Friday, September 30, 2011

The Baseball Show: Playoff Picks

My good friend Mevs of Diamond Hoggers fame was kind enough to invite me back on the Baseball Show Thursday night. Another two hour podcast in the books. I'm coming for you, Kevin Goldstein.

It's been a while since we recorded a podcast so we pretty much discussed baseball for the full two hours. I only derailed into talking about deer antler spray once and I think MLB disconnected my phone.

-We recapped the craziest six minute span of baseball possibly ever from Wednesday night.

-We mourned the seasons of our favorite teams. Mevs discussed the Reds and I complained some more about Vernon Wells.

-We made our playoff picks for the first round. Check it out because I'll be bragging later.

-We make our award picks. Mine were done on the spot, actual voting may vary.

-Plus more!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mark Reynolds Fails To Join Club

Mark Reynolds really let me down this year. When he was sent to the Orioles before the 2011 season, I had grandiose dreams of a 400 strikeout performance against the power pitching of the American League East. At 196 K's, he still led the AL in striking out but, for once, that wasn't the source of my obsession. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know where I'm going with this.

Thanks to Reynolds playing third base like a fawn wondering onto the interstate for the first time, he had a pretty good chance to hit 30+ home runs and produce no value. By no value, I mean a 0.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Using Baseball-References version of WAR, only eight (8!) players have ever hit 30+ homers with an rWAR equal to or less than goose egg...

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Dave Kingman 2 1982 1986 33-37 Ind. Seasons
2 Mike Jacobs 1 2008 2008 27-27 Ind. Seasons
3 Tony Batista 1 2004 2004 30-30 Ind. Seasons
4 Dante Bichette 1 1999 1999 35-35 Ind. Seasons
5 Joe Carter 1 1996 1996 36-36 Ind. Seasons
6 Cecil Fielder 1 1995 1995 31-31 Ind. Seasons
7 Cory Snyder 1 1987 1987 24-24 Ind. Seasons
8 Tony Armas 1 1983 1983 29-29 Ind. Seasons
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/29/2011.

In 1999, Dante Bichette was secretly replaced in the outfield with a can of Folgers coffee and nobody could tell the difference.

In 620 plate appearances, Reynolds hit 37 home runs and a .221/.323/.483 line. It's a pretty accurate picture of the player he has been over his five year career. But in 2011, his defense was off the charts poor and that gave him a chance to become the ninth player to join the club.

The Orioles, afraid of my Twitter campaign, moved Reynolds to first base. So, much to my chagrin, he finished the season with a 0.5 rWAR. He flirted with the zero mark several times down the stretch but, alas, it was not to be.

We were so close, people. So close.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Love Ozzie Guillen

I love Ozzie Guillen and it's not just because the one part of the English language he mastered is profanity. He's cocky, abrasive, has no filter and I suspect he drinks quite a bit. He's just like your one uncle except he's had a job since 2004 and doesn't have to introduce himself as registered sex offender to the neighbors.

But Guillen isn't have a great season at the helm of the Pale Hose. The White Sox are 77-82 with three games to play and 15 games out of the AL Central, a division many, including yours truly, picked them to win. It's hard to pin the disappointing season all on Guillen. Of qualified American League players, the Sox have two of the worst five in fWAR (Fanrgraphs Wins Above Replacement) and three of the bottom 15. And that doesn't include Adam Dunn and his MLB worst -2.8 fWAR.

Guillen, however, doesn't want to point fingers at some of the historically bad performances of his players and would give his own performance the lowest grade possible...
For proof of that, look at what Guillen said when asked recently what grade he'd give himself for 2011.

"Z," he said.

"You're the man," Guillen said. "You make the lineup. So many things are on your shoulders. You have to be honest with yourself. I don't think this team went where it was supposed to be. I don't see why not give myself a Z. I don't play to be a second-place or third-place team."
Despite his own harsh grade, Guillen made it clear what he's looking for from the Sox after a meeting with Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf...
"(Bleep) more years, I want more money," Guillen said. "I don’t work here for years. No, I want more money. Years, what, I’m going to die poor with the White Sox. Hell, no. Listen this is my job. It’s the only thing I can do. I have to make money out of somewhere. I’m not a doctor or a lawyer, where you’ll have a job for the rest of your life.

"Life is about money. People don’t believe that. People are happy after they make money."
Yeah! That lousy $2 million I'm supposed to make next year will barely cover the overhead for my pygmy hippopotamus farm! I should have gone to law school! Or doctor school!

Guillen did say that he wanted to stay with the White Sox organization and his relationship with GM Kenny Williams would remain very respectful. You know, as long as they back that truck full of cash up to his drive way.

He declined to say if he'd quit if he didn't get a lucrative extension. There are some dire repercussions for the Guillen household though if he does find himself out of work...
"I’ve got to talk to my wife, and she’s got to cut the shopping process and Ozzie (Jr.) has got to quit drinking a little bit and Oney has to go to work a little bit," Guillen quipped. "Ozney has got to go to public school and hopefully get a scholarship somewhere, a lot of (stuff). My mom’s got to cut a little bit, my dad’s got to get healthy, my sister’s got to find a rich man.

"There’s a lot behind the scenes. My captain and my boat, I’ve got to cut that thing down. There’s a lot of things I’ve got to pay. We’ll see what happens, I don’t know yet."
Um, this needs to be a reality TV show like yesterday. Seriously, Bravo, VH1, MTV, TLC (if they can get a little person in the cast), MLB network, I don't care. Somebody put the Guillens on TV immediately.

I was relieved to hear that Ozzie (Jr) only has to quit drinking a little bit. I follow Oney on Twitter and, if he's any indication, Ozney can just drop out of school now. Maybe they can date some Kardashians.

UPDATE: Guillen said Monday night's game would be his last as the White Sox manager.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We Forgot To Congratulate Mariano Rivera

On behalf of the entire breaking-news-staff at Off Base, I'd like to congratulate Mariano Rivera for breaking the all-time saves record. This monumental event took place on Monday against the hapless Twins when he recorded his 602nd save but we're just getting around to it today. Frankly, I've just been swamped trying to catch up on all these naps. Our resident Yankees fan, Derwood, wanted to write a heart-warming post about it but he threw a ticker tape party in his apartment and has spent the past few days trying to find his cat under the mounds of shredded Chinese food menus.

I'm not a fan of the saves stat because, well, it's ridiculous and promotes poor bullpen management but I'm not trying to take anything away from Mo. He's the greatest closer of all time and should own the record. It's about time somebody started talking about him.

My favorite part about Mo setting the record was something I, of course, gleamed from Twitter. The Yankees were on the verge of taking the save opportunity away from Rivera but Nick Swisher came to the rescue and hit into a double play. Luckily, Yahoo's David Brown was watching the post game interview...

I didn't bother to check for video evidence of this statement because I wanted it to be true and Dave assured me anyway...

See? I have been burned by people on Twitter before though. I gave that guy who sent me a tweet about a free ipad my social security number and now I steal wi-fi from the coffee shop next to the alley I live in.

I respect the hell out of Rivera. But if he intentionally poked fun at the saves record he broke, he's entering a Fonzie-esque level of cool. *hits juke box* Saaaaaayyyyyyves. That was awful. Apologies all the way around.

Our Intern Saw Moneyball

Somehow, my intern received a pass to an early screening of Moneyball. Meanwhile, I'll watch it this weekend with the real movie-going public. I am a man of the people, after all. Also, I couldn't get a pass because nobody seems to know or care who I am. I will be demanding retribution in the future, jerks.

Anyway, this isn't about my sense of self-entitlement. I'll touch on that again during my review. Our intern, Filosofer, shared some quick thoughts about Moneyball and really enjoyed it. I'll have a much more detailed review after I see it. Fair warning, I was pessimistic before Keith Law dismantled it.

Without further ado, here are Filosofer's thoughts on the film based on the book written by Billy Beane about how he saved Oakland from certain doom at the hands of space robots using only math...

When Moneyball hits theaters Sept. 23, you might want to check it out.

If you’re a fan of sabermetrics (and, since you’re reading this blog…), how can you not love a movie about a book which focused on sabermetrics?

But the film doesn’t alienate non-sabermetricians. The statistics used in the game are actually fairly minimal. The ideas are there, but it’s essentially watered down to ‘walks are good.’ There’s a decent balance, though.

There was surprisingly little baseball shown in the film, but a lot of action within the front office that kept it interesting.

It would have been nice to keep a tally of how many chairs were harmed in the making of this film, though.

For as tense as some of the scenes can get, there were always comedic elements thrown in, and there was plenty of laughter throughout the two hours.

Fans of Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night will almost certainly enjoy Moneyball, even though it’s not just Sorkin’s screenplay. There are definitely some similarities between the two, but the dialogue is noticeably different.

Sports Night’s dialogue was typically quick, witty and cyclical. Moneyball’s tends to be more direct. Although the first time Beane tries to get his scouts on board with sabermetrics is very Sports Night-esque.

Also, isn’t it ironic that Steven Soderbergh got fired for wanting to use unorthodox methods of filming for a movie about using unorthodox methods?

Now I just need to figure out who I want to dress up as for my opening night viewing.

Thanks, bud. Man, how before its time was Sport's Night? Loved that show. Stay tuned for more Moneyball madness.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Conversation With Fake A.J. Burnett

Here's an actual text message back-and-forth I had with fake A.J. Burnett after today's Yankees game:

Fake A.J.: "Hello. I'm A.J. Burnett."

Derwood: "How did you get my phone number?"

Fake A.J.: "I looked it up."

Derwood: "Well, can you do me a favor and never use the number again?"

Fake A.J.: "But I wanted to offer you my autograph."

Derwood: "I'll give you a bag of cat urine for it."

Fake A.J.: "Deal!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tigers Lose! Tigers Lose! Tigers Lose!

The staff at Offbase would like to thank the following for their work on September 15, 2011:

1. The Oakland A's

John Axford Seems Cool

I'm pretty sure I should be friends with John Axford. Is he on Facebook? Twitter? What's not to like about the guy? Okay, he's Canadian but I can let that slide. This time. The "Ax Man" is a sweet nickname even if it's obvious, he has impressive facial hair and his middle name is Berton. Axford also played high school badminton (I was a prodigy) and used to be a bartender (I like to drink)...
"It was much better than the cellphone job," said Axford. "There, I didn't talk to anybody but customers and try and sell phones. But when people come in to your restaurant, they're already hungry, they're going to want to eat, they're going to want a drink. You don't really have to sell things too much unless you're trying to push a dessert on them or something or an extra beer."
It's a good thing throwing a 97 MPH fastball worked out for him because he sounds like a terrible server. Gotta sell that cheesecake, Ax Man.

Axford struggled in the Yankees minor leagues in 2007 and again with the Brewers as a starter at High-A in 2008. But in 2009, as a reliever, he pitched his way to Milwaukee and earned his first save. Last year, Axford threw a 2.48/2.13/2.79 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) pitching line and recorded 24 saves for the Brewers. He hasn't been as good this season with a 2.10/2.51/2.86 line and his strikeout rate is down (11.79 K/9 to 10.62) and his home run to fly ball rate nearly tripled (2.4% to 6.6%). But he has 42 saves so I guess that makes him an elite closer. I kid about the saves but he is the best option for the Brewers and a damn good reliever despite what Francisco Rodriguez has to say.

It's not that K-Rod is having a bad season, 2.86/2.91/3.20, but his recent outburst about not closing and history of questionable makeup might cost him money next season. I'll always be grateful for his masterful performance for the Angels during the championship run in 2002 but I bet he's a terrible badminton player. Choose your partner K-Rod. The Ax Man and I will crush you. Loser pays the bar tab.

Extra super bonus points to Axford for rocking this stache...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not A-Rod and Cameron Diaz Too!?!

Never to be outdone by teammate/nemesis Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and his actress girlfriend, Cameron Diaz, have apparently split up too. Earlier this season, Jeter and Minka Kelly (Lyla Garrity of Friday Night Lights, hot chick in the new Charlie's Angels) called it quits after three years. So it only made sense for A-Rod and Diaz to also break it off...
The couple, who began dating in February of last year, rarely spoke publicly about their romance, but was never shy when it came to being photographed on their many beach getaways and intense workouts together.

So what happened? A source told Us that the pair's work ethic was to blame.
Diaz, I assume, is hard at work being goofy on talk shows and trying to not be so rough looking. Actually, IMDB says she has 2012 movies Gambit (nothing to do with the awesome Cajun X-man) and What to Expect When You're Expecting coming out in 2012.

Rodriguez has battled injuries this season and has a .284/.367/.475 line in 390 plate appearances. He was having his best defensive year at third base with a 10.8 UZR but it's hard to trust one outlying season after six years in the red. The split should allow him to focus on getting healthy for the post season and finding a more man-ish looking buff blond lady friend.

Aww, they'll always have popcorn in Dallas.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ozzie Smith Had Some Elite Company

Occasionally, just occasionally, Derwood and I take a break from making jokes about Steve Balboni, Jose Canseco and other hobos to stare at stats. I'd like to thank Baseball Reference in particular for ruining my social life in New Orleans. It's cool though, turns out I'm only attracted to crazy women.

Today was one of those days where I found myself with too much free time and 12 tabs of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs open. If you follow me on Twitter (and why aren't you), you might know about my fascination with home runs and Wins Above Replacement. If you don't follow me, this is the kind of stuff I wonder about on a daily basis.

*NOTE: For posts like these, I'll be using rWAR (Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement) because of their baseball nerd crack invention of the Play Index.*

Ozzie Smith had an incredibly rare season in 1987. He hit .303/.392/.383 while playing his usual brand of sterling defense at short. Of course, Smith didn't hit for much power that year either. It was one of the seven homerless seasons of his 19 year career. The Hall of Famer finished second in MVP voting (Smith's highest finish but losing out to Andre Dawson and his .328 OBP) with a 7.1 rWAR. So the obvious question that had to be answered? How many players have had a season with a 7+ rWAR without hitting a home run?

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Ozzie Smith 1 1987 1987 32-32 Ind. Seasons
2 Tris Speaker 1 1915 1915 27-27 Ind. Seasons
3 Eddie Collins 1 1912 1912 25-25 Ind. Seasons
4 Nap Lajoie 1 1906 1906 31-31 Ind. Seasons
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/12/2011.

Four players managed to achieve that feat. Ozzie and three of the greatest dead ball hitters in the history of baseball. It's hard to imagine another player being able to accomplish that random criteria I looked up unless someone reinvents the wheel defensively or walks his way to a .700 OBP. I'd also like to point out here that I'm not good at math and might be completely off base (hey look, there's part of our blog name).

Nap Lajoie had the best season of the group in aught-six hitting .355/.392/.465 for the cleverly named Cleveland Naps. Pretty sure he didn't get any points added on to his 9.6 WAR for managing the team or designing the logo.

Eddie Collins hit .348/.450/.435 in 1912 good for a 9.2 WAR for the Philadelphia A's. He finished sixth in the MVP voting behind former WWE Diva Trish Stratus.

My bad, that should have read former Red Sock Tris Speaker. Speaker won the MVP in 1912 after belting a league best 10 home runs. But in 1915, he hit nary a ball yard. He was able to manage a .322/.416./411 line which resulted in his 8.1 WAR.

This, my dear readers, is the stuff I look up on the Internet with my free time. Well, this and pictures of dogs wearing hats.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Looked at the 2001 NL ROY Voting for a While Today

The 2001 NL Rookie of the Year voting will be remembered for....wait, do people remember rookie of the year voting?

Let me start over.

Some people voted for the top five rookies in the National League in 2001 and Albert Pujols won unanimously after putting together one of the most ridiculous rookie seasons ever-.329/.403/.610, 37 HR, 6.9 WAR. Pujols has gone on to a certain Hall of Fame career, and three of the four players who finished behind him in the voting-Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins and Adam Dunn-have put together really good careers themselves. Also, Bud Smith received votes.

Here's a look at the top five.

1st - Pujols

Not much else needs to be said about the St. Louis first baseman, so I'll pick something at random. At they have the following players as the top seven 'similar to Pujols through age 30':

Jimmie Foxx
Frank Robinson
Ken Griffey Jr.
Lou Gehrig
Hank Aaron
Mickey Mantle
Mel Ott

Talk about associating yourself with a bunch of losers.

2nd - Oswalt

The former Astro has been one of the better pitchers in the NL since his excellent rookie season in '01-2.73 ERA, 144 K-24 BB IN 141 2/3 IP. Oswalt collected 143 wins with Houston and had a great 2005 NLCS against the Cards before struggling in his only Series start against the Whitesox. Houston traded Oswalt to Philadelphia mid-way through the 2010 season for two minor leaguers and J.A. Happ, who should not be confused as a major leaguer. According to baseballreference, Oswalt's nickname is 'Wizard of Os'. Anyone who can confirm this nonsense, please email

3rd - Rollins

This was the first of two J.R.C.O's (Jimmy Rollins? Come On!) votes. See: MVP, 2007. Rollins was a 22-year old shortstop for the Phillies and he led the league in triples (12) and stolen bases (46), but his percentages were mediocre-.274/.323/.419. I guess he gained some points because his name was Jimmy. People love guys named Jimmy.

T-4th - Dunn

Much has been made of Dunn's horrendous, Derwood-on-the-JV-team-like 2011 season with the Palehose, and it's been really bad (57 OPS+, -2.4 WAR), but he burst onto the scene in 2001 with excellent numbers-.371 on-base percentage, .578 slugging, 19 home runs in just 286 plate appearances. Dunn would go on to club 335 more home runs over the next nine seasons with Cincinnati, Arizona and Washington before this season's debacle on the South Side.

T-4th - Smith

Oh yes, it's Bud Smith. The Cardinals' answer to the question: who the hell is Bud Smith?

A: it's that guy, right over there. THAT'S Bud Smith!

I was all ready to make a bunch of Bud Smith jokes until I looked at his appearances in 2001 and realized in only three of his 14 starts did he give up more than three earned runs. He also pitched a complete game, shut out against San Diego September 3. You know who finished up that game for the Padres? Rookie Wascar Serrano.

Official Offbase 2001 NL ROY voting

1. Albert Pujols
2. Roy Oswalt
3. Adam Dunn
4. Bud Smith
5. Jimmy Rollins
6. Wascar Serrano

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Editor's Meeting

MTD lives in New Orleans and Derwood built a cabin out of sticks and mud in Conyers, Georgia, so occasionally they have to communicate through text message. Here's the latest back-and-forth entitled "Strasburg Returns".

MTD (7:45 p.m. EST): Strasburg struck out two in the second. A 90 MPH change up and a 99 MPH fast ball.

Derwood Morris (7:47 p.m.): 90 change up? Big deal.

MTD (7:48 p.m.): Yeah, no biggie. Miles started swinging at the 99 MPH before it left Strasburg's hand.

DM (7:49 p.m.): So, I guess you could say there is a little Aaron Miles in all of us, thought hopefully not too much?

MTD (7:52 p.m.): Yes, I would have had to change my pants.

DM (7:55 p.m.): I had to change my pants and I wasn't even watching, which actually describes every single at bat I had in little league.

MTD (8:12 p.m.): Strasburg has retired nine straight after giving up a lead off double.

DM (8:16 p.m.): What a bum. A double?!

MTD (8:41 p.m.): Five innings, two hits, and he's in line for the all-important pitcher win.

DM (8:44 p.m.): He'd tie for the all-time lead in wins by a pitcher on September 6, 2011. Also, I bet if Donnie came out of retirement and pinch hit, he would've doubled down the right field line off Strasburg. But, I sometimes live in 1987.

MTD (8:47 p.m.): All of this Strasburg pitching to contact BS makes me want to punch my TV in the groin.

DM (8:49 p.m.): What if you pitch to contact and no one makes contact? Is it still considered pitching to contact or does it not matter at all because it's a really stupid and pointless topic to discuss?

MTD (8:51 p.m.): It makes sense if you're a crappy ground ball pitcher, like me in wiffle ball, but not wanting Strasburg to strike guys out early in games to keep his pitch count low is like having a Ferari that you only pull in and out of the garage.

DM (8:56 p.m.): According to Moe Syzlak it's called a car hole, but that does remind me of the time I had my station wagon and I refused to drag race my friend Chris' grandpa. I forgot what we were talking about. By the way, the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers are making a come back! Someone tell Alex Cora to grab a bat.

MTD (9:07 p.m.): I have drinking to do now, so, I stopped watching.

DM (9:10 p.m.): I never started.

Happy Birthday To Me!

I thought long and hard about skipping my birthday this year because I'm at that age now where teams would hesitate to give me a six year contract. Well, that and if I tried to hit an 83 MPH fastball my pants would fall off and the bat would end up in the stands. But in the end, I'm just too narcissistic to pass up the opportunity to celebrate me being born. And yes, of course you can send me cash through PayPal, thank you.

I ran some criteria through the Baseball-Reference Play Index to see if anything cool happened on my birthday. Turns out, not so much. But it would have taken something pretty impressive to top Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record for consecutive games played. Ripken played his 2,131st straight game on September 6, 1995 against none other than my beloved Angels. Ripken homered off Shawn Boskie in the 4th inning but the memorable moment happened in the following frame. After the game became official half way through the 5th inning, Ripken took a lap around the park high-fiving fans during a 22-minute standing ovation. I plan on recreating the moment tonight in a bar Uptown. Come by and high-five me or, preferably, buy me a shot of Jameson.

Yeah, that's right. I'll be celebrating my birthday with copious amounts of booze and poor decisions. So, just like most Tuesday nights.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Montero's Big Day

The Yankees and Orioles provided a four-hour lesson in how not to pitch today as the teams combined to allow 40 base-runners and New York hung on for an 11-10 victory to move 2 1/2 games up on Boston in the AL East. But the story wasn't about how much Brian Matusz stinks, it was about highly-touted prospect Jesus Montero.

Facing Jim Johnson in an 8-8 game in the fifth, the right-handed hitting Montero went the other way for his first big league home run, a no-doubt shot into the right field bleachers. Vinny from Jersey led the chants for Montero to come out and take a curtain call and the 21-year old obliged. Montero wasn't done. With the Yankees still clinging to that 9-8 lead in the seventh, Montero did it again, crushing a fast ball to almost the same spot in the RF seats for a two-run home run. Curtain call No. 2.

It's really, really early in Montero's career, but so far things have gone well. In four games, he's 5-for-13 (.385) with today's two home runs and three RBIs, and he looks comfortable at the plate. And it'd be easy to say "well, he hit two home runs against the Orioles; the Orioles smell like someone threw up in a sweaty tube sock," and you'd be right. But Johnson has been one of the better relievers in the American League and Montero took him deep twice.

Montero could also be forcing his way onto the Yankees' hopeful post-season roster (they haven't clinched anything yet), which means these last few weeks of the regular season may be the last time we see Jorge Posada and Jorge Posada's ears in pinstripes.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Umpires Now Escorted To Games By Stormtroopers

We finally have photographic evidence that MLB umpires do indeed work for the dark side of the force. They're evil. Frankly, I'm surprised Joe West only ejects players and managers instead of electrocuting them with lightning bolts from his hands. And let's face it, Bud Selig is looking more like the Emperor every day.

Or it was Star Wars day at AT&T Park. That would actually make more sense. The Sci-Fi promotional day catered to Bay area nerds with a pregame costume contest party and a postgame screening of The Empire Strikes Back. More importantly, the Giants gave away this sweet Brian Wilson-Han Solo frozen in carbonite figurine thingy.

If that doesn't help you score with the ladies, it's probably because you're covered in Cheeto dust. Seriously, clean yourself up, man.

Unfortunately for Giants fans, Stars Wars day at AT&T wasn't all droids high-fiving and Wookies chugging beer. The Giants lost to the Diamondbacks 4-1 and fell seven games behind Arizona in the West. Cody Ross hit a lead-off home run but the Giants only managed a Carlos Beltran triple and an Aubrey Huff single for the rest of the game.

It's going to take a miracle the size of Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star for the Giants to make the playoffs. Although it wouldn't surprise me if Tim Lincecum used to bull's-eye womp rats in his T-16 back home.

The Braves Have A Cursed Locker

Living in New Orleans, I'm familiar with ghost tours, haunted hotels and drinking early in the day. So I believe the Braves when they say they have a cursed locker which just claimed Julio Lugo as its most recent victim. Starting with the opening of Turner Field in 1997, the unlucky occupant of the locker next to where Greg Maddux used to sit never made it back the following year. This season has been no different as the locker appears especially cursed...
This year, four Braves have sat in that locker and lived to regret it. Joe Mather was released, Cristhian Martinez was demoted to the minors and Jordan Schafer was traded to the Astros. Lugo was its latest “victim.”

Braves general manager Frank Wren only half-kiddingly instructed clubhouse attendant Chris Van Zant Friday to board it up with plywood Friday.
Lugo was released on Friday to make room for the freshly acquired Jack Wilson. In Lugo's defense, I didn't even realize he was on the Braves until they released him. Lugo hit .136/.208/.136 in 48 plate appearances while filling in around the infield. The Dominican short stop is almost 36-years-old so there's a chance the Giants might be interested.

There is one known exception to the curse. Kenshin Kawakami lasted for more than one season in the locker (2009-2010) and has an 8.10 ERA at Double-A to show for it this year. Jeff Blauser was the first victim of the evil locker of doom but shared the same outcome with Bret Boone, Robert Fick, Wally Joyner, Ken Caminiti and a host of other players most of us don't remember.

Greg Maddux is still getting players out in retirement. That's much more impressive than whatever Roger Clemens is doing in court these days.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Torii Hunter Is Getting Better At Twitter

Angels outfielder and all-around-good-guy Torii Hunter has been on Twitter for a while now (@ToriiHunter48) but he finally seems to be getting the hang of it. While he isn't going to be as controversial or fan friendly as the great Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins), Hunter appears to be posting more on the social network and he's finally sharing the good stuff. After the Angels split a rather disappointing four game series with the Mariners, Hunter settled in for the plane ride home and had this to share...

Kendrick is quietly enjoying the best season of his career with a .297/.351/.467 line and personal bests 14 home runs and a 5.3 fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement). And he might be closing in on a career high HSIM (hot sauce in mouth). But he seems to be upbeat about it...


Oh no he din't. I kid but this exchange is actually funnier than any "My Wife and Kids" episode you're watching on ABC Family right now.

Scorpions To Make A Move?

With the news that 50-year old Howard Johnson was coming out of retirement to play for the Rockland Boulders of the Independent Can-Am League, the Yuma Scorpions of the North American Baseball League, led by player-manager Jose Canseco, are expected to make a move.

Offbase received an official transcript from inside the Scorpions war room where Canseco, his brother Ozzie, a photograph of Robert Redford and an imaginary canary named Bernie were meeting to discuss a counter move to the Boulders' signing of Johnson.

[6:51 p.m. MST]

Jose - OK. Listen, Rockland got Johnson. What do we do?

Ozzie - Is....

Jose (interrupting) - Wait, shut up! Is Tom Brunansky available?

Ozzie, speaking as the photograph of Robert Redford - Last I heard he was playing for the Covington Sparrows.

Jose - What league do they play in?

Ozzie/Redford photo - I made them up.

Jose - OK, photo of Robert Redford, could you please step outside the room for five minutes?

[Ozzie places photo on the floor outside the door. Closes door.]

Thank you.

Ozzie - Wait a minute, I think I've got it: Alou.

Jose - Moises?! That's great. He could play left field and...

Ozzie (interrupting) - No, Felipe Alou.

Jose - Felipe. (thinking). Let's send a scout to wherever he's playing tomorrow night.

Ozzie - Well, he retired in 1974, but I think if we tell him about all Yuma has to offer, he'd be up for taking a pay cut to be the fourth outfielder.

Jose - What does Yuma have to offer?

Ozzie - That Chinese restaurant that gives you extra orange slices.

Jose - OK, good. Who else?

Ozzie - F.P. Santangelo?

[Everyone laughs]

Jose - Seriously, though: any other suggestions?

Bernie the canary (whispering in Jose's ear) - What about Howard Johnson?

Jose - I like it, I like it a lot. Is he signed with anyone?

Ozzie - Rumor is he signed with the Rockland Boulders.

Jose - What if we try to lure Johnson away from Rockland?

Ozzie - Well, he signed with the team mainly so he could play with his son.

Jose - OK, so we tell Johnson that his son actually plays for Yuma. Then we get the son AND we get Howard Johnson!

Ozzie/Redford photo - Maybe the team is fine the way it is.

Jose - That's it, photograph of Robert Redford, you're on the bench tonight!

Editor's note: Bernie the canary flew out of an open window, Jose canceled batting practice and then tried to hail a taxi to the sun.

[Transcript ends.]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baby Giraffe Meets Brandon Belt, Or Vice Versa

In a story so sickeningly adorable I actually threw up in a pink Red Sox hat, Brandon Belt recently took pictures with the baby giraffe named after him. While the Giants rookie first baseman isn't enjoying the ROY caliber season many of us expected, Belt did become the recipient of a nickname spreading in popularity just as quickly as teammate Pablo Sandoval's "Kung-Fu Panda" did. Announcer Duane Kuiper bestowed the nickname "Baby Giraffe" upon Belt due to his, let's say, lack of grace in the outfield.

The fans like it and so does Six Flags Animal Kingdom which named a giraffe born last Friday after the Giant. The giraffe Brandon, 6'2, is already closing in on the real Brandon, 6'5. All right, get ready to be nauseated by cuteness. Here are the pictures of the two meeting thanks to The Veteran and the Rook blog...

Brandon explaining,"Opulence, I has it."

Baby Giraffe caught looking at an 0-2 off speed pitch.

Tim Lincecum is going to be so pissed Brandon Belt fed that to a giraffe.

HoJo Coming Out Of Retirement, Finally

In 1995, Howard Johnson posted a .195/.330/.355 line for the Chicago Cubs during his final season in the majors. But HoJo, ever the career baseball man/hotel chain, remained in the game in some capacity until earlier this year when the Mets dumped him as their hitting coach. Instead of trying to further his coaching career, the former Met star will man first base for the Rockland Boulders of the Independent Can-Am League.

Before you think Johnson, a ripe 50-years-old, is just another delusional former big leaguer clinging to his past *cough*JoseCanseco*cough*and*cough*youtooTonyPhillips*cough*, HoJo has a good excuse for signing an independent league contract. He will be suiting up to play along side his son, Glen...
"The most exciting thing is I get a chance to do something most dads never get a chance to do," Johnson said Tuesday night in a phone interview. "But I really just hope that I make contact."
Ah see, that's a nice story and I'm rooting for the father-son teammates. The closest my dad and I ever came to participating in a sporting event together was when I pitched in $20 for a box trifecta in the Kentucky Derby. It would have taken longer to just burn that money.

HoJo spent 14 years in the majors, most notably with the Mets from 1985-1993. He won a World Series with the Tigers in 1984 logging one pinch hit at bat and then again in 1986 with Mets also without providing much help. In 1989, he hit 36 home runs and a .287/.369/.559 line good for a career peak 7.3 fWAR.

Joe Nathan Flexed Veto Power

Joe Nathan was offered the Jim Thome way out of Minnesota Tuesday night but the Twins closer exercised his 10-and-5 (10 years of MLB service, five years with the same team) rights to stay put. Finding themselves 18 games out of the AL Central race, the Twins were nice enough to offer the escape option to Nathan and Thome. Thome was claimed on waivers by the Indians and, after waiving his no trade clause, was traded to Cleveland who is adorably still pretending to be a contender. Nathan, on the other hand, was given 30 minutes or less to decide if he would welcome a trade...
"The tough part was the timing," Nathan said. "They came to me with 30 minutes left until the deadline."


"It seemed the smart decision for us to say we're not going to waive [the 10-and-5 rights]," Nathan said. "It's nice to be here and have a chance to possibly be with this club again next year. We'll see what that brings."
While the Twins were able to pass Nathan through waivers in early August, the team denied they were in trade talks about the 36-year-old reliever. I'm sure the Angels would have balked at any asking price for Nathan but surely the Giants (injured Brian Wilson) or Rangers (collecting arms like it's the Cold War) would have shown some interest.

Instead, Nathan will remain in Minnesota presumably because the Target Field walleye-on-a-stick is the bomb, yo. Nathan has a $12.5 million club option for 2012 that will get bought out for $2 million unless the two sides can come to another agreement.

Nathan is under two years removed from Tommy John surgery but is on the wrong side of 35-years-old unless he has presidential aspirations. Nathan's 5.02/4.55/4.21 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) pitching line isn't inspiring a lot of confidence even if this is his first season back from the TJ. He showed some promise in June only allowing one earned run in 11.1 innings but coughed up six in August over nine innings.

Maybe next year will be a nice rebound for him and the Twins. Or not. One thing is certain though. You can buy deep fried fish on a stick at every home game.