Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Jeff Kent Bump

While it was almost a guarantee that Kent would enter the hall of fame, but is it possible that Kent's candidacy was cemented because he played in the steroid era? Paul Molitor weighs in:
"When you consider what he did in a clean fashion in his era, it will give him a boost," said Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who came up as a second baseman in the late 1970s. "It kind of separates yourself if you have been able to rise above the controversy over the past 15 years."
It's hard to criticize Molitor's statement. While I never thought of Kent as one of the best players of his generation, there is no doubt in my mind that he was definitely one of the top three second basemen (Biggio, Alomar). His numbers paled in comparison to sluggers like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez, all of whom I thought of as the best hitters. Kent was certainly a great hitter in his prime, but he was a notch below all of those guys in my opinion.

But now that the facts have come out and all the illegal drug use has come to light, Kent's numbers, which were good but not great at one point, now seem to be up there with the best of the steroid era simply because Kent did not use steroids.

I imagine that Kent would have been a first ballot hall of famer even if the whole steroid issue never existed. But because of steroids, it would not surprise me if Kent enters the hall of fame not just as a first ballot hall of famer, but as a guy who should receive at least 85% of the vote. In addition, if voters choose not to vote for guys linked to steroids, Kent's candidacy could/should become a whole lot stronger.

2009 'Stache All Star: Brian Bruney

Not nearly as ridiculous as Giambi's 2008 stache, but I'll take it. Then again, I'm sure Yankee fans just want Bruney to keep his mouth shut and dominant the eighth inning.

(screen shot via the great Fack Youk)

Economic Crisis And Luxury Suites

The big draw for people to buy luxury suites is generally for businesses, who are attempting to woo potential clients. But with business going south, it leaves less money for companies to spend on exquisite items such as luxury suites. One would figure that the market for luxury suites would crash in this market.

However, it appears that's not the case. I've never had the opportunity to sit in a luxury box, but if I ever had the money, now would seem to be a great time to buy. Teams are now offering more bang for the buck for those in luxury suites:
The economic downturn has turned the tables on teams, which are now offering well-heeled fans time on the field during batting practice, meet-and-greets with players and free wine tastings just to stick around. It's a buyer's market for baseball's premium seating, with teams getting more creative and private seats becoming more accessible to willing investors.

"In any economic climate, creativity will always be rewarded," says William Droste, premium sales manager for the Boston Red Sox.
My biggest question is this, it's easy for teams in big markets and passionate fan bases to be creative, but how about the teams in somewhat smaller markets that lack a craze driven fan base? Even with the economic crisis, I would expect teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, and Phillies (all talked about in the article), to do very well with luxury suite sales. But how about the Twins, Nationals, Brewers, and Padres? Are those teams able to sell out their luxury suites?

This is a valid question that this article fails to discuss.

I would imagine that teams with smaller and often times less passionate fan bases would have a much tougher time retaining their big dollar luxury suite clients. In times of economic turmoil, I imagine that the Royals luxury suite would be one of the first things to go.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Quote of the Day: Carl Everett on the Red Sox

Carl Everett is no Ms. Cleo.
Everett said that the Red Sox "will never win" a championship with the present attitude of fans and media. And "the media is not going to change because it sells."
We all know how that worked out. Nice one, Carl.

The Hall of Fame Guidelines and Steroids

And I must say, I completely agree:
"When it comes to the electing players to the Baseball Hall of Fame, no new guidelines are needed to deal with the so-called Steroid Era because voters are already asked to consider a player's integrity and character.

That's what the Chicago chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America decided Friday.

The chapter will not forward any measures or recommendations to the national chapter of the baseball writers group, which will meet at next month's All-Star Game in St. Louis. While some Chicago writers said Friday they're frustrated at the idea of voting for people who may or may not have cheated, the majority said common sense is enough to guide their votes."
The one thing we have to remember about the steroid era is that everyone has their own opinion on the issue. There are a number of different camps on the issue.

1. Anyone who used steroids should not be inducted into the hall of fame
2. Those who used steroids should be allowed entry into the hall of fame, but only if steroid users are put in their own section, have an asterisk attached to their name, or have "steroid era" somewhere written on their HOF plaque
3. Lots of players used steroids and it would be impossible to keep an entire generation out of the HOF. Let them in!

Those are the main three that come to my mind, but I'm sure there are plenty of other opinions out there. That's why suggesting certain criteria for hall of fame voting would be too much. This issue is so divisive that it's impossible to suggest that the criteria become any more specific.

But on a side note, I'm starting to seriously doubt that ANY player accused or associated with steroids will get the needed votes for the hall of fame. I suspect that many writers-using Mark McGwire as the example-will not vote for any ball player who cheated. By that standard, there will be a good number of players, who will never come close to enshrinement considering how difficult it is to get 75% of the vote.

2009 'Stache All Star: Josh Kinney


(photo: Joe Sports Fan)

Economic Crisis? Not In Minor League Baseball

Despite the crumbling economy, minor league baseball continues to be a strong seller:

"Recession! What recession?

Economic downturn? Or an opportunity?

Contrary to conventional thinking, these difficult economic times in which we are currently residing have not adversely affected area minor league baseball franchises. General managers from Reading, Harrisburg and Lancaster recently reported that attendance at home games have pretty much toed the line, or in some cases even increased."

How is this possible without the names, glitz & glamor of major league baseball?

The answer is simple. Minor League baseball is very affordable for families, many of which cannot afford the grandiose prices of major league baseball.

“What’s happened is that we’re way ahead in daily gates, families coming out to the game,” said Scott Hunsicker, Reading’s GM. “People are turning to us in this economy. Affordable family entertainment, free parking, affordable food. Affordable entertainment is good in a booming economy, and it’s good in a down economy.”

“We’re in a unique situation in that we’ve had some growth,” said Harrisburg general manager Randy Whitaker. “I really think minor league baseball is positioned well for the current economic climate. It’s affordable family fun. People still want to be entertained. They’re not going to go fall in a hole somewhere.”

So think about it this way, would you rather spend $400 for a family of four to watch the Yankees at the New Yankee Stadium or would you rather pay $40 for a family of four to watch the Newark Bears?

For my money, I'd go to Newark.

Would you?

The Mets Are Stuck

After getting swept by the Yankees in very ugly fashion, I'm sure nearly every Met fan out there is clamoring for Omar Minaya to make a trade. The lifeless Mets offense has been decimated because of injuries to Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, and Carlos Beltran. It's clear that the Mets need at least one big bat if they want to stay competitive in the putrid NL East in the upcoming weeks.

As fans, we can all yell and scream for Omar Minaya to make a move because we want what's best for the team right now. But as a GM, Minaya has to think about the Mets future, even if that's the unpopular decision.

Because as we look at the Mets right now, there is no doubt in my mind that Minaya and the Mets are stuck. Teams know just how badly the Mets have been hit with injuries and they understand that Omar Minaya is probably desperate to get another big bat ASAP. Therefore, the price tag on the Aubrey Huffs and Adam Dunns of the world is much higher than Minaya and the Mets are comfortable paying.

Consider this: is it worth mortgaging 2010 and beyond for a year and a half of Adam Dunn? Of course not. Even with Dunn on board, there is no guarantee that the Mets ship can be turned around because their offense has been so ravaged by injuries.

The biggest problem for Minaya is that now is the time where the Mets are desperate offense. Sure, in three to five weeks the price tag on some of these guys might come back down to Earth, but will the Mets still be in contention by then? Very debatable.

The Mets have to be thinking about just surviving the next few weeks until Reyes and Beltran (hopefully) return. But for now, the Mets are stuck with what they got unless an impact bat suddenly falls into their lap.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Priorities? Who Needs Priorities?

baseball>pregnant wife


(photo: yahoo sports)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quote of the Day: Carl Everett on Spring Training

For some reason, Carl Everett doesn't strike me as a morning person.
"I don't like spring training, it's too long and you've got to get up too early," the Mariners' new designated hitter says. "I'm not a morning person."

The Hall of Fame and Steroids

This should be an interesting discussion:
The Chicago chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America is taking up the thorny question of what to do with "Steroid Era" players and the Hall of Fame.

The writers plan to meet Friday to discuss whether there should be any guidelines for voting in light of the drug scandal that has tainted baseball over the last dozen years. Six of the top 20 career home run hitters have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, including Sammy Sosa, who spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs.

Excellent. This is a much needed discussion. It's vital that the baseball writers figure out (or at least try to) what to do with players who took steroids and those who might have taken steroids. Because let's face it, because of steroids, the hall of fame HAS AND WILL change forever.

As Rick Telander put it:

"The guidelines used to be so simple: stats, longevity and star power. It's all been trumped by performance-enhancing drug use and drug use suspicion," Telander said Tuesday. "Part of me says it's not fair we have to make these determinations, but we do."

Well said. What in the world should the hall of fame do with these players? Put them in the hall of fame? Don't put them in the hall of fame? Have a separate wing for steroid users/the steroid era? Asterisks?

I don't have the slightest idea about what will happen, but if it was up to me, I would put the steroid users in hall of fame. At this point, we have to assume that a large group (majority?) of players were using steroids during this period and it'd be extremely difficult to keep all the steroid users OUT of the hall of fame. Perhaps an asterisk on the hall of fame plaque or something like it would make the baseball purists feel better about putting them in. Maybe not.

The nightmare scenario is that the hall of fame allows entry to a player, who they believe was never on performance enhancing drugs, but then a few years after entering the hall of fame, it's discovered that he indeed did use PEDs. What should the hall of fame do then?

This issue is so fascinating because there is no answer that will satisfy the baseball loving masses, most of whom just want the issue of steroids to go away. However, over the next few years, the hall of fame and steroids will be THE highly debated issue that will offer a vast array of solutions and ideas. This is merely the beginning of the debate.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quote of the Day: Carl Everett on Baseball Fans

More words of wisdom from the great Carl Everett to help your Wednesday fly by.
"Fan is short for fanatic — he's crazy about something he really doesn't know
about. And it's proven that 99 percent of baseball fans have no idea what
they're watching."
If I have no idea what I'm watching, then what have I been watching for all these years?

Same Old Armando Benitez

Do you ever get a sinking feeling watching a baseball game? The feeling that you know something bad is going to happen and no matter how many different Gods you pray to, no matter how many breaks your team gets, no matter how many times you tell yourself that it's going to be okay that something bad is going to happen. There is no way to justify your feelings or explain why you think it so, but you just know deep inside what the outcome is going to be.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I experienced that sinking feeling yesterday. In the Atlantic League. Watching Armando Benitez pitch in the ninth inning of the freakin' Atlantic League All-Star game. Benitez was trying to shut the door on a 5-3 game, but deep down, I don't think there was a soul in the stadium, who thought Armando would actually shut the door. For me personally, I have witnessed the epic meltdowns of Benitez many times before during his days with the Mets so I braced myself for the inevitable as the first batter stepped in.

And wouldn't ya know it? The first batter hits a little check swing dribbler that rolls only a few feet from the mound, but of course, the runner is safe because the ball was not hit far enough for the never nibble Benitez to make a play.

As soon as the runner touched first base, it became obvious that even though Armando Benitez was no longer in the major leagues or even throwing his trademark 95+ fastball, there was no doubt that this was the same Armando Benitez. Yes, the same Armando Benitez, who did not have the mental makeup to be a consistently successful closer with the New York Mets.

Not surprisingly, Benitez lost it after the first batter reached base. Time after time, Benitez got behind hitters and was forced to throw pitches right over the heart of the plate. Not surprisingly, Benitez got shelled. Even in the Atlantic League, hitters can hit pitches that are over the heart of the plate. Benitez had no command of any of his pitches and as a result, he gave up 4 earned runs, blew the save, and was the losing pitcher in the Atlantic League All-Star game.

Yup, same old Armando.

Should the July 31st Trading Deadline Be Moved Back?

For as long as I can remember, the July 31st trading deadline was one of the most exciting days on the MLB calendar. What often occurred at the trading deadline set the bar for the rest of the season-what teams would compete, what teams would tread water, and what teams were in full selling mode ready to deal away any valuable trade chips in the hopes of success in the future.

But for some reason, the upcoming 2009 trading deadline is beginning to feel watered down. Even though there is still almost five weeks to go until July 31st, the big time trade chatter has been kept to realistic minimum as virtually no big names seem to have a realistic chance of changing addresses.

And the reason why? Mediocrity.

You see, right now there are tons of teams (25 by my count) that have a cautiously optimistic chance at making the playoffs. Hell, even the Nate McLouthless Pirates are only 8 back in the NL Central and 7 back in the wild card! You can't fault a GM for holding off on becoming sellers on the open market when their team still has chance to play October baseball.

With so many teams having a puncher's chance at making the playoffs at the moment, there are very few teams on paper right now that appear to be clear cut sellers. Teams like the Nationals, Padres, and Orioles have virtually no shot at making the playoffs in 2009 and could benefit greatly by acquiring young pieces at the trading deadline.

However, because there are so many buyers on the market right now and so few sellers, the players who are available can only be had for a king's ransom. For example, if the Mets wanted to go out and trade for Adam Dunn right now, they would have to give up a boatload of talent because Dunn is one of the ONLY impact bats who could actually be traded for. Obviously, it's very difficult for trades to happen under these conditions.

In conclusion, having a bunch of mediocre teams might be very good for baseball and might make Bud Selig feel very good about himself for a few minutes, but mediocrity is actually very bad for trades.

So what can be done about this? One option is to move the trading deadline back. If teams have more time to separate themselves (either positively or negatively), then there will be more sellers in the marketplace because teams probably will not be as bunched up in the standings. I think the July 31 date has worked for a long period of time, but moving the non waiver trade deadline date back another two weeks or so should lead to more impact trades.


(Note: Obviously, teams can still trade after July 31st, but players have to pass through waivers in order to be traded any team. I know there are exceptions, but rarely does an impact player actually pass waivers or get traded after the July 31 deadline.)

Morning Photo(s): Barack Obama Invades Baracklyn

Obama bobblehead>Baracklyn jersey

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For the Love of Armando Benitez!

When I purchased tickets to the 2009 Atlantic League all star game a month back, I figured I would be treated to watching former MLBers Carl Everett, Preston Wilson, Keith Foulke and more continue to try and resurrect their respective careers.

However, when the rosters were finally announced, there was only ONE name on both rosters that I recognized.

Armando Benitez.

Yes, the former Mets closer, who ruined a good portion of my baseball watching childhood (ask any Met fan!), somehow made the Atlantic League all star team even though his ERA is 5.94.

How is that possible?

A better question is probably who cares? I'm probably the only one in the United States questioning Armando Benitez's legitimacy in the Atlantic League all-star game so you can tell how great Armando's impact was on my life.

With that said, I'm hoping to see Armando pitch tonight just for the sake of name recognition and for an added bonus, let's hope Armando gets lit up.

***** *****
Perhaps the best part of the Atlantic League All Star game is that there will be a celebrity softball game before the actual All-Star game.

You read that right, folks: a celebrity softball game. Who knew that could happen in the Atlantic League?

For a pop culture buff like myself, the list of celebrities attending the game is brilliantly random. Here are some of my favorites:

Queen Latifah
Funkmaster Flex
Ozzie Smith
Justin Tuck
Thomas Jones
Randy Foye
Allan Houston


Fantastic. This weird and wacky group should make the softball game somewhat watchable and hopefully entertaining.

Pictures and commentary likely tomorrow.

(photo: Paul's Random Stuff)

Quote of the Day: Carl Everett on Interleague Play

More words of wisdom from Carl Everett.
Interleague play? "Don't like it," Everett responds. "They only have it because of two teams [the New York Mets and the New York Yankees]. It's all about the money."
Is it possible that Carl might actually have a point here?

It's about the money, stupid!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quote of the Day: Carl Everett on Dinosaurs

Nothing helps a Monday go by like some words of wisdom from Carl Everett.

"God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve," Everett said last Friday, before the Red Sox lost two of three in Atlanta. "The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can't say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Someone actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex."

What about dinosaur bones?

"Made by man," he says.

(via si.com)

Time to Sell High: Dallas Braden?

I'll admit this right off the bat: the argument in favor of trading Dallas Braden at the trading deadline is very out of the box. Braden, who will turn 26 in August, is putting together the best season of his young career this season. Braden has a 5-6 record with a 3.26 ERA in 15 starts this season. His performance this season has been nothing short of stellar even though the Athletics have struggled to play consistent baseball this season. Furthermore, Braden is not eligible for arbitration until 2011 and will not be a free agent until at least 2014.

Obviously, there are lots of reasons why the Athletics should hold onto Braden.

But let's take a look at why/if it makes sense for the Athletics to look into moving Dallas Braden. In this marketplace, when so many teams are struggling to find a top flight starting pitcher, it does not look like any impact starting pitcher will be available. Jake Peavy is hurt. Erik Bedard is hurt. The Indians will probably hold onto Cliff Lee. As it looks right now, the best starting pitcher, who might be traded is Jarrod Washburn. But in reality, he is nothing more than a #3 or #4.

So with the market lacking impact starting pitchers, the Athletics should be able to maximize their return on Braden, who is pitching like an ace this season. Because the supply of available impact starting pitchers is low, but the demand for impact starting pitchers is high, the Athletics could conceivably have a bunch of teams very interested in acquiring Braden. The return on Braden would obviously be very high because of his age, contract status, and performance.

Does trading Braden make sense for the Athletics? It could. There is always the risk that Braden's performance improves dramatically over the next few seasons and he becomes a top flight starting pitcher. But on the other hand, the Athletics have the opportunity to sell high on Braden after just a couple months of solid pitching.

This would be a classic Billy Beane sell high trade that would turn the baseball world upside down.


Bob Feller's Still Got It

As he proved yesterday at the Hall of Fame Classic, Bob Feller can still pitch.

Oh yeah, Feller is 90 years old....How impressive is that!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vernon Wells: Worst Position Player Contract Ever?

While it's still too early for us to rush to judgement, the contract the Blue Jays handed Vernon Wells back in 2006 is looking historically bad. The Blue Jays gave Wells a gigantic contract thinking that he was a franchise player and someone who could lead the Jays to the playoffs and beyond.

But just two years into the contract extension, Wells has looked awfully average and nothing like a franchise player. He has yet to hit more than 20 home runs, drive in 100 runs, or score more than 90 runs since he signed the contract. True, Wells missed a large part of 2008, but his numbers have been way down since he signed the contract in 2006. It's certainly not a good sign for the Blue Jays that Wells's numbers are declining at the beginning of the extension, not the end.

Not only is Wells not producing, but the back end of this contract is absolutely going to kill the Blue Jays in the future. The Blue Jays gave Wells a 7 year/$126 million dollar contract, but a staggering $98.5 million is back loaded over the final five years. When you take into account that the Blue Jays payroll is somewhere in the $80-$90 million dollar range, there is a very good bet that a large portion of the Jays payroll will be taken up by a player on the steep decline.

This contract is the type of deal that could cripple the Blue Jays for years to come. It's safe to say that this deal is Zito-esque in size and dollar amount. It's clear that this contract was a blatant panic move by the Blue Jays, who dramatically overpaid for a homegrown player who they believed they could not let go.

But now here comes the main question: will the Vernon Wells contract rank as one of the worst contracts EVER given to a position player? Could it possibly rank up there with the Albert Belle contract? The Mo Vaughn contract?

I absolutely think this contract has the makings to be one of the worst in baseball history. Not only might the Blue Jays have wasted a substantial amount of money for a player they expected big things from, but this deal will hamstring the team to such a capacity that they will have a difficult time investing in impact players.

Now that's a double whammy.


For all you Mike Francesa fans out there, this video is a MUST WATCH.

(note: turn the volume down...Mike gets kinda loud)

Interestingly enough, I think the caller actually makes a interesting point about Joba Chamberlain. Too bad Mike drowns him out with all of his yelling...Jesus, that man can scream.

Thoughts? Should Joba be a starting pitcher?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Who Will The Sellers Be?

With the trading deadline rapidly approaching, let's take a look at some teams, who might look to sell at the deadline.

Notice a trend here with these teams?

Pittsburgh: UNSURE (probably sellers)
-already traded away Nate McLouth, who was their best player
-only 5.5 games out of first place at the moment
-too early to say if the Pirates will trade away any other players after the McLouth backlash

Houston: UNSURE
-4 games under .500, but only 5.5 games out of first place
-Jose Valverde could be a very attractive trade chip
-can't say for sure if they will be buyers or sellers yet

Oakland: UNSURE
-9 games out of first place and 9.5 games out of the wild card
-likely to become sellers if they cannot gain some ground soon
-however, besides Matt Holliday, what pieces do they realistically have to move?

Mariners: UNSURE
-6 games out of first place, but 5 games out of wild card
-Jarrod Washburn could be a very attractive chip
-Erik Bedard's injury could/should hurt his trade value
-how much longer can they keep pace with the Angels and Rangers?
-think about the future! (SELL, SELL, SELL)

Arizona: SELLER
-16 games out of first place, but only 8 out of the wild card
-Eric Byrnes is the only veteran with a absurd contact, who the D-Backs should clamor to move
-potential free agents Doug Davis, Felipe Lopez, and Jon Garland could net a healthy return as well (especially Davis)
-Qualls, Rauch, and Schoeneweis all could be attractive trade chips

San Diego: SELLER (if they have any pieces to move)
-14 games out of first place
-tried to trade Jake Peavy earlier in the season to Chicago, but that deal fell through
-do they have any other tradeable pieces besides Peavy?

Colorado: UNSURE
-11 games out of first place, but only 3.5 out of the wild card
-Their recent 11 game winning streak sure changed their status from probable sellers to dare I say it....buyers.
-Lots of attractive pieces here: Brad Hawpe, Hutson Street, Jason Marquis

Cleveland: UNSURE
-6.5 games out of first place....9.5 games out of the wild card
-Playing better recently....AL Central is very weak
-might be getting Sizemore back soon....should they hold?

Washington: SELLERS
-19 games out of first place, 17.5 games out of the wild card
-what a mess.
-everyone outside of Zimmerman/Zimmermann (for the most part) should be available

Baltimore: SELLERS
-12 games out of first place, 9 games out of the wild card
-Future should be the focus in Baltimore
-get more young pieces!

As you can see, there are so many teams out there right now who are not sure if they will be sellers. The reason is simple: there are so many mediocre teams in baseball this season that almost every team is still in striking distance of the playoffs.


Will the Blue Jays Become Sellers?

Upon hearing the news that the Blue Jays placed Roy Halladay and Scott Downs on the DL yesterday, I can't help but wonder how this will effect their plans with regards to the trading deadline.

Even though the Blue Jays sit just 5 games out of first in the AL East and just 2 games back of the wild card, their uninspired play over the last 25 games has to be a major cause for a concern for the front office. It's looking more and more like the Blue Jays fast start, which left them 13 games over .500, was simply a fluke as the team has sputtered back down to Earth over the past month.

If the Blue Jays slide as expected during Halladay's absence, conventional wisdom would suggest that the Jays would become sellers and try to improve for 2010. However, the Jays are an interesting group. They have lots of young players who the organization is high on to go along with lots of veterans who are signed to absurd contracts.

The reality of the situation is that the Blue Jays have very few pieces that they would be willing to deal come July 31 that interest teams contractually. Here is the list that I came up with (Halladay not included)

Blue Jays trade chips
-Scutaro (FA after '09)

And seriously folks, that's all I could come up with. And I seriously doubt the Jays would trade Scutaro. Unless the Jays want to trade away some of their young talent or Halladay, it could be very quiet on the trade front for the Blue Jays even if the team falls out of contention.

With regards to Halladay, I cannot see the Jays trying to move him after having to place him on the DL. Even though the return on Halladay would still be substantial, the Jays are better off holding onto their ace and seeing what fate their dealt in 2010.


Morning Photo: Matt Wieters Meets A Shaving Cream Pie

Yes, Matt Wieters, soon to be the face of the Baltimore Orioles, hit his first home run last night. His reward? A pie in the face from Adam Jones. Fitting.

Who started this pie in the face trend? It seems as though every time something good happens in baseball, a pie in the face is soon to follow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Artie Lange on Joe Buck Live! Video

I've been looking for the full video of Artie Lange on Joe Buck Live! (not the OT) the other night and much to my dismay, the people over at HBO took it down.

Well, luckily for us, the guys over at Tirico Suave have their own copy of Joe Buck Live! with all the awkwardness, cursing, and strange behavior included. For all of you that missed it, this video is a must watch.
Without further ado, here is the link:


Baltimore Orioles: Outline Of A Firesale

For the Baltimore Orioles, 2009 represents two things: more of the same and hope.

More of the same: the Orioles are in last place and WILL/should be sellers at the trading deadline once again.

Hope: Where to begin here? Well, Matt Wieters has been called up to the show, Adam Jones has established himself as a star in the making, Luke Scott is tearing the cover off the ball, and Nolan Reimold is showing potential as the Orioles left fielder of the future. And oh yeah, that Markakis guy is a pretty good ballplayer too.

But while there is plenty of reason for optimism, there is still lots of work to be done if the Orioles are going to compete in the next few years. That work should begin in the next few weeks as the Orioles take the yearly plunge into becoming sellers at the trading deadline. The goal has to be to trade away as many "expendable pieces" in return for young players, who might help the Orioles in the future.

So who should the Orioles look to move? Let's take a look:

The Obvious

1. Trade Aubrey Huff

-Huff is a free agent at the end of the season, which means that this will likely be his last season with the team. The Orioles have to be disappointed that Huff's strong performance in 2008 has not carried over into 2009, as Huff has just 8 homers, 41 RBIs, and a .323 OBP so far. The Orioles should hold a few more weeks before they move Huff in the hopes that his numbers improve unless they are blown away by a desperate team searching for some power (METS, METS, METS).
2. Trade George Sherrill

-Even though the Orioles control Sherrill's rights until 2012, there is no doubt in my mind that the Orioles should sell high on Sherill, right now. Here are my reasons why: a. age Sherrill is 32 years old, which is quite old for a team looking to rebuild with youth b. closers? If you look at the marketplace now, what other closers are going to be available? The only two I can think of right now are Qualls and Valverde. This means that the Orioles would have ample opportunity to sell high on Sherrill because demand for closers should be high, but the supply of quality, experienced closers is limited.
3. Trade Danys Baez

-The biggest gift the Orioles have received this season has been the revival of Baez, who currently sports a 3.15 ERA out of the bullpen and has been one of the Orioles best relief pitchers to date. But like Huff, Baez is a free agent at the end of the season and might not have a future with the Orioles. With that in mind, the Orioles should move Baez to a team seeking a solid relief pitcher and hope for a strong package in return for Baez.


1. Trade Luke Scott

-Since coming off the DL almost a month ago, Scott has been the Orioles best hitter and has dramatically raised his trade value. For the season, Scott is hitting .315 with 14 homers and 36 RBIs to go along with an impressive .400 OBP. There is no doubt that Scott has developed into an impact player with the bat and someone who could help a contender. But should the Orioles look into trading Scott? If they are looking to sell high, there is no better time than now to try and move Scott. His numbers have never been this good over a full season and he seems to be finally coming into his own. But would the Orioles really want to trade a soon to be 31 year old, who looks like he could hit 30-35 home runs a season, and is not a free agent until 2013?

Conclusion: The Orioles should be open to trading any veteran, who they deem expendable as long as the package they get in return, is substantial, fair, and exactly what they're looking for.

Your thoughts?

Morning Photo: A Better Look At Giambi's New Mustache

Nothing will ever top his 2008 stache, but this one is pretty damn good.

Mr. Perlut, your opinion is needed on Giambi's new stache!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fifteen Reasons Why Manny Acta Should Not Be Fired

1. The Nationals team ERA is 5.34

2. The bullpen has blown 14 saves this season

3. THIS IS YOUR BULLPEN: Steven Shell, Michael Hinkley, Kip Wells, Garrett Mock, Wil Ledezma, Jason Bergmann, Saul Rivera, Jesus Colome....TERRIBLE

4. Jesus Flores has missed a majority of the season

5. Lastings Milledge is in AAA and has a terrible attitude

6. Scott Olson has missed a majority of the season

7. Daniel Cabrera...35 to 16 BB/K ratio!

8. Austin Kearns...where did all the talent go?

9. Closer Joel Hanrahan has a 6.35 ERA

10. Ronnie Belliard is hitting .175

11. John Lannan is the only starting pitcher with an ERA under 5.

12. The starting rotation is one of, if not the, youngest rotations in baseball

13. The Nationals are last in fielding percentage

14. Adam Dunn, who is 6'6, 285 lbs, is stuck in left field. Hands down, one of the worst OFs in baseball.

15. Yes, Corey Patterson is on the roster right now.

Bottom Line: there is no way that Nationals management SHOULD blame Acta for the Nationals poor play. He has been given very little talent to work with. Could another manager do a better job with this group? Hell no. So then why fire Acta? I can't understand it.


And finally, ask yourself this: is there a better manager out there for the Nationals to turn to if they do decide to can Acta? I say no. Acta has been given virtually nothing to work with during his three years with the Nationals and their poor record is a reflection of former GM Jim Bowden, not Manny Acta.

Before the Nationals fire Manny Acta, they should give the man some talent to work with instead of running out a cast of retreads and has beens on the pitching side.

Should the Nationals Trade Adam Dunn?

When the Nationals signed Adam Dunn this offseason, I looked at the signing as a positive for the Nationals. Even though there was no chance that the Nats would compete in 2009, I concluded that Dunn would give Nationals fans a reason to care and provide a strong power bat that the Nationals always lacked.

And you know what, Dunn has been very good at the dish this season. He is hitting .258 with 17 HRs, 45 RBI, and an impressive .396 OBP. Dunn leads the Nationals in home runs, RBIs, slugging %, and walks this season as the Nationals offense has taken steps forward in 2009. Perhaps Dunn's most important contribution to the Nationals has been providing protection for Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals third baseman has thrived with Dunn hitting behind him and is currently putting up the best offensive numbers of his career.

But even with all the positives, this season cannot be considered a success for Dunn and the Nationals. The team has performed terribly so far this season and there is virtually no hope that the Nationals will even be remotely competitive this season. Considering that the Nationals committed $20 million to Dunn, there is no doubt that this season has been a colossal failure so far.

So as the Nationals look forward, there is no doubt that a major rebuilding effort needs to take place. There is a severe lack of talent within the Nationals organization right now that will make success difficult to obtain and sustain.

That brings us to the question at hand: should the Nationals trade Adam Dunn?

On one hand, the Nationals would be likely to bring back a nice package for Dunn considering his ability to get on base and power hitting ability. For all of Dunn's flaws (inability to hit in the clutch, terrible defense, lots of strikeouts), he can certainly help a team looking to make a push for the playoffs. Considering how few legitimate power hitters are usually available at the deadline, Dunn could be a major catch for the right team.

But on the other hand, Dunn is one of the few quality players, who the Nationals have signed through 2010. If they let him go now, the Nationals might not get another player of his caliber at the dish for years to come, which would leave Ryan Zimmerman unprotected and vulnerable in the lineup. The progress that Zimmerman has made this season must be taken into account when talking about Adam Dunn.

In the end, I'd argue that most of the Nationals roster can be had with the exception of Zimmerman, Zimmerman, Lannan, and Flores. The situation is that bad. So in regards to Dunn, there is no question that he can be had, but only at a high price that the Nationals feel comfortable with. GM Mike Rizzo certainly has his hands full with this team and if Dunn can bring back a quality package, then Rizzo will have no choice but to pull the trigger.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Washington Nationals: Outline Of A Firesale

The Nationals are still a disaster. They sit dead last in the NL East and have the worst record in baseball. There is talk that the Nationals will soon fire Manager Manny Acta as the front office continues to try and find ways to salvage the rest of the season. But make no mistake about it, 2009 has been a waste for the Nationals.

As the front office looks forward towards the trading deadline, their focus should be on the future. Trades need to be made that bring the Nationals as much young talent as possible.

So who should the Nationals look to move? Is there anyone worth holding onto? Let's take a look:

The Obvious

1. Try to trade Nick Johnson

-Johnson will be a free agent at the end of the season and probably will not return to the Nationals in 2010. Johnson is putting up solid numbers at .315, 5 HR, 30 RBI, and will certainly draw interest from several teams (METS!). The Nationals should be able to bring back a solid package for Johnson, as long as the injury prone first baseman stays healthy. Johnson is the best chip the Nationals have and trading him at the deadline could bring back a nice package of young players.

In addition, if Johnson is moved, Adam Dunn will finally be moved to first base where he rightfully belongs.

2. Trade Joe Beimel if his numbers improve

-As I wrote on Friday, Beimel could become an attractive trade chip for the Nationals. Beimel is a free agent at the end of the season and has historically been dominant against left handed hitters. Even though Beimel has struggled against lefties so far this season, if his numbers improve in the coming weeks, contenders could begin to take a long look at Joe Beimel for the stretch run. The Nationals must hope that Beimel pitches well enough to raise his value in the coming weeks so that hey receive a larger return.

3. Hold Josh Willingham

-It's been a rough season for Willingham, who was benched at the beginning of the season in favor of Austin Kearns and has struggled to gain consistent playing time. However, there is reason to believe that Willingham could be a future asset to the Nationals, despite the fact that he is arbitration eligible until 2011.

a. When Willingham plays consistently, he hits.
-When Willingham played consistently in May, he hit .303 with 8 home runs. This guy is a 20-25 home run talent when given the chance to play

b. His value is rock bottom
-Because Willingham has not played consistently this season, his numbers have suffered. Because Willingham is not a free agent until 2012, the Nationals have several more seasons to see if Willingham can produce over a full season or if Willingham can increase his value enough so that the Nationals can maximize return.


1. Trade Cristian Guzman?

-I wrote extensively about this two weeks back, and I am firmly in the camp that the Nationals should trade Guzman and get back as many quality prospects as they possibly can. But if the Nationals trade Guzman, who is one of their best players, will they lose even more goodwill from their fanbase (is that even possible)?

You be the judge. I say that sometimes, the best moves, are the hardest to make.

2. Trade Julian Tavarez and Ron Villone?

-These two veterans have basically been the only consistent forces out of the Nationals bullpen, which has been horrific this season. Tavarez has come on strong as of late, lowering his season ERA to 4.26, while Ron Villone has a 0.96 ERA in 22 games this season (WOW). Also, keep in mind that both guys are above 35 years old and are not long term building blocks for the Nationals. Plus, both guys could help contenders down the stretch, which would give the Nationals even more potential pieces to play with in the future. But can the Nationals really afford to get rid of the only two effective relief pitchers they have?

If they do, are the 1962 Mets in their sight?

The Nationals have LOTS of work to do before they can be thought of as contenders, let alone respectable. In my opinion, the Nationals should use their expendable pieces that have value to obtain as many pieces for the future as possible.


Morning Photo: Party Like It's 1909

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that players in 1909 did not celebrate a victory like this.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Bullpen Market

Well, after watching the Mets and Yankee's bullpens blow leads against their respective arch rivals, it became obvious to me that both teams (especially the Yankees) need upgrades in their bullpen if they are serious about competing in 2009.

The Mets and Yankees are not alone. Come July, there will be a number of teams clamoring to acquire the few quality relief pitchers that can be had on the open market.

So who could/should be available? Let's take a look at 5 guys, who could help out a number of contenders in the near future.

Joe Beimel, LHP, Nationals:
At this point in the season, Beimel must be shaking his head. He was hoping for a lucrative, long term contract on the open market last offseason, but instead, Beimel wound up in Washington. While I liked the signing at the time, the move clearly has not impacted the Nationals, who currently have the worst record in baseball. Because Beimel signed a one year contract with the Nats, he will be a free agent at the end of the season and could very well sign elsewhere.

So it's time for the Nationals to decide: should they trade Beimel now or just take the draft picks when he leaves?

If they do decide to trade Beimel, there will be interest around the league. Beimel has a history of getting left handed hitters out, but he has struggled with them this season (5.23 ERA). The Nationals should hold off on trading Beimel for now in the hopes that he raises his stock by improving his numbers in the next few weeks.

LaTroy Hawkins, RHP, Astros: Hawkins is one of the true power arms, who could be available in the coming weeks. Hawkins is a free agent at the end of the season and the Astros are struggling to remain relevant in the NL Central. It makes sense to think that the Astros might try to deal Hawkins away to the highest bidder.

And I never thought I'd say this, but the Astros could receive a nice haul for Hawkins. He has been a valuable set up man and more recently, the closer for the Astros. Hawkins has solid 9 to 24 BB/K ratio and has struck out 24 batters in 26 innings.

In the right situation (ANYWHERE BUT THE YANKEES OR CUBS!), Hawkins could be a difference maker down the stretch.

Scott Schoeneweis, LHP, Diamondbacks: It's hard to believe that the Diamondbacks are already 14.5 games out of first place. This season has been a disaster so far. Plain and simple.

But surprisingly, at least for me, Schoeneweis has been quite good. In limited time (sorta), Schoeneweis has held lefties to a .240 BAA and an impressive 1.42 ERA. If Schoeneweis can consistently get lefties out, then he could be a difference maker for a contender (NOT THE METS!)

But remember, it's been a rough year for Schoeneweis already. He lost his wife last month and who knows whether or not a trade is really in his best interests. I know Diamondbacks management is supposed to think only about the team's best interests, but this might be a special circumstance.

George Sherrill, LHP, Orioles: Andy McPhail is in a great spot here. There are contenders out there who might need a closer (Rangers, Phillies come to mind)-or at least guys who have closing experience. And luckily for the Orioles, Sherrill is one of the few closers, who might be available.

And make no mistake about it, Sherrill has been very good this season. Sherrill is 12 of 14 in save opportunities this season and has a solid 2.66 ERA. And how's this for impressive: Sherrill has held lefties to a .107 BAA this season. If Sherrill is not closing, then he could very well be an effective set up man, especially against lefties.

It's time to sell high, Andy McPhail.

John Grabow, LHP, Pirates: Like Joe Beimel, Grabow is a left handed relief pitcher, who is a free agent at the end of the season and has struggled (.313 BAA) in 2009 to get lefties out. Right now, one would have to figure that his value is not terribly high, despite his 3.67 ERA.

But when you factor in that the Pirates are still not close to competing, it would make sense for the Pirates to get what they can for Grabow. Hopefully, for the Pirates sake, Grabow is able to improve his stats against lefties so that the Pirates can maximize their return for Grabow.

Brian Daubach: The Interview

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Brian Daubach, Manager of the American Defenders of New Hampshire of the Can-Am League. Daubach was an integral member of the Boston Red Sox from 1999-2002 averaging 21 home runs and 75 RBIs during that stretch. The interview focused primarily on Daubach's experience in the Can Am League, his managing style, Dan Duquette, and his time as a player in the majors.

For more information about the American Defenders of New Hampshire and Brian Daubach, please check out http://www.americandefenders.us

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Jorge Says No! interview with Brian Daubach

1. Why did you decide to manage in the Can-Am League?

-I was comfortable with the people I was working with...obviously with Dan Duquette (Former Red Sox GM) being apart of it. Also, it's good to give something back to the New England area-where I played with on the Red Sox-so I was thinking about that too. And also, it was a good opportunity to do some other things like media work with the Red Sox, so it's been a good fit so far.

2. How do you feel about working with Dan Duquette?

-Dan was a big reason why I came. I had some other opportunities, but when you talk about Dan, he's been a big help so far. It's my first year managing and he believes in me and he's trying to help me do it. So what more could you ask for then a former big league GM helping you during your first year managing.

3. Is there any manager that you played for-at any level-that you try to base your managing style around?

-Well, I think I take a little bit from all my managers. Ron Washington, who I played for in the minor leagues and is now the Manager of the Texas Rangers, he was really the first guy who I played for that really believed in me. He was super positive and just tried to get the best out of every player. He was just super, super positive. And my first big league Manager was Jim Leyland, who was really a fiery guy and a in your face kinda guy. And obviously there's Tito Francona, who was such a good communicator and he's just such a great guy and he's great to play for.

4. So I guess you're not surprised that Ron Washington is having success right now managing the Texas Rangers?

-Well, I was on the first team he managed, kinda like what I'm doing this year, 15 years ago. It's a long haul to get to the major leagues as a manager.

5. Do you still aspire to coach or manage in the major leagues?

Well yeah, I think that's what all out guys want...players too. The goal should be at first to get back to affiliated baseball and then try to get to the big leagues.

6. Your roster is comprised of players, aside from Juan Padilla, who have no major league experience. Do you think these guys are playing to get back into the majors or are they simply playing for the love of the game?

-It's a mixed kind of group. You have guys, who have been released from other organizations and they're trying to get back. And you have other guys that are hungry just to get a taste of it. And that's the beauty of Independent baseball.

7. What level of play do you think the Can-Am League is right now?

-I'd say we're probably a high A level. It really depends on who is pitching that night. The level of pitching varies from night to night and that's probably the big difference. I'd say that the league is a little better offensively...the pitching is not as deep as some other leagues in affiliated ball.

8. And if any of your players do get signed to play affiliated ball, how would that affect your managing style?

-It'd be hard. Obviously if a guy leaves that means he's doing really well. It'd be hard for our team, but it'd be good for the kid to get to that league because that's what we're all about.

9. Have you seen any scouts at your game (majors or minors)?

-We've had some scouts here. We had 3 or 4 scouts already.

10. It took you eight years before you made your major league debut. Do you think that your experience in the minor leagues will help you manage the Defenders?

-Definitely. Especially since I played so recently, my last year was 2006, so it's still pretty fresh in my mind. I understand what these guys are going through, outside of playing in the Independent League. You know, whether it's missing the year because of injury or not being very good, I lit a fire under myself I wound up batting third for the Red Sox in the ALCS. I've experienced almost every aspect of the minor leagues.

11. I never understood why it took so long for you to reach the majors. You always put up solid numbers in the minors. Why do you think it took so long for you to make it to the show?

-I don't know either. Once you've been in the minor leagues for years, you get labeled. Whether it's fair or not, that's just the way it goes. Once you're a AAAA player, it's hard to break that mold. Fortunately, the Red Sox gave me a chance and the Marlins didn't and I took advantage of it.

12.What’s it like to play in

In my opinion growing up in St. Louis, it's a great baseball town. I always thought St. Louis was the best, but you know, the Boston fans are so passionate and every game is like a playoff game.

Even as good as the Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots are, the Red Sox are still the focus of the sports fan, number one in the town. It's everyday...it's at bat to at bat...
it's a crazy passion. The fans just love it so much and fortunately, I finally got a World Series.

13. From a player’s perspective, how would you describe Yankee-Red Sox rivalry?

-Very intense, especially now since they play so many games against each other. Best rivalry in baseball for sure. I've played in Mets-Yankees, Cubs-White Sox, but nothing compares to Yankees-Red Sox.

14. What was it like to play in the postseason?

-Yeah, it was very exciting. We were down 2-0 to Cleveland and we came back and won that series. And you know, we played the Yankees really good and that's the time when the Yankees had won 3 out of 4 World Series. We played them really good and we had a chance to win that (99 ALCS), but that entire season was just kinda like a blur. To be able to play in that my rookie year, that was pretty special.

15. You were a replacement player during the ’94 strike. Did you ever deal with any resentment from players?


16. How does it feel to hit a homerun?

-You achieved the maximum goal for an at bat, especially depending on the situation. There's nothing better. Everything comes to together. It's not an easy thing to do.

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A huge thanks goes out to Mr. Daubach for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me. Mr. Daubach could not have been nicer and I wish him lots of luck this season.

In addition, the front office of the American Defenders of New Hampshire, namely Jodi M. Callinan, was very kind and accommodating. If you haven't checked out the Defenders' website yet, head over there immediately (click here!).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Random Video of the Week: Even More on the Mustache

I know this video is retro by now, but this is too good not to post.

Aaron Perlut, you sir, are a legend.

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Well, that's probably all I'll be able to post today. This work business is quite time consuming.

Full slate of new content tomorrow though.

Thanks for understanding.

Random Video of the Week: More on the Mustache

Hands down, the most ridiculous interview of the year. Thanks again, ESPN.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jason Marquis: Time to Sell High?

When the Rockies acquired Jason Marquis from the Cubs last offseason, the team hoped Marquis could produce as a 4th or 5th starter and give the Rockies some quality innings. From 2006-2008, Marquis was a below average pitcher, who seemed to be serviceable at best.

But in 2009, Marquis has been a revelation for the Rockies. Marquis has a league leading 8 wins to go along with his respectable 3.93 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. While those numbers are far from dominant, they do reflect Marquis's dramatic improvement in 2009. And furthermore, Marquis has solidified himself as a steady middle of the rotation starting pitcher even with his noticeable limitations (poor K/BB ratio!).

And with the Rockies struggling badly in 2009 (aside from the past week), Marquis could become a hot commodity on the trade market. If the Rockies fall even further out of contention over the next few weeks, then odds are very high that the Rockies would try and move Marquis. The right hander is a free agent at the end of the season, which means there is no guarantee that Marquis would be around in the long haul even if the Rockies elected not to trade him.

What the Rockies need to consider is how much the market will be playing into their hands. At this point, there does not appear to be many quality starting pitchers, who will look to be moved. Even with all the rumors swirling around Erik Bedard and Jake Peavy, odds are high that those guys will stay put, which is good news for the Rockies. Because of the lack of quality starting pitchers on the market coupled with the high demand for starting pitchers amongst the contenders, Jason Marquis could become a hot commodity in a few weeks as long as he continues to perform.

Morning Photo: Stephen Strasburg

Must be a fun day to be Stephen Strasburg. The probable #1 overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft will begin the process of obliterating the largest contract given in draft history and potentially destroying the system as we know it. That's right, even though Strasburg is just an amateur, he will likely command at least $20 million to sign because he is allegedly that good.

And by the way, Stephen Strasburg is represented by Scott Boras.


What do you think of Strasburg? Will he get a huge contract? How interested are you in Strasburg?

Monday, June 8, 2009

2009 'Stache All Star: Kelly Shoppach

Is Kelly Shoppach becoming the new Sal Fasano?

(photo: AP)

Time to Rethink Long Term Deals for Young Players???

As baseball salaries have become larger and more grotesque, teams sought out ways to lock up young players for a reasonable rate during their prime. Too many times, teams were forced to trade away quality players far too early because they could not afford to pay them. While teams still struggle to pay the large salaries owed to players, the hope behind locking up young players was that teams would be able to keep their talent for a longer period of time. As a result, more and more teams began signing players with only 1-3 years of service time to long term contracts.

Obviously for the players, these contracts offered them both security and significant pay raise in a sport where nothing is guaranteed and injuries are right around the corner.

And for the teams, these contracts allowed them to sign rising stars to affordable, long term contracts that bought out arbitration years and hopefully, a year or two of free agency.

It's very difficult not to like these kinds of contracts because players, teams, and fans all seem to benefit.

However, a number of these contracts have not worked out for various reasons. Here are some examples:

Chris Young, Diamondbacks, 5 years/$28 million
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, 6 years/$38 million
Manny Corpas, Rockies, 4 years/$8 million
Fausto Carmona, Indians, 4 years/$15 million
Bobby Crosby, Athletics, 5 years/$12.5 million

With teams rushing to lock up young players, could it be possible that teams failed to identify who was really worth the long term contract.

Remember two things:
1. fluke seasons happen
2. players don't always reach their potential

So even though many teams are/and will be reaping major dividends from locking up their young stars, they must be alerted to proceed with caution. Because the reality is that things might look nice and rosy after a good season, but that's not always the case. The rush to lock up young players before they eventually bolt must be met with tempered expectations and a large dose of questioning.

Ultimately, contracts are a complete crap shoot. After 2007, the Rockies believed that Corpas and Tulowitzki were vital pieces to the future of their franchise, but just two years later, no one knows what to expect now from the Rockies $39 million dollar investments.

So in the end, I'm not questioning the idea of signing young players to long term contracts...these contracts are great for both sides. But rather, I wonder if teams will look at the list of bad contracts and begin to wonder whether player X is really worth the investment....at least not yet (patience!).

Wally Backman: The Interview

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Wally Backman, Manager of the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League. Most of you will remember Backman as the scrappy second baseman on the World Champion 1986 New York Mets. The interview focused primarily on Backman's experience in the Northern League, his passion for managing, and his time as a player in the majors.

For more information about the Joliet Jackhammers and Wally Backman, please visit:

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Jorge Says No! Interview With Wally Backman
(as told on 6/4/2009)

Jorge Says No!: How is the season going so far?

Wally Backman: Well, we're struggling a bit right now, we're not scoring any runs.

We'll be okay. I'm trying to get a couple more players in here...a couple more bats.

Jorge Says No!: What appealed to you about managing in the Northern League?

Wally Backman: It's a good league. It's a developmental league. They take good care of you in this league and ownership is good and all of the stadiums are real nice. It's a well run league and it's done professionally.

Jorge Says No!: What level of play would you consider the Northern League to be?

Wally Backman: It's kinda hard to figure because you got some big league guys in here and then you got guys outta A ball, AA, AAA. One of the real good teams here would probably hit pretty well in AA.

Jorge Says No!: The Northern League has rules in place specifically outlining how many veterans and rookies can play on each team based on service time. How do you feel about this? And do you enjoy managing young players?

Wally Backman: In a perfect world, there wouldn't be any status for the players so you could have whoever want in here, but that's not the way the league does it. In one way it's nice because I have a pretty young team here so I've got an opportunity to still try and develop players and try to win in the process and try to get them back into affiliated baseball.

Jorge Says No!: Does your managing style differ from your playing style?

Wally Backman: No. Not at all.

Jorge Says No!: Do you still hope to one day have the opportunity to manage in the major leagues?

Wally Backman: Absolutely.

Jorge Says No!: Or how about coach in the majors?

Wally Backman: Nah, I wanna manage.

Jorge Says No!: Do you think your players have come to the Northern League with the sole purpose of getting to the major leagues?

Wally Backman: I think so. I got a lot of guys that have played in affiliated ball before. I don't want guys that think they're going to be lifers in the Northern League. I want guys to feel like they have an opportunity to get back to affiliated ball.

Jorge Says No!: I know he's currently on the disabled list right now, but how do you like managing your son (Wally Backman Jr)?

Wally Backman: It's okay. It's different...I treat him just like anyone else.

Jorge Says No!: Some of the players you managed in the minor leagues have made it to the major leagues (Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson, Dan Uggla, Jeremy Reed, Aaron Miles, Miguel Olivo, etc.). How gratifying is it for you to see these guys in the majors?

Wally Backman: It's great to know that you helped develop them to get to the major leagues. I wouldn't say that it was just me who got them to the major leagues because it's all about development. I was a piece of the puzzle to help them get on the right track.

Jorge Says No!:
And in your opinion, what is the key to player development and developing a successful major league player?

Wally Backman: It's all based on hard work and dedication. The player happens to be dedicated to his work and if they're dedicated to doing the work, the results will bring it out in them if they develop the skills.

Jorge Says No!: And if you could describe yourself as a player, what word would you use? And why?

Wally Backman: I would say scrappy and hard nosed. That was my game. I played the game hard.

Jorge Says No!: It seems as though baseball has shifted away from the hard nosed style towards a power game.

Wally Backman: I think parks are smaller and players are bigger and stronger now. Players today are more involved than when I played. Workouts back then were just practice and now you've got guys lifting and working out all the time.

Jorge Says No!: It took the Mets a long time to finally give you the starting job at 2b. How much credit do you owe Davey Johnson for showing faith in you?

Wally Backman: A lot. He told me that if he got the job, that I would be the second baseman. He deserves a lot of the credit. I worked my butt off for him.

Jorge Says No!: How much of a thrill was it to play on a World Series winning team (1986 Mets)?

Wally Backman: It was great. The best team I ever played on.

Jorge Says No!: And finally, in 1986, you and Lenny Dykstra were called "Partners in Grime". Where did this nickname originate?

Wally Backman: Well, our uniforms were always dirty. We did whatever we could to get on base and set the table for the big guys. I think the nickname sorta evolved from that.

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I'd like to conclude by saying how much of a thrill it was for me to speak with Mr. Backman. As a Met fan myself, it was incredible to have the opportunity to speak with an integral member of the 1986 Mets. I would like to thank Mr. Backman for being so generous with his time and for his candid responses. I'm rooting for Wally to another shot at managing at the major league level...he deserves it.

This interview would not have been possible if not for the generosity of Jon Versteeg and the Joliet Jackhammers. A special thank you goes out to them. Best of luck the rest of the way!