Siberian Baseball

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

La Velle makes ESPN his bitch

While Minnesota suicide hotline operators hunker down for the next week in anticipation of Johan Santana jumping ship - Nightmare now with 100% more Joe Nathan! - the Twins continue to prove that they are prepared for life after Santana.

A deal is reportedly in the works with Tampa Bay to trade young talent for young talent with Matt Garza headed south as Delmon Young packs his bags for Minneapolis.

According to the story which was first reported by La Velle E. Neal III:

The main pieces changning teams would be outfielder Delmon Young, the first overall pick in 2003, and righthander Matt Garza. But indications were strong on Wednesday that as many as six players could be involved.

In addition to Garza, the Twins would send Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett and reliever Juan Rincon for Young, shortstop Brendan Harris and outfielder Jason Pridie. Pridie was with the Twins during spring training of 2006 as a Rule 5 pick.

Twins players for several weeks had expected the club to deal for either Young or B.J. Upton.

Young, 22, hit .288 last season with 13 homers and 93 RBI and is considered one of the better young hitters in the game. Harris, 27, hit .286 with 12 homers and 59 RBI.

While surprising, this is actually a safe play for the Twins as they attempt to shore up their outfield with the loss of Torii Hunter. You take a pitcher the casual fan has not seen much of, lacks the buzz of Francisco Liriano and add a young bat to the lineup with a strong outfield arm in the process.

Without being too negative, he has been known to be a little bit of a hothead - not Elijah Dukes hotheaded, but enough to have some baggage - so maybe Minneapolis will mellow him out a bit.

Just to be sure though, the clubhouse attendants might want to make sure that the umpires are reminded to double check their gear before they take to the carpet at the Metrodome.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Not natural

Thanks to Ballhype user Emmett Jones for finding this today from Sports Business Digest today.

It's a different point than those which have been made lately. I thought it was pretty interesting, even if I don't totally agree with it.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hunter didn't sign for more money - He left

Say what you will about Torii Hunter, but the guy seems to be pretty honest. In interviews I've heard with Hunter when I was living in the Twin Cities, he towed that line between being straight with the fans and getting himself in hot water for saying things he probably shouldn't have.

I guess there's no reason to expect any less now that he's packing up his things and getting ready for next year in California.

According to Sid Hartman in the Star-Tribune Sunday, Hunter could see the writing on the wall and made his decision partially based on his perception that the Twins weren't gearing up to be a contender.

This is a major problem for the franchise, as Johan Santana has voiced similar concerns this summer following the trade of Luis Castillo to the Mets.

(As a short sidenote, in the first start for Santana after the trade and minor controversy that followed, Castillo's replacement, Alexi Casilla had a rough game behind the pitcher. At one point a cutoff throw from the outfield hit Casilla in the chest. I was paying attention to those next few starts and it seemed like Casilla's jitters came into play when Santana was the starter. That probably didn't help matters and certainly can't be helping now.)

Hunter had a few choice words on the subject when talking to Hartman (which, of course, are subject to backpeddaling to start the week because of the exclusive nature of the interview):

"Sometimes you're going to ask for a raise or whatever. And it just so happened that in major league baseball the market is up, it's way up." he said. "So, I was going to get what I was going to get. I just wanted to make sure that I was with a team that wants to win, that's going to try to win day in and day out. Whatever pieces to the puzzle that they need, they were going to go out and get it. I just didn't feel the Twins were that ballclub."

I just had this conversation last night with a few White Sox fans I went out with. When the topic turned to the Twins and exactly what was going on up north, it was pretty much word-for-word with Hunter's assessment.

You take away Hunter, you plan on Santana jumping ship before Spring Training and there's not much left on that team for next year. Sure, the Twins appear to be stocked with good young arms from the farm system, but why would you gamble away one of the best pitchers of this generation?

Assuming that the exodus continues, Minnesota will be hurting for star power in March.

There is a very real possibility that Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau will be the only bankable stars on the roster in the near future. On it's own, this isn't the end of the world, but Hunter also raised a point that has been kicked around here as well - the new stadium on the horizon.

The simple facts remain that the Twins need to fill that new stadium and the best way to do that would be to stock it with proven commodities like Hunter and Santana. So much for that.

The strongest Plan B would be to sign a new crop of stars to build a buzz around the team, but with Hunter being the first I've seen to publicly question the decision to leave the ballpark without a roof, this doesn't look good.

Now you have the perception that Minnesota is a team that doesn't value its stars, refuses to pay them market value (or negotiate with them at all) and prospective players will spend time freezing their tails off when the weather turns.

Again, quoting Hartman's column:
"People aren't even thinking about [the open air stadium]," he said. "I wouldn't play in Minnesota unless my career was at an end and I had to go to Minnesota to play the game. ... People think that's not true -- that's 100 percent accurate. This is coming from a player, so I'm telling you."

Whether or not Hunter is correct remains to be seen, but there's a lot to be said for perception. People perceive Minnesota to be a very cold place to live and that can't be very appealing to Latino, California- or Florida-bred players.

Think of the problems the Green Bay Packers had signing free agents before they shocked the football world and signed Reggie White. This situation has the possibility to be just as bad.

With the image problems brewing from a fan and a player perspective, it could shape up to be an ugly winter for the Twins. And no amount of small-town charm is going to fix that.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hunter racking up frequent flyer miles

At the very least, Torii Hunter is going to make some poor airline his bitch.

Bouncing around between Chicago, Texas and who knows where else, Hunter's name keeps coming up in Chicago and in his home state.

Hunter reportedly had dinner with Rangers' owner Tom Hicks Monday night at his home with G.M. Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington. Frank the Tank officially checked in this week to place his vote for Hunter over the return of Aaron Rowland.

I tend to agree with that take, though there's something to be said for the fan favorite in Rowland, over the on-paper smarts of Hunter. In addition to adding a Gold Glove center fielder, the White Sox would simultaneously cripple a division rival by taking the face of their franchise away.

This also opens the door for all sorts of crazy trade scenarios for Johan Santana as the Twins look to offload his contract - assuming they don't take the savings from passing on Hunter and use that to lock up Santana to pair with Francisco Liriano - and we all love crazy trade scenarios, right?

Incidentally - and this is not backed up with any sort of fact or substantiated rumor - why wouldn't Minnesota be a good fit for Joe Crede? If the White Sox are holding out for young, cheap talent and need to move Crede to make room for Josh Fields, why not Minneapolis?

They have an abundance of young arms, a problem at third with Nick Punto and if the aforementioned intra-divisional incest doesn't bother the Twins or the Sox, it seems like a good solution for the two teams.

At the very least, the Twins would upgrade at a traditional power position - though Crede has not had monster numbers in the past, he's been consistent - and move Punto in the process.

Well, it's that or listen to more fan-generated schemes about Joe Mauer moving to the hot corner.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Holding patterns

The big news in actual baseball this week - that would be dealings that take place outside of the courtroom - seemingly all came out of New York.

* Alex Rodriguez will likely stay a Yankee. For the next decade.

* Mariano Rivera is also opting to keep his pinstripes. For a significantly shorter period of time.

* Paul Lo Duca was never given an offer from the Mets. He's deeply hurt on a personal level because of this.

* Yorvit Torrealba won't need to apply for Empire State license plates just yet.

It really makes you buy into the whole East Coast bias conspiracy theory, doesn't it?

Despite all of the NYCentric developments, the impact felt by the moves and non-moves made by the ripples are being felt in the Windy City, especially on the city's South Side.

Case in point are the rumors that have died to a whisper of a possible Johnny Damon to the White Sox deal that would get Joe Crede out of the way for Josh Fields at third. With Rodriguez now apparently set to spend the next 10 years in the Bronx, the White Sox need to find other possible suitors for Crede, who returns from back problems.

Cribbing heavily from Bugs & Cranks, the top two teams in the mix should be the Red Sox and the Phillies. With the possibility of Mike Lowell letting the Red Sox off the hook and excusing himself from a contract in Boston, that would leave room at Fenway for Crede, while the Red Sox have enough young talent to keep Chicago interested.

No word on whether or not Coco Crisp would be a throw-in to balance the karma of Lowell's addition with the Josh Beckett trade. The White Sox would be rolling to their second World Series next year before you know it.

I'd also be interested in knowing what Florida is thinking here, with rumors that Miguel Cabrera is on the move - cash concerns not withstanding. That team seems to fit the same bill for cheap, young talent and a hole at third.

The wait to see what the Yankees and Mets will do seems strange as noise on the free agent front has been limited to the Cubs trading for Omar Infante and shipping Jacque Jones to Detroit and Craig Monroe to Minnesota for a player to be named later.

Seems they're making amends for the outfielder-friendly spree they engaged in this summer.

The Cubs, too, are seemingly locked up waiting to see who keeps and who trades in their Yankee pinstripes, as they were players in the Rivera sweepstakes in lieu of their closer-by-committee for 2008.

Wake the rest of us up when you're done New York - we'll fight over the leftovers here in flyover country.

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It's really not a story without Sir Charles

The indispensible Bugs & Cranks pulled this interview with Charles Barkley from ESPN and it's worth a listen.

Barkley does his best to break down the argument without playing the race card, citing Bonds' fan-unfriendly reputation as the big reason that he's worn such a target on his back.

I need to do some serious digging here to see exactly what the other big players in the current steroid scandal said under oath, because that's the crux of the argument in my opinion.

While everyone had a good laugh at Jason Giambi's non-committal apology for unnamed and unknown sins and Mark McGwire's desire to speak about the future - not the past - under oath, it appears that those two had the good sense not to deny drug use that could come back later to bite them in the ass.

From what I'm reading, Bonds and his lawyers didn't think that was such an intelligent path.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Done to death

It's all been said.

All the names have been thrown at him in opposing ballparks all season, the home run king snubbed him on the national stage and his career has become so radioactive that the commissioner of his sport wouldn't go near him as he neared the home run record.

I suppose this is the logical conclusion of this part of Barry Bonds' story, but I'm not taking a great deal of pleasure in the result. If anything, I'm happy for the published indictment to finally shut down the Bonds Fan Club antics of a slice of fans who defended him for years.

Here is the copy of the document - I think the big piece that was missing is here as Point 9.

There, he tested positive for anabolic steroids. Can we just leave him behind now?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

When playing in Miami, always wear sunscreen

Good morning, Free Agent Class of 2007 and welcome to the open market.

While this is a first-time adventure for some, others have been here before and I can only imagine how exciting this must be for those of you who have been with your organizations since the minor leagues. Congratulations to Jorge Posada, who appears to be exiting the free agent pool after a quick dip.

For others, you're about to make the next stop on what has turned out to be a journeyman's career. Don't feel too bad, not many players stick around with the same team anymore. Hell, even Jackie Robinson was traded at the end, right?

So, in a world where players leave millions on the table to escape playing in the Bronx, teams like the Angels and Rangers figure to be major players in the free agent market, the Cubs are willing to spend money and the Red Sox now have bookended World Series trophies, things can only continue to be interesting, right?

For a decent breakdown of the rumor mill as of Monday morning, check out this quick list compiled by that was posted today.

Here is the ever-popular Free Agent Tracker.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

This will get six kinds of ugly

It should have been enough of a warning shot to see this on's MLB front page yesterday.

Yes, that is Carlos Silva. No, he is not very good. Or consistent. Or photogenic. Or less than mildly disturbing in person - and I sat 10 feet away from him as he warmed up two summers ago. I think of that day whenever I'm trying to cure a case of the hiccups.

Here's the screen grab in case you missed it.

Better yet if you're a Cubs fan - in addition to recent word that if years of futility hadn't interceded, the 1984 World Series would have been played at Comiskey Park - is more evidence that pitchers are at a premium this year.

Following the rousing success that was the "college of coaches" the Cubs are going to buck traditional wisdom and employ (or at least entertain the idea of) closer by committee with Kerry Wood and Bob Howry nailing down the end of the bullpen in 2008.

Two key points here:

1.) They will be removing the current closer, Ryan Dempster, who was shuttled to the bullpen after elbow trouble shelved him for parts of the 2003 and 2004 seasons to put in Wood who hasn't seen a full season since he was playing American Legion ball in Texas.

2.) The 2008 season will mark 100 years since the Cubs last won the World Series, so why the hell not? You guys just do whatever you want on Addison. I'll just go buy another hat and pretend like I don't know these conversations are taking place right down the street.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The biggest name in Japanese baseball

Just to clarify:

This is Kosuke Fukudome:

And this is Thunderdome:

This will be fun for months. Heh... Fuck you dome - Sounds like a new ballpark in New Jersey.

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Schilling back for one more year

Curt Schilling just posted to his blog that he and the Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal that's full of all sorts of incentive clauses, not the least of which is a weigh-in clause designed to help him keep his girth down in the offseason. If you think that won't be driven into the ground on all sorts of message boards before Spring Training, you're a damned fool.

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, here's Will Leitch's take on Schilling from his NY Times blog during this year's playoffs. I've just been waiting for some substantial Schilling news to post it with.

While Red Sox Nation rejoices, here are the three points of his full post that I thought were most interesting.

1.) $1 million for receiving a Cy Young vote, any vote.

Weird. I wonder if this hurts or helps the chances of him getting a vote next year. What's to say that one of his pals in the media doesn't offer up a mercy vote as a retirement present? On the flip side, what's to say that a polarizing character like Schilling doesn't drive off all voters, regardless of his final record?

More on this when the 2007 Cy Young winners are announced.

2.) Bottom line is Mr Henry, Mr Werner, Mr Lucchino, Theo, Tito and John wanted me to come back, and I wanted to be back. So it’s all good. Saying it’s not ‘about the money” is a lie too. Both sides have a price, at some number I was not a viable option for the Red Sox, and at another number the Sox might have become a non-contender to us, but we both wanted this to happen and it did. Contrary to what some ‘insiders’ think they know, they don’t. Theo and I have an enormously respectful and friendly relationship and the same can be said for all three owners. As far as Tito goes, well I have too much dirt on him to ever worry about him selling out on me…

Isn't it nice when something as open and shut as returning a veteran pitcher is actually taken care of in a straightforward manner like this? Makes me all warm, fuzzy and damn near Boras-proofed on the inside.

3.) I’ve already heard from Josh and Wake, and am excited to know that my last year in the game will be with a team that has another legitimate chance to win the World Series. Also, the thought of being able to be teammates with this incredible group, for a final run is pretty damn cool.

"Last year" is the strange part here. Granted, I've been in fan limbo with Brett Favre for three years and counting, but still, to have an athlete cop to this is pretty odd. Someone remind me where this post is in a year if Schilling changes his mind.

Update: See, I'm not the only one who figured this out. Little did I know that Boston writers apparently have the votes next year.

(Photos taken for Siberian Baseball)

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Twins think retractable roofs are for the weak

Think back two years to the Detroit Tigers and their big push to the World Series. It was late October in Detroit - a city that is significantly further south than Minneapolis and is aided in cold weather by multiple car fires at all times of the day and night - and much was being made of the weather and how it impacted everything from hamstrings to starting pitching.

While I understand the basics of stadium funding and that money for a new ballpark is finite, couldn't the Twins have found a coupon for a free roof in the Sunday paper or something? What if they waited for the paper that comes out after Thanksgiving.

Regardless, the team is plowing ahead after apparently clearing up some eminent domain issues over abandoned asphalt, and has released the same pictures as before in addition to - wait for it - a virtual flyby of the new space.

Points for leaving the naming rights up for grabs at "Minnesota Twins Ballpark" instead of trying to force Target's hand or something.

Given today's technology, can't we do some weather simulations to see exactly how far into your throat your nuts will retreat during a game after dark in October? How about estimating just how blue the elderly will turn if left outside during an extra-innings game in April?

I'm betting it's navy.

Given the team's owner, I'd assume more thought would be spent on those sorts of logistics. Sounds like someone got cocky when he bought a hip hop station. Running around now, thinking he's gangsta...

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Jersey will miss Joe Torre

Thanks to Bugs & Cranks for posting this from the Adult Swim site.

I think my favorite part of this is that if you changed the accent and the names involved, it could have just as easily been a bit about NASCAR.


See, if I were you...

Hot on the heels of the brilliant Alex Rodriguez Choose Your Own Adventure is this game, hosted by

In an open free agent market, it's a pick 'em game to try and predict where this year's free agent class will end up. Considering what a crapshoot the first week of free agency has turned out to be, this is essentially a lottery drawing instead of a game of skill, but good for MLB for sticking their nose in there.

Of course, it's sponsored by and has a wrinkle with an added confidence points section, but all in all it should be a lot of fun for the weekend at least.

For anyone who thought NCAA brackets were a shot in the dark, this game will make your head hurt. And for the record there's no option for "no team" for Mike Cameron given his recent PR blowouts.

I have to admit, I have no idea where half of these guys are headed and the speculation changes on an hourly basis, but it's still a moderate amount of fun despite the onslaught of spam that is now headed my way for entering.

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