Some time tomorrow, Rickey Henderson’s phone will ring, and he will be welcomed into the Hall of Fame. In the meantime, Jack Curry takes a few minutes to honor the personality behind the man. Rickey may have been the most prolific run-scorer and base-stealer in Major League history, but he’s also one of the game’s most entertaining characters.
A quote by Don Mattingly just about sums up Rickey’s love of the game as well. Henderson, out of the Majors since 2003, played in the independent leagues for a few years, waiting for a team to call. “As great as this guy was, he’s playing independent ball?” Mattingly said to Curry. “But then it told me how much he loved to play the game. He was going to play until they tore the uniform off. You know what I say to that? Go for it.” Indeed. · (4) ·
Donovan McNabb, Jake Brian Westbrook and the rest of the Iggles storm into the frigid Meadowlands today, looking to get back to the NFC Title Game for the first time in five years. The G-Men were there just last year obviously, but they’ve lost three of their last four games. The bye week should have helped, as it gave Brandon Jacobs’ knee and Justin Tuck’s leg (amongst other walking wounded) a chance to rest up and get healthy. The two teams split their regular season matchup. This should be a good one.
In other local football news, the Jets will interview Ravens’ defensive coordinator Rex Ryan for their head coaching position today. I approve.
Chat away about the game here. Enjoy.
This one comes from old friend Tom Haudricourt, who’s still trying to find a way to squeeze another Brewer on his MVP ballot. Apparently the Yanks have “floated the idea” of making another run at centerfielder Mike Cameron after signing Mark Teixeira, this time using Nick Swisher as bait. I don’t know if this means they floated the idea internally or to the Brewers. I’d be all about the reported Melky + Igawa for Cameron deal, but not a straight up Swish for Cam deal. (h/t MLBTR) · (36) ·
While Bobby Abreu may have to drop his asking price for his Manhattan apartment, A-Rod is facing the same problem in Miami. According to the Wall Street Journal, A-Rod is looking to sell the 8,300-square-foot house on Biscayne Bay in Miami in which he and his ex-wife used to live. The house — which you can view here — was first listed at $14.8 million, but A-Rod has lowered his asking price to $12.3 million. RAB fundraiser, anyone? · (8) ·
As the Yankees have gone on something of a spending spree this winter, netting the team three of the top free agents around, small-market clubs bemoan the spending. The Brewers were unamused with the Yankees. The Marlins’ David Samson voiced his concerns, and the Astros have grumbled about the spending as well.
So with all of these complaints come the inevitable discussion about a salary cap. If the luxury tax, designed to penalize the Yankees, isn’t reining in the spending, should baseball adopt a spending cap? While the Players Union would never agree to a cap, a few good baseball minds feel that the smaller market teams wouldn’t be so keen to take on a cap either. The problem arises not on the upper bounds of the cap but on the lower.
Shawn Hoffman, writing at Baseball Prospectus, elaborates on this argument:
Using 2008 as an example, the thirty teams took in about $6 billion (not including MLB Advanced Media revenue), for an average of $200 million per team. Forty-five percent of that (the players’ share) is $90 million, which we’ll use as the midpoint between our floor and cap. If we want to make the floor 75 percent of the cap (a low-end figure, relative to the other leagues), we can use $77 million and $103 million, respectively.
With a $103 million cap, nine teams would have been affected last year, and a total of about $286 million would have had to be skimmed off the top. Since total salaries have to remain at existing levels, the bottom twenty-one teams would have had to take on this burden, which had previously been placed on the Yankees, Red Sox, et al. On the other end, fourteen teams would have been under the payroll floor, by a total of $251 million. Even discounting the Marlins’ $22 million payroll, the other thirteen teams would have had to spend an average of $15 million more just to meet the minimum. Some of those teams might be able to afford it; most wouldn’t.
Imagine being Frank Coonelly in this situation. Coonelly, the Pirates’ team president, has publicly supported a cap. Had our fictional cap/floor arrangement been instituted last year, the Pirates would have needed to increase their Opening Day payroll by $28 million. Not only would the team have taken a big loss, but Neal Huntington’s long-term strategy would have been sabotaged, since the team would have had to sign a number of veterans just to meet the minimum payroll.
It’s clear to imagine a situation in which teams would not be able to support a minimum payroll. Just look at the economic turmoil that has descended upon our nation and its impact on the sport.
Hoffman notes that the best system is one that redistributes revenue and creates opportunities for more teams to make the playoffs. In fact, his proposed best system is the one baseball currently employs, and he’s right. The current playoff system works.
In any situation, some teams will always emerge at the top of the spending pile. New York City is bigger and wealthier than any other city in the country, and the Mets and Yanks will have a natural advantage that they should embrace. But baseball has developed ways to spread the money around, and smart GMs can put together very competitive teams with limited resources.
In the end, a cap discussion is mostly just sour beans. Other teams are envious, and they’re not as good at putting a roster together under the Moneyball approach. Meanwhile, a salary cap makes for some nice January discussion, but it will never happen.
Add the Jim Bowden to the list of GMs calling Brian Cashman. According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the Yankees and Nationals are “currently in trade discussions” involving Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher. It’s unclear what the Nationals would offer the Yankees, and I still don’t think the Yanks should be in such a hurry to trade either of these two players. However, this is one rumor that might carry some weight. The Nationals need some pop, and the Yanks could be trying to clear payroll for one final pitching signing of the Hot Stove League. (Hat tip to MLBTR.) · (139) ·
I’m going to be on longtime RAB reader Joey H.’s radio show tonight, and if you want to listen in you can do so here. So head on over to check it out, send in a question, call in, or just listen.
Update (8:50pm): You can go here to listen to the replay the broadcast if you missed it. · (3) ·
This morning Buster Olney posted “baseball’s 31st team,” a 24-man (?) squad containing nothing but players still available on the free agent market. Pete Abraham followed his lead with his own need-a-job All-Star team, and now I figured I’d throw my two cents in as well. Here she goes:
C: Gregg Zaun – the best of a bad lot, Zaun’s the only legit starting catcher option that posted an OBP north of .321 last year (he was at .340)
1B: Doug Mientkiewicz – I’ll take Minky’s avg offense and Gold Glove defense over Kevin Millar’s & Sean Casey’s mediocre bat/no glove offerings
2B: Orlando Hudson – no brainer, my specialty
SS: Orlando Cabrera – another avg bat/GG defense guy, he’s easily the best of a terrifying SS crop
3B: Joe Crede – not going to offer much OBP, but he might run into 25 homers … another stud glove guy
LF: Adam Dunn – it’s okay Adam, I love your perennial .900+ OPS
CF: Jacque Jones – might have a little offensive rebound in him, but more importantly I need a guy with a ton of range between these two corner OFers
RF: Bobby Abreu – what, were you expecting Brad Wilkerson?
DH: Manny Ramirez – no explanation needed
Bullpen: Juan Cruz, Aquilino Lopez, Brandon Lyon, Will Ohman, Brian Shouse, Russ Springer, Matt Wise – it’s a collection of above avg K guys who throw strikes for the most part
Bench: Pudge Rodriguez (C), Gape Kapler (OF), Damien Easley (IF/OF), Ty Wigginton (IF) – outside of Pudge, everyone on the bench can play multiple positions adequately and hit the ball out of the park … only problem is no lefty hitter
So what do you think? The lineup has a couple big boppers and for the most part they catch the ball, and the starting rotation will give me a ton of innings, enough that Sheets can be handled with care. The bullpen’s a crapshoot like always, and some guys on the bench could start for some teams. It’s weird, you can see that team winning anywhere from like, 70 games to 90 games.
Here’s your open thread for the evening. The Titans are deadlocked at seven with the Ravens at home right now, and the Panthers kick off against the Cards at home at 8:15. The Rangers and Devils are in action (Devs are out on the west coast, so late start), as are the Knicks. Talk abotu whatever, just be nice.
When last we visited with Corky Simpson, the septuagenarian was taking a beating for inexplicably leaving Rickey Henderson off of his Hall of Fame ballot. After facing mountains of Internet abuse, Simpson recanted yesterday. His apology, however, reeks to me of a half-hearted and back-stabbing attempt to make online ends meet.
Simpson’s mea culpa arose from an interview Carl Steward, columnist for the Oakland Tribune. Steward and Simpson talked about the controversial ballot, and Simpson offered up his excuse and an apology. “Rickey deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and if I had my ballot back, he’d have a shot at unanimity — and I wouldn’t be hated by quite so many people,” Simpson said.
Had he stopped there, Simpson would have offered a nice shot at reconciliation, but as he kept talking, his responses grew more sarcastic and less sincere:
“I’ll bet it was worse than when 98 people failed to vote for Catfish Hunter some 22 years ago,” he added. “The blogosphere would have exploded if it had been around when 43 people failed to vote for Mickey Mantle, 23 for Willie Mays, 36 for Jackie Robinson, nine for Hank Aaron, 31 for Roberto Clemente, 57 for Yogi Berra, 23 for Stan Musial, 20 for Ted Williams and 28 for Joe DiMaggio.”
Green Valley News sportswriter Nick Prevenas said he warned Simpson about leaving Henderson off his ballot when he filed the column, but Simpson told him he “wasn’t a Rickey guy and that he would vote for him next time.”
Simpson is now well aware of the controversy he stirred but regrets that it happened. “If I had properly researched the situation, I would have voted for Rickey Henderson if for no other reason than he played for nine ball teams,” he said. “Imagine that. He’ll be the first Hall of Famer to have a bronze bust with nine caps stacked on his head. Seriously, he was a wonderful player and I simply goofed. I voted for eight deserving men. I could have picked two more — and I wish to heck I had.”
I don’t buy it, not one bit. Simpson clearly doesn’t like Rickey Henderson. Why else would he have told one of his colleagues in Arizona that he “wasn’t a Rickey guy”? It’s also really easy to tell someone you’d vote a player the next time when he’s bound to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Meanwhile, Simpson is going after a straw man argument. It doesn’t matter if other deserving players weren’t picked on the first ballot. If a player is Hall of Fame-worthy, he should be voted in on someone’s ballot no matter what everyone else is or isn’t doing. It is also dismaying to learn that a Hall of Fame voter had not “properly researched the situation.” Again, I would seriously consider removing Simpson’s voting privilege if I were in charge of the BBWAA.
But then again, what should we expect from an organization which saw three of its members try to vote non-rookie Edinson Volquez as Rookie of the Year this year?
This past week I discussed a favorable trade scenario for Xavier Nady. The caveat, of course, being that it’s favorable to the Yanks. Surely the Reds would want a significant add-on if they were to even listen. They might also want to swap Aaron Harang for Bronson Arroyo, at which point Cash should hang up the phone (much like Reds fans think Jocketty should hang up on a Nady/Harang swap).
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes that the Reds are still looking for some right-handed power to sandwich between lefties Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. At this point Brandon Phillips seems to be the leading candidate, though he’s no bopper. After smacking 30 homers in 2007, he followed that up with a .261/.312/.442 performance. That’s not at all ideal production for your No. 4 hitter. This is what fuels the speculation that the Reds are looking outside the organization for some pop. Hence, the link with Nady.
Sheldon acknowledges that the Yankees surplus (is it really a surplus, though?) of outfielders could make the two teams viable trade candidates. But, as he notes:
On the trade market, the Yankees have a surplus of outfielders and could be willing to deal either Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady, with Nady being the most likely to be moved. The Yankees need starting pitching in return and probably wouldn’t settle for anyone less than a Reds veteran such as Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang.
I’d obviously change that from an or statement, saying that the Yanks wouldn’t settle less for a veteran such as Harang. As I said in the original, though, a one-for-one swap would be inequitable. Chad from Redleg Nation says “no thanks” to the proposal. The commenters on that post are also taking me to task. That I can understand. I would imagine Reds fans have become attached to Harang over the past few years, and don’t want to trade him for a guy coming off a career year (and whose production dropped in the second half).
If not Harang, though, it doesn’t seem the Yanks and the Red would match up on a trade. Take a look at their 40-man roster. There are some good young players there, one quality veteran pitcher (Harang), and some middling talent. Not at all what the Yanks should be seeking in a Nady trade. I’d far rather go into the season with depth than make a trade for the sake of making a trade.