Archive for January, 2006

Let me tell you all a story

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

I met this guy back in the mid 1980s, I can’t remember exactly when. The Yankees used to have their AA ballclub here in Nashville, and prospects such as Don Mattingly, Steve Balboni and Willie McGee all spent time here. Anyway Billy Martin used to come down to Nashville to check out the Yankees’ prospects, and he was also a huge country music fan. At the time I ran a limosine service that catered to celebrities and guests of a now-famous Nashville restaurant, the Nashville Union Stockyard Restaurant.

At the time the owner was a big-time country music publisher named Buddy Killen, so the people who performed in the nightclub downstairs (the Bullpen Lounge) were absolutely first-rate. When Billy came down to Nashville I used to pick him up in the limo at the Opryland Hotel and take him back afterwards (usually after a considerable amount of scotch I might add.)

The last time I drove Billy was about ten days before his death. Some of the Yankees’ minor league people saw him come in and said: “Was that Billy Martin?” Another responded: “Yep, sure was, he headed straight for the bar.” Billy had recently been made a Vice President for the Yankees, he told me that he was real frustrated with his “so-called promotion” because he cared a lot about the Yankees and wanted to help, but nobody in their front office would listen. A fan came up to him while we were talking and had some disparaging things to say about George Steinbrenner but Billy wouldn’t even listen. He just bit his tongue and walked away.

About thirteen scotches on the rocks later I drove Billy back to his hotel, I must say he held his liquor well. I had no idea that it would be the last time I saw the man. Ten days later Billy died in an accident; in eulogizing Billy George Steinbrenner said it was an untimely loss because Billy was “chomping at the bit” when it came to performing in his new job.

All of a sudden it dawned on me – everybody in baseball knew that Billy was in the late to chronic stages of alcoholism and so did George. I knew during all those hirings and firings that Billy was drawing a Yankee paycheck – it seemed there was an inexplicable bond between the two men that transcended their employment. Steinbrenner knew that Billy wasn’t “chomping at the bit” for a made-up job – he just wanted his old friend to go out in style. And so he did.

Nowadays I still hear people say things about George Steinbrenner and most of ’em are true. But I still take ’em with a grain of salt because of how he was with the only baseball personality I ever really knew – Alfred Manuel Martinez, aka Billy Martin.

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How Crazy is This?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Look at these two Rotoworld stories:

1) Reds agreed to terms with outfielder Austin Kearns on a one-year, $1.85 million contract.

2) Orioles agreed to terms with outfielder Corey Patterson on a one-year, $2.8 million contract.

What the heck is that? Both Outfielders played like garbage last year, but how can the Orioles not tell Corey to shut up and take a pay cut? Are they that fearful of an arbitrator? What case does Patterson really have?

2005 Numbers (avg / obp / hr / rbi)
Kearns: .240 / .333 / 18 / 67

Patterson’s numbers were: .215 / .254 / 13 / 34

Corey Patterson is stealing every bit of that 2.8 million and Kearns, who I think is due for a BIG year will be severely underpaid in 2006.

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Questions for Hughes

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Alright guys, I am getting ready for my annual offseason interview with Pat Hughes. He called me today to ask when I’d like to interview him and I told him it would be at the end of the month. So, that gives you this week to let me know some of the questions and topics you would like to see me ask him. If you haven’t listened to last year’s interview, it is a good listen. So, if you have some you’d like to get in, e-mail me, catch me on AIM or leave it in the comment section.


On an unrelated note, I noticed this in an article the other day on Fox Sports.com. Normally I would not nit pick, and I have great respect for Ken Rosenthal, but this error made me chuckle.

The Cubs are intent on improving their defense, which is one reason they’re open to trading second baseman Todd Walker. The problem with moving Walker is that would cost the Cubs too much offense. Walker’s .789 career on-base percentage is 84 points higher than Jerry Hairston’s and 108 points higher than Neifi Perez’s. The Cubs conceivably could keep all three players and use Hairston as a super-utility man who could contribute in the infield and spell each of their outfielders.

Todd Walker gets on base 78% of the time? Hairston gets on 70%? And Neifi gets on at just under a 70% clip? Goodness that is some production. Poor Ken Rosenthal actually meant that Walkers OPS, which is On Base plus Slugging % was that high. It’s OK, it’s always nice to dream.

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Need Graphic Work?

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Just a quick plug today. If you’re like me, your photoshop skills are severely lacking. I am OK with resizing and cut and paste type stuff, but when it comes to things that look cool and dazzle the eye, you’ll want someone else. Recently, I needed some icons done for the new writer Mark, and my wife. I turned to Michael Delgiudice, who runs his own site and does freelance work. His rates are reasonable, and he is very reliable with deadlines and details. Both icons he has done for me have been top notch. If you would like to get in contact with him, his website is: www.mfdproductions.com. He does not have a great deal of samples on there, but he has designed a number of logos for the Most Valuable Network as well. When you contact him, tell him I sent you.

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Mea culpa, mea culpa

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

As many of you know, the yearly winter pilgrimage to Chicago for the Cubs Convention has begun. As in the past, Cubs fans have been given a chance to ask the Cubs brass questions behind the closed doors of Cubdom. But unlike recent years, the questions this year are more pointed and seem to convey a greater sense of urgency. Here’s a sampling of the responses that Cubs President Andy MacPhail and GM Jim Hendry had for the crowds (courtesy of www.cubs.com:)

First Andy MacPhail gave us a rundown on the numbers:

“MacPhail pointed out that the Cubs led the National League in hits in 2005 but ranked 29th out of 30 teams with runners in scoring position. That seems almost impossible…the Cubs’ outfielders ranked 30th in production in the Major Leagues. The leadoff men combined were 29th in on-base percentage. The Cubs’ relievers issued the most walks and the most home runs.”

I thought this was a great statistical analysis of some of some of the problems the 2005 team faced, Mr. President. Do you think that your executive team has taken the appropriate steps to turn these indices around? I’d say yes to the leadoff problem and bullpen but probably no to the other issues…

Jim Hendry also had some interesting comments:

“We had a bad year and I should’ve done a better job myself,” Cubs general manager Jim Hendry told a packed Continental Ballroom crowd during a question-and-answer session with manager Dusty Baker….”I don’t think you can do better than Juan Pierre,” Hendry said. “And Willie Mays wasn’t available for right”….”At a $100 million payroll, you’re more than capable of winning,” he said. “We’ve got to get the job done.”

Okay that was somewhat of an act of contrition Jimmy Boy but it was also smart aleck. First of all, what could you have done better; should you have been a better leader insofar as driving for results? Should you have made more creative moves to better improve the club’s chances? Unfortunately an Ichiro for Corey Patterson trade didn’t seem to make sense to Seattle’s GM but did you ever consider inking Brian Giles to a three year deal? Obviously not, it wasn’t even discussed. Thank goodness this wasn’t a confession Jimbo because the priest would have given you a bunch of novenas and stations of the cross.

More news to come I’m sure…

Updated 1/14/06 23:10:

Paul Sullivan (a writer whom I happen to like) and the Trib have now added their two cents. Some noteworthy comments from their article:

…the fan then accused Hendry of failing to address the team’s off-season needs, of overestimating Jacque Jones’ talent and having a payroll of only $75 million. Hendry’s equally long-winded response was that he beefed up the bullpen, has faith in Jones, acquired leadoff man Juan Pierre and has a $90 million payroll that could balloon to $100 million.

Jimmy Boy, have you been cooking the books? I thought we were already at $100M – whatcha gonna do with the other ten million, build momma a new house?

Not to be left out, it was Dusty’s turn next on the hotseat:

Baker’s awkward moment came minutes later, when a perturbed fan drew applause for criticizing the manager’s game strategy.

“I swear to God, I don’t understand why you’ve never heard of a squeeze bunt in your life,” the fan said. “A manager has a chance to have a direct impact on 10-15 games a season, and I don’t think we won one of them last year.

“Cubs fans make a commitment to you guys every year. It’s time you guys make a commitment to us.”

“Thank you,” Baker replied.

No additional comments are necessary here from me either, Dusty. At least we’ve got one thing in common.

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