Uncertainties facing the American League squads, Joe dissing A-Rod, plus rumors and rumblings from across the major leagues.
It's Super Bowl Sunday, and besides telling us that there's a game to be played today between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals for supremacy in professional football, it also signals that spring training is just around the corner. Pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to camps in Arizona and Florida on February 13 this year, a week earlier than usual because of the impending World Baseball Classic.
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The Angels intend to hold the line in Anaheim, the Obamas wear White Sox, and much more from around the major leagues.
The Angels led the major leagues with 100 regular-season victories last year, but there aren't many indicators pointing to that happening again in 2009. The Angels were 15th in the major leagues in runs scored last season with 4.7 per game, and ninth in runs allowed (4.3 per game), and they exceeded their Pythagorean record of 88-74 by a stunning 12 wins. One of the basic tenets of sabermetrics holds that those teams that outplay their projected record will regress to the mean the following season, and the Angels, having lost both first baseman Mark Teixeira and closer Francisco Rodriguez to free agency this winter, will be hard-pressed to slow the expected downturn.
Macha is ready to step in with the Brewers, Manuel and Reid buddy up in Philly, the Dodgers cut Andruw loose, and more off-season news from around the majors.
Ken Macha had a hard time finding ways to keep busy during the last two summers. He'd make the commute from his home in Pittsburgh to Boston twice a month in order to work as a studio analyst on Red Sox' telecasts on NESN. He would also spend many nights watching Pirates' game on the local cable channel, and he'd occasionally drop by PNC Park to take part in alumni autograph sessions, having served as a utility infielder for his hometown team for a spell in the 1970s. There was nothing, however, that could quite fill the void of his previous job. "I missed managing," Macha said. "I missed being around the game. I missed being in the dugout, being in the clubhouse, making out a lineup card every day. You won't every find many jobs that can top being a major league manager."
Contracts are not being offered, a pair of pitching icons change scenery, and Corky almost falls off his unicycle.
Two months ago we looked at the top 25 players available on the free-agent market, and today, nine of those 25 are still looking for work. This year the market has developed much more slowly than usual, and 36 percent of the cream of that original crop (by 2008 WARP3 figures) remain unemployed.
The Rays hold steady, the Padres keep the faith, and the Cubs are refusing to hibernate.
There was no bigger story in baseball last year than the Rays, as the Tampa Bay franchise, which had known nothing but futility since its inception in 1998, dropped the Devil from its nickname, changed its color scheme and its uniform, and then dramatically changed their losing ways. In one of the more stunning turnarounds in the history of the game, the Rays went from having the worst record in the major leagues in 2007 with a 66-96 mark, to going 97-65 and winning the American League pennant by beating the White Sox in the Division Series and the Red Sox in the Championship Series. Though the Rays fell to the Phillies in the World Series in five games, their transformation from laughingstock to champion was astonishing.
The view of Cooperstown from La Russa-ville, the Nationals go to Plan C or D or..., Randy wants another ring, and rumors and rumblings from around the major leagues.
The Hall of Fame voting deadline is fast approaching, as ten-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America must submit their ballots by midnight on Wednesday. Candidates must be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast to gain induction into Cooperstown, with the voting results to be announced on January 12.
Some players don't know where they want to go even after they get there, the WBC may end up with a short-roster Team USA, plus news and notes from around the major leagues.
The longer CC Sabathia mulled over the offer, the stronger the suspicions became. The Yankees offered the left-hander seven years and $140 million at the outset of free agency last month, but Sabathia was in no hurry to accept it, even though it soon became clear that no other clubs were even close to that amount; the Brewers had stopped at six years and $110 million in their attempt to retain the 28-year-old. The situation led to plenty of speculation that he wanted to play for anyone but the Yankees, and that Sabathia, a California kid who had spent his entire major league career in the Midwestern markets of Cleveland and Milwaukee, wanted no part of the hustle, bustle, and unrelenting microscope of New York.
The big-ticket free-agent herd's been thinned just as the rest of the market's ranks expand to include non-tendered players.
Now that CC Sabathia is off the board, the big-ticket player on the free-agent market is Mark Teixeira. The slugging first baseman has contract offers of eight years from both the Angels and Nationals, a seven-year deal on the table from the Orioles, and you should never count out the Yankees, whose spending sprees appear to have no limits, as their seven-year, $161 million deal with Sabathia reflects.
Each team's got a list and is checking it twice, but not everybody gets everything they want this time of year.
As has been well-documented, the free-agent market has been extremely slow to develop; to date only 11 of the 171 players who filed for free agency have signed contracts. There is no word yet if Donald Fehr has asked Congress for a bailout.
The story of the little hurler who could getting his due, a notable re-retirement, plus moves and news from around the major leagues.
Tim Lincecum's aunt came up with the perfect nickname for her nephew a few years ago when she began calling him Seabiscuit. The Giants right-hander certainly has a few things in common with the legendary racehorse: they're both undersized, and they're both winners. Lincecum, listed at 5'11" and 170 pounds (though he seems an inch shorter and 10 pounds lighter), struck a blow this past Tuesday for all those who've been told that they aren't big enough when he won the National League Cy Young Award. He's four inches shorter and 61 pounds lighter than the average height and weight of the five other pitchers receiving votes: the D'backs' Brandon Webb, the Mets' Johan Santana, the Phillies' Brad Lidge, the Brewers' CC Sabathia, and the Cubs' Ryan Dempster. "This has to give Tim a lot of satisfaction, because there's little doubt people have been telling him he's too small his entire life," Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said.
The contracts being offered, the teams in the mix, the players and their demands, and news and notes from around the major leagues.
On Friday the market for free agents officially opens when teams can begin making offers to players other than those who finished the season with other clubs. The Brewers and Dodgers got the ball rolling at this past week's general managers meetings in Dana Point, California, with the Brewers offering left-hander CC Sabathia five years and $100 million to stay in Milwaukee, and the Dodgers offering two years and $50 million in an effort to keep left fielder Manny Ramirez in Los Angeles.
Opening the Hot Stove League with a team-by-team look at wants and needs, plus news from around the big leagues.
Baseball is officially into the offseason now that the Phillies sit atop the sport after beating the Rays in a five-game World Series this past week, but everyone knows that there is really no such thing as an offseason. The champagne had barely begun to dry on the carpet in the Phillies' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park following their 4-3 win in Game Five when the first trade of the winter was consummated with the Marlins shipping first baseman Mike Jacobs to the Royals for reliever Leo Nunez.