Rockies Furious Over Collapse Of Shoppach Deal

Posted in Baseball at 12:44 am by

Almost immediately after acquiring OF Larry Bigbie from the Orioles last night, Colorado thought they had an agreement to flip Bigbie to Boston in exchange for C Kelly Shoppach (above, 21 HR’s, 67 RBI’s in 2005 for Pawtucket).

Problem is, the Red Sox supposedly reneged on the agreement, and now the Rockies are making noises about putting Theo Epstein on their Do-Not-Call List. And can ya blame them? Manny Who? How can the chance to posses Larry Bigbie not be priority No.1 at Fenway this weekend?

In a somewhat related note, Boston have picked up OF Jose Cruz Jr., a player whose 2003 Gold Glove means about as much as a Golden Globe Award (ie. nothing) from Arizona.

Pettitte Toys With Mets, Streaking Astros Solidify WC Lead

Posted in Baseball at 12:18 am by

Astros 2, Mets 0

I think it is fair to say that the Mets could use some help in the middle of the order. Not that I’m thinking about anyone in particular this evening.

Houston’s Andy Pettitte (above, 8 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 6 K’s, 0 ER) was brilliant Saturday night, keeping Mets hitters off-balance all game, no one looking worse than the overmatched Cliff Floyd, pinch hitting with Chris Woodward on 2nd in the 8th.

Tom Glavine, a frequent whipping boy around these parts, was nearly as good (7 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, no walks), his sole costly mistake coming while allowing a 400 foot solo HR to the Astros’ Jason Lane.

The flipside to having 3 of the NL’s highest paid players (Piazza, Beltran, Pedro) on the NY roster would be Jose Offerman’s appearance as starting first baseman. While John Olerud was hitting a grand slam for Boston tonight, there’s a sinking feeling that Wil Cordero could be donning a Mets uniform any day now.


Manny / Mets Deal Supposedly Off (Again)

Posted in Baseball at 11:58 pm by

ESPN’s Jayson Stark claims the Devil Rays are no longer part of the conversation, but still says the chances of Boston sending Manny Ramirez to Flushing are remote.

Meanwhile, Terry Francona has given Manny the rest of the weekend off, “for the good of the team”, which is fairly curious way to phrase things considering that Ramirez’ earlier insistance on time off was the catalyst for these trade talks. On one hand, the Red Sox are demanding greater value for one of the game’s most dangerous players, then they demonstrate how indispensible he is by keeping him out of the lineup.

The New York Daily News’ Adam Rubin and Bill Madden look to the Mets’ next move, as well as providing a bit of background on Boston’s soap opera :

The Mets remain interested in Danys Baez, the Rays’ closer, but will have to hustle to put together another deal by today’s deadline. They also will be hard-pressed to duplicating the power injection Ramirez would have provided to their lineup. Other available acquisitions could include Pittsburgh closer Jose Mesa and first baseman Daryle Ward. The Rangers appeared near a deal that would ship Soriano to the Twins for a package including Kyle Lohse. Mets insiders had called his acquisition a “super longshot” in recent days anyway.

The initial driving force behind the spirited discussions had been Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, who had been incensed by Ramirez’s recent behavior, from refusing to play last week after Trot Nixon suffered an oblique strain because he needed a day off despite the shortage of outfielders, to his latest annual trade request. Lucchino’s willingness to part with Ramirez, the AL’s home run and RBI leader entering the weekend, who was booed at Fenway Park on Friday night during each plate appearance, had created a division within the Sox hierarchy. GM Theo Epstein and other front-office personnel were against trading Ramirez, realizing that would be the start of a need to retool the entire team.

Giants Acquire Winn

Posted in Baseball at 9:16 pm by

The Yankees have one less outfielder to pursue. Seattle is sending OF Randy Winn to San Francisco in exchange for C Yorvit Torrealba and pitcher Jesse Foppert. Foppert’s been rehabbing a neck injury at Fresno ; he’s not pitched for the parent club since June 24.

Mets Land Clean-Up Hitter From East Coast Contender

Posted in Baseball at 7:53 pm by

Well, kind of.

Wil Cordero did actually bat 4th for the Nationals a few weeks ago.

I can only assume that Cordero gives a great backrub or makes an awesome cup of coffee — his continued employment in organized baseball is one of the great modern mysteries.

Teen Visits Yankee Stadium Toilet, Disappears

Posted in Baseball at 4:10 pm by

The Associated Press is reporting that a 13 year old boy is missing after going to a Yankee Stadium restroom Friday evening.

Yankee officials have denied the teen is in their custody, nor is he scheduled to start Sunday’s game against the Angels.

Little League Ump : Speak English Or Die

Posted in Baseball at 4:02 pm by

(the members of S.O.D. consider revoking their sponsorship of the local Little League side).

From the Boston Globe’s Cristina M. Silva and Raj Mishra :

The Methuen West Junior League team had jumped to a 3-1 lead in the third inning Tuesday night when its assistant coach gave a simple command to his pitcher, ”Tira lo bien!”

But that prompted an umpiring call, which unhinged the teenagers on the field, enveloping these boys of summer in a very adult controversy about ethnicity and discrimination.

Hearing this cry in Spanish to deliver a good pick-off throw to second base, the umpire halted the game and ruled: English only on the diamond. The unprecedented ruling was quickly condemned by national Little League officials, who yesterday instructed state officials to ban the umpire for the rest of the 2005 tournament.

Little League International spokesman Lance Van Auken, whose organization also runs Junior League, said yesterday there is no rule forbidding Spanish or any other language on the field, and said it was believed to be the first time an umpire tried to ban a language from being spoken.

He said the umpire was concerned that Spanish gave the Methuen team an unfair advantage, allowing the coaches to freely give orders without the other team understanding, though it’s usual to give signs so the opposing team doesn’t know the play.

”He simply overstepped his authority,” Van Auken said. ”Mistakes happen a lot in baseball. We recognize that umpires are humans, just like all of us, and make mistakes like we all do.”

Little League officials would not name the umpire or the district administrator who upheld the English-only call after Mosher protested from the dugout, demanding to see the prohibition in the rulebook.

The umpire and district administrator could not find anything, Mosher said, but the administrator told him he had to uphold the call in order to back the umpire. The umpire said that anyone caught speaking Spanish would be thrown out of the game. At that point Mosher relented, not wanting to hurt his team’s chances.

In an unrelated story, MSG and Fox Sports NY officials continue to employ Fran Healy despite the announcer’s struggles with the English language.

Edes : Greedy Rays Kill 3 Way Mega-Trade

Posted in Baseball at 3:32 pm by

From the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes :

The proposed three-way deal that would have sent Manny Ramirez to the New York Mets before tomorrow™s 4 p.m. trading deadline may have hit an insurmountable snag today when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the third team in the deal, demanded that top Red Sox prospect Hanley Ramirez be included in the trade, according to major league sources.

For the Red Sox, that was a deal breaker, and unless the Devil Rays have a change of heart, it would appear that the deal is dead.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the Red Sox would have received outfielder Mike Cameron, pitcher Aaron Heilman, and outfield prospect Lastings Milledge from the Mets, and infielder/outfielder Aubrey Huff from the Devil Rays. But according to major league sources, the Devil Rays, who on Friday were prepared to accept a package of prospects that included Double-A pitcher Anibal Sanchez from the Red Sox, today insisted on Hanley Ramirez, and the Red Sox turned it down. Manny Ramirez and Devil Rays closer Danys Baez would have gone to the Mets in the deal.

It™s possible that the Red Sox and Devil Rays could resume talks about a straight two-way deal for Huff, who would give the Red Sox a lefthanded bat to replace the injured Trot Nixon. But Huff is due in excess of $6.75 million next season, which could make him too expensive for Boston™s taste at this time.

Interesting to note that the under-utilized Heilman might’ve been a key component in this trade. And it would be just the Mets kind of luck if Milledge were hit by a bus Monday afternoon. Unless there’s something else in the works that involves Braden Looper and a one-way plane ticket, I have a hard time imagining Tampa Bay and New York working out a seperate deal for Baez.

Stephen A. Is Ready For His Close-Up

Posted in Sports TV at 9:49 am by

From the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir (link courtesy Sam Frank) :

In Mr. Smith, who is 37 and continues to write a twice-weekly column (sometimes on his BlackBerry from an ESPN studio) for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ESPN believes it has a franchise. “Stephen A. is ringing a bell,” said Mark Shapiro, an executive vice president of ESPN. “People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it’s hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way. Polarization is a commodity.” He added: “We’re in the hit-making business. And Stephen A. is a game-changer.”

A writer for The Allentown Morning Call argued that Mr. Smith’s report about the prospective departure of Larry Brown as coach of the Detroit Pistons deserved “a grade of C because he said nothing while acting like he knew everything.” Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has called him an entertainer, not a journalist. And two New York Post columnists, Peter Vecsey, a former NBC and TNT basketball analyst, and Phil Mushnick, have assailed him several times. Mr. Vecsey, who regularly flays Mr. Smith’s stories, called him a “multi-media fraud.”

Some of the complaints about Mr. Smith have to do with race. Mr. Mushnick said in a phone interview that Mr. Smith “speaks in two voices” to appeal to ESPN’s different but overlapping audiences: one that is straightforward and another than appeals specifically to “urban street blacks or white street wannabes.”

Mr. Smith does not deny that race figures prominently in his persona, or that growing up among rappers subtly influenced his idiosyncratic vocal cadences. But unlike Stuart Scott, another well-known black ESPN announcer, Mr. Smith rarely uses hip-hop terminology.

perhaps the most riveting part of almost any studio session with Mr. Smith is watching him not speak. He clearly suffers from the pain of anticipation. He sits in his custom-made suit, trying not to fidget as Mr. Saunders hands the verbal ball to Mr. Legler or Mr. Anthony. Mr. Smith stares through each speaker, a ticked-off, silent, impatient predator seeking his moment. Rage – or is it fervent hope? – seems to paint his stern face. When his time comes, his expression alters. He is relieved but energized, spitting out his words at high decibels.

“I’m struggling,” Mr. Smith agreed. “I’m struggling with the reality that I feel differently, that I have a minimal amount of time to express what I want to say. Somebody is saying something I don’t agree with and I have 45 seconds. I’m like, ‘Damn it, can I fit it all in?’ “

Anticipation is a funny thing. if you ever watch Skip Bayless paired with Smith on “Cold Pizza”, you’ll often see the former shaking his head in disapproval before the latter has opened his mouth.

Though I’ll resist the temptation to castigate Smith’s forthcoming “Quite Frankly” debut before having seen it, ESPN’s commercials for said program do little to bolster Stephen A.’s credentials as anything other than a basketball guy. Tom Brady is “all the Patriots need? “

Harper To Wilpon : Pull The Trigger

Posted in Baseball at 9:31 am by

Whatever might be holding up the Mets’ acquisition of Manny Ramirez, the New York Daily News’ John Harper says no price is too high.

There isn’t any debate from a baseball standpoint, even if they have to give up Braden Looper in addition to Mike Cameron and Lastings Milledge in this proposed three-way deal with the Red Sox and Devil Rays. The inclusion of reliever Danys Baez from the Devil Rays makes it pretty much of an even swap with Looper.

As of late last night, however, the Mets had rejected the Red Sox’s offer because owner Fred Wilpon refused to pick up the entire $64 million remaining on Ramirez’s contract.

Nevertheless, if the chance is there to revive the deal by tomorrow’s 4 p.m. deadline, the onus is on the Mets to find a way to make it work, especially if money is the only sticking point. The Mets have too much invested in the win-now possibilities of this team to let the money scare them off. They can’t pretend to be building for the future, no matter how young David Wright and Jose Reyes may be, when Pedro Martinez is at the top of his game right now … and perhaps for not much longer.

Besides, Mike Piazza’s $15-million-a-year comes off the payroll after this season, Wilpon has his own TV network as of next season, and finally he has a new stadium in the works.

So money can’t be the deal-breaker here, not with the Mets drawing crowds to Shea again, and the possibilities of full houses nightly in August and September should they add Ramirez and make a real run at the playoffs.

There isn’t any doubt that GM Omar Minaya, who wanted to acquire Ramirez last winter, was pushing to make the deal, and people close to the situation say Pedro was pushing Mets executives as well.

At the same time, someone close to Minaya said the Mets’ GM was savvy enough to understand that even if he doesn’t get Ramirez, the word of such a potential deal might just prompt Rangers’ GM John Hart to lower his demands for Alfonso Soriano.

“Either way he gets his guy,” the person said of Minaya.

However this shakes out, it must be very comforting for Tampa fans (all 5000 of them) to know that the Mets are committed to their team’s player development each summer.