Tag:Tampa Bay Rays
Posted on: April 11, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Love Letters: The Manny Being Juiced Edition

I beat Manny Ramirez like a piñata after the coward retired and disappeared before he could be slapped with a 100-game suspension for violating another performance-enhancing drug test. Now it's your turn. ...

FROM: Court
Re. In final stunning act, Manny is uncovered

Scott,

Thank you again for another slam dunk, take-no-prisoners column on another complete fraud of a baseball player and human being. I remember years ago writing to you about the demise of Barry Bonds' show Bonds on Bonds and getting a very kind and personal e-mail back. You have never been a moral relativist with this issue, or an apologizer for these guys, which I respect enormously.

Look, as fans of sports I take the Charles Barkley approach ... these men and women are human beings and bound to be riddled with faults and insecurities and I expect them to screw up in life every once in awhile. If my life were laid bare for all to see, it wouldn't be pretty. I suspect it wouldn't be pretty for anybody. But these guys are frauds, liars, cheats, ad infinitum.

There is a difference between a grown man who can say, "I screwed up, I'm human, I expect the outrage. But I will do my best to come back and make it right, and I might screw up again, and I'll take what's coming. And I'll treat human beings as equals, everyone."

And then there's Barry Bonds. And Manny Ramirez, and Roger Clemens, universally regarded asses. And that's that. I just wish these guys would all go away, away, away. We all know there will be a jury nullification on the Bonds trial, but I don't care. Just go away. You are a piece of human garbage and now that you've lost about 50 pounds, Barry, you don't look so tough anymore, do you? Again, you stand with dignity and class, Scott. Always enjoy your columns.

Thanks for the kudos, but take no prisoners? Your take on these guys makes me look like Mister Rogers. Nicely done.

FROM: Greg P.

So everything was right with Manny -- and baseball, I guess -- when my Indians were losing him, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and more. So now it's time to be indignant? Yeah, but not for the reasons a big market shill like yourself believes.

Careful, there: If your Indians keep winning, I'm writing about them next.

FROM: Barry W.

All well and good, but the one question that keeps nagging at me is why no one has bothered to out the Red Sox teams Manny played for, including their two championship years. Also, I hear Curt Schilling blather on and on and point fingers at everyone around him ... except his own teammates. How about someone asking him, as he enters the room on his high horse yet again, how he missed guys shooting up around him in his own locker room? Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, and Manny ... it's starting to get crowded in here.

Schilling also was very vocal about how many players were using steroids until he was called to testify before Congress. Then he wilted like an overripe banana.

FROM: John D.

Please ... Manny Ramirez is like a Frankenstein monster that didn't know his boundaries. Several organizations -- Boston, too, Miller -- put his ability to hit a baseball above everything else, like acting a fool in several facets of the game that fell under the auspice of Manny being Manny. He probably just figured he could continue to get away with the stuff he did in the past if he could start hitting, again. Speaking of, if anybody doesn't think he was taking while playing for the Red Sox, I've got a bridge in Manhatten I'd like to sell them.

And I'll help you with the paperwork. I think it's clear he was juiced in Boston, and I didn't mean to insinuate otherwise.

FROM: David K.

So does this mean the Mitchell Report is just a piece of fiction? George Mitchell, an exec with the Red Sox, said no Sox were involved. I recall laughing heartily when I learned of the above and was quite astonished that the report was accepted as absolute truth by all on planet earth.

Doesn't mean Mitchell Report is fiction, just grossly incomplete. Though I'm not at all sure everyone on "planet earth" took it as gospel. I know some monkeys who didn't.

FROM: Jack S.

Typical reporter, kicking someone while he's down. I still don't think the performance enhancers can help you hit the ball or there would be a lot more guys hitting 50 home runs in the '80s and '90s. Manny is one of the best pure hitters to play the game -- performance-enhancers or not. Love the time he spent in Boston, thankfully we knew when to get off the roller-coaster. Should show a little respect for Him.

You mean, like Manny has respected the game? Like Manny respected the Rays ... before quitting on them? Like Manny respected the Dodgers ... before quitting on them? Like Manny respected the Red Sox ... before quitting on them? What game are you watching?

FROM: Michael S.

I just wish that one of these bums would have to pay back some of the millions of dollars they got signing contracts that were based on results that were tainted because of steroid use. I know that will never happen, but it should because it's fraud.

I'd pay to see it.

FROM: Stewart D.

Your column hit the Manny nail on the head. Agreed, good riddance.

Now if someone could just hit Manny on the head.

 

Posted on: February 22, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays always have been dependent on B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria. But after taking massive losses this winter, especially in Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay is going to be need those two more than ever.

Upton is coming off of a highly disappointing year in which he batted a career-low .237 with 164 strikeouts. Only Detroit's Austin Jackson (170) had more in the AL.

The Rays are bullish on him bouncing back strongly this year, partly because his talent is so rich and partly because they know his character.

"B.J. does a lot of things really well," general manager Andrew Friedman says. "The fact that he had such an incredible year in 2007 (.300, 24 homers, 82 RBI, 22 steals), the expectation bar is extremely high.

"At times, we all get caught up in the 'He's not matching or exceeding that.' But when you just step back and watch what he does do, he brings a lot to a team in terms of what he does defensively, what he does on the bases."

As Friedman notes, Upton is one of only two players last year who had 40 or more stolen bases and 60 or more extra-base hits.

"The other one got $142 million from the Red Sox," the GM says.

Yep, Crawford.

Longoria, a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, quietly has grown into a leader in just three seasons. That said, he is not looking to force things in that department in this post-Crawford and Pena spring.

"I'm not going to look at myself as the veteran," Longoria said. "I'm going to look at myself as I have every year, come here and work hard and maybe continue to set that precedent or be a leader but not vocally. Mainly based just off of my actions and what I do both on and off the field to prepare myself."

-- Tampa Bay has won two of the past three AL East titles, but this is a completely different challenge this year. Which suits this eclectic bunch just fine. Maddon already has chosen his theme for the season: "Another Way."

"One, you've got to look at our manager," Longoria says. He's a player's manager, a real easy manager to play for. A lot of guys who haven't been here in the past have come in here and feel very comfortable playing for him. In turn, it makes it comfortable for them to play, it's an easy environment.

"In turn, I think that's going to play a big part in how we come together as a team. Everybody understanding that we're all here for a reason and Joe's going to make it easy playing for him. The challenge is there, but the challenge is there every year. We understand that."

Sunblock Day: Starting to sound like a broken record, but simply exquisite. Sun, 80s, no humidity.

Likes: The three signs Maddon has posted on the wall in the clubhouse for the players to soak in. One is from legendary coach John Wooden: "Discipline yourself so no one else has to." Another is from Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve: "Rules cannot take the place of character." And the third is from philosopher Albert Camus: "Integrity has no need of rules." ... Bill Chastain, Rays beat writer for MLB.com, has just had a new paperback novel published, Peachtree Corvette Club. It's available on Amazon. ... Can't wait to see the Hank Steinbrenner-Derek Jeter Visa commercial. Tweeted that the other day and few seemed to get the joke. Remember, Hank's dad one year accused Jeter of staying out too late and next thing you knew, Jeter and George Steinbrenner were doing the conga line through a club in the classic Visa ad?

Dislikes: In a development more rare than an appearance from Halley's Comet, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band are firing up for a tour beginning next month. But they've only announced it a couple of shows at a time. We're up to a month's worth, the first 11 shows. Come on, man. Some of us have schedules to keep and summers to plan! Announce the whole tour already.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter"

-- Taylor Swift, Mine

 

Posted on: February 21, 2011 8:15 pm
 

Rays back to future with Manny, Damon

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Good Manny Ramirez, not Bad Manny, is here (for now).

So, too, is Johnny Damon -- who waltzed out of camp after Tampa Bay's first full-squad workout Monday in a comical, crisp white T-shirt reading "johnny biceps".

Nothing like the warmth, smiles and sunshine of early spring.

And the unbridled optimism that goes with it.

Say what you want about Ramirez and Damon and how maybe Tampa Bay would be better off if this was, say, 2004. The Rays will counter by insisting there is a method to their Maddon-ness.

"There was a lot of energy out there. At first I thought it was attributable to [infielder] Ray Olmedo," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon quipped of the largest opening day spring crowd any of the Rays remember.

"I really did. Then, seeing all the signs, I knew they were more interested in Manny and Johnny. Seeing [fans] moving around, it was almost like an NFL practice.

"We're not used to that. But we love it."

Ramirez stopped and signed several autographs on his way off of the field. Then he did a round of interviews with the Tampa Bay televisions stations covering the first workout (and then he did one with us, which you'll see later in the week when we post our Tampa Bay Camp Report).

Damon spent some 30 minutes doing rounds of media interviews after the workout.

Which is all well and good. But these Rays think they can contend despite losing Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit to free agency, and trading Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett.

And as such, they didn't bring Damon and Ramirez in to perform some sort of circus act.

"It really augments our lineup," Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said. "It adds to our depth. We have a number of young players we're counting on this year. It adds protection in the event of injury or poor production from one of our young players, it allows us to be able to shelter them a little bit more."

And, Friedman noted, it helps balance the lineup. Damon is a lefty, Ramirez swings righty.

"Both grind at-bats, both have experience in the division and, more importantly, both wanted to get back into the fray. Both missed playing in the AL East and wanted to get back.

"They're definitely going to make our team better. The question is, how much?"

Part of that, the Rays hope, is by filling the veteran leadership void left by the departures of Crawford and Pena.

"If our young players watch the way Manny prepares every day, I'd be thrilled," said Friedman, who noted that Ramirez was in the cage hitting a few mornings ago at 7:30. "If they watch the way he studies video, and what he does to get his swing right, and the amount of time he puts into it, and our young guys emulate that, I'll be thrilled."

Ramirez has lost 12 pounds from last year after battling leg issues.

As for Damon, Friedman said, "he's going to add a lot to front part of our lineup, whether it's in the one or two hole. The way he grinds at-bats, the value he adds on the bases. We still feel like he's got a lot left in the legs, in the way he takes care of his body."

Maddon intends to have spring training scheduled out for both veterans.

"I want to pay attention to their legs," he said. "I want to set up a schedule in advance that they know they're going to have, and not just 'I'm a little tired today' or "I felt a little something coming out of the box.' I want to avoid those moments."

On Monday, as the Rays kicked things off, the moments were all light-hearted and festive.

The "johnny biceps" T?

"Someone sent it to me," Damon said.

And how many times have you worn it?

"Once before," he deadpanned. "It matches [the shorts]."

Meanwhile, as Manny was leaving for the day, he told me, "Put in a good word for me."

To whom, and for what, I have no idea.

Sunblock Day? Breeziest day yet in Florida, but still sunny and in the 80s.

Likes: Omar Vizquel still hanging around with the White Sox. ... Mary, the nice lady from Bemidji, Minn., who is a snowbird in the winter and works as an attendant outside the press room at Tampa Bay's camp in Port Charlotte. Her first year here, but her husband, a retired law enforcement guy, worked here last year and convinced her to join him at the ballyard. Nice people, and so cute. ... Bennett's Fresh Roast Coffee in Fort Myers. Best coffee house on the circuit. Phenomenal coffee and "hand-cut" donuts made on premises to rival Krispy Kreme's. Seriously. ... Carl Hiaasen's Double Whammy. Nobody lampoons Florida and its characters like Hiaasen, which makes it a perfect read for here. The county morgue is in a converted Burger King because it was the "only building in town with a walk-in freezer." And when the pathologist goes to examine a drowning victim, there's this: "The stench was dreadful, a mixture of wet death and petrified french fries."

Dislikes: Things still do not sound right in Justin Morneau's comeback from a concussion. ... Doing laundry in the hotel.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Like Miles Davis, I've been swayed by the cool
"There's just something about the summertime
"There's just something about the moon
"So I'll lay a kiss on a stone, toss it upside your window, by the roof
"Before you change your mind, Miles, bring in the cool

-- Gaslight Anthem, Miles Davis and The Cool

 

Posted on: February 19, 2011 7:56 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Outtakes from the Red Sox camp, and a reminder to look beneath the gaudy exterior of Boston's winter:

-- While Boston's additions of marquee men Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez got all the attention, it would be a colossal mistake to underestimate the additions of relievers Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler to the Red Sox's power brigade.

"There's no getting around the fact that last year we lost way too many games, or the chance to win games, late," manager Terry Francona says.

No kidding.

For one thing, closer Jonathan Papelbon, eligible for free agency this winter, had his worst season in 2010, posting a 3.90 ERA and blowing seven saves.

For another, partly because of Papelbon's blowups, the Sox ranked 14th among AL bullpens with a 4.24 bullpen ERA. Furthermore, Boston as a team ranked 23rd in the majors in allowing an average of 4.60 runs per game.

Wheeler and Jenks maybe are under the radar to the average fan, but you'd better believe they're not around here.

"There are a lot of ways a good team can get off track and get derailed," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein told me during a weekend conversation on one of the Boston practice fields. "There is no way that's as painful as having a bad bullpen, or running out of quality guys out there."

To that extent, Epstein said, the Sox really wanted to focus on bullpen depth this winter -- and not just the first seven or eight guys, but nine and 10 deep.

"Jenks, we all assumed, was going to get a closer gig," Epstein said. "Everyone in the game thought he was going to be non-tendered, but he actually turned down a couple of closer roles to come here, which we all appreciate."

Working behind Papelbon and set-up man Daniel Bard, and alongside Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison, Matt Albers and others, mark it down: Jenks and Wheeler will be pivotal weapons for Francona this summer.

"There's no getting around the fact that last year we lost too many games, or the chance to win games, late," the manager said. "We felt like we were going to Bard too much, or wanting to go to Bard too much. I don't think we did. But we lost games late, and then there were games that were close where we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win like good teams should.

"I think we feel like we have some reinforcements. We're a little bit deeper, and that's the hope. Because last year was difficult."

-- Jenks declined to say which clubs he turned down this winter, simply saying the chance to sign not only in Boston, but with a fully loaded Red Sox team, was too good to turn down.

"It's a great organization and somewhere I wanted to play," Jenks said. "I didn't think it would be this soon. But once the opportunity came around, I jumped on it.

"It didn't hurt that they had made all of these moves, too."

The Sox traded for Gonzalez on Dec. 5, signed Crawford on Dec. 13 and signed Jenks on Dec. 21, three days after they signed Wheeler.

After closing for the White Sox for his entire career, Jenks signed specifically to be a set-up man. But you know how things work -- if Papelbon struggles like last summer, Francona has options.

Especially if Jenks feels as good as he does right now. Struck by elbow inflammation last season, Jenks says it's a thing of the past, and various X-rays and MRIs seem to support him.

Jenks is 29, posted a career-high 4.44 ERA last year but has 173 career saves over six seasons. He signed a two-year, $12 million contract with Boston.

"I came here knowing my role," he says. "It's an eighth-inning, seventh-inning thing, a set-up role. I feel very good. Terrific. Nothing from last year is bothering me."

-- Francona on the bullpen: "We've had pretty good teams here, and I think those things have a way of evolving. ... I do know the teams that we've had here that have been really good, our bullpens have always been good. It's hard to have a really good team and not
 
Sunblock Day? Oh baby, this spring is to last spring in Florida as a day on the beach in Hawaii is to an Alaskan winter. Well, maybe that's hyperbole. But it was 85 degrees in Fort Myers today and it's been a drop-dead beautiful week. Think my neck is burnt. Need more sunblock.

Likes: The optimism of early spring in every camp. ... Lakeland. Passed through there the other day and it's like a town caught in the 1970s. Love the marquee outside the Southside Cleaners that without fail, every year, keeps cheesy sayings on its marquee. On one side this year, it read: "To err is human, to purr is feline." On the other side: "Synonym: A word you use when you can't spell the other word." ... Then, the marquee at the church down the street checked in with "A daily prayer reduces your cares." ... The gumbo and crawfish etouffee remain superb at Harry's Seafood Bar and Grill in Lakeland. ... Dairy Queen. ... Buddy Guy's performance with the Rolling Stones on Champagne and Reefer is reason alone to Netflix Shine a Light. Knockout stuff.

Dislikes: New year, new batting practice and spring training jerseys. Every chance to try and soak more money out of the fans. Detroit's are navy blue with white shoulders. What the hell? Looks awful. Cincinati's have a ridiculously large "Reds" scripted across the front. Loved Brandon Phillips' tweet in reply to a fan who asked what he thought of them: "It's NOT my cup of tea, but I'm happy to have one, though."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well, the plane touched down just about 3 o'clock
"And the city's still on my mind
"Bikinis and palm trees danced in my head
"I was still in the baggage line
"Concrete and cars are their own prison bars like this life I'm living in
"But the plane brought me farther
"I'm surrounded by water
"And I'm not going back again"

-- Zac Brown Band, Toes

Posted on: December 15, 2010 1:11 pm
 

Love Letters: The Crazy Winter $$ edition

OK, here's the mail call from this week's monster Phillies/Cliff Lee deal -- followed by some reaction from the winter meetings and Adrian Gonzalez/Boston -- but I'm warning you New Yorkers:

I don't give a crap if Lee's annual salary in Philly will be more than it would have been with the Yankees. Plain and simple, he left nearly $30 million of guaranteed money on the table. There is no disputing that. So don't tell me that he really didn't sign with Philly for less money. Because he did. Period.

FROM: Jim
Re.: In the end, Lee chooses (Brotherly) love over money

Your sense of reality is as delusional as these baseball players. You make it seem like he is making such a big sacrifice. You have no idea what goes on in the real world, and articles like this are sickening to the middle class and upper-middle class people of this country. Gee Scott, Cliff made such a sacrifice. My heart bleeds for him. Write something with substance. Your article was ridiculous.

I have no idea what goes on with the middle-class people in the real world? Really? Let's see ... drove my daughter's car pool to school for the third day this week today. Driving car pool to schlep her and two of her friends to volleyball practice after school later today. Hauled the trash and recyclables out to the curb this morning for trash day. Helped nurse my wife following her hip replacement surgery for the past five weeks after returning home from covering the World Series (imagine, we don't have full-time, in-home staff). Signed off on my daughter inviting seven friends over Saturday for a Christmas cookie-making party. So what is all of this, the upper class? The poverty class? Sounds suspiciously like middle class to me.

FROM: Dave S.

It is heartwarming to see a pitcher follow his heart and go to a league that allows him to be a complete player rather than being pressured by the Players Union into taking the money from the highest bidder ... aka CC Sabathia.

Like at the end of the Grinch, when the old Grinch finally understands the meaning of Christmas.

FROM: Barry R.

I love your work. However, when will sports writers get this salary thing right? He is being paid more per year by the Phillies than the Yankees or Rangers offers. He gets to say that. If he works seven years, he'll make more than the Yanks and Rangers offers if he take a huge paycut in years six (which won't happen with the option) and seven. He's making more per year, and likely more overall than the other offers. He gets his cake and eats it too.

Thanks, and I love that you take the time to write. But Lee will turn 33 next season. He will be 38 when his first five years with the Phillies is up. Odds are overwhelming that he will not see year seven in this deal. And odds are whelming that year six might not ever appear given health issues.

FROM: Mike
Re.: Blockbuster deals make BoSox winners of winter meetings

The Red Sox right now look more blockbuster than Blockbuster. You are correct since Blockbuster is in bankruptcy.

Don't worry, no way a judge allows the Red Sox in bankruptcy court. Daisuke Matsuzaka works too slowly even for the courtroom. He'd slow the proceedings down so much, even a discussion of tax law would be a thrilling upgrade.

FROM: Tom B.

Like most media, you say Boston made out great. All they did was replace hitters of equal value. If I recall, they lost Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. OPS for these hitters was about the same as Gonzalez and Crawford. So Boston stayed even so far. The biggest edge Boston has is that Pedroia, Youlkilis and Ellsbury will be back. They added a lot of payroll and gave away some excellent prospects for Gonzalez. Conventional wisdom has it that Gonzalez will struggle, lose .050 on OPS due to changing leagues. The ballpark will help both a bit. From the standpoint of improving from where they started the winter meetings I could agree, Boston did the most. But compared to the Yankees -- and I am not a fan of the Yankees -- I say they are the poorest run organization in baseball and have been for years. All they did was get back to where they were. Thanks for listening and keep your column going. I do like it.

Very well-reasoned points, sir, and as they say, that's why they play the actual games. Right now, we're grading paperwork, essentially. When the schedule starts in late March, maybe you'll be proven right. But I think you're under-valuing Adrian Gonzalez. He's going from one extreme to the other -- from Petco Park, which severely works against hitters, to Fenway, which works for them. And his style of hitting is so conducive to Fenway -- all those opposite field shots that will bang off of the Green Monster. We'll see. And as far as Boston being a poorly run organization -- the Sox do have two World Series titles since 2004, which is one more than the Yankees and two more than they've had for decades.

FROM: Grant MacDonald

I love your sense of humor and presentation of facts. Boston has indeed walked away the winter winner. I am sorry my Blue Jays can't compete since the early 90's. It's a shame to see the greed affect the game. For teams who can't compete, fan base will dwindle and the team may have to move on. This is just sad!

I know. In some of these cities, last one out, turn out the lights.

FROM: Steve H.

To the San Diego Padres:

Thank you so much for the early Christmas present. We have all gotten so much more competitive overnight [without any of us having to do anything!].

Sincerely,
The Dodgers, Giants, Rockies and D’backs.

Next thing you know, these four will be sending a joint Christmas card.

FROM: Chris O.

The Gonzalez to the Red Sox trade is another reason why MLB is losing its popularity in the past 20 years, and the ratings show it. EVERY time there was an NFL regular season game against an MLB playoff game, the NFL game got higher ratings. Even Two and Half Men and Modern Family beat out Games 4 and 5 of the World Series!

I have so many friends who don't care about baseball anymore simply because the Yanks and Sox hoard the free agents every offseason from the small-market teams. ... The NFL has a salary cap, salary floor, and parity has brought its best ratings in over 20 years because every team has a chance, and you never see a small market teams like Indy losing Peyton Manning to the NY Jets or Giants to Free Agency. If I were a Padres fan, I would not even care about the team anymore, because if you can't afford your best player, what is the point of rooting for them?

I am saying this as a Phillies fan, because they have become the Yanks/Sox of the NL and they just go out and get guys like Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt from small-market teams to improve their team. Hopefully things change, because MLB is slowly becoming a regional sport for fans.

It is very difficult to argue with your points, Chris. And your last sentence is ringing more and more true with each postseason rating dive.

FROM: Justin H.
Re.: The era's best GM, Gillick a master of the decades

Sure he built winners, but I think a lot of people overlook the fact that when he leaves a team, they collapse because the team got old and Pat Gillick had gutted the farm system to build the major league club by trading prospects and giving up draft picks for signing free agents.

This happened with the Blue Jays, it happened with the Mariners, and it will certainly happen to the Phillies as their veterans age and I think you saw the first signs of that last year. Think about the Jays first, who was drafted or acquired to replace Joe Carter or Roberto Alomar, David Cone or Jack Morris? Then look at the Mariners, who was there to replace Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Dan Wilson, Joey Cora, John Olerud, Jay Buhner, and Jamie Moyer? Now look at the Phillies, who is going to replace Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, and you could already see the effect of losing Brett Myers to some extent last year. You could say the Phillies are exactly like the Mariners were when they were winning but they are aging now and they don't have any youth sitting on that bench learning and they have traded away the farm to acquire players like Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, and now have lost Jayson Werth, which will hurt them more than anybody realizes at the moment. Utley is hurt all the time now and Ryan Howard appears to be losing some bat speed and is prone to slumps and high strikeout streaks.

I think Gillick was great at taking teams with deep farms systems and decent major league clubs and using that to his advantage. You'd have to ask those fan bases if the winning for 4 years was worth the future. I'm sure in the Blue Jays and Phillies cases it is but in the Mariners case they did not win a World Series and are now in such a deep hole the end isn't in sight so I'd say it wasn't worth it for them. I personally think Pete Gillick is highly overrated.

You've hit on the knock on Gillick, that teams swirl down the drain after he leaves. But it's sort of like the "It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all" thing, isn't it? Gillick helped give four cities -- Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia -- some of their most exciting baseball in decades. Wouldn't you take that, however you can get it, if you're in those cities? And the flip side of that argument is, if Gillick wasn't the GM, there is every chance those cities never would have won during that time anyway.

FROM: Dbarv
Re.: Yanks, cut drama and give Jeter fair offer for an icon

IMO, Jeter is worth about 8 bucks an hour.

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

 

Posted on: December 9, 2010 7:23 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 7:25 pm
 

Winter meetings: Parting shots

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If I hear one more plastic Christmas song over the irritating speakers here at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort before heading to the Mouse City Airport for the trip home, I'm going to. ...

Sorry, lost my head there for a moment.

What I meant to say was, a couple of quick parting thoughts as the Winter Meetings wrap up. ...

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

Red Sox: It's not even close. The acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford make them more dangerous

RUNNERS-UP

White Sox: In U.S. Cellular Field, the country-strong Adam Dunn might hit 75 homers (OK, so I exaggerate, but just a bit). In the returning Paul Konerko, the White Sox have their soul back. Another nicely done job by the ultra-aggressive general manager Kenny Williams, his right-hand man Rick Hahn and, yes, owner Jerry Reinsdorf in arranging the funding to bring in both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.

Diamondbacks: Turn new GM Kevin Towers loose for his first winter meetings in charge of the D-backs, and already Arizona's bullpen -- historically bad in 2010 -- is better. The Snakes signed J.J. Putz to close and acquired Daniel Hernandez and Kam Mickolio from the Orioles. And clearly, that's just the start.

LOSERS

Rays: The mass exodus has begun for the poor Rays. Left fielder Carl Crawford signed with Boston (seven years, $142 million), first baseman Carlos Pena with the Cubs (one year, $10 million), set-up man Joaquin Benoit with Detroit (three years, $16.5 million), shortstop Jason Bartlett was traded to San Diego and free agent closer Rafael Soriano is on deck to leave.

Of the eight pitchers who threw the most relief innings for manager Joe Maddon last year, seven of them are free agents. And of the total number of relief innings pitched, those seven accounted for 78 percent of those innings. Yikes.

Orioles: Not only did AL East-rival Boston become exponentially better, but the Orioles were stonewalled every which way they turned looking to acquire a first baseman (Pena, Dunn, Konerko). Then outfielder Luke Scott showed up at the winter meetings and shot his mouth off in a Yahoo Sports interview that started about his deer hunting and wound up with Scott saying he thought President Obama was born outside of the United States and that Obama "does not represent America. Nor does he represent anything what our forefathers stood for." The Orioles rushed to put out a news release distancing the club from Scott's comments. Not exactly your typical winter meetings strategy. On the other hand, the Orioles finally got a shortstop by acquiring J.J. Hardy from the Twins, and a third baseman by acquiring Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks.

Athletics: Reminiscent of Baltimore back in the day when then-GM Syd Thrift became so flustered at failing to land impact free agents that he said if was as he were trying to spend Confederate money. It was like that for Oakland when free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre essentially ignored a five-year, $64 million offer until the A's pulled it. Oakland also lost designated hitter Jack Cust, who signed with Seattle. The A's are desperate for offense. They likely will wind up with free agent DH Hideki Matsui, who is earnest and hard-working but can't play much anymore, or Vladimir Guerrero if he doesn’t return to Texas.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:12 pm
 

Twins talking Hardy with O's, Pirates

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With one shortstop off the board after Tampa Bay agreed to send Jason Bartlett to San Diego for a couple of pitchers, the Twins continued Wednesday night to shop J.J. Hardy.

The Twins are talking with both the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates on Hardy in a deal that sources said could happen by the end of the day Wednesday. Both the O's, who acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona earlier this week, and the Pirates have been scouring the market for a shortstop.

Hardy, who batted .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games for the Twins in 2010, became expendable when Minnesota won negotiating rights to Japanese free agent shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins are expected to sign the middle infielder to a three-year deal worth between $9 and $12 million soon.

The Twins are looking for pitchers in return for Hardy and, according to the Baltimore Sun, would receive a couple of minor-league pitchers from the Orioles in return for Hardy. A wrist injury knocked Hardy out for nearly two months last season. He earned $5.1 million in 2010 and, arbitration-eligible, will earn more in 2011.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 5:16 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 6:12 pm
 

Shortstops on the move? Hardy, Bartlett dangled

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Indications are that at least one shortstop will be dealt by night's end as the Minnesota Twins continue shopping J.J. Hardy and the Tampa Bay Rays work toward moving Jason Bartlett multiple sources tell CBSSports.com.

The Twins are talking with both the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates on Hardy in a deal that sources said could happen by the end of the day Wednesday. Both the O's, who acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona earlier this week, and the Pirates have been scouring the market for a shortstop.

Hardy, who batted .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games for the Twins in 2010, became expendable when Minnesota won negotiating rights to Japanese free agent shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins are expected to sign the middle infielder to a three-year deal worth between $9 and $12 million soon.

The Twins are looking for pitchers in return for Hardy and, according to the Baltimore Sun, would receive a couple of minor-league pitchers from the Orioles in return for Hardy. A wrist injury knocked Hardy out for nearly two months last season. He earned $5.1 million in 2010 and, arbitration-eligible, will earn more in 2011.

Bartlett, 31, is coming off of a very disappointing season and, as the Rays look to cut payroll, will give way to Reid Brignac at shortstop in 2011. Bartlett earned $4 million in 2010 and is due more through arbitration in 2011. He batted .254 with four homers and 57 RBIs in 2010, his third full season in Tampa Bay after the Rays acquired him, along with right-hander Matt Garza, from the Twins in the Delmon Young trade.

Talks between the Orioles and Rays for Bartlett have run alternately hot and cold this week. Tampa Bay is looking for relief pitchers to patch a bullpen decimated by free agency this winter.

The Pirates and San Diego have been talking to the Rays as well. The Padres desperately need middle infielders and they have surplus relief pitching that Tampa Bay is requiring.

 
 
 
 
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