DePo, Theo to form joint venture team

October 31, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 23 Comments 

This is a USSM exclusive: outsted new school GMs Theo Epstein and Paul DePodesta have joined forces and are seeking venture capital for their new venture, tentatively titled “TheoDePo Co.” The two whiz kids will attempt to acquire the Las Vegas 51s, reach a deal with Las Vegas development companies to build an entertainment complex that includes a baseball-only stadium, and then petition Major League Baseball under a set of rules they believe force the league to bring the matter of admitting the team to a vote, as long as the proposal meets certain financial and market critiera… rumored backers of the development deal are a dream team of Las Vegas companies, headed by Steve Wynn, and including Boyd Gaming Corp. and Park Place.

This could set into effect a series of even crazier events: owners may be swayed to vote for the proposal by the chance to use the Las Vegas team’s cash payment to contract one of the leagues worst franchises that constantly suck revenue-sharing money, like the Twins or Devil Rays, leaving those cities to pick up a minor-league affiliation instead. Under the current CBA, such a franchise swap is not prohibited because it would not affect the total number of teams in existence.

Whether a new, well-financed franchise is added to the mix or supplants an existing poor one, this would dramatically change the dynamics of free agency in this off-season and may send the price of premier free agents like Paul Konerko skyrocketing.

Baseball analysts note that this is all totally not true, and they’re correct, I totally made this all up. But would it be any weirder than what’s been going on in Boston this last week?

Epstein out in Boston

October 31, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 39 Comments, elsewhere I’m sure.

Unlike DePodesta in LA, this was Epstein’s choice; he turned down a reported three-year, $4.5M deal (reports vary from $3.6 to $4.5M) at the last minute, apparently looking for something closer to the $2.5M per year the Red Sox offered Billy Beane three years ago.

Somehow I can’t see him taking a job in Tampa Bay, Los Angeles or Philly. “Out of baseball for a year” seems the best bet.

Live in Bellingham? Been To Spring Training?

October 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners, Off-topic ranting · 10 Comments 

If so, and you’re interested in fame, fortune and glory — or at least in being interviewed by the Bellingham Herald — hit me up via the backchannel e-mail address. A friend of mine is doing a story on Mariner fans just like you.

New coaches, Gillick interviewing in L.A.

October 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 88 Comments 

The M’s hired Rafael Chaves to be their new pitching coach (replacing Bryan Price) and Jeff Pentland as their hitting coach. Pentland was lately the hitting coach for… wait for it… the Royals.

Royals hitting, by OPS rank
2003: 7th of 14
2004: 14th of 14
2005: 12th of 14

He certainly got results.

Also interesting, though, is that the M’s have let the Dodgers talk to Pat Gillick for their vacant GM position. It’d be amusing, if only because Bavasi came to Seattle from L.A. to take over from Gillick, and now Gillick may go to L.A. to take over that organization from one of the young whippersnapper GMs he has little patience for.

“What’s this computer doing on my desk? Who left all these SQL manuals in here? What’s this CD… Mogwai? Who the heck is Mogwai?”

DePodesta fired

October 29, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 101 Comments 

LA Times, elsewhere.

The Dodgers didn’t have a great season, certainly. But what’s most interesting to me is the extent that the daily press in LA took him down. DePodesta was subject to almost constant criticism of his every move that often ranged freely into personal attacks on him (Jeff’s talked about this here only a few weeks ago). Dave and I both said that we thought the Dodgers had a horrible off-season (others disagreed), and the season turned out badly.

But does his on-the-job performance justify getting canned this early? It seems as if they’re reacting much more to the perception of his work, rather than what he actually has done since coming on, and have decided to bow to the meme-makers.

Sports columnists across the country must be breaking out the champagne. If you’re nasty enough and loud enough for long enough, and your ownership’s weak-willed, you can bring down a GM in two years.

Mariner free agents

October 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 137 Comments 

No Mariner filed in the opening batch, but in alphabetical order, I present the possibilities:
LHP Eddie Guardado (mutual option, team still pondering their $6.5m option)
PH-L Dave Hansen
RHP Shigetoshi Hasegawa (club option ha ha ha ha)
LHP Jamie Moyer
RHP Jeff Nelson
IF-R Pokey Reese
C-R Dan Wilson

Props for Niehaus

October 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 37 Comments 

At long last, Dave Niehaus has been recognized by America’s Finest News Source — The Onion. Enjoy.

Matsuzaka’s posting request denied

October 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 38 Comments 

We’d been hearing rumors about this, and from Kyodo News via, here’s the confirmation: the Seibu Lions have denied Daisuke Matsuzaka’s request that the team post him. The posting system is the only way he’d be able to come to the major leagues this year.

Team representative Akira Kuroiwa said he told Matsuzaka that
the 25-year-old is a ”symbol” of the Seibu group and should
continue as an important member of the Lions next season, although
his wish to put himself in a more challenging situation is
understandable … [snip]

After the 2004 season, Seibu suggested it would give Matsuzaka a
chance to ply his trade in the majors through the posting system on
condition that he perform well enough to make his case this year.

This year, Matsuzaka was 14-13 with a 2.30 ERA, third in the
Pacific League, in 28 games. He led the league with 226 strikeouts,
15 complete games, three shutouts and 215 innings pitched.

The numbers, which came one year after Matsuzaka posted a 10-6
record with a 2.90 ERA and 127 strikeouts, apparently failed to
convince Seibu front-office officials.

There appears to be an air of finality about this, although Matsuzaka says he’s going to keep trying to persuade them. Under the current situation, he wouldn’t be eligible for free agency before 2008.

Two immediate impacts here. First, top free agent pitchers like A.J. Burnett and Kevin Millwood just got more expensive due to scarcity. Second, this is a real disappointment from a major league fan’s perspective, since one of the most enticing players won’t get the chance to ply his trade in the states this year.

Frankly, I’m happy for Japanese fans that they’re not losing a talent like Matsuzaka. I don’t want to see the Japanese leagues become a de facto feeder system. But I’m bummed that I won’t get to see the gyroball in Safeco Field next year.

Chaves and Pentland hired

October 27, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 46 Comments 

The M’s today announced the hiring of Jeff Pentland as hitting coach, as expected.

However, they threw everyone a curveball when they announced the hiring of Rafael Chaves as pitching coach. Most rumors had him being a long shot, but the M’s stayed in house and hired the well respected candidate who guided the Tacoma Rainiers staff in 2005.

The Best and Worst Things About the White Sox Sweep

October 27, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 67 Comments 

With the ouster of the Astros — who went out with T.S. Eliot’s whimper rather than a bang — we can drop the curtain on this year. So it wasn’t exactly an epic battle. Say this about the World Series: no one was seriously injured, unless you count Roger Clemens, and who does?

Time to turn the page. To help with this endeavor, I’ve compiled a list of the five best and worst things about the World Series being over.

Best Things:

No more national exposure for that infernal buzzing whenever one of the “Killer B’s” comes to the plate. This means the end of the most annoying noise in sports (non-Tim McCarver division). I can’t believe more hasn’t been made of this. Whose idea was it to use what sounds like the soundtrack to a terrible 80s B horror movie as a point of inspiration? Is this the reason they were stingless? Give me a zillion Day-Os before I ever hear that again.

The hot stove fires itself up. Mariner fans have had a jump on more fortunate affinity groups, the ones preoccupied with their playoff-bound squads, but now the whole musical chairs process begins in earnest. Who should end up where? Who will? For those of us fascinated by roster construction, it’s a wonderful time of the year.

Televisions at my friendly neighborhood watering hole and gym are now safe. There was prior risk that I, or a like-minded Bellinghamster, might throw something heavy at Scooter, or react with similar rage to those brutal anti-steroid PSAs. Technology is exempted from this wrath, for the time being, thanks to the end of the World Series.

For those of us whose teams played like sick nuns in 2005, now is also when the kernel of hope cracks open. The calendar changes, and hopefully, fortunes do, too.

Finally, Ozzie Guillen might just retire now. I doubt he will, but it would be a fitting end to a wacky career.

Worst Things:

The inevitable “and they clinched with Freddy Garcia as the winning pitcher!” woe-is-me-isms from Seattle columnists and sports radio callers. We love our retrospectives, especially when they involve the saddest words of tongue and pen. Please, please, please, let’s just let this one go.

Behold the vaunting of the small ball, the clutch hitter and the stolen base. In the time it took me to drive to work this morning, my radio told me that the White Sox won because they always bunt runners over, never fail to get the timely hit, and play aggressively on the basepaths. Now, every baseball team is going to want to build a club in this mistaken image. (Wait, poor strategy is a gift when employed by one’s rivals — maybe that should be under “best things.”)

Piling on the Cub fans just got turned up to eleven. Thrilled as we have to be for the Pale Hose faithful, a dozen knives are about to be repeatedly stuck between the North Side’s collective ribs. Everyone in America knows it’s been nearly 100 years. Soon, deaf mutes in the Andes will know, too.

Unfortunate and unfair labels affixed to exceptional players. Mercifully, rumblings about Brad Lidge have been muted by other factors. But the first time he blows a save next year, expect to hear the names Albert Pujols, Scott Podsednik and Jermaine Dye. Remember when Mariano Rivera blew two saves against Boston in April, and he was supposed to be done? Everybody fails. April’s a great time to do it; October’s not.

Finally, the worst thing about the World Series coming to a close: the end of the 2005 baseball season. ‘Nuff said, true believer.

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