Open Thread: Making A Splash

So how about that crazy first week of free agency, huh? Blockbuster trade after blockbuster trade and megahuge free agent deals were handed out like free samples of The Jacoby Ellsbury Eyebrow Wax Kit at Penney’s.

Okay, that was lame.

The hot stove is chock full o’ rumors but a little light on the action right now. Hell, the biggest trade action of the week came from the Knickerbockers, who completed Phase I of Operation Get LeBron by chopping like, $30M bucks off their future payroll. Not exactly what we all had in mind, but that’s just the way it goes.

Just to wrap up the action in Yankeeland, here’s a review of the week that was…n’t:

That about sums up everything you need to know. It’s Friday, go do something fun. If you must be here, use this as your open thread.

Open Thread: The ethics of recruiting Japanese players

Junichi Tazawa, the 22-year-old amateur free agent, is creating something of an international incident between the Japanese and American baseball leagues. Some teams from Japan are irked that Major League teams seem to be so heavily invested in landing the highly-touted right-hander.

In The Times today, Alan Schwarz and Brad Lefton covered the issue:

Many Japanese baseball officials are outraged that United States teams are courting Tazawa, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, because they insist it is long-established practice for amateurs like him to be strictly off limits to major league clubs. Even some American general managers, including the Yankees’ Brian Cashman, agree.

Major League Baseball officials maintain that the letter of their protocol agreement with their Japanese counterparts, Nippon Professional Baseball, does not forbid either league from courting amateur talent from the other’s nation. When one Japanese representative characterized the rule as a gentlemen’s agreement during a meeting in New York, he was angrily rebutted by a Major League Baseball official, according to two attendees.

The Tazawa dispute extends beyond one pitching phenom and an interpretation of honor. The Japanese major leagues have already seen established stars leave for American clubs, and amateurs following Tazawa’s path away from those leagues could further hurt the leagues’ long-term viability.

As the Tazawa dispute has brewed this offseason, NPB officials released a statement on it: “This was more than just a gentlemen’s agreement, but rather an implicit understanding that the major leagues would do no such thing. That a handful of clubs from the majors is trying to break this gentlemen’s agreement is truly regrettable.”

As Schwarz and Lefton offer up an overview of the situation — including the typical glowing scouting reports on Tazawa — they bring the issue back home to New York:

Officials of major league teams have a wide spectrum of views as to whether Tazawa should be signed…The Yankees’ Cashman was unequivocal.

“I’m old school — there has been an understanding,” said Cashman, whose team has a formal cooperative relationship with the Yomiuri Giants, a team particularly upset with the Tazawa affair. “There’s been a reason that Japanese amateurs haven’t been signed in the past, so we consider him hands off.”

So my question is this: What do you think of Cashman’s stance? The Yankees have some deep-rooted economic and baseball interests in Japan. It behooves the team’s bottom line to keep the NPB officials happy. In all likelihood, the Yanks will benefit in the long-term by respecting this gentleman’s agreement.

But what about Tazawa? Should the Yanks forego this stance to pursue young, amateur free agents who aren’t explicitly breaking a rule but are simply exploiting a free market? I’d probably say no. It’s far better to keep things amicable between the Yanks and Japan, but maybe others see things differently.

So feel free to discuss this issue. I find it a fascinating one as baseball explores an international expansion of the game.

If you don’t feel like talking about this topic, use this thread as the evening’s Open Thread. Anything goes. Just keep it civil.

Open Thread: In Salute of Moose

He’s been in the game since 1991. He’s pitched to Bo Jackson and Dave Winfield, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, and everyone in between. His first start came on Game 1,674 of Cal Ripken’s streak, less than two-thirds of the way through the Iron Man’s record.

And now, 3,562.2 innings and 270 wins later, he’s calling it a career. He spent his entire baseball lifetime pitching in the hell of the American League East, and at one point threw at least 200 innings in nine straight seasons. His streak of 10 or more wins in 17 straight seasons is an American League record.

He never won a Cy Young Award, never won a World Series, never led the league in ERA, and never led the league in strikeouts. The closest he’s been is second in each instance, seemingly defining Moose’s career as “almost.”

Mussina finishes his career with a record 100 games over .500 (117 games to be exact), something only 20 other men have accomplished. Of those twenty, 16 are in the Hall of Fame. The other four (Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Pedro) will be some day. Moose should one day make it 21 for 21.

We’ve watched him thrive and we’ve watched him struggle, but most of all we’ve watched him be nothing but a class act. Talk about the Mooseman here, or whatever else is on your mind. Keep it classy, like Mike.

Open Threat Thread: Can a blogger get some hot stove action?

I mean, seriously. These open threads are tough to write when the hot stove is running ice cold. Four years and $52M for Ryan Dempster? The D-Bags are interested in Ramon Vazquez? Yawn me. We had our fun with the “perhaps” 5/80 offer to AJ Burnett this morning, and there’s really nothing kooky about the AL MVP voting, except for an extraneous 5th place vote for Jason Bartlett. We need some hardcore hot stove talk, either that or AzFL games on TV.

Here’s your open thread for the evening, talk whatever you like. Hopefully something exciting will go down tomorrow, and until then listen to sound the ball makes off the bat of Bryce Harper. Only three years until he graduates high school.

Open Thread: I should have an MVP vote

Justice was served in baseball land today, as the mythical beast known as Albert Pujols won his second NL MVP award. While the BBWAA should be commended for giving the award to the right guy, I still have a beef with the voters, specifically Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Not only did Mr. Haudricourt have Pujols at #7 on his ballot (somehow behind THREE other first basemen), he managed to have three Brewers on his ballot. (h/t KLaw)

Three Brewers on his ballot. Three Brewers.

So, let’s get this straight. A writer who covers the Milwaukee Brewers for a living used three of the ten votes on his MVP ballot to vote for players who play for the local team he covers. If that’s not fishy enough, Haudricourt also claims that he likes “to weight (sic) my voting to teams in the playoff hunt because I think that puts more pressure on players and separates the men from the boys,” which would be perfectly reasonable if he didn’t have Carlos Delgado three spots ahead of Pujols on his ballot. Let’s review.

Carlos Delgado: .271-.353-.518, 71 XBH, 124-72 K/BB ratio, 38.2 VORP for a team that finished 1 GB of the Wildcard
Albert Pujols: .357-.462-.653, 81 XBH, 54/104 K-BB ratio, 98.7 VORP for a team that finished 4 GB of the Wildcard

But Mike, Carlos Delgado didn’t start hitting until midseason, you say. Well, let’s look at their stats after Delgado finally started hitting at the end of June:

Delgado: .308-.392-.626, 47 XBH, 80 RBI
Pujols: .356-.444-.664, 50 XBH, 73 RBI

LOGIC FAIL. Pujols still has him beat, and this doesn’t even consider his Gold Glove caliber defense. I wonder if Pujols’ 7th place vote has anything to do with him residing in the same division as Haudricourt’s beloved Brew Crew? If writers can not put their personal biases aside, they should not be voting for baseball’s major awards, period. Pujols was far and away the best player in the game this year (Hanley Ramirez finished second in VORP at 79.4), and to have him seventh on a MVP ballot is just ignorant.

/rant

Meanwhile, back in the Bronx, the Yanks managed to pull off some under-the-radar roster moves over the weekend. Are you ready? Here it goes: Jon Albaladejo, Andrew Brackman, Chien-Ming Wang, and Jorge Posada were activated from the 60 day DL. That’s it. Groundbreaking stuff, I know. The Depth Chart is up to date; they need some starting pitching. Like, bad.

Elsewhere, the first free agent came off the board as LHP Jeremy Affeldt inked a 2 yr, $8M deal with the Giants. Great signing by Brian Sabean, locking up an effective and underrated bullpen arm before the reliever market exploded. And because Affeldt was a Type-B free agent, we now officially have a Sandwich Round in next year’s draft. Make sure you check out our 2009 Draft Order Tracker as free agents sign throughout the winter.

So here’s your open thread for the night. Talk baseball, Browns-Bills, Rangers-Senators, whatever you like. Just don’t be a dick.

Open Thread: Hot Stove news of the day

While it’s been a slow day in Yankeeland with only a scant rumor about CC Sabathia to whet our collective appetites, some interesting news around baseball has surfaced.

As Scott Boras and Manny Ramirez attempt to convince potential suitors that Manny can be a serious baseball player, someone — probably from the Red Sox — leaked a sordid tale of suspension to ESPN’s Pedro Gomez. Apparently, the Sox came very close to suspending Manny without pay over his decisions to opt against playing in the July contests against the Yankees. Instead, they traded him to the Dodgers, and it’s clear that this story is supposed to serve as a caveat emptor to any team looking at Manny.

In other Red Sox news, Nick Carfado reports on a potential trade between the Red Sox and Tigers. The Red Sox would ship the useless Julio Lugo to Detroit while the Tigers would send either the useless Dontrelle Willis to Boston or the also-fairly-useless Nate Robertson to the Red Sox. That trade would simply swap one reclamation project for another.

Finally, in some CC Sabathia-related news, Jayson Stark feels that the Yanks are the most likely destination for the lefty. I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch though.

So enjoy this thread. Discuss whatever you like: baseball, Skins-Cowboys. Just play nice.

Friday Hot Stove Open Thread

Free agency official started today, but unsurprisingly no big names came off the board. The Yanks did make their presence known however, dropping a 6 year, $140M offer in the lap of CC Sabathia. Right in line with the megadeal the Mets gave Johan Santana despite bidding against no one, this is just the start of what figures to be a rather intense negotiation.The Yanks are expected to tender offers to AJ Burnett & Derek Lowe in the coming days, which is more due diligence than anything.

No free agents signed today, and none are expected too anytime soon. The first major free agent to sign last year was Torii Hunter, who didn’t give it to the Angels until late November. It’s a marathon, not a race sprint; there’s still more than three months until pitchers & catchers have to show up in Tampa.

Your New York sports docket is empty tonight, unless you count the Knicks taking on Seattle Oklahoma City at the Gardner. Here’s your open thread for the night. Talk whatever’s on your mind, but keep it civilized.