Royals fan in Barcelona. Facebook: John Chappell.
Some guy named Andy Martino questioned whether Mets fans hated Luis Castillo so much because of race--well, ethnicity, because Hispanic is an ethnic, not racial, term, says the Census Bureau. Personally, I think they hated him because 1) he sucked 2) he was making too much money 3) Mets fans are assholes 4) the team sucked. Race didn't have anything to do with it. They'd have cheered him if he had played well. The same thing happened here in KC. Everybody hated José Guillén a lot, not because he is a black Hispanic, but because he sucks and was overpaid and is a jerk. Everybody loves Joakim Soria, not because he is Mexican, but because he is a good player. I seriously doubt that anyone in organized baseball in any position of power is racist/xenophobic to the point of getting rid of a player because of his ethnicity/race/religion. That would be counterproductive. You want the best ballplayer for the position, not the whitest one. Exception: There are about ten Scrappy White Guys in MLB, of whom Willie Bloomquist is the prototype. These SWGs hold their jobs because they always give it 110% and show up ready to play and know the inside points of the game and provide valuable veteran leadership and hit for a 700 OPS. There are no SWGs of any other race or ethnicity, by definition.
He had a 900 OPS last year in triple-A and he's 25. Somebody will pick him up.
Gleeman doesn't say much we didn't already know. He likes Mazzaro, sort of--thinks he can be a "mid-rotation starter." Also, he reminds us that Hochevar is not very good. He's got us down for between 92 and 95 losses.
He just signed with the Reds for three years/$4 million and he's better than anyone we've got. It's unlikely they'd want a whole lot for him. He got injured last year, which is not good. He's at least an average defensive catcher and last year he hit NL pitching very well. He'd be under team control through 2014.
It's looking more and more like Pods should have taken that $2 million mutual option with the Dodgers. This is probably just about it for him.
Frenchheart says he's down from 238 lbs. to 208, he feels "loose and relaxed."
According to Billy, Yost has pretty much given everybody the green light to steal. Kaegel says Yost believes that Billy can steal ten bases this year. That is just plain nuts. There is the argument that every now and then you should intentionally call a low-percentage just to keep the other team on their toes, to let them know "Hey, these guys might try anything." That makes sense to me, as long as you do it every now and then rather than all the time. If Yost wants to run more, though, Billy's really not the guy to do it more than three times a year. If Yost wants to send Avilés or Escobar or Alex more than he did last year, that would make some sense, since those guys have some speed and athletic ability and do not weigh 250 lbs.
Jon Heyman at SI: "The two most impressive young prospects in Arizona may be Indians lefthanded pitcher Drew Pomeranz and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, according to scouts. Royals games get more exciting after the fifth inning, when Hosmer and Mike Moustakas normally enter. Hosmer has hit two long home runs that have people buzzing in the Cactus League." If Hosmer destroys AAA pitching, do we bring him up to the big club at midseason? We lose a year of team control, but a couple of hundred MLB plate appearances might make him a more prepared player for the big push in 2012.
García is a non-roster invitee at the Yankees camp and is in the mix for the last spot in their rotation. He's 35 and kind of fat, and did virtually nothing between 2007 and 2009, while he had shoulder surgery. But he also made 28 starts and pitched 157 innings for the White Sox last year, for a 4.64 ERA and a 94 ERA+. He had a WHIP of 1.37, and a SO/BB rate of 1.98. That is not exceptional, but it is not bad and will get you the #4 spot in most rotations. It's also better than anyone in last year's rotation except Zack. If I were Dayton, I would have signed him to a half-million dollar guaranteed contract with a team option for 2012 for, say, $2.5 million, in case he has a good year in 2011. That seems low-risk and a good chance for moderate benefit. He no longer has high pay expectations because he signed for $1 million in 2010.
Ouch. Don't they say that Olivo is the strongest guy in the league? There's a link that says he passed two kidney stones during a game and kept on playing. Jeez. Why? Don't they have a backup? There's a difference between taking one for the team and staying on the field when you should be in the hospital. Note on Coco Crisp: There's something weird going on with Coco. He has these two bodyguards following him around in a Dodge pickup while he gets pulled over for DUI in his Rolls. He tells reporters they're his "secret service." There's something wrong here because normal people don't act like that. I could see if he had a driver/bodyguard/nanny with him to make sure he stayed out of trouble, but this is ridiculous.
During the game thread last night, some people were commenting that a walk isn't really quite as good as a single, since singles often advance runners more than one base. The figure mentioned was...
Beyond reckless, this is just dumb. Why anyone gets a DUI when he can get a cab, I don't know, and Coco could afford a limo if he wanted one. I really think MLB should suspend players guilty of serious off-the-field infractions--say, 25 games for a DUI, 50 for domestic violence, etc. As extra punishment, the team would not be able to fill his roster spot, so they'd be playing with 24 guys instead of 25 during the suspension. That would get the clubs to crack down on players' behavior. Röyals most likely to get a DUI: O'Sullivan looks like a beer sponge. I bet he can easily put away a twelve-pack. Yost, because he's an old-school "pound that ol' Budweiser" kind of guy. Kendall, because he's known to have issues with alcohol and Adderall. Betemit, just because he doesn't seem to be very smart.
Verducci makes the case that the Rangers should use Neftali Feliz as a starting pitcher. The argument for using Black Jack Soria as a starter is the same. I know they've already decided Soria is the closer, but everyone involved should reconsider. As Verducci says, there's a market inefficiency here. Closers are overvalued by many GMs, and so is the virtually meaningless save statistic. What some smart team should do is take a decent +0.5 WAR relief pitcher and anoint him "The Closer." He'll probably do OK and rack up 30 or 35 saves. Then you find some dumb team looking for a "proven closer" and you trade him for a juicy prospect. The next year, you anoint another "Closer," do the same thing, and trade him for another juicy prospect. Keep doing this as long as closers are overvalued. Meanwhile, you use your best relief pitcher as your fireman, in high-leverage situations, when there are two on and one out in the sixth, your starter's just walked somebody on four pitches, and you're up by a run.
(Warning: NSFW language. Lots of it.) I'm assuming it's for real, and from around 2006, because John Buck and the late José Lima appear. Anyone ever see this before?
This season Barça signed a kid from Holland of Moroccan extraction named Ibrahim Affelay. A language problem crops up during a match, and the Spanish humor site El Jueves overdubs the video. VICTOR VALDÉS: (Who's on First-style gibberish) AFELLAY: Huh? VALDÉS (to JAVIER MASCHERANO): Tell him to pass me the ball when it's down here close and not to fart around. MASCHERANO: (Who's on First-style gibberish) AFELLAY: Huh? VALDÉS (to ANDRÉS INIESTA): Dude, my English really kicks ass. I don't know if it's because I eat at McDonald's and it's rubbing off on me, but my English, it's great. Wow! GERARD PIQUÉ (to VALDËS): Hey, Valdés, Shakira has a sister she wants to introduce to you.
Bookmaker.com has set the over-and-under for 2011 wins for AL teams. Red Sox 95 Yankees 91.5 Rangers 87 Twins 86.5 White Sox 85.5 Rays 84.5 Tigers 83.5 Athletics 83.5 Angels 83 Blue Jays 76 Orioles 76 Indians 71 Mariners 70 Royals 69.5 If you figure that baseball is a zero-sum game, as one win for one team is one loss for another, then the number of wins over ought to be the same as the number of wins under, and the number of teams over ought to be close to the same as the number of teams under. This isn't perfect because of interleague play, but it ought to be close enough. So whaddaya got? I have: Over: Yankees, Rangers, Twins, Blue Jays, Orioles, Angels, and Indians Under: Red Sox, White Sox, Rays, Tigers, Athletics, Mariners, and Royals
Don't know if anybody has suggested this. We have Getz, who can field but not hit; Avilés, who can hit and field competently, but not exceptionally; and Betemit, who can hit but not field. When we have a flyball pitcher in, or when the other team has a lot of left-handed batters, we use the more offensive-less defensive infield, Betemit at 3rd and Avilés at 2nd. When we have a groundball pitcher in, or when the other team has a lot of right-handed batters, we use the more defensive-minded infield of Avilés at 3rd and Getz at 2nd, with Betemit possibly at DH.
Vlad Guerrero can still hit the ball. His last great .950 year was 2007, but since then he's averaged about .300/.350/.500. He doesn't appear to be about to crash and burn. He's basically a DH; could play ten or twenty games in LF in an emergency. The last time he tried to play the field regularly, in 2009, he got hurt and missed about a third of the season. Lesson: Don't play him in the field very much. This would be a good signing if you're an AL contender with some money to spend. I'd even think about getting a team option year if I thought my team had a multi-year playoff window. Vlad is going to hit the ball, and an .850 OPS looks great in the cleanup or fifth spots. But the Orioles are not a contender and they are actually blocking a younger player by adding Vlad, so it's a very bad deal for them, since they're going nowhere. He would be a thoroughly bad signing for the Royals, since the last thing we need is an aging DH. However, a Vlad-type player would be perfect to have around if the Royals break in their prospects and then go for the playoffs in 2014. He'd be worth 2.5-3 WAR per year.
My American buddy Clark and I always go to the Michael Collins alleged Irish pub across from the Sagrada Família here in BCN. This is a ten-year-old tradition, at least. The game starts at midnight...
Qatar is on a big publicity kick, throwing around petrodollars in exchange for credibility, and soccer is one of the ways they're promoting themselves. We saw what happened with the World Cup in '22. They straight out bought it. There's now talk that some of the matches will be played in other Gulf states like Kuwait and the UAE, in exchange for more petrodollars. Now my other favorite team, FC Barcelona, has just accepted €165 million to place the logo of the "Qatar Foundation" on the front of its jerseys for the next five years. Never heard of the Qatar Foundation? Me neither. It's run by the local royal family and supposedly subsidizes, like, schools and clinics and stuff. But the Israeli government says that the Qatar Foundation is a major source of funding for Hamas, the terrorist gang that rules Gaza and often attacks Israel, and they are pressuring FC Barcelona to rescind the deal. Hamas is on the terrorist lists of both the EU and the US. Shit. Now how can I possibly support a sports team that's promoting an organization that financially backs terrorists who have attacked Americans, in addition to Israelis? I imagine I'll continue watching the games on TV and rooting for the players, but will buy no more merchandise and not go back to the stadium. What would you do if the Royals were paid to promote the Qatar Foundation on their uniforms?
It's been a bad month for the Over-90 All-Stars. First we lose our ace in Feller, and now our first baseman/player-manager in Cavarretta. He was definitely a member of the Hall of Very Good, and a nice guy, according to everyone. May God, or whatever, bless him.
I was looking through some old World War II newsreels over at YouTube and found this one, featuring a charity appearance by Johnson and Ruth in '42. Check it out.
Texas, Washington, Milwaukee, Toronto, and the Dodgers have "made serious offers." Has Dayton actually got a bidding war going? Does the Pope shit in the woods? I'll gve him credit for not going nuts and getting all impatient and taking a first offer like, say, Kevin McReynolds, Gregg Jefferies, and whoever the other guy was. I'm not entirely sure why Milwaukee's interested. Does Toronto think they can challenge in the AL East? Does Washington actually have anything we want (not Strasburg, I have a really bad Mark Fidrych feeling about him)? The Dodgers would make the most sense for Zack, since it's a laid-back fanbase and he could hit. I'd hold out on the Rangers until Lee signs with the Yanks and they get desperate.
Don't let them smug Europeeins buffalo you with their high culture bluster. They gleefully swallow up the very worst execrations we can send them. No news on whether Aaron Crow is accompanying her.
We definitely need to get this guy in order to exorcise the Trey/Sweeney Jesusness of the Röyals. Lawrie seems like a Mötley Crüe kind of player, a future Lenny Dykstra. We don't really have any of those.
Clicking on the title brings you to the Billy Bragg/Wilco version of "Joe DiMaggio's Done It Again" by Woody Guthrie. This song is officially declared to kick ass.
A guy from the Toronto Sun says that the Jays are interested in Zack, and would offer Kyle Drabek, Travis Snider, and "some minor leaguers." He seems to think that "that would probably get it done," that the Röyals want Drabek and that the Jays want to make a push next year. Texas, Minnesota, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Washington, and Seattle have all made inquiries into Zack's availability.
Hot off the presses: Spain's national team coach, Vicente del Bosque, has accused Russia of buying the 2018 World Cup by bribing members of the committee. Background: The Cup was in South Africa in 2010, and will be in Brazil in 2014. There's a rule that they can't have the Cup in the same continent/federation twice in a row. So Europe (UEFA), Asia, and the CONCACAF were eligible for 2018 and 2022, as it wasn't likely they'd go back to Africa so soon. Spain/Portugal put in a bid. Russia's victory for 2018 knocked out all the other European candidacies for 2022, leaving it basically up to the US vs. Qatar, and Qatar came out on top. Notes from today's La Vanguardia, the main Barcelona newspaper, page 63: "Another beating for Spain." "The safest bids, the Iberian, the English, and the American, were rejected in favor of two risky ventures at the level of South Africa last summer." "Spain and Portugal had a very solid project. The Iberian Peninsula is Europe's largest amusement park, with sunny landscapes that attract 70 million tourists a year. They had promised to sell a record 3.7 million tickets and plant 1000 trees for every goal scored in the tournament." "Spain was accused of making a deal with Qatar in order to gain the votes of the Latin American and Asian delegates. The FIFA investigated and, as usual, nothing could be proven. On Monday the BBC accused three members of the executive committee of taking bribes." "Russia was the favorite of the president of the FIFA, Sepp Blatter, for the 2018 tournament...The Kremlin will have to make an effort, valued at 2.8 billion dollars, to build thirteen stadiums in eleven cities, in addition to basic infrastructure." "Two billion people live within a four-hour flight of Qatar..." (although 1.75 billion of them can't possibly afford a plane ticket, much less spend money attending a sports event). "The El Thani family, which governs the tiny Persian Gulf country, has promised 50 billion dollars (bad conversion? 5 billion in American numbers?) to build a train network and extend the freeways. The stadiums will be cooled with solar energy."
Willie's tour bus was searched and they found SIX OUNCES of marijuana in it, which Willie naturally said was his own. Six ounces is a lot of pot. Carrying around that much is a felony, and Willie would have to smoke all day every day to go through an ounce in a week. Which he probably does. I bet he gets off with a slap on the wrist, since he is 77, and clearly isn't a dope dealer. They'll let him plead down to simple possession. I'm a Willie fan. He's a great songwriter and a unique performer, and he's done a lot of cool songs over the years.
Seems he actually played about 11 games with them last year. I didn't notice. Good for him. I always liked Esty. He'd at least try to do whatever you asked him to, like "play" centerfield, and there was that one year he OPSed like 820 or something.
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