Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on July 27, 2011
On FoxSports, Michael Cuddyer tells the story about him pitching in the eigth inning of Monday's blowout loss and what it meant to him:
The Twins' Michael Cuddyer
Some kids pretend to be hitters; some kids pretend to be pitchers. Then there are some kids, like me, who will not relinquish being their favorite player and will use that player to pitch even if he’s a hitter. Don Mattingly was the starting pitcher in 500 or so games in my backyard. ...
... Whatever our guys threw up there, the Rangers hit it. Before we knew it, we were down 18-1 in the fifth inning. When we got to the top of the seventh, Gardy came up to me and asked how mad I would be if he put Trevor Plouffee in to pitch. ...
... And then, one hot Monday night in Texas, I got to be a major league pitcher. Who knows? Maybe Don Mattingly would have fared just as well as he did when he went 500-0 all of those years ago in my backyard.
Very nice story! I think Cuddyer is more happy about the scoreless inning than about most home runs he hit.
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on February 05, 2011
The Rangers continue to speak about trading Michael Young.
Some obstacles remain: they will likely have to pay a portion of the $48 million (part of it deferred) he's owed over the next three seasons; Young has a list of eight teams to which he'd accept a trade; he can't play shortstop or third base well; and moving a fan favorite and clubhouse leader would be a tough sell to fans.
Not to pile on, but going to spring training with this situation looming isn't good. Furthermore, Young achieves in May his 10-and-5 rights -- 10 years of service time, five with his current team -- which allows him to block any trade.
Those reasons suggest Young will remain in Texas. His bat is good enough to carry him as a designated hitter. (The average DH hit .252/.332/.426 last season. Young finished .284/.330/.444 in a down season.)
Considering how long this situation has festered, however, it makes sense to examine potential trade partners.
The Rockies are building around shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Having Young, a good clubhouse presence, could help a young team develop. Money might not be an issue, considering the Rockies could decline options on Todd Helton and Aaron Cook, two players who combined earn more than $20 million.
General manager Billy Beane chased Adrian Beltre, Young's replacement in Texas, but spent his money elsewhere. His offseason could be over, but adding Young would help a younger team contend and the A's can withstand Young's poor glove at third base. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has no qualms about trading within a division.
There doesn't seem to be much of a landing spot for Young other than these three teams. Most have their second base situations resolved. It depends on how much of Young's contract the Rangers are willing to eat. The guess here is that it wouldn't be enough to make a darkhorse team like the Braves, Blue Jays, Dodgers or Cubs to make a trade.
Written by Justin Zeth (Contact & Archive) on February 03, 2011
Boy, has Jermaine Dye thrown down the gauntlet: if nobody gives him a major league contract, he's taking his bat and going home.
Or maybe we should say he's staying home, since that's where he's been for well over a year now.
It's an unusual situation. True, Dye was 35 in 2009 and suffered a substantial decline. True, a .793 OPS isn't very valuable from a DH, and Dye at 36 no longer has any defensive value, and in fact probably should be kept away from the outfield in the interests of keeping him away from the local rehabilitation specialists. But even so, a guy that routinely savaged the baseball two years ago should have no trouble finding work in a sport populated by people who love Proven Veterans™, right? Dye should at the very least have had his pick of minor league contracts, right?
Ah, that's the catch. You may recall that Dye did in fact receive more than one offer of a minor league contract. But like Oliver Perez before him, Jermaine Dye will be damned to hell if he's even taking the slightest risk of being shipped off to the minor leagues, and Dye meant it: when he didn't get a major league contract offer, he didn't play at all in 2009.
You probably detected at least one or two flaws in his cunning plan:
1. Guaranteed money is fine, but unguaranteed money is still better than no money.
2. It turns out--who knew?--that clubs are even less likely to give a major league contract to a 37 year old coming off not playing baseball for a year than a 36 year old coming off a poor season.
That second thing is kind of sticky, and Jermaine can probably deduce that clubs will be even less likely than that to give a major league contract to a 38 year old who hasn't played organized baseball in two years. Which leaves his options at two: take a minor league contract, or retire. So he told Ken Rosenthal he's going to retire, which is odd since he's already de facto retired. It's a little like saying "you can't fire me - I quit!" to your boss, or telling the umpire, "you can't throw me out - I'm leaving!"
But anyway, if he doesn't want to play, good for him. Presumably he took care of some of his $75 million in career earnings, and he has his pension, so if he's made his mind up he won't lower himself to playing baseball for unguaranteed (relative) peanuts, it's his prerogative. There's a part of me that thinks he'll cave, I guess because I would; there's a part of me that is a little sad anyone would refuse to play professional baseball even for a league minimum salary. As fans we prefer to think the players love baseball as much as we do, and we would prefer to see Jermaine Dye take a minor league deal just because he wants to keep on playing.
But we can't understand Jermaine Dye at all, of course. He's been there and done that. He's had a magnificent major league career, he's won a world championship--and a World Series MVP award, even--he's played 14 seasons and done just about everything there is to be done. Perhaps he'll regret not going back for one or two more seasons when he's 50 or 60, but hell, every one of us has some regrets when we're 50 or 60. If Dye doesn't back down and take the minor league deal, then best of luck to him in whatever else he pursues.
Written by Justin Zeth (Contact & Archive) on February 01, 2011
I saw this interesting post about those lovable Washington Natinals on MLBTradeRumors.
The theme, for those of you who have to assign a theme to every damn thing you read, is dirty money. Not that the Natinals’ capital was ill-gained, you understand; it’s just that you’d think it was, what with how they can’t find any pitchers willing to take it, even if they offer it by the wheelbarrow-load. A careful study of the situation reveals the most likely causes to be the proverbial string attached to said wheelbarrows: you would have to pitch for the Natinals, the "o" missing because Majestic misspelled the uniforms.
Turns out the pitchers who have options aren’t so keen on that.
It’s an interesting situation. You don’t expect anyone to be interested in pitching for, say, the Pirates unless it’s that or the indy leagues. (It’s about the same on the field, but the Pirates pay a lot more. But only because of pesky major league union rules.) But then, the Pirates aren’t sending men in tuxedos to Cliff Lee’s doorstep with a couple of briefcases to say “here, please, PLEASE take our money!” The Pirates may spend on amateur talent, but good major league players can pry Bob Nutting’s money out of his cold, dead hands.
The Natinals are like the Pirates in that they don’t win many baseball games, but unlike the Pirates in that they would very much like for major league stars to take gigantic amounts of their money. But no dice. In fact, the Natinals have been trying since the day they moved to Washington to lure in a big-ticket free agent. They were in on Mark Teixeira. They were in on C.C. Sabathia. They were in on Cliff Lee. And by all accounts they have been willing to match the Yankees’ money on all those gentlemen. But why take the same money to live in Washington and lose that you would get to live in New York and win? (Or, in Cliff Lee’s baffling case, Philadelphia.)
And if that’s true, you definitely aren’t going to Washington if no money’s involved and you have something to say about it. Which, for example, Zack Greinke did. You might recall that Mike Rizzo and Dayton Moore worked out a deal for Greinke that, by all accounts, netted for the Royals a better package of talent than they wound up getting from the Brewers. Greinke said no.
Rizzo tried to give Greinke the hard sell, talk to him about how they’re building something special in Washington and they want you, Zack Greinke, to be the face of the new, championship-caliber franchise.
Greinke said no. If he didn’t say something very similar to “yeah, that’s exactly the same thing Dayton’s been trying to sell me,” he definitely thought it. Greinke wanted to play for a winner now. And that is the story of how he became a Milwaukee Brewer. I sure hope for his own sake he never signs any extension in Milwaukee, because in two years the Royals are going to be contenders and the Brewers are going to be the worst team in Major League Baseball.
As for the Natinals, they’re going to be interesting two years down the line. After that fiasco where the Natinals got so desperate to give SOMEBODY a huge contract that they gave one to Jayson Werth--Jayson Werth!!--I think Rizzo got tremendously lucky when Greinke refused to go to Washington, and the Natinals’ desperate grab for a matinee star is very dangerous indeed. Lucky for them the fates are forcing them to do what they should be doing anyway: sinking the bulk of their apparently vast financial resources into acquiring amateur talent. Which they certainly have of late, between the Strasburg and Harper contracts. That’s a good start, but they need to amp it up with pricey lower round picks and international signings. Because it appears no stars are going to consider signing with the Natinals until they get good, and even adding Cliff Lee wasn’t going to make them good. Developing some talent is the way you do that.
And you know what’s funny? When Zack Greinke hits free agency after next season, he may more seriously consider Washington’s money just because they’ll have gotten a lot better next season.
Then again, you know what’s funny? By the winter of 2012, the hot team poised for a title run and with money to spend might be... the Kansas City Royals.
Written by Justin Zeth (Contact & Archive) on January 31, 2011
MLBTradeRumors reports that the Dodgers have signed Mike MacDougal.
You do remember Mike MacDougal, right? He was the skyscraper that every once in a while would throw a strike or two in relief for the Kansas City Royals back in about 2003 or something. MacDougal's has been an exceptionally interesting baseball career. He saved 27 games for the Royals in 2003, took a (figurative) year off, saved 21 in 2005, pitching fairly well but not great both seasons. Then he pitched VERY well for the White Sox in 2006, but got hurt, pitched in the minors a little. And then for the next four years, including 2009 when he popped up on the Washington Nationals and inexplicably saved 20 games despite his sparkling 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, he made extended appearances in both Triple-A ball and the major leagues every year. That's kind of been his niche: the first Triple-A bullpen arm to get called up when one of the major league relievers gets hurt. To all appearances it would seem he will fill that same role for the Dodgers. I mean, it doesn't look like they should bring him up before about four or five other Triple-A guys, but just based on his track record and Ned Colletti's fondness for Proven Veterans™, that's what my money says.
But I honestly did not expect to ever see Mike MacDougal in the major leagues again. I base this on my own personal sighting of him, when he appeared in Altoona with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, threw a straight fastball that went in no planned direction at about 93 MPH, and got lit up like a Christmas tree. I figured that was the last I would hear of him; I was flabbergasted to see him pitching for the Cardinals later that season. 17 appearances, in fact. Baseball managers like guys that have had success in the major leagues in years past, and prefer them over guys that are having success in the minor leagues now. That continues to fascinate me.
Anyway, what follows below this paragraph is what I wrote on my now-defunct Altoona Curve blog the night I watched what I presumed was the last of Mike MacDougal. Yet here he is, still around, still likely going to pitch plenty in the major leagues in 2011.
In the 7th inning, the few proud faithful remaining in Blair County Ballpark, myself included, saw a ghost.
It started when the Senators sent in a new pitcher to start the 7th. I looked at him and chuckled; the fellow was tall and gangly, skinny, all knees and elbows, as they say. I watched him warm up; long motion, slings the ball, throws very hard and all over the place.
I grabbed my program, looked him up. I couldn't believe my eyes: Mike MacDougal is still alive!
Believe it or not, Mike MacDougal was an All-Star, once. He pitched for the Royals, and picked up a few saves, and there was this rule that at least one player from every team had to be on the All-Star team, and... yeah. That's pretty much how it played out. But you and I can never take that away from Mike MacDougal: he didn't merely pitch in the Show. Mike MacDougal was a major league All-Star. The little 'All-Star' banner is strung across his page on baseball-reference.com, and will remain there until the Earth crashes into the Sun, long after he and I and you are all dead.
And so, after Altoona kicked him around for a little bit and--Royals fans will not be at all surprised at this next part--took a few walks, after Miles Durham came up with the bases loaded and decided, hey, I'm going for the grand slam here, swung and whiffed on two fastballs, then shrugged and took four straight balls to ring up another RBI, and Mike MacDougal walked off the field, head down, shoulders slumped, resigned to his fate, I couldn't help but feel a little sad.
It's easy to point out Mike MacDougal, in the major leagues, wasn't very good. That's true. But for 15 minutes there he was a star, dammit, and now that 15 minutes is long over, even the memory of it slowly smoldering to ashes in all minds but his own. And there's something sad about seeing a man's 15 minutes end, walking off a mound in front of 400 fans out in Nowhere, Pennsylvania.
It's funny how you never know. It turns out that MacDougal was trying to work his way back from an injury, and that was just an Evil Mike MacDougal appearance, and Good Mike MacDougal still shows up often enough to keep the composite hanging around the major leagues. So I tip my cap to you, Mike. Yours was a fun career to watch.
Written by Justin Zeth (Contact & Archive) on January 31, 2011
I’m sure I’m not the only one who got a good chuckle out of this nugget from MLBTradeRumors:
GM Brian Cashman told John Harper of the New York Daily News that he talked to Derek Jeter's agent, Casey Close, to clarify comments he made earlier in the week about a potential move to the outfield for the captain.
In case you missed that last riveting episode of Jeter TV, Cashman made a comment to the effect of, “Well, if we for some reason HAD to move Derek, I think he’d work out great in center field.” I thought that quote was pretty funny in its own right when first I read it. Putting Jeter in center field would have been a good idea about eight years ago, about the time Bernie Williams sailed off into the long night. That was when Jeter was still pretty young, and fast. Now he’s 35 and slowing down the way you did (or will) when you were (are) 35, and would rate somewhere between ugly and catastrophic trying to play center field now.
So Cashman wasn’t answering the question at all, assuming the question was “So, you think Jeter’s going to get moved off shortstop soon?” I can’t imagine how Casey Close and/or Derek Jeter would be so sensitive as to not realize it was an obvious and mildly entertaining non-answer, but that must have been a fun conversation between Close and Cashman. “Of COURSE we’re never ever moving him off shortstop, Casey! We plan for Derek Jeter to be our shortstop until 2045!”
Which everyone involved should of course also understand to be a joke. Jeter may last another couple years, but the Yankees are going to have some defensive alignment problems to solve before long. Mark Teixeira is their first baseman for some years to come, and the Yankees have two plans for their DH slot:
PLAN A: Albert Pujols
PLAN B: Jesus Montero
Pujols is the elephant in the room, and if I’m involved with the Yankees in any way, I’ve found no discouragement at all in anything Pujols has been up to the past couple months. I’d be starting to like my chances of making him a Yankee next offseason, as long as I can keep my moron fans away from his wife.
You ask, “where the hell would they play all their 1B/DH types if they brought Pujols on? That’s dumb.” Funny thing—someone asked Bill James that question just recently on his awesome site (subscription required and worth your money.) James, correctly as usual, said:
The Yankees historically pursue the best players... everybody else moves to accommodate them. You don't worry about what slot Pujols goes in. If you have Pujols, you worry about what slot everybody else goes in.
If Pujols hits the market, it is likely the Yankees will sign him and then, if Montero is still on the team, trade Montero for whatever he brings.
That means first base and DH are spoken for. That means that Alex Rodriguez is locked into third base for as long as he’s a Yankee. And Rodriguez is going to swiftly trade his glove in for a frying pan as he ages. Two years from now, it’s unlikely the Yankees will be able to abide both of them in their infield. And they can’t play DH. So one of them is going to have to hide in left field. It might be Rodriguez, but then again... playing shortstop isn’t easy, and Jeter may find himself both performing poorly and getting banged up too much at it.
I can’t help but wonder if the reason the Yankees declined to sign Carl Crawford is that they know left field is going to have to be kept open for the guy that used to be Derek Jeter in the not-too-distant future.