The Last Piece of the Puzzle

I’ll start this post by proudly admitting I’m a huge Skip Bayless fan.  Why all the hate?  That said, I’m agreeing with something Stephen A. Smith said today on 1st and 10: the Yankees should sign Manny Ramirez. 

To paraphrase, Smith said the Yanks should quit messing around with their half-evil persona and tack another 70 million bills onto their 430 million-dollar spree and make it happen, sticking it to Boston and everyone else.  If you’re going to be evil, Smith reasons, be evil all the way.  When you’re north of 400 large to begin with, what’s a straight half-billion? Be evil and win.  
Don’t think for a second that I approve of the Yankees team-assembling (notice I did not say team-building) model.  I don’t. I think it’s the soulless, gutless antithesis of baseball’s finest points. That said, Stephen A. is right about at least one thing:  the Yankees are so obviously committed to this way of doing business and have been for so long, why not finish it?  Why not embrace the role of villain fully and see how far it gets you?
As a Yankees hater, I’m all for the narrative that sets them up as the team everyone loves to hate.  Adding Manny to their piecemeal All-Star review only makes it sweeter, especially when they still don’t win this year.

Two IronPigs on Top 10 Prospects List

J.A. Happ and Carlos Carrasco, two pitchers in the Phils system that played for my own Lehigh Valley IronPigs last year, have been ranked at #2 and #9 respectively in Baseball America’s annual Top 10 list.  #1 honors went to Dominic Brown of the Fightin’s Single-A BlueClaws club in Lawewood.  Read the story here at the ‘Pigs website.

Is JC Romero Getting Sandbagged?

Are you kidding me, MLB????  If it’s true that Romero bought a legal supplement over the counter and was never informed by anyone (either before or after doing his own due diligence), that it would cause him to test positive for banned substances and, even more to the point, the player’s union didn’t even know the substance was banned, I don’t see what MLB has to stand on here.  Let me be clear: illicit PEDs have no place in baseball or anywhere.  But something I could buy at the mall?  Let’s ban vitamins while we’re at it.

Peter Gammons’ story from yesterday in which Romero tells his side of the story is linked below.  If JC is telling the truth, I don’t see how he can be held accountable.  And the lapse in communication from the union to players about what is and isn’t considered illicit (not by US law here, but by the MLB drug code), which seems to be a matter of fact, is outrageous. We don’t yet know if the MLB failed to inform the union or if the union just failed to inform the players (the people it supposedly exists to protect). 

Today’s update is odd.  If Romero is innocent, why not appeal?  First and foremost because the Phillies front office won’t support it.  Why won’t they support it?  Maybe because there’s more to the story, or maybe because the suits behind the World Champs want to draw a hard line with MLB about the taint of illicit PEDs, even going so far as to sandbag a man who won them two WS games (with no trace of any supplement whatsoever in his system) just because he tested positive a few months before for a substance that no one knew was on MLB’s black list and that had been cleared by a trainer and a nutritionist?
So either we don’t know the whole story, or the Philly front office is towing MLB’s PR line.  If it’s the later, I still have to wonder why.  Because they’re the champs?  Because they’re this year’s face of baseball?  Are they somehow being coerced?

Burrell To Tampa

From the beginning of the 2008 season I
thought this was the best fit for both parties come 2009.
 The Phils-Rays World Series underscored the point. The
Bat loves sunny climes, he won’t have to field and the Rays
need a righty and a veteran older guy to complement their
young talent.  I love that it was Pat’s last hit as a
Phil that put the winning run on against Tampa in the
Classic.  Godspeed, Pat, and thanks for everything.
 Best of luck (until next

Wild Thing on MLB Network

Mitch Williams is going to be one of the analysts on MLBN’s “MLB Tonight” and the live off-season show “Hot Stove.”
I’m glad that Mitch is going to have a national audience because he’s great and he deserves it. I’m not happy that he won’t be doing Phillies Post Game Live on Comcast anymore…watching him talk about the Phils every night was part of the total experience.  I’m especially glad he was there in ’08.   Who to replace him?

Ned Colletti’s Ironic Laryngitis

From today’s article by Ken Gurnick:

The agent for Manny Ramirez contacted the Dodgers on Tuesday, one day after word that the club was considering making a run at free-agent outfielders Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu.

[Dodgers] General manager Ned Colletti said he received a voicemail from Scott Boras in regards to Ramirez, the first contact between the two sides on the free-agent outfielder since a session at the Winter Meetings went nowhere earlier this month.

“He left me a voicemail about an hour ago,” a raspy Colletti, fighting off laryngitis, said Tuesday night. “I’m sure we’ll talk in the next few days. Hopefully, I’ll have my voice back.”

Ned, I think we all know that when it comes to these negotiations, you’ve got your voice back and then some.  I said last week that Teixeira to the Yankees neutralized Manny’s already waning appeal and left Team Ramirez with few options.  As Gurnick puts it: ” The market for Ramirez has been essentially non-existent. The Dodgers’ two-year, $45 million offer with a $15 million third-year option — made in October and withdrawn soon after their window of negotiating exclusivity closed on Nov. 14 — remains the only one yet extended to the slugger, who turns 37 next year.”

The original offer, if it’s even still on the table, seems like Manny’s only option at this point, but don’t be surprised if someone else makes a move when a Dodgers deal seems close.  

For Pete’s Sake Part II

(This began as a comment on the previous post, but I’ve made it it’s own entry because it started getting a little long and it’s something that I think will interest people who have been watching the MLB Network promos.  See the previous post, “For Pete’s Sake”, for context).

Actually, the clip I saw (perhaps a different montage than you both saw) was of later-day, player/manager Pete in a Reds uniform celebrating something (perhaps the all-time hit record?).

I think technically speaking, being banned from MLB doesn’t actually ban one from the HOF…they have separate governing bodies and rules for these things as I understand it.

That said, I don’t think that betting on baseball is in the same category as steroids when it comes to the HOF. I can see a valid argument against people who haven been proven to have used PEDs during their career, because the PEDs do exactly what the acronym says: they enhance performance in an unfair (and illegal) way. Betting does not give one an unfair competitive advantage, unless you’re betting against the team you manage, and I doubt Rose did this. Even if he did, I find him a far more sympathetic character than steroid users.

Sure, betting is against the rules, but betting didn’t help Rose become the hit king. Steroids (presumably) did help Bonds and others reach their HOF-like numbers, so it’s different. I know there are sabermetrics people who say you can take Bonds’ pre-steroids numbers and extrapolate an HOF career, but for me, these numbers are forever tainted. Minus the PEDs, we’ll never know about a player’s natural longevity or proneness to injury. We just can’t know what would have been. With Rose, however, there’s no question.

For Pete’s Sake

I was just scrolling through the higher channels on my digital cable package and was extremely happy to discover that I will, indeed, be receiving the MLB Network starting on New Year’s Day at 6 PM.  

For the time being, the Network is running montages, previews, and so on before going off-air and returning on Thursday night with a show called “Hot Stove Live.”  I’m DVRing the preceding half hour, as I suspect there’s going to be a pretty well-produced Network intro.
That said, the Network isn’t even officially on air yet and I already have a gripe.  Tonight, during one of the montages featuring all-time great moments and players to promote the channel (and, by extension, MLB), an image of Pete Rose was used.  In case you don’t know, I’m a firm believer that Rose should be eligible for the Hall of Fame.  I believe he was the best all-around player of real baseball we’ve ever seen, and I believe he’s the on-field model for guys like Chase Utley and others who will their teams to victory.
So, why should I have a problem with Charlie Hustle getting some due from MLB?  It’s probably obvious.  Under the current MLB regime, Rose remains persona non grata as a matter of official policy.  Why should MLB be able to make a buck off him or, worse, use his likeness to promote itself even while Rose is banned from MLB?  If he’s banned, he’s banned, and baseball should, at the very least, avoid exploiting the image of an all-time great that they’ve officially otherwise blacklisted for life.   
I get that Rose bet on baseball and lied about it.  I also get that Bud Selig is bent on making sure Rose will never beat him.  But scolding Rose with one hand and making a buck from him with the other is a joke, and for a game that’s supposedly at least a little bit about character, it sets a hypocritical example.  Not a good start.
(Free Pete Rose!)

The Neutralization of Manny Ramirez

…is named Mark Teixeira.  We know Manny’s not going to Boston.  Teixeira singing with the Yanks makes a Bronx move less likely.  Where do you see this going?  Would a move to South Philly surpise you?  The Fightin’s already have a new left fielder, but it’s interesting to think about adding Manny to that line up.  And I think he’d play with passion (think Dodger Manny) and drive for a team like the reiging champs. 

I get that ending up with Bad Manny is the monster downside to a gamble by any team for Good Manny, and I’m not saying I want him in South Philly.  But if he had an Utley mentality…