The work week is almost done, but as you truck to the finish line, moving forward only on the fumes of an afternoon energy drink and the prospect of a fun weekend to come, waste some more precious moments with this week’s installment of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday.
1. The Yankees gave up the thirty-first pick in the draft to the Tampa Bay Rays to sign Rafael Soriano, and Yankees apologists, led by Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, keep suggesting it’s not that big of a deal because in the history of the number thirty-one pick, the only good player to be selected was Greg Maddux. If you’re going to use that type of justification, don’t you realistically have to consider every single pick that not only was taken with the thirty first pick, but that could’ve been taken with the thirty-first pick? Seriously, that’s a ridiculous justification.
2. Speaking of the Soriano contract, Buster Olney was really adamant that Brian Cashman did not want to give up that draft pick. After the signing was complete, Olney said outright that “there was a split of opinion in NYY front office on signing of Soriano. More ownership-driven deal than from baseball operations.” Hmm. The apples indeed don’t fall very far from the tree, do they? I wonder how long Brian Cashman will call New York home. I also wonder what the general thinking would be about the GM’s job in New York. There’s an obviously lower level of autonomy there compared to anywhere else in baseball, but at the same time an element of prestige for presiding over the Yankees that also probably doesn’t exist anywhere else in baseball.
3. Still on the Soriano contract. Well, sort of. So, by now we’ve figured out that the Tampa Bay Rays are exploiting the comparative low cost of young players who start their careers under team control for six years. That’s why they’ll have gathered 12 of the first 93 picks in the 2011 draft. While it’s great to see a team work around the system to compete with the hand they’ve been dealt in a small market, you can guaran-damn-tee that the MLBPA will have something to say about this when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated. Of course, it should be noted that what the Rays are avoiding paying in free agent, and in some cases arbitration, dollars, they’re still going to have to come up with in signing bonuses. The difference is instead of risking a free agent contract on one player performing the way you anticipate, your bet is hedged when you use the same amount of money to cover several players.
4. Has a baseball player ever been more locally loved after such a short time in a city as Jim Thome in Minnesota? I remember when Frank Thomas hit his 500th home run (coincidentally enough, against the Twins), he was in a Blue Jays uniform. As a fan of the team, it was exciting to see a player do that as a Blue Jay, but it was probably nothing compared to how it would’ve felt if he had done it in a White Sox uniform. I get a different sort of feeling from fans in Minnesota when it comes to Thome. Despite spending his most memorable seasons with a division rival, the veteran slugger is absolutely adored by Twins fans, and I wonder what the vibe will be like when he hits his 600th career home run this season. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was treated by fans as though he’d spent his entire career in Minnesota.
5. Given the Thome contract and the way in which their roster has taken shape this offseason, the only excuses the Jays have for not signing Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero or Manny Ramirez are that they want a delusional amount of money or they’re not interested in playing in Toronto at all. The roster is currently fashioned in a way that makes room for basically any type of player at any position. It’s a clear buyer’s market for aging DH types and if the Jays are committed to using Adam Lind at first base, one of those three additions is the most reasonable way to add two or three wins to the team’s total.
6. The Kevin Gregg signing became official the other day, and I still can’t get over the stupidity of committing any money at all to a right handed relief pitcher that doesn’t have an incredible fastball and amazing control. Unless, you’ve got typical closer stuff, is there a more overvalued asset in baseball than a right handed reliever? And I’m not just picking on the Orioles with this. I think the Jays signing of Octavio Dotel is ridiculous, as is their supposed interest in Jon Rauch, no matter how bad ass his entrance is.
7. This is a bit of a corollary to the previous point, because I know the excuse is that Dotel will likely give the Blue Jays a draft pick in return, when Toronto doesn’t pick up his option for next year. That may be true, but spending $3.5 million on a late sandwich pick isn’t worth the money. Buying out Miguel Olivo or picking up Felipe Lopez at the end of the year are the types of transaction the team should be focusing on, or else picking up a stop gap that will deliver a pick when there’s an actual gap to stop. Dotel, with his success against right handed batters only, is redundant on Toronto’s roster.
8. I really used to like Ryne Sandberg, but the only thing more confusing than the strange entitlement that baseball writers feel he has to be managing in the Major Leagues after only four years as a Minor League manager is the strange entitlement that he feels himself. I get that Sandberg has been around the game a long time, but there are absolutely no such things as predictors for managerial success. I don’t even know if there’s such a thing as measuring managerial success. Could we please lay off the assumptions that just because Sandberg is a good guy and a great second baseman, he’s going to be the second coming of -insert whatever manager’s name you think is a good one-?
9. I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from people who’ve picked up a copy of Moneyball and have started reading it for Getting Booked on January 31st. Keep it up, guys. You’ve got just over two weeks to finish the book. I’m going to post something next week as a reminder and maybe list some questions from the first part of the book that we might want to discuss. This is going to be a really fun night. It’s a good thing I usually don’t slur my words until after the fourteenth beer.
10. Housekeeping: If you’re on Facebook and you want even more clutter in your News Feed, stop by the Getting Blanked Facebook page and “like” it. I try to link to the best two or three posts from the day on the page to keep you guys up to date. Also, starting next week, I’d like to encourage you guys to include your own stray thought on the message board. I’ll pick my favourite one and include it in next week’s TSTOAF – the greatest acronym in baseball.
Thanks a lot for another great week of baseball talk in the comments and on Twitter.