According to John Fay, the Reds traded Jeff Keppinger to the Astros for a player to be named later. I hate these player to be named later deals because the ptbnl is usually not someone you've ever heard of. Micah Owings was an exception to that rule in the Dunn trade, but that was because he couldn't be traded while injured. More on this later as we get more information.
Rachel and I are on the planning committee for a very important event that is being put on by the Hearing Speech & Deaf Center of Greater Cincinnati called Downtown Drums. Click on this link for more information about the event and to purchase tickets. The deadline for discounted tickets is March 31, so if you act quickly, you can save $10.00 per ticket.
The event is Saturday night, April 25, at the 20th Century in downtown Oakley. Dinner by the bite and drinks, including beer and wine, are all included with your ticket. There will be a lot of entertainment, including a DJ and a performance from the Cincinnati band Bad Veins who has performed at SXSW and Lollapalooza.
This will be a really fun event for a great organization. Please plan to join us!
The Reds finally have some decent starting pitching depth, but no lefty starters in contention for the rotation. I'm surprised they haven't added somebody, whether a AAA player or an injury risk, to provide some more depth and a lefty. I suggest they sign Mark Mulder (he's unsigned and has to be pretty affordable) or try and trade for Kei Igawa. Igawa is having a great spring and has torn up AAA since his arrival in the states. Of course, the Yanks would have to pick up some of the salary, but a lot of the cost for Igawa was in the posting fee, which has already been paid. Would the Yanks take Keppy as an alternative to Ransom? Mulder would be an injury risk, but could make a difference in the second half if some of our young guys wear down.
We need offense, but I would rather see a deal like this to add some pitching depth and a lefty.
This is the wrap-up of the first annual (hopefully) Blue Sox Baseball spring training trip. First, thanks to Rachel for planning the trip (for my birthday) and for her invaluable assistance with the technical aspects of the video blog.
Before heading home (but after filming our last video post) we hit St. Petersburg for lunch on the pier and a visit to the Salvador Dali museum. We had a nice lunch food wise, but the wind kicked up after we sat down, making for an uncomfortable situation. The museum was cool, though. I recommend it if you're in the area.
We made it back to Dayton (on a direct flight) without incident and were happy to be home and see Scout.
I guess the story of the trip was the Reds starting pitching. In four games, the starters (everyone but Arroyo) went 21 innings, with only 12 hits allowed (six by Owings), 9 walks (five by Owings), 17 strikeouts, and only one run. Harang led the pack with 6 no-hit innings. Save for 1 2/3 innings from Bray and Cordero, the bullpen went 13 1/3 innings, giving up 5 hits and a walk, while striking out 12 and giving up no runs. They did allow 1 inherited runner to score. Bray, of course, lost the Boston game, giving up two runs in the 9th, and Cordero gave up three runs, one earned, against the Twins, which didn't change the outcome. In both innings, the two pitchers walked the lead-off guy. That had to drive Dusty crazy. The defense played well, with only one error, that did lead to two unearned runs, and three guys thrown out at the plate by the outfield (two by Dickerson).
The issue for the Reds, which I also expect to be their issue throughout the year, was the offense. In four games, they only hit two home runs (Gomes and Hernandez) and scored only 16 runs. They need to be closer to 5 runs per game. But if the pitching holds up they'll be competitive.
Our pitching MVP for the trip was Harang with the no-hit innings. Runner up was Danny Ray Herrara, a very small guy, who soft-tosses, but gets everybody out. I could see the Reds keeping him on the roster, but that would probably require a trade of Bray, something John Fay suggested as a possibility last week.
Our non-pitching MVP was Dickerson. He was 3 for 4 with three runs scored and a stolen base. He played a solid left field, and threw out two guys at the plate. He looks good. Gomesy was our runner-up with the home run and two rbi's. He was 2 for 6, with 2 k's.
Our overall MVP was Priceline. We got a great deal on the Cobalt, and enjoyed both hotel rooms a lot. All were purchased on Priceline.
This week, we'll try to take a look at the couple remaining roster spots, and then gear up for Opening Day, one week from tomorrow.
Right now, the lefty bench spot is still open with the Reds cutting Daryl Ward, my favorite for that role. He went 2 for 3 the day before he was cut. Jacque Jones played a lot of first base in the games we saw, as did Rosales (a righty) so I think the Reds will keep Jones because of his lefty bat and position versatility. With A-Gon hurt, Hairston will likely be at short, which means we need the extra outfielder. I think Rosales makes the team if Keppy gets traded. Look for the Reds to send Keppy, who is out of options, to the Reds Sox, who need a back-up for Lowrie now that Lugo is on the D/L, and a back-up for Lowell in case he gets hurt. We'll follow this story closely this week.
The Colonial League draft is Thursday night, so I'll get a recap of that draft up this weekend.
I really appreciate everyone joining us on Blue Sox Baseball during the spring training trip. We had a blast. By the way, I've added a couple of photos some of the previous blog entries, so scroll down and check those out.
It's been a rough go for the Washington Pinks (faded Reds) this off-season. Late last week, they put WMP on waivers, reassigned Cory Patterson to minor league camp, and offered a minor league assignment to Javier Valentin, which he refused and became a free agent. Not to mention that the Pinks were forced to add Dimitri Young to the 40-man roster because of a "hand shake" deal he had with ousted GM, Leather Pants. The Reds are long-suffering, but at least it's not this bad.
One bright spot: next year's rotation for the Pinks could include John Lannan, Jordan Zimmerman, and Shairon Martis, all of whom are likely in the rotation this year; overall first pick in this June's draft, Stephen Strasburg, who throws over 100 m.p.h.; and lefty prospect, Ross Detwiler. These guys will take their lumps, but it may be like the Tigers rotation several years ago when a couple guys flirted with twenty losses, before ultimately recovering and ending up in the 2006 World Series.
With that rotation and 8 good outfielders, the Pinks might be able to field a respectable team.
Aaron Boone is out of the intensive care unit after 7 hours of surgery. The doctors found extensive damage in his aorta, and did additional repair over and above the valve replacement. My doctor found the same thing in my aorta and had to rebuild it with a dacron tube. They're predicting 6 months of recovery for Boone. Presumably, that's baseball recovery and not just recovery from the surgery. I missed about 7 weeks of work, and ran the marathon within ten months.
After the game we drove up to Treasure Island to the Bilmar Beach Resort where we have a room for the next two nights. We have a walk-out-onto-the-beach room on the first floor of the main building. Pretty nice. We had dinner at Snapper's, our favorite restaurant in St. Pete Beach, which is about 3 miles from our hotel. I had the blue tuna appetizer and a swordfish steak. Rachel split the appetizer with me and had Snapper with sea food stuffing.
We made it back in time for American Idol. We have a nice flat screen HDTV in the room. There was a Dixie Land Jazz band playing in the bar just down the hall, so we had some odd background music. A very noisy hotel at 9:30 is now eerily silent at 11:00.
Anyway, here are my AI picks listed in order from best to worst: Adam, Matt, Allison, Danny, Kris, Anoop, Lil, Michael, Megan Joy, and Scott. I'm afraid it's Megan or Michael who will be going home tomorrow, probably Megan. We won't be watching, however, as we have our last game tomorrow night against the Twins before we head home on Friday afternoon. I'm going to try to get up another video tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled.
Our third game was this afternoon at Ed Smith stadium. We had front row seats down the third-base line just past the infield dirt. We got there early for BP and to purchase Thursday night tickets, but the gate didn't open until 11:00 (BP started at 10:15). So we wandered over to some of the extra fields. The pitchers (Arroyo, Owings, Masset, Harang, Volquez) were taking batting practice with Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning pitching (see photo). Owings was hitting towering shots over the left field wall (the wind was blowing out on that field). Bailey hit one out, too. Bailey can really hit, but not as well as Owings. In one stretch, Harang fouled off four out of five batting practice pitches. He's not a great hitter. Mario Soto pitched to the next group, which included a lot of the non-starting big leaguers. Gomes hit some towering shots over the left and center field fence.
I don't know if you read where the Reds cut Daryle Ward. Both John Fay and I had written that we thought Ward would be the left handed power off the bench and the back up first baseman. Speculation is rampant as to who will win that spot, but I can tell you this, Jacque Jones has played first base in two of the three games we've seen. He's faster than Ward, and can play the outfield, but he's below the Mendoza line for Spring Training, and hit .147 in 116 at bats in '08. I can't believe they would keep him over Ward. Did Dusty's daughter break up with Patterson?
Another interesting thing, Rosales has started all three games at third base. Dusty likes him and it wouldn't surprise me if he got Keppinger's utility infield spot. Keppy's out of options, though. John Fay was speculating that Keppy and/or Bray could be traded. More on Bray later. We still haven't seen Hairston, Phillips, or Encarnacion. I don't know if any or all of them are hurt or if Dusty is just playing guys that are trying to make the roster.
The lead to this post (and the video that didn't happen today) was supposed to be about how the Reds had pitched three straight shut outs. I was tabulating the innings, hits, walks, etc. in the bottom of the eighth of a 1-0 Reds game, when Dusty brought in Bray. Cueto had already pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up only two hits. Masset pitched two perfect innings following Cueto. In fact, through 8 innings, the Reds had faced the minimum 24 batters with two double plays erasing Cueto's two hits. The impressive thing was that the Red Sox (no relation) brought most of their starters. Ellsbury and Big Papi didn't play, but Varitek, Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowell, Bay, and Drew were all in the line-up. On top of 5 k's against that line-up, Cueto didn't walk anyone.
Then Bray came in. He walked Chip Ambres, the former Tampa Bay prospect who started for Ellsbury. He then gave up a hit-and-run single to a guy named Danielson, who was pinch hitting for a guy named Diaz. It was perfectly executed. He then struck out a big lefty named Rizzo. There was hope. A double play would get us out of the inning and the three shut out string would be alive. After a walk to Bailey to load the bases, Bray got the ground ball he needed against a little guy named Reza. Except that it went right down the line for a two-run double. Just like that the game was lost. The next guy, Place, hit a medium fly ball to center. Hopper made the catch and gunned down Bailey at the plate, trying to score. A beautiful throw and play. But it didn't matter. The game had been lost.
We took the day off from baseball (and blogging) yesterday to take in some sun on Siesta Key beach, which was beautiful. We started with brunch at The Broken Egg, but didn't see Dickie V. (Someday I'll post my "I met Dickie V. at..." story.) The beach was really nice, but I did miss a couple of spots with the sun screen. After a quick dinner, we saw "I Love You, Man" the new Paul Rudd/Jason Segel comedy. It was really funny and I would highly recommend it. For guys and gals. Rachel loved it, too.
Be sure to check out the video blog for an update. We made it to Ed Smith stadium today and I was impressed. I had heard that it was not very nice and that Bradenton was nicer. Not true. The folks in Bradenton were a lot more fan friendly, though, allowing kids to line up for autographs, etc. The Sarasota folks were very strict. We had to throw out our bag of peanuts and two waters before we could get in. And they wouldn't let kids down on the fence without a ticket for the section, and they wouldn't let people stand anywhere.
I mentioned the anthem situation on my video, which I thought was funny. In Bradenton, none of the crowd sang along, but a good bit of the crowd sang in Sarasota. I figured it was because they did the Canadian anthem first, which drew quite a few singers, including me. (I love Oh Canada. I hadn't sung it with a group like that since college when the guys in my dorm tried to learn it when Reagan invaded Grenada.) I think the Americans didn't want to be upstaged.
I had read last night that the Blue Sox' Travis Snider was having some pain in his knee so I figured we might not see him today, and I was right. Neither he nor Adam Lind (former Bue Sox, current Water Buffalo) played. Snider was one of the guys I was most excited to see in person. He is a rookie of the year candidate if he starts in left field, and everyone seems to think he will and that he's ready. The Blue Sox also have rookie of the year candidate (again, if he wins the job) Elvis Andrus, so it could be a second straight year for the Blue Sox (Longoria in '08).
Former prospect and current fifth-starter hopeful Ricky Romero pitched for the Jays. I was hoping to see Jessie Litsch, but knew that was a long shot. Halladay would have been cool, too. The couple that sat behind us was from the Cape Cod League. They were there to see Brad Emaus and Curtis Thigpen both of whom they knew from the Cape Cod league. Emaus has no shot at making the team, but Thigpen could, backing up Barajas.
Turning to the Reds, we did get to see Votto, Bruce, and Dickerson, but still haven't seen Edwin or BP. Hopefully, those guys will all play on Wednesday against the Red Sox. Dickerson looked good. He had two hits and a walk, all off of a Romero, who was tough on the other lefties, striking out Bruce and Votto three times total. Votto did manage an rbi single off of him. Dickerson also stole a bag, and threw a guy out at the plate in the first. That's the closest either the Jays or the Pirates have come to a run off of the Reds staff. Volquez and Harang combined for ten innings, 4 hits, 9 strikeouts, and only 4 walks. They've also had seven different relievers throw a scoreless inning of relief.
By the way, Curt Schilling announced his retirement today. I'm watching Luis Gonzalez win game seven of the '01 series on espn classic, which they're re-running because of Schilling's 7 + inning effort in that one, although the Unit got the win in relief.
Rachel and I made it to Bradenton about 11:00 a.m., in time to catch some batting practice and film my first video blog entry. (See previous post.)
The stadium is in a neighborhood so we probably could have just parked on the street, but rather than risk a parking ticket (or worse, the towing of the Chevy Cobalt rental) we paid $5 to some kids to park in the church parking lot. Apparently, the church isn't all that successful, because but for the game the lot would have otherwise been empty at 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday.
BP was fun, with Jonny Gomes and Steven Pearce, a Pirates rookie, providing most of the fireworks. Both guys hit several over the fence. We got to see Marty and Hal McCoy and Dusty hitting fungos to the infield (see photo), with full sweat bands and batting gloves. I even got a ball, but gave it to the kid I beat out for it. I wanted a ball, but can't risk being on the Steve Bartman end of an espn highlight.
I've only admitted to one man crush in my life. (To find out who it is, you can check out "my relatives" on my facebook page.) But I have been seriously touting Jonny Gomes for the Reds outfield this year, and that was before he lit it up in BP today. But there was a dude at the game today that had a serious man crush on Gomesy (ryhmes with Combsy). This dude had signs and everything. I took a photo of him with his best sign (something like how the reds will have a winning season, but in a GOMES acronym . . . seriously, I'm not making this up) but we didn't bring our camera hook-up so I can't download the photo. You'll just have to trust me that this guy loved Gomes. To his credit, Gomes tossed him a ball when he left the field after BP. The guy seemed genuinely flustered when we suggested he try and get Gomes to sign it. I offered to sign it, but he declined.
The game was great. The Reds won 6-0 on the strength of a five run second inning, a Gomes' home run, and A NO-HITTER by Aaron Harang. Granted, he only went 6 innings, but he was all over it, giving up no hits and only two walks. And here's the thing, the Reds played all guys who are battling for roster spots, but no guys who will be regulars. (Gomes might be the the left fielder against lefties, but the Pirates threw Ian Snell, a righty.) On the other hand, the Pirates started all of their regulars, and they played most of the game. We did get to see Pirates prospect Andrew McCutchen fly out to deep left center in the bottom of the ninth.)
The other hero, besides Harang and Gomes, was Darnell McDonald. He was 3-4 with a walk, two doubles, two stolen bases, and two rbi's. He also scored a run and played flawless centerfield and lead-off. He was on base four straight times. He has to be considered a long shot to make the team, but he looked great and I read that Dusty really likes him. Rosales looked pretty good at third, too. He's also a long shot, but Dusty apparently likes him, too. Another interesting thing. I thought Lance Nix was a small, speedy guy. He's not super tall, but he's not small either.
By the way, when Gomes hit a home run in the fifth (after striking out twice -- this guy really is a right handed Adam Dunn) the man crush guy went crazy.
Of course, Mike Lincoln gave up a hit on the first batter he faced in the seventh after Harang exited. He did get the next guy and a double play for a 1-2-3 inning. Weathers and Roenicke finished with a scoreless inning each, with only one more hit, to the first guy Stormy faced. So the Reds outhit the Pirates 11-2, with four extra base hits (two from McDonald) to none for the Pirates.
We made it to the LaQuinta Inn and Suites (think Inn, not Suite) our home for the next three nights. It's a terrific room that we practically stole on priceline.com. We had a nice dinner at Anna Maria's Oyster Bar in Bradenton, and made it home in time to watch The Amazing Race. You know from my previous posts that there is no point to me following the tournament anymore, so we took a break from it today.
Tomorrow, it's a 1:00 p.m. game with the Blue Jays, and our first look at Ed Smith stadium. I'll try to get another video blog entry up by tomorrow night.
On Friday, I had a deposition in Durant, Oklahoma, which is about a two hour drive from Dallas. On the way there (after a stop at Whattaburger) I saw the Choctaw Indian Casino. Of course, I wanted to check it out on the way home, but I needed help with the decision. I called Scutch: "What should I do?" "Dude, you have to stop." Exactly what I was looking for.
I'm trying to learn a new blackjack system. (It deals with how you bet, not how you play.) I have never actually tried it before, other than on my computer, so I was hoping I might find a $5 table and try it. The casino was pretty crowded (and smokey) but not too much action at the table games. I looked around and found a table that advertised limits of $1-$25. I had never seen a $1 blackjack table before, but I thought this would be the perfect chance to try my system. How could I lose, right?
So I put $60 on the table (fanning out three twenties) and the guy gives me a stack of $5 chips, a stack of $1 chips, and a stack of .50 chips. My new system starts with a bet that is twice the table minimum, so I put out 2 $1 chips. This is where it gets weird.
One time we were in Vegas (at Bally's) and Rachel and I sat down to play blackjack. There was a small circle in front of the betting circle that was about the size of a chip. The dealer explained that you could make some sort of side bet. Rachel said, "Oh, the sucker bet."
When I put the $2 out, the dealer said that I needed to put a .50 chip on the little circle in front of my betting circle. I asked what the sucker bet was and he mumbled something about the state. When I balked, he said it was mandatory. So I put it out and asked what I could win. Nothing. If you play a hand, you have to give a .50 chip to the state. Having lost my fair share of blackjack hands I was immediately concerned that I would not be able to win at a $1 table if each hand costs .50 off the top, like an ante. So I said that I assumed the same tax was required at all the tables and he said it was unless you bet $50, then the tax is a $1 chip. But it was just .50 and I needed to try my system so I stayed.
So I'm playing my hands and this well-dressed dude sits down next to me, and just like I did with my three twenties, he fans out three one-dollar bills and puts them on the table. The dealer promptly gives him 2 $1 chips and 2 .50 chips. He then tells him he can't have his cell phone out and he has to remove his bluetooth. (His pride had already been removed, apparently.)
This dude at first base is down to his last $1 chip, and wants to play one more hand, but he doesn't have the tax money. So he takes out a quarter and three dimes and puts them on the table for a .50 chip. The dealer, after stacking up the dimes and the quarter in separate stacks and with a complete straight face, says to the guy, "I'm going to have to short you the nickel."
Aaron Boone announced this week that he will undergo open heart surgery to replace a defective aortic valve. The valve is bicuspid rather than tricuspid, meaning that it only has two flaps instead of three. The result is that blood doesn't necessarily flow through the valve, but can backwash. This makes the heart pump harder than normal to push the blood through. This over works the heart, which can hurt it in the long run. Further, it leaves the heart especially vulnerable to infection, as the backwashed blood can allow infections to "stick" in the heart. Even going to the dentist can require extra medication to prevent this type of infection. (You may recall that Bobby Simone died from an infection in his heart that he got at the dentist's office.)
I know about this, because I had the same condition, and had open heart surgery to replace my valve in 2001. I had something called the Ross Procedure, where they remove your pulmonary valve, which looks the same as the aortic valve, and put it where your aortic valve was. In my case, they replaced the pulmonary valve with a cadaver valve. I was 36 at the time, the same age as Boone. I don't know if Boone is having the Ross Procedure or not, but the main benefit to the procedure is that, theoretically, it's permanent. It also does not require a mechanical valve, which would require the use of cumadin. You do have to be young, however, as it is a very strenuous surgery.
Boone said he's known about his condition since college. I knew about mine since before I can remember. It showed as a heart murmur when I was very young. I never had any symptoms, but before I started junior high I had a catheterization to determine how bad it was so that I could be cleared to play sports. It wasn't as bad as they thought, and I was able to play sports, which was a huge relief to me. By the way, I was in the hospital recovering when Elvis died. So I always remember where I was when I heard the news, a hospital in East Lansing, Michigan.
In 2000 and 2001, my heart started to expand rapidly (exponentially) from over use. (My other muscles have yet to catch on to this phenomenon.) At that point, I decided to have the surgery.
Obviously, Boone wants to be healthy. The news story here, though, is whether he'll play again. I can tell you this: I was training to run in the Chicago Marathon with my wife, when the doctor recommended the surgery. My cardiologist told me to stop running, but my surgeon said it would be fine. Of course, I didn't run the Chicago Marathon, which was in October of that year. My surgery was in August. But my wife and I did run the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego in May of 2002, less than a year after my surgery. So I don't think this surgery means that Boone's career is over. Obviously, I'm not a world class athlete, but I wasn't that before the surgery, either, the way Boone is. Unfortunately for Boone, however, his career was already moving towards its twilight. He would certainly have played this year for the Astros, who definitely need the help at third base, but his days as a an everyday player may have already been over.
I wish Boone the best of luck, and hope to see him someday soon in a major league uniform.
Chalk has proven to be my enemy this year. I'm currently tied for 135th (out of 140) in the FFA office pool. My East bracket looks like it got hit by a grenade, with only Louisville and MSU getting me points. At least I have L'ville in the final four (although I did have MSU losing to BC). I still have all but one (Clemson)of my Sweet Sixteen still alive in the other three brackets.
Watching that guy from Wisconsin hit the runner with two seconds left in the second overtime, which bounced in from high off the glass, reminded me of '92 and a similar shot by Sean Woods to give the Cats the lead over Duke, and presumably win the game. Then, discussing how FSU should respond, the announcer said, "You need Laettner." Bo Ryan apparently got the connection, too, as he had a guy guarding the in-bounds pass.
Dusty was on MLB on XM yesterday morning talking about the Reds. When asked about the left field situation, he didn't specifically say who had won the job, but it was clear to me that Dickerson will get the bulk of the playing time, at least against right handers. He also mentioned Gomes and Hairston. My guess is Gomes makes the team and platoons with Dickerson with Hairston as the back-up outfielder. I think the Reds have to have that righty power potential that Gomes provides.
John Fay speculated on the Reds' 25-man roster on Saturday. Here's what he thought:
The starting eight:
Willy Taveras cf Alex Gonzalez ss Joey Votto 1b Brandon Phillips 2b Jay Bruce rf Edwin Encarnacion 3b Dickerson/Gomes lf Ramon Hernandez c
Aaron Harang Edinson Volquez Bronson Arroyo Johnny Cueto Micah Owings
Francisco Cordero David Weathers Arthur Rhodes Mike Lincoln Jared Burton Bill Bray Masset or Bailey
Jeff Keppinger Jerry Hairston Jr. Daryle Ward Ryan Hanigan
This is basically what I've been saying. At the risk of repeating myself, I like Bailey starting in AAA, and Massett (who's out of options) in the pen. Fay likes Homer in long relief because it's less pressure.
Fay says Ward is the only close call for the bench. He says Nix or Jones could get the spot. Nix is having a good spring, but Jones is not. I'm glad it looks like Gomes is going to make the team as part of a left-field platoon. He's got 30-homer potential if he could get the at bats. I've been touting him since they signed him, so it's nice to know they're reading the blog. For the record, I like Ward over Nix or Jones. Nix and Jones don't add much over what we've already got. Ward adds an experienced pinch hitter from the left side and he's got pop.
Finally, I like the starting 8, but not the line-up. Here's what I would do against righties:
BP Votto Bruce EE Hernandez Dickerson A-Gon Taveras
There is a pretty strong rebuke on the Reds' handling of Homer Bailey over at Crucial Sports that is worth checking out. They still like Homer's chances to be good. I have been calling for Homer to start in AAA this year even though he's pitching great. One of his competitors, Nick Massett, had a pretty rough outing last time out, but I still like Owings as the fifth starter and Masset in long relief with Homer waiting in the wings in Louisville.
We had the draft for my AL Only league yesterday. My team is the Blue Sox. This is a keeper league, and we are allowed to keep up to 14 players for our active roster of 23 (14 hitters and 10 pitchers) and up to 4 minor leaguers. I previously posted my keepers. Having kept 14, I needed 9 players, 4 pitchers, a shortstop, a middle infielder, two outfielders, and another hitter at any position. We each get $50 total. After my keepers, I had $15.90 left. I had the least amount of money to spend. The Grim Rippers had $34.70. More on them later.
We started with the four-round minor league draft. We go in reverse order of last season's standings, and do not serpentine. I finished 8th last year so I had the third pick. Through various trades, I had no 3rd or 4th round pick, but had four 2nd round picks, mine and three others. So I had the third pick and the thirteenth through sixteenth picks. My first choice was going to be Gordon Beckham. He was 7th on my list of available guys, but I think he might make the White Sox (no relation) and that would allow me to only spend .20 on my middle infield in the major league auction, freeing up money for my pitching. (I already have Elvis Andrus who right now is set to start for the Rangers. So I could draft a shortstop for a dime with the idea of dropping him for Andrus when the season starts and saving money for the auction. Same idea as with Beckham.)
Trevor Cahill was the first pick, which was a good one. He was sixth on my list, but may make the rotation for the A's and should help right away. Unfortunately, G. Beckham went second to the Aardwolves, who probably had the same idea I did although the Aards drafted Alberto Callaspo for .40 at middlie infield, having kept Johny Peralta at SS).
This was my first adjustment of the day right out of the shoot. Cahill was probably my second choice for the same reason described above for Andrus, but for a pitcher. The first guy on my list was Tim Beckham, but he's very young and a ways off from helping in the majors. I have an abundance of draft picks and we can only keep four per year, so it's difficult to keep a minor leaguer several years in a row, which will be required for T. Beckham. The same is true for Michael Inoa (or Ynoa) of the A's, who was fourth on my list. Second on my list was Eric Hosmer, but I went with number five on my list instead, Justin Smoak. He's a big switch-hitting firstbaseman. I like the buzz on him more than Hosmer (actually I didn't hear any buzz on Hosmer) but one issue is that the Rangers have Chris Davis already, and the Royals have Mike Jacobs. The Royals have Butler, too, but he's more of a DH type. I made all of this on the fly, but we'll have to wait a while to find out if I did the right thing.
I had originally thought of Brian Matusz as my top choice if I didn't go with G. Beckham. He was actually number three on my list. A big lefty who went #4 over all to the O's in last year's draft. I actually got to see him pitch in person last fall in the Arizona Fall League and really liked him. (Smoak was there, too, but didn't play in the game I saw.) But with my "help-this-year" strategies not working, I decided to just go with the best available for my second pick. Tim Beckham went late in the first round, so I settled on Hosmer (my nuber two) but he went with the second pick of the second round. Two rounds in a row, the Aards, picking right in front of me, picked the guy I wanted. I happily went with Brian Matusz for my second round pick. As indicated, I had the next three picks from trades. One thing I considered was trying to get Austin Jackson, who I picked second last year, but didn't keep (Dontrelle Willis was a risk, and Jackson was the cost.) But Jackson went with the first pick of the second round. I also thought about Desmond Jennings, who I picked first last year but later traded, and he wasn't kept. I had other guys higher on my list, though and didn't take him. In fact, he went undrafted, so I'll try again next year.
With my next three picks I went with Aaron Hicks (Ben Revere, another CF prospect for the twins was ranked higher, but I think Hicks will pass him this year and will be a top-ten prospect next year) Jesus Montero (the catcher I wanted, Carlos Santana, was already gone), and Greg Halman. Halman's a risky guy, buth with a lot of upside. Not bad for my fifth pick. Plus I saw him hit a mamoth home run in the AFL (off of Matusz!) Other guys I would have liked to get were Jennings and Michael Main, both of whom went undrafted.
Smokin' Guns and the Water Buffaloes (who were already stacked with minor leaguers, including Weiters, Feliz, and Tillman) got some great prospects in the draft, but the steal of the draft went to the Twins, who drafted Felix Pie in the first round. I don't believe anyone else even realized he was eligible. He was in the minors on 8/31 last year (our qualifying rule) but he was with the Cubs. He's the starting leftfielder for the O's right now, and could steal 30 bags this year. Curiously, however, the Twins had four outfielders coming in (Hamilton, Jones, Kubel, and Ordonez) and paid $9.70 total for Crawford and Torii Hunter. So there's no place for Pie on the roster. (Hmmm. I see a trade opportunity!) The Twins also snagged Rich Hill in the third round. He should be in the O's rotation this year if healthy. The Legends drafted him last year so I know he spent almost all year in the minors but started to turn it around toward the end.
My strategy going into the auction was pretty specific as I didn't have much money to spend and needed pitching badly. My plan was to try and spend my $15.00 on the following 4 guys, and use the remaining .90 to fill my other 5 spots. I was going to spend what it took to get Sabathia and then try and get Fuentes, Sonnanstine, and Russell Branyan and keep it at $15.00. One problem: I figured The Grim Rippers (owned by VeniceLover, with an assist this year from his wife Annie) would come in with the same strategy, whatever it took to get Sabathia, plus a top closer. I figured the worst-case scenario would be for Josh Beckett (the second best pitcher available, and my fall- back plan) to be brought up first and me not know what it would take to get CC and, therefore, not know what to do.
Well, Howie Kendrick was brought up first. I could have kept him for $3.00 (and the loss of another keeper, because I kept the full 14) but I didn’t. I wanted him back, however, because I need his batting average. (Somebody’s got to make up for Branyan’s .230 average.) But this early in the draft, I didn’t have any extra money for my infield. He went for $3.10.
Next up? You guessed it, Josh Beckett. I stayed in, because he was the second best pitcher on my board. When The Grim Rippers dropped out I knew I was right, they wanted CC no matter what. So I felt like I had to get Beckett because I couldn't bid with The Rippers on CC. I got Beckett for $7.50 and I'm glad I did. CC went to The Rippers for $10.10, the first $10 player since I've been in the league. The down side, I spent almost half of my money on the second player. My plan, however, was still in effect, just with Beckett instead of CC.
Then I made what might have been a crucial mistake. I had Chris Ray as a reliever, but he likely won't close at the beginning of the year. I had only five available closers on the board: Fuentes, my choice; Wood; Percival; Sherrill; and Lyon, in that order. Somebody called up Percival. The Rippers (with all the money ... and my strategy) had Joey Devine but I figured would go for another closer. I wasn't sure who that would be, so I stayed in for awhile on Percival. To my surprise, I got him at $2.70. So I know what you're thinking, "Beckett and Percival instead of CC and Fuentes, but with only $10.20 spent I'll surely get Branyan and Sonnanstine for under $4.80 and will have some money left for my hitters and final pitcher." Well, not exactly.
But I'll get to that in a minute. I have Elvis Andrus as a minor leaguer and he is supposed to start for the Rangers. So my plan is to only spend a dime on my shortstop with the idea that I will replace him with Andrus. We just go around the room and call up players one at a time. There is some strategy to this but I'm not sure what it is. Some guys call up guys they want, but usually the strategy early is to call up a guy you don't want that you know will go for a lot of money forcing teams to spend their money. That's what happened to me with Beckett. But other times, you need to call up a guy you want because you might get him. If you want a dime player, you have to be the one to call him up. So I made a list of shortstops I wanted and started calling them up for a dime until I got one.
I ended up with Julio Lugo, which is perfect. I found out today that he'll have surgery on his knee (I already knew he was hurt) so I'll be able to put him on the D/L to start the season and won't have to drop him in favor of Andrus. Then when he comes back I'll have a good player (who steals bases) for a dime.
Here's where the plot thickens. Fuentes is still on the top of my list in terms of value. When he got called up, I decided to stay in for awhile and ended up getting him at $4.50. So far, my plan was working except for Percival. Sonnanstine ultimately when for $2.50, and I got Branyan for a dime, so I could have gotten Beckett, Fuentes, Branyan, and Sonnanstine for under $15. However, instead I had Percival. If Percival stays healthy and closes I'll do well in saves and/or have a good trade chip. If he gets hurt, this was probably a critical error. I am light on starting pitching and will struggle in the strikeouts and wins categories. My other starters aren't great strikeout guys. Beckett should help.
Rounding out the pitching staff, I had a list of guys for that final spot including Escobar, Bonderman, Uehara, Davies, Hochevar, Smoltz, Penny, Contreras, and Colon, roughly in that order. David Aardsma was my saves sleaper, but I already had my relievers. I ended up with Penny for .30. The guy I really wanted was Smoltz, but he hadn't been called up yet and I thought I should go for Penny at .30. I also wanted Escobar, who also went to the Twins for .30, but he got called up later as well. Sometimes you just have to go for a value pick with a guy on your list even if he's not at the top. The other guys all went for more than I could spend, except for Contreras, who wasn't drafted.
As mentioned, I did get Branyan, and for a dime. He was my big sleeper going in, with an assist from Jon Williams, a follower of this blog, who runs "Advanced Fantasy Baseball." Thanks, John. I guess these means I have to go for Daniel Murphy in the Colonial Leage. I had Branyan number eight on my list of available hitters and he was the only one I had a chance of affording. I waited until the end to call him up and no one else could bid on him.
I got Nomar with my final middle infield spot and also for a dime. I could see him starting at third if Chavez is hurt, and then platooning with Giambi at 1B and/or DH when Chavez gets back. He could also get hurt and do nothing, but I like the risk at ten cents.
I finished off my hitters with two dime outfielders, and finished with forty cents left over. That beat the $2 something I left with last year. I got DeWayne Wise, who if he wins the job could steal 15 and hit 15 homers, although his average will suffer. I also got Travis Buck, who has been a prospect and a Blue Sox for quite some time and failed at both. But he could break-out if he wins the job. If these guys start they're good picks. If they don't, I wasted two spots.
Overall, I felt okay about the draft. I don't like that the entire success of my draft may hinge on the health of Troy Percival. That's like betting that Britney Spears won't make the tabloids this season. I also don't like that I spent hours coming up with my draft strategy and came so close to perfect execution. With any luck, Percival closes for at least half a season. If that happens, he's worth the $2.70. And I can probably pick up a starter somewhere along the line. After all, Cliff Lee went undrafted last year.
Later in the week, I'll discuss how everyone did and my predictions for the season. Also, I'm headed to spring training next week so look for some Sarasota updates. If I can figure out the technology, there will be some video blogging available from sunny Fla.
Most fantasy baseball writers try to be funny and very often they fail. It's particularly annoying in that most fantasy baseball readers are geeks looking for info, not laughs. (Blue Sox Baseball readers accepted, of course.) But Thor Nystrom gets it right with this article on Dating and Drafting from Rotoworld.com. I encourage all of you to check it out. At the end, he explains where Jason Mesnick went wrong. (If the article doesn't come up when you hit the link, hit "MLB Home" from the page and it will take you there.)
The Reds made their first roster cuts yesterday. The only cut player that I had as a possible 25-man roster guy was Humberto Cota as the back-up catcher so Hannigan could play everyday in Louisville. Hanigan is apparently ensconsed as the back-up, so that question has been answered.
Some others that were sent to minor league camp included prospects like Alonso, Valakia, and Stubbs. I don't think any of those guys had a chance to make the team from the get-go.
The Reds seem to be drawing some interest from the national media, specifically related to how young they are and whether or not a young team is a good fit for Dusty. Both USA Today and Baseball Prospectus have articles about Dusty and his excitement over having a young team. And neither of the articles is part of a series (like "each team in review" or "30 teams in 30 days").
I haven't seen any pundits picking the Reds to win the division, but I've seen several who have the Reds as a sleeper pick. The focus seems to be on the rotation and the improved defense up the middle with the additions of Ramon Hernandez and Will Tavares and the return of A-Gon. BP is of course solid at second. Plus, all three of the fifth starter candidates, Owings, Bailey, and Masset, are pitching well. I expect Owings to get the nod with Masset in the bullpen and Bailey as the first option from Louisville. Daryl Thompson is also pitching well.
As I sit here and wonder what this new twist on the scoring is going to be (and nervous that the judges might have some input over and above their comments -- haven't they manipulated the process enough?) it's time to get to last night's performances. Overall, I was happy. I thought MJ would be a very difficult week, especially right out of the shoot. But they did well, overall. Here is my rundown:
Lil: Her performance was okay, but I thought it was too safe. Her outfit was terrible.
Scott: Not too bad. Scott seems like an accomplished musician; I just don't think he's a very interesting singer. And we've heard enough inspirational ballads.
RDJ: Great! But I think he blew the start after the intro. I rewatched, but never was sure. Even if he did though, he nailed the rest of it. I was nervous when he started out PYT slowly, but liked the arrangment. (And they managed an entire episode without mentioning his dead wife.)
Michael: Big surprise. I thought he nailed this one. But I think he probably benefited from low expectations. He also had the best line of the night. When Simon said, sarcastically, I wish we knew what you did for a living, he said, "hopefully this."
Jasmine: She struggled with "I'll Be There." She was neither MJ nor Mariah, as she messed up the words at the beginning, had weird diction (phrasing?), and was flat on a lot of her notes. She just never got to some of the higher notes (Paula called it "under" whatever that is). The kiss of death here: Randy said, "She surprised me ... it wasn't that bad."
Kris: Kris was awesome on "Rembember the Time." I'm not a huge fan of that song, but thought he was great. At first, I thought, "is that guitar even on" and then I wondered what it was for. But other than that, I loved it. To me, he's this season's Jason Castro (who also was not featured at all until the semi-final rounds last year) only a little more upbeat. I really liked the two folks that weren't featured at all prior to the semi-finals, Kris and Allison.
Allison: Speaking of Allison, I wondered after her dead-on performance of Heart last week if she was a one-trick-pony. She's not. I didn't know her song ("Give Into Me"), didn't like her song, and don't like her kind of music, but still thought she was great.
Anoop: His "Beat It" was just good karaoke. But I'm a Terps fan.
Jorge: Jorge tried "Never Can Say Goodbye." Unfortunately, he'll get the chance to test that theory tonight, unless Puerto Rico is a lot bigger than I think it is. Second best line of the night was when he said to Paula, "I didn't want to sing MJ's "Bad."" To which Simon countered with, "you kinda did."
Megan: Here I totally disagreed with the Judges. Her "Rockin' Robin" was the perfect song choice for her. In what would have been a tough week for her (I assumed) she did great. She even wandered around the stage some, which wasn't great but was a little surprising.
Adam: The judges loved Adam, but I thought the performance was like a deep massage. It's supposed to be great, but is mostly just painful. There is no question this dude can sing, and he's probably the best singer in the bunch. He just seems a little too earnest to me. His stuff is too busy. He needs to give us something stripped down to really show off his voice. The judges said he's contemporary, but I don't agree. He could be, but he's mostly just shown me that he should be touring with Journey instead of the Fillipino YouTube guy.
Matt: Matt was my favorite going in. I have a soft spot for good piano bar singers. (When in Vegas, check out the guys at the Napoleon Lounge in the Paris Hotel; they're awesome, and from Ohio.) Matt was the only guy that really tried to sing Michael. It was a little over the top, but as Simon said, you need to be when doing MJ. The nice falsetto run at the end of "Human Nature" was exactly what no one else had the guts to try. And he pulled it off, although it was not perfect.
Alexis: I thought "Dirty Diana" played right into her ongoing thing with Kara that has bordered on inappropriate since Kara told her in the audition round to go home and have sex with her fiance. Kara capped it off by calling her nasty last night. Anyway, the performance was kind of yelly for me. I thought she missed some notes and I was generally disappointed. She won't see the pimp spot again.
Anyway, I think Jorge's in trouble. If they vote off two tonight (which they'll have to do at some point) I think Jasmine is gone, as well. As far as my top three: RDJ, Kris, and Allison, with Megan and Matt in the running. America's top three: RDJ, Adam, and Michael.
The finals (a baker's dozen 13 this year) start on Tuesday, so I'm going to do my recap of the audition, Hollywood, and semi-final rounds before the finals.
I've been an AI fan from almost the very beginning. I still remember Kelly's Natural Woman (and her cool hat). Her upset over Justin was very dramatic. (I even saw, and liked, From Justin to Kelly.) I will undoubtedly watch again next season, but I may have to wait until the finals start. The auditions this year seemed okay, although I didn't see every episode. Hollywood week, where you typically see some of the good singers start to break out, was a complete disaster. One one-hour episode spent the entire first half of "group night" on the petty drama between two of the groups. No singing. And an entire episode to hear, "it's not good news....it's great news" or "it's bad news. . . you're going to have to see a lot more of us." AI is very dramatic. It doesn't need the producers manipulating the story.
But the semi-finals were a complete train wreck. First, a ton of the singers blew. The format, one girl, one guy, and the the next highest vote getter was designed to bring gender equity, but that failed miserably as all of the "next highest vote getters" were guys. So the wild card was half girls and half guys, and they still had to stretch credulity to get two girls in. So they spent at least twenty minutes of one of the Hollywood rounds showing the judges pouring over polaroids and fretting over the final 36. And we're supposed to believe they decided the wild card winners during one commercial break? The fix was in.
But enough ranting. Here are my thoughts on the finalists (in alphabetical order):
Adam - He's a very good singer, but a little too cocky and over the top. He'll pull a Constantine and do something a little off and lose that week in a "shocker."
Alexis - I don't remember her song so she probably won't do too well. She was just the best girl out of an otherwise forgettable bunch.
Allison - Good singer, but I hate '80's Heart. No Hollywood week momentum, but the fact that she won with no pub bodes well for her.
Anoop - Couldn't even beat the roughneck, but the judges love him. Proof the fix was in: singing only for the judges and presumably to impress them he sang something they had already heard. That made no sense. Does seem likable.
Robert Downey, Jr. - Already crowned the winner by the producers/judges.
Jasmine - Are you serious? She was terrible in the semi-final and not much better in the wild card. More proof the fix was in. She did seem to have promise in the Hollywood round.
Jorge - Very likable and sings Elton John, so can't be all bad. Don't see him winning, though.
Kris - Nothing in the Hollywood rounds on this guy, but he made it in cold on his own so could be a surprise. Not enough info. to predict more than that.
Lil - See Danny. Producers/judges co-favorite.
Matt - I love piano bar singers, but he stunk on Coldplay. Dude does have soul. His Ray Charles in Hollywood week was great.
Megan - Cute.
Michael - Not a good enough singer. Did out-poll Anoop in semi-final.
Scott - Scott is clearly a great musician (he's some kind of child prodigy) and technically a good singer. His voice just isn't that interesting and neither are his song choices (Bruce Hornsby?).
I guess I can't see a girl winning this year although Lil would have to be considered a favorite. I'd wager Allison and Alexis came in no higher than fourth in their weeks. Jasmine and Megan couldn't even do that well.
That leaves the guys. Adam's probably the best singer, but he's a little too cocky. We'll have to wait and see if Danny's got the ability to walk the line between Rocker/Too Cool For School and Self-deprecating/Willing to Submit to AI Judges. Daughtery was perfect at this. Toward the end, David Cook had it down, too. Matt's my dark horse, but he may also have one really bad week (see Cold Play) and lose. There are some decent singers this year, so consistency will be the key.
I'd be interested to hear your predictions and/or comments.
In doing my Reds' 25-man update earlier today, I made the comment that the Reds had a pretty good pitching staff. Take a look at this snippet from Peter Gammons at espn.com:
So as the Red Sox prepare to sign [John] Lester for five years and $30 million, they will pay [Josh] Beckett, Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Clay Buchholz less than $36 million this season. Compare that figure with what the New York Yankees are paying two of their pitchers. If you include two $3 million bonuses CC Sabathia will receive during the 2009 season, Sabathia and A.J. Burnett will make $36.5 million.
Boston's bullpen of Jonathan Papelbon, Takashi Saito, Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez will make approximately $11.7 million in 2009. And that doesn't include prospect Daniel Bard, who struck out the side Sunday against the American League-champion Tampa Bay Rays while throwing 100 mph. Meanwhile, Cincinnati Reds closer Francisco Cordero will make $12 million in 2009.
Major League Baseball has warned club businesspeople that attendance is expected to be down 17-20 percent in 2009, and that it could be worse, especially for franchises such as the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies and others that could be seriously impacted by the recession.
So it's remarkable business for a big-market team to have one of the game's deepest pitching staffs at a cost of around $50 million with 2010 commitments to only Lester and Matsuzaka.
The seventh member of Boston's bullpen, Manny Delcarmen, will make less than $.5 mil. Not bad for probably the best staff in the bigs.
As part of a continuing series on the Reds' 25-man roster, I'm going to do a quick update. I doubt this is much different from what you've already seen in this space, but as we get closer to opening day it can't hurt to take another look.
The only outfield spot up for grabs is left field with the team set in center with Taveras and right with Bruce. (I won't tackle the Tavares signing again; suffice it to say the Reds seem set to go with him in center and the lead-off spot.) I would definitely like to see a platoon in left field, and my choice would be Dickerson/Gomes. What better way to break-in Dickerson than to only make him hit righthanders. And Gomes kills lefties and has some much-needed power. I see Hairston as the reserve (or fifth) outfielder in this mix. I would love to see Wilkin Castillo make the roster for flexibility reasons, but the Reds need to make a spot for Hairston. If the Reds don't like Gomes as much as I do (he's on a minor league deal and could play everyday in Louisville until they need him) they could platoon Hairston and Dickerson and make Castillo the super utility player.
The infield is set as long as A-Gon is healthy and it looks like he will be. Ward should be the back-up first baseman and left-handed pop off the bench, with Keppy the back up at the other three spots. Hanigan may be the back-up catcher, but if it were me, I would let him play everyday in Louisville and use Cota as the back-up.
That leaves Nix, Jaque Jones, Danny Richar, and Norris Hopper in Louisville in case of injury.
Homer is looking good for the fifth starter spot, but I think the team is leaning toward Owings as the fifth starter with Homer throwing every fifth day in Louisville. He would be the next option to start if there were an injury or Owings or Cueto don't get the job done. The wild card in this competition is Nick Masset, but I think he picks up the last bullpen spot for long relief/spot starter.
The other six relievers are pretty set, with Cordero, Weathers, Rhodes, Burton, Bray, and Lincoln.
That's a pretty solid rotation and bullpen. The question for the Reds is whether or not they'll score enough runs, because the pitching and defense look pretty solid. I still think the Reds have some payroll room so look for an in-season move if they are in the hunt by the Civil Rights game.
I have four tickets for sale for the Reds opening day game on Monday, April 6, against the Mets. Johan Santana is scheduled to pitch for the Mets, presumably against Harang. The Reds beat the Mets (and Pedro) on opening day a couple years ago in one of the great dramatic opening day games. Dunn homered in the 9th to tie and Joe Randa went deep for the walk-off win. See my post on top-ten all-time moments for more details.
The tickets are in section 136, row V. I can sell all four or in sets of two. If you're interested, let me know and we can discuss price, etc.
C Navarro 3/$1.00 C Clement 2/$1.00 1B Morneau 6/$7.00 2B Kinsler 4/$5.40 3B Longoria 2/$2.00 SS MI CI Gordon 3/$1.00 OF Sizemore 4/$7.00 OF Crisp 2/$1.00 OF Snider 2/$1.00 OF OF DH
P Wang 4/$3.10 P Slowey 2/$2.50 P Litsch 2/$1.00 P Hughes 3/$1.00 P Ray 2/$.10 P P P P
M/L: Elvis Andrus; Lars Anderson; Clay Buchholz; Dontrelle Willis
There were only two tough calls. I left Austin Jackson off of my minor league roster in favor of Dontrelle Willis. I wanted to take a chance on Dontrelle (I clearly need pitching) and it was just too early in the year to know yet whether or not he'll be in the rotation.
I also let Howie Kendrick go back. I've had him for the last couple of years and he's been a huge disappointment, mostly because of injuries. Same story with Gordon, although his problem has been general suckiness, not injuries, but Kendrick went up to $3 this year and Gordon doesn't go up until next year. So I kept Gordon and let Kendrick go back. He'll probably win the batting title this year.
So I'm home early and I'm watching a spring training game between Toronto and Team Canada on the MLB Network. By the way, Votto is playing left filed for Team Canada, with Morneau (a Blue Sock) at first base. Current Blue Sock (but not after this Saturday when our keepers are due) Adam Loewen is playing left field for Toronto. That's quite a change for Loewen who during the '06 WBC starred as a pitcher for Team Canada, earning a spot in the Orioles rotation. He's going all Rick Ankiel this year, trying to make it as an outfielder. But I've got my young-blue-jay-outfielder money on Travis Snider.
On the ticker I saw where Gomes hit a grand salami for the Reds today against the Red Sox (no relation). I would use that as proof that I was right about Gomes, but I think Hairston also has a slam this spring training. Anyway, here's hoping the weather up here improves. It was 9 degrees this morning when I left for court in E'town.
Three weeks from yesterday we'll be in Sarasota for the Reds spring training. Can not wait. But first, this Saturday is the keeper deadline for the bgal and the 14th is the draft and auction. I would appreciate anyone's tips for sleepers this year in the A.L. No draft date has been set yet for the Colonial League (N.L.) draft, but I will be sure to let you know when it's scheduled because I know you're going to want to share your N.L. sleepers as well.
Not that into baseball? Check out a good run down of UK's hoop chances at Scutch Speaks (link on side).
Somebody asked me if I knew the origin of the phrase "Hot Stove League" which I did not. I will search high and low for an answer, but if one of you knows, please save me some time and post it as a comment to this entry.
In the meantime, you can think about whether the Reds should be allowing Volquez and Cueto to pitch in the WBC. I'm a little fuzzy on whether or not the Reds even have a choice. The teams are directed by the commissioner to support the classic, but I know that the Mariners told Beltre he couldn't play even though he wanted to. But he is coming off of surgery so that may have made a difference.
Total innings pitched every year (Google the Verducci effect) is a huge issue with young pitchers and tacking on extra innings for the WBC seems counter productive to me, but there is a movement afoot to de-emphasize innings pitched (see: Ryan, Nolan). What do you guys think?