Siberian Baseball

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's like musical chairs... quick, find a seat!

Three big signings / deals struck today and here's the funny thing - in my mind I hear these names and can't place ages right away. I just think old.

Cliff Floyd is a Chicago Cub and JD Drew is (finally) signed in Boston. As I was searching for more information, I saw that Darin Erstad is the newest member of the Chicago White Sox.

Maybe I don't think Erstad is old per se, but it just seems like he's been playing a while. The other two? No doubt in my mind that they're gearing up for the Julio Franco Senior Circuit.

The reality? Floyd is 34, Drew is 31 and Erstad is 32. The lesson here campers is that I'm getting old and players who rack up a few injuries are forever seen as older than they are. The whole thing is quite troubling to me today.

The breakdowns:
Cliff Floyd

Floyd is reportedly a favorite of Jim Hendry's and a local product from the south suburbs, which worked out so well with bringing Todd Hundley to town, no? He's a young 34 and coming off surgery to remove a bone spur, but aside from that, he'll be fine.

Big ups to the Chicago Tribune for putting someone who has actually seen a ballgame on the coverage here to point out the potential logjam in the outfield should everyone start the season and remain healthy.

The whole thing plays out like a game of multi-million dollar Tetris - assuming Jacques Jones sticks around - with Floyd and Matt Murton working left field, newly acquired Alfonso Soriano in center and Jones in right.

This is not the worst idea the Cubs could have had with question marks regarding durability, performance and experience floating just in front of the ivy.

For the record, Floyd is a career. 279 hitter who hit .244 last year (OBP of .359 and .324, respectively) and has a given name of Cornelius. All I'm really hoping for is the inevitable Jeremy Piven cameo in the broadcast booth where he gets to bellow, "Floyd!" at the top of his lungs as the Cubs giggle and pat themselves on the back on Opening Day, only to self-destruct in July.

Good times in the future, good times.

Key phrase from the Trib's assessment?

With the Mets in 2005, Floyd hit .273 with 34 homers and 98 RBIs in 150 games. But that kind of year has been a rarity for Floyd, whose many injuries have made him unreliable.

Kinda like saying, "It's a great car as long as you don't need to brake a lot."

Floyd's signing actually reminds me a lot of Jones joining the club last year - a recognizable name who had a big year or two but gives the club no major upgrade at the position. Unless Floyd is there to allow the Cubs to shop an unhappy Jones, this signing doesn't make much sense, despite the added depth in the outfield.

Darin Erstad

The White Sox locked in the speedy Erstad, which, of course, is the man's legal name in any kind of written communication. White Sox fans, remember that as you're e-mailing your buddies and uncles at county to discuss the signing this week.

If you read the Trib's breakdown of this deal, however, you'll not learn a whole lot about Erstad, but you will discover a reporter with a big crush on J.T. Snow. It's a big waste of your time.

Head over to the Worldwide Leader for a pretty good breakdown and note that:

A two-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Angels, Erstad had arthroscopic surgery for a bone spur in his right ankle on Oct. 5 after batting .221 with no home runs and five RBIs in a career-low 40 games last season. He is the only player to win the Gold Glove as an infielder (2004, at first base) and outfielder (2000 and 2002).

All in all, I think is a good signing for the White Sox to help shore up the outfield and pick up a good player on the cheap. It's a minimal risk (1 year, $1 million) with a solid potential payoff.

Also, he seems to be true to the recent Chicago mold of players under Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen, so that should be another plus for the South Siders.

If I'm a Sox fan, I'm pretty happy today - on paper it looks like a solid pick up.

JD Drew

Finally, the deal is hammered out to put Drew in a Red Sox uniform and get Scott Boras out of their hair.

Much has been written and second guessed about this signing, but personally, I'm not too happy to see Trot Nixon leave Boston. This is only compounded by the man coming in to take his place with Drew.

Dirt Dogs led off the first round of the signing process by telling Red Sox Nation to be nice, people have questioned Drew's hustle, heart and ailing shoulder and the deal that's been struck looks like a bad agreement for a used car.

The Boston Globe reports:

If Drew goes on the disabled list for anything related to this finding in the third year of the deal, the Sox can void the final two years of the contract. If he is disabled in the fourth year, the Sox can void the final year of the deal.

So, even if he stinks up the joint, alienates the fan base and has an arm like a wet towel, he's locked in for the deal? Great.

I'll try and remain positive and see how this plays out, but I just don't see this ending well for Red Sox Nation or Drew. Manny Ramirez is a head case who checks in and out more often than your typical travelling salesman, but he's stayed somewhat healthy and puts up big enough numbers to cloud out all the negativity.

It's like the hype before Johnny Damon took over in center for the Yankees last year, but with none of the positives working for him. Still, like Damon, if Drew gets off to a slow start, he's dog meat at Fenway. There's just too much that can go wrong in that situation.

Need proof? Go ask Edgar Renteria.

(Photos from: / / /

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Willis re-sings for one more year in Florida

Dontrelle Willis signed a one-year, $6.45 million contract Monday according to and it just keeps me scratching my head to watch the Marlins go on-again, off-again with contracts and fire sales after two (two!) World Series wins in their short history.

I'm not quite sure how I'd feel as a Marlins fan with that type of history - I can only imagine how much that will screw with a kid's head. It's devastating to watch your favorite player leave town (Thank God Ryne Sandberg never left or I'd be a borderline lunatic today) but wholesale cuts like the Marlins are prone to must be enough to turn young fans off to baseball forever.

Then, they go and award this contract for Willis to play with a bunch of Who-dats to those who aren't obsesive fantasy players or living in the Miami area.

Signing Willis is a no-brainer for any team - why the Marlins continue to pick and choose while offloading entire rosters leaves me puzzled. I'm wondering how much of a fight they'll put up for him when this contract expires.

From ESPN:
"I'm very happy," Willis told The Associated Press on Monday night. "How can you not be? I'm very appreciative to go out and have the opportunity to play baseball."

No kidding - you think, Doctor?


Thursday, January 11, 2007

I love the Dodgers

Since the dawn of man, we as a people have been striving towards common goals.

The quest for fire. The invention of the wheel. Cures for diseases from polio to AIDS. The ability to both watch a baseball game and eat enough to feed a small European village for a week at one, set price.

The Dodgers have done it, ladies and gentlemen. They will be offering an all-you-can eat section for the 2007 season.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

A ticket to the right-field pavilion — at $35 in advance and $40 on game day — will entitle fans to an endless supply of ballpark staples, including hot dogs, peanuts and soda but excluding beer, which hasn't been sold in the pavilion for years. The Dodgers tested the concept several times last season.

All the hot dogs I can stomach, a ballgame at Chavez Ravine and all the hot dogs I can stomach?

Man, the only thing that could make that deal better would be some sort of deal wherein other people would bring me as many hot dogs as I could eat as long as I kept asking for them...

Hey, wait a minute...

(Image from


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ripken, Gwynn to the Hall

The votes are cast, the chads are hung and the Baseball Hall of Fame has two new members - no-brainers, really - in Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.

Ripken led the voting with 537 of the 545 possible votes with Gwynn pulling in 532. I'd have thought that might have gone the other way, but five votes are five votes.

Obviously, more players didn't make it in with the requisite 409 votes.

Highlighting the have-nots was the Associated Press via the Chicago Tribune:

Rich Gossage with 388, Jim Rice 346, Andre Dawson 309, Bert Blyleven 260 and Lee Smith with 217.

The big news will be Marck McGwire's 128 votes (just under a quarter of voters pulling for Big Mac) and the steroid rumors and questions about modern sports morality as well as the deterioration of the nuclear family and the lack of respect for our elders. McGwire is pretty much the scapegoat for all the things that we remember being better when we were kids.

Another wrinkle is the under five-percent club which wipes the following players off the boards until the veterans committee can pick them up.

Top dogs there were:
Orel Hershiser 24, Albert Belle 19, Paul O'Neill 12, Chicago Heights native Bret Saberhagen 7, Jose Canseco 6, Tony Fernandez 4, Dante Bichette 3, Eric Davis 3, Bobby Bonilla 2, Ken Caminiti 2 and Jay Buhner with 1 vote.

Scott Brosius, Wally Joyner, Devon White and Bobby Witt all pulled down goose eggs.

Sorry guys.

Update listed how its voters cast their ballots and I think the biggest shock is that Pedro Gomez was in on this. I always imagine Hall voters being closer to Peter Gammons' age, but I do have a spot in my heart for Gomez.

Highlights of this ballot update are:

* Five (of a possible 12) votes for McGwire from Buster Olney, Jim Caple, Jayson Stark, Gammons and Tim Kurkjian.

* Gammons full ballot of: Gwynn, Ripken, Gossage, Dawson, Rice, Jack Morris, Blyleven and McGwire.

* The ESPN crew would have inducted: Gwynn, Ripken, Gossage, Dawson and Rice.

* Albert Belle and Smith each received one vote. That was pretty shocking to me.

Oh, and for the record, my votes would have been for Gwynn, Ripken (with reservations), Dawson, Rice, Gossage and Smith. That's just me, though.

(Image from Ding!


Thursday, January 04, 2007

How did I miss this?

Big thanks to The Girl who asked me, "Did you see who the Twins signed today?"

No, I hadn't. The mystery man? Sidney Ponson, the clown prince of Baltimore.

Signed to a minor-league deal, Ponson has been better known for running afoul of the law and refusing to lose weight lately, but an arm is an arm in Minneapolis these days.

Go check his bio, this dude's been around.

My favorite bit of Ponson trivia revolves around his Christmas vacation in 2005 when he reportedly punched a judge on he beach in his native Aruba. On Christmas Day... punched a judge...

The kicker was he was in better shape from a week in the joint than he was left to his own devices as a major league pitcher preparing for the season. Oh, Sid...

Welcome to the Dome, Dougboy.

(Photo from

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The new year

JD Drew still isn't signed, Barry Zito is happy he won't have to move and Truck Day throughout the league is just around the corner.

What could possibly make a man any more content?

The Randy Johnson experiment is over in the Bronx.

Not that it's a big surprise or anything, but Johnson is expected to be dealt back to Arizona in the next couple of days. Where does that leave the Yankees?

To quote

New York's projected rotation includes Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Kei Igawa. The Yankees also have oft-injured right-hander Carl Pavano and hope Roger Clemens can be persuaded to follow Pettitte back to New York.

Is it just me - and my anti-Yankee bias - or do you see a few possible holes in that lineup?

At least the papers have an easy task to print pictures of what Johnson will look like in an Arizona uniform.

(Image from

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