Monthly archives: February 2008
Yoshii tries to mix and match MLB and NPB styles as pitching coach in Sapporo
Brad Lefton of the New York Times profiles retired MLB and NPB pitcher Masato Yoshii, who is starting his first year as the pitching coach for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Yoshii pitched 19 seasons at the top level in Japan and North America, five of them in MLB for the Mets, Rockies, and Expos. Yoshii is one of the few players to leave Japan, come to the U.S. and then go back. And Yoshii is the first Japanese player to have played in MLB to become a coach in NPB since Hideo Nomo started the exodus in 1995.
MLB to try out a few new rules in the minors
The MLB Rules Committee announced a few rules changes that will be tried out in the minors (New York-Penn and Northwest Leagues) this season to see how they work and if they will be implemented at the big league level:
But at least it's not a problem
Cecil Fielder is the new manager of the Surf, a team that plays in the independent Can-Am League. The Atlantic City Surf.
Fielder claims that he won't gamble while in Atlantic City and he doesn't have a gambling problem. But as the AP story says:
The worst part was when his son Prince showed up at a school assembly dressed in two poorly sewn together sofa cushions that were supposed to resemble an outline of the state of Florida.
Weekly Puzzle #11
Police issue arrest warrant for Spiezio
The Irvine (CA) Police Department have issued an arrest warrant for Cardinals utility man Scott Spiezio for a whole bunch of charges relating to an automobile accident in December.
I would assume that Spiezio, who has reported to the Cardinals camp in Jupiter, is not hard to find. The accident came after Spiezio came out of treatment for substance abuse last summer.
UPDATE - The Cardinals have released Spiezio.
Sunday Game of the Week scheduled
TBS has announced its schedule for its first eight Sunday afternoon national telecasts.
And do any of the games not involve a team from New York, Boston, Los Angeles, or Chicago?
All times are PT.
Chip Caray will handle the SHOUT BY SHOUT. TBS will carry a game every Sunday afternoon throughout the regular season. I demand more Pirates games!
Cardinals will continue batting pitcher in #8 slot
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has said that during spring training games where the DH is not used, his pitchers will be written in to the #8 slot. La Russa also said that this would continue during the regular season.
Brewers manager Ned Yost has broached the idea of having catcher Jason Kendall bat ninth.
Boone admits alcohol problem
Bret Boone, trying to make a comeback with the Washington Nationals, admitted to having an alcohol problem and spending 26 days in a rehab facility in San Diego in 2006.
From an MLB.com story:
The Arbies are over for 2008
The final two arbitration cases for 2008 were settled last week with Oliver Perez winning $6.5 million and Francisco Rodriguez losing and settling for a mere $10 million.
The owners were 6-2 this year in arbitration cases and have a 280-205 lead. Maury Brown's Biz of Baseball site has all the gory details going back to 1974.
Absolutely Bill Fischer
Fischer has a set of absolutes he tries to impart to all pitchers:
The lengthy profile is rich in some great anecdotes from Fischer about his career.
If you can't say anything nice...
The Hall of Fame Game now becomes crucial issue in presidential campaign
But Hillary Clinton is backing the movement to save the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown.
If she gets elected, I'm guessing reinstituing the Hall of Fame will be Executive Order #1!
WBC venues set?
Peter Bjarkman, a Cuban baseball historian and a blogger for MLB.com, is reporting that the sites for all the 2009 World Baseball Classic have been set.
The first round sites would be the Tokyo Dome, Rogers Centre, Hiram Bithorn Stadium (San Juan, PR), and Mexico City (Foro Sol Stadium).
The second round games would be held in Anaheim and San Diego and the semifinals and finals would be held in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. As opposed to the other large baseball stadium in Los Angeles.
The USA team would likely play its first round games in Toronto.
Produce prices skyrocket in Wisconsin
Judge for yourself if the title of the book is unfit for a "family Web site."
Weekly Puzzle #10
Howard ends Phillies victory streak in arbitration cases
Ryan Howard won the biggest arbitration award in baseball history, earning a $10 million contract today. The Phillies had offered $7 million.
Alfonso Soriano was awarded $10 million from the Washington Nationals back in 2006, but that Soriano lost that arbitration. Soriano experienced whatever the opposite of a Pyrrhic victory is.
The Phillies had won the seven previous arbitration hearings they had been involved in.
If you don't have a ticket, don't bother coming...
The Oakland-Boston opening series in Tokyo has sold out. You could always try to buy a ticket from a friendly yakuza-connected scalper outside the Tokyo Dome. Haggling with organized crime figures in a language that you probably don't speak is not advised.
The AP story linked above repeats the myth that the Tokyo Dome seats 55,000 people.
I can't find a panoramic shot of all the seats, but here's a view looking out from home. And here's a shot looking back toward home. The stadium has just two decks and the top deck tapers down to just a few rows as it gets into the corners. If they sell standing room, there's no good place to stand to see any of the action as the lower deck has a lot of rows. I would guess that there are about 40,000 seats.
Rays unveil new (to me) stadium design
Reader Monterey Chris passes along this link from Yahoo! Sports about pictures of a proposed new park for the Tampa Bay Rays. Theoretically, it could open in time for the 2012 season.
It certainly would be an improvement on Tropicana Field.
The Astros tortured offseason continues
Houston signed free agent pitcher Shawn Chacon to a one-year, $2 million deal. Chacon joins other off-season acquisitions such as Darin Erstad, Chad Paronto, Jack Cassel, Jose Valverde (well he's not that bad), Miguel Tejada (he comes with baggage, but it's not Samsonite), and Kazuo Matsui. Jose Cruz and Lance Niekro have tryouts.
It's going to be a long year for Cecil Cooper.
Pittsburgh made up for Chacon's absence by signing Byung-Hyun Kim.
The Pittsburgh Pirates slogan for 2008: We're keeping Houston from finishing last!
Adrian Gonzalez: semantics expert
The Associated Press ran a story today about the San Diego Padres and which players were eager to go to China next month for a pair of exhibition games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
New B-R Play Index tool
Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com has rolled out a new feature as part of the Play Index. It is called Batting Order Position Outcomes summary. Here's a link to the Red Sox from last year.
From there, you can head off to other teams and years and other slots in the batting order.
Granny, get out the rye bread! Niehaus wins the Frick Award
Longtime Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus, who started with the team at its inception in 1977, has been chosen as the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award, given annually for broadcast excellence.
Bob Howsam, 1918-2008
Bob Howsam, former general manager of the Cincinnati Reds during the heyday of the mid-1970s, as well as GM of the Cardinals, passed away today in Sun City, Arizona at age 89.
Howsam was also instrumental in starting two professional sports teams in Denver: the Broncos and the Rockies. At the 2003 SABR convention in Denver, someone gave me one of Howsam's season tickets to go see the Rockies play the Giants. Howsam had really good seats.
At that convention, Howsam sat in on a scouts panel. Someone asked him who was the best player, he scouted. The answer: Johnny Bench. That beat out the guy on the panel who said the best player he scouted was Dave Hollins.
Get your WBC Brackets ready
The field of 16 has been picked for the second World Baseball Classic, which will be held next spring. The 16 participants will be the same as the ones who played in 2006: Japan, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Korea, USA, Mexico, Canada, Taiwan, China, Venezuela, Panama, Puerto Rico, Italy, Australia, Netherlands, and South Africa.
Venues will be announced next month. All four first-round games will be played outside of the United States this time. The Tokyo Dome and the Rogers Centre are two likely venues. Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico was also used in the last tournament. Presumably a stadium in the Dominican Republic would be used. I woudn't count on Caracas hosting any games. Or Havana.
The field is expected to increase to 24 nations for 2013.
Tejada officially says "No comment"
Houston shortstop Miguel Tejada, upon reaching the Astros spring training site in Kissimmee, Florida, declined to comment upon his presence in Mitchell Report on the advice of attorneys.
According to the Mitchell Report, Tejada received steroids from Oakland teammate Adam Piatt in 2003.
Gagne apologizes, but that's all
Brewers reliever Eric Gagne addressed the media today and apologized for the distractions he caused for being named in the Mitchell Report, but did not admit using any PEDs.
I updated the info on the Mitchell 85.
Nats shoot for Boone Bonanza
Bret Boone will attempt a comeback after sitting out the last two seasons as he has signed a non-guaranteed contract with Washington. Brother Aaron already signed with Washington and father Bob is an assistant GM.
And about those steroid allegations, Boone said:
Capitol Punishment looks further into the world of Boones.
The Mitchell 85
With spring training starting and in the wake of the Roger Clemens/Brian McNamee hearings, I thought it would be time to check to see how the 85 players named in the Mitchell Report reacted to being named in the report.
My search would not be called exhaustive. It would be called tedious. An exhaustive search would be twice as tedious, but it's a holiday weekend. Besides, I lost Kirk Radomski's phone number.
In many cases, the reaction is "none" which is either "I couldn't find anything specific or the player refused comment."
I checked in a lot of places online, but the bulk of the info came from the ESPN.com summary and this article from SFgate.com (which actually focuses on the Yankees, not the Giants.) If you know of any errors or information on any other player who has spoken on the record one way or the other about the Mitchell Report, I will make the change.
Marlins very close to new stadium deal
The Florida Marlins, the little team that nobody loved despite winning two World Series, has struck a deal with City of Miami and Miami-Dade County officials, to build a 37,000 seat retractable roof stadium at the site of the Orange Bowl. The deal still needs approval from both the city and county councils next week.
The plan is to have the stadium ready for Opening Day in 2011 and then the team would be renamed the Miami Marlins.
One of the stories coming out of Lakeland and the Detroit Tigers spring training is: will Brandon Inge be unhappy because Miguel Cabrera was acquired to take over his job at third base?
For most teams, this is a problem they wouldn't mind having. Or maybe it's not a problem at all. Maybe the Tigers are just giving the job to a far superior player.
Whatever it is, Inge is not going to make trouble, he says. But if this quote from the AP is correct, Inge may need to make a trip to the doctor:
So, I guess having Tigers in your blood is not a cancerous condition. But it still seems dangerous to me. An extensive search of medical databases has turned up what the disease really is.
Zaun says check to Grimsley was not for steroids
Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun denied that he has used PEDs and said the check he wrote to Jason Grimsley was likely to pay off a bet and then Grimsley used it to buy steroids for himself.
Note to self: Get rid of category for "Illegal Performance Enhancing Drugs" in Quicken.
Bonds failed drug test when?
Yesterday's kerfuffle about Barry Bonds having a positive drug test for PEDs in 2001 turned out to be erroneous:
Darn Y2K bug.
Rays flee jurisdiction again
One year after moving a series with the Texas Rangers from St. Petersburg to Lake Buena Vista, the Tampa Bay Rays (Devil begone!) announced that they will be playing their April 22-24 series against the Toronto Blue Jays in Kissimmee.
Oh, never mind after all
A day after Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Henry Waxman of California now regrets holding the hearings at all.
However, Waxman said, as reported in the New York Times, that it wasn't his fault:
But how else would we have found out about Roger Clemens' bleeding posterior and other butt-related issues?
Weekly Puzzle #9
Now that it's officially spring...
And spring training for nearly every team starts today, you should have another listen to Ernie Harwell's tradition of greeting the spring.
Anticipating a question, turtles can't sing. It's actually a poetic contraction for "turtle dove." Please take your complaints to the guys who translated the Song of Solomon into English.
Shopping list for 2009 at the Japanese market
Michael Westbay, who runs the excellent Japanese Baseball site, has a discussion thread up about who will be the top players in Japan eligible for free agency in 2009.
From what I've seen of these pitchers when I was in Japan, I would think that Uehara, Kawakami, and Iwase would draw a lot of interest.
The dizzying highs and the stultifyingly dull lows (UPDATE)
Moving from the world of champion dogs, I segue over to college basketball and give you my brother Tom's story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about his coverage of the highest scoring game in Division I basketball by one team and the lowest scoring in Division I basketball by one team since the advent of the shot clock.
My part in this was helping to track down the boxscore of the USIU-LMU game. I could only find a full one in the San Diego Union and it wasn't perfect.
The stats for Terrell Lowery weren't complete and I had to estimate his totals from other sources, such as the number of rebounds in the game. Each team was credited with 63, although I don't know if that included dead ball rebounds. Lowery had 16 assists in the game also.
Here is a link to the SLU-GW boxscore from earlier this year.
UPDATE - SLU and GW matched up again tonight in St. Louis. The Billikens won it, 63-38. Judging from the boxscore, the game was even duller than the score would indicated.
Lowery's figures have been fixed.
And what a busy day it was...
Presumably, most people knew that Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee testified before a Congressional committee today. Even MLB.com had gavel to demagogue coverage of it. The people at Sports Ticker said there was a partisan divide on the panel with the Democrats attacking Clemens and the Republicans supporting Clemens.
The fact that Roger Clemens was born in Dayton, Ohio should not scare you off I guess. Clemens lives in Texas and grew up there. But he wasn't born there. Unless Dayton, Ohio has been annexed by Texas. (Note to self: Add Dayton to list of cities to visit because a treaty was signed there.)
Also, Andy Pettitte said he used HGH in 2004. And his father gave it to him. My dad never gave me synthetic hormones. I guess he didn't love me enough. Well, back to the therapist I go.
Glenallen Hill and Matt Herges apologized for using HGH. Hill did not apologize for his fielding.
In non-PED news, the Mariners named Erik Bedard as their Opening Day starter before they even started spring training. That will be March 31 in Seattle against Texas.
And Kris Benson takes his reality show life to Philadelphia, or at least spring training with the Phillies, as he was given a minor league contract from the NL East champs.
We will soon return you to your regular baseball content.
You can't walk off the island, but can you walk back to Texas?
Kevin Mench has accepted a minor league deal and a tryout to make the Texas Rangers this spring. Mench broke in with the Rangers in 2002 and was traded to the Brewers in a deal involving Carlos Lee in 2006.
Mench was known for his aversion to taking walks and he had just 16 of them in 101 games last year with the Brewers. At a game involving the Brewers and Cardinals I attended last year, a Brewers fan turned to me at one point and said, "We have a saying in Milwaukee about Kevin Mench and walks, 'Kevin Mench does not take walks.'"
Brewers fans are not ones for obtuse statements.
This is known as a downgrade
The link on ESPN.com reads "Twins fill spot vacated by Santana with Hernandez."
The Twins gave Livan Hernandez a 1-year, $5 million contract. Look for plenty of souvenir baseballs to be deposited into the left field bleachers at the Metrodome this year.
Tying? There's no tying in baseball
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) is prepapring to end its practice of concluding games that were still tied after 12 innings. In the past, those games went into the standings as draws and were not replayed. A similar rule is used in Japan.
From the Korea Times:
Lofton headed for the other Ohio team?
MLB.com and FoxSports are both reporting that the Reds are considering a deal to sign free agent outfielder Kenny Lofton.
If Lofton signs with Cincinnati, that means he would be on his
Lofton has played for Reds manager Dusty Baker in both San Francisco and Chicago (NL version).
Know your Sweeneys
Wherever you look this offseason, somebody named Sweeney seems to be coming up. How do you keep them straight? I've prepared a guide you can print out and save for reference.
What began well won't end well
Back on August 15, 1965, the Beatles became the first musical performers to hold a concert at Shea Stadium.
It was no small affair and it was one of the first times (some say it was the first, but I'm not inclined to verify that fact) a rock group had played in a stadium of that size. A crowd of over 55,000 attended. But it ushered in an era of concerts where lots of people attended and sat in places where they could see or hear little of what was being played.
A 10-minute video of parts of the concert is below:
And who will be the last musical act to play Shea Stadium? Billy Joel.
SIGN MAN PASSES
Karl Ehrhardt, who from 1964 through 1981, was a fixture at Shea Stadium with a seemingly unending supply of signs to describe plays during Mets games passed away at his home in Glen Oaks, New York at age 83.
From the New York Times obituary:
Now it's just too weird
The AP reports that Brian McNamee told Congress that he not only injected Roger Clemens with HGH, but he also injected Clemens' wife, Debbie, with HGH. That supposedly took place in 2003 when Debbie Clemens was posing for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Perhaps there was a volume discount that McNamee offered.
Mariners and O's negotiate historic Bedard-Jones accord
It's official. Erik Bedard goes from Baltimore to Seattle in exchange for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Tony Butler, and Kam Mickolio.
The trade isn't historic, but I'm just a guy who is a treaty nerd. I went to Utrecht once on a vacation just because I wanted to say I had been there. And I was very happy once to spend a night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
There, I'm convinced now
The Smoking Gun has pictures of what Brian McNamee claims are the syringes and gauze pads he used to inject Roger Clemens with HGH.
Thankfully, ever since "CSI" came on the air, I have learned enough about forensics that I can perform a DNA test on those syringes by just using my eyes. Yep, it's Clemens DNA. I know it anywhere.
Link via BTF.
The AP reports that the beer can in the first photo was found by McNamee in Clemens residence and was used to hide syringes.
Schore schoulder schidelines Schilling
Reports from Boston papers and later carried by MLB.com say the Boston pitcher Curt Schilling will miss the beginning of spring training with a shoulder injury and it might require surgery. The injury is reported to be different from the one Schilling incurred last season.
Everybody wants Jeremy
In this case, it is really just two Japanese teams who claim that they signed Jeremy Powell ( パウエル ジェルミー) to a contract to play for them in 2008. And it could take a while to sort out.
Then on January 29, the Softbank Hawks announced that they had signed Powell to a contract, stating that the contract with Orix hadn't been finalize. The people from Orix were displeased.
On January 30, the Pacific League ruled that Powell had indeed signed two valid contracts.
On February 1, Softbank and Orix say that there is no hope for compromise on this issue and they ask for mediation.
Eventually, on February 4, the Pacific League rules that Powell's contract with Softbank is the one that prevails. However, Powell is suspended for the first three months of the 2008 season. The next day, Orix rejects the ruling from the Pacific League office.
Finally, Softbank protested the length of the suspension, but sent Powell back to the U.S. to train and rehab his injured knee.
I really hope Powell is worth all this trouble.
Weekly Puzzle #8
The John Tyler of the Texas Rangers
The AFP headlines the story about Nolan Ryan taking a job in the Rangers front office:
Being named the 10th president of the Texas Rangers would be more meaningful if I could more easily figure out who the first nine were. The last one was Jeff Cogen. Jim Lites and Michael Cramer also held the post. I don't believe George W. Bush had the title when he owned part of the Rangers.
Blood on the syringe, say it ain't so
Duff Wilson and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times are reporting that Brian McNamee, named as the source for HGH for Roger Clemens among others, has trace evidence of blood from Clemens on needles and gauze pads that he claims he used to inject Clemens back in 2000 and 2001.
Good to know that McNamee is really keen on cleaning up medical waste.
Jose Canseco's effect on his teammates
And this just isn't idle speculation, this is a peer-reviewed paper by two professors who specialize in workplace and labor issues. (pdf link) And they conclude that players who played with Canseco did show improvement. So did they pick up Canseco's "habits?" Well, read on and decide for yourself. Or you can be like me and just read the abstract at the beginning.
Link via BTF.
Juan not gone?
Juan Gonzalez has gotten a non-roster tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals. The two-time AL MVP hasn't played in the majors since 2005 and he hasn't played over 100 games in a season since 2001.
Ed Vargo, 1928-2008
Former National League umpire Ed Vargo passed away at his home in Butler, Pennsylvania Saturday at the age of 79. Vargo worked as an umpire for 24 years from 1960-1983.
From the AP obituary:
The last game Vargo worked was the second game of a doubleheader between the Mets and Expos on October 2, 1983.
Retrosheet's records state that Vargo was born in 1930.
The Long March Epilogue: Super Bowl XLII chat
Reports coming to me from Arizona tell me that there is a football game today. Approximately 3:30 pm PT. There is a team from New Jersey that calls itself New York against a team that calls itself New England (it's about time the people of Vermont had a pro football team).
You can feel free to use this thread to comment on the accounts, transcripts, and events of the game even if you don't have the express written consent of the Commissioner of Football.
Things you might not have known:
Yet another Hall of Fame birthday and reminiscence
Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst is celebrating his 85th birthday today. Schoendienst was born in the small Illinois town of Germantown. As you might guess, it was founded by Germans. It's the home of the Spassfest!
My father was born in the neighboring city of Breese, Illinois (which has weird music on its municipal website) and the farm he grew up on was on the road between the two cities. My father was six youngers than Red, who was likely called Albert when he was growing up as he came from a large family and the majority of the boys had red hair. One of the photos from my dad's high school reunion shows another Schoendienst who had a full head of red hair. My father told me that there were enough Schoendiensts for them to field a full baseball team, although I was skeptical of that just because of the age differences involved.
Last year when I was in St. Louis for the SABR convention, a guy from New York told me, "Once you cross the river there, you find that they're all Cub fans." I was too stunned to say anything in return. If you took a map of Illinois and colored in each county as being Cardinal fans (red counties) and Cub fans (blue counties), you'd find that the red counties would take up a lot more territory, although the Cubs would win in total number of fans because not that many people live downstate.
Red's career was slowed down when he came down with tuberculosis in 1959, but he did recover and returned to the Cardinals in 1961 and finally retired as a played in 1963 and became a coach for the Cardinals.
Schoenienst became the Cardinals manager in 1965 and led the team to two pennants and one World Series win (1967). He held that job through the 1976 season and then served two interim spells in 1980 and 1990.
Since then, Schoendienst has become the Cardinals version of Jimmie Reese. He still puts on a uniform in spring training and hangs around the batting cage and hits a few fungoes from time to time. He remains one of the most beloved figures in Cardinals history. And he's come a long way from the dairy farms and coal mines of Clinton County, Illinois.
The five stages of computer death
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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