Tag Archive | "Boston"

This One’s For You: Aaron Hooks of Cards Diaspora

In this month’s Esquire, the cover story on Matt Damon tells an antidote about the filming of his new movie Elysium and how he was such a valuable “target” that the movie studio had to hire a security detail to follow him around and make sure he didn’t get kidnapped for ransom.

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Crazy, right?

The paparazzi are one thing, ruining a perfectly good meal at The Ivy. But full-on people for money transactions are a whole new ballgame.

Unfortunately, there are many countries where this could have been a problem for Mr. Damon. He isn’t even the first celebrity to have this happen. He won’t be the last. But at the end of the day, he’s going to come home to California or Boston or wherever a star like Matt Damon lives and move on with his awesome life with his awesome family.

He’s not going to need the security detail when he gets there. He will have made over $15 million dollars for a few weeks work. You’ll probably end up seeing the finished product at some point and like it, because, you know… Matt Damon.

Other places hate the fact that a ‘Matt Damon’ exists. So much so, that if they had it their way, they’d rather see all of us dead than have the cycle repeated with whatever Matt Damon vehicle is in pre-production.

They won’t get their way, though.

Because there are men and women (much braver than I) willing to put themselves in harm’s way to make sure that I get my Matt Damon.

They’re away from their families. In places that we couldn’t even imagine. Doing things that are unbelievable. And they call it a day of work same as me or you. Maybe it sounds trite to say thank you, because that doesn’t seem fair. Thank you for passing the salt. Thank you for opening a door. Thank you… for risking your life?

I take solace in the fact that they’re going to continue to take risks we’ll never know about and all they ask in return is that we continue to go out an enjoy the freedoms they bravely protect.

It might not seem like a very patriotic thing, seeing a Matt Damon movie. But in a way, it’s honoring the people that help make Matt Damon possible.

And just in case Elysium isnt’ all that good: thank you to all that serve.

This post was brought to you by Aaron Hooks of Cards Diaspora
You can follow him on twitter @athooks

TheCD

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Five reasons the Cardinals DON’T need Jonathon Papelbon

Earlier this week, a Boston-based baseball writer speculated in his column that the Phillies believe that St. Louis might be interested in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.

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Mind you, there was no real substance behind his assertion, but it made the usual rumor-mill rounds all the same. This move would make no sense for the Cardinals, and here are five reasons why:

1) Salary.
Papelbon makes $13 million, which is ridiculous money for a pitcher (not named Mariano Rivera) at such a fungible position on the diamond. Every year, closers lose their jobs, whether due to injury, ineffectiveness or trade. A large-market team like Philadelphia can absorb that kind of salary commitment much easier than St. Louis. Papelbon has pitched 70 innings in his career exactly ONCE (last season). From what I’ve read, the Cardinals try to keep their budget for salaries in the $100-110 million range. Earmarking over 10% of that to one reliever would be a stupid decision for any team in that salary range, especially one on the downside of his career, which leads me to my second point…

2) Papelbon is not a sure thing
The 32-year-old Papelbon, who has blown two of his past three save opportunities, including last night against Washington – has developed some troubling patterns since joining the Phillies: 1) he is allowing home runs at the highest rate since his rookie season in 2005; 2) his K/9 ratio has dropped from almost 12-to-1 in 2012 to 8-to-1 this season; and 3) his fastball velocity is dropping. In 2012, his average heater was 93.8 mph. This season, it has fallen to 92.6. When the difference between a fastball and slider decreases, both pitches become easier for hitters to pound. Papelblown, er, Papelbon used to be able to blow hitters away with his pure power stuff. That ability is starting to abandon him; and once the fastball goes away, it usually doesn’t come back. He might still be able to get by as a reasonably effective reliever, but that’s not exactly the best use of $13 million, is it?

3) No need.
This is perhaps the most obvious point. The Cardinals HAVE a closer with whom they are quite happy, thank you. Edward Mujica is 21-for-21 in save opportunities. Can’t be much more of a shutdown closer than that, can you? Now, is he the “prototypical” power closer who overwhelms batters with 95-plus gas or a devastating slider? No. In fact, he primarily has thrown a split-change since becoming the closer in April. But he has thrown the pitch so effectively that hitters are batting below .200 against him for the season. Is he the type of closer you can count on in October? Well, let’s look at the closers of the past five World Series champions:

Obviously, Rivera is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and maybe the greatest reliever of all time. But Romo? A career set-up guy who took over the closer’s job due to injury (very similar to Mujica). Wilson? More known for his beard and goofy antics than his dominant pitching. Lidge? Briefly dominant with the Astros (2004-05), imploded, then rebounded for one last great year with the Phillies in 2008. Motte, of course, was Tony LaRussa’s unofficial closer during the glorious run in 2011 and was superb in 2012, but he’s out for the year and an unknown quantity for the future. Other than Rivera, Mujica’s effectiveness matches up quite well with any of the other four.

4) Organizational depth.
Even if Mujica blows up in July or August, the Cardinals have alternatives on the roster. Trevor Rosenthal has been overpoweringly filthy in his 8th inning role, striking out nearly 13 batters per nine innings of work and regularly touching 98 mph on the radar gun. Many people expected him to take the closer’s job instead of Mujica. He could be just as effective as Motte was in 2011-12, given the chance. Joe Kelly is another reliever whom I believe could succeed in the role. He has a mid-90s fastball and no fear of opposing hitters. Heck, I’d give Carlos Martinez or Seth Maness a shot at the job before I would even think about considering whether Papelbon was an option. The point is, the team has several in-house options that would be preferable.

5) What would the cost be to acquire Papelbon?
Philadelphia isn’t going to just give him away, of course. They have a barren farm system and need to rebuild.  Given that, you have to figure that they would ask for a top prospect like Martinez, Michael Wacha, or Oscar Taveras. Such a request should cause John Mozeliak to burst into a fit of laughter as he hangs up the phone. Sacrificing six years of cost-controlled Wacha for an overpriced closer with a declining fastball? PASS. Decisions like that get general managers fired. This is not something Mozeliak has shown any inclination to do since taking the reins as GM. Even if the Phillies requested lesser prospects or offered to pay, say, half of Papelbon’s contract, such a move would make little sense. This is another area where Cafardo’s speculation makes little sense. Has anyone with actual knowledge of the team reported any interest in Papelbon? If so, I haven’t seen it. This strikes me as a classic “let’s throw this against the wall and see if it sticks”-type rumor. That might have made more sense when Walt Jocketty was the GM, but that was many years ago.

If the Cards were to consider acquiring a veteran reliever, they would be better off with someone like the Rockies’ Rafael Betancourt – reasonable $4.25 million option for 2014, plenty of experience pitching for a contender, or Luke Gregerson from the Padres (which would give St. Louis the chance to reclaim Gregerson for its bullpen after the disastrous Khalil Greene trade). Not lobbying for Betancourt or Gregerson; just pointing them out as better options than Papelbon.

Finally, Papelbon doesn’t seem like a Cardinal-type player to me. Fox Sports loved to focus the cameras on him when he pitched for the Red Sox, and he comes off as an attention hog with a big mouth. It went over well in Boston when they were winning, but as the Red Sox struggled, he fell out of favor and they made no effort to sign him after the 2011 season.  Given how tight the free-agent market has become towards relievers, he was extremely fortunate to land a huge contract from Philly. Personally, I find the idea of him possibly wearing the Birds on the Bat as distasteful as I would Manny Ramirez or Ryan Braun. If they wanted an obnoxious relief pitcher with declining skills, they could have signed Wilson. Since that hasn’t happened, I’m going to assume the team doesn’t wish to waste its money in such a fashion, but I digress.

All one has to do is look at the situation logically, and frankly, it makes no sense for the Cardinals’ business model. The combination of drastically overpaying for Papelbon in terms of salary AND young talent is one that makes no sense for a team like the Cardinals. The only surprising aspect is how much attention it has drawn from other national baseball “experts,” when in fact it should be filed in the circular file where most rumors end up.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Kansas City Royals: Winning Makes A Big Difference

FSKC

The Kansas City Royals are quite a few seasons removed from a winning baseball season.  This season was supposed to make all the difference and help the team start anew.

One of the caveats to the Royals playing so bad for so long is the lackluster television deal that they have in place.  A deal that will not put all 162 games on the air locally, one of the few deals left out there of it’s kind.  The team finds itself preempted for Kansas City Chiefs coverage and other local events, leaving baseball die-hards yearning for the team to turn it around.

If we can rely on the television ratings, the fans seem ready for this team to do just that.

According to information provided to i70 by Fox Sports, the Royals have set a new record for viewership of a game three times in 2013.   They have also added another game this season in the top-five all time most viewed games in Royals history.

Highest-rated Royals games all time on FOX Sports Kansas City

Rank Rating   Date   Game
1. 8.8 6/11/13 vs. Detroit
2. 8.1 6/10/13 vs. Detroit
3. 7.9 4/28/13 vs. Cleveland (Game 1)
4. 7.5 5/6/09 vs. Seattle
5. 7.4 4/21/13 at Boston (Game 1)

It is obvious that Kansas City is ready for a winning sports team to take hold.  It is also obvious that they are ready to get behind the Royals in a big way.

The team needs to continue winning and show the city they are ready to be supported.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Wil the Royals trade Myers away for starting pitching?

The Royals need another front of the rotation starter, even after acquiring Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie. With a $70MM “soft” salary cap (which many argue is too low), the Royals say they’re willing to trade top outfield prospect Wil Myers for starting pitching. Names such as Tampa Bay’s James Shields and Boston’s Jon Lester have come up, but so far they’re nothing more than rumors. But is trading a top offensive prospect for starting pitching a good idea in the first place?

If it’s for Shields or Lester, no. Yes, they are good pitchers and better than anyone in the Royals rotation, including Santana and Guthrie. But they’re not worth Wil Myers trade value.

Both Shields and Lester will be free agents in 2014. If Myers stays with the Royals, he’ll likely be a free agent until 2019. Then there’s money. Shields will make $9MM in 2013 and has a $12MM team option. Lester will make $11.6MM in 2013 and has a $13MM team option. Myers will make much less.

Shields pitched 227.2 innings in 33 starts, had a 3.52 ERA with a 3.84 strikeout to walk ratio. Lester pitched 205.1 innings in 33 starts, had a 4.82 ERA with a 2.44 strikeout to walk ratio. Shields is 30 and Lester is 28, but between the two, Shields appears the one most likely to improve. Both pitchers are good and would be an asset to the Royals rotation, but not for Myers.

Now if the Tampa Rays are willing to deal David Price or Jeremy Hellickson for Myers, that might be a good trade. Price is a Super Two player, which makes him arbitration eligible in 2013 and a free agent in 2016. Hellickson is arbitration eligible in 2014 and a free agent in 2017.  Price made $4.35MM in 2012 and Hellickson made $489,500 in 2012, so they’re very affordable and would be under club control for at least a few years.

But I don’t see a trade like that happening. Price was a 20 game winner, pitching 211.0 innings over 31 starts with a 2.16 ERA and a 3.47 strikeout to walk ratio. And he was the American League Cy Young Award winner for 2012. Hellickson was no slouch, pitching 177.0 innings over 31 starts with a 3.10 ERA and a 2.10 strikeout to walk ratio. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2011.

Of the two, the Rays might trade Hellickson for Myers straight up, but to get Price the Royals would probably have to throw in another high level prospect like a Jake Odorizzi or Jason Adam. And the Rays aren’t rebuilding, so there’s no good reason for them to give up starting pitching for prospects.

If the Royals are so bent on trading for a starting pitcher, maybe they should consider Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. Jeff Samardzija? To be honest, I didn’t know much about him either. But Samardzija was the ace of the Cubs, pitching 174.2 innings in 28 starts with a 3.81 ERA and a 3.21 strikeout to walk ratio. Sure, being the ace of the 61-101 Cubs isn’t that impressive. But Samardzija made $2.64MM in 2012, is arbitration eligible in 2013 and a free agent in 2016.

And the best thing is the Royals won’t have to trade Myers to get Samardzija (unless they’re very stupid, which is possible). The Royals could give the Cubs someone like Mike Montgomery or Cheslor Cuthbert for Samardzija and jettison or trade Luke Hochevar to pay Samardzija’s salary. The Royals still have money left to get a free agent pitcher like a Shaun Marcum or Anibal Sanchez. And Myers can take Jeff Francoeur‘s place in right field in 2013. Sounds like a good deal to me.

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Splitsville

The Royals’ separation from Frank White feels all too much like a divorce, and we fans are the children, helplessly caught in the middle. There are always two sides to every story. We’ve heard only a little of what certainly must be a bigger, uglier situation. White was too negative. The Royals wanted to get rid of him for a long time. Come on. That’s it?

At the moment, it’s very tempting to want to side with White. Looking back at the way he’s been treated by the franchise over the years, it’s hard not to think that he was used, abused, unappreciated and passed over time and again by the Royals, until finally they decided they had no more need for him.

He was unceremoniously released at the end of his career, allowed to slip away to coach in Boston, passed over for managerial positions at least twice, and forced into retirement from the front office when it conflicted with his broadcast duties.

White has meant so much to KC over these many years, it’s unfathomable that they would just divorce him. He’s among the greatest players in team history, and easily the second most important face of the franchise. Only George Brett means more to KC, and he isn’t nearly as willing to get out and shill for the company as White was.

I’ve interacted a couple of times with Frank White at Royals’ fan events. And while most of the current players are cold, stand-offish and colorless, White embraced every fan with a smile, handshake and kind conversation. His warmth and down-to-earth friendliness will be missed. His lifelong connection with the city is something that will probably never be duplicated.

The Royals may have felt they had acquired some new measure of goodwill from the 2011 infusion of talent and decided to strike while the iron was hot. Like a marriage, they decided to get out while the getting was good.

But while it looks so easy to side with White, who knows what else was going on Nearly every divorce involves two parties with at least some degree of guilt. White’s supposed on-air “negativity” was the sole reason given for his firing. Could it be there was some kind of insubordination or disruption the Royals decide to no longer tolerate?

We’ll probably never know the whole truth. But like the children watching the parents they love divorce, the fans are forced to mourn and wonder why it had to happen.

One of the last links to the great Royals teams of the past is now an “ex.” His name will come up from time to time, but his role in our lives will forever be changed. And like children in a divorce, we’re helpless to do anything about it.

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Crow Logs Yet Another All-Star DNP

Well, make it six out of 10.

Sorry, Aaron Crow. Hope you enjoyed that free plane ride to Arizona.

Royals fans and your friends from Topeka are all proud of you. But I guess we shouldn’t have gotten our hopes up that you would actually play in this year’s All-Star Game.

After all, six of the last 10 Royals to be named to the All-Star Game have failed to leave the bench.

American League manager Ron Washington did about as well as he could to utilize his full compliment of pitchers. No pitcher went more than a single inning. But when the AL didn’t have to pitch the ninth, Crow was left without need of a shower.

Three other pitchers who were available on the AL bench did not play – Detroit’s Jose Valverde, Toronto’s Ricky Romero and Boston’s Josh Beckett. Beckett complained of discomfort when he warmed up, or he would have played.

For another year we’ll assume there was no malice behind the decision to keep Crow on the bench. No need to suspect a plot to discriminate against the Royals is afoot.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

But still, this is getting old.

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Trade Them ALL I Say

The debate about who should be traded or kept is starting to boil in Kansas City. The team has been fielding lots of calls over the last few weeks. This trend is not going to change anytime soon as the deadline nears. The most written about players on the block are David DeJesus, Jose Guillen, and Kyle Farnsworth.

A quick update of what we have heard so far. Guillen is being pushed hard by the team. The Royals are willing to take on most of his remaining salary. Guillen has been hitting well, getting on base a ton and staying healthy for the most part. It is likely he will be gone by the deadline.

DeJesus is the most talked about player. It seems like every team wants to ad DeJesus to their club. Scouts have been following the team for something like a month now. The favorites to acquire David are Boston and San Fran. I say this because the Royals have reportedly been seen scouting both clubs. The Royals are said to be holding on to DeJesus until closer to the deadline.

Farnsworth is being talked about because he is a relief arm and well teams can always use another relief arm. He is getting a ton of ground outs this season as well as strikeouts, all of which are making him look pretty good to teams needing arm depth. His contract only has about $2 million left for 2010. He also has a option for 2011 that he void if traded. If he does not void that option he will be on the books for around $5 million for 2011.

The team has several other players that could be and should be moved before the deadline while their value is high. This list in my mind includes several players that many are not talking about. This list first includes players that are going to be free agents next year who are playing well. The top of this list for me include Bruce Chen and Willie Bloomquist.

It is said that teams are calling about Bloomquist who can play all over the place. Bloomquist has said he wants to stay with the Royals but trading him at the deadline with hopes of resigning him is the best move for the team in my mind. The same plan should be followed with Chen. Chen has seen somewhat of a rebirth in KC after being picked up on only a minor league deal at the start of the season. He is pitching better and better with almost every start. Chen could see bidding for his services in the off-season if he continues to pitch well for the rest of the season, which is bad news for the Royals. Chen could become the pitcher of choice if the first tier pitchers can not be had by a contender.

The next players on my list are players with a club option for next year. This list includes Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik. Ankiel needs to show that he stay healthy before he has any real trade value but in my eyes to get his contract off the books would be a good move since he has had some many injury problems this season. Podsednik is one of those players that if a good offer came across the desk I would not be sad to see him leave but to give him away just because is uncalled for.

The segment of the list consist of players that will arbitration players next year. This list includes Luke Hochevar, Josh Rupe, Billy Butler, Brayan Pena, and Josh Fields all going for the first time. Robinson Tejeda and Alex Gordon going for the second time. Lastly Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies and Brad Thompson all going for a third time. This list of players get to be a little tricky when deciding if they should be traded. You first must look at what their projected arbitration salary will be before you do anything. If the salary that the player might earn is above what you believe their talent level is then they must be traded in my mind. I have almost the same view with Butler but on the other hand I think Butler could return some solid talent back to the team in a trade. Butler I say keep unless you are blown away. I want to say the same thing about Gordon too but with young talent in minors at third Gordon could be expendable. Bannister is the best player to trade in this group. Bannister, like Chen, could see teams looking at him once they miss out on the first tier of pitchers are off the market.

I will say that if I were the man in charge in Kansas City I would be asking for players that are already in the majors or less than a year away talent as my starting point. I think the Royals can come away like thieves if are willing to take on the salary of players that they are trading. This year many teams are trying to make it over the hump into the playoffs but have limited budgets.

So, after the dust settles after the deadline I would like to see Bannister, DeJesus, Guillen, Farnsworth, Ankiel, Podsednik, Chen, and Bloomquist gone. I think these eight players could return 4 major league or major league ready players and several lower level projects.

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