Thirty years ago, the Mets and the Red Sox locked in mortal baseball combat, in a World Series. It ended with the Mets on top of a baseball world that didn’t necessarily love that edition of the team, and the Red Sox having been kicked to the rocks below after having gotten close enough, yet again, to a Promised Land determined never to let them set foot upon it again, or so it seemed.
Shooting or brushing back the messenger is two things. One is bad form. The second is that, until or unless the message is demonstrably libelous or slanderous, it rarely works to the shooter’s advantage. It doesn’t keep people from trying. And it doesn’t keep those folks from looking foolish. (Donaldus Minimus, call your office. You too, Hilarious Rodent Clinton.)
When the American League champion Royals let Billy Butler walk as a free agent following the postseason, the question became who might step into the designated hitter slot. Butler fell out of favour with manager Ned Yost when he produced too little bang for his .271 bucks. Butler got the number one job for the Royals’ staggering postseason run simply because he was there.
Gil Hodges is getting another crack at the Hall of Fame. So are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant, and Maury Wills. So is Bob Howsam, who built the Big Red Machine. Thank the Golden Era Committee, one of the three committees mandated to replace the former Veterans Committee to review the Hall of Fame credentials of those who didn’t quite make the Baseball Writers Association of America cuts in the past.
The Minnesota Twins still have all the confidence on earth in manager Ron Gardenhire—but they didn’t feel likewise about most of his coaching staff, executing three and reassigning two in a field shakeup tied to two consecutive 95+ loss seasons.
First base coach Jerry White—who’s had the job since Gardenhire’s predecessor Tom Kelly hired him in 1999—is out. Third base coach Steve Liddle, in the job since moving from bench coach (which he’d been since 2002) is also out. So is bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, who’s been in the organisation since the Carter Administration.
Turns out the Chicago Cubs got a pair of A-level minor leaguers, Christian Vilanueva (3B) and Kyle Hendricks (RHP), from the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster . . . decent prospects but not necessarily blue chips. For the most part, few no-questions-asked blue chip prospects moved in the non-waiver trade period, Jean Segura (SS) possibly having been the bluest of the chips when he went to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal.
How and why did the Rangers—hungering for rotation help with Colby Lewis gone for the year (entering the final fortnight, his was the hole they needed to fill)—end up settling for Dempster when all was said and done? According to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal:
One of the signatures of the Philadephia Phillies’ former grip on the National League East is departing, according to Fox Sports. The network says Shane Victorino was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday for relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin, whose name was raised earlier during conversations with the Chicago Cubs regarding Ryan Dempster.
The speculation continues ramping up that the Boston Red Sox are looking to unload Josh Beckett, even if the front office are trying to downplay the speculation.
Beckett has 10-5 rights to veto any deal, though he’s commented recently that he’d rather stay in Boston but he’d accept it if the team no longer wants or needs him. The Atlanta Braves are thought to have kicked the proverbial tires on the righthander but shown no other interest in the former National Leaguer.
Whatever speculation there might have been (there was some) about whom the San Diego Padres might have thought about moving, there’s one candidate off the streets now: ESPN reports the Padres have signed closer Huston Street to a two-year extension, worth $14 million, including a 2015 team option that could make the deal worth $21 million to the righthanded All-Star, who’s 2-0 with an 0.91 ERA and all seventeen of his save opportunities converted through this writing.
For Street it seems almost like calling it home at last.
To hell with the calendar. Every real American knows spring begins in that blessed spell when pitchers and catchers report and the position players aren’t all that far behind.
* A.J. PIRATE?—It’s looking more and more as though the Empire Emeritus and the Pittsburgh Pirates have a deal to send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Ridding the Yankees of a talented headache on the mound, though from most reports a good guy in the clubhouse.