- A bad sign:
But it’s not 2003.
It’s almost 2011.
Obviously, with the absence of legitimate “stuff” to write about, entities like MLBTradeRumors, ESPN’s Rumor Central (I call it Imagination Central) and the blogosphere aren’t as creative and skillful as I at finding “stuff” to write about, so they have to report on such stories as clubs being interested in the likes of Bartolo Colon. The Yankees would undoubtedly caveat their “interest” by saying they’ll look at anyone who might help them with no expectations as to what they’ll contribute.
The mere fact that the Yankees signed Prior and are “interested” in Colon signifies that they know their pitching is woefully short and they’re willing to try anything to patch it together until they get an answer from Pettitte and things shake out in season. By then, they’ll have an idea as to what Ivan Nova is going to be (I like him, his stuff and his toughness); which Burnett is going to show up; who’s going to be available via trade.
Colon, 38 in May, pitched well in winter ball and was competent when he last pitched in the majors with the White Sox in 2009; it’s not absurd to think he might be able to help; he’d be a better bet than Prior.
Why not have a look with no expectations?
The problem is that the Yankees aren’t in a position to be rolling the dice on pitchers like Colon and Prior and expecting anything of significance, yet that’s where they find themselves after missing out on Cliff Lee.
They’re waiting on Pettitte and looking at Colon.
And it’s a bad sign.
- Perceived reality is fleeting; true reality is painful:
For an executive whose career is based in scouting and who has made his reputation as a stat-friendly GM (before the burgeoning disaster his tenure with the Mariners has become and is rapidly getting worse), Jack Zduriencik has failed in both aspects during his time as a team boss. Not only has he misjudged the likes of Milton Bradley and Chone Figgins on and off the field, but Zduriencik’s reputation as a baseball man and, more importantly, as a human being has taken a brutal beating in the past six months.
The way he was said to have double-crossed the Yankees after an agreed upon deal for the aforementioned Cliff Lee was bad enough, but that he turned around and acquired Josh Lueke—despite Lueke’s legal issues—in the deal he did make in sending Lee to the Rangers has sullied him worse than any pure baseball move could.
These were some of the more egregious gaffes by the proclaimed “genius” and “Amazin’ Exec” since last year. Now his closer David Aardsma needs surgery for a torn hip labrum.
In the grand scheme, this is not the fault of Zduriencik. Players get hurt. But the Aardsma case, on the whole, exemplifies the growing notion that Zduriencik might be overmatched as a GM; that he—in the tradition of Dave Littlefield and Dayton Moore—might have been better off as an assistant/man-behind-the-scenes rather than the final decisionmaker.
The Mariners had been looking to trade Aardsma.
They wanted an “impact bat” in exchange for him.
I say, “yes” to the first tenet of trading him; “no” to the second.
Regardless of your definition of “impact bat”, there’s no way, no how any team was going to give up anyone of significance for a journeyman like Aardsma. I’ve always liked Aardsma’s stuff and said so, but thinking that the rejuvenation of his career as a closer for a non-contender like the Mariners was a predicate for getting a so-called “impact bat” is absurd.
Perhaps Zduriencik is still harboring thoughts that the misleading save stat would hypnotize someone into giving up what was requested in a trade, but those days are nearly gone. The number of GMs who don’t think about what they’re doing before they do it and are blinded by misleading numbers and accolades are dwindling rapidly.
The old standby of teams to trick is flying out the window with Sandy Alderson taking over as GM of the Mets. I suppose there are teams who might have taken Aardsma’s 69 saves in the past two seasons as an indicator that he’s grown into his talent. The Pirates aren’t all that bright and there’s always the Royals ready to do something stupid, but an “impact bat”? Really?
What was Zduriencik expecting?
The Mariners closer is out for now and, with the hip labrum, one could reasonably expect him to be ready for the season, but that’s beside the point. Truth be told, the Mariners would find someone else to fill the closer’s role without Aardsma and that someone else would presumably be just as effective—Brandon League for example. The mistake isn’t that they were trying to trade Aardsma or that he got hurt before they could, it’s that he’s not someone who would beget the acquisition of anything more than a useful piece; that Zduriencik was greedy in his dealings and didn’t get anything at all when he should’ve gotten something for a scrapheap pickup.
- Viewer Mail 12.31.2010:
Joe writes RE Ichiro Suzuki and the Royals:
I don’t really enjoy watching Ichiro hit much either, relative to other “star” players. I prefer reasonable *individual* home run totals, like the last few years. But the threat of the home run still entices me. Ichiro doesn’t do that often. Not that I dislike watching him. Entertainment-wise, he looks like Lou Gehrig in that atrocious Mariners lineup though.
People outside the Royals organization have the ability to scout too. And they are the ones that come up with these lists. So this is mostly viewing from the outside.
I got the impression from the linked posting by Joe Posnanski that he was reluctant to go after Ichiro the way I did, but that’s my own interpretation. I don’t stop what I’m doing or flip to the Mariners games to watch Ichiro hit; it’s not like you’re missing something you won’t see later in the game if you don’t see his first inning at bat.
With the Royals, people are missing the point of my posting. They have all these prospects, but their major league maneuvers with the likes of Jeff Francoeur, Jason Kendall, et al. indicate that there’s a disconnect on how to build a winner.
Aside from Billy Butler, their development has been wanting with the prospects they have. Whether these prospects were acquired by this regime or the prior one is irrelevant; no one ever gave the Rays grief for the foundation that was there when they arrived. It was what it was and they moved forward. Some worked out, some didn’t. I question what’s going to happen with the Royals as they try to take the next step, and given the continued mistakes by their GM, I have a pretty sound case.
I remember when Alex Gordon was supposed to be the Next Big Thing. Too bad he didn’t live up to expectations.
He may need a change-of-scenery. He’s going to turn 27 in February which is well young enough to turn it around. There’s still time. He might be a Phil Nevin-type—another 3rd baseman who needed a break and a little bit of a struggle to develop. Gordon showed great promise in 2008, but injuries have derailed him.
Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE prospects:
I wonder if there’s a special place for washed away prospects… the Alex Gordons, Brandon Woods, Todd Van Poppels… part of me feels sorry for them, but then again, their bank accounts are way fatter than mine so they can kiss it for all I care. Making it big in the Big Leagues is tough. It’s not for the weak. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here’s the problem with the “next hot prospect”—the latest being Bryce Harper/Stephen Strasburg—the outside pressures to perform and hopes of the organization can add another layer onto the already stifling expectations they’re facing.
Todd Van Poppel’s fastball was always pin straight, but he wasn’t given the chance to learn his craft before he found himself in the majors—as a prerequisite to his signing a contract after the A’s took a chance in drafting him—at 19.
I’ve questioned the Phillies strategy of leaving their youngsters in the minors for far too long. Both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley could’ve been in the big leagues at least a year-and-a-half before they were, but you cannot argue with the results. They’re maintaining a similar, no-pressure strategy with Domonic Brown.
Other clubs have tossed their kids into the fire and succeeded. Such was the case with the Diamondbacks and Justin Upton.
Maybe he was right.
Al Spina writes RE Bob Feller:
Bob Feller was a great pitcher, but an angry man, in my opinion, who could not relate to anyone in this day and age, let alone current athletes.
I don’t disagree.
For a long time, I ripped into Feller for being a miserable old buzzard (trying to keep it clean) for his over-the-top negative reactions to the players of today. Perhaps it was part of getting older.
Feller wasn’t shy in stating his opinion about the decline of society and the rampant disinterest in contributing to others. He may have pigeonholed every player into the same category and shown a bitterness because of it. Had he been less strident in expressing himself, his image may not have been what it was during his later years.
In the end, he did serve his country and was a great pitcher. The other stuff is a matter of personality and how he expressed himself.