Siberian Baseball

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crede cuts ties to White Sox, moves to rival

The Chicago Auto Show is taking place downtown this week and heading down for a day has become a minor tradition for my brother-in-law and me. This makes for interesting timing, as we spent part of last year's visit discussing the future of Joe Crede and what the White Sox would do at third base for the 2008 season.

As of this morning, we'll have to think of something else to talk about.

Crede was in the Twin Cities to take his physical and presumably get back on a plane to Fort Myers, where he stands to be the starter at third for the Twins unless he gets hurt again. White Sox fans are more than aware that Crede's back has been a little iffy lately. This could very well be Chicago's version of a Trojan Horse in free agency form.

From the Twins site:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that the deal features a base salary of $2.5 million, with the chance to earn $7 million in appearance bonuses. The bonuses begin once Crede reaches 250 plate appearances and tops out at $7 million following his 525th plate appearance...

The structure of the contract should help protect the Twins if Crede doesn't prove to be healthy. Crede, 30, has been limited to just 144 games the past two seasons due to back injuries. He's undergone two back surgeries over that time span, including one this past fall to remove a nerve impingement. His agent, Scott Boras, has told reporters that Crede is ready to go for Spring Training.

Back in Chicago, the team put a feature up on their site to pump up Fields a bit, drawing odd comparisons between Crede/Fields and Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers. I know, weird, huh?

More interesting were the Green Bay parallels that ran right down to managing fan expectations of the new guy getting set to take over.

From the White Sox site:

Truth be told, Fields might not wind up quite as spectacular as a healthy Crede was with the glove at the hot corner. He might never win any accolades for his fielding.

Then again, a scant few third basemen match up with Crede when he's on his game. The present concern for Fields is not these personal highlights, as much as simply fitting into the White Sox big picture. To reach this goal, Fields knew his defensive play had to improve from an inconsistent 2008...

In 2007, Fields hit 23 home runs and drove in 67 over 100 games. In 2008, Fields hit .156 without a home run over 14 games. When Crede went down because of his balky back, the White Sox opted to start Juan Uribe at third because of his stronger defense.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

But does the damn thing work?

Like a moth to a flame, people are getting excited about the newest offering from 2K Sports as baseball season approaches.

Apparently gamers are just gluttons for punishment with short memories - regardless of whether or not they're also Cubs fans.

Gamespot has the breakdown between MLB 2K9 and MLB 09: The Show (the PS3 offering that continually ranks higher than the 2K9 version). It's worth mentioning that because of the respective contracts involved, 2K owns the rights to produce games for every platform with their MLB license, while The Show is only available for Sony platforms.

Here are last year's posts when I initially picked up MLB 2K8 and proceeded to get increasingly pissed off as the game remained a trash heap of bugs, the forums descended into chaos and rumors and name-calling.

I guess that's why I'm concerned to see new features and graphics being pimped as the reason to buy this year's attempt at a video game. While I can certainly understand a company's reluctance to promote a product on the basis of, "We suck less this year!" I'd really appreciate an acknowledgment of customer concerns that have carried over from year to year.

Features are great, the card system was fun when it worked and I did legitimately enjoy the new pitching interface they unveiled last year. However, when I put the game away for good, it wasn't because there weren't enough bells and whistles, it was when the game crashed for the third or fourth time in a month.

Fix pesky little details like that and I'll consider forking over another $60 this year.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Welcome back, baseball

Taken straight from the Chicago Tribune pictures of the day:

Ready for pitchers and catchers
(AP photo by Jeff Roberson / February 13, 2009)
Baltimore Orioles clubhouse worker Sammy Sanchez rubs mud on a new baseball as the team prepares for the start of spring training baseball in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Orioles' pitchers and catchers will have their first workout on Sunday.


Hank Aaron has a good sense of perspective

The word out of Atlanta is that Hank Aaron is probably the person in baseball who is least upset by the Alex Rodriguez flap and talk of returning the home run record to him.

From Terence Moore's column (via Deadspin):

“If you did that, you’d have to go back and change all kinds of records, and the [home run] record was very important to me,” Aaron said. “It’s probably the most hallowed record out there, as far as I’m concerned, but it’s now in the hands of somebody else. It belongs to Barry. No matter how we look at it, it’s his record, and I held it for a long time. But my take on all of this has always been the same. I’m not going to say that Barry’s got it because of this or because of that, because I don’t know.”

I hope someone cuts this out of the newspaper and leaves it for the '72 Dolphins to read.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don't mess with Texas

Don't let it be said that Texans don't know how to hold a grudge. While many of the nation's newspapers have moved on from the Alex Rodriguez steroid scandal feeding frenzy, Texas has been vocal throughout the week.

For anyone not using the Sports Overdose Grid for their sport of choice, may God have mercy on your soul, but more to the immediate point, the Rangers team box has four of the top five links headed to stories or columns ripping Rodriguez tonight.

My favorite is the devil's advocate piece filed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Gil Lebreton. In it, he questions why Rodriguez would be assumed innocent as he paints the Ranger clubhouse as a den of inequity.

More than that, why would he stop using when he was traded to one of MLB's flagship franchises? There are several good points in play here.

For all of his considerable on-field talents, Rodriguez arrived in Texas as not only the richest man in baseball, but perhaps its most insecure. It doesn’t make sense that he would be traded to a storied franchise such as the New York Yankees and suddenly no longer be engulfed by his unremitting need to please.

Nor am I buying A-Roid’s implication that steroids weren’t tempting until he came to the Rangers. What was he trying to say? That Pudge or Palmeiro made him do it?

How do we know that Rodriguez himself isn’t the one who "introduced" steroids to that Rangers clubhouse? That suggestion isn’t any more unfair than the ones that A-Roid was tossing out.

He goes on to point an accusing finger at superagent Scott Boras as a common thread in those who have turned up dirty in steroid investigations.

While people are compiling a Hall of Shame for the Rangers franchise, therefore, let’s go down another list, one that includes Kevin Brown, Rick Ankiel, Scott Schoeneweis, Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield.

All, at one time or another, have been Boras clients. All have been mentioned in connection with the Mitchell Report.

Just a coincidence, probably. But Boras has always prided himself on being a full-service agency, one that takes interest in all of his clients’ needs, including the athletes’ conditioning.

Good points, but what's the over/under on the lawsuit from Boras' office for slander? I say lunch on Thursday.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

There's just no way

One of the big links floating today is the Baseball Prospectus win/loss projections for the year and for those keeping an eye on Chicago, it's feast or famine.

The Cubs are predicted to finish an NL-best 95-67, while the White Sox are being projected to finish last in the AL Central, with a record of 74-88.

No way do the White Sox do that poorly, to finish a (hypothetical) game behind the Royals.

No word on whether or not the Dodgers get a bump if they win back Manny Ramirez's heart.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Brewers screwed, screwed again

Yes, I am aware of the Alex Rodriguez free for all that is taking place this weekend and no, I'm not planning to waste a lot of time on it right now.

I had my fill of that between the Great Barry Bonds blogger gold rush and the Mitchell Report's release last spring. Drugs are bad, sanctity of the game, rinse, repeat.

Instead, check out this explanation of why the Brewers really didn't make out too well in their late summer fling with CC Sabathia now that he's made his jump to New York.

Understanding the Brewers' disappointment requires a primer on Draft-pick compensation. Free agents are assigned point values and letter classifications based on a system developed nearly three decades ago by the Elias Sports Bureau that considers players' performance over the prior two seasons.

Sabathia and Sheets both qualified as "Type A" free agents, and such players come at an extra price. Their new team must forfeit a first- or second-round Draft pick to the player's former team as compensation, based on the new team's selection in the upcoming First-Year Player Draft. Generally, if the player's new team finished in the top half of the standings in the previous season and thus selects in the bottom half of the first round of the Draft, that selection goes to the player's former club. If the new team selects in the top half of the first round, its first-round selection is protected but it must instead forfeit a second-round pick.

Teams that lose top-tier free agents also get a "sandwich pick" between the first- and second rounds of the draft for each Type-A player who departs.

That's where things got sticky for Milwaukee. I can only imagine it's roughly the same feeling you get when you realize that you forgot to pay taxes on a big win in Las Vegas.

Remember that other big signing the Yankees made this year? Mark Teixiera? Yeah, guess who was one of the only other players ranked higher than Sabathia in the Elias rankings?

But the first bit of bad news came on Dec. 23, when the Yankees' continued their spending spree by agreeing to terms with former Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira. Like Sabathia, Teixeira was a Type A free agent, and since his Elias ranking was ever so slightly higher (98.889, to Sabathia's 98.110), the Angels suddenly were in line to receive New York's first-round pick and the Brewers were pushed to the second round...

How's this for bad luck: Teixeira was the only free agent with a higher numerical ranking than Sabathia. In fact, only one other non-free agent owned a higher number, outfielder Matt Holliday, at 98.125.


Compounding the problem is Ben Sheets' elbow surgery that derailed a deal with the Texas Rangers and their associated draft picks. He's expected to be back in the middle of the 2009 season. That might not matter much to the Brewers, as if he's still floating around after June 9 (the amateur draft), Milwaukee gets nothing in return.

And they likely have to pay for the surgery, since it happened on their watch. Milwaukee trainers determined that no surgery would be needed, only rest, which was the story until the Rangers uncovered the lingering elbow issues in their physical.

So, let's recap.

The Brewers have their best season in years and make the playoffs. The best pitcher on that team then bolts for the calm of New York City (true story) and the man who has been their most-recognized pitcher for years is damaged goods and so he's worthless to the team, even as he's on the way out.

According to the team web site, the Brewers' starting rotation now looks like this: Manny Parra, Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Chris Capuano.

Pitchers and catchers report next week, Packer training camp is usually in mid-July.

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