December 2010

Heep-Hawpe-Anonymous?

Christmas is over and there’s nothing to do in Conneaut, Ohio. Unfortunately for you, that means I have time to write something.

Random thoughts:

  • There’s a projected TinCaps 2011 pitching staff on Friar Forecast. It’s a decent starting point, with the understanding that everything can be completely blown up during spring training. Rafael Arias as the closer is still interesting to me, since he was the Opening Day closer here last year and pretty clearly wasn’t healthy. Word was he had been in the mid-90s in the AZL in 2009 but he was struggling to reach the high 80s when he was here.
  • The Padres are close to finalizing a deal with Brad Hawpe, who we assume would become the Opening Day first baseman and would hold the job until either Anthony Rizzo or Kyle Blanks is ready. And he’s an outfielder, which gives the team options if one of the young guys is ready AND Hawpe hits. I say that’s good… one less thing.
  • Read a Padres chat from Thursday and I’m stunned at how mad people are about San Diego getting Rob Johnson as a backup catcher. Sure, his numbers stink, but he’s supposed to be good defensively and he’s only going to play once a week assuming Nick Hundley stays healthy.
  • Fort Wayne alum and now-Cardinals 3B David Freese is trying to come back from ankle injuries. Again. Looks like St. Louis sees him as their starter going into the spring.
  • Another Fort Wayne alum, RHP Justin Germano, was designated for assignment.
  • Pretty interesting article about the process of signing as a non-drafted free agent.
  • As a thank-you/goodbye gift, Carl Crawford bought lunch for the folks in Tampa.
  • Also last week, Michael Limmer took the marketing department to lunch at 800 Degree Wood Fired Pizza. It was darn tasty. And locally owned. So, bonus. Try the meat-lovers pizza.
  • They’re trying to figure out who will take Ron Santo’s place on the Cubs’ radio broadcasts.
  • You know I love a good dog story… The dog Mark Buehrle saved was adopted.
  • When I got home on Thursday night, the dogs sat next to me for at least a half-hour. It was like nobody had petted them in months.
  • I’m an Ohio State fan, but not suspending the five players until next year is wrong. It’s no different from when Roberto Alomar spat at an umpire during a playoff series and they didn’t suspend him until the following season.

Musical guest… Bruce Springsteen!

Take care!

DW

    End-of-year awards

    Awards are like poems… They’re for sissies, and no one wants to hear about ‘em. I guess they’re kind of like 90 percent of college bowl games.

    Did you know there are FOUR country music awards shows during the year, not counting the Grammys?

    Did you also know that every year, lame music/movies get awards because of how “deep and artistically brilliant” they are while the movies/music normal people (i.e. you and me) actually enjoy get hosed?

    Did you have ANY IDEA that Taylor Swift won the Grammy for Best Album AND that God-awful Kings of Leon song got one for Best Rock Song last year?!?

    Well, I thought I’d done my Watson Files Awards Show-Palooza already this year, but apparently I haven’t. So here goes…

    Best Book I’ve Read This Year:
    Shutter Island. I’d been wanting to watch the movie but hadn’t. I’d been wanting to read a non-baseball book during the season. Worlds collided and the results were fantastic. Fun to read, tough to put down.

    Honorable Mention: Lies My Teacher Told Me. If you like history but don’t get a lot of time to read about it, this is the book. I probably learned more interesting things in 464 pages than I did in 17 years of school. Also: Young Patriots. It’s the story of how the Constitution came to be.

    Best Movie I Saw This Year:
    Inception. And it’s not even close. If you don’t love it, we’re not friends anymore.

    Worst Movie I Saw This Year:
    The Town. It’s so bad, I feel it’s my civic duty to tell you NOT to see it. So bad. Just trust me on this one. And it’s not even the whole “robbing large banks isn’t plausible in 2010″ thing. I enjoyed “Inside Man,” which is about a bank robbery in New York. It’s just that the plot/writing is horrible. Ben Affleck was one of the writers. Coincidence?

    Best Movie I Saw on a Bus This Year:

    The Book of Eli. In reality, it’s a pretty average movie, but minor-league baseball bus movies must ooze machismo, so the selections are limited. And this one is fairly easily viewed on a small screen. And I like most Denzel Washington movies anyway.

    (Side note: Why did Razor Ramon speak with an accent, then the same guy lost the accent when he was renamed Scott Hall? Pro wrestling: Where racism happens.)

    Worst Movie I Saw on a Bus This Year:
    Can I vote for “Crank 2″ again, even though I saw it in 2009? Yes. Because it’s my blog.

    Best Musical Discovery This Year:
    The Black Keys. This was the toughest choice so far and I think being from Ohio put them over the top. They’re good.

    Honorable mention: Ben Folds. Not sure how I missed out for so long, but he has to be one of the most talented performers around right now. His language can become offensive, though. Also, OK Go, just for their videos.

    Random thoughts:

    • The Padres are bringing in one of the Cardinals’ top people. So they’ve got them going for them.
    • I thought it never rained in San Diego.
    • The Tigers are hiring what seems to be cheerleaders/a glorified street team. It’s been tried in some minor-league parks with mostly “ehh” results. It doesn’t really hurt anything but it doesn’t really add anything, either. Baseball just isn’t a cheerleader kind of game.
    • If you have to think too hard about what to nickname someone/something, it’s destined for lameness. The Phillies’ rotation as “The Un-Four-Gettables” is historically bad.
    • The Nationals’ Top 10 Prospect list is up on Baseball America. Spoiler alert: Bryce Harper is good.
    • From Buster Olney: RHP Alex Colome, who pitched for Bowling Green this year, is getting good reviews in winter ball. He got good reviews from the TinCaps’ pitching staff when they were charting him, too, whatever that’s worth. Buster also says the Padres are considering a platoon at first base, with Russell Branyan and Fort Wayne alum Kyle Blanks splitting time. That would save some cash.
    • If you’re talking about making a dish for a Christmas get-together (or any other occasion, for that matter), isn’t “making homemade pie” redundant? Are people just fishing for compliments about their cooking when they use the “homemade” line? If it’s store-bought and you’re just heating it up, you’re not really “making” anything.
    • This is the kind of things Allan Wertheimer sends to me on a daily basis: Alligators eating kayakers in the Congo.
    • Reason #4,917 why coaches should put a gag order on Twitter for all athletes.
    • Reason #4,918 why coaches should put a gag order on Twitter for all athletes.
    • When did it become OK to report on things people post on Twitter?
    • That episode of Seinfeld where Jerry forgot to return Tropic of Cancer to the library wasn’t that far off. Apparently Detective Bookman moved to Michigan.
    • Watched the Las Vegas Bowl last night. Brent Musburger set the world record for earliest mention of the point spread in broadcast history. It was probably the second sentence of the entire broadcast. How much would you have paid to follow Brent around Vegas for three days, watching him bet on first-half over-unders for Mountain West women’s basketball games before breakfast?

    This will probably be my last post of the year, so thanks for reading and I’ll check back early in January.

    Music
    al guests… David Bowie and Bing Crosby!


    Take care and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

    DW

    ZiP it

    If you’re into predicting baseball performance on computers, I give you the San Diego Padres 2011 ZiPS projections!

    Keep in mind the projections are obviously a little outdated with Jon Garland and Adrian Gonzalez both included. And they don’t take into account how much playing time people will likely get (I’d bet my life-size cardboard cut-out of Carlos Baerga that James Darnell doesn’t get 509 at-bats in the big leagues next year). And I hope Mat Latos pitches more than 126 innings. But you get the idea.

    Speaking of zips, I’ll never understand why ziplining isn’t more popular. They’re usually outdoors (exception: American Gladiators), they’re usually in picturesque places, you get to climb trees, then you get to slide back toward the ground really fast. What’s not to like?

    Random thoughts:

    • The Padres “traded” for Mariners C Rob Johnson, but he had been designated for assignment by Seattle. Meaning, San Diego probably won’t have to give up much (PTBNL or cash).
    • Fort Wayne alum (and Rick SantaBarbara posse member) Matt Antonelli signed a minor-league free-agent contract with the Nationals. Washington’s starters at second base last year? Alberto Gonzalez, Cristian Guzman (who’s a free agent), Adam Kennedy (also a free agent) and Danny Espinoza (who the Nationals like). So Antonelli could get a long look at least as an MLB backup in spring training.
    • In the latest MiLB transactions report, three things stick out to me: Ryan Harvey, who was a first-round draftee by the Cubs as an outfielder and could hit the holy crap out of the ball when he actually connected, has converted to pitching and signed with the Red Sox. Also, Ryan Wiegand, who struggled in the Midwest League for Bowling Green last year, was released by the Rays. He hit .324 in Rookie ball in 2009. Finally, Mark Prior signed a free-agent deal with the Yankees. More examples of the “you just never know”-ness of baseball.
    • The Yankees are paying $18 million in luxury tax this year. Which is insane, considering they are far from a complete team (they could use 2-3 more starting pitchers). The Red Sox are the only other team to have to pay, and it’s only $1.5 million.
    • What’s this? A feel-good story about the Yankees? Impossible!
    • Zack Greinke: one of the few honest interviews in sports.
    • Cubs radio play-by-play guy Pat Hughes signed on for five more years. He’s good. Really good.

    Musical guest… Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton!

    Take care!

    DW

    Where am I, Bizarro World?

    When I saw ESPN was doing a “Baseball News of the Weird” story this week, I couldn’t help but assume it would pale in comparison to some of the “Uh, what?” moments from the TinCaps’ 2010 season. Surprisingly, I was right for once.

    Let’s enjoy. In 2010, the Fort Wayne TinCaps…

    • Had a backup infielder and a backup catcher hit grand slams in back-to-back games… and lost both games.
    • Made six errors in a game at Dayton (the teams combined for ten total errors).
    • Watched the same Dayton team commit six errors in a game at Parkview Field. In the same game, the TinCaps’ starting pitcher went seven hitless innings before hitting his pitch limit, didn’t figure in the decision but the TinCaps still won the game.
    • Went 2-1 in games ended by a wild pitch. Yes, three games ended with a walk-off wild pitch.
    • Came within one strike of being no-hit for the first time in franchise history, then later in the season were within one out of no-hitting the same team (Bowling Green).
    • Gave up an eight-run inning and still won the game.
    • In early July, they played a three-game series vs. Bowling Green; total game time in the series was 10 hours, 49 minutes — an average of an excruciating three hours, 36 minutes per game.
    • Soon after, they won a game in which they had just two hits, beating Lake County in a swift two hours, five minutes.
    • Received a scoreless inning pitched by a position player (Jon Alia, released by the Padres in July).
    • Had a player more than double his season home run total in a single game (Jonathan Galvez 3HR; entered game with 2HR all season).
    • They also, in a single game, had the starter take a no-hitter into the fifth, the team take a shutout into the ninth, blow a 3-0 lead, then not put the ball in play in a three-run, game-winning rally in the ninth (five walks, game-winning hit batsman).
    • In August, a lineup snafu caused the pitcher (Matt Lollis) to hit, and he doubled in a 1-for-3 performance.
    • Also in August, the TinCaps played a nine-inning game which lasted 3:42; Bowling Green’s Burt Reynolds hit a grand slam.

    Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Fort Wayne TinCaps!

    Top that, ESPN.

    Random thoughts:

    • The Padres just (within the last few minutes) announced they picked up a backup catcher. It’s Rob Johnson from the Mariners, in exchange for a player to be named or cash. Which leaves first base as the last hole to fill.
    • The sale of the Portland Beavers is final. Whew. That could’ve gotten awkward.
    • The Padres getting Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson probably means Jerry Hairston will work elsewhere in 2011.
    • Tigers prospects including RHP Jacob Turner went to fall instructional camp. If you read the quotes, everyone in the Detroit organization thinks it’s the greatest instructional camp in intergalactic history.
    • Pete Rose’s son will manage a Rookie-level team for the White Sox this year.
    • Speaking of the Sox, Fort Wayne alum Jake Peavy is coming along nicely in his rehab from a serious injury. He’s already throwing, which is amazing to me.
    • The Marlins’ Top 10 prospects are listed by Baseball America. I know they don’t have any fans, but maybe for fantasy baseball purposes. Wait, Mike Stanton isn’t a prospect anymore? Forget I brought it up, then.
    • For you cased meats enthusiasts out there, get ready for Three Dog Night from the Akron Aeros. Prediction: Akron, Ohio leads the United States in 2011 in major cases of the meat sweats.
    • I’ve been trying to get people to agree with me on this for two months: Doesn’t Chris Bosh look suspiciously similar to Littlefoot from “The Land Before Time”? Judge for yourself:

    bosh-littlefoot.jpg(Left-to-right: Littlefoot, Bosh.)

    Must be the long necks.

    Musical guest… Santa Claus the Charlie Daniels Band!

    Take care!

    DW

    Cole Figueroa: Montgomery Biscuit?

    First of all, today is the final day of the 12 Days of Christmas at The Orchard. Free gift wrapping for today only. The best part about this is that Brent Harring is working at the mall store.
    He loves Christmas more than anybody I know. Example: He’ll tell anyone
    who will listen about the time he was in college and, with windows down
    and Santa hat on, sped around campus blaring “All I Want for Christmas is You” and singing along. Because the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for buzzcuts to hear.

    Now… Baseball stuff. The Padres (finally) completed the trade for Jason Bartlett on Friday. They sent three relievers (Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Brandon Gomes) and former TinCaps INF Cole Figueroa to Tampa for Bartlett and a player to be named later.

    Looks fine, especially if the Padres can get Bartlett to stick around for longer than just the one year left on his contract. San Diego had a huge need for a big-league shortstop, Tampa had an equally huge need for big-league bullpen arms and both teams filled the needs.

    From a Fort Wayne perspective, three of those guys played here on their way to higher levels: Ramos, Gomes and Figueroa. Figueroa looks like a second baseman as he goes up the ladder because of his lateral movement, even though he stole 26 bags last year. He might not have jaw-dropping tools, but he’s consistent and has outstanding baseball IQ, which are rarer qualities than they should be. You might even call Cole scrappy.

    From a completely unimportant perspective, this also opens the possibility that Cole Figueroa becomes the first player ever to play for both the TinCaps and Montgomery Biscuits, two of the more “out-there” names in the minors. So he’s got that going for him.

    The Padres also are apparently close to a deal with Orlando Hudson to play second base, which is a nice signing and leaves just first base and backup catcher as the final holes to fill on the roster. It looks like Hudson will make the money the Padres saved when they traded Adrian Gonzalez.

    Random thoughts:

    • If you’re keeping score of the Padres’ off-season, that’s two more good moves for 2011. They’ve given up five relievers and Figueroa for two everyday players (Bartlett, OF Cameron Maybin) and a player to be named later. Five relievers is a lot to pay, but even the best veteran relievers are tough to predict on a year-to-year basis and San Diego still seems to have a nice core in the bullpen. They should be able to ease any new faces into the mix in low-pressure spots while Bell, Gregerson, Adams, Thatcher, Stauffer, etc. take the lead.
    • First base and backup catcher seem like the final pieces of the big-league puzzle. There’s not a lot of money to throw at those spots, though.
    • The value of relievers is low, but this low? Guillermo Mota was average out of the pen for a World Series winner and doesn’t even get a spot on the 40-man roster the next year. Wow.
    • Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum added to the Brewers’ rotation turns a weakness into a relative strength. It puts extra pressure on the Brewers to replenish through the draft in the next few years while winning now, but with Prince Fielder ready to leave after 2011 it looks like the time to go for it.
    • How did the Royals go from “not getting enough” in offers for Greinke from the stacked Rangers organization to apparently “getting enough” from the Brewers system which is very “ehh”? The pitchers the Royals received have much higher ceilings than the position players, in my opinion.
    • Peter Gammons wrote something about the Greinke trade. Read it.
    • Hey, look! People getting upset about the Hall of Fame! Read Bill James’ book about the HOF, then realize it’s a messed-up institution and proceed to stop freaking out about it. That being said, I’ve been to Cooperstown and recommend a visit to any baseball fan.
    • The Indians signed Austin Kearns to a one-year deal. Again. This might be deja vu, but I’ll have to check with the kitchen.
    • I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 about Michael Jordan playing baseball last night. For a guy who hadn’t played baseball in forever, hitting .202 for a full season and stealing 30 bags at Double-A isn’t bad. Plus, he hit over .250 in the Arizona Fall League. AND, his manager was Terry Francona. Who knew?
    • If ESPN would do more 30 for 30 and less Decision/Favre-o-palooza, I think people would lay off them a little.
    • Also, they should let Doug Glanville do more. Good editorial about playing winter baseball.

    Musical guest… Bruce Hornsby and the Range!

    Take care!

    DW

    Where great wings happen

    I’m going to the Pacers-Cavaliers game tonight in Indianapolis. Is it bad that the main selling point for me is that there’s a Quaker Steak & Lube location at the arena?

    Random thoughts:

    • Remember the “player to be named later” in the Adrian Gonzalez trade? Looks like it’s Eric Patterson. He’s Corey Patterson’s brother. He can play some outfield and second base.
    • The Artists Formerly Known as the Portland Beavers look like they’re going to Escondido. The Padres got an initial approval to start building a Triple-A stadium in the outskirts of San Diego, but it’s still not a completely done deal. If it goes to plan, they’ll start building a year from now and the park should open in 2013, meaning the team will play in Tuscon, Ariz. for two seasons.
    • Step right up and greet the Mets’ Top 10 prospects. I might like the ’86 Mets theme song better than the original.
    • The Tigers are ready to spend money on the draft. This isn’t what we call “hard news.” They’ve been spending a good amount for years.
    • Pretty good recap of free-agent stuff here.
    • Somebody thinks Bobby Jenks should eventually replace Jonathan Papelbon as the Red Sox closer. The entire article is built on “if Jenks returns to form.” At first, I thought it was wishful thinking because Daniel Bard is good, Jenks’ ERA has risen the last two years and I’d heard that he’s been losing fastball velocity, but now I’m not so sure.
    • Edgar Renteria says a $1 million contract offer is a total disrespect. Here’s the thing: a lot of teams have a set salary that they’re willing to pay for a certain position. Is that disrespectful? Not really, and it’s how most businesses in the universe operate. We’ve already heard of Henry Blanco turning down the Padres’ offer to be their backup catcher, but they know what they’re willing to pay and they’re not going over that number.
    • What do they do with those broken bats? At our games, we get them signed by the players and sell them. In Japan, they turn them into chopsticks. Apparently they like the flavor of pine tar.
    • Mark Cuban may have found a better way to improve the sports world than buying a baseball team: Buying a college football playoff. There’s a recently-released book called Death to the BCS (and a lame response from the director of the BCS) that just reinforces what seemingly everyone without a financial interest in college football thinks.
    • This one was sent to me yesterday: With Christmas about a week away, you see a lot of family/business Christmas cards floating around. But what about quasi-celebrities-who-shouldn’t-be-celebrities’ Christmas cards? I really don’t know why the Kardashians are famous other than Bruce Jenner being an Olympian a million years ago, but how did they go from life-sized Ninja Turtles, Santa Claus with sunglasses on, motorcycle gang and inexplicably climbing ladders to The Addams Family on a spiral staircase and a giant chess board mixed with a total lack of fun? Let this be a lesson: Christmas cards are inherently lame. Embrace the lameness. Explore the space. Wear awful sweaters. Maybe include a giant cartoon character if you’re feeling risky. You don’t have to impress people all the time.
    • Speaking of not taking yourself too seriously, Dave Hutte status update: “We’re popular. Going to a party of some sort every night this weekend.” Mothers, hide your daughters.

    Musical guest… M.C. Hammer!

    Go Cavs… I guess.

    DW

    The Van Meter Heater

    As a Cleveland fan, Bob Feller passing away is an especially big deal. He said some controversial things later in his life, but he seemed to be everywhere, still attending (and pitching at) Fantasy Camp well into his 80s. Everybody seems to have their own Bob Feller story; just last week when the story came out that Feller was in hospice care, my grandma told me hers. When she lived in Sidney, Ohio, Feller came to the grand opening of a sporting goods store. “He was such a gentleman,” she said. “I have never forgotten how nice he was.” Which might explain why, growing up, I remember going to my grandparents’ house and seeing an autographed picture of Feller in the living room.

    Also, Bob Feller, “the Van Meter Heater,” had one of the great nicknames in baseball history along with “Smoky Joe” Wood and Lou “Biscuit Pants” Gehrig. Now it’s all A-Rod and V-Mart and “Doc” Halladay. Which is lazy and sometimes nonsensical.

    More Feller stories:

    • Joe Posnanski is a really good writer who happens to be from Cleveland. Among his stories: As a kid at an autograph signing, Feller asked him who the best pitcher of all time was. Overthinking, he answered, “Sandy Koufax.” There’s an even better story at the end of the article.
    • Feller could have easily delayed his entry into the military during World War II, but he enlisted in the Navy and pushed to be put into combat duty because, “We were losing big in the Pacific.” How many Hall of Fame-caliber athletes in their prime would do that now?
    • Rob Neyer wonders what Feller’s career stats would have looked like if he hadn’t missed almost four prime seasons in the service, then hurt his knee when he came back.
    • Feller saw it all in his 92 years.
    • Apparently that autographed picture of Bob Feller at my grandparents’ house is not a limited-edition item. Nothing signed by Feller is, but who cares? He made money from all those autographs, but he at least acted like he cared about the fans he met.
    • Feller was the historical face of the Indians franchise.
    • Stephen Strasburg’s signing bonus was around $10 million. Feller’s was $1. Not $1 million. One dollar. He became one of the highest-paid players in the game later in his career.
    • You know the movie “Field of Dreams”? It was based on a book that was published in 1982, but the whole setting of a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield could’ve been (at least subconsciously) taken from Feller’s childhood. His dad built him one. And, like in the movie, everybody thought he was crazy.
    • He went 5-3 in his rookie season of 1936. Then he went back to Iowa and graduated from high school. The commencement ceremony was broadcast live on national radio. First of all, that’s a completely crazy idea, but it really happened. Secondly, this makes ESPN seem a little less cutting-edge, doesn’t it?

    Random thoughts:

    • Quick aside on the Feller autograph idea: Apparently getting an autograph from Bob Feller had about 10 percent of the awkwardness of getting autographs from current minor-leaguers. Because I’ve seen a lot of them, and while it’s nice that players sign things, there is little to no conversation going on most of the time. But that’s what happens when signatures turn into (potentially) big business and not necessarily mementos. And that’s too bad for both players and fans, really.
    • The Padres signed SS Gregorio Petit and 3B/OF Jesus Guzman to minor-league deals. Apparently Petit is good with the glove, so who knows what could happen if he has a good Spring Training. Also in that article: Dontrelle Willis signed a minor-league contract with the Reds.
    • San Diego closer Heath Bell caught typhoid fever on a vacation. He’s fine now, so I think it’s OK to make the joke that the vacation was not by covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. He went to Hawaii and ate something that made him sick.
    • You’ll be happy to know that Allan Wertheimer also took a vacation to Hawaii, but didn’t catch typhoid fever. Which, from a purely mathematical standpoint, is amazing considering the sheer volume of food he probably ate.
    • The Padres hired former Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy last year and now he’s going to be the manager of Short-A Eugene. Yesterday the NCAA came down pretty hard on ASU for some rules violations that happened while Murphy was there. He says he never violated rules intentionally. I’d give him some benefit of the doubt; NCAA rules are about as convoluted and illogical as anything in sports. And let’s not get into the enforcement of those rules.
    • I played a year of college baseball. For a work-study job, a bunch of the players (myself included) worked the concession stand at basketball games. Should I be worried about  being stripped of my .125 career batting average in NCAA competition?
    • The Braves’ Top 10 prospect list is posted on Baseball America.
    • Peter Gammons says Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies was just Cliff being Cliff. And he means that in a good way. I think.
    • With the Rangers and Angels missing out on the big-name free agents, some people think the A’s could surprise this year. They have the pitching if they can stay healthy. But they can’t really score enough, can they?
    • Some minor-league teams down south are shuffling around.
    • Apparently there’s an indoor cornhole tournament coming up between TinCaps and Mad Ants front office people. We’d bring this guy in, but we already have Bill Lehn, so we’re set.

    Musical guest… the Foo Fighters!

    Take care!

    DW

    Sorry ’bout it

    Evidence of The Wertheimer Effect continues to surface. Just in the last 24 hours:

    You may have already heard about how we got dominated in volleyball by the Mad Ants‘ front office when Allan Wertheimer still worked here. Well, last night at the bowling alley (sans Wertheimer), the TinCaps got their revenge. We looked like a bowling juggernaut in sweeping the Mad Ants’ front office/backcourt in a three-game series. We added Keith Winter to our team, which was like adding PBA legend Pete Weber (in bowling success, inspiration factor and strike celebration). More importantly, Allan’s replacement, Jeff Greer, who claimed “100 is a good game” for him, was rolling 160s consistently. Allan probably averaged in the 110s or so. Even more importantly, Jeff wanted his nickname to be T-Bone, but Tony DesPlaines has that nickname on lockdown already, so naturally, Jeff is now known as Coco.

    So, in conclusion, in three days on the job, Jeff Greer already has a better nickname than Allan Wertheimer and has already helped us to more inter-office leisure-sport victories than Allan did in two years. So, you know… Another solid free-agent pickup for the Vikings.

    Kidding. Sort of.

    Also, while we’re on the topic of nicknames, when did it become OK for people to acquire nicknames for names they don’t even have?

    Example: Roy “Doc” Halladay. According to extensive research, the real Doc Holliday was a gambler, gunfighter and dentist in the Old West (which is only important because his career interests are eerily similar to Wolf “the Dentist” Stansson of “D2: The Mighty Ducks” fame). What’s really important is this: Matt “Doc” Holliday would be acceptable, because, you know, Holliday is his last name. Roy “Doc” Halladay is dumb. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

    Random thoughts:

    • The TinCaps’ 12 Days of Christmas at the Orchard Team Store is still going on. Good deals every day. Free shipping all this week. Check it out.
    • The Padres’ out-of-house options at first base are dwindling. Lyle Overbay signed with the Pirates and the Orioles are going after Adam LaRoche (who is left-handed and perennially stinks in the first half of the season). Other names still out there: Nick Johnson, Derrek Lee, Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus, Russell Branyan. Everything I’ve read says Kyle Blanks won’t be ready for Opening Day after Tommy John surgery.
    • Carl Pavano is now the biggest prize on the free-agent pitching market. Capitalism is beautiful. For him.
    • Nationals reliever Drew Storen is going to a movie premiere and he’s pumped.
    • According to this, the Phillies’ payroll is up to $167 million for 2011. Which puts them in Yankees/Red Sox territory.
    • Also, Red Sox fans are never allowed to call the Yankees “the Evil Empire” in an economic sense again.
    • Matt Stairs signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals. Bummer he’s leaving the Padres.
    • A major-league team CUTTING ticket prices? Whaaaaaa?
    • In case you’re wondering, my favorite celebration after bowling a strike is the Aaron Rodgers championship belt celebration.
    • Heard today Scarlett Johansson is getting a divorce. So you’re telling me there’s a chance.

    Musical guest… Joni Mitchell!

    Take care!

    DW

    Time to restock

    Baseball America clears it up
    once and for all: the Padres will make five picks in the first 47
    overall in the next draft. Which means it’s a huge opportunity to
    upgrade the farm system.

    What type of player will they go after? Impossible to say for a lot of reasons, but here‘s what  the current scouting/drafting staff did in their one draft in San Diego. Most of that staff had been in Boston since 2005. Which doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot, since the budget in Boston is probably much different than the one in San Diego. But just for fun, here are some of the guys the Red Sox drafted early in the 2005-09 drafts.

    What you’ll find are good players (some of whom were traded for MLB stars), some late-round gambles that didn’t end up signing (but proved to be good enough to be high picks in later years), and a few that didn’t pan out. But they didn’t miss on a whole lot of these picks:

    2005
    OF Jacoby Ellsbury (1)
    RHP Craig Hansen (1), who they traded for Jason Bay (and got Manny out of town)
    RHP Clay Buchholz (1S)
    INF Jed Lowrie (1S)

    Also drafted Pedro Alvarez (14) and Allan Dykstra (34) later in the draft, both of whom ended up being first-round picks after college careers. Alvarez was a No. 1 overall pick and is going to be a core player for Pittsburgh.

    2006
    OF Jason Place (1)
    RHP Daniel Bard (1)
    LHP Kris Johnson (1S)
    RHP Caleb Clay (1S)
    RHP Justin Masterson (2), traded for Victor Martinez
    LHP Dustin Richardson (5)

    Bard is probably Boston’s closer when Jonathan Papelbon leaves. The rest (Masterson aside) aren’t considered prospects at this point. Richardson is a fringe prospect, but I just wanted to include him because he appeared on the show “Knight School,” where Bob Knight berated walk-ons on television. Also drafted (but didn’t sign) 1B Brandon Belt (11) and 1B/OF Matt LaPorta (14). Belt got rave reviews in the Arizona Fall League; the Brewers took LaPorta in the first round the next year and traded him to the Indians for CC Sabathia, who basically pitched them to the playoffs.

    2007
    RHP Nick Hagadone (1S), traded for Martinez
    SS Ryan Dent (1S)
    1B Anthony Rizzo (6), traded for Gonzalez

    They didn’t get a pick until 55th overall, which hurts. Dent was a high-school pick and is still considered a prospect. C Yasmani Grandal (27) didn’t sign, but went to Miami and became the Reds’ first-round pick in 2010.

    2008
    RHP Casey Kelly (1), traded for Gonzalez
    RHP Bryan Price (1S), traded for Martinez
    SS/2B Derrik Gibson (2)
    OF Ryan Westmoreland (5)

    They like Gibson’s speed and Westmoreland was their No. 1 prospect until a rare brain condition shut him down, maybe forever.

    2009
    OF Reymond Fuentes (1), traded for Gonzalez
    RHP Alex Wilson (2)
    3B David Renfroe (3)

    Wilson got to Double-A in his first full season in 2010. Renfroe struggled in Short-season.

    In 2009, the Angels had two first-rounders and three supplemental-round picks, which is almost exactly what the Padres have coming their way in 2011. They turned those into three high-schoolers and two college guys:
    OF Randel Grichuk (held his own for Cedar Rapidsin the MWL)
    OF Mike Trout (MWL All-Star and one of the top prospects in the game)
    LHP Tyler Skaggs (MWL All-Star, part of trade with D-Backs for Dan Haren)
    RHP Garrett Richards (MWL All-Star)
    LHP Tyler Kehrer (Lots of strikeouts, lots of walks for Cedar Rapids)

    The point is, if you follow the Padres, you should be excited about the upcoming draft. Given the staff’s track record (and the recent returns from a similar situation), it could be a turning point for the franchise. Turning even 2-3 of those picks into MLB regulars would be crucial for the Padres as they try to become more self-sustained and consistently successful.

    Cliff Lee:

    I love Cliff Lee and his shunning of the Yankees as much as anybody. But before we nominate him for sainthood, let’s look at the numbers. If we trust what’s being thrown around.

    Yankees offered (not counting options/incentives) 6 years/$132 million: $22 million per year
    Rangers offered (not counting options/incentives) 6 years/$138 million: $23 million per year
    Phillies offered (not counting options/incentives) 5 years/$120 million: $24 million per year

    So while Lee left some overall money and a guaranteed year on the table, he’s making more over the next five years than he would have made anywhere else.

    Even if the numbers are a little off, I think he’s one of the few athletes who “gets it” to the point that he realizes he’s set for life regardless of where he would have signed, and five years of playing somewhere you enjoy beats six years of somewhere that you’re not sure about.

    • Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt… I think you and I could pitch every fifth day and the Phillies would still be the favorites in the NL East.
    • Remember
      when Yankee fans spit and threw things at Lee’s wife? It had to have
      had an effect on things. How crazy is it that they’re choosing to go to
      Philly, where they boo Santa Claus?
    • How are the Phillies
      affording this? And do they really think they can unload Joe Blanton or
      Raul Ibanez without eating a significant part of their overpriced
      contracts?
    • Lee’s signing sets the Royals up to completely hose somebody
      (probably the Yankees) for Zack Greinke. If somebody else jumped out
      offering a quality starting pitcher, they could do the same.

    Random thoughts:

    • The Yankees signed Russell Martin. Presumably with their tail between their legs. Of all the old guys on the Yankees’ roster, it’s amazing Martin is only 27 and he’s the one with the broken hip.
    • The Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects list is posted over at Baseball America.
    • Speaking of BA, I have a strong feeling that former TinCaps Jedd Gyorko and Matt Lollis will be in the Padres’ Top 10. Not that it’s going out on too long of a limb.
    • San Diego officially signed RHP Dustin Moseley. He could be a long reliever or help out in the rotation.
    • Back in the 80s, video killed the radio star. More recently, it killed Brett Favre. Does anyone really care about him anymore, other than wanting him to go away? It’s a lesson we first learned from Hulk Hogan when he only wrestled on cable once a year and the rest was on pay-per-view: If you’re on TV too much, people get sick of you.
    • If you didn’t believe in it before, believe it now: Favre’s streak ending is yet another example of The Wertheimer Effect. If the Vikings move to Los Angeles, you’ll know why.

    Musical guest… Foreigner!

    Take care!

    DW

    The Wertheimer Effect

    Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t… Allan Wertheimer, best-known as the king of free food in this town and worst-known as our video guy, took a job with the Minnesota Vikings. He’s gone. We’ve already hired his replacement, but before we move on, let’s reflect on some of Allan’s greatest hits over the last few years.

    • Tried every single food offering at Parkview Field. For free. Twice. You know, in case there was a bad batch or something.
    • Attended 27 weddings in a two-year span, breaking the world record previously held by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.
    • Defeated Pat Ventura in the preliminary round of a belly-flop contest, only to lose in humiliating fashion in the main event the next day.
    • Sent (in mid-game, mind you) a text message to the “text if there’s trouble in your seating section” number, requesting ice cream to be delivered to the press box.
    • Is a certified coach/manager killer: Doug Dascenzo lasted a year with the TinCaps after Wertheimer got here. Same for Jose Flores. Then, about a week after Allan got to Minnesota, Tony Kornheiser’s stunt double got the axe. Coincidence?
    • Somehow took an in-season vacation from Minnesota to Hawaii (after about a month on the job), during which the biggest snowstorm in over 20 years caused his place of employment to literally implode.

    This is what we call the Wertheimer Effect. Underestimate it at your own risk.

    Also, Jeff Greer is the new guy. He interned with us in 2009 and with the Tampa Bay Rays last year. Check out his stuff here. It’s good.

    Random thoughts:

    • I’m kind of surprised by how mad people are in San Diego about the Padres trading Adrian Gonzalez. He’s a hometown guy and one of the best first basemen in the game, but that only means he was going to become too expensive for approximately 25 MLB teams. This is how baseball works right now.
    • It hasn’t always been this way. After the 1992 season the Yankees missed out on Greg Maddux, David Cone, Doug Drabek and Barry Bonds, many of whom signed elsewhere for less. What has changed in 18 years? My guess is the players’ union pressuring these guys (and their agents) to “set the market” and take every last penny. But what do I know?
    • For the third time, the Jason Bartlett trade is still not done. Apparently a physical is holding it up. It would be pretty awkward for everyone if it didn’t end up getting done, wouldn’t it?
    • Call me crazy, but wouldn’t a season-ticket holder for an MLB team follow the team closely enough to know the team’s budget restraints?
    • I haven’t been able to find an updated MLB Draft order for 2011, but the Padres will get five picks in the first 45 (or so) overall, thanks to Yorvit Torrealba, Jon Garland and Kevin Correia going elsewhere. It’s pretty much an industry-wide belief that the way to build a stable franchise is through the draft, but it takes a few years.
    • Sometimes, a fake news story is just as fun as a real news story.
    • The Nationals can’t get Cliff Lee, so they decided to go after Derrek Lee. Believe it or not, that’s not a fake story.
    • I read an article this weekend that argued that, if baseball goes to two wild cards per league, it should also abolish the divisions, play a balanced schedule and just take the top five teams in each league to the playoffs. That makes a lot of sense for the rest of the AL East (and from a fairness standpoint in general), but powerful people care about TV ratings and this could set up some terrible things on that front. It’s not all that tough to imagine a year with no teams from the west in the post-season. Yikes.
    • Discovered this weekend that the Black Eyed Peas are performing at halftime of the Super Bowl. But then again, this awkwardfest was the halftime show four times. And Kid Rock made it one year. One day we’ll look back on this and laugh, but that day isn’t today.

    Musical guest… Jimi Hendrix!


    Take care!

    DW

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