The Mitchell report will be unveiled later today, revealing many players' association with steroids, which most of us already know is/was prevalent in baseball (and most professional sports) for years. It is rumored, according to ESPN, that Roger Clemens is one of the names mentioned in the report. That's hardly a shock, but what is notable is that once again it is a PITCHER implicated in a steroids probe. The problem is not one sided, and the ability for pitchers and hitters to abuse performance enhancing drugs is the biggest defense for keeping the so-called "tainted" records in the books.
As I have said MANY times before, a record is simply that - it is a documented account of what happened, whether it is Bonds hitting more home runs than anyone or Clemens winning 354 games. In the end, we will judge each era and players in each era accordingly, basing their greatness in history on how they fared against their peers and what the baseball climate was like when they played. In other words, if the average outfielder is somehow hitting 70 home runs per year in 2020, I don't think anyone is going to automatically call Babe Ruth the 1,743rd best player ever. It's all relative.
My son has been handing out baseball cards all over the house as if he were a mailman lately. Oddly enough, a couple cards sitting on the kitchen counter were of Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria, two high profile shortstops who changed teams this offseason. I have always been a fan of Renteria, but after looking at the back of his baseball card, I was shocked at how little power and run production he has had over his career so far. At age 32, Renteria has never hit more than 16 home runs in a season and has hit the 100 RBI mark just once, never coming close again.
Renteria doesn't do anything poorly and is quite good at just about everything, earning a couple Gold Gloves and handful of All-Star appearances. At 32, however, it's easy to see why teams like the Braves are starting to save by letting go of players like Renteria when cheaper talent is available. The difference between paying players like Renteria and Andruw Jones (as mentioned in the previous post) is that Renteria's production is easier to replace.
As for Cabrera, he is older (33) than Renteria, has less power (97 career HRs), less career stolen bases, a much worse batting average and OBP, so it is a bit shocking that the Chicago White Sox traded a fairly young healthy arm in Jon Garland for a shortstop approaching his mid-30's which will do little to relieve the base clogging middle of the lineup led by Thome, Konerko, Dye, and Pierzynski.
Now that the Dodgers have secured Andruw Jones for two years at just over $36 million, it makes you wonder how, despite Jones' abysmal season, several clubs were willing to throw 4 or 5-year deals at Torii Hunter at $70 to $90 million, but no one was willing to take a chance on Jones.
Despite the subpar 2007 (which still included 26 HRs and 94 RBIs), the bottom line is that Andruw Jones is a difference maker at the plate AND in the field. It is unlikely he will hit .300 in a season anytime soon, but he is just as unlikely to repeat '07 based on his track record. The Dodgers can expect two years of Gold Glove fielding, 55 to 65 home runs, and close to 200 RBIs from their center fielder. That is a difference maker that is hard to find at any price. If Los Angeles can manage to rid themselves of Pierre for a better suited left fielder and put Furcal in the leadoff position, the Dodgers will be a dangerous club in 2008.
The other day, the Tigers pull off a huge trade acquiring Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera for six players who may or may not become great someday. I find it interesting how everyone supports the Marlins, indicating they made a deal for some serious potential talent. Last time I checked, Willis and Cabrera were only in their mid-20s and have already met their potential. Willis has struggled lately, but Cabrera is a good bet to lead the league in hitting in any given year. In other words, the Marlins traded away two major cogs in their team for more players who, if they become like Cabrera, will ALSO be traded before Florida can fully reap the benefits of a superstar.
I admire the job Florida does in stockpiling talent more than the lost causes like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, etc., but at some point it would be nice to see a small market team hang on to their matured talent so they can make more than just a 1-year run at success.
The Hall of Fame is slowly becoming like a country club rather than a place for the best players. In other words, it's who you know - not how you played or what you accomplished. What used to be reserved for just players, the Hall of Fame has become a place to throw up a plaque for anyone important ever associated with the game. Whether it be an announcer, general manager, owner, commissioner, grounds crew, ball girl, etc., the Hall of Fame has created a way to get in. Worse yet, the methods of acceptance keep changing until more people get in.
If you can change the voting process until a guy gets in, then what's the point in voting? ESPN.com has an interesting article regarding the subject and the inclusion of Bowie Kuhn but the exclusion of Marvin Miller. Read on.
Kansas City made a quiet deal today, signing catcher Miguel Olivo to a 1-year contract. It may not seem like much, but it's these small changes that should help the Royals approach the middle of the standings over the next couple years. Everyone (myself included) balked at the money they threw at Gil Meche, but it looks like Meche may be a solid anchor for a staff sorely in need of one. With Teahen, John Buck, and Alex Gordon likely to be on the upswing, 80 wins is a real possibility for Kansas City, especially with Minnesota and Chicago flailing right now.
There is not nearly enough depth in the KC talent pool to compete with Detroit and Cleveland, but that doesn't mean the Royals can't bring a little respectability to this once proud franchise.
How do you know the market for pitching has gotten out of hand? Mark Prior, with just one win in over two years and still recovering from shoulder surgery in April, is enjoying a bidding war for his services. Several teams are involved, including Houston, and it appears that Prior is likely to sign with San Diego.
The teams are offering incentive-based deals, but the winner will likely have to pony up a decent amount of guaranteed cash as well. For the record, Prior won't even be ready until mid-May at the earliest.
The good news with the ongoing writers strike is that there is less competition for sports viewers, meaning better ratings for games (hopefully). The bad news? We have to be subjected to such fare as Clash of the Choirs, Duel, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, and Don't Forget the Lyrics!, all shows just on tonight alone. Support the writers, because it's not going to get any better until they get back to their word processors and start churning out some decent content.
I thought I wouldn't have much to say about the findings from the Mitchell Report, but one simple statement by a reader got my big mouth flapping. Read what I had to say about the importance (or lack thereof) of the Mitchell Report in the latest Hot Corner.
A loyal reader noticed the similarities to my "press conference" photo (upper left of this page) and a photo of George Mitchell. I think Mitchell is stealing my mannerisms.