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Did I miss anything?

I’ve been absent of late for a mix of reasons. I’m writing from Los Angeles right now, coming to the end of a two-week break in warm…well, warmer…weather than New York provides while seeing friends during what is about the only time left on the baseball calendar that can be considered “slow.” Then again, there really is no slow season any longer, what with the postseason ending later and later, and free agents and teams more than happy to extend their dance well past Little Christmas.

If you’re assembling a book or trying to recharge your personal batteries, it can be a little aggravating to have so many unknowns so close to the Super Bowl. Then again, it’s probably worse for the free agents trying to secure jobs and the general managers with roster holes.

In any case, the last few weeks were a bit more active than I’d hoped, so let’s briefly get caught up, with an eye towards hitting the ground running on Thursday. (Admittedly, the ground might be hardwood, so check Basketball Prospectus-where I’ve been spending most of my time-for an imminent byline.)

  • I don’t really care what a “Jay McGwire” is. Truly. Maybe I don’t get to say this, being an only child, but if your existence is so empty that you have to write a book about your brother to become a person, you’d be better off as a tester for experimental parachute designs. “Out of love”? Really? Your brother wants nothing more, as is clear by his actions, than to be left alone, and you think putting him in the spotlight by telling decade-old stories is love? Just go away.

    Of course, he’s telling the story some people want to hear, so he’ll get his 15 minutes. In the same way that Jose Canseco and Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee and other paragons of society have value because they’re feeding the approved narrative, so too will McGwire have his voice heard. It sure is a good thing MLB spent $30 million on their Truth Commission so that this story would go away.

  • Jeff Kent is a Hall of Famer. If you don’t accept this, you either have an exceptionally small Hall or an exceptionally small brain. The guy combined bat and glove at a tough position for a decade, and although the mainstream press underrated his defense for years, there’s no reason we have to do so. Throw in post-season work that is a mark in his favor, and it’s not unreasonable to think he should be a first-ballot guy, if that distinction matters. I’m not completely sure who the fifth-best second baseman in history is, and I’m open to the idea that it was Jeff Kent, especially if peak is your primary criterion.

  • Maybe Joe Torre should have kept his mouth shut. I mostly think we should wait until the book comes out to pass judgment. With that said, we’ve seen this before. In the summer of 2007, Torre was far too opinionated about Alex Rodriguez in a long Tom Verducci piece for Sports Illustrated that became a cause celebre for that Yankee team. Torre subsequently ratcheted up the pressure on-or perhaps, embarrassment of-Rodriguez by sliding him to eighth in the lineup in the AL Division Series. In both cases, Torre chose to do the opposite of what he’d done so well after taking over the team: shield the players from the madness. This act, opening up in Verducci’s new book, is more consistent with the recent version of Torre than with the 1996 version we lionized in New York.

  • No, I don’t think we’re seeing collusion. It’s a perfect storm of a bad economy, a free-agent pool in which the talent was clustered in a few limited areas, a tipping point in terms of how defense is evaluated and valued (hence all the bad-defense left fielders left waiting), and just random variation.

  • No, I don’t know where Manny Ramirez will sign. I get this question a dozen times a day, easy. Manny Ramirez has been inscrutable for the better part of two decades; why are we now supposed to think that he’s predictable? He’ll sign somewhere for less than anyone thought he’d get and hit a bunch, play poor defense, and be lampooned by the local media. There’s some Andre Dawson potential here, where Ramirez just signs for a pittance on a one-year deal wherever he wants to play the most, and goes nuts for the six months.

Back tomorrow with more.

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BillyB
1/28
Basketball Prospectus?? Say it ain\'t so Joe! To paraphrase Col. Nathan Jessup: We want you on this page, we need you on this page.
fenwaysro
1/28
Jaffe wasn\'t exactly tripping over himself to declare Kent a HOFer.
drewsylvania
1/28
Maybe a third category is in order: \"exceptionally wrong JAWS\", maybe? No offense, Joe, but you just managed to insult some readers as well as (probably) Mr. Jaffe.
Richie
1/29
Since Joe\'s the BP \'Boss\' and Jay one of the \'bossees\', I see no problem with this. Besides, I thought you Joe fans liked his insults.
SaberTJ
1/28
Although I agree with you Billy, I am sure Joe will be front and center on this page when the baseball season is full bore in late February.
Ophidian
1/28
So you\'re predicting Manny to Toronto?
joel3green
1/28
Manny to the Yanks for the major league minimum?
tooci4
1/28
You say no collusion, does that include the situation with Barry Bonds?
sbnirish77
1/28
\"I don’t really care what a \"Jay McGwire\" is.\" Why not Joe, are you afraid you might learn something? How can you be so closed-minded to the possibility that he might have something to offer? Might it be that BP, MLB, and you think they already know all they need to know (or all they want to know) about the subject? \"I want MARK to live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom - which is the only way to live.\" Seems there are a lot of possible substitutes in the above sentence for \"MARK\". Much better than the Sgt. Schultz \"I know nothing!\"
diperna
1/28
\"Why not Joe, are you afraid you might learn something? How can you be so closed-minded to the possibility that he might have something to offer?\" I can\'t speak for Joe, obviously, but I can for myself: I don\'t care whether some players use steroids and some don\'t. I don\'t care which players used steroids and which didn\'t. So Jay McGwire has nothing to offer me. His accusations are only relevant to the question of whether McGwire used steroids, which is a discussion I\'ll have, but not because the conclusion interests me in and of itself -- only because there is a bizarre mentality surrounding this issue, that facts are not necessary to support a conclusion of steroid use.
sbnirish77
1/29
Why don\'t you care if he used steroids or not? Is it because you have already decided that they can\'t enhance performance? If so you are just as closed-minded as Joe but for a different reason. Its pretty clear that we don\'t know eveyting there is to know about past steroid use. Just because we never will doersn\'t mean we shouldn\'t seek to garner as much information as possible. I just want to know why so many otherwise wise and educated people would choose to close the door on additional information regardless of source? Information, in and of itself, isn\'t bad. You might reject the credibilty of the source but I (and you should too) want to hear the witnesses. To do so otherwise is simply deciding to make up your mind before all the evidence is in.
llewdor
1/29
I don\'t care if he used steroids because I don\'t care about steroids. Especially back during Mark\'s career when they weren\'t even against the rules.
TaylorSanders
1/29
The idea, if Jay McGwire is being truthful, is that once Mark McGwire admits he used steroids a burden will be lifted and he can get on with things without all of the speculation etc...
drewsylvania
1/28
Mark\'s brother\'s book probably has some truth in it, some damning truth. But what kind of brother sells out his other brother?
eighteen
1/28
\"I want MARK to live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom - which is the only way to live.\" Yeah, publishing a \"tell-all\" book that embarasses your brother, but puts some coin in your pocket, is an effective way to set him free. More than, say, sitting down with him and just talking privately? What? Mark doesn\'t want to talk to his brother? Gee, I wonder why.
davelamb
1/28
I can see it clearly... Manny to the Giants, Manny gets them the NL West, Lincecum gets them the ring. What am I missing?
wceddleman
1/28
Dave - dream a little bigger, Manny to the Giants, with Barry back to caddy for him. If you\'re going to have a circus, why settle for anything less than 3 rings? And sign Adam Dunn, too. Also, I too, don\'t care what a Jay McGwire is. What is there left to say in this ongoing crusade against something that had the tacit approval of everyone from Selig, to the players, to the union, to the other owners, to media and the fans themselves? Pious statements about living in truth aside, aren\'t there bigger fish to fry in MLB, let alone the world?
Random
1/30
They\'ve got this fan\'s explicit approval. (When used as directed>)
Scartore
1/28
Manny Ramirez... Cincinnati Red... Lets make it happen folks... Yes We Can!
lyricalkiller
1/28
Small correction -- Torre batted ARod eighth in the 2006 playoffs, so it couldn\'t have been subsequent to a 2007 magazine article.
Oleoay
1/29
I still don\'t understand why \"we should wait until the book comes out to pass judgment\" on Torre (and Verducci), but I see posts by many journalists that, based on what Ray McGwire said/wrote, we should somehow force Mark McGwire to speak out. Why do we give Torre and Verducci the benefit of the doubt when we gobble up leaked grand jury testimony?
nickgieschen
1/29
\"Jeff Kent is a Hall of Famer. If you don’t accept this, you either have an exceptionally small Hall or an exceptionally small brain.\" If this had been written about Rice by some grizzled old sportswriter, you\'d be condescending all over it and not even bothering to wipe. The force of the statement falls far short of the quality of the following insight.
nitetrain
1/30
Agreed.