Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle has been covering the Astros for a long time, and he’s one of the very best baseball writers this great country has to offer. However his affection for the Dodger-bound Brad Ausmus is a bit … how to you say … wacky. Allow my to quote at length (h/t Jamal G.):
The Astros have had some good players through the years. They’ve had nice pitchers and big sluggers and dazzling defensive players.
They’ve never quite had one as valuable to the franchise as Brad Ausmus. This guy was all about winning.
You can look it up. The Astros had their best years when he was the man wearing the tools of ignorance.
Some of you will quibble about his indvidual (sic) stats. All you’re doing is showing how little you know about baseball.
If you understand winning, you understand how critical the things Ausmus brought to the table were.
This guy was all about the bottom line. The Los Angeles Dodgers showed again why they’re the National League’s smartest franchise.
The Dodgers appear to be on the cusp of doing something special, and now they’ve added Brad Ausmus.
I guess there’ll still be a season, but there doesn’t seem to be much point. The Dodgers will be in the playoffs, probably the World Series.
Umm … we’re talking about the same Brad Ausmus here, right? His avg OPS+ this century is 63.875. Ah, but presenting stats – factual information, mind you – shows how little I know about baseball. Because, after all, winning is done by things that can’t be measured. Stuff like grit and pride and smarts and understanding the game and pixie dust and being a young pitcher’s best friend, stuff that … apparently is so hard to explain that Justice doesn’t even bother to attempt it.
Instead, Justice just makes a blanket statement saying that anyone who points to his individual stats knows little about baseball, that the Dodgers will probably be in the World Series JUST BECAUSE Brad Ausmus is on the team. Why? Who cares, it will happen, because it’s Brad motherfreakin’ Ausmus. All that time he’ll spend sitting on the bench while Russ Martin plays will be invaluable to the team. And what is with all the one/two sentence paragraphs?
The Astros may have the weakest farm system in the game, but that’s irrelevant. If a couple of their kids contribute, they might have enough to stay in contention until the trading deadline. At that point, Drayton McLane almost certainly would allow Wade to add a piece or two.
I love it. It’s irrelevant that the team has the weakest farm system in the game, because some of the kids from the worst farm system in the game could contribute, and if so they’ll add a piece or two at the deadline by trading … young … players … from … their …. farm … system. Huh?
I don’t mean to harp on Richard Justice, he truly is one of the best and most respected sportswriters in the country. I just hate to see him take the route “I say it, therefore it’s true” route.
Here’s your open thread. The NHL Superskills competition is on Versus at 7pm, that’s always fun (it’s hockey’s version of the Homerun Derby/NBA Skills Challenge). You know the deal, the floors is yours.
In a rumors column early this week, Kenny R. engaged in some catcher-related speculation. He writes:
Here’s a sinister thought: Varitek to the Yankees. The chances probably are slim, but the Yankees need to add a catcher due to their uncertainty over Jorge Posada, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. Varitek, 36, might recoil at the notion of joining the Red Sox’s biggest rival, and the Yankees might prefer to spend on pitching. But because the Yankees already have signed three other Type-A free agents, Varitek would cost them only a fourth-round pick …
I like the idea of the Yanks’ picking up another front-line catcher, but I don’t like the idea of Varitek. It has nothing to do with his personality. While iYankees objected on personal grounds, my complaints are purely baseball-related. If the Yanks could stomach the arrivals of Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon and Rogers Clemens, to name a few, they could deal with having Jason Varitek on the team.
However, Jason Varitek isn’t very good anymore. He hit .220/.313/.359, and his 73 OPS+ placed him slightly ahead of Melky on the bottom of the AL OPS+ list. He’ll turn 37 a week after Opening Day and hasn’t ever been a great defensive catcher. It would be a waste of money and a waste of a roster spot. While Pudge and Varitek remain out there, the Yanks may be tempted to kick the tires on one of these two retreads, but in the end, they’re better off waiting on Posada.
Bryan Hoch took a look at the lower Yankee payroll a few days ago and notes that the Yanks are on target to pay out less in 2009 than they did in 2008. Right now, the team has committed $186 million to 16 players. While some of that lower figure is due to creative bonuses for their big free agent signings, this figure is largely dependent upon Andy Pettitte’s not returning. If Pettitte comes back — as I hope and think he will for the right price — the Yanks’ figure will actually be lower this year than last for the first time in a long time. If Pettitte returns, the two figures should be about to the same. · (38) ·
To wit, we’ll start with Ben Sheets. As Joe noted last night, Sheets’ new medical report doesn’t really change the equation. All signs point to a Texas landing for the Brewers’ former ace. Cross the Rangers off Pettitte’s potential list.
Meanwhile, across baseball, the story remains the same. In Flushing, the Mets have extended an offer to Oliver Perez. The control-plagued lefty remains Minaya’s top target. The Astros are “pretty well set” without Pettitte and can’t really afford him anyway, according to owner Drayton MacLane. The Dodgers will soon land themselves Randy Wolf.
So that about wraps up all of the other teams tangentially related to Andy Pettitte this off-season. All signs, then, lead to the same place to which they’ve been pointing since the start of the Hot Stove League: Andy Pettitte can either work out a deal with the Yankees or with no one.
With other options closed to him, I’d have to believe that Pettitte, if he wants to return to the Majors this year, will figure out a way to take a pay cut and pitch for the Yanks. As Joe predicted a few hours ago, I too think Pettitte will resign before too much time is up. After all, pitchers and catchers report in just three weeks.
For your Saturday morning enjoyment, the Daily News has a feature on the top five Yankees center fielders of all time. Except they copped out and had No. 1 as a tie (gee, guess who), so it’s really the top six Yankees CFers of all time. Me? I’d go Mantle, DiMaggio, Combs (look at those gaudy numbers), and Bernie. Tough call between Rickey and Bobby, but I’ll give Bobby the benefit of the doubt because he played in New York longer. · (108) ·
Not even three weeks ago, teams were concerned with Ben Sheets’s shoulder. Sometime between now and then Sheets updated his medical profile, and this “may have sparked some renewed interest” in his services. I find this hard to believe. It all sounds a little too vague.
First: “may have sparked some renewed interest”? No, it hasn’t definitively sparked some renewed interest. It may have sparked some renewed interest. Is this a guess? Is it an assumption that because Sheets sent around his medical records that they’re going to be better than before? Either way it doesn’t sound like much more than a report that Ben Sheets sent around new medical records.
The question is, what are they looking for? Is it the shoulder problem Olney discussed earlier this month, or is it the muscle he tore in his pitching elbow? Why am I asking so many questions?
Maybe this will help Texas justify the risk of signing him. They met with him this week, and they seem to be the team most strongly connected with him. On the podcast I said Sheets to the Mets, but that’s looking unlikely. Heyman also reports that the Mets have made and offer to Oliver Perez.
(In more vague terms, he says that the Mets “are believed to have improved their original thought, which was for about $30 million over three years.” Original thought? Man.)
I guess the Yanks involvement depends on what Texas does. Even with improved medicals, it’s tough to justify doing this without heavy incentives. I think we could see Sheets sign with the Rangers, Perez sign with the Mets, and Pettitte sign with the Yankees in the next week or so. Pitchers and catchers in 21 days, and time’s a wastin’.
Roxanne Geyer from WCBS 880 AM sent along the above video. Click it to play.
She headed up to Yankee Stadium for the historic moving day and chatted with some of the Yankee officials who were packing up the trucks for the long transport across the street. For such an historic day, it seems rather anticlimactic. Opening Day will be a far, far bigger deal.
Meanwhile, Keith Law, a one-man prospect wrecking machine, has capped off his week of prospect coverage on ESPN with a list of each organization’s top prospects. Since he ranked the Yanks 15th overall, New York gets just five prospects on the KLaw list:
That seems about right to me. It’s good to see Brackman so high up on the list before he’s even thrown a pitch in the pros. His ceiling is as high as any other prospect’s in the game right now. Whether he can harness his talent remains to be seen.
Anyway, here’s your Friday evening open thread. You know the drill. Play nice.
Pete Caldera reports that the Yanks and Andy Pettitte are still talking about 2009. The Yanks, however, do not believe that Pettitte will accept a one-year, $10.5-million deal. To me, in this economy, Pettitte is taking a gamble that just isn’t going to pan out. The news that he reportedly had a three-year deal in excess of $35 million was clearly false, and no other team that we know of has made the 36-year-old an offer. He should take the money and come back to the Bronx. · (25) ·