Oh … I thought you knew so you could tell me. Well thank you very much for making me look stupid (this space reserved for wisecracks--please be creative). Ah well, since we’re here let’s look at the agenda for this week’s segment on ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show:
- What did we learn from yesterday’s hearings--if anything.
- Miguel Tejada was traded this offseason with all this going on--did the Astros get a lemon?
- Let’s discuss a couple of players: Kyle Lohse is it common for players to back off their stance on deals at this stage? He wanted four years but now it’s being reported that he might accept a three-year deal to go back to the Phillies.
- If you are the Phillies, do you sign Loshe to a three-year deal or a guy like Livan Hernandez, Josh Fogg or Jon Lieber to a one-year pact?
- Octavio Dotel, Armando Benitez, Jeremy Affeldt etc.--can they still help a bullpen for a club like the Phillies?
What did we learn from yesterday’s hearings--if anything?
We learned that politicians really enjoy grandstanding and don’t do their homework. I mean, c’mon--‘The Blackhawk Scandal’? Bill Wirtz is dead--the scandal is over. Leaving that aside, there were some things we gleaned from the proceedings. To begin with, Don Fehr demonstrated that he’s lost touch with the MLBPA. His statement, "Did we or did I appreciate the depth of the problem? The answer is, no" is a pretty clear admission that his finger was off the pulse of the union.
One unnamed (naturally) former player said
"What I believe happened, is the union was totally blindsided by this. They operate with such arrogance that they think they're always right. So they figured Mitchell was just a boob for Bud who wouldn't come up with anything, especially if none of the players cooperated. Nothing to worry about. But when the feds gave Mitchell [Kirk] Radomski and [Brian] McNamee, the game changed. The union never saw it coming."
This sort of thing happens when an organization communes with itself exclusively and never looks for feedback from the outside. Their biases and misconceptions become gospel truth since nobody tells them otherwise and when the ground shifts under them, they’re caught unawares.
We also learned pretty conclusively that MLB cannot handle a drug testing/awareness program. John Tierney smoked that out rather nicely by insisting on the number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) handed out by MLB for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall. In the first year amphetamines were banned TUE’s jumped from jumped from 28 in 2006 to 103 in 2007. It stretches credulity to think a group of world-class athletes have an ADD incidence that is eight times greater than the general adult population.
Getting back to Don Fehr for a moment, I thought he played one point rather well by pointing out the inconsistency of cracking down on baseball players for using substances allegedly controlled by the Dietary Supplement Act and freely advertised and available to the general public.
While he made a good point regarding his constituency being opposed strict testing in the past only because of their distrust of baseball management to administer testing fairly--it left another point unstated. That point being the MLBPA could have instituted its own guidelines and testing to ensure the players had a safe, fair working environment but simply chose not to do so.
Of course, there was some good old-fashioned dramatic hyperbole. This time Betty McCollum of Minnesota uttered a dilly: “Every fan who bought a ticket to see games for the past 20 years has been witness to a fraud — an industry promoted as honest that is in fact rooted in cheating for profit.” She called MLB an industry “filled with lawbreakers and co-conspirators who ignore the problem or actively fuel the problem.”
She could have been talking about any industry in the world at any point in time. I have some news for Ms. McCollum--this has been the case in MLB for more than 120 and not 20 years. In scanning the media looking for comments on this and I came across a great line by Mike Imrem (yes, the same guy I blasted here). Imrem wrote: “So, please, explain to me why it's all right to punish players for cheating but not fire Selig and Fehr for permitting them to.”
Well said Mike.
You can read the whole column here, it’s entitled Simply no accountability.
Miguel Tejada was traded this offseason with all this going on--did the Astros get a lemon?
Not really, one thing we learned from the Mitchell Report is that steroid use was fairly regularly discussed when trades were being mulled. Tejada should hit well at “The Juice Box” however between losing his brother in a traffic accident and being investigated for perjury by Congress one could forgive him if he’s distracted for a while.
While we’re discussing Tejada--this may help Rafael Palmeiro’s Hall of Fame chances since Tejada clearly was using steroids when he injected Raffy. It’s possible that Palmeiro did receive a tainted shot. I’m not holding my breath however--he was tabbed as a juicer in Canseco’s book and he’s been proven right more often than not.
Let’s discuss a couple of players: Kyle Lohse is it common for players to back off their stance on deals at this stage? He wanted four years but now it’s being reported that he might accept a three-year deal to go back to the Phillies.
Sure it is--agents can paint beautiful pictures of the heaps of wealth awaiting their clients (remember Scott Boras’s $350 million just to get into the A-Rod sweepstakes?) but the simple fact of the matter is, long term deals with pitchers are generally a bad idea due to the risks involved. It’s one thing to take a risk with a Johan Santana type arm--quite another for a guy that’s only tossed 200 innings in a season once and has a career ERA that’s below league average. For guys like Lohse it’s a good idea to shoot high since you might find a pigeon but it’s good to remain pragmatic since nobody wants to make a long-term commitment to a league average starter who hasn’t tossed 200 IP in any of his last four seasons.
If you are the Phillies, do you sign Loshe to a three-year deal or a guy like Livan Hernandez, Josh Fogg or Jon Lieber to a one-year pact?
I think it depends on what you’re looking for. Cost certainty is nice and having a league average-ish starter that’s under 30 years old locked in for three years has an appeal. However, if you’re looking to plug a hole with the flexibility to upgrade should a better option arise, then a one-year pact with a low cost veteran starter might fit the bill better. Another consideration is what type of pitcher are you looking for? If a team is looking for a guy who can eat a lot of innings at the end of the rotation then Hernandez is your guy. He’s pitched at least 200 innings every season since 1998 (save for 1999 where he fell a third of an inning short). He’s the very definition of league average.
A guy like Lieber is somebody you gamble on--he’s in his upper 30’s and coming off surgery and looking to re-establish his market value. He has appeal to a dark horse team--a mid-to-low revenue club that has some decent talent that might contend if everything falls into place. If Lieber is healthy and effective, he could be a difference maker. If not, we’ll he’s not a long-term strain on the payroll. A guy like Fogg is best used if you’re simply looking for depth--a sixth starter/long reliever. He’s useful if a team has a potent offense, but a killer on a pitching-defense oriented team.
I think the Phillies would do well with either Lohse or Hernandez--if Hernandez is willing to take a one-year deal then I open the vault and get both--one for a World Series run in 2008, the other as an investment with a potential upside.
Octavio Dotel, Armando Benitez, Jeremy Affeldt etc.--can they still help a bullpen for a club like the Phillies?
Relievers are the most unpredictable commodity in baseball. For instance, who would have thought that the opening day starter, a washed up closer and somebody released from a contending club would be the core of a bullpen that would play a huge part in an unlikely run for the post season? Well, that’s what the Phillies had last year.
When you’re scouring the market looking for useful relievers, you want guys who can induce ground balls and have a putaway pitch. In the case of Dotel and Benitez--both have proven they cannot close on a contending team. While both have good strikeout rates, they also get far more fly ball than ground ball outs making them a bad fit in CitiBank Park. Affeldt is a terrific ground ball pitcher but doesn’t strike out many and has a scary BB/9 of 4.2.
Of the three, I’d probably pick Affeldt but only as a situational lefty. I suppose either Dotel and Benitez could help since 81 games are played on the road. I wouldn’t trust them in big spots at CitiBank.
Will this remove wrinkles from dusty parkas?
For the entertainment of my fellow Jays fans at Drunk Jays Fans--I have brought in Hillary Duff to handle tonight’s closing ceremonies. You go girl!
Um … Hillary--the sign off?
Is there a problem?
"Do you like my sweater? I got it on sale at Suzy Shier."
That’s nice, but…
"Did you know I’m a celebity?"
Not according to the tabloids.
Don’t you mean celebrity?
(giggle) "I think Justin Timberlake is soooooooo hot."
Uh, I’m not really quali…
"Do you think N‘Sync will get back together?"
(taps foot impatiently) Can we stay focuse…
"Have you met Derek Jeter? He’s soooooooooooooo dreamy." (giggle)
What does that have to do…
"I saw him on T.V. last night--do you know where he works?"
Where. He. Works.? Are you seriou….
(sigh) Look, this just isn’t working, I think I’ll handle…
"Did you know I've done 63 different made-for-TV movies with a Cinderella-type storyline for the Disney Chan…"
"Who do you think is hotter, Justin Timberlake or Derek…"
Please. Go. Away.
Please. Go. Away.
O.K. no more Mister Nice Blogger (brandishes crucifix) BEGONE!!!
"What’s with the guy on the 't'?"
(rummages around desk … finds a mallet and stake--don’t ask) BEGONE!!!
(giggle) "What’s with the hammer and the pointy stick?"
(light bulb goes on, reaches for his wallet and extracts library card) BEGONE!!!
(Screeches and runs away)
Well, that was a total bust. Sorry guys, just a normal run-of-the-mill sign off tonight.
(Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stick my library card on my front door for safety’s sake … sheeeesh!)