K.Law sets the record straight

Leave it to uber-analyst Keith Law to douse me in an icey cold water bath that is sometimes called reality (Insider Access required).

The team acquiring Peavy would get something similar to what Arizona got financially in Haren — three years of control at below-market prices — but they’re not getting the same pitcher on the field. Peavy missed time this year with elbow trouble after notching a career high in innings in 2007. When he did pitch, his strikeout rate was down, his walk rate was up, and his home run rate was back up after an exceptionally low rate in 2007. His velocity was about normal, sitting 92-93 on the four-seamer, a few mph below that on the two-seamer, but his slider didn’t have the same bite. He uses the slider heavily, which isn’t good for the elbow, and without that as a primary weapon, he’s not going to be as effective.

Peavy has also benefited tremendously from his home environment. Petco Park is one of the toughest places in baseball in which to hit a home run, good news for pitchers like Peavy who don’t keep the ball on the ground. In fact, Peavy has allowed far more home runs (81) in his career on the road than he has at home (47), despite throwing 95 more innings at home. And that’s before we consider the soft competition that he’s faced, between his league and the weak offenses in his own division.

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Continue reading K.Law sets the record straight

The man behind the logo

I’ll admit it, I love these stories-behind-the-scenes stuff. Tell me about what goes on in the lowest levels of an organization. What the clubhouse boys have to do. How the laundry gets done. How the concessions get distributed. Anything. I’m a sucker for that minutae. So naturally, the story of the designing of the MLB logo is fascinating to me.

Now 76, Mr. Dior is retired. He says he enjoys seeing his creation whenever he and his wife, Lita, watch his favorite team, the Yankees. He has one regret: Major League Baseball has never acknowledged his contribution.
Mr. Dior says that he would be grateful for official credit, if only to share his hardball legacy with his four children and four grandchildren. “
Just to be recognized as the person who came up with the logo,” he said, “that would be great. It’s what I’m most proud of in my entire career as an illustrator.”

And just WHO is the guy in the logo? The NBA used Jerry West’s silouette as the logo. Anyone serve as the inspiration for the MLB logo?

His son once heard a radio broadcaster say that Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew served as his model for the logo. Mr. Dior’s response: “That’s completely untrue. It’s not Harmon Killebrew. It’s not anyone in particular.

Continue reading The man behind the logo

Long on dollars, short on years

So the Dodgers have bought into Manny Being Manny. OK, I can understand why. When you only see one side –an incredible, glorious, breath-taking side– you are willing to dismiss the bad stuff other people are telling you. And then there’s the chatter that they are willing to get close to the annual dollars being paid to ARod:

One person who’s spoken to Dodgers people suggested that the team is considering proposing a contract that may come close to matching Alex Rodriguez‘s record $27.5-million average annual salary but on a much shorter term, perhaps only two years. That person hinted he could see the Dodgers even exceeding A-Rod’s salary, as long as the length of the deal was to their liking.

Is it me, or is this starting to feel a bit like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? Manny started off as an incredible fling. He was a god-send, better than anyone could have hoped for the Dodgers. But at some point, won’t he be fighting you with knives (or threats of sitting due to a bad left, errrr right, um left, knee)?

Pardon my Bill Simmons-esque take on this but to borrow one of his favorite phrases, this can’t end well, can it? Continue reading Long on dollars, short on years

Sure, let's add another OF

Seems the last thing the Yanks need is another mid-30’s OF. No matter that he’s a quality defender, he’s a K-machine and the Yanks are already slogged with outfielders, young and old. This makes no sense, unless there are a few trades yet to happen. And even then, why Cameron?

According to an industry source, the Yankees are waiting to see if the Brewers pick up a $10 option on Cameron, who will be 36 in January.

If they don’t, the source said, the Yankees have targeted him because they consider him an upgrade at center field, where they have Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon.

Plus Matsui. And Nady. And some other kids who may or may not be worth some PT. How will this team ever know if they have an Ellsbury in their midst unless they give them the chances?

My head hurts already. Continue reading Sure, let's add another OF

Definition: Lieber-contract

I realized that I twice suggested a “Lieber contract” recently without much explanation. For those of you who don’t remember, the Yanks signed Lieber to a two year deal knowing he would not pitch the first year. He then returned the year after and was pretty darn good.

He missed the entire 2003 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2002. Lieber signed a two-year contract with the Yankees following the 2002 season. After recovering from the surgery, Lieber rewarded the Yankees’ investment in 2004 by winning 14 games (tied for the team lead) and becoming the team’s most consistent pitcher down the stretch.

I’m a big proponent of this sort of thing with a club like the Yanks who can afford to take the financial risks required to possibly capture the upside of a recovering proven commodity. I would not recommend this for a mid-/small-market team who can’t readily write off such an expense.

Other Lieber contract candidates: Jason Schmidt, Mark Mulder. However, something about those two make me more nervous. Age, timing of recent surgeries, etc. Continue reading Definition: Lieber-contract

More Prior-ness

Yesterday, I suggested that the Yanks take a flier on Mark Prior, signing him to a Lieber-like deal. The Yanks drafted Prior way back when but never signed him. He re-entered the draft, was taken by the Cubs, rocked the league in 2003 and then turned into an injury-riddled version of Carl Pavano.

Last year, he signed for $1m, under-market value, to play in his hometown of San Diego. He did not pitch an inning for his hometown nine. Rather, he underwent season-ending surgery in June.

Prior had surgery in June performed by team doctors Heinz Hoenecke and Jan Fronek to fix a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder.

It was during surgery when Hoenecke and Fronek discovered that the capsule in Prior’s right shoulder had torn away from the humerus bone — an injury neither Hoenecke nor Fronek had heard of another baseball player having before.

There’s no timetable for him to pitch in games yet; they think he can start pitching to hitters in the Spring. Prior now says he wants to return to the Padres. Can’t say I blame him. He effectively stole that $1m last year and if you have to rehab anywhere, doing it in SD ain’t too bad.

Except I think that the Yanks should come in and offer a multi-year deal, low on guarantees but high on incentives. Offer him a million or two guaranteed for 2009 and double that for 2010. Provide incentives for the # of games started. Maybe he’d be another Pavano, maybe he’d be Lieber, who came back to be effective. Not great but effective. When you have a 28 year old who once had proven great “stuff”, isn’t that worth a risk? Could it work out any worse than the Ponson experiment? With a limited downside, I think a guy like Prior is worth the risk.

If he can’t handle the workload of a starter, perhaps he can develop into a nice middle reliever. Hell, didn’t the perennially-injured Kerry Wood develop into an ace closer?

Stranger things have happened. Continue reading More Prior-ness

I love a good obsession

So long as it’s relatively harmless, legal and in the spirit of fun and entertainment, a good obsession is a great thing. Like this wacky Phillies phan and his streak that dwarfs Ripken’s:

Since Aug 8, 1986, Bogart has kept score of every Phillies regular-season game. In all but the rarest instances, he has watched or listened live and methodically recorded each out, each hit, each run as they occurred.

For the record, that’s 3,554 straight contests.

Sort of makes Oriole great Cal Ripken’s consecutive games played streak of 2,632 seem a little light.

Naturally, he’d name his son after some Phillies great, right? Um, not so much:

Their son is named Ryne Michael — after Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg first and then Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.

Why not Michael Ryne? Ya got me, but if you’re questioning the logic of man who has methodically listened/watched and recorded nearly 4k straight games, you’re the one who might need their head examined.

Continue reading I love a good obsession

Tell me if you've heard this before

Oh, what might have been….

Mark Prior, who had a second, less-invasive surgery on his right shoulder earlier this year, is in the midst of a throwing program and should be ready for the start of the 2009 season, said his agent, John Boggs. Prior is expected to file for free agency. “He said he feels good, that his shoulder has never felt better,” said Boggs.

Someone will sign him to a Jon Lieber contract, hoping for the best. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yanks do that. Continue reading Tell me if you've heard this before

Peavy Sweepstakes update

If you believe the writers, the Cardinals are out as are the Astros. That leaves the Dodgers, Cubs and the Braves as the three likely NL landing spots for Peavy.

Re: The Cardinals:

According to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are not a serious player for Jake Peavy. Miklasz’s Cardinals sources downplayed the idea and noted that they’ve only had one conversation with the Padres.

Re: The Astros:

Peavy’s first choice, according to the MLB.com source, is Houston, but it is unlikely that the Astros have enough Minor League talent to offer the Padres, who are seeking starting pitching and, possibly, a center fielder.

I don’t believe the Cubs have the depth to deal to get Peavy, especially after dealing young/cheap talent to land Harden. They could send Pie, a disappointing Rich Hill and a bunch of others, but I can’t see that being the winning bid. I admittedly am not fluent in the Cubs farm system so if any Cubbies fans can put together a deal that you think works, email me.

The Dodgers clearly have the goods and they will have to overpay to get the Padres to agree to deal him inter-division. Package some prospects with Kemp. Kemp and Billingsley (they’d never do that!)…?

The Braves seem to have some talent to get the deal done but are the reluctant to do so? Seems that way.

With such attractive prospects as Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Tyler Flowers, Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen and Jordan Schafer, the Braves have the ability to put together a blockbuster package to land Peavy.

But right now they’re obviously reluctant to put too many of those pieces in the same package. Thus it appears that they’ll remain patient until it becomes apparent exactly what it would take to bring Peavy to Atlanta.

If the Braves are unwilling to part with Hanson, Schafer and maybe Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar, will the Padres look to the AL and present Peavy with his options.

I still claim the Yanks/Sox/Angels are not out of it until the ink is down on the trade paperwork elsewhere.

UPDATE (10/21/08, 9:41am): Update courtesy of Buster:

There may be other considerations, as well, Axelrod said, without elaborating. But Peavy certainly would have the leverage to extract more guaranteed money from his next team. Players in a similar situation as he is in have asked that a contractual option be exercised in return for waiving a no-trade clause, and Peavy has a $22 million option for 2013, with a $4 million buyout; he could just ask for more money in the buyout.

Another factor for Peavy to consider, Axelrod said, is what other types of moves the Padres make in the weeks ahead — what moves are made to improve the team, or if there are more cutbacks. No matter what he ultimately decides that he wants, Peavy will hold the hammer that could break apart the trade talks.

Yet again, I assert that if the only thing separating Peavy from the AL is monetary concessions, that’s not a hurdle that can’t be cleared. If more money is all Peavy is looking for –in the way of guarantees, additional years, etc.– then the Yanks will meet his demands. The only question that I can’t yet answer is if Hughes is the dealbreaker for the Yanks. Continue reading Peavy Sweepstakes update