Here’s a shot of the press conference for the newly founded Torii Hunter Project; Torii’s foundation provides scholarships and all sorts of educational support for children. You probably recognize the two guys in the middle: Hunter and tennis legend Andre Agassi. Agassi’s school in Las Vegas is one of three partners with Torii on this project. The gentleman to the far right is the representative of another partner school in Orange County, while a representative from the third partner school in Hunter’s hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas wasn’t available because school is in session.

Torii spoke, and he seems like a genuinely great and caring guy. His bling nearly blinded me though.

Categories : Not Baseball
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The Brewers are set to announce that they’ve resigned incumbent third baseman and ex-Yankee Mike Lamb, which likely puts Bill Hall out on the trade market. Ken Rosenthal and Ed Price noted that the Yanks have interest in  CC Sabathia‘s close friend (8:44pm post), who would presumably take the role of primary utility man and righty pinch hitter. And I don’t get it.

First off, CC Sabathia’s decision to sign or not sign the Yanks will not be based on Bill Hall’s presence, so don’t even worry about that. Secondly, what exactly makes Bill Hall so desirable? Usually when I dig deeper on a player (like Nick Swisher or David DeJesus) I can find some information that the player is undervalued and a viable buy-low candidate, but that’s not the case with Hall.

First off, Hall’s contract is ugly. He’s owed $6.8M in 2009, $8.4M in 2010, then a $9.25M option or $500,000 buyout kicks in for 2010. That’s a lot of cheddar for a bench guy. Secondly, his production has declined for three straight seasons as he entered his prime years. Hall had a monster year in 2006 that landed him that fat contract and Joe a fantasy baseball title (.369 wOBP, 35 HR, 44.3 VORP), but he then dropped down to a .317 wOBP & 6.7 VORP in 2007, and bottomed out with a .297 wOBP & -5.1 VORP this past year. Inconsistent playing time and at-bats off the bench will not sharpen up his production, and he’s already made it known that he doesn’t like being a part-time player.

Hall’s biggest asset is that he’s extremely versatile; he’s spent significant time at short, third, and in centerfield over the last few seasons, and has also seen action at second. However he’s below average at best at each of those spots, with career RZR’s of .838 in center, .723 at third, and .804 at short. That’s not just bad, that’s horrific. Citing Hall’s versatility as a plus is the same as saying Jon Garland is an innings eater, it just means he can suck at more spots.

Granted, Hall would come dirt cheap because of his contract (if the Yanks take on all of that money, they could get him for like, a C-minus prospect) and maybe there’s some bouceback potential because of the change of scenery, but there’s nothing to suggest that. His BABIP has been steady and reasonable, his line drive rate is consistent, and his plate discipline numbers don’t show any significant spikes. There’s just nothing to suggest that his three year decline was a fluke.

Pass on Bill Hall, I’m sure Cody Ransom could approximate his production for 1/17th of the cost. If you want a player on the Brewers and one of CC’s buddy, go for Mike Cameron. It makes so much more sense.

* * *

Just a quick aside: I overheard a Milwaukee writer talking to two other writers not far away from us, he said he’s looking forward to the Yanks signing both CC and Sheets because “then the Brewers would get the Yanks’ two first round picks.” Heh.

Update (1:00pm): I just overheard the guy say he confirmed with Baseball America that the Yanks’ can’t lose the Gerrit Cole pick. That only took two-plus hours.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • Update: Davidoff not out at Newsday
    By

    Since we made something of a mistake on an earlier post, I just wanted to bring a correction to everyone’s attention. Contrary to what the New York Post reported recently, Ken Davidoff will not be losing his job at Newsday. Joe corrected my earlier post, and I’d just like to reiterate that this is good news indeed. Knowing that Davidoff will still be around reporting and blogging for Newsday is comforting indeed. This also goes to show what happens when we break our anti-New York Post pledge. Trust me; that won’t happen again. My apologies to the Newsday crew and our readers for the bad info. · (0) ·

You don’t have to be in Las Vegas to get the sense of uncertainty surrounding Major League Baseball. There haven’t been any major signings in this free agency period, and it appears that the most sought-after free agents — Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett — will end the week still unemployed. So what gives?

It appears that teams are playing everything close to their chests. Information continues to leak out, but in most cases it is quickly debunked. Just check out MLB Trade Rumors, where the tireless Tim Dierkes is not only reporting on every rumor he sees, but is constantly updating posts with new information, most of which contradicts the original reports.

Let’s take the Ben Sheets situation for example. Last night, while I was losing $100 on blackjack, Ben found a Mark Feinsand report that the Yanks were preparing an offer to the righty in the two-year, $30 million range. A bit later, Joel Sherman, who like most people here is shorter than I imagined him, said that the Yankees aren’t quite sure they’ll make an offer. Then, later in the night (or early in the morning), Feinsand updated his post to say that the offer would be in the $26 million range.

So are they going to make an offer? How much will it guarantee Sheets? What are his other prospects? At this time we don’t have answers to those questions. Everyone will do some digging, though, and I’m sure we’ll hear something later today about another team, possibly the Red Sox, becoming interested. Little will come of it, at least in the immediate future.

Even in the cases of players who seem closer to signing or being traded — Francisco Rodriguez and Jake Peavy, most notably — we’re still not sure exactly what’s going on. Omar Minaya and his crew supposedly met with the closer on Sunday and made an offer. That was rumored to be for three years, then we heard two and a vesting option. Now we’re back to hearing three guaranteed, for $37 million. The Peavy trade now supposedly involves four teams, and could go down as early as today.

I’m really hoping these moves do happen. It would at least be good for the mood around here. However, even though they’re proclaimed to be close, I’m not quite sure. I’m not quite sure of anything out here in Vegas.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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It’s still early here; the press room and halls are pretty empty. Don’t worry, it’ll pick up.

Categories : Whimsy
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Late last evening, Ken Rosenthal dropped in a sorta sad/sorta funny nugget about Jason Giambi into his Winter Meetings live-blog:

Free-agent first baseman Jason Giambi has told friends that he expects to sign with the A’s, but his former team has him “way down on its list of priorities,” according to a major-league source.

So basically, Jason really wants to be on the A’s, but the A’s don’t have plans for him quite yet. I guess Jason is just going to hold out in the hopes that someone, anyone, comes a-knockin’ and that the someone just happens to be Oakland. Otherwise, he may be waiting a while for that phone to ring.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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Update by Joe (1:05 p.m. EST): I just talked to someone familiar with Davidoff’s situation (hah! I actually got to type that for once). He is not losing his job. Repeat: Not losing his job. Apparently, his title changed recently, which may have led to the speculation. It’s good to know that Davidoff’s job is safe, though. I was thinking about it this morning, and after considering everyone in the NYC sports media, I’m going to say he’s the best columnist out there. I’m glad he’ll continue to have an outlet for his writing.

==

As free agent rumors swirled on Monday, two pillars of the traditional media took a big hit.

The Tribune Company, published of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune as well as the owners of the Chicago Cubs, filed for bankruptcy protection while The New York Times Co. took out a $225 million home equity loan against its new building. Without that loan, The Times Co., publishers of The New York Times and part-owners of the Red Sox, would be facing a major cash-flow problem.

According to the major players, the Cubs and Red Sox are shielded from the economic downturn, and these moves shouldn’t impact the impending sale of the Cubs to someone who isn’t going to be Mark Cuban. But within the media, these developments were another sign of both economic unrest and deep-rooted problems with the business.

On a more local level, Newsday, a former Tribune holding sold to Cablevision in May, is facing its share of problems too, and this one will have an impact on how we receive some information. According to The Post, the Long Island-based daily will be slashing 100 jobs soon, and among those jobs lost may be Ken Davidoff’s.

With papers looking to save costs, columnists — even the good ones — that focus on national issues and not local teams often get the axe. The Post reports that Davidoff may be offered a lower-paid editorial position with the paper.

Davidoff has long been a well-respected reporter on the New York scene. He writes well; he’s engaging; and he does a great job with his Baseball Insider blog. But that’s why the media world works these days. The best reporters and columnists are the ones that are the highest paid, and they are often the first ones to go. Hopefully, Davidoff will stick around the city. His voice would be missed.

Categories : NYC Sports Media
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Day 1 of the Winter Meetings, and nothing is going on. You’d think this wouldn’t make for interesting radio, but I think Mike and I do the best we can with what we’ve got.

First impression of the Winter Meetings: a bit of overwhelm. There are lots of people here who we only know through their quotes in the media and their goofy avatars. That wore off later in the day, but it was still awesome to walk right past Peter Gammons. Dislike him now if you want, but the man is a legend.

You can check out all of our Winter Meeting 2008 posts here. You can also check out our Twitter feed, where we give some shorter, less meaningful updates.

Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.

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We appreciate any feedback. You can leave it in the comments or email either of us.

Categories : Podcast
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  • Hip, Hip, Rehab!
    By

    The Yankee trainers checked in with the folks in Vegas, and it sounds like Jorge’s rehab is going well. The Yankee catcher is one week into his throwing program and seems determined to put his disappointing and injury-plagued 2008 behind him. A healthy Jorge would do wonders for the Yankees next season. · (39) ·