in early June if memory serves... what were the odds?

Final standings: Cardinals, Astros, Reds, Brewers, Pirates and Cubs
I said: Cards, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Reds and Rats

What went wrong: Drank the Kool-Aid on the Cubs' lineup, Lee's broken wrist and about 100 other things. But really, was it that hard to pick the Cards?

Final standings: Padres, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks and Rockies
I said: Dodgers, Pads, Giants, D-backs and Rockies

What went wrong: Man, one set wrong and the division goes to shit. I socould have had this one picked top to bottom if Grady Little could have squeezed out one more game... Techincally, they're tied, record-wise, right?

In all, not too bad, but some of those were gimmes (Yankees, Cards and Dodgers to a point) with the Braves and White Sox not winning out shocking everyone.

The lesson? Don't make any outrageous picks when you're going to be this stupid. At least safe picks will leave you some cover in October.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Twins clinch AL Central: By the numbers

As far as I'm concerned, if you have a season ticket package and are asked which seats you'd like to keep and which ones you'd like to dump, sight unseen, the two locks are opening day and the season finale.

Regardless of where you are or how good you think your team will or will not be, strange things can happen at both ends of the season. Just ask the Royals.

With that in mind, we were at the Twins game this afternoon to see a game that on paper in April and May should have been the Twins serving as spoilers to a White Sox title defense run. In practice, it was Kansas City pulling three games from deep in its collective ass to knock the Tigers from the top spot and give the Twins the division title for the fourth time in five years.

Here's today, by the numbers.

2: Number of total douchebag fans there to support the White Sox and piss off the entire section. One was dressed as a nun (mom) and the other as a sorta/kinda Blues Brother (son). As Ozzie Guillen decided to sit his starters today, the son had to scream himself hoarse for Jim Thome, Brian Anderson and the peanut guy.

I'd be lying if I said anything out of his mouth was clever (which I'll give visiting fans credit for) but at least he had to good sense to shut up after his team went in the tank.

Highlight? When Sister Mary Drinks Too Much got loaded, began weeping at the state of the Sox season and had to leave. The section actually clapped when they left.

Lowlight? When the Douche-tastic Duo came back and people scrambled and switched seats with their friends under the threat of leaving early.

5: Rough estimate of how many times over the Royals fan base grew when they went to extras with Detroit. Take a sold out Metrodome full of fans who smell blood in Detroit and we're being conservative here.

There were serious discussions about whether there were more people cheering for the Royals today when compared to cumulative totals for the season. It gave us plenty to think about.

0: Percentage chance I gave Kansas City when it came to sweeping Detroit in their home park.

Three of three on the road? With the division on the line? Worst versus first?

I'd have taken a bet that Anna Nicole would have handled her son's death with a scrap of dignity before betting on the Royals in Detroit. That's not saying much.

100: Percentage chance that Ozzie needed a beer after today's game. Thank goodness Billy Beane isn't in charge or we might have the neighborhood watch on alert for a very angry man rampaging and cursing through the streets of Minneapolis this evening.

50: Percentage chance that the above scenario is still in play as of 7 p.m.

.347: The winning batting average secured by Joe Mauer to become the first AL catcher to win the batting title.

Mauer got the biggest ovation of the afternoon, just edging out Brad Radke who was recognized before the game for his unselfish play (pitching with a fractured shoulder blade among other injuries).

The going rate for playing with a condition that may result in not being able to lift your arm above your head when you're 50?

A Waverunner... a fucking Waverunner.

Thanks for nothing, Twins...

1: Miles per hour that the "wind" was blowing in the Metrodome, according to the ESPN box score. Yeah, I'm confused, too.

45,182: Paid attendance for the day's game. Expect those claiming to have been there to top 75,000 or more tomorrow. Look for my ticket stub on eBay.

6: Runs blown by Detroit to finish second in the division. Coincidentally, this also tanked my fantasy season to the sixth-place finisher.

Life's a bitch, isn't it Tigers? When does our first support group meet?

(Image from

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