I've got the itch. With good weather I have to trim my lawn and it's time to weed & feed. That means I will be smelling the sweet aroma of fresh cut grass this weekend (sorry, Wisconsin!). And that can only trigger one thing: the anticipation of baseball!!! As things happen, my home backs up directly to a local park. It's a good thing, because of all the happiness I hear coming over the wall on weekends. But, even better, the left field foul line of the baseball field in this park run directly at my family room. It's safe, because it's a good 300 feet away and there is a line of 80' tall Canary island Pines that shield balls from making it over the block wall and into my back yard (except, of course, for some ex-juco jock looking to impress the girls watching from the grassy knoll). Anyway, this also means that I will actually be hearing the ping of metal bats and balls popping into leather gloves either Saturday or Sunday morning. Life is freaking good.
- Ryan Mattheus: I know it's old new by now, but I just wanted to chime in and declare that I find the Mattheus signing to be pretty slick. It's a minor league deal with an ST invite, so the risk is low and the potential for more depth is good. But when I read from MLBTradeRumors more about what made Mattheus available in the first place, his situation reeks of opportunity. "The 31-year-old Mattheus was a vital cog in Washington’s division-winning club back in 2012, but he struggled in 35 1/3 innings in 2013, posting a 6.37 ERA. Mattheus suffered through a pair of rib injuries last season that limited him to 8 2/3 innings in the Majors, where he allowed just one run. However, he did struggle to a 5.80 ERA in Triple-A while dealing with his injuries. Overall, Mattheus has a 3.60 ERA in 142 1/3 big league innings with 5.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9". If his fall is all about injury, and he can be made healthy, the dude might return to decent form, That would make him an excellent find off the scrap heap.
- Arb news: Dipoto signed three players off the arb-eligible list yesterday. Hector Santiago, Cesar Ramos and Drew Butera all upped to one year deals for $2.29MM, $1.3MM and $988K, respectively. For those of you who keep track of these kinds of things, that's $4.59MM to add to the 2015 overall payroll. Jeff Fletcher of OCR has a spreadsheet going that you can use to compare with your own notes.............By the way, a minor administrative deadline will occur tonight at 10PM. The franchise and any unsigned arb-eligible player must exchange salary bid numbers. As Alden tweets, that doesn't stop the negotiations at all. Collin Cowgill, David Freese, Matt Joyce, Garrett Richards and Fernando Salas remain on the arb list.
- Garrett Richards: Speaking of arbitration, Richards is predicted by Gonzalez to be the Halos "most complicated case". He is a Super II, and he's coming off a spectacular year which reveals his potential as our future top-of-the-rotation starter. So arbitration is predicted to be unavoidable. I never like those hearings. They always seem to create an atmosphere of ill will...........Richards, to his credit, is expected to begin running on Monday. A good sign.
This Date In Baseball History: 1878 - Benjamin Douglas is hired to skipper the Providence Grays, officially organized on this date, but won't even make it to Opening Day, getting fired for incompetence and insubordination..........1952 - Stan Musial gets a raise to $85,000, despite a national wage freeze in effect during the Korean War. Musial's raise came via byzantine machinations within the U.S. Board of Standards..........1964 - The American League owners vote to reject Charley O. Finley's plan to ditch the fans in Kansas City and dash off with the Athletics franchise to Louisville...........2001 - The Angels sign free agent Jose Canseco to be slotted as DH..........2003 - After the near-disaster involving Darren Baker in the 2002 World Series, the owners vote in a minimum for bat boys of 14 years of age...........2003 - While voting on silly things, the owners also agree with Bud Selig and vote that the winning side of the annual All-Star game will have home field advantage in the World Series...........2014 - Expanded Instant Replay is approved.
Pacific Coast League History Nuggets
Bill Sweeney was a Major League player, and Major League coach, who became a solid fixture up and down the Pacific Coast League, including managing the Angels.
"Sweeney took Tommy Holmes' place in 1956 [as skipper of the Portland Beavers]. They were at spring training in '57 at Casey Stengel Field in Glandale, and I'd go over at night and visit with Bill and the ball club.
We went out to dinner, and Bill was drinking grasshoppers. I went back to the motel room with him and he went into the bathroom. I could hear him heaving. Ho comes out and says 'Com here. I want to show you something.' the toilet bowl was full of blood. I said, 'Bill, you've got to go see a doctor. This is serious.'
He thought he had cancer of the stomach and a doctor couldn't help. He had an ulcer. That's what got him. He could have been saved if he'd gone to a doctor. he promised me he would, but he never did, I guess.
Tip Berg called me. [Bill] was sick in San Francisco when the season opened. Then they went to San Diego. [The ulcer] perforated sometime in the morning, and that was the end of it.
He was the greatest manager I played for. I always had good years under him. He was steady, always had a job.
He drank a lot of beer. But he was a sweet guy. On the field he was tough, but off the field he was one of the nicest guys"
- BILL FLEMING - Portland Beavers
"I didn't like Bill Sweeney at Portland. He didn't care for me, and it was racial."
- JOHNNY RITCHIE - Portland Beavers
Woodford press, Publisherp
On April 18th, 1957, Bill Sweeney was stricken with a perforated ulcer while he team was visiting for a series in San Diego. Sweeney survived the surgery, but died from a heart attack immediately thereafter.
- Cole Hamels: Seems reasonably to me. Philadelphia, with nothing but one major & solid bargaining chip in the form of Cole Hamels, is insisting on a very high return with any trade. The potential trade partners are calling this position "unreasonable". Remember, Halo fans, even with all the transactions we have been making this offseason, it's often the trade that you DON'T make that is the best.
- Pitch Clock: It's pitch clock time to talk, apparently. Grant Brisbee forecasts that pitch clocks are coming to MLB eventually, whether we like it or not. Meanwhile, the folks over at Brew Crew Ball are shooing pitch clock proponents off of their lawn. At least, they are thinking about it. All this because MLB has announced that pitch clocks are going into effect throughout AA and AAA ball. Pretty classic group decision-making skills there, which I see all the time in the corporate world. You already have rules on the books that you know will speed up the game immensely if you just choose to enforce them. Those are the rules concerning batters staying in the box between pitches. So instead of promising to enforce the process that they have, they choose to create a new process that they promise to enforce. And in this case, they abdicate enforcement to some third-party device that defies argument.
- PEDS Thinking: A lot of this article is SMH fodder concerning the incredulous history of MLB behavior concerning PEDs among players. And there is an honesty in the truth that players will continue to pursue competitive advantages.But, to me, the REAL thought provoker that even still fails to garner much dialog is this paragraph concerning the branding of science as an abomination: "But it feels as though no one has really stopped to ask why. Or, if they have, they’re not hanging around to learn the answer. It doesn’t seem as though that’s going to happen anytime soon, anyway. Instead, MLB will continue to manipulate its fans into believing a stand is being taken against cheaters. It will go for player suspensions and public relations wins rather than research the potential therapeutic benefits of HGH or increase its understanding of the effects of steroid use." I could go on for hours concerning the rise of pseudo-science, empowered by millions of people who were too intellectually lazy to master any basic high school science course themselves, but that's for another web site.
- Max Scherzer: You probably forgot all about this, didn't you? Yes, Scherzer reamins unsigned, and here it is January 16th. I know Scott Boras likes the hi-wire act, and he has this schtick about waiting out the market on the premise that buyers will get desperate and do something they otherwise would not. But I would think that Max is feeling kinda nervous about now, don't you? And, to top it off, what many presume to be the Scherzer safety-valve - returning to the Tigers - is an entity where rumors keep swinging wildly back and forth. Some days the word out of the Detroit front office is "no way", and some days it's "possible". These days, it's "no way". (By the way, the Yankees are saying no these days. the Giants already parked on the Scherzer sidelines. The Dodgers sat things out last month. Same with the Marlins. The Cubs could score a deal.)
- All-Star Game: "Vengeance is mine", sayeth the departing King Bud. the 2016 All Star game was supposed to go to the Baltimore Orioles. All signs had originally pointed in their direction. But then a funny thing happened. The time expired on the original broadcast deal for the carpetbagging Nationals as they parachuted into the Orioles territory. And the Orioles decided to act in such a way as to piss off Bud Selig and his more-favored Nationals franchise - the one he parked in D.C. in the first place. So, on his way out the door, Selig flew his finger at Peter Angelos and handed the 2016 ASG to San Diego and the Padres. Selig is just a wretched, wretched person.
If you are going to be Phoenix for ST, maybe you might think about spending some wad and attending the 2015 SABR Conference..............Leave it to the Mets. Right in the middle of a class-action suit against MiLB concerning unfair wage practices towards minor league players, the Mets respond by charging players to attend voluntary workouts............Yes. YES. If MLB is serious about improving the fan experience, END THE BLACKOUTS!...........It's not extremely clear, but C.J. Wilson appears to be deadlifting 300 lbs. here............The annual Angels Fan Cruise launches next week. Who's going?............By the way (what with beer stuff coming up in a minute). Don't believe for a second that myth that Wade Boggs is telling about consuming 107 beers in one cross-country flight. That works out to
20 10 gallons. A full keg is only 15.5 gallons. And if he was drinking something as simple as Budweiser, that is a solid single half gallon of pure alcohol...........If you haven't gotten in on this yet, you should. It's a fun idea. Vote for the best team name in all of Minor League Baseball............I don't know why we don't see more of this. Why not a Big A themed pizza served in the stadium?..........h/t to Uni Watch. Here is a baseball reading puzzle for you...........San Jose has just lost their A'ss. Should Pete Rose be enshrined in the Hall of Fame? Now you can actually make that happen...........OT: Here is a fun map. My number 1 takeaway is that nobody really likes Tex-Mex except Texans and those who live in their shadow. My number 2 takeaway is that Jim lives in a state with zero culinary imagination. And, #3, Vermont is incredibly pretentious.
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...
This Weekend: Not much in the way of dedicated beer festivals, testing, pairings, releases, etc. But this IS the weekend of the 28th Annual Blythe Bluegrass Festival, which remains one of the largest of its kind in America. Beer shall be served.
LAST WEEK'S BEER QUIZ ANSWER: Last week's question was to identify the definition of the word "publican". As Steelgolf jumped on right away, a publican is the owner or manager of a pub, and is common usage in Ireland and Great Britain. (Is there a Not-So-Great Britain somewhere on the map that I am not locating, which necessitates that qualifying adjective for England?). By the way, during the time of the Roman Empire, which did extend to England, "publican" did mean "tax collector". So if you picked "tax collector" as your answer, give yoruself a pat ont eh back anyway.
THIS WEEK'S BEER QUIZ QUESTION: Which special interest group lobbied Wisconsin to change the State Drink from milk to beer? (A) United Brewery Association, (B) International Fraternity Council, (C) PETA, or (D) Anheuser-Busch.