Happy Friday, Gabbers. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I don’t indulge much in mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pies, bread, etc. usually for health reasons, but on Thanksgiving I say “To Hal with it” and indulge for my annual orgy of hideous parades on television, vast quantities of food, and of course football. This week, since I plan to be in a food coma most of the afternoon, I figured I’d get started a little early with the Sports Spectacular this week and have a plan and all that crap. Since I wasted my Thanksgiving rant LAST week, this week I’d switch gears and focus on some free agency and hot stove baseball.
First off, the Dodgers did not take long to get involved. They signed former Oakland/Arizona starting pitcher Dan Haren to a one-year $10 million deal. A lot of cash, but a decent move. No longer a Cy Young pitcher, he is solid (when healthy) and is a good back end of rotation veteran. Courtesy of Jonah Keri of Grantland.com:
In Haren's final 15 starts of 2013 (plus a one-inning save), he threw 87⅔ innings, amassing a tidy 3.29 ERA with 84 strikeouts, 18 walks, nine homers allowed, and an opponent's’ line of just .228/.271/.355.
Of course, that deal looks great when you see the Royals throwing money at back end of the rotation starter Jason Vargas from the Los Angeles/Anaheim/California Angels. Four years and $32 million is a lot of money for a franchise in Kansas City with a lot of holes to fill. Yes, Kansas City got over .500, but Vargas does not buy a championship.
The Royals already made one questionable pitching decision last year when they dealt prospect outfielder Wil Myers to the Tampa Rays for pitcher James Shields. I am usually the first to shout out that stockpiling pitching is a must decision, but not at the expense of young power hitters. In less than a year, Myers has established himself as one of the most exciting young prospects and jumped right into the middle of the Tampa lineup. Shields is a decent third starter.
If the Royals were a contender loaded with young power hitters locked up long term and a starting pitcher away from contending and Myers was in single-A, then maybe (MAYBE!) you make that deal. But that was just an effort to be relevant by the Royals that will hurt for years and years to come as Myers becomes a perennial all-star and Shields remains...Shields….turning 32 years old this season. .
Speaking of the Rays, they kicked off the catching signings with re-signing 39 year old Jose Molina to a two year contract. It amazes me that the catching situation in MLB is so weak that an almost 40 year old catcher with little hitting ability, any inability to actually run the bases (he’d drop dead of a heart attack if he ever hit a triple), but can still call a game gets a multi-year deal. That said, I was hoping Boston would sign him.
Last year in the playoffs, the Red Sox made it clear that the catching position was to be emphasized for defense, receiving skills, and handling the pitching staff. Catching has become such a complex and specialized part of the pitching process, that teams really do not need to chase offense at the position. For Boston, the pitching staff enjoyed having the veteran behind the dish and it showed with great performance after great performance. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had some decent power numbers for a catcher, but Boston did not tender him an offer and made him a free agent in the prime of his career. The only guess there is that the Sox want to find a complementary veteran to split duties with Ross, or believe Salty will be available cheaper later in the winter.
Speaking of catchers, the big move was the Yankees jumping in with big money for Braves catcher Brian McCann. McCann gets what will likely be six years for $100 million. For the Yankees, they filled a black hole they created last year (for no logical reason) with arguably one of the best free agent on the market. Think of it this way: if Joe Mauer or Buster Posey were free agents, what would their market look like? Then look at McCann’s numbers next to theirs...suddenly, McCann looks like a bargain.
McCann’s lefty power makes him a threat at Yankee Stadium (see Curtis Granderson’s inflated home run totals at home) and although he is 30 years old--which is kind of old for a catcher with wear and tear and all--he’s the youngest starter on the roster right now. McCann would be a terrible fit in a market like Boston which is tough on lefties (unless they have David’s Ortiz’s power) with Fenway Park’s 380 ft power alley in right, but no other stadium inflates his power numbers like it will in New York.
Of course, for all the Yankees do in free agency, all eyes are on Robinson Cano and how much he can get out of the Yankees Steinbrenner family vault. One infielder on the move was Jhonny Peralta who went to St. Louis for four years and $52 million. Seeing Peralta in the postseason following his suspension showcased his value, while the Cardinals had a black hole there with Pete Kozma and his automatic out.
To make room, the Cardinals traded David Freese away to the Angels and got back an intriguing center fielder in Peter Bourjos. Bourjos is a great defensive player who has been hampered by injuries. He’s just 27 years old and is still three years from free agency. His bat is the issue (besides those injury issues) but can be dynamic on the basepaths if he finds his way on base.
For the Angels, Bourjos was excess in their high price outfield. David Freese is a good fit for them as a great fit for third base (speaking of black holes!) and since there are no good third basemen available in free agency, this move makes sense for them. Of course, they need pitching first and foremost in Los Angeles/Anaheim/California and with Vargas already lost in free agency they need some help. So the first (of likely many more) is grabbing relief pitcher Joe Smith to help the bullpen (which needs lots of love). Expect the Angels to make some noise in the pitching market throughout the winter.
The big trade of the offseason, of course, was the Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder megadeal. I love those straight-up all-star for all-star trades. The Detroit contingent at the Gab has covered the trade already so I won’t belabor it much, but I like these win-win trades when both teams fill a need and get rid of a player they don’t want. The Tigers dump a player they did not want back and had a huge investment in to a Rangers team desperate to replace some missing power. With that power back, the Rangers also get to play both Elvis Andrus and prospect Jurickson Profar everyday in the middle of the infield.
For the Tigers, it is almost $140 freed up long term getting rid of Fielder after his putrid post-season. Miggy Cabrera moves back to first base (that cheering sound is the Tigers pitchers who do not have to deal with his glove at third base). With Omar Infante a free agent, Kinsler slides into a position where at his worst he is an upgrade over Infante. Now with some extra cash, the Tigers can look to grab an outfielder as well.
That about sums it up for now in free agency. Sorry about the no football this week, but anyone interested in my mad NFL ramblings online this week can check me out here:
You can laugh at me talking the NFL each week now on the (Internet) Radio show “NFL Shotgun” Find it every Monday night at 9PM eastern time with the NFL guys from H4TV and feel free to call in and add your thoughts and opinions to the show. Find it here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sportsbar1/2013/11/26/nfl-shotgun
Cover32.com with a Patriots recap and Patriots Thanksgiving:
Thank you as always for indulging me and allowing me to share my thoughts and opinions here with such a great group of sports fans at the Gab. I am certainly thankful for that. Have a great holiday weekend and hope we call get time off to relax and eat vast quantities of leftovers and watch sports all weekend long! Have a great weekend, all.
On the 110th anniversary of their first pennant, the Boston Red Sox have won their 13th. They grand-slammed the Tigers into submission, avoiding a dreaded 7th game with Justin Verlander lurking in the shoals. It's been a stunning season so far for the team picked for last in the AL East. The details of this ALCS with all its turning points and ins and outs is a job for someone else (and I'm sure you'll have no shortage of reading material). This is about the Series matchup --- and then some. I'll explain.
Having to post an article for Sunday doth have its issues. When I wrote most of this, I had no idea whether there would be a game 7 or not, so I assumed the worst-case (to me) scenario and found that it was a pretty interesting dilemma after all. The Red Sox and Tigers have each played the Cardinals three times in the World Series. Each has lost 2 and won 1. The games are grouped neatly into generations, the first two games being 1934 (Tigers) and 1946 (Red Sox), the second two being 1967 (Red Sox) and 1968 (Tigers), and of course 2004 (Red Sox) and 2006 (Tigers). Rather than pare the article down to just the Red Sox vs. the Cardinals, I decided to leave it intact because it was so compelling.
Tigers and Cardinals
Only a few Detroit fans probably remember the first time the Tigers played the Cardinals in the World Series. That's because it was in 1934, an era when the Tigers were led by such as Charlie Gehringer, the great second baseman who never said a word, a young slugger named Hank Greenberg, and catcher/manager Mickey Cochrane, lately of the great Athletics teams that had dominated Murderer's Row in three consecutive seasons for the pennant before Connie Mack's fire sale. But what those fans know about the Series was that the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Daffy, pitched an incredible five of the seven games for the Cardinals --- and won four.
The second meeting is something even I remember. I was at opening day at Fenway in 1968 when the 1967 pennant was hoisted. The Tigers were in town, and as a portent of things to come they won that game --- by a lot. I was in right field, looking down the first base line, and saw Willie Horton hit two shots over The Wall (only Art Arfons had a Green Monster then), neither of which had even begun to arc over when it disappeared from view way past the wall and into a clear blue sky. Denny McLain would win his 30 games, the last to do so, but Mickey Lolich was the real story as he outpitched Bob Gibson in the Series and the Tigers upset the heavily-favored champs.
The third meeting of these teams, like that with the Red Sox, is fresh in recent memory. It isn't a good one for the Tigers. The Cards won four games to one, breaking an AL streak of two sweeps in a row. That Cardinals team was led by Albert Pujols, now long gone.
Red Sox and Cardinals
The first thing I knew about the St. Louis Cardinals was that the Red Sox played them in spring training and they had some guy named Stan Musial. The radio announcers would fawn over the fact that they got to see Stan the Man and Ted Williams, both at the end of their careers, play on the same field together. Interviews abounded. The question of 'who was better' reverberated. The reverence in which both men were held was indicative of the complete cultural dominance of baseball at that time..
The second thing I knew about them was that they had beaten the Red Sox in the 1946 World Series, and that they had won when some guy named Enos Slaughter ran past a stop sign at third and scored on a 'famous hesitation' by Johnny Pesky in relaying the ball home. I knew all this from my Dad, who had come home from the War in 1946 and was a baseball fan. He took my Mom on their first date in 1948 to see the Red Sox beat the Indians and Satchel Paige. It must have been July 30. That was Paige's only loss that year. But regarding Pesky's hesitation, it is less daunting than legend would have it on film, the relay was up the line, and Slaughter appeared to have the play beaten anyway. The name 'Enos Slaughter' would live in Red Sox infamy over the years until overshadowed by 'Ed Armbrister' and then completely eclipsed by 'Bucky Dent'.
The third thing I knew about the Cardinals was that they had beaten the Yankees in 1964. I was 14 then and was happy for any underdog who could beat the Yankees since no one in the American League in my entire life to that point had done so, excepting the Indians in 1954 and the White Sox in 1959. Books and stage plays were written, e.g. "Damn Yankees". Congressional hearings were held. A famous pundit wrote that cheering for the Yankees was like "cheering for General Motors."
The fourth thing I knew was that they had won the pennant in 1967. I knew that because the Red Sox had won it in the AL that year, dubbed the "Impossible Dream Season" by locals after the popular musical based on Cervantes' "Don Quixote." I soon found out why they had won the pennant. National baseball telecasts were rarer then than now, though almost every Red Sox game was telecast locally. I recall the names Bob Gibson, Nelson Briles and Dick Hughes, their three top starters (everyone recalls Gibson), triple-threat Lou Brock in left, Curt Flood in his pre-lawsuit days in center, Roger Maris himself in right, the talkative Tim McCarver, who still hasn't stopped, behind the plate, and Orlando Cepeda at first. Mike Shannon was at third, Dal Maxvill (the only one I had to look up) at short, and Julian Javier at second. I recall Javier because I took his name for my Spanish alias in my high school Spanish class.
The Red Sox were, of course, considered cannon fodder for the mighty Cardinals who had swept to the National League pennant, largely on Gibson's arm and Brock's hitting and running. The Red Sox, by contrast, were 100-1 shots who had to sweep the Twins on the final weekend of the season to knock them out and qualify, then had to wait on a Tigers loss to clinch. Their rotation was tired and out of sequence for the Series and they started Jose Santiago in the first game. Santiago had a great (and almost unnoticed) record but had been injured most of the year, and when, to the surprise of the world, game 7 rolled around, ace Jim Lonborg was forced to pitch out of turn against a rested Gibson. The result wasn't good, but it hardly dampened the spirits of Red Sox fans and that season began a cycle of contention for Boston that has continued to this day. I was a high school senior and my recollections of the Red Sox, dating from 1959 or so, had been of a perennial sub-.500 team, though in truth that was only an 8-year sour run amplified by the fact that it was all I could recall ever seeing.
It is, of course, stretching things to say that the fifth thing I knew about the Cardinals was that the Red Sox played them again in 2004. And there's little to tell about that meeting. For Boston, it was icing on the cake of having beaten the Yankees after so many years, and nothing was going to stand in their way, certainly not the Cardinals, who were swept as Boston claimed its first World Series since 1918.
And now we'll see the fourth edition of this matchup.
I borrowed that name from one of my favorite musical artists from an album he did in the mid 70’s back in the day.
it's almost unfair the amount of paradise and lunch we have here in Boston... just when things look bleak
The Patriots have struggled this season, looking for some identity in the post dynasty era.
TB 12 is still here as is iconic HC Bill Belichick (now 5th all time in wins as an NFL head coach passing Chuck Knoll)
The last hold over from the SB 39 team other than Brady was big Vince Wilfork, now done for season. Bleak...but wait
At 4:25 PM the Pats kicked off vs The then unbeaten New Orleans Saints. Unable to sustain a 10 point halftime lead the Pats were up against the wall with time running out.
Brady was able to drive the team 70 yards in 70 seconds with no time outs to beat the Saints with a 17 yard corner pass to rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins with 5 sec left for a improbable 30-27 win.
Brady was hit frequently and sacked 5 times by the relentless Saint’s D and his passing was off for most of the day but came up big when he needed to.
The real stars of the game were D backs Talib and Arrington who shut out monster TE Jimmy Graham, no catches, no yards, no heartache, no remorse.
Injuries to Talib, a reported hip flexor issue, Danny Amendola with a head injury, Jerod Mayo with a shoulder and chest injury which will most likely end his season, Edelman with a knee and possible concussion and RT Dan Connelly with a concussion will put more pressure on Brady to find a way vs the Jets version of Ryan D this weekend.
Welcome back to Stephen Ridley 20 carries for 96 yards and 2 TD’s
inspite of the bleakness
The Pats are 5-1 with Brady, smoke and mirrors and the beatable Jets 3-3, Dolphins 3-2 and Steelers 1-4 coming up before the bye.
How good are they? Who knows… but here in Paradise we will enjoy this free lunch.
The John Farrell Red Sox turned the bleak Bobby V Red Sox 67 wins into 96 wins from 2012 to 2013
Facing the Tampa pitching was going to be the undoing of this team, at least that’s what the experts said but it wasn’t… in a 3-1 series win.
The Tigers starting pitching was going to be the undoing of this team…
Anibel Sanchez totally dominated the Sox with 6 no hit innings and 12 K’s, the Tigers bullpen was equal to the task and beat the Sox 1-0 in game 1
Game 2 Cy Young leader Max Sherzer no hit the Sox into the 6th and had 13 K’s and a 5-0 lead when things seemed to change.
In Paradise the situation changes…suddenly it’s a 4 run game and then the bases are loaded and Big Papi, David Ortiz is at the plate. The Tigers go to their closer Benoit a right hander to face the left hander Ortiz. First pitch is an 85 mph grapefruit down the middle to the fastball hitting Ortiz. Ortiz said after, I knew he wasn’t throwing a fastball on the first so I sat on the offspeed and got it…bang a Grand Slam…tie game.
Koji has a 1,2,3 top of the 9th
Somehow Jonny Gomes gets a hit and goes to 2nd on the throw, third on a wild pitch and scores on Salty’s walk off single…Lunch.
Only in Boston
check out Boston sports writer and radio personality Gerry Calahan's column about David Ortiz
More Lunch in Paradise, a 4 PM start for Game 3 with Lackey and Verlander facing off.
Verlander comes a s advertised, a stud fastball pitcher that can crank it up to the high nineties when ever needed and doesn't need to be coddled with a pitch count. His 8 innings with 10 K's, 4 hits and 1 earned run should and would win most of the time.
John Lackey, part of the chicken and beer debacle of the '11 Sox and one year removed from Tommy John surgery at the age of 33 has been solid all year for the Sox. His sub .500 record the direct result of no run support. John is an intense man, not necessarily a nice man, has spent his 4 years in Boston as a guy many fans wish would just go home...
Lackey's line in game three: 6 2/3, 8 K's, 4 hits, ZERO runs and a W
The bullpen of Breslow, Tazawa and Koji shut the door on the Tigers.
ahhh Boston is sports paradise
I have to post this in advance of game 4 but will be back to comment in the morning.
thanks for reading and your comments and don't forget to check out Talking Sports with Lanz right next door
it's mid August, the dog days...Oh what to write about this week…
Pre season NFL games are underway and the battle for those coveted 53 roster spots is heating up. Bad and needy teams are waiting for good teams to cut guys so the bad teams can replace guys that are injured or need replacing with upgrades. Position battles within teams for start and backup spots is in full fight.
the Tebows are fighting with the Mallets for the backup role that should never see the field in anger...
But that might be a better fit for the week after pre season game 3.
Or I could talk about…
August and MLB. We are seeing a separation in some divisions and races heating for the fall scramble in others.
As it stands now in the National,
In the West the Dodgers have opened up a 7.5 game lead over Arizona
In the East the Braves are now like a sail boat race and are beyond the visible horizon on the Nats
In the Central Pittsburgh has a 2 game lead over St Louis and a 3.5 on Cincinnati in the only real NL race and the two that don’t win the division are probably going to battle in the hokey 1 game play in wildcard.
The American league still has three races,
The East has Boston with 4 on Tampa and 6 on Baltimore
The Central has Detroit with 6.5 on Kansas City and 6 on Cleveland
The West has the Rangers with a 1 game lead on Oakland
The AL wildcard is a five team battle, six if you think the Yankees are viable.
Or I might
write about the camping trip with four other couples this past weekend.
Lots of laughs
Lots of food and drink
Lots of sunshine
Lots of exercise
Lots of kayaking
Lots of fishing
Lots of fire wood consumed
The things you may see in the woods when bird watching, like
maybe this nesting Falcon perched in a tree,
Lots of plans for next year
Lots of ribbing the “day campers” (those that are campers by day but go home at night)
Lots of ribbing the “taj campers” (those that think air conditioning and TV are part of camping)
Or I could talk about my being actively recruited to join a local militia and what tasks would be expected of me for the common good…
I could tell you the story of the good looking young female Marine Corporal selected by her Gunny to represent her unit when the President made his photo op visit a couple of weeks back. Upon being asked she said “Gunny, that wouldn’t be a good idea.”
Gunny replied “tell me corporal, why not?”
“Because Gunny, I didn’t vote for him, I think my absentee vote was one of the lost and never counted and I feel strongly that he should be impeached … frankly I’d rather be working.
“Ok Corporal, I guess that would be best for all of us, I’ll get someone else, go back to work”
I could tell you about one of my sons out on a logging road in his
Jeep Y J with the 35” tires getting mudded and wrecked but coming out with just a few scratches and some now necessary rocker panel work
I may even be willing to share a heart warming story abo………no not that story, never mind.
I could go on and tell you story of aging, Mo had a good one on Monday, I’m probably a decade and a half older than Mo so that means that in my golf bag the woods are wood and my irons are iron...
I do know where he’s coming from.
There will be a day my friends, when you will look back and realize that “middle age” has already happened… a while ago!
My next class reunion will be number 40 something…I sit and watch
As tears go by……….
two faces of rock
Or I could talk about another of the harry boys now men rock climbing into the danger zone…surely an unnecessary risk for a man my age…
I would never stand on or above THAT step any more.
But all that probably wouldn’t interest you.
So thanks for stopping by and reading and leave a comment and then go and check out Lanz ( He may even be back from vacation)as he talks sports