Tagged: Hot Stove

You Call THIS Progress?

2-2      5.76     8 HR in 59 inn
2-4      5.47     7 HR in 52 inn
4-2      3.81

Those are the stats last year of Guillermo Mota, Solomon Torres and Eric Gagne. Three of the four pitchers Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin has picked up this off – season to “bolster” the bullpen. He also signed free agent David Riske who was 1-4 with a respectable 2.41 ERA.
Other than being warm breathing bodies, how Mota and Torres are going to help an already shaky bullpen is befuddling. Further, after the trade with the Pirates, Torres announced that he is considering retirement!
Gagne is another matter. Everyone knows how lights out he was with the Dodgers when he had an electric arm. Now after multiple surgeries that arm is merely holding a charge.
While he performed respectfully for a bad Rangers team, he was downright awful for the Red Sox. Now Melvin wants him to replace Coco Cordero as the closer, even though he has steadfastly said that Derrick Turnbow will return to that role. Yeah, and the Cubs will win the World Series next year!
So Doug, who is it going to be? Turnbow, who was so bad that he was booed in every appearance in September and then asked for a trade or Gagne who is one pitch away from another blown elbow? If he is so confident of Turn”blow” then why did he get Cordero in the first place and why is he taking a chance on Gagne?
The Brewers have a surfeit of starters. Why none was traded during the recent winter meetings means that 1.) He couldn’t get fair value or 2.) Nobody wants Capuano, Bush or Vargas.
Now, Melvin has said he will not offer free agent closers the kinds of multi million dollar multiple year deals they are seeking and he did make a fair offer for Cordero. No problem with that  logic. So let’s pick up retread relievers instead. Convince me that any of them are better than Scott Linebrink who went south to the White Sox and you can be a racing sausage for a game next year. Melvin obviously is seeking quantity over quality so he went to baseball’s version of Wal-Mart for everyday low price pitchers. This is progress?
If this isn’t bad enough, he trades Johnny Estrada for Mota. Now the Mets feel he is sufficient enough to replace Paul LoDuca, but the Brewers felt that he didn’t handle the staff well and was bad at throwing out base stealers. So, let’s sign Jason Kendall instead who at 33 has seen his best days. A career .300 hitter, his stats last year were a combined 3/41/.242 for the Athletics and Cubs. He can’t throw anybody out either. This is progress?
He has yet to fill the vacancy in left field with the release of Geoff Jenkins and the soon to be released Kevin Mench. On top of that rumors say he’ll listen to offers for Bill Hall.
I say only if we can get a good everyday top of the order outfielder. How about trading for Brandon Inge to play third and moving Ryan Braun to left? But what do the Tigers need and who would they want? Probably prospects the Brewers are rightfully not willing to give up.
While the Brewers made significant progress in 2007, these off season moves are more of a regression.
You call this progress? So far, I’m not impressed.
It is making this season ticket holder re-consider.




At Least The Nationals Are Trying!

For crying out loud! Today’s news that the Marlins just handed the American League pennant to the Tigers convinces me of something that I have been mulling about for years.Major league baseball should be banned from the state of Florida. Even though there are over 16 million people in the state with a large baseball loving Cuban and Latin American population, the two teams, the Tampa Bay RAYS and the Florida Marlins couldn’t manage a little league team much less a major league franchise.
These two teams are about as dysfunctional as an Elijah Dukes/Ron Artest friendship.

Let’s take a separate look at these two supposedly big league teams.

The Tampa Bay Rays.
There’s a sign of cluelessness when the biggest news coming out of the front office in recent years is the changing of the team name and colors. This franchise has had some outstanding player drafts but has little to show for it. The front office knows nothing about building a team. In the never ending quest to get pitching help they have traded many of these prospects who could now be the cornerstone of the team. Two top prospects who were drafted and never signed were Andrew Miller and Jacoby Ellsbury.
They took their chances. It worked for Ellsbury but not for poor Miller who now has to toil in front of lower minor league size crowds with the Marlins.
Now by jettisoning Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes, they are forfeiting what little hope they had in gaining at least a modicum of respectability. Didn’t they learn with Josh Hamilton? Either the Rays need to stop drafting talented malcontents or learn to live with their defects.
Delmon Young was runner up Rookie of the Year who has a great future with the Twins.
Josh Hamilton was making a remarkable recovery with the Reds when injuries befell him.
The team still has three potential superstars in BJ Upton, Carl Crawford and Scott Kazmir. But soon enough they’ll be gone as well since the team shows no sign of ever retaining young players. All will leave via the first free agent train out of town. I mean, besides Troy Percival, would you want to play for these slugs?
The team is in a Catch-22. They need bigger crowds to generate more revenue to try to retain their key players. But the brain dead decisions being made are keeping what little fan base the team has away. The biggest excitement of each year is when the Yankees come to town. That in itself is a sign that baseball’s time in Tampa Bay has come and gone.

The Florida Marlins
Where to begin? John Henry couldn’t sell his ownership in the team fast enough to escape to Boston. The only thing Jeffrey Loria has done since owning the team was to impersonate Wayne Huizenga. I mean this is the guy who fired Joe Girardi because he asked Loria to stop baiting the umps from his front row seat.
This team has been in existence only since 1993 and has already won two world championships. That’s two more than the Cubs have won in almost 100 years!
You’d think that there would be a strong and rabid fan base by now. But who wants to cheer for a team that 1.) plays its home games in a football stadium with no sun protection and 2.) gets rid of all of their best players. These are the active players the Marlins have gotten rid of from their championship teams:

Gary Sheffield
Moises Alou
Edgar Renteria
Craig Counsell
Luis Castillo
Brad Penny
Josh Beckett
Dontrelle Willis
Braden Looper
Ivan Rodriguez
Derrek Lee
Mike Lowell
Juan Pierre
Miguel Cabrera

I’m sure that none of these players were the least bit saddened by leaving. Is it any wonder that in September the team was lucky to play in front of 5,000 fans at “home”?

Loria says he needs a new stadium and that is one of the few things he has been right about. But why should the public finance it when every year they see this exodus of star players? At least the Florida fans aren’t gullible enough to think that everything will magically change with a new park.
Look at what is happening in Minnesota. After years of begging for a new ballpark, the Pohlads are finally getting one and what do they do? Get rid of Torii Hunter and most likely Johan Santana. How do you spell betrayal?
No. It’s not good to be a major league baseball fan in Florida. So let’s contract these two witless teams for the “good of the game”.
There’s plenty of other things to do there year around. Bask on the beach. Pub crawl in South Beach. Deep sea fishing. Football! Who needs the Rays and the Marlins?

At least the Nationals act like they are trying. The owners of these two sorry teams act like they don’t care. It’s a total farce.

How Am I Doing?

On November 14th, I posted a column predicting where the top free agents will land and where they most likely will go.

Of the free agents that have signed, I was completely wrong on two – Torii Hunter and Francisco Cordero. I thought Hunter would sign with Philadelphia or most likely stay in Minnesota. Despite plans for a new stadium, apparently the Twins have no interest in even trying to keep their stars. So Hunter bolted to the already potent Angels.

Cordero was the biggest surprise, signing a Billy Wagner like contract with the Reds who need more than a closer to compete. How about good enough pitching to get to the closer? I’m sure Homer Bailey will be given every chance to make the rotation out of spring training to join the excellent Aaron Harang and the competent Bronson Arroyo.
But after that it’s up for grabs. I really thought the Brewers would have a chance this time but after the Reds offer, Cordero’s agent did not even call to seek a counter. Coco was a fan favorite but he left to pitch for a worse team in the same division for a lousy coupple of million.

So the Brewers are without a closer save, God Forbid, Derrick Turnbow. Let’s not even go there. Turnbow will be as welcome back in Milwaukee as the crypto virus. They’re about to sign David Riske who’s a pedestrian reliever not cut to be a closer. And why Guillermo Mota for Johnny Estrada? How’s Mota going to help the bullpen? With Cordero and Linebrink gone, the back of the bullpen will be as dreadful as a badly cooked brat.

And while I’m on my rant, the signing of Jason Kendall was also troubling especially since Yorvit Torrealba and Paul LoDuca were still available. Kendall is washed up as evidenced by his horrible split season last year with the Athletics and Cubs. Sheesh! You call this progress? As of this moment, the Brewers are worse off than they were at the end of the season.

But I digress.

Let’s get back to the free agents I called right. Under the most likely category, Kerry Wood, Mike Lowell, Alex Rodriguez and Yorvit Torrealba all re-signed with their teams as I called.
There are still some big names out there – Andruw Jones, Aaron Rowand, Livan Hernandez and Paul LoDuca.

My predictions were:
Jones Giants Most Likely – Phillies
Rowand Brewers Most Likely – White Sox
Hernandez Rangers Most Likely – D’Backs
LoDuca Blue Jays Most Likely – Cubs

Stay tuned!


Brewers Blow It Again

Well, here we are again, nearing the end of another year and watching the “do-nothing” Brewers sit on the sidelines while their Central Division rivals load up. Let me get one thing perfectly clear, this is not about getting into the feeding frenzy that was this year’s free agent market. They deserve credit for showing some fiscal restraint. When even the usually free spending Yankees refrain from this nonsense it says something. The most ridiculous signing among many this year was the 5 year/$55 million deal that Gil Meche stole from the Royals. It’s not like he will make this pathetic team an instant contender. This deal was so detached from reality that in the future it will become part of the baseball lexicon. Now when an average player pulls off a similar heist it will be said of the team that does the signing, “They got Meched”.The runner-up was the desperate Cubs shilling out a fortune to Jason Marquis. The same Jason Marquis who did not even make the Cardinals’ post-season roster and was 14-16 with a 6.04 ERA. For that he makes millions. This is pigging out to the extreme.
But back to the Brewers. One deal was struck. Johnny Estrada and Claudio Vargas for Doug Davis and Dana Eveland. Not a bad deal. But the Brewers have one big hole that has yet to be addressed. They need help in the back of thier bullpen and another solid starter. They simply can’t go into 2007 with Dan Kolb and Derrick Turnbow expected to hold a lead for Francisco Cordero. It ain’t gonna happen.
There were a few affordable and serviceable relievers available that would address this — Russ Springer, LaTroy Hawkins, Justin Speier and Steve Kline to name a few.
But the Brewers stayed put. There is no credible explanation for this. If the Royals can blow such a big wad, the Brewers certainly should have the resources to strengthen a weak area.
One problem is the long term contracts signed by players who tanked last year. The club has never eaten contracts and won’t now. So they get stuck with their mistakes when no one else is willing to assume them. That’s the situation with Turnbow. Who wants a guy who totally imploded the last half of the year?
(Maybe the Royals).
I know that Doug Melvin knows this is an issue as well as an abundance of outfielders soon to be even more crowded when Bill Hall moves out there. But try trading Geoff Jenkins or Kevin Mench and getting some useful pitching in return.
Yes, the Brewers had a chance to make affordable changes in the bullpen and so far has blown it.
I hope we don’t have endure another year of Geremi Gonzalez, Joe Winkelsas, Jared Fernandez, Alan Simpson and other members of the “slug” club.