Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Johan Santana needs some boxes and a friend with a pickup

Cheer up, Mr. Met - maybe the addition of Johan Santana will make your long-suffering ballclub suck a little less. Then again, maybe not.

Honestly, I'm OK with Santana to the Mets. I have a feeling that Minnesota was asking for half of the farm club from either the Red Sox or the Yankees (wait, wouldn't the rest of the league be the farm clubs for those teams?) and this deal puts him in a major market without escalating the Cold War showdown in the AL East.

See, it's win-win for all parties! And we don't have to suffer through any more ESPN speculations of where he's headed or more Yankee/Red Sox coverage.

On a related note, how badly is Santana going to destroy the NL hitters this year? If Bronson Arroyo can come into the league and beat down batters, exactly how much damage will Santana do? I'm really looking forward to seeing how this plays out. I imagine it'll look a lot like Pros vs. Joes through the All-Star Break.

According to USA Today, which appears to have broken this story:

The Mets paid a high price in prospects to land Santana, agreeing to send the Twins outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey... While the deal drains much of the talent out of the Mets' farm system, they did manage to hold on to top prospect Fernando Martinez, an outfielder. Instead, they headed the package with Gomez, who turned 22 in December and spent 58 games with the Mets last year.

Well, enjoy that Twins fans - first you get bitch-slapped by mother nature, then your hometown papers can't seem to keep up with this news (I was shocked to see this coming from the McNewspaper and not from one of the local dailies) and now you get a handful of prospects for one of the top pitchers in baseball.

We're just another step closer to my prediction for the the 2010 Twins - Joe Mauer and the 2008 Rochester Redwings! Maybe a little Nick Punto thrown in there to spice things up.

Update: There's two. And the second is from Peter Gammons, so I think it's safe to say that Santana can call his realtor now.

Update 2: Same song and dance from the Star-Tribune, but they're running the headline "Twins trade Santana for four of Mets best prospects." Well, if they're the "best" prospects, I'm sure that'll make the fans much happier with the situation.

(Image from:

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Oh yeah, I forgot about him

Out of the shadows and onto (via the St. Paul Pioneer Press) today comes Francisco Liriano. For being the kings of legit media, acts more and more like a blog these days.

The man who no one knew, then everyone knew and then blew out his arm and broke some hearts in the Twin Cities is ready to pitch. Yup, no doubt about it, that arm is right as rain and if you have any doubts, just look at Kerry Wood... wait, nevermind, I'll just see all you Twins fans at church tomorrow morning.

I think the timing is comical - and this isn't an indictment of the the announcement - where as the entire eastern seaboard does the Santana hokey pokey, Liriano pokes his head out and makes his return to the national media.

In another posting from the Pioneer Press, Santana was a no show at TwinsFest. If memory serves, it wasn't always a star-studded event, but it's something to consider anyways.

Honestly, it has everything to do with TwinsFest, but it should come as a ray of sunshine to Twins fans mired in the middle of January weather. After the staff was further depleted by the exit of Carlos Silva who fled for Seattle and the Santana sweepstakes has dragged on for months on end, this has to help just a bit.

They're still having an offseason that only fans of the White Sox, Royals and Marlins can sympathize with, but at least this is a little positive.

Speaking of the Marlins, do their front office workers just put a temporarily out of order sign up at the ticket office until March? You know, after they jettison any star players who kept their heads down enough during the season to still hang around?

(Image from:


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh God, no

Tonight was the open meeting where the Cubs met with the neighbors to bounce a few ideas off of them and see how they felt about slapping up a hotel.

Judging by the local news tonight, the quiet dignity of Ronnie Wickers was a calming force on the meeting as no one was screaming or throwing things, so that's what we'll call progress.

While I agree that a hotel in the neighborhood would be a license to print money in that neighborhood, the real estate is too pricey to just start knocking down buildings to make way for the HoJo. Still, can you imagine the money that a hotel would pull down within two or three blocks of Wrigley?

If they had parking, too? It would be incredible. In fact, assuming you could find enough owners looking to sell, you'd have a hard time convincing investors that they wouldn't get their money back.

When you consider how much money the property owners are raking in, there's not a lot of incentive to sell. When I hear stories of how the neighborhood used to be a little rough around the edges, it baffles me that no one got in on the land grab just for this reason.

I'll keep looking around for pictures of the proposals, but I wasn't too impressed with the quick glimpses that were on the news. Imagine the shower stall condo setup, but replace "condo" with "hotel."

Hey, at least the Trixies will have a place to stash their parents when they come to visit from now on.

* If you want a cheap laugh, check out the weekly column and scroll down to the part that mentions the first night game in 1988. Some knucklehead who ran out of the field e-mailed in to say that the $50 ticket he got for sliding on the tarp was totally worth it.

I tend to agree at prices like that. The Cubs' beat reporter addresses this with a, "P.S. Fans should note fines have increased for disorderly conduct." Yeah, that's going to help.

Expect to hear, " I could have sworn that I read somewhere that it was $50 and no ass-beating to run out on the field..." at some point this summer. Maybe more than once.

Morning Update: Here is the link from the Tribune this morning that has some video from last night. One question remains - where will people buy crap if those shops are leveled in favor of these developments?

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

100 - A nice, round number

I was beaten to the punch by the Chicago Tribune's Rick Morrissey on the anti-wagon regarding the Cubs' quest for a World Series title. I actually have a great deal of sympathy for White Sox fans, who will get a double-barreled dose of the local and national media with their new refrain of "a century of futility" as Spring Training ramps up.

Also, as the season begins. And the first prolonged slump. Probably heading into the All-Star Game as well and if the team is still in contention in August and September, well, it might be best for some South siders to take a nice vacation in early October.

I got a kick out of Morrissey's take, primarily:

Nice round numbers are nice and round, but why would anyone expect the 100th season to be any different from the 99 seasons that came before it? Sorry, but "because this is the year" is not a suitable answer anymore.

Until proven wrong, I will stick to my standard response whenever anyone asks me how the Cubs will do in (insert year here): A fairly large body of evidence exists that suggests this isn't going to be the year. In fact, the body of evidence overwhelmingly suggests that something bad will happen, with the very distinct possibility that it will be spectacularly bad.

In fact, following the season of steroids we've had to endure from November to the present, if the Cubs make a strong push into October, I'd be highly suspicious, regardless of the imported Japanese power.

Highly suspicious - do you honestly put that past Bud Selig?

Of course, columnists being columnists, Morrissey couldn't leave well enough alone and had to go and ruin it with the suggestion that there's some sort of bad mojo surrounding the team as a whole.

Instead of blaming bad management, poor player evaluations and the same types of decisions that are made by other ballclubs, he went and took the easy way out, or at least left that door open.


Larry Cole was a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys who scored on a fumble return in 1980 after posting a goose egg in the 1970s. When he was asked for a comment following the game, he famously said, "Anyone can have an off decade."

Unfortunately for Cubdom, the franchise has strung together more decades than anyone thought possible en route to becoming a cautionary tale for the other teams in the league.

So, while Morrissey is entitled to his opinion that history has proven time and again that a World Series trophy just isn't in the cards for the Cubs, I prefer to look at it a different way - even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.

This isn't over... sorry Sox fans.

(Image from and my nightmares)


Monday, January 14, 2008

Some things never change

Not sure if this is an indictment of baseball fans as a whole, or New York fans, who are always level-headed and fair, but I stumbled across this old image on today.

It's a shopworn story, but when Fred Snodgrass passed away in 1974 at 86, his obituary mentioned his error in the 1912 World Series against the Red Sox. Read the Wikipedia page for the breakdown and try not thinking about the whole Bartman mess.

Keep this in mind when someone starts the discussion about crazy fans and how they're starting to cross the line. That line has been pretty warped for nearly 100 years now.

Secondly, between the "Snodgrass Muff" and "Merkle's Boner," what the hell was up with our language back then?

Can we just save time and keep the streak alive by adopting the phrase, "Steve Bartman's Painful Erection," and "Bill Bucker's Something About Mary Zipper Incident."

Really, Bill, how'd you get the frank below the beans?

(Image from:

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Do it all, Billy Hall

I'd like to point you to this post from a Brewer blog that does a nice job of breaking down the Mike Cameron signing in Milwaukee and how it will impact the roster.

The theory is that Cameron moves to center, Bill Hall returns to the infield and takes over third base and Ryan Braun moves to left field to minimize his impact as a fielder. That's a nice way of telling Braun to go stand out in the outfield and wait for his turn to bat.

The result of all the moves is that Hall is moved back to the infield and is asked to make another move for the Brewers. He's already done this a few times before in the past:

The biggest move of all involves Bill Hall. For a third straight year he will be expected to field a different position. In 2006, Hall played most of the year at shortstop when JJ Hardy was out with an ankle injury. Last season he transitioned to center field in anticipation of Ryan Braun being the everyday third basemen at some point. Hall struggled defensively in center which led to his struggles at the plate. All of his numbers at the plate dropped off significantly from 2006. Home runs dropped from 35 to 14. His batting average fell from .270 to .254. His on-base percentage fell 30 points and his slugging percentage dropped a staggering 128 points.

Hall was a bit of a fantasy let down last year, so this should help with that. There's an interesting point brought up in the comments section, though, regarding what will happen to Braun's numbers by going through the same juggling act.

I guess that's the downside of being a good true athlete like Hall - the team can take it as a blank check to shuffle you around at will. I'll go on record now in saying that the 2008 Brewers are officially starting to scare me.

(Image from


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Roberts? Steroids? Cubs?

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a deal between the Cubs and Orioles is in the works to bring Brian Roberts to the Friendly Confines in exchange for Sean Marshall and others.

No word on if the drugs will cost Chicago extra. I have a very bad feeling about this move - the whole Brady Anderson big contract bonanza gives me the willies when it comes to statistical aberration years - not to mention that there's no pressing need for help at second.

With one year above .300 (in 2005) Roberts has had average numbers in '06 and '07, including a decent, but not great on-base percentage. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think the Trib is entirely justified in canonizing Roberts as a premiere lead-off man.

One last thing - am I alone in thinking that maybe the Cubs should see how the Ryan Theriot/Mike Fontenot combination plays out? Instead of wheeling and dealing with the pitching staff - and the Trib has some misguided faith placed in the return of Ryan Dempster to the starting rotation - maybe we can see what the kids can provide.

I'm a big believer in the value of chemistry and I don't know how much Roberts will bring to the table as part of the Chicago infield, but I do perk up at the mention that the current combination won as teammates at LSU and did well last year.

I just see this as overpaying for Roberts at the expense of the young guys in the system, especially after overhauling the outfield in the same offseason.

It's like the Oakland A's in reverse - constantly ripping apart the roster every offseason, only adding high-priced pieces instead of selling them off.

(Image from:

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

T-minus Clemens

I'm not going to dig myself too big of a hole here, but we're on the cusp of Roger Clemens on 60 Minutes, where smart money says he'll say, well, nothing.

I have major problems with Clemens as a player - most of it lingering bitterness from his departure from the Red Sox - so we won't get into that right now.

I think it's funny that on ESPN's morning show today, they ran an extended piece on lies that have been told to the American public via the media. In between Bill Clinton's, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman..." and Rafael Palmiero looking positively ridiculous pointing at a Congressional panel and denying his steroid use weeks before his suspension for steriod use, there was also a run of other athletes denying their involvement with steroids.

Like him or hate him, Clemens doesn't have the easiest sell regarding his innocence.

Hope he's got a good lawyer. And maybe a solid PR firm, too. You'd have to drink gallons of the Kool Aid to buy that song and dance at this point.

They just ran the preview at the top of the show and Mike Wallace is asking for the old lie detector test. Clemens does not seem pleased. It's always nice to counter steroid allegations with anger. That's just the basis for a rock-solid case.

Is it too late to follow Sammy Sosa's lead and insist you don't speak any English?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

White Sox add Swisher

The White Sox have added switch-hitting Nick Swisher to the lineup as the always rebuilding Oakland A's prepare to rebuild yet again.

I think it's a pretty strange quote from Oakland GM Billy Beane that was used in the San Francisco Chronicle article on the subject of team building:

"The best chance for long-term success is to have pitching you've developed and have a chance to hold onto," Beane said. "Personally, this (move) was very difficult, but as we said with Dan Haren, we need as many good young players as we can get, so we can be good for a long time."

With the addition of prospects in this deal and six more players by moving Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks, the A's have made a pretty clear signal that they're not planning to contend this season.

I can't think of a worse fan base to be a part of than Oakland's, which seems destined to hit the ceiling with a solid C-plus to B-minus ballclub every few years. Then, the team is blown up as young stars are starting to come into their own and the whole process begins again.

One of the head-scratchers in recent MLB history was the star power that was amassed in Montreal and then allowed to leave, even before the league was set to sell off the team. It's beyond me how the Moneyball A's are allowed to continue along this course without the fan base throwing up their hands and walking away from the franchise.

Sure, they've taken to covering the upper deck of the stadium to make it appear less empty, but there's still people at the games for the most part.

At what point does the team stand pat and try to make an extended run? I know much of the Moneyball philosophy is predicated on turning huge profits on manufactured statistics (like saves) but with players constantly leaving Oakland, the whole process seems self-defeating.

While the point had been made that the process was a result of a small payroll, there has to be some point where the front office is confident in their lineup and decides to open the purse strings a bit to hold the team together for a few seasons at least.

Off the top of my head, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Barry Zito have all left town, which reminds me of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 90s, when they lost their fan base.

In the meantime, the White Sox pick up a versatile outfielder who can hit for average and from both sides of the plate. He reminds me a bit of another South Side favorite, Aaron Rowland, from what I've seen from him so far.

Say what you will about the Cubs, but at least they make it look like they're trying.

(Image from the Associated Press)

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