Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bobby Murcer

Let's send out good feelings toward Bobby Murcer. A brain tumor was discovered on Christmas Eve, after Murcer complained of recent headaches and loss of energy. He's due to have surgery today.

"I'm feeling OK and we're just going to have to see what this surgery will bring," Murcer told the New York Daily News. "I'm hopeful that everything will turn out OK and I'm thankful to have so many friends who are rooting for me."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Big Unit on trade block?

Word has leaked that the Yankees are looking to trade Randy Johnson and his Big Unit. Johnson's no-trade clause requires his approval of any deal, but after the recent death of his brother, Johnson may welcome a trade back home to Arizona, or nearby San Diego or Los Angeles.

Randy has one year left on his contract, and is owed $16 million. The Yanks won't get much for a 43 year-old starter just coming off back surgery. This would be more of a salary dump, and a chance to inject some youth into their rotation. Of course, 44 year-old Clemens is still a possibility, but I wonder if the Yanks may become sudden suitors of lefty Barry Zito, who would command a similar yearly salary as Johnson's, but is 15 years younger.

Although Randy has had his ups and downs in New York, and struggled a bit, he has made 67 starts the past two season for the Yanks, won 34 games, and pitched 430 innings. Even though his ERA was high, it's not so easy to replace those kind of numbers.

Sans Randy, the rotation looks like this:
Igawa or Karstens

I have to believe they'll pull someone else out of their hat. Zito? Clemens? Dontrelle Willis? We'll see.

UPDATE: Barry Zito has signed with the SF Giants. Arizona still seems to be where Randy will end up, but both sides are reportedly still haggling over the contract extension and financial structuring.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Unnatural

From Mad Magazine's new issue, that lists the 20 dumbest people/events of 2006. Bonds came in at #13. The whole issue is hysterical, the illustrations top-notch, and the humor very political/topical/adult.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

D-Mat signs with Red Sox

Matsuzaka will soon trade in his gore-tex for a Red Sox uniform

Japanese righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka, 26, is set to sign a 6-year $52 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, with bonuses that could push it to $60 million. The Sox won the bidding rights for him, paying the Seibu Lions $51.1 million. That's a total of $111 million for someone who has yet to throw a pitch in the Major Leagues.

This kid will have a lot of pressure on him to win, nevermind the adjustment he'll have to make living in a foreign country. But after last year's 3rd place finish, Boston is splurging, trying to fill their holes with free agents. (Which is ironic, since they've always accused the Yankees of being the Evil Empire, and having unlimited cash to lure players.) Anyway, even if DMat pitches great ball right from the get-go, shutout ball for seven innings in all his starts, you have to wonder, Who the hell is going to finish out the games? Boston has a weak bullpen, and as of right now no closer. I suspect Boston will scrounge up another starter and keep Papelbon in the bullpen.

In the Japanese league, Matsuzaka was 108-60 with a 2.95 ERA and 1,355 strikeouts. He also won the MVP of the World Baseball Classic last March, which was won by Japan. He joins a Boston rotation that includes 40 yr-old Curt Schilling, 40 yr-old Tim Wakefield, converted closer Jon Papelbon, and Josh Beckett (5.01 ERA in 2006).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Andy back with Yankees!

Pettitte will soon be wearing the familiar pinstripes again.

Andy Pettitte has re-signed with the Yankees. They reached a preliminary agreement on a 1-year $16 million contract, with a player option for a second season, at the same dollar amount.

This is a great move for both parties. Though only 34, Pettitte toyed with the idea of an early retirement this off season. This short contract gives him the option of still retiring early. The Yankees needed to sure up their starting rotation, especially with Randy Johnson recovering from back surgery, and perhaps due to miss the first month of the 2007 season. The Yankees have some fine young arms coming up through the system, and the commitment of a long-term deal that Barry Zito, Ted Lilly, or Jason Schmidt were demanding wasn't very appealing.

One question: Will Pettitte resume wearing his old number 46, or stick with the number 21 that he wore with the Astros? My guess is 46. Though he's been retired for several years now, 21 is still Paul O'Neill's number.

The rotation now looks like this:
Chien-Ming Wang
Andy Pettitte
Mike Mussina
Randy Johnson
Carl Pavano
or Kei Igawa

Welcome back, Andy!

A ball Pettitte signed before the '96 season, when I saw him at a card show at the Westchester County Center.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Yankees' shopping list

MLB's winter meetings are under way in Orlando, Florida. Look for some players to change uniforms via trades and free agent signings this week. The biggest name free agents still available are starting pitchers Barry Zito and Ted Lilly, and steroid-abuser Barry Bonds, who wasn't offered abritration by the San Fransisco Giants.

Don't expect any blockbuster moves by the Yankees. This biggest move will probably be to sign Japanese lefty Kei Igawa, for whom they bid $26 mil for negotiating rights. His agent is also Hideki Matsui's agent, so I expect a deal to be finalized soon.

What the Yanks need is a backup catcher, a righty hitting firstbaseman, a utility infielder (probably just resign Miguel Cairo), and a lefty reliever (probably just resign Ron Villone).

Of course, sometimes crazy things happen in these meetings. Maybe someone will take ARod off of their hands...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

MLB's impotent steroids probe

Everyone knows players like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Sammy Sosa have taken performance-enhancing steroids. Jose Canseco admitted taking steroids in his book, Juiced. Giambi apologized for it, without saying exactly what he was apologizing for (but we all knew).

With Bonds on a crash course to break Hank Aaron's all-time career mark of 755 homeruns, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig tried to save some face by putting in a half-assed steroid testing policy (they still don't have a test for HGH—human growth hormone—the biggie that causes guys to swell up to gargantuan porportions and hit dingers almost at will). Selig also appointed former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to probe steroid use in baseball. But Mitchell has no real power.

"When I began, I was, of course, aware that I do not have the power to compel testimony or the production of documents," Mitchell said. "From the outset I believed that the absence of such power would significantly increase the amount of time necessary to complete the investigation, and it has. We are pressing forward diligently and will conclude our work as soon as possible," he said. "It's important to finish this job as soon as possible, but it's even more important to do it right."

Meanwhile, Selig is prepared to celebrate Bonds' new HR record as if it were an unblemished accomplishment. Good luck, Bud. No one outside SF will care (if Bonds is still even playing in SF, that is).

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