Tag:Bobby Cox
Posted on: December 2, 2009 9:09 pm

Braves hoping they signed Wagner of old

There is no question that the Braves are off to a far better start this winter than last, signing closer Billy Wagner on Monday after re-signing starter Tim Hudson in November.

Question is, is Wagner the right guy?

I don't see a lot of middle ground here: I think this is either going to work out extremely well ... or it's going to backfire badly.

The Braves signed Wagner for $6.75 million in 2010 and a $6.5 million club option for 2011 and, because Boston was smart enough to offer Wagner arbitration, the Braves also forfeit their first-round draft pick to the Red Sox next June.

That's a lot of freight to pay for a 38-year-old closer who missed most of last season following Tommy John ligament transfer surgery. And that's why I think the final verdict will be black or white, without shades of gray.

Wagner says his arm feels better than it has in a long time, and a small sample of games for Boston at the end of 2009 (1-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings) backs him up.

And as Braves general manager Frank Wren notes, we're talking about a man who has converted 86 percent of his save opportunities over his career.

But is the 38-year-old, post-surgery Wagner still that guy?

That's the Braves' gamble, one in which they didn't blink in making Monday. (They do have a partial buffer zone for the lost draft pick, though, because they still stand to gain picks for relievers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, who were offered arbitration, assuming they sign elsewhere).

The upside is tremendous, especially for a team Wren views as being capable of winning 90 games or more.

The downside? That manager Bobby Cox will be rummaging around his pen looking to fill the ninth-inning gap if Wagner blows out again or simply can't handle the requirements of a closer on a contending team (converting nearly every save opportunity, pitching on back-to-back days, etc.).

For now, this sure beats last winter, when the Braves spent November and December chasing their tail in failed Jake Peavy trade talks, finishing behind the Yankees in their pursuit of starter A.J. Burnett and getting burned by the agent for shortstop Rafael Furcal, who signed with the Dodgers after the Braves thought they had him.

Wagner's club option for 2011, by the way, becomes guaranteed if the lefty closer finishes 50 games next season.

If it gets that far, that will be money well spent.

Posted on: March 5, 2008 6:23 pm

Clemens and the Weiner-mobile

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- He may be a candidate for New York mayor in 2009, but Rep. Anthony Weiner should keep his mouth shut.

He wants the FBI to stop investigating Roger Clemens for perjury because the pitcher has been "shamed" enough?

Please. What about Barry Bonds? Hasn't he suffered enough, too? Let's halt that trial.

And Martha Stewart had been humiliated ... why didn't the Feds call things off before going to the mat with her?

I absolutely agree with Weiner on one thing: The FBI has -- or should have -- far more important things to do than spend its hours gumshoeing Clemens.

But here's the deal: Congress got itself into a position where it HAD to ask the Justice Dept. to investigate. Because indications are that Clemens told one bald-faced lie after another to Congress. Under oath. If Congress doesn't follow up, it's a neon invitation for anyone else appearing before Congress to lie.

Look, at this point, we've all got better things to do than continue investing our precious time on megalomaniacal athletes who stick steroids and human growth hormone into themselves. Congress has got a war, looming recession and health care issues to deal with, just for starters. The FBI has national security issues. You and I have cars to wash.

But once we started going down this path, there's no going back. Argue all you want over whether Congress should have held the hearing with Clemens and trainer Brian McNamee. It did.

Now, there is no choice.

Drop things with Clemens, and you're sending a very public signal that oaths are not to be taken seriously, and that Congress can be lied to.

Likes: A biopsy showing no new brain tumors for Yankees broadcaster Bobby Murcer. ... Dalton Cash Wedge, the name of Cleveland manager Eric Wedge's new son. Wedge is an avid Johnny Cash fan, thus Dalton's middle name. ... Houston catcher J.R. Towles' at-bat music last season at Double-A Corpus Christi, Alabama's If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You've Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band." or at least somebody to pitch behind Roy Oswalt, eh? ... Sunroofs. ... The Drive-By Truckers' Marry Me, with the classic lyric "Rock and roll means well but it can't help telling young boys lies". ... Atlanta manager Bobby Cox. Walking out of Atlanta's clubhouse toward the bus Wednesday morning, he called out to no one in particular, "All right boys, let's go get those Indians." Atlanta was shoving off toward Winter Haven for that afternoon's game.

Dislikes: Tuesday night's election returns coming in so late I was already in Z-land and didn't get them until Wednesday morning. These early morning spring training alarm clocks wreak havoc with late-night television viewing. I haven't seen Letterman, Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert in weeks (and yes, I know Stewart and Colbert are on earlier, too, but I miss those because life on the road means working late and then going out to eat more often than not, too.

Sunblock day? In the morning, yes, as temps soared into the 80s. But overcast skies took hold of Central Florida by Wednesday afternoon. Still, as the legendary Willie Horton was watching Detroit play Philadelphia in Lakeland, dozens of schools were closed because of more snow in Michigan, so nobody's complaining.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"I'm goin' to Dallas, see my pony run
"Goin' to Dallas, see my pony run
"I'm goin' to Dallas, just to see my pony run
"She wins every race and I can't see how it's done"

-- Lightnin’ Hopkins, Goin’ to Dallas to See My Pony Run

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com