The old saying goes "A watched pot never boils." You know this to be true. You put that pot of warm water on the stove and crank up the fire and stare. Long before those tiny little bubbles start to even appear at the bottom of the pot, your attention has waned and you wander away for a moment. Then you come back and there they are, randomly releasing and wiggling their away towards the surface. Volstad...Arenas...Concepcion...LeBlanc...Swift. Plink...plink...plink...
You step away again, still bored but confident that things are headed in the right direction. After a few minutes, you know that you can check back and expect to at least see steam vapors emanating from the surface. You also notice some larger bubbles starting to rise, causing some turbulence. Lincecum...Hawkins...Johnson. Pop...pop...pop.
Good, good. Things are about to brew. Time to step away one last time to get your ingredients ready. Quick, look back...oh! It's Fielder/Kinsler, then Vargas, a full roiling boil!
Yes, folks, the time has come to start cooking up our 2014 roster. Let's hope our Master Chef is ready before the water all evaporates. Let's also hope that he doesn't poke his finger in the now-scalding water and get burned. Having Fielder in our division might make for dangerous conditions during hot stove season.
Speaking of Prince, Bovada online betting site has some things to think about concerning Fielder in Texas. The over/under on Fielder's BA in 2014 is currently .280. The over/under on his home runs is 29.5. The over/under on his RBIs is 102.5. And the over/under on his Runs Scored is 83.5. Just putting that out there for discussion, as if that remains necessary.
One last thought: Did Jon Daniels just tell Ian Kinsler to "Get the F@#k off our field!"?? I know this much: Dombrowski and Daniels pay a lot of subliminal attention to ESPN commercials. And somebody in Texas knew about this one in advance...
- Albert Pujols: I have a pretty healthy body. Good blood pressure, good cholesterol numbers, no lung/heart/kidney/liver issues. Plus, I have been going to a trainer 3 times per week since July. I am on the road to being pretty fit again for a dude my age. 99.9% of me is in full working order and doing great (knock on LED glass). That 1/10th of 1% is just this one tiny little bugaboo. Beneath my left foot. My plantar fascia. It’s a little torn. BUT THE DAMNED THING MAKES ME ABOUT AS MOBILE AND ATHLETICALLY USEFUL AS A SNAIL DASHING OVER ROCK SALT!!!
- David Freese: Talks are heating up between the Angels and the Cardinals over David Freese. The Cards need outfielders and the Halos need a true 3B. On the plus side, Freese fared rather poorly last season, probably due to enduring a back injury, driving down his stock. On the down side, Freese played rather poorly last season. On the plus side, Freese will be participating in only his 6th season (partial or otherwise) next year. On the down side, Freese is (theoretically), only 3 years younger than Pujols. Meanwhile, Dayn Perry is all over this news buzz, even being among the first to note that the Angels would definitely NOT be including Alberto Callaspo in any deal for Freese. Good job, Dayn:
- Jason Vargas: Well, color me surprised. The Angels lost Vargas and now need to fill TWO holes in their rotation, as Vargas has signed with the Royals for four years averaging $8 million per year. As we all know, the Angels declined to extend a qualifying offer, which would have set Vargas at $14 million for 2014. It was expected that Vargas would sign for less. As in dollars, not years. My guess is that this was about a 4th year and Dipoto was not going to go there (a theory backed up by LAT rumors). I say "guess" despite all public reports and opinions confirming my theory, because what would Vargas had done had Dipoto offered him, say 3 years at $30MM?? Would Vargas have signed for that $10 2014 instead of sticking around long enough for KC to do something? Anyway, with so many teams out there who could use a solid 3/4, Vargas was going to cost something more than Dipoto was wanting to invest. That was a game of poker being played by Dipoto while holding only pairs of twos and treys. Dipoto folds, and the pot goes to Kansas City. And, since Dipoto didn't make Vargas a QO, he gets no draft pick back for what was, ultimately, the loss of Kendrys Morales and the rental of Vargas for total of 24 starts. (Meanwhile, did KC sneak one past the sleeping Halos?) Many folks might be thinking that arms like Vargas are a dime a dozen, but those people need to explain Joe Blanton before being taken seriously.
- More Vargas: I love this perspective by Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs: "You would happily give Jason Vargas a 20 year contract so long as the price was only for $1 million per season; there are different prices which justify different contract lengths." Dave's point is, essentially, so what about that 4th year?? "And so while we generally think of four year deals as being for significant amounts of money, this one is going to cost them just $8 million per season, and thus it has to viewed as an exchange of an extra year in exchange for a lower annual salary. And it’s a trade off that’s maybe worth making for the Royals." As Cameron points out, Vargas is league average and league average pitchers don't sign for $8MM per anymore. (Which might be encouraging Jerry Dipoto to start mulling over the thought of ex-Cleveland comeback surprises asking for 2 x $8MM...)
- Luis Martinez: This may have slipped past your notice, but the Angels picked up another catcher, Luis Martinez, out of the Orioles minor league system. Looking at his Minor League career, he seems like a nice pickup if the need is, as LAT suggests, catching depth in our farm system. What causes me to wonder about that claim, however, is that in the 2012 draft the Halos drafted a catcher with their 5th, 10th, 20th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd and 37th picks. They drafted more players at the catcher position in 2012 than any other. Last year's draft, they picked up 3 more catchers, with their 8th, 19th and 21st picks. If LAT's reasoning for Martinez is true, that's a lot of draft picks going nowhere, and in not particular hurry...
- Tidbit: what am I supposed to make of this? Jim Bowden is the source, after all. It's Thursday, 10:44 AM his time, and he tweets that the Halos are still in hot pursuit of Jason Vargas. In about 3 hours, the Royals will announce that Vargas has signed with them. But Bowden also drops into that same tweet that the Halos are dashing after submariner reliever Free Agent Joe Smith, he of the 165 ERA+, 7.7 K/9 and 2.32 K/BB with Cleveland last season, when he earned a mere $3.15MM. How can I hope that Bowden is so right within the same tweet that he was so wrong?
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:
Are you old enough to recall those creepy NFL team sweaters from the 80's? Think Mike Ditka. Did you know that they made them for the Angels, too? And just in time for that annual Ugly Sweater party...
This Date In Baseball History: 1954 - The Pittsburgh Pirates draft away from the Los Angeles Dodgers of Brooklyn, one Roberto Clemente, who had already been signed by the Dodgers and assigned to their Montreal minor league team. You really have to think about that for a while to figure out how it is even possible. You have to read this, and get to the part where the Dodgers signed him for more than $3,000, forcing them to play him on their big league roster or leave him exposed to the next draft. the Dodger picked a middle ground: play him on their minor league roster and try to hide the fact that the guy was a stud. As history records, that idea failed miserably............1957 - Mickey Mantle upsets Ted Williams (and his insane 233 OPS+, which won't be topped again until we see a juiced Barry Bonds!) in the AL MVP vote when a pair of Chicago voters slot Williams 9th and 10th on their ballots. Disgraceful? I dunno. Williams' 1957 WAR: 9.74. Mantle's 1957 WAR: 11.30............1960 - Owners of the American League propose an expansion plan to 9 teams in both leagues with the offer that, should the NL agree, the AL will hold off on its plan for a team in Los Angeles the next season. Thankfully, the NL pigheads will end up rejecting the proposal and the LA Angels are born after all............2004 - The ex-Expos put on a big press event in Washington to announce the team name and colors. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the brainiacs make a big deal out of changing the colors from red, white & blue, to...red, white & blue. Oh boy..........2011 - MLB and MLBPA (led by Michael Weiner, see below) announce a new CBA, protecting we baseball fans through the 2016 season.
Rookie Of The Year Day: 1967 - Rod Carew wins for the AL..........1968 - Johnny Bench wins for the NL...........1971 - Chris Chambliss wins for the AL..........1977 - Andre Dawson wins for the NL..........1978 Lou Whitaker wins for the AL...........1982 - Steve Sax wins for the NL..........1983 - Ron Kittle wins for the AL..........1984 - Alvin Davis wins for the AL.
Rounding Up The Major League News
- Michael Weiner: It's never good news when we lose a good person. But when that good person is also person of influence who loves the game of baseball to the extent that they have an actual impact on the game itself, it's only fitting that we all take pause and gives our thanks and blessings to the person passed, and extend our condolences to his family and friends. Michael Weiner may not have been the most impactful MLB Players Union leader, but his members are doing very well AND we have had labor peace (so we fans get to watch games!) AND he did that with dignity. R.I.P. Mr Weiner. Far, far too young. "I don't know if I look at things differently. Maybe they just became more important to me and more conscious to me going forward," he said. "As corny as this sounds, I get up in the morning and I feel I'm going to live each day as it comes. I don't take any day for granted. I don't take the next morning for granted. What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy, and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that's a good day." Words to live by, my friends.
- Biogenesis: We all have our opinions concerning Alex Rodriguez, and Bud Selig, and PEDs, and the convergence of all three in this year's ongoing Biogenesis saga. Personally, I spend more of my time on this issue pondering the extent to which MLB engaged in their investigations and their gathering of information. I find their actions...disturbing. Especially the stuff where MLB, a private party, walked into the offices of common telecommunications carriers, other private parties, and convinced them to hand over transaction records of individual citizens. That stuff, apparently, is not "especially" enough and I got topped, again. It seems that MLB may have trampled on a few other entities, and in ways that might lead towards retribution. MLB Impeded Department of Health Investigation into Tony Bosch By Purchasing Stolen Records "MLB wants us to believe...[their story, rather than] the alternative, which is that MLB made an offer of $125,000 for the documents, and when the original holder balked–and was going to turn them over to a state agency–they obtained them through other means."
- Could Be Worse. Could Be Raining: If you think WE have problems, well, it's because we do. But we can take comfort in the news that the Seattle Mariners are not blossoming anywhere close to what was once forecast, and we make have some pillows beneath us in the Division for a few years more. "The Seattle Mariners are coming off another bad season, the general manager has only one year left on his contract and his manager, Eric Wedge, walked out at the end of this past season while citing conflicting philosophies with Zduriencik over the direction of the franchise....The list of the Mariners' young players who have shined at the major-league level is shorter than those who have struggled." It's only my personal opinion, but considering the FA market this winter, Zduriencik has picked a perfectly poor window within which to choose his opportunity. Here's to hoping that his choice for a new skipper, Lloyd McClendon, turns out to be the Mariner's Bobby Valentine! Woo Hoo!!
- Baseball Biz: From our pals over at The Crawfish Boxes comes the latest news concerning the collapse of what was supposed to be a lucrative Houston Astros Regional Sports Network, to be used to fund the player payroll. And it is ugly. Real ugly. Jim Crane, Astros suing Drayton McLane over CSN Houston deal. "[Crane's] purchase was delayed from May until October...He was forced to switch leagues as part of the sale...The sale price was inflated because of the new RSN, but said RSN was set to lose money for the first handful of years...And yet, Major League Baseball and Bud Selig are guiltless here? Selig looked the other way while Frank McCourt ran the Dodgers into the ground, Tom Hicks runs the Rangers into the ground and now he helped out his buddy and good soldier Drayton by getting him a sweetheart deal?..Ugh."
- Tidbit: The MLB playoff shares were announced yesterday. The WS Champ Boston Red Sox came home with a $307,322.68 full share. So I went over to Cot's and took a look at the Boston payroll for 2013. Imagine you are Brandon Workman, pitcher, playing for the league minimum at $490,000. You appear in all of 20 games during your first season in the bigs, and are carried by the team all the way into the World Series roster. You actually make a few commercial-break length appearances in the WS. Remember, $490,000. And the wake up just in time for Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season and find that you are getting a bonus roughly 63% of your entire annual salary. Nice.
Video Of The Week
(As you know, I love anything Lego Baseball. Your WS highlights!)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
Darin Erstad: Baseball Hall of Famer............Thought For The Day: What happens to people when a "prospect to watch" becomes a "player not to watch very closely now that he is here, because watching him is so yesterday"?...........Jose Canseco just drivin' down the road with goats in his SUV. Never change, Jose. Never change............A-Rod's market value seems to be dropping. A little steeper than one might have figured..........It's a thing: try to make a comparison, go into brain lock, equate some otherwise silly sports persona with horrific real-world evil, get publicly lashed for being so stupid..........If a community wanted to invent some new way to remind the rest of us just how atrocious is their sense of propriety, they could not do worse than Boston..........Just for a Friday diversion, here are some fun facts, including a couple about Prince Fielder to keep handy when the Rangers come to town. For but one example, it would take 8800 normal sized balloons filled with helium in order to lift Fielder off the ground...........Heads up, we are slowly approaching Hall Of Fame voting debate season...........Oh, OK. What the hell...one more baseball link on a slow news day: the best bench clearing brawls of the 2013 season.
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday...for beer...
Saturday: Wicks Brewing Company in Riverside is hosting a Tap Takeover on behalf of Firestone Brewery..........And Draughts restaurant and Brewery in Thousand Oaks is also doing a Tap Takeover, for El Segundo Brewing.