Siberian Baseball

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One down, one to go - Cubs clean up a bit

After releasing Mark Prior into the free agent market, the Cubs have now put a little distance between themselves and the hellish cycle that was created with both him and Kerry Wood in the same rotation.

San Diego will welcome the hometown hero back, put him in a pitcher's park and give him a solid shot at returning to respectability, if not stardom. Honestly, I have an easier time saying goodbye to Prior than I would if Wood was on his way out.

This is not an indictment of Prior as a player, of the Cubs in terms of talent evaluation or of Chicago's willingness to put up with injury after injury, but rather a reflection of the rise up the ranks that the two pitchers followed.

While Wood spent what seemed like decades in the minors as the buzz built around this savior of the pitching staff, Prior was selected as a college star, with limitless potential.

I remember hearing stories of his stupid nickname - "Calfzilla" because of his enormous lower legs - and discussions of the power he generated on his fastball because of that solid foundation and spotless mechanics.

I guess it shows you how far sportswriters need to dig to fill copy on the MLB draft, but still - Prior showed up quickly and was out of the rotation just as quickly. It didn't help that Prior was seen as the secondary piece in the Wood/Prior rotation, but though he seemed to have more talent than Wood, he never had the sizzle.

It's probably more me than anything, but if the Cubs insist on keeping a high-profile, injury-plagued, stable pony I'm glad it's Wood. While Prior was seen as the total package pitcher, there's something to be said for the Texan who can throw a ball through a brick wall.

While it remains to be seen whether or not either of these guys can get healthy and become the players everyone expected them to be, I'll honestly be happy for Prior if that happens.

It really helps that he'll be doing that in the NL West, though. If he would have emerged for the Astros, I would have been out of my skull with rage.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How you think Ted Williams fought all those Nazis?

'Roids... Pure and simple.

Conflict of interest much, you old man?


Sunday, December 16, 2007

That's pretty much everyone

My only regret - other than not finding this first - is that I found it on a weekend Deadspin post. This deserved much better than that.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The big list

The list is up on


Just one more voice shouting

Before the Mitchell Report is released in a half hour, I figured I'd check in and lay some ground work before everything gets turned on its ear.

I still think that the majority of the hype will fall apart pretty quickly - the easiest parallel to draw is the release of the Starr Report - but that this day will color the view that fans have of this generation of players in history.

If you scour the sports sites this morning you'll see a lot of the same viewpoints, mainly that this will forever tarnish the sport, but will be ultimately unpunishable. I tend to agree with that and think that while it sucks that we'll now have a rash of names - many of which will be difficult to prove - that we can kick around and speculate about, there's too much going on here to actually have any sort of justice.

Baseball can't start taking wins away from teams aided by those on the list and shaving stats from individuals. This is nothing more than a fresh start.

This gives baseball a clean break to turn to its fans and say, "There, we're all better now. No more users after the 2007 season," and then they hold on and pray that the offseason cools everything off. I'd expect nothing less from Bud Selig.

In trying to process what's about to happen, I've tried to draw the lines for myself of what is and what is not acceptable to me. Not for all fans or for the game, but where my loyalties are and what it would take to change my opinion of a specific player or a team or the league.

Worst of all, what would I have to hear to turn me away from baseball forever?

It's the same set of questions from the steroid busts that pop up from time to time and especially with the Barry Bonds circus.

At the risk of setting out the loony bait again by discussing Bonds, I'm not upset that the home run record holder appears to have used steroids, I'm upset that someone so talented felt the need to juice up because he wanted the spotlight.

More than that, he allegedly used steroids out of spite. I hold Bonds to a higher standard - and I believe this bears itself out in old posts - because of his pedigree and what should have been a degree of respect for the game. There, I've now let my inner whiny sports columnist out.

I don't think I'm alone in feeling more sympathetic towards the Kevin Millar's of the baseball world who appear to be scraping to keep themselves in the majors. I'm not defending it or saying it's acceptable, but that's where my line is drawn.

I guess that's why the name Alex Sanchez can float in and out of my mind, while Sammy Sosa will be there forever.

Now, at 12:53 p.m., the hard copies of the Mitchell Report are being passed out by a burly gentleman in New York. There's no audio, so I can't hear if he's singing.

Enjoy the spin cycle.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Moving Day for Tejada, Rowland

After years - literally years - of rumors regarding Miguel Tejada getting out of Baltimore, the Orioles pulled the trigger on a deal to send him out of town.

Tejada will join the Houston Astros, with the Orioles getting five players in the swap. According to the Baltimore Sun, which broke the story:

In return for the four-time All-Star, the Orioles will get outfielder Luke Scott, pitchers Matt Albers, Troy Patton and Dennis Sarfate, and third baseman Michael Costanzo.

The Astros will assume the $26 million left on Tejada's contract.

I'd nearly forgotten that Tejada started his career as a member of the Oakland A's until I went back through the story. Look there for more complete breakdowns of

Also switching zip codes is Aaron Rowland, the big silver medal in the Torii Hunter sweepstakes with Hunter and Andruw Jones already in California. Rowland follows suit and signs with the Giants.

The San Francisco Chronicle has the story tagged "Slick-fielding outfielder signs with the Giants" while I would have opted for "Collision-prone outfielder signs with the Giants" but, whatever.

Rowland has reportedly signed a five-year contract with San Francisco, which means Rowland with be 35 when the deal is up. That's assuming he isn't failing neuro-psych exams like an aging quarterback by that point.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Welcome, Mr. F*** You Dome!

Oh Lord, will this be great on Opening Day.

Sure, a left-handed outfielder who hits for contact and should shore up the middle of the Cubs' lineup - and thus, keeping him out of the dugout on the South Side - is fine and all, but how dope is it to have a starter that can't be announced on television in some southern states?

(Yes, I know this is an overplayed joke already, and I promise I'll keep things to a dull roar from now on.)

According to the Chicago Sun-Times tonight:

The Cubs reached agreement tonight with Japanese free agent Kosuke Fukudome on a four-year deal, according to sources, beating out the White Sox and San Diego Padres for Japan's top hitter.

The deal is believed to be worth $45 million to $50 million.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

This warms my heart

First, they signed Kyle Farnsworth.

Now, they go out and do this.

I swear the Yankees are trying to win me over. And they're getting very, very close to achieving that goal.

There was something very satisfying about seeing Farnsworth enter a game at the Metrodome and being able to turn to the other fans and say confidently, "Oh man, watch this."

Twenty minutes later, the carnage was cleared off the field and I looked like a complete genius.

It made for a good night.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The plot thickens

For those watching the Johan Santana trade with nervous/gleeful/heartbroken anticipation (that would be Red Sox fans/AL Central fans/Twins fans) the Boston Globe is doing a phenomenal job with the updates.

That link is here.

As of a half hour ago, the Angels seem to be making a strong play to close a deal immediately and the Twins are rumored to want the whole thing wrapped up today.

From the site:

From the Globe's Nick Cafardo (3:37 p.m.): "We've said here all along that the Los Angeles Angels have the ability to make any deal they desire because they have the chips to make it happen. If they have jumped into the Johan Santana hunt, they pose a real threat to the Red Sox and Yankees for Santana's services.

The Angels have extra pitching, so they're able to offer a major league-ready starting pitcher like Ervin Santanta or Jered Weaver as well as a host of positional players - anyone from Howie Kendrick to catcher Jeff Mathis, infielder Brandon Wood, outfielder Reggie Willits, and even Gary Mathews Jr."

"I do not believe the Yankees are out of the Santana hunt yet."

Well, OK, then.

Actually that makes perfect sense. The Angels have a recent history of sniping players at the last second, usually with half of America unaware that they were even in the market - this includes their recent signing of Torii Hunter.

No word yet on which fast food restaurant will host the signing if the deal goes through.

Also worth keeping an eye on is this new rumor that sends Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for pitching and prospects.

Update: That last deal appears to be final with Detroit capturing both Marlins stars in exchange for outfielder Cameron Maybin, pitcher Andrew Miller, catcher Mike Rabelo and three other minor league pitchers.

(Image from Angels in the Outfield)

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Yankee countdown enters final hours

Good for the Yankees in taking a stand against the big market clubs like Minnesota and instituting a strict deadline (Monday at midnight) to come to a decision in the Johan Santana sweepstakes.

It's about time someone taught those northerly bullies a lesson.

Not much is happening in Nashville on the big stage yet and most of the reports I've read today point to the Santana stalemate as a big reason for that. Teams want to see how that shakes out at the top before they proceed this week.

How Santana ending up with the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels impacts signing Damien Miller to the Nationals is beyond me, but I suppose that's why I'm in my underpants, eating Cheetos in my mother's basement and not calling the shots in Nashville tonight.

Some interesting rumors are floating about, though, with Miguel Cabrera still on the block in Florida and Dontrelle Willis apparently off of it for now. is reporting tonight that the White Sox are in the mix for the young third baseman, which, of course, clouds the issue of what the South Siders will be doing this year at the position.

In much the same manner that the Cubs horde outfielders like the mentally unstable pick up copies of Catcher in the Rye, it appears the White Sox have a new love of third basemen.

While I love the whole interference angle - Hank Steinbrenner has made no secret who he's talking about when discussing Santana - that has come up from some writers, it's been entertaining to say the least.

While I strongly oppose putting Jacoby Ellsbury on the table for a pitcher who only sees the light of day once every five starts, if there's a pitcher who will make it worth your while, it's Santana.

His starts were always electrifying and the Twins fans never had to search for a savior with Santana on the mound. Need a stopper when your team has dropped a few games?

There's Johan.

Need a big win to shore up a playoff spot?

There's Johan.

While I doubt there's such a thing as a calming presence in Boston, Santana might be as close as they come. Now to get back to work on that troubling Catch-22; Trade young pitching while your staff ages itself out of the league or wait for them to develop and risk the inevitable flame-outs that come with the territory when talking about young pitchers?

Mild update: Elijah Dukes is now a member of the Washington Nationals, presumably to put him closer to the nation's top law enforcement agencies.

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