Tagged: Players

The Outrageous Case of Evan Longoria

Awhile back, I wrote a blog suggesting that Major League Baseball should be extracted from the state of Florida. How both the Rays and Marlins were totally incompetent and choose to sacrifice competitiveness for saving money. While it is certainly valid for clubs to be as prudent as possible when it comes to payroll, fans should expect that the club should field the best team under the circumstances.But not the Rays. Not only have they squandered years of excellent drafts by letting Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes, Jorge Cantu and Matt Diaz get away, they appear to be willing to accept another year of losing when Evan Longoria was sent down yesterday.
The Rays have never been close to being even a .500 team since they entered the league in 1998. They have never had even a 70 – win season! They have averaged 64 wins per season.
That left the team with many top draft picks and overall they have chosen pretty well.
Longoria was the third pick in the 2006 draft out of Long Beach St. He reached AA his first year as a pro, then last year was named the Southern League’s MVP and set a team record for HR’s in a season. And that was only until late July when he was promoted to AAA Durham and went on to hit .375 in the International League playoffs. According to the Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, he has nothing more to prove in the minors and is a sure-fire Rookie of the Year candidate in the AL. He certainly did not fail in spring training this year as he hit a respectable .262 with 3 HR’s and 10 RBI.
The Rays are a horrible team but have some good young players that if kept together could finally make a run at .500. With Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Dionar Navarro, the team has a good nucleus. Longoria deserves to be a part of this in 2008.
So why was this can’t miss prospect sent down? Let’s see. It’s not because they’re a contending team. It’s not because another player beat him out for the position. The team is considering a trade or using Eric Hinske for crying out loud!
Can you follow any of this logic?
The REAL reason seems to be that if Longoria made the roster, the Rays would lose key negotiating rights with him. Here’s why: With Longoria in the Minors for even a few weeks, his eligibility for free agency would be delayed until after the 2014 season; if he stays in the Minors for several months, he likely would not receive early eligibility for arbitration. While GM Andrew Freidman denies this as being the reason, can anyone really believe him?
Are the Rays really serious about winning? Are they really serious about even being respectable?
If you are a young player yet to approach arbitration like Kazmir, Upton and Shields you’ve got to be asking yourself these same questions. Making a move like this only provides more incentive for these players to leave when they are eligible for free agency.
Who wants to play for a team that sends down a potential All-Star to save some money for a few more months? Are they really fielding the best team?
Don’t the players and the fans deserve more? As evidenced by the Rays (nee Devil Rays) pathetic history, you would hope so.

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Prince Chill. Your Time Will Come.

So Prince Fielder you are unhappy at being renewed for $600,000 this year. On the surface it looks like you will be underpaid by today’s standards. Certainly someone who hits 50 home runs and drives in 118 runs should get big money.With the way players get compensated under today’s system, younger stars like you are sometimes shortchanged. But that’s the way your union wants it. They set the rules, now you must live by them.
I know teams sometimes deviate from them and the big contract Troy Tulowitzki signed after only one full year must really get under your craw. But remember by signing that contract, Tulo gave up bargaining rights for short-term security.
Under your union’s rules, the Brewers have every right to renew your contract and have a strict policy of doing so, especially if players like you do not want to make a long-term commitment.
Prince, you are not alone on the “I Feel Shafted” team. Both Jon Papelbon and Cole Hamels recently expressed similar attitudes. As you know both, like you, are All-Stars.
If you can refrain from your displeasure for a year and have another stellar season, you will break the Brewers back next year when you are eligible for arbitration. Then it’s three more years before your agent Scott Boras stiff arms some team into giving you the biggest contract ever for a first baseman, even if it is “only” $100,000 more than what Ryan Howard makes. The Brewers fans better enjoy the next three years because after that you will probably take your “Royal Bash” elsewhere. (Yankees fans are already drooling at the prospect of him in pinstripes).
It will be a shame because you are already the leader in the clubhouse, a motivator with a personality that players congregate to. You are also the cog in the mighty mechanism the Brewers are building. You are immensely popular in Milwaukee among the fans. But they will begin to turn on you if you appear to them to be greedy.
Your demands in arbitration next year will likely cost the Brewers the services of Ben Sheets whose contract is up for renewal. But if you are not willing to commit beyond 2012 at a fair compensation, then the club might as well keep Sheets who likes it here and take their chances with you.
Prince, the Brewers are on the cusp of becoming something special. After years of insufferable play the team is now truly a contender. You are a big part of that. So chill, your time will come. Hopefully it will be with the Brewers.

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Forgive and Forget?

As spring training unfolds, the en vogue seems to be the great apology and speculation as to who might be next. Since the Roger Clemens debacle on Capitol Hill last week, some players mentioned in the Mitchell Report have come “clean” to one degree or another.

The most appreciable apology came from Andy Pettitte whose mea culpa came among a throng of reporters larger than any seen on this year’s election campaign stops. Oh well, so much for priorities. Besides making a statement that was carefully and sincerely crafted, Pettitte spent over one hour answering reporters’ questions without any overt sign of annoyance or impatience.
Overall, we are a country of forgiving people so long as those who ask for forgiveness seem to show true remorse. If Roger Clemens were this genuine once accused a similar opinion of him would have been created. Instead he has chased his reputation all over to try to proclaim his innocence. What he doesn’t understand is that the longer he continues this salvaging expedition the deeper he will get in excreta and erode any last chance he has to be elected to the Hall of Fame if found guilty.

Today, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons both issued self-incriminating apologies.
The purpose is to admit the guilt as soon as possible so as not to disrupt training camp.

Then there were the others who still don’t seem to get it. They’re the self-indulgent millionaires who act like this is nothing more than a minor aggravation. Both Paul LoDuca and Eric Gagne issued similar statements calling it “distractions” without ever mentioning their ingestion of the steroids. "You do something wrong in your life, and you get away with it, and you still have something inside of you that burns," Lo Duca said. "And it’s been a big relief for me just to know that I’ve come to grips with it, that I made a mistake."

Gagne, meanwhile was vague in two languages. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he made a 1-minute statement to a gathering of 15 or so reporters, including television stations from his hometown of Montreal. He repeated his comments in French for Canadian journalists, making his only mention of the Mitchell Report. He declined to take any questions.

"I do not want to look to the past because the Mitchell Report already did that, and now it’s time to move forward," Gagne said in the French version of his statement.

Speaking in English, Gagne said: "I’m here today to talk to you guys to let you know I feel bad for my family and what they had to go through, and all my friends, and especially my teammates here in Milwaukee. I think it’s a distraction that shouldn’t be taking place.”

Well, Eric it’s glaringly obvious that you don’t care about the integrity of the game, about what you did and the impact it has had. You just feel sorry for your family because getting caught was such an inconvenience for them. I’m still waiting for Mike Cameron to come forward and I hope he says the right things.

Then there’s Miguel Tejada who may be in a different kind of cage before the season is out. For legal reasons he is declining comment and he’ll be a major distraction for the Astros this season.

So do we forgive and forget?  Yes and no. Some players are worthy of forgiveness but none of this will be forgotten soon. Look for another black cloud to linger for at least one more season.

Johan Como Va!

Which roughly translated means: “John, as it goes”. In this case, as it goes for 6 years and a heart stopping $150 million dollars or $25 million dollars per year OR $850,000 per start. A superlative pitcher, but not the best pitcher in the game has made this haul. Based on a statistical analysis provided by Baseball Prospectus, that honor goes to Jake Peavy.Mr. Peavy must be feeling that while Johan Santana got the gold, he got the shaft.

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Don’t get me wrong, he will surely not go longing for anything. But this inane deal just pulled off by the Mets will of course set the bar even higher for the next star pitcher seeking a new deal.
While I foster no animosity toward the players (come on, you know you’d take the money!) when will this madness by the owners end? This has become a game of chicken, a showdown among men with egos and resources.
While these few heathens among the baseball brethren continue to play “all-in” the rest of the teams must be more scrupulous with their dollar allocation. It’s like standing at a table of high rollers in Vegas wishing you could afford to get in but taking the chance isn’t worth the losses because you don’t have the same deep pockets.
I have been critical of the Twins for not keeping both Torii Hunter and Johan Santana in light of the new ballpark on the way, but it appears their strategy will be to retain one or two stars (Joe Mauer and Jason Morneau) signed to affordable long term contracts then raid the farm systems of those teams willing to sell the future for the now. This now makes more sense.
Since the beginning of free agency, the teams with the highest payrolls have been more likely to make the playoffs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean total success. Just last year, the same Mets with a huge payroll made one of the most dramatic September collapses in the annals of the game. Periodically, teams with fiscal restraint have made a run deep into the playoffs. The Rockies, Padres, Diamondbacks, Indians, Athletics, Marlins and Twins to name a few. None of these teams are top of mind when large payrolls are discussed.
Huge signings such as this are an annual occurrence. The “big boys” play high stakes with each other while the little guys sit it out. Like it or not, that’s the nature of the game today.
Will it ever reach an apex of insanity then plummet back to a more balanced, competitive milieu? Only when the prices charged to the fans and sponsors to keep paying for this are so high that they finally say, “Enough is enough”. Ticket prices at some ballparks are already numbingly high. How can a middle class family – the people from which the game obtained its greatest appeal – even afford to go to one game a year? No more is there such a thing as the “cheap” seats.
So the Mets won the bragging rights to Johan Santana this year. Who will it be among the baseball tycoons next year?

It’s About Time!

Is it just me or does the indictment of Barry Bonds smell like yesterday’s fish market?I mean this in the context of the timing. The government has known for years that Bonds committed perjury when he denied under oath of ever taking performance enhancing drugs. So why did they wait until now, after he broke Hank Aaron’s home run record?

Yes, the timing is fishy. Not only did Bonds lie, he admitted not knowing what was in the cream he rubbed all over. Yeah this is a professional athlete who needs to be studious about not only his training regimen but also about ingesting or applying substances that will affect his performance. I mean how stupid did he think the grand jury was?

Why did it take so long to issue the indictment? Was there some backroom manipulation by his lawyers? You know, let him break the record then come get him. I wouldn’t doubt it. The way this whole sordid story has been handled has been suspicious from the start.

Bonds is just the tip of the iceberg. Where is the long awaited Mitchell report? Any active player found to have taken illegal substances should be banned from the game. Yes, that includes you Paul Byrd. It’s absurd that the Indians re-signed him and thus thumbing their noses at this issue. Retired players – McGwire, Palmeiro and anyone else found guilty should be banned from being associated from the game forever just like Pete Rose.

The game will be forever tarnished by this scandal.
Yes, the timing of this indictment is curious but better late than never.

Bonds was about as innocent as OJ Simpson and now he needs to do his time. A jail sentence is the only way baseball can wipe its dirty hands of this mess. And by the way, tack on a few more years for income tax evasion.