Finn : You’re Gonna Miss Manny When He’s Gone

Posted in Baseball at 8:16 pm by

ESPN Radio’s Eric Kuselias was agog over the Manny Ramirez trade rumors this afternoon, insisting, over and over again, “there has to be more to this,” as though there’s some incredible secret about Manny’s disruptive behavior the Red Sox have covered up to maintain his trade value.

Boston Sports Media’s Bruce Allen claims WEEI’s Glenn Orway went down a similar path Monday (“He said all the fans and websites out there who have been blaming the media for Manny bashing will then be amazed at the ‘hair raising’, ‘off the chart’ stories that will come out after he is traded. (Sounds like the leaking has already begun.)” but also highlights some sage words from Touching All The Bases’ Chad Finn.

It’s not like I don’t understand why the Sox would consider shopping him. He’s going to be 35 next season; the decline has to begin sometime, and his aching knees may already be a harbinger. And if you believe the whispers – certain to be a full-fledged smear campaign once the deal is consummated – the home clubhouse may not be such a welcoming place for him anymore.

of all the rumors floating around out there right now, not one of them strikes me as particularly beneficial to the 2007 Red Sox. Scot Shields and a prospect from the Angels? Throw in Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick and we’ll talk. James Loney and Matt Kemp from the Dodgers? Intriguing, especially if Theo’s goal is to bolster the Pawtucket roster for the summer. Scott Linebrink from the Padres? C’mon, Theo, don’t get pantsed by Kevin Towers again.

There’s one question that every Red Sox fan should be pondering right now: How in the hell does trading Manny make the Red Sox better?

Will they get an equal talent in return? Highly unlikely, unless Albert Pujols should suddenly get caught looting Tony La Russa’s office or Texas foolishly parts with Mark Teixeira after a down year.

I’d feel better about this if only they were doing it for baseball reasons. Instead, they seem intent on trading a diamond for three cubic zirconiums, just to rid themselves of the Manny Melodrama. Heck, noted baseball historian Hazel Mae attempted to sum up that mind-set tonight on NESN: “Getting rid of Manny might not be as great as it sounds,” she bleated. I don’t even know what the hell that means. It’s like she was channeling McCarver.

Even with the headaches and midsummer vacations, he’s been worth every single Benjamin of his $160 million contract. You want reliable? Despite missing 42 games with a busted finger in 2001, he’s averaged 142 games per season with Sox, a number his supposed successor in the cleanup spot, the infamously indifferent J.D. Drew, has surpassed twice in his nine-year career.

Is Rod Barajas The New Carlos Boozer?

Posted in Baseball at 7:11 pm by

Though I suggested in an earlier entry that Rod Barajas had flunked his physical with Toronto, according to the Blue Jays, it’s the catcher’s spine that needs some fixing up. From MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian.

On Tuesday, Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi (above) said that Barajas and the Jays had “more than a handshake,” regarding the two-year contract the catcher was offered. On Wednesday, at a press conference to announce the re-signing of catcher Gregg Zaun, Ricciardi acknowledged that Barajas actually signed before backing out two days earlier.

“Where I’m from, that’s done,” Ricciardi said. “If your word doesn’t mean anything any more or your signature doesn’t mean anything, what kind of world do we live in? It’s all right, though. This worked out for the better. “The original two agents agreed, and they did a great job — a super job,” Ricciardi said. “Your word is supposed to mean something. What does that say to the agents you just did a deal with? You’re going to get a new agent and start renegotiating? No.”

Afterwards, Riccardi pissed away most of his remaining credibility by paying Royce Clayton $1.5 million dollars.
Reliever Joe Borowski, coming off a 36 save campaign for the Marlins in ’06, has apparently flunked his physical with Philadelphia. The Phillies’ doctor advised against a multi-year pact, but refrained from comment about Borowski’s pending entry in the upcoming Wing Bowl.

In addition to ranking the 5 Worst free agent signings (so far) this offseason (Gary Matthews Jr., Juan Pierre, Carlos Lee, Adam Eaton, Nomar), Fox Sports’ Dayn Perry pays homage to Omar’s thrifty pick-up of the Man With The Pissy Hands.

In this overheated market ” and when you’re the deep-pocketed Mets ” a one-year, $8.5-million pact is basically free. Alou has poor fielding range these days, and he’s gimpy. However, he can still rake (.304 AVG/.371 OBP/.548 SLG over the last three seasons). The Mets badly need better production from the outfield corners, and they also badly need help against left-handed pitching. Alou betters them ” by a lot ” on both counts. This deal is further evidence that Omar Minaya has developed into one of the smartest GMs in the game today.

I didn’t think there was a lamer nightspot on Earth than Blondie’s, but it would appear as though A-Rod and Derek Jeter have found it.

Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Wiseman reminds his lucky readers that today marks Vin Scully’s 79th birthday. This seems as good a time as any to mention that I was really underwhelmed by the performance of Scully impersonator numero uno Harry Shearer in Christopher Guest’s disappointing “For Your Consideration.” Later, however, I saw Will Arnett on “TRL”, at which point, I had to give Shearer and Guest just a tad more credit for realism.

Paging Katie Hnida : Barnett Wants The Wolfpack Job

Posted in Gridiron at 5:20 pm by

The Wilmington Star’s Andrew Jones listens to Gary Barnett’s sales pitch.

In a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon, Barnett said nobody from N.C. State or representing N.C. State had called. But he™d be willing to discuss the position, vacated when Chuck Amato was fired this past weekend.

œI am interested in getting back into coaching, Barnett said. œBut, it™s got to be the right school.

œN.C. State would be a great job and I™d be interested in it.

Barnett believes the ACC is a great league for coaches and that it™s the right time to enter.

œWith the ACC being in the position it is in, not a dominant conference this year, this is a good time to get in there, he said. œButch Davis is now down at North Carolina, and he™s a great coach, but (Wake Forest coach) Jim Grobe may be in position to move.

Barnett says former Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato did a great job generating enthusiasm for football and increased its importance among the fan base and university. He doesn’t see N.C. State as a basketball-first school.

œIt™s tough any time you™re the second sport, he said. œIt™s got to be the right fit.

Jones is careful to point out that Barnett was “exonerated of all wrongdoing” at Colorado.

Lopez Goes Hyperlink Crazy Over Bonzi The Bust

Posted in Basketball at 4:04 pm by

Using linked jpgs of Jeff Van Gundy’s skull, Tom DeLay and Paris Hilton, the Houston Chronicle’s John P. Lopez takes dead aim at the Rockets’ most unsuccessful free agent acquisition of late.

If Bonzi Wells cared, he’d be on the floor by now. If he was unselfish, he’d take four minutes a game and not complain. If he had any sense whatsoever, he would walk into coach Jeff Van Gundy’s office with hat in hand and apologize for showing no class, no ambition and no sense of professionalism.

Trading Bonzi gets complicated, because there are restrictions on recently signed free agents. There also is the whole complex issue of showcasing him for other teams that might be interested.

In order to showcase him, he needs to get onto the floor. But if he gets on the floor, he’s hurting the good thing the Rockets have going.

Talk about a dilemma. Still, the guy is a bust. Flat-out. A big, embarrassing bust. Somehow, someway, the Rockets need to ditch this guy. The only thing he can do from here is hurt the team.

(Current) Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley takes great offense at the notion Pau Gasol is on the trading block, telling the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Ronald Tillery, “I’m going to contact Cleveland to try and get LeBron James. So put in the paper that Cleveland’s interested in getting rid of LeBron James.”  Ha, ha. Funny stuff, but shouldn’t these executive decisions by all rights, rest with incoming Director Of Basketball Operations Christian Death?

Bad enough there’s another Stephon Marbury disappearing act to analyze ; the Sun-Times’ John Jackson claims former Bulls center Eddy Curry is held accountable by some for Chicago’s suddenly notorious headband ban.

After plowing his Escalade into a parked car while beating off to a pornographic DVD last Spring, the T-Wolves’ Eddie Griffin was assigned the most qualified of guardian angels, Vin Baker. Presumably, Mark Chumura and Isiah Rider didn’t return Kevin McHale’s phone calls.

Former Syracuse PG Gerry McNamara has left Olympiakos B.C. after a dispute over playing time. The Syracuse Post-Standard’s Mike Waters suggests McNamara is bound for the NBDL, which will surely come as a crushing blow to the ABA’s Rochester RazorSharks.  I don’t wanna say the ‘Sharks are desperate for an attendence boost, but how would you describe their employment of the kid from “Love Monkey”?

The bad news is the Nets have hired two women in their (early) 80′s for their new senior citizen dance squad. The good news is, there’s very little chance either one of them will hit Patrick Ewing with a paternity suit in the future.

Strahan : “I’m Not A Negative Guy”

Posted in Gridiron at 3:23 pm by

“I’m done talking…and I’ll see you Thursday.” (mp3 audio from WFAN)

The video footage is even better. We’ve seen countless athletes throw a fit with reporters, but how many of ‘em did so while eating a doughnut?  Beat that, Ryan Leaf.

Geography 101 With Mike & The Mad Dog

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 1:27 pm by

The Yankees’ controversial posting bid of $25 million for Kei Igawa is the main topic of discussion for WFAN’s Mike & The Mad Dog today, with the hosts expressing great skepticism about the relative worth of the Hashin Tigers’ left-hander.

“You don’t know what you’re getting with these Japanese players,” warned Mike Francesca (as opposed to say, All-Americans like Carl Pavano). After one caller opined that Igawa was a poor option compared to Ted Lilly, Francesca surmised “so he’s more like Kaz Ishii than (Chien Ming) Wang”.

Wang was born in Taiwan. Igawa might also have more in common with Horacio Ramirez than he does with Barry Zito.

It Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Guy

Posted in Hockey at 12:55 pm by

Kings race relations expert Sean Avery suffers a) “a masticating hit” and b) the indignity of hearing Chumbawumba while he’s trying to regain his senses (link swiped from Offwing Opinion)

Bobby Holik (above, left) returned to MSG last night and had a pair of late goals, including the OT game-winner in Atlanta’s 5-4 decision over the Rangers last nightThe New York Daily News’ John Dellapina, perhaps ignoring the fact Holik is wearing another team’s sweater, wonders “what, exactly, did Bobby Holik do to deserve Garden booing?”

He signed a ridiculous contract (five years, $45 million). But nobody forced the Rangers to offer him that kind of money. And do New Yorkers really resent somebody hitting the lottery — or at least being fortunate enough to hit the open market at precisely the right time — the way folks in other NHL outposts seem to? I never thought so, but apparently we do.

Was he outspoken and critical of the team? Absolutely. But he had always been precisely that as a Devil. So the Rangers knew exactly what they were getting. Besides, he was usually right on in his criticisms — the Rangers WERE œfundamentally, the worst team in hockey when he made that proclamation following the absurd 9-1 thumping at Ottawa in Jaromir Jagr™s Rangers debut on Jan. 24, 2004.

And his reaction that astounding morning when Jim Dolan and Steve Mills wobbled onto the ice in Anaheim during a Rangers practice — he disgustedly stormed to the other end of the ice to pound a puck against the boards in embarrassed frustration — was perfectly appropriate.

Bobby Holik was the least of the Rangers™ problems while he was here and could well have been part of the solution had he been deployed properly. Alas, he was just one more player whose talents were wasted during the Reign of Error from 1998-2004. And now, he gets booed for it as well.

Indisposed Peeping Tom Vs. Plaxico Fantastico

Posted in Gridiron at 11:40 am by

(fuck those Wendy’s ads, sometimes being stuck in the middle is the worst place to be)

In the wake of Michael Strahan kinda-sorta-maybe calling Plaxico Burress a quitter after the wide receiver gave up on an overthrown Eli Manning pass Sunday, WFAN’s Joe Benigno-Gazingo is reporting there’s been some type of spat at Giants practice this morning.

Even a football neophyte like Shea Hillenbrand could tell you the ship is sinking, and with each passing day, Colonel Coughlin seems headed for a Douglas Niedermyer ending (ie. shot by his own troops). Though it seems as though Burress would have an unfair advantage if forced to go toe-to-toe with the injured Strahan, keep in mind that Dr. Ian Smith might have the latter’s back.

(UPDATE : You’ll have to go to ESPN.com or WFAN.com to hear the lovely soundbites from Strahan in severe Kill The Messenger Mode. “Look a man in the eye before you kill him and make up something…if you’re gonna talk to me, don’t stand in the back with ten other people.  I’m glad ESPN is listening to WFAN, that’s a good thing,  at least we listen to each other and read each other’s newspapers around here. I read you guys every day..I’ve been reading you guys for ten years. If you’re gonna be negative, be negative, I don’t give a damn.”

Apparently, Strahan’s rebuke of Burress on the Benigno-Gazingo show qualifies as veteran leadership, but the media asking Burress to respond earlier today, is dirty pool. I’ve not heard a Swampland resident have such a WTF moment with the local media since Chad Pennington insisted the scribes were privileged to be covering the Jets.)

(UPDATE DOS : Mike Francesca has weighed in on Strahan’s public implosion : “Move on, it’s not that big a deal.” Always the team player that Francesca, way to piss all over Benigno-Gazingo’s moment of glory. At the moment, Francesca and Russo are discussing a truly big deal : New Cannan’s 49-14 defeat of Coventry in the CIAC Semi-Finals.)

Peavy For Manny?

Posted in Baseball at 11:13 am by

While warning that Boston’s pending deal with J.D. Drew is a prerequisite to shipping Manny Ramirez elsewhere, the Globe’s Gordon Edes is a little more specific than most about what the Red Sox might expect in return.

The Sox remained deep in Manny Ramírez trade talks with the Padres, with San Diego sweetening its original offer, according to a source with direct knowledge of the talks. The Padres are offering major league players for Ramírez, a package that presumably would have to include one of two pitchers: prime setup man Scott Linebrink or ace Jake Peavy. The Sox also have coveted Adrian Gonzalez, a lefthanded-hitting first baseman who put up outstanding numbers in his first full season in 2006: .304, 24 home runs, 38 doubles, and 82 RBIs.

The Dodgers, because of their wealth of appealing young talent — outfielder Matt Kemp, first baseman James Loney, third baseman Andy LaRoche, reliever Jonathan Broxton — and their paucity of power are becoming a popular choice among industry speculators as a Ramírez landing spot. But their position is still somewhere on the periphery, as they weigh whether they want to part with their kids. There were strong indications yesterday, however, that the Sox would pay at least a portion of Ramírez’s salary.

In addition to the other teams that have been identified as potential trading partners (Rangers, Phillies, Giants, Orioles, Mets), there may yet be a team or two that has not surfaced publicly. A team mentioned as a possibility should the Red Sox insist on a slugging bat in return: the Mariners, who are not shopping third baseman Adrian Beltre or first baseman Richie Sexson but might be persuaded to part with one or the other in a Ramírez deal.

Reminding us that “it’s still November and the Orioles already have bought four relievers for more than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ projected budget,” the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly applauds the O’s “moxie” in fixing their bullpen, but would prefer to see the free agency shopping come to a halt.

Basically, the Orioles must abandon the dream that they are the Detroit Tigers 2.0 and everything will miraculously mesh in 2007. They must acknowledge that this team is headed for fourth place again and there are no big league-ready reinforcements in the minor leagues. Then they need to spend the next 10 months identifying, acquiring and developing a few players who will be under the club’s financial control for several years and who can complement the existing core of players signed through 2009.

The Orioles can’t repeat the sins of the past, when they thought they were a couple of players away, became desperate when they lost their top choices and stuffed their roster with overpaid, second-tier free agents.

You think Houston’s payout of $100 million over six years for Carlos Lee is a waste of money? Consider that, in the past six years, the Orioles spent roughly $100 million total on free-agent busts David Segui, Marty Cordova, Omar Daal, Rafael Palmeiro, Sidney Ponson, Javy Lopez and Steve Kline.

Each year, the Orioles seemingly arrive at this point, and then proceed to steer their ship into the iceberg once Plan A melts. Alfonso Soriano and Lee, their top target, were too pricey. Starters Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt are still available, but the word within baseball circles is that neither has the slightest interest in coming to Baltimore. No matter the money, no matter the years.

What’s left is a bucketful of Plan B’s and C’s on Desperation Aisle, where the Orioles end up using their rich uncle’s credit card every year. Free agents such as Jay Payton, Aubrey Huff and Trot Nixon likely will get multi-year deals. The Orioles shouldn’t be joining those parties.

The truth is that for the Orioles to replicate the success of this year’s Tigers, they probably need to strip down the organization to its skivvies and start again. Trade off anyone over 30 and rebuild for 2010, when most of the organization’s best prospects could be ready to emerge.

The Pirates, along with having inked reliever Damaso Marte to a two year extension, are amongst those sniffing around starter Jeff Suppan, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic.

Building The Chelsea Brand (Of Bullshit)

Posted in Football at 1:25 am by

While their Guardian colleague John Brodkin focuses on the poor value for money provided by slumping Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko (above), the Fiver’s Barry Glendenning and Mike Adamson turn their attention to the Blues’ nefarious fund-raising efforts around the world.

Living as they do under an authoritarian and notoriously censorious regime, Chinese citizens have long been fed a steady diet of propaganda. But as if being subjected to the particular doctrines and principles of an evil Communist Party isn’t bad enough, the lives of 1,306,313,812 people are about to get a whole lot worse now it’s emerged that Chelsea are to produce a Mandarin-language website in a move to build the “club’s brand” in the Far East.

“Clearly we are becoming more popular and this is the right time to take that to the next level,” droned the club’s business affairs director Paul Smith, suggesting the Premiership champions are the object of far less derision in China than they are at home. “The real winners of this co-operation are the fans themselves who will now have far easier access to the world of football,” declared Charles Chao, chief executive of Chinese internet portal Sina, no doubt referring to fans whose only previous access to the world of football involved long hours in the sweatshop sewing footballs and replica shirts.