Archive Page 2

Like that will hold up in court

An interesting story appeared on FoxSports.com earlier, via the Associated Press, regarding Barry Bonds’ new contract. According to the headline, the Giants can terminate Bonds’ contract if he is indicted on perjury charges pursuant to his 2003 grand jury testimony that he never knowingly took performance enhancing drugs.

I’ll let the article do the talking:

As part of the agreement, if Bonds is indicted the Giants have the right to terminate it under two sections of the Uniform Player Contract, a baseball executive said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team didn’t announce that detail.

Under 7(b)(1), a team may terminate a contract if the player shall “fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the club’s training rules.”

Section 7(b)(3) gives the team the right to end the deal if a player shall “fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any manner materially breach this contract.”

I don’t see how a team could terminate pursuant to 7(b)(3) and get away with it. The language is simply too ambiguous, and the MLBPA would step right in. And, though the language is a bit more precise in 7(b)(1), it’s hard to believe an indictment would be grounds for termination.

By no means am I a lawyer, but my guess is that the only clause that could possibly be grounds for termination in the case of an indictment would be: “fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship.” This, I believe, is the same clause pursued by the Yankees in their attempt to void Jason Giambi’s contract after he admitted to using PEDs to the same grand jury.

Bonds is a different beast, though. My thought is that if Bonds is indicted and the Giants try to void the deal, the MLBPA will immediately step in and say that Bonds has been convicted of nothing. In fact, per the article:

As part of the deal, Bonds gave up the right to ask the players’ association to file a grievance if he is indicted and the contract is terminated. But nothing would stop the union from pursuing a grievance on its own.

And, as is its nature, the players’ association would certainly file a grievance. Without a conviction, there is no way the Giants will be terminating this deal. But it’s a slow news day, so might as well let the AP have their fun, right?

Update: The deal was rejected by the commissioner’s office. HA!

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A pair of mismanaged Marlins

Maybe there’s a reason Joe Girardi was fired…

It was reported yesterday that second-year Marlins pitchers Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez will miss the beginning of Spring Training, each with arm soreness.

Johnson is the more infamous case of the two, and a real dent in Girardi’s resume. On September 12, Johnson started a game that was delayed by rain in the second inning. Eighty-eight minutes later, the game was ready to resume. Most managers would have a tough time letting a conditioned vet resume the start, especially so late in the season. Almost none would let a rookie take the hill. But Girardi, feeling the pressure of being just a game back in the Wild Card standings, went with Johnson, who pitched through the fifth inning.

He didn’t pitch another inning for the rest of the year. However, now he’s saying that this arm soreness has no relation to his previous injury. While I admire Johnson for not taking the easy road and blaming this all on Girardi, his current injury certainly is a result, though likely indirect, of the September 12 game.

Sanchez is a bit tougher to blame on Girardi. There is no clear cut reason for his arm soreness. However, he did throw a lot of innings for a 22-year-old. Two hundred, actually, between AA and the majors, coming after throwing only 136 as a 21-year-old in the Red Sox system.

It’s okay, though: Fredi Gonzalez, the Marlins new manager, will miss the beginning of Spring Training, too. He’s serving jury duty.

Curt Schilling: the antithesis of Roger Clemens

Much hoopla has been made over Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens. Schilling claims that his early career failures were the result of his lax work ethic. That changed when he met Clemens and observed how diligently the man worked. From that day forth, Schilling decided to fulfill his potential. It paid off, of course, in 2001 and 2004, when he won World Series titles.

Roger Clemens has once again made himself the center of attention by declining to decide whether he will pitch during the 2007 season, and, most importantly, where he will pitch. The media eats this kind of thing up, printing weekly articles on the status of Clemens which, invariably, is “no decision.”

Curt Schilling, on the other hand, has made himself the center of attention (or at least that was his intention) by announcing that he will pitch in 2008. And, to stir the pot a bit more, he said that it won’t necessarily be with Boston.

“Where I’m going to play beyond 2007, I hope it’s Boston, but I will go out and find a home to pitch,” he said. “I hope it’s here but there’s also that possibility [of pitching for another team].”

He tries to come off as affable throughout the article, but it’s easy to see right through Schilling. He sees the attention falling on J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Manny Ramirez and, most recently, Todd Helton, and wants his own part of the action. So he does what he does best, run his mouth to the media, crying for a new contract, all while spinning it to make him look like the good guy.

There is no doubt Schilling was one of the best pitchers of his era. But, entering his age 40 season, there are no more guarantees. Theo Epstein would be wise to ignore Schilling and play it like he was still going to retire after 2007. I understand his value as a pitcher, but 1) he’s trying to hold up your organization and 2) he was expected to leave after this season anyway. If Curt had pure intentions, he wouldn’t change his retirement plans during the slowest baseball news time of the year, and he wouldn’t set such a tight deadline on getting a deal done.

But the people of Boston will love him anyway.

Helton is owed what?

I got about three paragraphs into this column before I had to stop for fear that I might vomit. Bernie Lincicome of the Rocky Mountain News believes that the Rockies owe Todd Helton a trade.

Excuse me? How in the world do the Rockies owe Helton anything beyond the $141.5 million called for in his contract? From Bernie:

Helton ought to be allowed to touch baseball’s real adventure before he is through, as Larry Walker did with the Cardinals, as Andres Galarraga did in Atlanta. Aaron Miles, for crying out loud, was just awash in clubhouse champagne in St. Louis.

Why didn’t you say that earlier? Maybe I wouldn’t have been so skeptical. The logic is impeccable: because Aaron Miles just so happen to land with the World Series winning team, Todd Helton should have his chance to win it all. Never mind the great players who have yet to win it all — Alex Rodriguez comes immediately to mind, along with Vlad Guerrero, Miguel Tejada, and Frank Thomas. Maybe their respective GMs should give them their due and trade them to the Tigers, Yankees, or Red Sox.

Todd Helton is owed nothing beyond what his contract stipulates. Dan O’Dowd is not in charge of doing Todd Helton right; he is in charge of building the best possible baseball team. Right now, I believe, that includes Todd Helton. And if it doesn’t, they don’t need to take pennies on the dollar for him. Trading him for the sake of trading him would be an unmitigated mistake, one that would easily cost O’Dowd his job.

In praise of shitty players

So the Pirates don’t look too bad heading into Spring Training. Well, at least they don’t look too bad when compared to the past few years. They’ve got the reigning NL batting champ, newly acquired slugger Adam LaRoche, and franchise cornerstone Jason Bay. And, though this has been the case the past few years, they boast a young and promising pitching staff.

There are still holes, to be sure. Veteran SS Jack Wilson had something to say about one of those holes at PirateFest this past weekend. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Ron Cook is not only on board with Wilson, but he even paraphrased him:

Jose, we love you, buddy, but we need you to come to spring training with your head right. If you’re not in shape, number one, and not focused, number two, we don’t want you. If you’re not ready to be your best every game, every at-bat, every play in the field, do us all a favor and stay home in Venezuela.

It’s tough to decide where to start here. Let’s start with Wilson himself, who is, by nearly every measure, not a good player, at least on the offensive side of the ball. I can call up his stats with the few taps of the keyboard, and it’s apparent that he doesn’t add much value to the Pirates offense, with a line of .273/.316/.370. If you want to get nerdy, his 2006 VORP was 4.6, ranking him 13th among shortstops in the NL. But he’s showing leadership qualities (!), which surely outweigh his dismal OBP.

So we have a shitty player calling out another player who just so happens to be shitty, too. Jose Castillo, in his age 25 season, hit .253/.299/.382. So yeah, I guess Wilson’s right in that Castillo has to come to camp focused, so that he can maybe top a .320 OBP which, while still well below average, wouldn’t be quite as killer.

The article goes on to say that Castillo’s spot will be challenged in camp by Jose Bautista. Also in his age 25 season, he hit .235/.335/.420. Well, then. He seems like he’ll fit just fine. Some may balk and say, “But Del, he only hit .235. That’s really bad.” Yes, maybe, but that makes his .420 slugging percentage look that much better. His .335 OBP is quite nice, at least relatively, and should see a spike should Mr. Bautista adjust in his second full year and up his batting average.

I understand wanting to motivate your teammates. But wouldn’t this be more appropriate coming from, say, Jason Bay, who’s actually talented with a baseball bat, rather than Jack Wilson, who has his own set of troubles with one?

Sox, Rockies discussing Helton trade

Coming off his worst season since, well, ever, Todd Helton’s name has come up in a few trade rumors this winter. The Angels pursued the hardest in December, but Bill Stoneman and Dan O’Dowd couldn’t work out an amicable money and player arrangement. Clearly, it’s not easy to unload a 33-year-old with six years and $90 million left on his contract.

Saturday morning, reports surfaced that the Rockies and Red Sox are in trade talks for Helton. There is so much standing in the way of this deal, so my guess is that it is going to happen.

The first obstacle: Helton’s no-trade clause. He supposedly likes playing in Colorado (which should say something about him), and might not be welcoming of a cross-country move to a much tougher fanbase.

The second obstacle: finances. If the Red Sox are to acquire Helton, Colorado will have to assume a good portion of his remaining $90 million. After all, the Red Sox “can’t do certain things that on paper would look good without thinking about the ramifications on future payroll, on future construction, etc.”. With the costly additions of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew, it appears the Red Sox are nearing their arbitrary payroll limits.

However, the upgrade of Todd Helton over Mike Lowell may be too attractive to pass up. Or, if you’re a conspiracy theorist, it would make the team more able to trade Manny Ramirez to, say, Anaheim. But, barring anything drastic, the Sox lineup would look like:

Kevin Youkilis – 3B
Julio Lugo – SS
David Ortiz – DH
Manny Ramirez – LF
J.D. Drew – RF
Todd Helton – 1B
Jason Varitek – C
Coco Crisp – CF
Dustin Pedroia – 2B

That could certainly be the best lineup in the game, rivaling that of the 2006 Yankees.

The cost to the Red Sox, reportedly, would be right-handed reliever Craig Hansen and two additional minor leaguers, though the compensation could change depending on the financial arrangement. The consummation of this move would make the Red Sox the clear favorites in the AL East.

Pavano to pitch

The saga of Carl Pavano continues. After sitting out for a season and a half, Pavano has been cleared to throw and will have a bullpen session today. To which Yankee fans respond: “Who is Carl Pavano? Is that some guy we picked up from the Italian league?”

Following the 2004 season, in which the Yankees succumbed in grandiose fashion to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, Big Stein decided that drastic measures were in order. Pavano, coming off a career year with the Florida Marlins, was Target No. 1. And what Big Stein wants, Big Stein gets. Despite offers — some reportedly more lucrative — Pavano signed with the Yankees for four years, $39.95 million. Yes, not only did Stein want Pavano, but he wanted him for less than $40 million.

Also that winter, the Yankees made a fruitless run at former farmhand Eric Milton, who mercifully signed with the Reds. The Yankees didn’t get much better, though, as they ended up going with Jaret Wright for three years, $21 million. Then, in January, after a month or more of speculation, Randy Johnson landed in New York. Wallet: opened. Rotation: old and/or creaky.

No one delivered on the hype. Johnson pitched poorly and fabricated a different excuse after each ineffective start. Wright predictably went down with a shoulder injury in April. And Pavano, after pitching like a bum for the season’s first three months, missed the remainder of the season with “shoulder tendonitis,” though no one had ever seen someone miss so much time with an injury that merely requires rest to heal.

The next spring, Pavano went to camp as a rehab project. That was quickly abandoned, though. Mighty Pavano had injured his…buttocks. He kind of fell down fielding a ground ball, and yeah, was shut down because of his big, fat ass. Things became complicated when Pavano had also reported back problems, which were to surely sideline the hurler until May.

May, 2006. X-rays reveal bone chips in Pavano’s elbow. Could they have been the cause of his woes all along? After all, bone chips can go undetected for some time. They could have forced him to alter his motion in 2005, resulting in a unique case of tendonitis. That altered motion could have also affected his back in Spring Training.

Bone chips removed, Pavano began a minor-league rehab assignment in August. Just a week or so away from re-joining the Major League team, though, Pavano revealed that he had been in an accident (which, the media made sure to note a thousand times, was in his Porche). His bruised ribs, despite much sucess in his rehab assignment, were too much to pitch though. Pavano was shut down and told to go to his room.

Reportedly, he’s been rehabbing in Arizona in order to hit Spring Training in playing condition. Brian Cashman says that Pavano will go like everyone else, not as a rehab case.

I’ve got 50 bucks that Pavano’s knee goes before Opening Day.

NOTE: It’s been well documented that I hate most baseball writers. Their opinions are rarely justified, and their writing style is usually hackish and amateurish. Here, George King commits a different offense: misstatement of fact. From King’s article:

Pavano takes the hill today for the first time since suffering a broken rib in an auto accident last August.

George, the entire media hoopla was because Pavano DID pitch after suffering a broken rib. He neglected to tell the team about the accident until after he had thrown a few minor league assignments.