31 October 2005

More Epstein fallout

Peter Gammons take is that Theo just didn't like the job anymore. (Insider Article). He also suggests Gerry Hunsicker or Dave Dombrowski as possibly successors, neither of which thrill me too much.

Sean McAdam reports much the same thing, except placing more of the blame on Larry Lucchino and the now imfamous Boston Globe article.

Baseball Musings 10/31/05, Part II

Well, the Red Sox got a trick they sorely didn't need today. Even after the Boston Globe reported the deal done, Theo Epstein resigned as GM of the Red Sox. Supposedly his office is empty and he's left Fenway Park. I'm sure the Boston media will have a lot of speculating to do about how this happened, but most signs point to Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, who seems to like to drive people out of town. But we may never know what caused Epstein, the GM that brought the Sox back to the promised land, to resign. Will the Red Sox continue to follow the "Moneyball" philosophy? Or have they returned to the Yawkey-era "bow to the players" mantra? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Read the Globe article that supposedly pushed Theo over the edge.

Baseball Musings 10/31/05

First off, The Red Sox
Can they do anything without drama?

Epstein signs - See? I told you so. 3 years/~$1.5 million. Now we can get down to business ....

Manny Manny Manny - 2 weeks ago, I was the staunches supporter of Manny staying next year. The guy is possibly the best right handed hitter in baseball, and thats hard (no, impossible) to replace. However, after his latest (leaked) demand to be traded or he won't show up for Spring Training, it seems like Manny's tenure with the Sox is over. Much like the Seattle Monorail Fiasco, Manny has taken it one step too far in his on-again/off-again relationship with the Sox. I hate to see him go anywhere else in the AL, but that may be the case. He has 10/5 rights to veto any trade and has already said he wants to go to Los Angeles (of Anaheim) or Cleveland. Cleveland is unlikely with the money involved, but Arturo Moreno likes hispanic superstars and has deep pockets. Maybe the Sox can get Ervin Santana, Casey Kotchman and Darin Erstad (+ PTBN?) for Manny. Even with thats, its hard to replace a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Other MLB News

dePo gets canned - The first Moneyball failure? Thats what some writers want to call it. Instead, I think Dodgers owner Frank McCourt hired dePo as a trendy move towards the "moneyball" movement. However, he then surrounded himself with old school advisors like Tommy LaSorda who likely bristled at dePo's moves (trade Paul LoDuca? But he's a gamer!) If there anything we can learn from Moneyball, its that you can't change a team overnight, but the Dodgers weren't willing to wait, especially with free spending (and successful) Arturo Moreno making the Angels big SoCal winners. dePo will end up somewhere, whether as an assistant to Billy Beane or Epstein, or maybe even in Tampa Bay, but you have to feel bad for the lack of a real chance he had to make the Dodgers respectible again.

Cashman reups - Nothing negates a hatred for your boss like big money.

Roger McDowell becomes Braves pitching coach - Most of my memories of Roger McDowell, besides being an OK relief pitcher (think the late 80s/early 90s version of Mike Timlin), is that he was a nut. Interesting to see how he compares to ever-serious Leo Mazzone, eh?

28 October 2005

Baseball Musings 10/28/2005

First things first: it's the offseason!

And considering I'm always looking for lists like this, here are the 206 players eligible for free agency. Players must file before 11/10. Among the 62 who filed on the first day were Paul Konerko (1B), Billy Wagner (RP), Kevin Millar (1B, RF), Bill Mueller (3B), Benjie Molina (C), Mike Piazza (C/1B) and A.J. Burnett (SP).

A few players exercised their options or had their team option exercised for 2006, including (player option) Moises Alou, Ray Durham, LaTroy Hawkins and (team option) Jason Schmidt and Randy Winn (sorry San Fran, you're not getting any younger).

GM Watch
Red Sox: Looks like Theo Epstein could sign by today. Like I said, the non-story of the year (well, possibly after the idea that Karl Rove could be indicted. He makes teflon look sticky). Oh yes, and note to the Red Sox management: I also have a degree in history from a small liberal arts school, i.e., prime Assistant GM material. Meanwhile...

Diamondbacks: Red Sox Assistant GM Josh Byrnes will be named GM. Again, another younger whipper-snapper taking the helm of a team. With the Jon Daniels being named GM of the Rangers, I think the average age of new GM this offseason is 32.5 years old.

Stadium Name Watch
For those of you who don't keep up with Money Magazine, SBC Communications and AT&T recently merged. What does this mean to you? Well, San Francisco's SBC Park (formerly Pac Bell Park) will likely change it's name again. I can't wait! Combine that with the name changes for the Oakland-Alameda/Network Associates/MacAfee Coliseum in Oakland, and the Bay Area is leagues ahead in ridiculous stadium name changes.

Favorite news wire article headline
It speaks for itself:
Schmuck becomes BBWAA president.

26 October 2005

World Series Musings -- Chisox Wins!

Congratulations Chicago White Sox!

If this was not one of the most dominant runs in the postseason, I don't know what is. 11-1 with 4 CG and 2 sweeps. Jeez. So now the Cubs must bear the burden of the uber-curse.

Game 4 was a great game for people who like baseball. Backe and Garcia were on fire (although Buck and McCarver only seem to notice Backe ... more on them below): they just made hitters on both sides look goofy. It wasn't until Lidge came in that the Chisox squeaked their way through with Willie Harris and Jermaine "MVP" Dye. The Astros offense just shut down, no hits in the last 29 AB in Game 4 and no runs in over 13 innings over Games 3 and 4. Jermaine Dye might have been the best Free Agent signing of 2005, and after no one really wanted him, he goes and has the highest BA in the World Series ever (.438) and topped it off with the World Series MVP. He deserves it.

In the Astros defense, Brandon Backe was great and he will be great in 2006. One thing to ponder: Brandon Backe was acquired by the Astros in a trade with for ... yes, Geoff Blum. Now, if this trade doesn't happen, do the Astros win the Series? Blum doesn't hit the HR in game 3, Astacio starts Game 4 for the 'Stros and Wandy Rodriguez throws in the 14th in Game 3. Hmmmm... OK, maybe not.

Back to the White Sox: How clutch was Juan "Mr. October" Uribe defensively? In the ninth inning, not only did he dive into the stands to get the 2nd out, but he also made an amazing grab on the bouncer over Jenks head to throw out Orlando Palmiero. Combine that with his great throw in the bottom of the 8th and he should get an assist for Jenks' save of Game 4. (As Peter Gammons said "The role of Derek Jeter tonight will be played by..." Of course, I think any comparision to Jeter is an insult to Uribe).

By the way, notice how eerily similar Game 4 of 2005 ended to Game 4 of 2004? Man on second, 2 out, bouncer back to the mound. Jenks didn't have the vertical to snowcone it like Foulke did last year, but the result was the game. Sox win the series. (Just no eclipse this evening). First back-to-back sweeps by different teams since 1989/1990 (Cincinnati and Oakland).

So again, congratulations to the Chicago White Sox. "Chicago, go crazy!" as the Chisox radio guys said at the end of the game.

(P.S. McCarver and Buck are TERRIBLE. McCarver just repeats himself over and over and over. How many times did he say that Garner hoped that Ensburg would "run into one" to break his slump. Then, to top it off, in the 9th, McCarver said something to the effect of "The Astros have advanced men to 2nd, to 3rd, but not home." Well, duh, the game was 1-0 White Sox. Thank you Announcer Obvious. Joe Buck just lapped up McCarver's garbage all night long. At least I read that Fox's contract is up next year. We can only hope.)

(P.S. #2 Will Guillen retire? Remember he did say he would retire if the Chisox won the Series. Hmmm.)

Baseball Musings, 10/26/2005

World Series Game 3 Musings

Game 3 was long. I had enough time to leave work, go to a Pakistan Earthquake relief fundraiser (a series of short films), head to Whole Foods, come home and still watch 2 hours of baseball. Now that's long.

First, the good: The Chisox bullpen (after Politte, Cotts and Hermanson in the 8th) were lights out. How lights out? 6 IP, 0 hits, 0 R, 8K. Of course, they did issue 8 BB too, but none of them hurt. And heck, the Astros bullpen was great until they threw in their 2 #5 starters in the 14th: 7.1 IP, 2 hits, 0 R, 7K and 2 BB, lead by Chad Qualls who was just nasty for 3 innings. Ozzie Guillen must be in tune with the universe for using Geoff Blum in the double switch with Iguchi/Jenks instead of Pablo Ozuna. I've always liked Geoff Blum, he can play whatever position you want and doesn't have a terrible bat ... well at least better than Ozuna's (.251/.314/.391 career vs. .271/.307/.331 career). And Ozzie going to Mark Buehrle, in his first relief appearance since 2000, to close it out? Why the heck not? It worked and now Ozzie and the boys can be sipping champagne as early as this evening. And does anyone else think that Bobby Jenks is a golden-armed, younger version of Bob Wickman?

The bad: Ezequiel Astacio just fell apart after giving up the HR to Blum. I mean, Astacio had 2 outs after an amazing double play and then just threw a really bad pitch to Blum. Suddenly its 6-5, but then to give up single, single, walk, walk to the next 4 hitters and its 7-5 is just terrible. And yes, the only option left for Houston, short of the Rocket or Pettitte was Wandy Rodriguez, but couldn't Scrap Iron get Rodriguez in there sooner? However, in Garner's defense, I did enjoy Fox showing Garner throwing his stool across the dugout after Blum's HR. Speaking of Fox, Tim McCarver is an idiot. After Blum's HR, he said something like "the White Sox play mistake-free baseball". They do, do they? 3 errors and 2 unearned runs worth of "mistake free baseball"? Come on Tim, what you really meant to say is that the Chisox capitalize on the Astros mistakes (like Astacio's pitch). And Joe, yes, we get it, the game is going long. How many times do you have to remind us? Ah, if only Fox didn't have World Series TV rights until 3012.

Game 4 Preview
Well, the Chisox could be WS champs tonight, exactly one year after the Red Sox won it. No lunar eclispse to portend victory this time though. Freddy Garcia vs. Brandon Backe, and I'd have to put my money on Garcia. Sox look like a team possessed and they win it tonight. Hopefully not at midnight Pacific, but they will win it nevertheless.

Other baseball musing

Larry Bowa (Third Base Coach) to the Yankees - Am I the only one amused by this? Yes, Bowa will be such a calming influence on the Yankees staff. Yes. That's it. Imagine if Torre did leave and they hired Big Lou Piniella? Wow, I'd love to see Piniella and Bowa on the same staff. Heck, why not hire Lloyd McClendon as first base coach? And Zombie Billy Martin as bench coach. Now that would be excellent.

The Theo Epstein Saga - If this isn't the biggest pile of Boston sport media bu*$#@it ever, I don't know what is. Epstein will be back. Ah Boston, calm down a bit, OK?

25 October 2005

Quick Game 3 Thoughts

The White Sox should thank me. I got home for the 9th, watched the game until the top of the 14th, only to turn the channel for 5 seconds to check the weather and flip back to find Geoff Blum in his HR trot. And honestly, if the Chisox can get game winning HR from Blum and Podsednik (heck, Ozzie might as well hit, he'd probably homer too), then nothing will stop them. More on game 3 tomorrow.

Baseball Extra

In BP-style...

Lowest Opp OPS - 2005
(Between 20 and 50 TB allowed)

1. M. Cain (SF) .479
2. J. Padilla (NYM) .489
3. C. Hensley (SD) .503
4. A. Rhodes (CLE) .532
5. B. Medders (ARI) .529
6. J. Taschner (SF) .566
7. M. Miller (CLE) .575
8. F. Cabrera (CLE) .592
9. J. Accardo (SF) .596
10. T. Corcoran (TB) .604

1. M. Gonzalez (PIT) .493
2. O. Moreno (NYM) .541
3. J. Crain (MIN) .551
4. K. Calero (STL) .552
5. J. Colome (TB) .604
6. R. Dempster (CHC) .610
7. R. Mendoza (BOS) .611
8. Y. Brazoban (LAD) .620
9. T. Williams (BAL) .630
10. R. Colon (ATL) .631

Change in the schedule

Well, after some consideration, I've decided to not have a politic day on this blog. Mostly, its because I find most political punditry useless and irritating, and I'd rather not add to that heaping pile of ... well, you know. Instead, I will add to the heaping pile of baseball punditry, with a little music mixed in.

And on that note, my message to the Democrats: GET OFF YOUR ARSES.

(I hope against hope for a Cheney indictment ... sigh ... I guess even if he were indicted, he'd disappear anyway, right?)

24 October 2005

Baseball Musings 10/24/2005

After a quality morning slicing rocks into tiny pieces ...

World Series Musing
When was the last time that a player with ZERO home runs during the regular season went on to hit TWO in the postseason, let alone a walk-off HR. Well, I guess the answer to that is 1 day ago, as Scott Podsednik made the Chisox look like the team that God doesn't want to have lose this postseason. Combine Pod's HR with the mysterious Jermaine Dye HBP that lead to Konerko's no-question-about-it Grand Slam off Chad Qualls, the Chisox may pull of a 2004 Red Sox and just wipe out the Astros in 4 afterall. Go figure. The Chisox have been getting timely hitting out of odd sources (Juan Uribe? Yes, he of .500BA, 2 RBI and a SB so far in the Series) and good pitching from almost everyone, especially Cliff Politte, off of 2 weeks rest, just made the 'Stros look silly - 11P, 8 for strikes, 1K before the Bobby Jenks Express hit a bit of a speedbump last night.

You have to feel bad for Brad Lidge. After all the press annointed him the best closer since sliced bread, he's given up 2 game-losing HR in his last two appearances. Maybe its the workload catching up with him, or maybe the sports media is just too giddy trying to find their Mariano-in-wating for the postseason (am I the only one who just doesn't care if the Yankers are in the postseason?). Lidge will bounce back next year, but he's lost a little bit of that infallibility that allowed the Astros to trade Billy Wagner and Octavio Dotel to let Lidge close.

And it could be a short series for the Astros consider their main offensive threat so far in the Series has been Berkman, Wee Willy Taveras and Bashing Brad Ausmus. Everybody else seems to have taken a vacation, even in a hitters park like US Cellular Field. With the series returning to Houston tomorrow, all the sports pundits are saying Houston will get back into it, but part of me thinks that the Astros may just roll over like the Cardinals last year (remember how much home field helped them against Petey and D-Lowe). The last few World Series have really shown that great pitching will dominate anyone, anywhere.

And so far, we seem to have few symptoms of Iguchi Fever (.125 BA). Ah well.
(Oh yes, and I wish Yahoo! wouldn't reset the player's stats for each series. Grrr).

Of course, to contradict everything I just said, my Game 3 Prediction (Garland vs. Oswalt): 3-1 Astros. Why? Oswalt is just that cool. Of course, if Pod gets up with RISP in the ninth, watch out!

22 October 2005

Wells to Seattle?

I fully endorse the likely totally unsubstianted speculation of David Wells going to Seattle. If the Sox could get a good, young, live arm (e.g., Piniero, Soriano, Nagoette) I'm all for it. And I'd love to see Wells partying in Pioneer Square.

21 October 2005

Baseball Musings 10/20/2005

As seen below: Chisox in 7.

I, for one, am impressed with the Chisox 4 straight CG wins in the ALCS. Ozzie Guillen is the coaching equivalent of last year's Red Sox Idiots.

Some coaching moves:
Leo Mazzone (Pitching Coach) to Baltimore - Never has so much press been dedicated to a pitching coach. And (almost) rightly so. At least he spurned the Yankers who, if we're lucky, will hire Steve Howe as their next pitching coach. What is Steinbrenner's obsession with hiring former Yankee players as coaches? I'm also perplexed by these coach-for-player moves. Atlanta acquired minor league pitcher Moises Hernandez from Baltimore in exchange for Mazzone. How does that make Leo feel when Big Lou Piniella cost Tampa Bay a pretty good major league outfielder (in the form of Randy Winn, who has now turned into Jesse Foppert and Yorvit Torrealba for Seattle).

Joe Girardi (Manager) to Florida - Maybe they're looking for some Eric Wedge magic, but heck, if the new qualification to manage is "Yankees bench coach," the Marlins ownership might have wanted to check with Baltimore about their previous manager, former Yankees bench coach Lee Mazzilli. I get the impression they weren't too happy with him.

Dale Sveum (Third Base Coach) to Milwaukee - Gasp! Does this leave an opportunity for the return of Wendell "Wave 'em in" Kim to Boston? *edit - Sadly, the answer is no. Sox announced DeMarlo Hale as the new third base coach. Hale spent the last few years as the same for the Texas Rangers.

Brian Price (Pitching Coach) to Arizona - Musical pitching coaches these days. Hopefully he'll have better luck with Halsey, Valverde and the other young Arizona pitchers than he did in Seattle with Meche, Piniero, Soriano, etc.

Music Update 10/21/2005

So, here are some of my recent additions to Ipod-land:

Xiu Xiu - La Foret : 4/5 - If you want to be frightened and sad, you'll love this. Think Bjork meets Aphex Twin and Bright Eyes.
Fiery Furnaces - Rehearsing My Choir: 3/5 - Oddly quaint.
Adam & the Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier: 4/5 - Classic. Dirty.
Metric - Live It Out: 3.5/5 - Less dancy, more rocky. Emily is great though.
Franz Ferdinand - You Can Have it So Much Better: 5/5 - Mere brilliance, that's all.

Some new tracks I enjoy these days:
Madonna - Hang Up - See earlier post. Oddly hyponotic. You can hear it on her website.
Bloc Party - Two More Years - More gems. Like a freaking mine. You can watch the video for "Two More Years" along with a bunch of other Bloc Party stuff on their website
Interpol - Slow Hands (Dan the Automator Remix) - Still good stuff 1 year down the road. (Preview in the iTunes store)
Keane & Faultline - Goodbye Yellowbrick Road - Sadly, quite good. (Preview in the iTunes store)
The Strokes - Juicebox - Not to be picky, but this seems a bit like the Strokes trying to catch up with Franz Ferdinand. Mind you, not a bad song, just, well, pedestrian. Luckily you can judge for yourself in the news section of the Strokes website.

Future versions will have more details, but Lauren is impatient today.
If you're bored, you can read my latest reviews on the excellent Three Imaginary Girls.
Stellastarr* - Harmonies for the Haunted
Feist - Let It Die

Hyvaa Paivaa! En puhu soumea? Anteeksi!

Well, enough with introductions I say.

A few parting shots across the bow:

1. Yes, Joe Morgan should be fired. So should Skip Bayless. So should Steve Lyons. So should Joe Buck. So should Tim McCarver. *edit - How did I forget my current enemy #1, none other than the poor man's Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg. Somebody explain why these HOF 2B are such terrible analysts?
2. You heard it here first: Chisox in 7, walkoff by Iguchi. We'll all have Iguchi Fever right before the Avian Flu.
3. You heard it here, well, maybe third or fourth: Manny stays in Boston. However, Foulke doesn't. If Epstein learned anything from Billy Beane is that closers are a dime a dozen. (Oh yes, this means Epstein stays too).
4. Madonna + ABBA = good. The math seems flawed, but I can't find the error.
5. Tom DeLay makes Ollie North looks like saint-material. Mark my words, DeLay has no soul, or, at least, possibly Dick Cheney's resold soul.
6. If I hear another "Houston we have a problem" play of any sort in relation to the World Series, I will be violently ill. It's almost as bad as the "Manny being Manny" pandemic.

Thats all for now.