Saturday, November 10, 2007

GM Meetings at Bohemian Grove

So the latest wacky conspiracy theory to come out of MLB is that baseball is conspiring to keep the price on Alex Rodriguez' services down by flooding the market with third basemen. If, the theory goes, there are enough Joe Credes out there, no one is going to want to sign A-Rod.

Which is, of course, patently ridiculous. Let's take a closer look at the so-called evidence:

Joe Crede, on the block in Chicago - Well, he's about to get expensive, his back is shot, and there's a prospect coming up behind him. Of course he's on the block - Kenny Williams would have to be an idiot not to see if he could get a useful part for him.

Garrett Atkins, expendable because of Jeff Baker - Except that the Rox have put the kibosh on this, and Atkins is off the market.

Mike Lowell, free agent - Nothing vaguely conspiratorial about this, and the Red Sox - one of the proposed landing spots for A-Rod - are fighting to keep him. Well, yes - he was the World Series MVP, last time I checked, with a swing made for Fenway. In fact, the rules of baseball are driving up a free agent's price here, not driving down A-Rod's.

Miguel Cabrera on the block in Florida - The man was born to hit, there's no doubt about that. He also plays for an insane cheapskate owner, eats everything in the postgame spread except the tablecloth, and plays defense like Gary Cherone played Van Halen. So, it's not entirely surprising that he's available, though both Marlins fans have to be disappointed.

Miguel Tejada is available - Miguel Tejada is also a shortstop, and has been available since roughly the middle of the 2004 season.

A more suspicious man than I would see the palsied hand of Scott Boras behind these rumors, hoping to spook Bud Selig into having someone make an offer just to kill the rumor. But there's no need because, let's face it, it's hooey.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Meet on the Lidge

The Philly-Houston trade is fraught with all sorts of intrigue. On one hand, it's typical - GM of new club ransacks the farm system of his old one. On another, it's a huge gamble for both teams, one with significant upside or crash and burn potential.

For the Phillies, the upside is obvious. With no starting pitching on the market this winter (and Kyle Lohse asking for $40M - Kyle freakin' Lohse!), the team's best option was to try to find a way to get Brett Myers back into the rotation. By picking up Lidge, they keep the back end of the bullpen strong and strengthen their rotation immeasurably. After all, there is literally no pitcher on the market this offseason who comes close to Myers when he's on. The one-two punch of Myers and Hamels at the top of the Phillies rotation makes them a much more dangerous team for 2008.

As for Lidge himself, a closer with home run issues going to CBP isn't going to see those get better. On the other hand, his raw stuff is still superb, and apart from LF and 1B there's going to be a solid defense behind him. So, there is some room for optimism there.

As for the Astros, they get Michael Bourn, who's been described as everything from the next Dave Roberts to the next Omar Moreno. What is dead certain is that he can absolutely fly, in a Joey Gathright sort of way, but with a little more pop in his bat. Whether he'll be able to step up to a starting role remains a question; he could be an above-average CF for five years, or he could be the latest in a long string of not-quite-good-enough-to-play-every-day Astros outfielders.

3B Mike Costanzo is another wild card. He's young, he hits the ball a mile, and he looks like he's finally figured out how to hit for decent average. On the other hand, he apparently bears the same relationship to defense that Bill Belichick does to fashion and he's only put together one really good year in the minors. So, he could be Steve Buechele, or he could be Brad Kommisk.

Geoff Geary's pretty much a non-entity, a middle-of-bullpen guy whom the Phillies will miss only when the rest of their arms start exploding again, and not through any special merit of his own.

So, in the end, the Phillies are gunning for the short term, the Astros the long. The Phillies' upside is limited but clear, the Astros' higher but far less certain. In other words, exactly the sort of thing that the Hot Stove League is made for.

It's that time of year...

...when traditional football powers can shrug off one loss as a fluke, while Cinderella teams taking one in the shorts are viewed as exposed, justifying their banishment from the BCS into the nether reaches of [Corporate Sponsor][Useless product] Bowl-bound misery.

Personally, I'm hoping against hope for a Kansas-Hawaii BCS championship game, in part because I cannot imagine a freakier collision of coaches than June Jones and Mark Mangino, and in part because I want to hear heads exploding from Baton Rouge to SoCal. It won't happen, of course - even if those two teams win out and every other team ahead of them loses every game on the schedule, enough writers for the Lower Sasquatch Times-Picayune will find a reason to rub his pen up against Tim Tebow's silky uniform pants to make sure we get OSU-LSU come hell or high water.

Which leads me to the BCS system. The favorite complaint around this time of year is that "the computers" are screwing up the rankings. Said complaints generally come from aged knights of the keyboard who don't know anything about computer other than that you can push the buttons and make porn come out, but hey, they've got airtime and column inches to fill, and facts are boring.
Fact 1 - The computers may spit out the numbers, but it's not like R2-D2 is sitting in there figuring out the best way to jigger things to screw over Auburn again. Yes, the formulae produce results, but all of those forumlae - not to mention all of those computers - had to be programmed by somebody. Somebody like...people. You know, human beings? Not computers? Right.
Fact 2 - 2/3 of the BCS formula comes from, you guessed it, voter polls. You know, the things that coaches have their caffeine-crazed assistants fill out for them at 3 AM Sunday morning because the gosh-darn thing's gotta get done somehow and hey, who has time to actually watch the games. In other words, if you don't like the numbers coming out of the BCS computers, that's probably because the numbers going in weren't too pretty either - and those polls are 100% human response. Well, except for Tom O'Brien's.
So the idiots complaining about "the computers" can kindly shut up and take their complaints where they belong, namely, to the offices of the poor bastard last-string assistant coaches who draw the short straw marked "ballot filler outer" each week.
That is, if they're not too busy hitting the button and waiting for the porn.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Irony

On ESPN.com, Gregg Easterbrook goes ballistic over Bill Belichick running up the score on saintly, revered Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

On SI.com, Paul Zimmerman tells the story of a time Jerry Glanville went ballistic because he had the score run up on him by - wait for it - Joe Gibbs.

Presumably someone out there's pissed at Glanville, or by proxy, June Jones, who, with luck, will someday be able to run up the score on a Belichick defense and at last close the circle of psychic trauma inflicted on millionaire men by lopsided losses.

Over-under on when Bob Sanders decides to let Tom Brady know he didn't approve of last week's effort? 2:42, first quarter.
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