A couple Insider Articles
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| By drummer510 on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 11:37 am:|
Can somebody post the two ESPN insider articles, one by Buster Olney on the A's resurgence and the Steve Phillips on AL GMs. That would be tight.
| By sactodavey on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 11:41 am:|
Pitching makes young A's dangerous
Talked to Billy Beane last week, before Oakland blew through Texas and moved to the top of the wildcard standings. Early in spring training, he had said that he really liked the talent he collected in his off-season deals, but he really wasn't sure when the talent was going to manifest itself -- maybe late this season, or maybe in 2006. He was hopeful, but also prepared for a struggle.
Just four months later, the Athletics have blossomed together. Shortstop Bobby Crosby rejoined the lineup on May 30, when Oakland was at its absolute lowest ebb -- 17-32 -- and the team's surge has coincided precisely with his presence in the lineup. They won the first four games after he came back and have never slowed down, and without question, they are the most dangerous wildcard contender in the AL because of their pitching.
The Yankees have pitching problems. The Orioles have pitching problems. The Rangers have pitching problems, and might get knocked out of the wildcard race soon -- have pitching problems. Oakland is steeped in pitching, and Beane gave his take on each of the starters.
Rich Harden, who has 52 strikeouts in 45.2 innings since coming back from the disabled list in June and might be the most overwhelming power pitcher in the AL right now: "You can probably count the number of guys with his kind of stuff on one hand. To become as dominant as he's become, as quickly as he has, has surprised me."
Barry Zito, who has allowed two earned runs or less in 10 of his last 12 starts: "He's pitched as well as he did in his Cy Young year. Everything he's throwing has a little more zip on it, and it's a little sharper. He's used that cut slider against lefties pretty effectively."
Kirk Saarloos, who has pitched six or more innings in seven of his last eight starts: "A great competitor who has great athletic ability, and he just finds a way. If he was a golfer, he'd shank his drive -- and then chip in off the green for par. He's got one great weapon, that sinkerball, and he'll keep the ball in the ballpark and give himself a chance."
Danny Haren, who has won his last seven decisions: "It was just a matter of time; I really wasn't worried about him. He had never walked guys before, and you knew it would work itself out. The one thing you don't want to do as an A's fan is buy a real expensive jersey of your favorite player, but on the last homestand, I saw a lot of Haren jerseys."
Joe Blanton, who pitched into the sixth inning in nine straight starts: "We expected him to struggle deep into the year, because he came to the big leagues pretty quick. But he started pounding the strike zone, and he got more aggressive pretty quickly."
Orioles make their plea for Nevin
The Orioles made their pitch to Phil Nevin, who will decide either today or tomorrow to accept or reject the trade to Baltimore. The O's need help in a hurry, because they are fading, getting swept by the Devil Rays. Within this notebook, Scott Kazmir's troubles in the first inning of games is detailed.
• If anybody needed to be convinced that A.J. Burnett is capable of making an impact as a pitcher, he provided evidence on Sunday with a dominating performance of the Giants.
• Andruw Jones hits a couple of more bombs, but the Braves lose in Arizona, with Chipper Jones back in the lineup -- as Jason Grey reports. If Javier Vazquez demands a trade from the Diamondbacks in the offseason -- and given the market, he'd be crazy not to -- there will be a lot of interest from NL teams. Shawn Estes' return is not imminent.
• Mark Redman does fit the Yankees well -- a lefty, for Yankee Stadium -- and there were two scouts in attendance watching Redman on Sunday as he pitched scoreless ball against the Rockies. Jack Wilson has been thrilled with the energy of the players called up from Class AAA. Shawn Chacon also has been mentioned in trade talks, but he wonders if he's going anywhere now. Matt Holliday is still learning, in his second full season in the big leagues.
• Brett Myers led the Phillies in the last game of a sweep of the Padres . The Phillies have called on Johnny Podres to help with struggling prospect Gavin Floyd. Joe Randa didn't start in his first game with San Diego, but he got a hit.
• A couple of years ago we were talking about Jeremy Bonderman as a possible 20-game loser. Now we're talking about him as a possible 20-game winner. Justin Verlander made the trek back to the minors. Kyle Lohse didn't give the Twins the strong outing they needed; the Twins are looking for help from anywhere these days, and right now, that means Terry Tiffee.
• As Joe Strauss writes, the Cardinals' bullpen blew a gasket late Sunday night. Larry Walker might get another cortisone shot, and is mulling other options. Rich Hill is going to start in place of Kerry Wood tonight, and surgery looms as a possibility for the big right-hander .
• Bronson Arroyo has been a mystery lately, and you wonder if his most recent outing would affect the Marlins' interest in him; Gordon Edes writes that they didn't have any scouts there. Tony Massarotti's view of the White Sox -- a good team, but not a great team -- is shared by a lot of scouts and executives. Craig Hansen touches down in the Red Sox organization. Ozzie Guillen wants his players to just deal with the trade rumors.
• Kris Benson has pitched tremendously of late for the Mets. The Mets sent a youngster back to the minors with specific instructions. Coincidence or not, Mike Piazza has hit well since being dropped in the lineup. Jeff Kent included a media critique in his assessment of the Dodgers' dire situation. The Mets ran wild the Dodgers' catchers .
• The Yankees salvaged the final game of their series in Anaheim, behind Mike Mussina. But there are all kinds of injury concerns in the rotation , including for ace Randy Johnson, who was clearly unhappy with the issue on Sunday. Kevin Brown left the team to see a back specialist. Jarrod Washburn has pitched better than his record indicates for the Angels .
• The Nationals' offense was nonexistent again, in a loss to the Astros, who were rescued by a defensive replacement. It does not bode well for Washington that Carlos Baerga has had to play third base, a position for which he was not equipped even 10 years ago.
• The Indians' Kevin Millwood shut down the Mariners in the series' finale. The Indians are still without Travis Hafner, who was beaned eight days ago, as chronicled in this notebook by Steve Herrick. The Mariners seem to be avoiding the word "sellers" the way that the Democrats avoid the word "liberal." Seamheads will gather in Seattle.
• Drew Olson writes of how Adam Dunn impacted the Brewers on Sunday.
• After a slow start against Ted Lilly, the Royals bounced back to beat the Jays on Sunday. A Royals pitcher says he's grown up, although he probably wouldn't get many endorsements on that point from the Tigers. Bob Elliott gives a rundown of market buyers and sellers in his most recent column .
posted: July 25, 2005 6:15:14 AM PDT | Feedback
Padres seeking jump start
Padres Manager Bruce Bochy leaned back in his chair in Shea Stadium the other day and spoke with incredulity about his team's lack of offense. It's not just a simple matter of being unable to score runs, he said, but it's an inability to really get anything going -- for anybody to even drive the ball.
The Padres have a slugging percentage of .384 since the end of May, which ranks 29th among the 30 teams in the majors. They've scored a total of 11 runs during their current six-game losing streak, and have scored either one or no runs in four of those games.
Change was inevitable, and it came with two quick strokes on Saturday, when the Padres completed a trade for Reds third baseman Joe Randa and agreed, in principal, to a deal that would send first baseman Phil Nevin to Baltimore for pitcher Sidney Ponson -- and create a full-time job for Xavier Nady at first base.
Because of a limited no-trade clause in his contract, Nevin can veto the deal, as he has done twice in the past, once killing a proposed deal for Jeromy Burnitz and later ending talk about a swap for Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. Bochy was expected to take Nevin out to dinner Saturday night to talk about the situation, and perhaps lay out the stark future for Nevin with the Padres.
If he stays in San Diego, he'll probably spend most of his time watching from the bench. If he goes to Baltimore, on the other hand, he'll at least platoon with Rafael Palmeiro at first and designated hitter, probably playing close to full-time. The Commissioner's Office is expected to grant a 72-hour window for the Orioles to talk to Nevin and make it clear to him exactly what their plans are for him -- and perhaps add a little financial incentive, as well.
The Padres had to do something to upgrade their attack, with their lead in the NL West down to 3½ games in spite of the division's overwhelming mediocrity. Nevin's production has dropped off, and when he does not hit for power his value is greatly diminished. And it had become painfully clear that Sean Burroughs simply was not going to refine the kind of extra-base power that San Diego had hoped for as the Padres drafted and developed him.
The addition of Randa -- a solid veteran with close to 40 extra-base hits -- and the insertion of Nady to the full-time lineup won't give San Diego a dynamic offense. But it should at least feed into a greater consistency, with more chances, more guys driving the ball. In time, the Padres will probably grow as frustrated with Ponson as the Orioles were (assuming the deal goes through), but he is an innings-eater, and is capable of pitching well, when motivated. These were the right deals at the right time.
Oakland charging from behind
The American League's version of Giacomo -- the Oakland Athletics -- keeps stampeding forward, exploding toward the front of the AL wild-card standings. With another win over the Rangers, they've now moved ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card race. Ray Fosse very much appreciated Jason Kendall's game-ending play on Friday.
• As the Orioles look to make trades, the team continues to slide in the standings, dropping another game in Tampa Bay -- thanks to a remarkable play by Travis Lee. Seth McClung has a unique, short history against the Orioles.
• One of the most successful set-up men in baseball helped the Pirates beat the Rockies.
• The Giants were blown out by the Marlins, and the fans let their frustration be known. Brian Sabean is still not declaring himself as a seller or a buyer, with the trade deadline looming. As mentioned in this story, Sabean merely chuckled when he heard about the Sidney Ponson deal -- because the Giants got a sense of Ponson a couple of years ago, probably. Dontrelle Willis has struggled horribly in his last few starts, and is looking for answers. The Marlins are sending off some signals that they might keep A.J. Burnett, but we have to believe this is a smokescreen, and that eventually, Florida will make a deal with the Orioles, Red Sox or White Sox.
• The Nationals scored three or more runs in an inning for the first time since July 8 -- and it came by virtue of a defensive gift from the Houston Astros. Chad Cordero finally got another shot for a save. Phil Garner didn't like a late-inning call, and let the umpires know it.
• The Cardinals have a nice and large lead in the Central, and that's a good thing, because their injuries continue to mount, with Albert Pujols and John Rodriguez both nursing injuries, at a time when Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders are already out. Nomar Garciaparra is on the verge of a rehabilitation assignment.
• Wade Miller's night started badly in Chicago -- and finished strongly. The Red Sox signed a draft pick who might help them this year; talked to a scout about Craig Hansen a few weeks ago and he said this guy could pitch in the big leagues right now, without stopping in the minors. A.J. Pierzynski has been a perfect fit in Chicago.
• In the aftermath of BALCO, Gordon Edes takes stock of the steroid scandal.
• This is the Yankees' basic problem now, and perhaps the rest of the season -- three days out of five, they have no idea what to expect from their starting rotation. The Yankees are keeping an eye on a veteran outfielder, but a source mentioned to me yesterday that the team simply might go beyond the trade deadline with Bubba Crosby as their center fielder, because the trade options are either imperfect or too highly priced -- and the one thing the Yankees want from their center fielder is for him to catch the ball, which Crosby does well. The Angels signed their top draft pick, and he seems pretty confident.
• Troy Renck writes about the culture of the trade.
• The Mariners keep struggling for hits.
• The Dodgers missed an opportunity to gain another game on the Padres, missing out on chances to beat the Mets. Milton Bradley had a long and winding road to New York that smacked of Trains, Planes and Automobiles.
• The pitch that Andruw Jones hit to beat the Diamondbacks looked almost unhittable: no balls, two strikes, fastball about shoulder high, and somehow, he got on top of it to beat the D-Backs. The fact that Chipper Jones has a sore foot has to concern the Braves.
• Justin Verlander had a rough game against the Twins, but earlier, Sean Douglass had pitched well and Curtis Granderson hit his first major league home run, and Detroit split a doubleheader.
• Cliff Lee shut down Seattle, and the Indians benefited from a shift in their lineup, as Bud Shaw writes.
posted: July 24, 2005 5:11:54 AM PDT | Feedback
Human Growth Industry
Two years ago, in the summer of Major League Baseball's first steroid program, 5 to 7 percent of the players tested positive. Players were not subject to as many tests then as they are now, and the testing was not random. Only an idiot, one veteran player mused, would flunk the test.
Maybe that player had it wrong; maybe the players who tested positive that year weighed all the risks against the rewards and made what they believed were sound judgments. That year, it really didn't matter if you took steroids. There were no penalties at that time, no suspensions or fines; there was only survey testing that year, with no individual held accountable. It stands to reason that the steroid users kept taking the chemicals because they knew there would be no ramifications.
Which brings us to Human Growth Hormone, which, in 2005, comprises the most enormous loophole -- the Grand Canyon of loopholes -- in baseball's current system of testing. HGH is on the list of banned substances, but there is no test for it, and everybody knows it.
Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, the players most directly connected to the steroid scandal, have presumably tested clean, along with virtually every player in the majors. To date, just six players have tested positive and been suspended. But it would be naïve to assume that the problem of performance-enhancing drugs has been cleaned up in baseball because human growth hormone is a clear alternative.
Two years ago, dozens upon dozens of players tested positive for steroids as they sought to gain a competitive advantage. You can reasonably assume that many players would now recognize and exploit the HGH loophole.
There are no tangible ramifications, just like in the summer of 2003: Players can take that stuff, extract all the immediate physical benefits, and they won't get caught. There is quiet and wide speculation within baseball that some players are using this substance -- and until baseball uses an adequate test to detect HGH, there's really nothing that can be done about it. There was much debate at the March 17 congressional hearings about whether a blood test could adequately detect HGH, but in any event, baseball doesn't administer a blood test.
Former steroid users across the landscape of sports have talked about what they believe is the addictive nature of performance-enhancing drugs. They talk about the sense of euphoria that comes with taking the stuff, they talk about their craving for that feeling. They might as well be talking about cocaine or speed.
Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that baseball has had a core of steroid abusers for years -- steroid addicts, perhaps. We don't know for sure because we don't have enough information. If the problem was cocaine or speed, we would expect some former addicts to relapse; that is simply the nature of substance abuse.
The fact that the substances are performance-enhancing, rather than performance-detracting, doesn't change the equation. It stands to reason that there are players still out there looking for an edge, craving the euphoria, and they've got an option in HGH.
Baseball's steroid-testing system is the toughest in the sport's history, and it appears to have reduced steroid abuse, judging by the body shapes and sizes. But the problem of performance-enhancing substances remains.
Burnett on the move -- or not
There are wide reports this morning that the Orioles' pursuit of A.J. Burnett is gaining momentum. The Baltimore Sun, however, is reporting that the team is more reticent about making a deal for Burnett, because he would be a two-month rental and because youngster Hayden Penn would be in the trade.
• Aubrey Huff increased his market value with a grand slam against the Orioles. Lance Carter got sent to the minor leagues and was not happy about it.
• The Nationals continue to face their opponents' best, and this time it was Roger Clemens who buried them.
• Curt Schilling blames himself for his implosion against the Yankees, wondering out loud if his trip to the ESPYs put him in the optimal situation. He says he's ready to start right now ... The Red Sox ran headlong into the White Sox and lost to Jon Garland. But they lost no ground in the standings, because the Yankees and Orioles also lost. Frank Thomas was sent to the disabled list, as Toni Ginnetti reports.
• The Yankees have dropped three of four, including two in a row against the Angels, with Al Leiter struggling early in the game. Within this notebook, there is news of Jered Weaver's promotion to Double-A. Jason Giambi is feeling very good about his resurgence. Randy Johnson says his back is OK.
• The Blue Jays' Pete Walker struggled against the Royals.
• Hee-Seop Choi had a great day with the glove against the Mets. Milton Bradley is almost game ready, getting ejected during his minor league rehab. The Mets keep saying they are buyers, but like a lot of teams, they haven't done much buying in the last month.
• Don't look now, but Oakland is ahead of Baltimore in the wild-card race, and only a half-game behind the Yankees after surviving a slugfest with the Rangers. Eric Chavez is happy for his friend Jason Giambi.
• The Indians are playing the worst teams in the AL these days, but still can't put anything together. Manager Eric Wedge was questioned about a decision to allow a right-hander to face Ichiro Suzuki. Within this notebook, there is a small mention of a Yankees' presence around center fielder Randy Winn.
• Scott Rolen's bad shoulder is hurting, and so he went on the disabled list. Even with a respectable number of injured veterans, the Cardinals kept on winning, beating the Cubs in an incredible game on Friday; Chris Carpenter and Carlos Zambrano had a great duel. It's possible that Kerry Wood will be headed to the disabled list, again. Steve Stone points out that shoulder inflammation is only a symptom and not the root problem.
• Jason LaRue is sharing time as the Reds' catcher now, and he wishes he would've heard about it from somebody other than reporters. The Reds vaulted over Pittsburgh and out of last place in the NL Central by beating the Brewers with a burst of homers.
• Dontrelle Willis got pounded again, this time by the Giants. Juan Rodriguez reports on the Burnett talks from the Marlins' perspective. Within this notebook, Joe Capozzi notes that rookie Scott Olsen was sent back to the minors.
• Chase Utley walks off against the Padres, whose lead in the NL West keeps diminishing. Trevor Hoffman, who will soon pass John Franco on the all-time saves list, wants to stay with the Padres.
• Gaylord Perry talks about his use of performance-enhancing substances -- on the baseball.
• The Rockies have put together a nice little road trip, winning on Friday night in Pittsburgh with a bomb from a slugger who has had an off year. But they got crushing news about Jason Jennings, who is out for the season.
• The Twins got ripped by the Tigers. Detroit would probably like to trade Rondell White, but an injury is complicating that situation.
• The Braves had a shot at taking over sole possession of first place in the NL East, after a comeback -- but then lost to the Diamondbacks. Yet another Atlanta rookie has been called up. Arizona is going to an all-righty bullpen.
posted: July 23, 2005 7:36:44 AM PDT | Feedback
The first thing I thought when I read about Livan Hernandez's eruption after the Nationals' loss Wednesday was that perhaps he got the same genes that help to shape the personality of his older brother Orlando.
Now, after reading that he backed off, I'm sure of it.
El Duque was perhaps the most enigmatic player I ever covered, his moods shifting unpredictably, inexplicably. He could walk into the clubhouse with the broadest and brightest smile, greet you warmly, and then two hours later, he could glower at you, and you'd have no idea why something had changed.
The experience was not unique to me; the players dealt with the same thing, as did pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who had the responsibility of sifting through the layers of El Duque's personality on a day-to-day basis. Mel once said, in his dry and understated way, that he had gotten a lot better at mind reading while working with El Duque.
In Orlando's second season with the Yankees, he pitched a game in Fenway Park and got pounded. I wrote a story about how the Red Sox had made some adjustments to his fastball-slider repertoire, with the right-handers laying off the off-speed stuff he threw just off the outside corner. It was the standard they've-adjusted-to-him-and-he's-got-to-make-the-next-adjustment type story that is written about players new to the league.
Jose Cardenal, the Yankees' first base coach and Hernandez's best friend on the team, saw the story the next day and figured it was an opportunity to put a burr into El Duque. As he laughingly told me later, Cardenal loosely translated the story for Hernandez -- with the emphasis on the word loosely -- saying that the Red Sox had figured out El Duque.
A couple of days later, the Yankees were in Seattle, and I stood in a corner of the clubhouse and chatted with Ricky Ledee, sort of glancing off in the distance as we talked, and suddenly El Duque is barking in my direction, from 25 feet away, in Spanish, loosely channeling DeNiro, "What are you looking at? Are you looking at me?" I turned around, sure that he was talking to somebody behind me. Nope.
"What are you looking at?" he snapped again, drawing up his shoulders. That's when I realize: He wants a confrontation, and he's ready to fight me.
I just kept talking to Ricky, and El Duque waved a hand in my direction and went about his business, but it probably was as close to a Bobby Bonilla I'll-Show-You-The-Bronx moment as I've ever had. Another player saw the whole thing, walked over and twirled a finger near his ear. "He's crazy," he said.
And there were moments when El Duque could be as gracious and introspective as any player I've been around. I once got a copy of the baseball encyclopedia from Cuba and showed it to him; with the help of his broken English and my very broken Spanish, he told stories about different names in the book, including one of his brothers, who had passed away from an aneurysm.
El Duque and Livan share one other trait, as well: Put them in a big game, in a big moment, and they can be transcendent pitchers, certain they will find a way to win. Livan probably drives the Nationals crazy from day to day, but down the stretch, as Washington tries to make the playoffs in its first year of existence, they'll want him to have the ball as often as possible.
The Nationals lost the first game of their series with the Astros. Richard Justice likes the atmosphere in Washington, but maybe not the heat.
Padres are run-starved
Went to Shea Stadium yesterday to talk with some of the Padres and you had the feeling it was going to be a rough day, because San Diego is dying for offense -- and got pounded by the Mets. The Mets are getting all kinds of help from all different parts of their roster, and now they have a trade-deadline quandary.
• Randy Johnson pitched well Thursday night. The problems started after he departed. The Yankees are looking to trade, as George King writes, but have nothing in hand. Derek Jeter is battling a slump. I bet that by year's end, Vlad will wind up winning the MVP again. The Angels are looking for some offense as they consider trades.
• The Red Sox took advantage of a White Sox mistake. Gordon Edes writes that Boston executives are confident they could pull off a deal for A.J. Burnett. Manny Ramirez was the center of some playful flak before the game. Mark Buehrle made it to the seventh inning, and then frayed. With Dustin Hermanson ailing, the White Sox may be in the market for bullpen help.
• The Pirates' Zach Duke is more than the real deal, as the Rockies learned. The Pirates have called up a youngster to share time in the lineup. Now it looks like Jason Jennings might be hurt for the luckless Rockies.
• The Mariners maintain the smokescreen that they have a chance to win this year. They're checking out the possible source of a player's illness, and it might stem back to a suite at Safeco Field.
• The Braves traded a reliever to the Texas Rangers. • Oakland keeps charging. After the Athletics' win Thursday, they are now a half-game behind the Orioles, and 1½ games behind the Yankees. The second-base trio is working for Oakland.
• The Phillies dealt Tim Worrell to the Arizona Diamondbacks late Thursday night. Jon Lieber pitched great against the Dodgers on Thursday -- but Odalis Perez was better. Cory Lidle became the latest player to leave the Phillies because of personal issues. Brad Penny got nailed with a five-game suspension.
• Scott Rolen's condition is not good, as noted in this story about the Cardinals' loss to the Brewers. Geoff Jenkins is raking for Milwaukee.
• The Twins have reeled off three straight wins, and they got some help from the Tigers Thursday. Bob Watson spelled out his suspension formula for John Lowe.
• Austin Kearns has returned to the Reds with a bang. Kerry Wood will miss at least one start, and so far, they're not talking about a switch to the bullpen for the big right-hander.
• The Marlins continue to wait for the Orioles to make a final decision.
• The Orioles' offense is fading, just at the worst time. Larry Bigbie is trying to block out all the trade talk.
• It might not have looked like there's improvement in the D-Rays' rotation Wednesday, but Tampa Bay has improved somewhat.
• The Indians jolted the Royals, even without Travis Hafner in the lineup.
• The Blue Jays are also interested in Burnett, but will probably wait until the offseason.
posted: July 22, 2005 7:43:22 AM PDT | Feedback
Stakes are high
Some teams are out there selling like it's a flea market. Some teams are not contending, but they're not ready to sell. Some teams are buyers, but they're kind of kicking tires unenthusiastically.
And then there are teams that either are desperate to make deals or should be desperate, given their current situations:
1. Chicago White Sox
They've got the best record in baseball and a huge lead in the AL Central. Although it's weeks before they'll likely clinch a playoff spot, general manager Kenny Williams is in a position to plan for the postseason -- and Chicago will probably need some help. When you project the White Sox playing in a short series, they match up well in starting pitching but lack the kind of high-impact, swing-and-miss guys that usually control October. That's probably why Williams has been willing to discuss a deal for A.J. Burnett and why he was willing to check on the availability of Billy Wagner.
This is Chicago's best window of opportunity in years, and in a season in which the White Sox had control of the division by June, a first-round elimination would be a huge disappointment; they'll overpay to improve their chances this year.
2. Baltimore Orioles
They have been talking about the A.J. Burnett trade and should find a way to make it happen because the stakes for Baltimore are high. Club officials are convinced the Washington Nationals are contributing to the decline in the Orioles' attendance, based on the ZIP codes taken from the credit-card receipts, and Baltimore is in a fight for attention within the market.
If the Orioles win the AL East, they could win back much-needed credibility with their fan base after seven seasons of decline. In a season in which the big-budget Red Sox and Yankees have struggled, this might be their best chance in years. You know Boston and New York will improve their respective rosters before the trade deadline; Baltimore should be desperate to do that, too.
3. Washington Nationals
The Nationals have gone a long way toward creating a beachhead for this franchise, getting off to an improbable start and leading the NL East at the All-Star break. But general manager Jim Bowden knows the team's success has been fragile, with so many close games, and he's working like crazy to add a starting pitcher like Jeff Weaver of the Dodgers. Livan Hernandez's possible departure -- after his loss Wednesday night, he said he might decide to have knee surgery -- also could heighten Washington's desire to augment the staff. But what the Nationals really need is for the bruised heel of first baseman Nick Johnson to heal so he can return to the lineup.
4. Florida Marlins
Florida wants to shake up its roster, move Miguel Cabrera to third base and shed the dollars still owed to Mike Lowell. But the Marlins want to do it quickly enough so they can retool and rebuild and make a run at the wild card this year.
5. Chicago Cubs
In their rotation, they've got a future Hall of Famer (Greg Maddux), a guy who might someday be a Hall of Fame candidate (Mark Prior) and an All-Star caliber pitcher (Carlos Zambrano) -- and their first baseman is a candidate to be the first Triple Crown winner in 38 years. That kind of foundation doesn't come around very often.
6. Boston Red Sox
They'll take a shot, add some middle relief, maybe pry a starting pitcher from someplace, but they won't overpay. They might have already made their most significant acquisition of July with the addition of Tony Graffanino.
7. New York Yankees
They're going to pick up a center fielder here shortly, and perhaps it'll be Randy Winn, who's been at the center of trade conversations between the Mariners and Yankees.
8. Philadelphia Phillies
The reason they won't deal Billy Wagner, as they've told several teams, is that they still want to ride this season out and not break up the team too quickly. They could add a piece or two before the deadline.
9. Minnesota Twins
They've got a good pitching staff, deep enough to make them serious contenders, but they've got to add a consistent bat to a struggling offense. The problem is there just aren't that many good-hitting second basemen and third basemen out there.
10. San Diego Padres
They are the front-runners to land Joe Randa, it would appear.
• Livan Hernandez expressed a lot of frustration after his start Wednesday, indicating it was all but a done deal that he is done for the season.
• Howard Bryant reports that Boston is talking about expanding a deal with the Twins -- and Kevin Millar would be involved, along with Bill Mueller. Minnesota needs some offense. You wonder if those talks were separate, or concurrent, with these trade talks with the Marlins.
• The Orioles' enthusiasm for the A.J. Burnett deal with the Marlins seems to be fading. Meanwhile, they dropped the last two games of their series in Minnesota. Javy Lopez is almost ready to return to the lineup for the Orioles.
• As the Marlins discuss the Burnett deal, they're looking at some salary cuts all around. Florida crushed Arizona on Wednesday, with Brian Moehler leading the way.
• Meanwhile, the Giacomo of the American League keeps roaring forward from behind. Oakland took two of three from the Angels and is 2½ games out in the wild-card race.
• Yhency Brazoban might turn out to be the classic case of a guy who was handed too much responsibility too soon in his career -- but for now, he'll remain the Dodgers' closer. L.A. mustered a victory in Philadelphia, where there will be fingers crossed today: Philadelphia's top pitching prospect is having his back examined.
• Mark Hendrickson failed to register an out in Boston for the Devil Rays. In his notebook, Marc Topkin reports Delmon Young has a hit in each of his first six Triple-A games.
• The Astros are rolling again, crushing the Pirates this week. Speculation is mounting about the job status of Lloyd McClendon.
• Tom Glavine has edged another step closer to 300 victories after a rout of the Padres. Mike Piazza tied Johnny Bench for career homers.
• The Yankees hammered six homers as they pounded the Texas Rangers, and Aaron Small threw just enough sinkers and strikes to frustrate the Rangers. Al Leiter is getting ready for his second start since his return to the Yankees. The team's revolving door is spinning fast.
• There were sign-stealing issues in Toronto as the Blue Jays beat the Mariners -- and nearly fought with them. Eddie Guardado reportedly says he wants to stay with the Mariners.
• This time, it was Aramis Ramirez who pounded the Reds, and Kerry Wood went down with shoulder stiffness. Joe Randa and a prospect are waiting for the inevitable. Nomar Garciaparra is getting better.
• The White Sox believe they have other guys who can close, but Chicago did lose two of three games to the Tigers.
• John Smoltz keeps building a case for a Hall of Fame induction someday. As John Thomson makes his way back for the Braves, Mike Hampton suffered a freak injury.
posted: July 21, 2005 11:25:57 AM PDT | Feedback
| By drummer510 on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 11:47 am:|
| By sactodavey on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 11:57 am:|
The ins and outs of AL GMsBy Steve Phillips
As the trade deadline approaches, general managers are checking the scouting reports on the players they are trying to acquire. Clearly, that is an important part of any deal getting done -- finding the right players who fit the needs of a team.
But more important is the man making the deal. A general manager's style and personality can impact the negotiations at this important time of the year. Below are my scouting reports on the American League general managers:
Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox
Epstein is very straightforward and serious. He knows what he will do and what he won't. He cuts to the chase in most conversations. There isn't a lot of chitchat, mainly because he doesn't have much in common with other GMs; he is young and single. He is also bright and focused.
He is willing to make a deal and is willing to take a chance, even if it goes against public opinion. Simply put, he has guts.
Brian Cashman, New York Yankees
Cashman's job is slightly different than the rest of the general managers because of owner George Steinbrenner. Cashman does a great job of gathering information from other clubs and presenting what he has found to the committees in Tampa and New York. Cashman offers his opinion about the proper course of action to the Boss. He leaves no stone unturned.
Ultimately, the decision ends up being Steinbrenner's, although if he chooses the plan that Cashman proposes, Steinbrenner is held accountable for the outcome. Cashman is great at using Steinbrenner as his excuse to buy time or say no to a deal. This is a trick that many GMs use to ease the rejection in deals with guys they get along with well or to buy more time (blame it on the owner). Cashman is well-respected by his peers for his baseball acumen and his people skills. He treats people the right way. He is intelligent and creative, and he has guts.
Jim Beattie/Mike Flanagan, Baltimore Orioles
This two-headed monster is anything but a monster. Both Beattie and Flanagan are gentlemen and former major-league pitchers, but Beattie takes on the role of the executive while Flanagan is more the hard-core baseball guy.
Their styles are complementary, and they both possess good baseball acumen. Beattie gets most of the incoming calls from other GMs and handles the communication with them, but Flanagan is involved in every aspect of the decision making. It is an interesting dynamic with the Angelos family, an active ownership clan, involved in the decision-making process, as well.
In the end, there seems to be some blend of everyone's input in the decisions. The Orioles have some strong organizational philosophies (articulated or not): They don't like to trade within the division, they have serious concerns about players with past health issues and they need to negotiate long-term deals with appealing players available in trades, etc. They are considered conservative trade partners.
J.P. Ricciardi, Toronto Blue Jays
Ricciardi is easy to communicate with because he knows what he wants and who he likes on every team. He has a good personality, so the conversations come easily. He has his pulse on what's going on around the game with other clubs, and he has a style and a presence.
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| By jeffreyb on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 12:49 pm:|
Billy tells the truth!
>The one thing you don't want to do as an A's fan
>is buy a real expensive jersey of your favorite
| By sactodavey on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 06:09 pm:|
The ins and outs of AL GMs (Cont.)
He knows what he likes and what he doesn't and doesn't need to dwell on things. He tells you yes or no very quickly. He is intelligent and creative. Ricciardi has the true autonomy that not every GM possesses and is empowered by it. He communicates with ownership about what he is doing, but doesn't have to ask for permission. He is fun to hang out with and is a good storyteller.
Chuck LaMar, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
LaMar is a hard worker and a very serious guy. He has passion for his job and wears the pressure of the job on his sleeve.
He is all about the job and is a no-nonsense guy. He knows what he likes but tends to be conservative when making a trade. He will wait for the perfect deal, which might not come. LaMar will sort through every other possible scenario while making a deal, and teams understand that in the end it might not happen.
He covets young talent and therefore puts a premium on keeping it and acquiring it. He will shoot for the moon at the front of a trade discussion to test a team's desperation. It never hurts to ask. He is a tireless worker.
Ken Williams, Chicago White Sox
Williams is a bright and articulate guy. He has the presence expected of a former player and current GM. He is willing to commiserate with his peers about the job, lifestyle and family issues. He also has perspective.
And there's one thing Williams is willing to do: Make a deal. He is not shy about players he really likes. In fact, if he really likes a player, he will make proposal after proposal to try to get him. He wants to make trades and therefore he makes trades. He understands that his actions reflect the feelings of ownership and send messages to players and fans. In a large market where there are high expectations to win, you have to go for it. Williams does just that.
Terry Ryan, Minnesota Twins
Ryan is a very serious and hardworking guy. He is all about the team and the organization. He chose to stay in Minnesota through some rough times without any guarantees. That tells you about his character and commitment. He knows what he likes and what he doesn't. He also understands what he can consider and what he can't because of payroll limitations. He is a realist.
He tends to look at the worst-case scenario instead of the best-case scenario in situations, but that is what drives him and motivates him to find solutions to problems. Terry is also willing to say no, which helps him. In fact, he says no to most first proposals even when it might be a deal he would consider. He doesn't chase away his partners, he just gets them to consider other options that ultimately might better suit him because he knows he can always go back to the original proposal later. He tests other GMs, and sometimes they blink and improve their proposals.
Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians
Shapiro is one of the brightest and most respectful young GMs out there. He is humble, friendly and intelligent. It's hard not to like him, but don't misinterpret that for weakness. He can match wits with anyone, and he's willing to make tough decisions and take the heat for them. He is aggressive yet controlled, which is a nice combo in the Cleveland market.
He is also empathetic, meaning he understands the needs of his trading partner, which allows him to make deals. He looks for a win-win deal, and when he makes a trade it's never about him, it's about the organization.
Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers
Dombrowski is one of the more mature GMs. He is a good family man and a good person. He is patient when he needs to be and aggressive when he wants to be. He hires good people and trusts their judgment. He also likes to make the final call in trade discussions.
He likes to be able to choose from lists of players to make a deal: He likes to pick one prospect from Group 1, one prospect from Group 2 and one from Group 3. He also likes to consider making a deal in which he chooses one player from each of the first two lists plus a player to be named from the third list, which allows him more time to scout and evaluate the players to ensure the right decision.
Dombrowski has firm beliefs about how to build a team and win. It worked for him with the Marlins and has worked since -- he is now turning around the Tigers.
Allard Baird, Kansas City Royals
Baird is one of the most decent guys in the game. It would be hard to find someone who doesn't like Allard. He is likeable and friendly, and there is nothing fake or phony about him. He is a scout by trade, so he looks for tools and upside in young players.
He likes to project the development of players. He is also a good organizational guy who never criticizes his manager or owner, which most GMs do when they talk with one another. The only safe place that a GM can vent is to one of his peers because other GMs understand how lonely the job can be at times. Baird never vents -- he just copes with it all. He is patient and thoughtful, which is helpful given the tough times the Royals have had.
Bill Stoneman, Los Angeles Angels
Stoneman is very conservative and might be the most patient GM in the game. He is friendly and a gentleman. He likes his own players with good reason, but he doesn't seem to have that bug that most young GMs have in which they covet thy neighbor's players.
He is also very thoughtful in conversations, prone to long pauses before responding. He keeps his thoughts close to the vest and listens far more than he talks. This works for him because some of the young guys just keep on talking. He pinpoints what he wants and goes after it. He spends most of his time and focus on going after Plan A and much less time than others juggling Plan B, C or D.
Billy Beane, Oakland A's
Beane has a dynamic personality. He will tell you exactly who he likes and what he is going after. He believes that if you know what he is doing, maybe there is a creative way for you to help him get it. It is not a surprise, therefore, that Beane finds himself in the middle of many three- and four-way deals.
He doesn't care what people's opinions are about him. He is also aggressive and goes for what he wants. He has the ability to visualize what his plan is and how it works in conjunction with everyone else. He then tries to find a way to benefit from others' plans. Not many GMs can be a GM for his own team as well as someone else's team, but Beane has that ability.
He is one of the few GMs who doesn't say no to every initial proposal. If it works for him, he doesn't play games.
John Hart, Texas Rangers
Hart is a wily veteran. He is patient when he wants to be and aggressive when he needs to be. He is the best at always making you feel like he will make a deal with you tomorrow.
In the meantime, he is shopping your proposal, trying to find a better deal. He has the ability to interact with the young GMs well. He can communicate and understand the needs and styles of whomever is across the table from him. He tailors his approach to the trade partner.
I know John is going to call me back tomorrow and accept the proposals I made to him in 2002. I just know it.
Bill Bavasi, Seattle Mariners
Bavasi is a good baseball man from a good baseball family. He is confident, bright and articulate. He is also somewhat conservative. He tends to wait on the big decisions until he has gotten all the information and evaluated it. He does this because he wants to make sure he gets it right. Once he moves, though, he moves quickly and decisively.
He is an easygoing guy who always seems to be in the same mood. He doesn't ever voice his frustrations to people outside of his organization.
When the trades start to fly, check out which personalities meshed to close deals.
Steve Phillips, a former general manager of the New York Mets, is a regular on ESPN's Baseball Tonight.
finished on the gm article
| By oaktownfan on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 06:41 pm:|
Onley is a complete dick! Just two or so weeks ago, he said the A's had no chance and said they were sellers so many times, that ESPN should have a loop of hours of him saying that phrase.
Now, with the A's leading the WC race or at least tied, he decides to kiss the A's ass. Sorry Onley you're a dick and any A's fans who heard you talk up the Yanks/BoSox the past month while keeping the A's out of your contender's list saying they should trade off their veteran players shouldn't take your opinions seriously.