Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm getting tired of ...

Usually I'd say Alex Rodriguez, but the AL MVP has been quiet for a couple of weeks now.

No, now I'm tired of the incessant Johan Santana/Miguel Cabrera trade rumors. Please get here Dec. 3. The Winter Meetings need to start so these rumors can end.

On a related note, wasn't it just recently teams were unwilling to part with young prospects, or so they said? Apparently, that school of thought made a U-turn when Santana's and Cabrera's names popped up on the trade market.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wrong again

When the proposed free-agent deal between former Shreveport Captain Yorvit Torrealba fell through recently, I blogged that Torrealba would likely not be heading back to Colorado.

So much for conjecture.

Torrealba re-signed with Colorado on Thursday, passing his physical, which appeared to be the holdup in New York. So instead of three years, $14.4 million and the grand stage of New York, Torrealba is heading back to the mountains where he revived his career.

He should be happy about that. The Rockies' brass is high on Torrealba, especially the way he handled young pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales. With those two pitchers in Colorado for the forseeable future, keeping Torrealba behind home plate at Coors Field seemed to be a must.

Now, thanks to an overly cautious Mets medical staff, the Rockies have one of their key parts back.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What's it mean for Baker

The Minnesota Twins are close to dealing Matt Garza to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for Delmon Young.

So what does it mean for Shreveport's Scott Baker? Probably good things.

Garza was another young right-hander the Twins' brass loved and wanted to see succeed. He certainly was a more hyped prospect than Baker.

Still Baker came up and delivered, especially over the second half of 2007. Now it seems almost assured the former Captain Shreve right-hander will open the season in the Twins' rotation, sitting possibly as high as Minnesota's No. 3 starter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wade slowly putting pieces together

Houston's signing of Doug Brocail may seem like no big deal, but a few more of these little moves and new Astros GM Ed Wade will have put together a decent bullpen.

Brocail had a wonderful season for San Diego and is a former Astro. The veteran right-hander will give the reconfigured Astros pen a boost in the leadership department.

If Wade can find the right closer, Houston may make a big jump forward this season.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Who gets a Hall pass?

The Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was announced today. At first glance, the 2008 HOF induction ceremonies may be a very intimate affair -- if there is one at all.

There are no Tony Gwynns, no Cal Ripkens on this list. The newcomers to the ballot are the likes of Tim Raines, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch and Todd Stottlemyre.

That's right, Todd Stottlemyre could earn a Hall of Fame vote.

The winners in this mess? The holdovers. Guys like Goose Gossage and Jim Rice.

Gossage, to me, is someone who deserves inclusion. There are those who fight the "Hall of Fame closer" title tooth and nail, but Gossage helped pave the way for today's modern closer. And he did it before the one-inning, three-run-lead save was popular.

One parting shot for the veterans committee: Please, please, please find a way to get Buck O'Neill into Cooperstown. If anyone deserves to be inducted under the auspices of an ambassador for the game, it's Buck. As a whole, baseball missed a chance to put him in while he was alive. Now, it's time to right that wrong.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I hate to snicker but ...

Kat O'Brien from Newsday had a report for Monday's editions that Alex Rodriguez's contract includes home run bonuses that could push the value of his contract to $305 million.

I don't know who looks more foolish in this deal -- the Yankees, who allegedly wanted no part of Rodriguez after he opted out of his contract; Rodriguez, who went groveling back to the Yankees; or Scott Boras, who, even if A-Rod hits all the bonus escalators, still won't get the $350 million he was looking for.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This is waaaaaay too early

It's like asking to open your Christmas gift in August. Or shopping for new school supplies in mid-June. Planning your summer vacation the October before.

In other words, way too early.

Thanks to the good folks at the NAIA, however, we received our first college baseball preseason poll 10 days ago. It had slipped my mind to blog about this since, after all, IT'S NOVEMBER.

Today we're walking around in fleece and other heavy clothing. Not exactly baseball weather.

At any belated rate, congratulations to the Pilots, who will enter their Jan. 26 season opener as the No. 11 NAIA team in the nation.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reds go loco for Coco

The King of Country Music -- George Strait -- once sung, "It ain't cool to be crazy about you."

Well, to paraphrase for the Cincinnati Reds, it ain't cool to be loco for Coco.

No, not Coco Crisp. Instead, it's reliever Francisco "Coco" Cordero, who agreed in principle to a four-year, $46 million contract with the Reds.

I'm all for people finding ways to move up in the world -- financially, career-wise etc. But this is a gamble the Reds should have avoided.

First, Cincinnati's home park -- Great American Ball Park -- is a homer haven. Cordero is a pitcher who, once he faces some adversity, usually takes some time to rediscover his dominant side.

Such a fragile psyche may work in a low-pressure environment like southern Ohio, but it will be interesting to see what happens with Coco if one of those routine fly balls in most parks becomes another home run in that bandbox.

In a free-agent market devoid of truly stellar relievers, Cordero, who was equally great and galling during his tenure in Texas, was the best out there. Color me surprised to hear he will be wearing red and white next season.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Plenty of reasons to be thankful

There are plenty of reasons I'm thankful this time of year. For the purpose of this blog, we'll stick to the baseball-related reasons.

There's the new crop of young stars. Troy Tulowitzki, Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Braun and Hunter Pence all gave us reason to smile this season.

Parity's coming. Little by little. Yes the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets and Cubs can outspend nearly everyone in baseball, but success stories like the Rockies offer hope -- and a blueprint -- for the less fortunate franchises.

The old guard not going quietly. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz are still playing. Whoulda thunk it about five years ago? Lest we not include the position players, there's Julio Franco, who I think was around for the original Thanksgiving.

Finally, labor peace and record-setting attendance. Who says baseball can't get anything right anymore?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Baseball as a business

OK, so the four-word phrase above this is not exactly breaking news.

But this offseason's rumor mill reinforces how the process of doing business is changing and how personal feelings are often put aside.

And what does it all mean? It means the days of a player spending his entire career in one city continues to dwindle and dwindle and dwindle.

Franchise cornerstones, or supposed ones, from Baltimore to Tampa Bay to Minnesota apparently are available in trades. So just as Scott Kazmir is developing into a frontline starting pitcher in Tampa, he could soon be sending change of address forms to his local post office.

Ditto for Erik Bedard in Baltimore and a certain Cy Young pitcher in Minnesota.

So while the Red Sox, Mets and, of course, the Yankees have enough money to sign a virtual All-Star team every year, the latest shift in economics leaves mid- to small-market teams grasping at competitive straws.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

That's how the NL MVP Rolls

I have been critical of several of the major postseason awards. The NL Rookie of the Year vote, in my eyes, was a travesty. Ditto the AL Cy Young.

So how about Jimmy Rollins as your National League Most Valuable Player?

Good call, BBWAA. Seriously.

As good as Matt Holliday was, as impressive as Prince Fielder's power is, Rollins was exactly what an MVP should be.

He was the Phillies' rock. He was the one who made the "team to beat" prediction in January. He talked the talked and he walked the walked.

No Ryan Howard? No problem. No Chase Utley? No big deal. Rollins ignited one of the most dynamic offenses in baseball from Game 1 through Game 162 any way he could.

He hit home runs. He stole bases. He won a Gold Glove. He did it all.

And that's exactly what an MVP does.

No home for Torrealba

Apparently, I, along with several Web sites and other forms of media, jumped the gun regarding Yorvit Torrealba.

Saturday I blogged about Torrealba's decision to accept a three-year, $14.4 million contract from the New York Mets.

False start. Torrealba may have agreed to the deal, but his throwing shoulder apparently gave the Mets enough pause to where they decided not to officially sign the former Shreveport Captain.

So where does Torrealba go from here? I'm not sure, but I'm guessing it won't be to Queens, N.Y., or back to the defending National League champion Rockies.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Glavine goes home

There may be no more appropriate way for Tom Glavine's career to end than in an Atlanta Braves uniform.

It appears that will happen as Glavine has accepted a one-year, $8 million contract to pitch for the Braves in 2008.

There was a groundswell of support for Glavine to return to Georgia last year and win his 300th game with Braves stitched across his chest. Instead, he stuck with the New York Mets, won his milestone game then helped finish off one of the greatest collapses in baseball history.

Regardless of how 2007 ended, Glavine remains a class act and will take his place alongside John Smoltz next season as the Braves try to rekindle their 1990s mojo.

No one embodied that more than Glavine, the lone member of those vaunted Atlanta pitching staffs who was a Brave from the beginning. Now he will have a chance to close out his career in the only place he should have ever called home -- Atlanta.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Strange move for Torrealba? Not so

Yorvit Torrealba's decision to sign with the New York Mets looks curious on the surface.

After all, Torrealba, a former Shreveport Captain, left the defending National League champion Colorado Rockies for the New York Mets, whom we last saw melting down in near-record fashion.

The money, of course, is good. Torrealba earned himself a substantial raise and would appear to be the Mets' new No. 1 catcher.

However, rumors swirled around New York intimating, for a while, the Mets wanted Ramon Castro to be their No. 1. Guess who re-signed with the Mets? Castro.

At any rate, Torrealba's days in the Mile High City seemed numbered. After all, the Rockies wanted Chris Iannetta to be their starting catcher this season.

Instead, a fortuitous discovery, in a season full of them, allowed Torrealba to seize his moment in the spotlight.

And make a tidy payday for himself in the process.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Help you, help me

Friday's trade between Houston and Atlanta is a perfect example of teams with needs fixing themselves through a deal.

And that's a trend you almost certainly will see through the remainder of the Hot Stove League.

The Braves sent right-hander Oscar Villarreal to Houston for outfield prospect Josh Anderson.

Anderson's speed is his biggest asset and it should allow him to fill two spots the Braves need -- center field and leadoff hitter. Meanwhile, Villarreal is a versatile pitcher who can improve the Astros' reconfigured bullpen or slide into the back of their rotation.

With a weaker free-agent crop than most seasons, look for more teams to try to match their weaknesses with another team's strengths.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Busy day

What a day.

First, Jake Peavy is a unanimous choice as the NL Cy Young Award winner. Then Barry Bonds is indicted on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Finally, Alex Rodriguez is going to stay with the Yankees.

Who says baseball has an offseason?

We're less than three weeks removed from the end of the 2007 season and more than four months from the start of the 2008 campaign and baseball monoplizes the headlines.

Yep, looks like the "offseason" is still pretty far off.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

West gets recognition

Former Captain Shreve star Sean West didn't throw a competitive pitch this season.

But that didn't stop him from earning some recognition from baseball scouts.

West was named the No. 4 prospect in the Florida Marlins' organization by Baseball America. The former Shreve star underwent labrum surgery and missed all of the 2007 season, but remains a favorite of the scouts.

The questions surrounding West will be raised this season as he attempts to work his way back from the surgery, but he has some momentum heading into 2008.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another award surprise

Boy am I glad I didn't try to predict how the MLB postseason awards would play out.

I would have missed on the NL Rookie of the Year and definitely would have whiffed on the AL Cy Young, which was presented Tuesday to Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia.

Sabathia finished with a substantial voting advantage over Boston's Josh Beckett, the majors' lone 20-game winner.

Their numbers were similiar, nearly identical. The only difference was Sabathia threw 40 more innings than Beckett.

Regardless, Sabathia's performance certainly was Cy Young worthy. However, I'm sure Beckett is plenty happy with his second World Series championships.

Monday, November 12, 2007

NL rookie voting misses mark

In the interest of full disclosure, I rooted hard for Ryan Braun for the last half of the Major League Baseball sesaon.

I had to. I had him on my fantasy team. But I don't think he was the best rookie in the National League.

Nope. Maybe the best power-hitting rookie, but not the best overall rookie.

That honor should have gone to Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado's precociously upbeat shortstop.

It's easy to look at Braun's numbers and, if you're a home run lover, feel your heart flitter. Then you watch his defense and, regardless of who you are, your stomach turns.

Not so with Tulowitzki. The player who changed the Colorado culture wasn't Matt Holliday. It wasn't Todd Helton. It was Tulowitzki.

He's the guy who all year said, "I've never played on a losing team and I don't plan to start now."

After a slow start, "Tulo" turned into a clutch hitter, which, combined with his nearly flawless glove work and rocket arm, made him a total player and, oh yeah, the most complete rookie in the NL.

It's just a shame the people in the Baseball Writers Association of America missed it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Big news on Randy Zeigler

Apparently, Calvary left-hander Randy Zeigler is a bigger LSU fan than we thought.

It seems the two-time All-City pick has changed his verbal commitment from Florida State to LSU.

Whether or not this is true probably matters little as Zeigler could be drafted high enough in June to make this a moot point.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Owings honored again

Micah Owings' dream lives on.

The former Tulane standout, who was a mainstay in the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation for much of the season, won his first Silver Slugger Award on Friday.

Owings hit .333 with four home runs and 15 RBIs this season, beating out defending champ Carlos Zambrano for the award.

Owings had a multi-home run game and also notched three doubles in a game this season.

Teammate Eric Byrnes called Owings' ability "a joke." Byrnes meant it as a compliment, saying Owings takes batting practice twice a week and "still rakes major league pitching."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Enough of A-Rod

Not that I'm one to wish my life away, but I can't wait for Nov. 13 to get here.

That's when teams other than the New York Yankees can start discussing financial terms with free agent Alex Rodriguez.

I'm as sick of A-Rod as I've been of anything baseball-related in the last five years. First it's his agent, Scott Boras, wanting a 10-year, $300 million contract. Now, it's the players union whining about how commissioner Bud Selig is unfairly influencing the market toward A-Rod.

They're calling it collusion. I'm sorry, but anyone who voluntarily opts out of a $252 million contract deserves what he gets, collusion or not.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wade makes splash in Houston

Ed Wade wasted no time making waves in Houston.

The recently hired Astros general manager swung his first important deal Wednesday at the General Manangers Meetings in Florida, sending former All-Star closer Brad Lidge and utility player Eric Bruntlett to Philadelphia for outfielder Michael Bourn, pitcher Geoff Geary and third base prospect Mike Costanzo.

Trading Lidge was a move that had to be made. Regardless of what he said to reporters, it was clear he never regained his footing following the postseason home runs he allowed to Albert Pujols and Scott Podsednik in 2005.

Lidge needed a change of scenery in the worst way possible and, under the old regime, was not given that chance. Given the timing, the bounty Houston received is probably maximum value.

Bourn is a speedster who can cover plenty of ground in center field and will allow the Astros to slide Hunter Pence to right field. Geary is a solid arm to plug into the Houston bullpen, although right now, there doesn't seem to be a worthy closer candidate on the roster. Finally, Costanzo is a power-hitting prospect who has had trouble adjusting defensively to third base. If he develops into an adequate defensive third baseman and maintains his offensive career path, the Astros will come out winners in the deal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gold Gloves by reputation live on

There were 10 first-time winners among the Gold Gloves handed out Tuesday.

But one name on the list -- a multiple-time winner -- stood out as a shock.

Andruw Jones.

Once Jones was as graceful as they came, gliding through center field taking hit after hit away from hitters.

Now Jones' wasitline is expanding almost at the same rate as his range once did. He still makes plays most center fielders could not. But he certainly doesn't rate, in this baseball fan's mind, as one of the top three defensive outfielders in the National League.

For a couple of seasons, St. Louis' Jim Edmonds seemed to earn Gold Gloves based on name recognition rather than merit. Now it seems we can lump Jones, whose Atlana teammate Jeff Francoeur and his 19 outfield assists earned his first Gold Glove, into that category.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Thoughts on Pettitte

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte turned down his $16 million player option Monday.

That doesn't mean, however, Pettitte is done with the Yankees. In fact, he says it's the Yankees in 2008 or retirement for the left-hander.

Much like his friend Roger Clemens, I take Pettitte's words with a grain of salt. He said he made his decision to return to the Yankees in 2007 because of his family.

His family who lives in the Houston area. That same Houston area Pettitte pitched in the previous three years.

I know baseball is a business and personal feelings should be left outside when it comes to that, but it seems more and more athletes are playing the family card and not living up to that end of the bargain.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Let the Hot Stove begin

We've had our first week of baseball's offseason so you know what that means -- it's time for the general managers meetings.

Orlando, Fla., is the host city for this year's meetings where rival GMs will talk shop and start to lay the groundwork for another busy offseason of player movement.

Everyone knows about the Winter Meetings and the volumunous number of deals that get done there, but it's the GM meetings that signal the start of baseball's "Hot Stove" season.

Hope you enjoyed/survived a week without much baseball news. There probably won't be another one until January.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A foundation that works

Thanks to the Reagan Reid Little Foundation, a group of young baseball players were able to spend some time getting tips from former major leaguer Todd Walker on Saturday.

Walker hosted his fourth annual Charity Hitting Clinic on Saturday and a group of children from the Providence House were in attendance. The children's camp admission was taken care by the foundation, which is trying to expand its efforts in Shreveport-Bossier City.

As it is, the Little Foundation is attempting to stretch its reach and that is something for which sports-loving children around town should be thankful.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Walker camp is Saturday

Todd Walker will be back in the clinic-hosting business Saturday at 1 p.m. at Shreveport's MVP Baseball and Softball Academy.

If you have a child between the ages of 6-18 who plays baseball, this is a great chance for them to spend some time with Walker and to support two charities.

Part of the money goes to injured Marine Jacob Schick, who has Shreveport-Bossier roots. The other charity is the Reagan Reid Little Foundation, named after Reagan Reid Little, a Little League softball player who died at age 7 from meningitis.

The younger campers, age 6-12, will start their two-hour camp at 1 p.m. while the older campers, age 13-18, will begin at 3:30.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Baker honored by I-Bowl

Former Captain Shreve standout Scott Baker is the 2007 Carl Milkovich Sportsperson of the Year, an honor bestowed yearly by the PetroSun Independence Bowl.

Baker started the season in Triple-A, but finished with a flourish with the Minnesota Twins. The 6-foot-4 right-hander carried a perfect game into the ninth inning in late August and finished the season with a 9-9 record and a 4.26 ERA.

Baker will be honored at the Dec. 30 game between a Southeastern Conference and a Big 12 Conference opponent.