He’s Gonna Do What???

He’s Gonna Do What??? could be the name of a weekly column devoted to the antics of Jose Canseco.  Since his mlb career ended in retirement eight years ago, Jose has been full of surprises.  He has outed many of contemporaries for the use of steroids in his books Juiced and Vindicated.  He has become a reality TV star, even appearing in The Surreal Life.  He has tried his hand at prize fighting, losing to an ex-football player and an mma fighter.  He managed to draw with Danny Bonaduce and actually win a fight against some guy I have never heard of.  In his post baseball career he has even tried to market himself with his spend a day with Jose Canseco campaign (for a mere $5000.)
Somehow, none of these ventures has worked out for him and the last I had heard, before he took on a coaching/dh job with the Laredo Broncos of the United Baseball League, was that he had been evicted from his home and was living in a buddy’s garage (and exchanging trash talk with his critics on Twitter.)  Oh how the mighty had fallen.
Welcome to a new chapter in Jose’s life.  Apparently, he will be mixing his renowned business skills with his penchant for reality television and appearing as one of the stars of Donald Trump’s The Apptentice .  I am not really sure what this show is about but Jose is a guy who has checked his pride at the door and is probably willing to do whatever it takes.  Once again, I will be rooting for him to hit a home run.


No Fish For Valentine

Bobby Valentine has removed himself from the list of potential candidates for the vacant Florida Marlins managerial position.  WHO CAN BLAME HIM?  Who would want any part of working for an owner like Jeffrey Loria?


Although the Marlins have won a World Series under the ownership of Loria, this team just seems like a nightmare to follow.  Since Loria has taken the reigns, the Fish have gone through five managers.  (Well…four managers and one interim manager.)  This may not seem like a lot in the span of eight years of ownership until you consider the quality of the managers that this team has had.
Jeff Torborg was at the helm when Loria arrived.  He certainly didn’t distinguish himself as one of the greats in Marlin history but he had prior success (even winning an AL Manager of the Year Award at one point.)
Jack McKeon took over and guided the Marlins to a World Series victory in 2003.  This performance was good enough to land him the NL Manager of the Year Award.  At the end of the 2005 season, McKeon hung up his spikes in favor of retirement…and I can understand why.  The following year, Loria dropped $45 million from an already very low payroll, making his team salary a paltry $15 million for the year.
You wouldn’t imagine that a competitive team could be fielded for that kind of money…but under new manager, Joe Girardi, that is exactly what the Marlins did.  They managed to go 78-84 under Girardi’s guidance and (in so doing) Girardi won the NL Manager of the Year Award.  Of course, he was promptly fired at the end of the season stemming from a late season incident where Loria was trying to tell Girardi how to manage from the stands.  Joe ignored him (as well he should have) and Jeffrey fired him.
Enter Fredi Gonzalez.  Gonzalez managed the team for about 3-1/2 seasons before being fired earlier this year in favor of interim manager, Edwin Rodriguez.  Gonzalez had a pretty successful run.  In 2008 and 2009, despite a very low payroll, the Marlins proved themselves contenders.  In 2008 The Sporting News recognized this by honoring Gonzalez with The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award.  (Is there some kind of theme here?)  Then, earlier in the year, Gonzalez benched Hanley Ramirez for dogging it on the field.  Ramirez WAS dogging it and Gonzalez did the right thing in benching him.  Hanley then told the press that Gonzalez didn’t know what he was doing because he had never made the big leagues as a player and that he didn’t respect him.  Now I don’t know if this event played directly into Fredi’s firing (Loria said that Gonzalez had his full support) but it does seem odd that shortly after his clash with the Prima Donna Star Player, Gonzalez found himself unemployed.
So, I ask the question again.  Why would anyone want to manage this team?  Their payroll is consistently (and by far) lower than any other team in the east.  Yet, they are expected to put a playoff caliber product on the field each season.  Most teams like to stick with their successful managers.  (For examples, see Boston, Tampa Bay, New York (AL), Minnesota, Chicago (AL), Anaheim, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and St. Louis.)  It does not seem that Jeffrey Loria wants to follow the model of other successful organizations…so, BIG SURPRISE…he needs a new manager. 


Good for Bobby Valentine.  There is no need for a respected baseball man to put himself through all of that.  AND congratulations to Fredi Gonzalez for becoming the Braves’ new manager.  Apparently, Atlanta thinks so highly of him that they have picked him to lead the Braves into the post (HOF) Bobby Cox era.

And Then There Were Four

So things haven’t gone exactly as I had thought they would.  Somehow the Yankee starters brought their A game.  I know…CC always brings his A game…but the rest of the rotation has been fairly suspect since July.  So, much to my surprise, the Bums from the Bronx are moving on.
In another shocking development, the San Francisco Giants overcame the Hinske Effect and defeated the Braves.  It is a sad day for baseball.  Bobby Cox has managed his last game, leaving baseball as one of the greatest managers of all time AND, for the first time since 2006, Eric Hinske will not be participating in the World Series.  In one foul swoop, the Giants eliminated two long-standing mlb traditions.
I don’t think many were surprised that the Phillies advanced past the Reds.  Led by great pitching and a balanced attack, the Phightin’ Phils had no problems getting by Cincinnati (and their suddenly struggling defense.)  What can you say?  When you start the playoffs with a no hitter, you know that things are going your way.
The last team to push their way into the next round surprised many.  The Rangers rode newly acquired Cliff Lee into the ALCS.  They managed to overcome the very talented Rays using the always popular combination of pitching, speed, power, and taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes.  The play I loved the best in last night’s contest was when Andrus took two bases and scored on a dinky little grounder to first.  AWESOME.  It was a great, heads-up play that set the tone for the game.
So, although two of my predictions didn’t come to fruition (the Braves and Twins will have to wait until next year to prove their playoff mettle,) my World Series picks are still in full effect.  Despite having to go through the Yankees, I do believe that the Rangers have what it will take to advance…pitching, power, speed, small ball, luck?  The Phillies and the Giants series could be one for the ages.  It could be seven straight games of one run baseball.  There is a lot to like in both of their rotations.
In the end, who would have thought it?  When the Phillies made their hotly debated move to trade Cliff Lee to the Mariners, who would have thought they would have to face him in the World Series?  This could become reality very shortly.  I love how October baseball has the habit of producing so much of it’s own drama.
Now that the first round is over and the dust has settled, I guess it would be appropriate to hand out a few congratulations.  Congrats go to Bobby Cox for completing a great career.  Enjoy the HOF, Bobby.  Also a hearty congratulations to the Texas Rangers on winning their first ever playoff series.  Now you have joined the very elite club of 29 other mlb franchises who have won at least one playoff series.

Back in Pinstripes????????


Newly former Detroit Tiger, Johnny Damon, has said that he would love to return to the New York Yankees.  I guess you can’t blame the guy.  Detroit GM, Dave Dombrowski, has already said that he doesn’t have any interest in re-signing him.  He didn’t leave New York on a negative note.  In fact, he left with a World Series ring.  But is there room for Damon on next year’s version of the Evil Empire?

The Yankee outfield is already signed for next year.  Gardiner, Granderson, and Swisher all have jobs.  You would have to figure that the Yankees want Gardiner and Granderson around for a long time as they are both young up-and-comers.  Even if Swisher found his way out of NYC by way of a trade, Damon can’t play in right.  The Yankees’ DH spot may be vacant next year.  Johnson doesn’t have a contract past this season and Berkman’s future will be determined by whether or not the Yankees will pick up his option.  I think that they will keep Lance’s bat around and, even if they didn’t, I would imagine that they may want to keep their DH spot somewhat open in order to allow guys like Posada and Jeter to get a bit of a break every now and again.

It looks to me like Johnny D is going to have to look elsewhere to find employment.  I would think that he would ideally stay in the American League because he does have a reputation for having a weak arm so it would be nice if he could split time between DH and LF.  But there are a couple of teams that could be interested in the Senior circuit as well.  In the NL, I would think that the Braves may be interested.  They have a good young ball club that may be able to use a presence like Damon’s.  In the AL, there could be a spot opening up in left field in Tampa Bay, depending on what happens with Carl Crawford. However, wouldn’t be nice to see Johnny close out his career back where he began?  Kansas City doesn’t look like they have left field set in stone.  Damon is a .296 career hitter at Kauffman Stadium.  Maybe this could be a good match.  If he does go there, Dombrowski could see what he’s missing 18 times a year.



The Return of Phat Albert


In a surprise move, the other day, the St. Louis Cardinals signed team bus driver Big Al Pujols to a monster deal.  How much will he receive for his chauffering services this year?  Just a paltry $16 million.  However, noting that he did have his own television show and that you can’t put a price on safe delivery of your players to the ballpark, it does seem like quite a bargain.


To add to the mythical legend that is Phat Albert is that he may be more than just the richest bus driver and 1970s cartoon character, it turns out that he has made a bit of a name for himself as a ballplayer.  Apparently, he can hit the ball like no one else for both power and average.
Maybe the Cardinals’ organization has not only procured the services of a bus driver for the upcoming campaign but also may have a budding all-star on the payroll (should the whole bus driving gig fall apart.)
Good luck to you, Albert Pujols, in whatever career you choose.


The Gunslingers

Two men with almost the same name.  John Henry “Doc” Holliday passed almost 123 years ago in Colorado.  Roy “Doc” Halladay was born in Colorado 33 years ago.  Both have permanently etched themselves into American history and mythology.  One man was a hero of the American old west, making his reputation with his gun.  The other man is a hero of baseball, making his reputation with his arm.  Both men are known as gunslingers.

Last night Roy Halladay put himself into the record books by becoming the first ever to record a no-hitter in the regular season and in the playoffs.  In a season where he has recorded 219 strikeouts, 21 wins, and a perfecto, Doc has pretty much guaranteed himself the Cy Young award.

His playoff no-no last night in his very first ever post-season game is just more icing on the cake.  Is there anything this guy can’t do?  As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I believe the Phillies will be wearing this year’s World Series rings.  If Halladay pitches like this throughout the playoffs will be a shoe in for another big award: World Series MVP.  I know I am getting ahead of my self but would that not be a perfect season.  A perfect game, over 20 wins, over 200 Ks, a playoff no-no, a Cy Young award, a ring, and a WS MVP award.  There is still a month to go until the new champs are crowned but it seems more than possible.

CONGRATULATIONS DOC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Playoff Dilemmas and Solutions

Sometimes people forget about how rich the players are and start to feel a little sorry for them.  Just think of the increased pressure that comes with playoff baseball.  They are under a microscope on the biggest stage.  Blah, blah, blah.
Forget that.  Think about my situation.  The playoffs are on right now and I am stuck at work and won’t be home until 5:30.  Instead of sitting in front of my big screen watching Lee and Price duel it out, I am getting updates from my cell phone. Thank goodness for modern technology – it is finally having a positive impact on my life.
My other dilemma lies in wait at home.  How am I supposed to spend time with my wife and kids (who, believe it or not, really don’t care for baseball and who will, no doubt, want to be using the T.V. for other purposes) and watch my beloved playoffs all at the same time.  Not to worry folks.  This morning I got up extra early and brought another T.V. into the living room.  It is now hooked up to cable and ready to rock.  Once again, the marvels of modern technology are coming through for me in spades. 
It’s always good to have a plan.  (Especially when that plan just keeps getting better and better.)
Game 1 – TEX @ TB – 130 Start – Track game on cell phone while at work. 
Game 2 – CIN @ PHI – 500 Start – Watch game on little T.V. with volume low.
Game 3 – NYY @ MIN – 830 Start – Commandeer the big screen and listen to it as loud as I want.
I love the playoffs and I love it when a plan comes together.


Which Way Are We Going?

As the season neared it’s end and the Tigers were out of the running to make the playoffs, I started to get excited for what seemed to be endless possibilities in the off-season.  No longer would the Tigers be handcuffed by long term, big-money contracts.  Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Magglio Ordonez are all coming off the books.  Indeed, a very exciting time to be a Tiger fan.  Although the FA market isn’t as bountiful as it has been in some years, there are a few really, really good ball player available.
However, my excitement is starting to turn to fear.  I know that it is still very early (the playoffs haven’t even started yet) but, instead of talking about the big names in free agency, Dombrowski is talking about bringing back Inge and Peralta.  I don’t have a problem with either of these guys and I really like the grit that Inge brings to the ballpark.  Then Dombrowski starts talking about maybe bringing Ordonez back (at a much cheaper cost.)  Now he is saying that Avila will be the Tigers’ starting catcher next year.  I like all of these guys but I thought that this off-season would bring in some change.
Instead of talking change, Dombrowski is talking more of the same.  If Inge, Peralta, and Ordonez are all re-signed, Avila comes into the season as the catcher, and Miggy and Jackson have their jobs set in stone.  That only leaves three openings in the lineup.  Presumably, Guillen will play a role along with Ryan Rayburn.  So now what are we talking about?  We might go out and pick up one piece of the puzzle?
I was really hoping for some change in Detroit but it looks like we may be in for more of the same.

Pre Post Season Predictions

Here it is folks…the best time of the year is upon us.  It’s playoff season.  Everything starts over again for eight teams.  It is always difficult to predict who will win it all because you never know who is going to get hot or go cold.  But what the heck.  I will give it a shot.

In the American League, the Twins are taking on the Yankees and the Rays are playing against the Rangers.  I have to go with the Twins and the Rangers to advance to the next round.

The Twins have a history of getting knocked around by the Bronx Bombers come October.

yankees.jpgI don’t believe that will be the case this year.  The Yankees’ starting rotation has been awful since around the all-star break.  The Yankees have a fearsome lineup but they can only put CC on the mound so often.  Although the Twins will have to do without the services of Justin Morneau, they still have enough offense to get through provided their starters can do what they have been doing all year…winning.  Personally, I really look forward to watching Pavano go up against his former team.

rays.jpgTampa Bay has been a very good team for the last few years.  How appropriate that they will face the Rangers, who are the new up-and-comer in the MLB.  I have to give the edge in pitching to the Rays but then I give the edge in offense to the Rangers.  This has the makings of a very good serie but in the end I just have to go with my gut and take Texas.  The Rangers are the only current franchise who has never won a playoff series…EVER.  That luck has to change one year and I think this is that year.

Over in the National league the Giants edged out the Padres to take on the Braves who edged out the Padres.

braves.jpgI love the Braves.  Of all the teams in the playoffs, these are the guys I am rooting for and I think that they may have what it takes to get by the Giants.  The Giants’ rotation is phenomenal but lacks playoff experience.  The Giants are also the only playoff team that scored fewer runs than the Braves.  Atlanta will also have an emotional edge because of Bobby Cox’s impending retirement.  Nothing would provide a better send off than a nice playoff run in Bobby’s last year as the manager.  Also the Braves have the secret weapon that basically guarantees them a berth in the World Series.  They have Hinske who manages to make it to the big dance EVERY YEAR.

The other series in the NL have the Reds pitted against the Phillies.

reds.jpgThe Reds have a nice team that should be good for years to come but the Phightin’ Phils have Doc Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels…and an all-star lineup that have been to the World Series the past two years.  Advantage: Philly.  The Reds just don’t have enough to move to the next round.

The ALCS between the Texas Rangers and the Minnesota Twins should be one for the ages but I believe that Texas will advance.  Texas has the pitching to keep them in ballgames and they certainly have the offense to put up a lot of runs.  If Morneau was healthy, I would have to reassess the situation but as it stands right now I think the Rangers have the edge.

The NLCS should be some great baseball.  Divisional rivals Atlanta Braves squaring off against the Philadelphia Phillies could provide some of the best baseball of the year.  The Phillies did win the season series between these two teams 10-8 but, as mentioned before, the Braves have the Hinske effect.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Eric Hinske will be enough to beat Philly.  Philadelphia’s rotation is just so good.  The Phillies don’t have a problem at all with run production.  As much as I would like to send Bobby Cox off to retirement with a World Series ring, I just don’t see it happening.

That puts my World Series at the Rangers and the Phillies.  At the beginning of the year, not too many people would have thought that Texas would be playing in October.  At the beginning of the year, not many people thought that the Phillies wouldn’t be playing in October.  But here they both are. 


 Although the Rangers do have the power of Chuck Norris on their side (a power which I have heard is quite formidable) I don’t think it is going to be enough to get through Philly.  The Phillies have a team that is built for the playoffs.  Their top three starters are big game pitchers.  Hamels proved it in the playoffs a couple of years ago and Oswalt and Doc have proved it over their entire careers.  Their lineup has been here before and they know what to expect.  The World Series title will be back in the City of Brotherly Love.















Who’s Your Tiger?


Well…Dombrowski has announced his intentions to re-sign Inge and Peralta.  I am okay with those guys.  He also said that he would not be pursuing Damon, Laird, or Bonderman.  This presents me with a bit of a problem.  I have no problem at all with them not wanting Laird or Bonderman back but Damon is one of my guys.  I was kind of hoping that he would sign a reasonable deal with Detroit and then collecting his 3000th hit at Comerica Park.  Now it looks as though I am going to have to find a new guy that can be “my Tiger.”  I am now accepting applications from current Tiger players who would like to be “my Tiger.”  Benefits include me rooting for you a little louder than I root for the others, me cutting you some slack when you don’t come through in the clutch, and maybe (just maybe) I will buy a T-shirt with your name on the back.  Just think of all the free publicity this would get you.
Oh well…sorry to see you go Johnny D.  Good luck reaching 3000 (just don’t do it against us.)