Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Would I like more money? Well, sure!

As baseball ramps up this week - last to report, way to be, Twins - the stories coming from the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues will fall into a few categories.

It's spring, there are rusty cobwebs to clear and let's face it, there's not a lot going on in a saturated media market.

* Injured player is doing well, but not pushing it - Kerry Wood and Eric Gagne
* Injured player is still injured - Pedro Martinez
* Old veteran is trying one last time - Javy Lopez
* Old veteran is being told by the market to hang up the spikes - Bernie Williams
* New addition is making a big splash - Barry Zito, Alfonso Soriano
* Next year's free agent class is testing the water - Ichiro Suzuki, Carlos Zambrano

Is it worth noting who'll be on the open market next year? Hell yes, especially if you're in one or more fantasy leagues.

Is it interesting to see what types of deals are struck to patch contracts through for 2007? Sure is, if for no other reason than to see who has a fat wallet they're willing to open to try to make a run this year or next.

Should anyone read too much into Ichiro or Zambrano clearing their throats for the media to let management know they're serious? Not as much as they should try to gauge the reaction from the front office.

What can I say? Slow news on the Spring Training front makes for slow news for bloggers.

Why don't you all swing by in a week or so when Barry Bonds has wasted away to 105 pounds.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oh, that can't be good...

Say what you will about omens and such, but the news from Mesa can't be positive no matter how you slice it.

Kerry Wood slipping/jumping/being pushed from a hot tub and injuring his ribs to the point that he can't pitch for a few days is at best an annoyance and at worst a harbinger of the stinking wreck of a season to come.

WithLeather asked if Cubs pitchers were made from cobwebs and papier mache and I'm beginning to think he might have a point.

Really, there are three ways to get hurt on Day One at spring traing - 1.) Wrench your back taking your bags from the back of the taxi; 2.) Slip and fall; 3.) Get stuck under the rubble from a grandstand collapse.

And that's about it.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We're still waiting, Bud

The rumored deal between MLB and Direct TV sparked a bit of a firestorm at the Mothership, picking up more comments than any other post there in just a little over a year.

Most of this centered around Direct TV service and quality debates from people who had used them before or currently have the service.

For my part, I work with an engineer who spent some time working for the provider who essentially warned me about the whole dish thing - essentially, for Minnesota, the times you really want to watch TV when it's cold, or raining or there's a bad snowstorm, are the precise times when the dish is at its worst - and the whole thing took on legs from there.

Today off the Deadspin links is a friendly reminder that the issue isn't resolved yet, but with a small glimmer of hope for the baseball faithful. A million thanks to The Luke Report for giving me this small, if imperfect life raft.

Remember the Spiderman bases? Those went away pretty quickly when the fans went into an uproar - a fact that escaped me until tonight - and we can all hope that the Direct TV fiasco runs along those same lines.

Granted, it doesn't excuse keeping fans in limbo, possibly trying to force us to use the Internet-based games or the fact that if the dish's lawyers did their homework, MLB might be caught in a legal rundown (See what I did there? Used a baseball metaphor in a baseball-related discussion. See? See? All right...) with regards to backing out of this deal, but it's something.

Maybe my one-man, one e-mail writing campaign hit the monster in its dark, money hungry heart. I doubt it, but it's nice to feel a part of the resistance.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Thanks, Tim - We appreciate the vote

According to Tim Kurkjian's breakdown of the best rotations in baseball, the Red Sox are his winners by default.

It's akin to handicapping the presidential races right now, where we really need to see more from each rotation, not to mention that injuries and other fluke things come up in March to hamstring teams that look pretty strong on paper - remember the ESPN the Mag cover in 2004 that had the Cubs rotation as the prettiest girls at the dance?

In any event, the lineup of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester and Tim Wakefield is being seen as the best of a down year in terms of team pitching, with Kurkjian pointing out it's not like the old days of the Braves rotation that was always the prohibitive favorite heading into Grapefruit League play.

When it's a Japanese rookie with no experience in the majors - much less Boston - an injury-plagued young guy coming off a down year, an older power pitcher, a former closer with a season-ending injury last year, a pitcher who just finished chemo (not going for the cheap laugh here, only stating the facts) and an aging knuckleballer as your rotation, I'm not seeing how this is seen as the staff to beat.

I do, however, see the plot to Major League 4 coming along quite nicely.

Rounding out the Top 5 are the Tigers, Angels, Dodgers and Yankees.

On that list, I see at least two rotations I'd bank on ahead of Boston. It's also interesting to note only one National League team in the mix.

I think this only serves to prove two points. First, that picking a top rotation this year is a total crapshoot (can you honestly make a case that Contreras, Garland, Buherle and Vazquez couldn't be substituted into that five?) when pitchers and catchers have yet to report.

Second, it'll be an interesting year again with no big dog in the majors lurking to take everyone's lunch money and walk to a championship.

* Odds were posted the other day on and I'm seeing things differently after reading The Wisdom of Crowds which pointed out that the Vegas lines aren't really there to pick who will win, but rather to provide an attractive line to get an even 50/50 split among all the bets being placed with the bookmaker.

Seeing the Cubs near the top of the list was jarring in that regard - all sorts of suckers place bets on the Northsiders every year just for the hell of it and the recent additions make the team that much more attractive to stupid gamblers.

I'm pretty sure they Cubs could be listed as triple-digit odds underdogs and still see plenty of action on the Vegas line. No need to fuel the fire with 9-1 odds this early in the process.

* Just as a housekeeping note, I'm still (I know, I know) deciding on how to handle the preseason previews and when. Obviously, working full time puts a dent into the process, so last year's team-by-team breakdown won't happen again.

Be patient and I'll more than likely start rolling these out by division once the spring games begin.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Be patient, willya?

All things considered, it's been a pretty eventful off-season.

Maybe not the crash/bang kind of moves to keep everyone riveted from start to finish, but good enough.

We've been over this all before as the big names came through and switched things up, and I hope to wrap a lot of this up before Truck Day.

In the meantime, sit back and relax before it all starts up again. The living and dying by every little game in June and July.

Breathlessly waiting to see if your team can hold on during the stretch run and hoping against hope in October if your team is one of the final teams lucky enough to still be playing at that point.

That said, I've been ordering tickets for our trip this spring to Fort Myers and just this little graphic here is enough to make me smile and not worry so much about work tomorrow.

In a little over a month, I'll be sitting in the sun with a cold lemonade, resisting the urge to call every last sucker stuck at work in Minnesota and gloat.

Baseball's almost here - are you excited yet?

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