The Common Man

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First Brandon Morrow strained his oblique.  Then Kyle Drabek felt an ominous pop that’s being called a sprained UCL.  Finally, Drew Hutchinson heard a pop of his own and developed elbow soreness.  You know, at the rate you guys are losing starting pitchers, you’re going to have to resort to sticking Brett Cecil back in the rotation one of these…oh, wait.  And I don’t know anything about this TBD guy you have starting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It’s clear that, if they’re going to stay competitive in the AL Wild Card hunt (they’re currently three games back of the second wildcard), the Jays are going to have to find some help over the next couple weeks.  Things are so desperate that the Jays have already been linked to Jeremy Guthrie, who the Rockies just put on the market yesterday.  That’s the same Jeremy Guthrie who has a 7.02 ERA this year, with 30 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched.   Any port in a storm, I guess.

But here’s the problem for the Blue Jays:  Everybody else in contention seems to need arms this year, and the Jays will seemingly have to outbid every one of them. Read the rest of this entry »

Despite writing here for just over a full year now, there are a lot of things, as a U.S. American, I still don’t understand about you people.  I don’t understand what made you think putting gravy on french fries was a good idea (which, for the record, it totally was).  I don’t know why you don’t throw off the oppressive queen that reigns over you.  And I don’t know why you continue to send us your pop stars, as if we don’t have enough mildly talented young white kids to fawn over down here.

My confusion extends to your baseball team, which I think I have more trouble figuring out than any other team in baseball.  Maybe you can help me.  Here’s a list of stuff that I don’t really understand about Blue Jays baseball:

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I heard some grumbling last night about the Pirates being screwed by baseball’s new system for taking Mark Appel. Under the new CBA, each team is allotted a pool of money based on where they draft, and how many choices they have, that they can split between their picks in any way they choose.*

So by taking what could be the best starting pitching prospect in the draft (a pitcher a lot of teams suspected would go #1 overall), folks were concerned that the Pirates were shooting themselves in the foot later in the draft. If Appel demanded a high bonus, lest he return to school, the Pirates would be forced to allocate less to other picks, and would therefore have to pick worse players in rounds 2-10. It’s not really an unreasonable fear, I guess.  But it’s not really something people should be concerned about.

*This is an oversimplification. There are also rules governing picks past the 10th round.

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I know this will be hard for some of you to believe, but sometimes we saberdouches miss on a player.  Whether that’s Bobby Kielty, or Billy McMillon, or Daric Barton, some guys just don’t develop the way we hope they will.  AAAA players, guys who simply can’t make the jump from AAA to the Majors, do exist.  Meanwhile, sometimes guys like Denard Span or Melky Cabrera defy expectations and establish themselves as good or even great Major Leaguers, when there’s very little eveidence they will.  We’re wrong sometimes.

But sometimes we’re really not.  And so I’m incredibly excited to see what AJ Ellis has been doing this season with regular playing time.  Coming into 2012, Ellis had managed a .406 OBP in the minors over nine seasons, but with just a .380 slugging percentage, despite spending the last four seasons at Las Vegas and Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League.  In the Majors, he had totaled 244 plate appearances, and had hit .262/.360/.330.  He was also going to be 31 years old and had never had more than 128 plate appearances in any previous season.
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It’s not that The Rolling Stones were wrong, per se.  I mean, you can’t always get what you want.  But sometimes you do get exactly what you’ve been hoping for.  And sometimes, when you get what your heart wants, you come to regret ever wanting it in the first place.

Nerds like me, who have been praying for NBC to renew Community, are going through this right now.  We got the groundbreaking spiritual successor to the golden age Simpsons back for a fifth fourth season, but without the creative team responsible for making the show what it had been.  The writing staff has completely turned over from the show’s first season, and showrunner and creator Dan Harmon has essentially been fired.  So Community is coming back, but what form it takes and how it measures up to its past, when it was the most innovative and consistently hilarious show on television, is still up in the air.  We could really end up regretting that the show didn’t wrap up with what seemed like a perfect series finale last week.

Chuck Knoblauch once wanted things too. Knobby was perhaps the fiercest competitor on the 1991 Twins as a baby-faced rookie, who developed into the best second baseman in the game from 1992-1997 (according to rWAR, Knoblauch was ever so slightly better on balance than Craig Biggio and far, far, far better than Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar).  And he wanted to be paid like it.  So, still reeling from the sudden and horrific retirement of Kirby Puckett, the then small-market, penny-pinching Twins actually bit the bullet and paid Knoblauch what he was worth, signing him to a five year deal for $30 million.

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The question in the headline above isn’t meant to spark a philosophical debate, wherein we consider the inherent worth of any human being compared to any other.  In that sense, it’s not likely that Josh Hamilton is worth more than you or me (well, maybe you).  But rather, it’s a startling acknowledgement that the hottest baseball player on the planet is set to become a free agent after the World Series in an otherwise very barren market.

In the last week, Josh Hamilton has hit 9 homers in 34 plate appearances, and has driven in 18 runs.  He has scored 10.  And despite striking out in almost a third of his plate appearances, he’s managed to hit .467/.529/1.433.  Also, it’s not like his season was sucking before that either, given that he was rocking a 1.182 OPS at the end of April.

For now, Hamilton stands head and shoulders above the rest of baseball, up by a lap in the AL MVP race, causing Brandon McCarthy to seek advice from the highest authorities as to how deal with him:

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Everybody knows about Ray Chapman, the shortstop for the 1920 Indians who was killed by an errant (or intentional, depending on who you believe) Carl Mays fastball that hit him in the temple.  Chapman remains the only Major League player killed on the ballfield, and his name gets trotted out every time some idiot pitcher decides he needs to “send a message” to the opposing team.

But that was more than 90 years ago now.  That was before batting helmets, before lights, and before baseballs were regularly swapped out by the umpires though.  So it’s entirely possible that the cautionary tale of Ray Chapman isn’t relevant today.

But do you know who is still relevant today?  Dickie Thon.

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