Tag Archive | "Buzz"

Is Lance Lynn Out Of Line?

The St. Louis Cardinals opened camp on Tuesday morning with the traditional pitchers and catchers workouts.  It did not take long for the first quote to fire up the fan base to come out.

LanceLynn4

Lance Lynn has arrived at camp looking fit having dropped a reported 40 pounds.  He has successfully avoided using the phrase “best shape of my life”, is on the heels of an 18 win season, and addressed the one thing that critics had for him last year by improving his offseason diet to hopefully address the fatigue that set in at the end of 2013.  In the midst of losing starter Chris Carpenter and the buzz around three young rookies hoping for a rotation spot, Lynn is a bright spot in early camp.

Then, on Tuesday morning during a media scrum, a quote came flying out from Lance Lynn.  It may or may not be “out of context”, but it seemed to fire up the fanbase pretty quickly.  Via Twitter, beat writer Jenifer Langosch shared Lynn’s thoughts on the rotation competition this spring:

Lynn on rotation competition: "I was an 18-game winner last yr w/ an All-Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose a spot, IMO."
@LangoschMLB
Jenifer Langosch

It is easy to see how that could rub some fans wrong.  That is not the way players tend to act around St. Louis.  Players that have been in the league for years, won multiple awards, and are solidified in their positions for years to come say “I’m here competing for my spot on the team”.  It shows a cockiness and brash attitude that this team, and it’s fans, are not accustomed to hearing.

The question here is: was it really wrong to say?

He is right, isn’t he?  I would say, due to the news of Chris Carpenter’s injury, that Lynn’s spot in the rotation is his to lose and in order to lose it, he would have to collapse pretty hard this spring.  His season last year was impressive, especially considering the second half issues he ran into.  The work he has already put in to attempt to fix that part of his game deserves accolades.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article on Tuesday as well, discussing Lynn with his manager.  Matheny had high praise for his starter and his offseason work.  The manager also had this to say about early perceptions that Lynn was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation this year:

“I know (that) made Lance a little frustrated,” said Matheny “I told him, ‘We want you coming in competing for a spot. We don’t want you rolling in thinking this is yours.’”

It is not easy to say if there is a right or wrong here.  Some will say “Carp would have never said anything like this.”  Others will point out that Lance Berkman was a breath of fresh air and would tend to be brutally honest with the media and the fans.  It is easy to see that type of quote being attributed to Berkman and fans would have applauded his honesty.  So why the outrage that Lynn is doing so?  Is it because of his age?

I freely admit that my immediate reaction was negative.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want a young player who, in my mind, still has some things to prove to sound so cocky.  I want him to talk about working hard to prove that last year was not a fluke.  I also admit that this is a personal preference.  Personally, I don’t like what Lynn said.  However, I also don’t feel what he said was incorrect.

The basic thought is there: an All Star pitcher made a statement that most of us were already thinking.

Is there anything really wrong with that?

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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The Kansas City Royals All-Time “WTF” Opening Day Lineup

As we are one month from Opening Day, with so much optimism surrounding the 2012 version of the Kansas City Royals, and all of the young stars that project to be in this years Opening Day lineup, we must remember some of the players that graced the Opening Day lineup card in years past that made us ask, “WTF?!?!?”

Ahhhhhhhh….Opening Day…when hope springs eternal. The only day (presumably) when parents write fake doctor’s notes to pull kids out of school to go to the ballpark. When playoff dreams have yet to be shattered, and every team still has a chance to win the World Series.

Kansas City Royals fans have been no exception to this tradition over the years, even if the optimism is usually gone within the first week of the season. There is no denying that there is something very special about Opening Day. Every hitter who had a good season the year before is expected to pick up where he left off the previous year; every pitcher who couldn’t get anybody out the year before is expected to turn it around (he’s changed his arm angle!); and mediocre players are expected to take that next step to stardom. On Opening Day, the injuries have yet to occur (usually), and fans have no idea who is going to continue to suck, or go back to sucking. It is all roses until that first crooked number goes up on the scoreboard next to the opposing team’s name. It is for this reason, that there is no greater buzz-kill than when your favorite team decides to pencil names into an Opening Day lineup card that don’t just put all optimism to the test, but crush it to pieces before the first pitch is ever thrown, and force you to scream at the top of your lungs, “WTF?!?!?!?!?”

It is one thing for a manager to be forced to write out a lineup card full of obscure names in September. If the team is out of the race and playing guys recently brought up from the minor leagues (Royals fans are very used to this over the years), this is acceptable. If a team has been ravaged with injuries and it is a Sunday in June on get-away day, it is moderately acceptable to place a fair amount of obscurity on the lineup card (Cardinals fans are very used to this over the LaRussa years). More-so than probably any other organization in baseball, though, the Royals have sent either Trey Hillman, or Buddy Bell, or Tony Pena, or Tony Muser, or Bob Boone, or any of the other skippers of the Royals’ “Stink Era” out to home plate with a lineup card on Opening Day with at least one name on it that makes a fan wonder what in the hell the organization was thinking all off-season. In this column, we will take a look, position-by-position, at the Royals All-Time “WTF” Opening Day Lineup.

Catcher: Hector Ortiz (2001)

Ortiz was drafted as a 19-year-old prospect out of Puerto Rico by the Dodgers in 1988. However, he did not see his first big league action until, after bouncing around with several teams, he landed with the Royals in 1998. That tells you a lot about the Royals’ catching situation at that time. After getting the Opening Day nod in 2001, Ortiz became a part of the 4-headed catching monster that was he, A.J. Hinch, Gregg Zaun, and Brent Mayne for the rest of that season.

1st Base: Ross Gload (2008)

It’s been said before in this column, that it isn’t Ross Gload’s fault that he is Ross Gload. In this case, it is most definitely the Royals’ fault that they didn’t have a more suitable option for a starting 1st Baseman on opening day than a career utility-player. This is completely inexcusable.

2nd Base: Mark Teahen (2009)

How ridiculous does this experiment now seem in hindsight? This poor guy went from being a highly regarded 3rd Baseman, to Right-Field, to Left-Field, to 2nd Base, traded to the White Sox to play 3rd Base again, and is now completely irrelevant. Makes you wonder what he could have done had he never been moved off of 3rd.

3rd Base: Willie Bloomquist (2010)

With Alex Gordon unavailable, the Royals were forced to choose between Bloomquist and Alberto Callaspo to start at 3rd on Opening Day. They chose Bloomquist, and clearly regretted it. He went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts, and missed a routine pop-up early in the game that helped continue a Detroit Tigers rally. Callaspo started at 3rd from that point forward and Bloomquist went back to his rightful role as a utility infielder.

Shortstop: Felix Martinez (1998)

Sandwiched in between Jay Bell and Rey Sanchez, was something called Felix Martinez. He only received 98 plate appearances, while Shane Halter led all Royals’ Shortstops in plate appearances that year with 226. Clearly the shortstop position was a disaster for the Royals in 1998.

Left-Field: Ross Gload (2007)

-See Ross Gload explanation for 1st Base position

Center-Field: Rick Ankiel (2010)

This may have been the only time that Dayton Moore figuratively slapped Royals fans in the face. The guy never wanted to play with the Royals, the Royals still over-paid to get him, he acted like a jerk the whole time he was with the team, suspiciously injured his ankle walking to the field in Spring Training, and under-performed when he did play that year (which was rarely).

Right-Field: Brandon Berger (2003)

Somehow this guy played 4 seasons in the majors (2001-2004), all with the Royals, and I still have no idea who he was. I do know what I was probably saying when I saw his name in the Opening Day lineup in 2003 though…

Designated-Hitter: Terry Pendleton (1998)

Okay…we all know who Terry Pendleton is, so there is nothing obscure about this. Other than…HE PLAYED FOR THE ROYALS?!?!?!? It was Pendleton’s last season before retiring, as he muddled his way through 257 plate appearances and a .257 average floating between DH and 3rd Base for the 1998 Royals. Clearly this was not a very memorable showing.

Starting Pitcher: Scott Elarton (2006)

As a fan, I am still profoundly insulted by this. He was 10 shades past finished before he ever put the Royals jersey on for the first time. In 2006, he struck out a mind-boggling 49 batters in 114 innings. I remember watching him pitch and just feeling bad for the guy. He always looked like he was pitching in pain, and you always had the feeling his arm could go flying into the 14th row with the next pitch. It was almost as if he had to point to something in the stands to get the batter to look that way, then pitch the ball really quick when the batter wasn’t looking to get anyone out. Elarton put up a 5.34 ERA in those 114 innings in 2006, so naturally, the Royals brought him back in 2007. He threw 37 innings with a 10.46 ERA before the Royals finally showed a bit of mercy and just sent him packing.

Here’s hoping 2010 was the last installment of Royals baseball that will ever contribute to this group, and that we will never again be forced to scream out “WTF?!?!?!?” prior to the first pitch of the Royals season ever being thrown.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

Next year’s expectations of the Kansas City Royals might be at an all-time high.

When was the last time you have been so excited for the Royals’ season to start?

For me, the answer is never.

After the Royals’ last winning season in 2003, I could not wait for Opening Day 2004 to arrive. This time around, I would multiply that by about 10. The general feel from the Kansas City area is that most people would agree.

The Royals are getting some positive national media attention for the first time in a long time. Not that that really matters to the team in general, but it helps create an even larger local buzz. Add that with the fact that Alex Gordon won his first ever Gold Glove award and Eric Hosmer (although he didn’t win the award) is considered the rookie with the brightest future of anyone in the Majors. With all those things, you’ve got a recipe for a level of excitement not rivaled by any other Royals team for over 20 years.

I cringe every time anyone says that the Royals are still a year away from really contending. It’s probably a pretty good assessment of the team, however. They still have a few pieces to fill in and some experience to gain.

But with all the buzz and anticipation, it’s impossible for me (and probably many, many others) to think the Royals can’t compete in the AL Central next year.

We all might need to curb our enthusiasm for a while because 2013 could be the time for the Royals to finally get over the hump. 2012 could be another 70-win season like this year’s campaign and they could miss out on the playoffs for the 26th straight season.

On the other hand, it’s more fun to believe that next year will be that year when they make a magical run to the postseason.

I’m going to go ahead and stick with that second option.

Royals Tweet of the Week

From the man himself, Eric Hosmer. Showed a lot of class and pride.

It's a complete honor to be named in the top 3 for rookie of the year, big congratulations to my boy Jeremy Hellickson!
@Hos3KC
Eric Hosmer

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Examining The Puma: Your Thoughts

The signing of Lance Berkman to a one year, $12 million extension has the internets (and most noticeably Twitter) a buzz. Where else should one go to gauge the opinion of the fanbase?

In a effort to get a feeling for just how the fans viewed the deal we asked for some Tweets to be sent our way

Tweet me folks, what do you think of the return of Berkman to the #stlcards? One year/12mil...hit me with your thoughts.
@i70baseball
i70 baseball

The responses (and tweets that we found) were varied, from monetary concerns to excitement. Some even found it to be a funny contract completely. Below are the responses from you, our fans.

@ maybe a little too much $, but it's good to see berk back. worked out for everyone this yr, can next yr too.
@jdotson8
Joel Dotson
@ initial reaction is totally against since it preceded the Pujols extension. #oneortheother #notboth
@throatwarbler
Bob Netherton
@ I think getting as much business as possible done before trying to lock up Albert is a smart move by Mo. Molina Furcal next?
@ Not sold on it. $12 million is a lot that could fix other problems. Berkman has 7 HR, 28 RBI despite hitting .314 post-ASG
@JonDoble
Jon Doble
@ like the Berk deal, but agree with @. Good insurance if Pujols leaves, need Craig in lineup, MI & pitching
@ HAHAHAHA 12 mil for one good year of an old man! This will turn out well....
@KCRoyalman
✔KCRoyalman
@ Think it's a good deal. His "raise" is basically offset by Carpenter's "reduction" next year.
@cbensinger
Chuck Bensinger
@ YES!! I'd want a little longer, but nevertheless it's awesome. :) #BigBerk
@PDiddySwagMan
Patrick Hennessy
Thrilled about Lance Berkman's contract extension. Makes sense on all levels. #stlcards
@GregScott1991
Greg Scott
@ I hope that everybody realizes that Berk's return all but guarantees TLR will be back, right ? #scrappyreduxredux
@throatwarbler
Bob Netherton
With how outrageous money is with athletes these days 12 million for Lance Berkman is a pretty good deal. #stlcards
@FishSTL
Michael Fisher

Stay tuned to our ongoing series of articles today “Examining The Puma” as we take a look at Berkman’s year in Cardinal red and our reader’s thoughts on the signing.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Hot Start Should Not Overshadow Future

The unexpectedly electrifying start the Royals got off to last weekend removed the focus temporarily from where it had been primarily trained for the last several months – the minor league system.

With gutty comebacks and dramatic walk offs, the big league Royals gave fans something to take their minds off the future. But for the last couple of seasons, the top pastime of Royals fans has been to follow the exploits of the clubs in Omaha, Northwest Arkansas and the teams of the far-flung lower levels.

It would be a good thing if the Royals could do well enough this season that the minor leaguers could just develop at their own pace, rather than have us dissecting their every move. And that seemed the case on Saturday when the team’s top minor league teams played an exhibition game at the K.

Before last Friday, I anticipated Saturday’s Royals game to be merely the appetizer before the real meal. I actually expected some fans to show up late, to skip the big league game in favor of the exhibition. But when Saturday came, there was enough of a buzz about the Royals that the exhibition seemed the afterthought.

Don’t get me wrong. The minors have not been forgotten.

I was shocked by the knowledge of the fans that remained in the crowd at 3:30 on Saturday. People sitting around me chatted about each player that stepped to the plate or that took the mound, as if they had followed his career for years.

“How far was that bomb by Hosmer down in Surpise?”

“I was surprised Osuna didn’t get promoted, weren’t you?”

“No, we didn’t draft Will Smith. He was part of the Callaspo trade.

But it just goes to show how starved Royals fans have been for something to put their hope in. And just how much attention this crop of minor leaguers has garnered.

The exhibition did more than just show off the talents of the youngsters. It also revealed some of the decisions the franchise has made about the development of the players. Here’s a look at the makeup of the Omaha and Northwest Arkansas rosters and the placement of key prospects:

Omaha:


Eric Hosmer – I had wondered if he might start the season at AA, but by spring that had been decided. One could argue he’s the best first baseman in the organization, so starting him at Northwest Arkansas for more seasoning wasn’t necessary. He didn’t do anything offensively in the exhibition, but his defense was spectacular.

Mike Moustakas – He’s starting at AAA, but might make the jump sooner than later. He looked good at the plate and in the field last Saturday.

Clint Robinson – Here’s the odd man out. Billy Butler seems entrenched, and with a big contract he won’t be easy to trade. The Royals aren’t about to do anything to short-circuit Hosmer’s progress. So that leaves Kila Ka’aihue with one year to prove he belongs in the big leagues, so he might fetch something in a trade. Robinson, on the other hand, would seem to have no window of opportunity. The best he can hope for is a trade to another organization. For his sake, he hope he gets a chance somewhere.

Lorenzo Cain – He was sent to AAA so that he could play everyday. It was sort of disappointing that Cain, one off the primaries in the Greinke trade, didn’t make the big club. He will need to distinguish himself soon, or the Royals may stand pat with Melky Cabrera in center. Cain is not young – he’s just days shy of 25. Centerfield is crowded and Cain needs to show he’s the team’s best longterm option.

Gregor Blanco – Nearly made the big league club. Then he cleared waivers, so he’ll start at AAA. He actually looked pretty good in the exhibition, even hitting an inside-the-park homer. The Royals will have trouble sorting out the situation with Blanco, Cain and Jerrod Dyson. They all look pretty similar – and pretty average – at this point in time.

Mike Montgomery – The pitchers dominated the exhibition, and Montgomery was head-and-shoulders above the rest. He didn’t surrender a hit over four innings and made some pretty good prospects look hapless. He could also make the jump if KC needs starting pitching (which it most certainly will).

Danny Duffy – Wasn’t as impressive as Montgomery, but about as effective. He could also conceivable be in KC before the season ends. The elevation of Aaron Crow to the Royals’ bullpen may have been precipitated by the emergence of other starters in the system. Crow had better get it done now, or he’ll be bypassed by these other youngsters.

Others to watch: Louis Coleman, Kevin Pucetas, Blake Wood, Johnny Giovatella, David Lough, Paulo Orlando

Northwest Arkansas:


Christian Colon – Though many suspect a move second base is inevitable, Colon started the exhibition at shortstop and was not impressive. He went 0-5, struck out twice, and committed a throwing error. He will likely spend the entire year at AA, and he has a lot to prove.

Will Myers – Started in right field but didn’t do anything to distinguish himself. If he hits like everyone seems to think he will, he could potentially move up to AAA during the season.

Derrick Robinson – Robinson has hit his ceiling. Centerfield is too crowded with speedy, but otherwise marginal, talents, and Robinson is the least of these. He may eventually play his way up to AAA, but he’s already 23.

John Lamb – Locked horns with Montgomery and wasn’t outmatched. The AAA hitters only mustered one run off him. He’s young. He won’t turn 21 until July, but he will probably get promoted at some point this season.

Chris Dwyer – His promotion to AAA probably depends on the movement that goes on above him. Otherwise he’ll try to improve on the 2-1 record and 3.06 ERA that he posted for the Naturals at the end of last season.

Others to watch: Will Smith, Jeff Bianchi

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Royals Schedule Outlook: September

September brings playoff hopes to many teams. It has cities across the country getting ready for deep runs and World Series dreams. In Kansas City in 2011, it brings something much more important. The rosters expand.

The team will bring to the Major League level some of the best talent the area has seen and people might just flock down to the ballpark. They may not be playing winning baseball and it may be a bit early to anoint any of these players the next George Brett, but they will be exciting, and with the NFL Lockout, they may be the only game in town.

Anthony Lerew by Erika Lynn

September Breakdown:

Total Games: 24

Home: 11

Road: 13

Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 15

Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 11

Vs teams in the AL Central: 17

Key Series:

September 15-18 vs Chicago – the White Sox will come to The K for a four game set that will bring a buzz to the city. The rivalry will be revisited, the team will have play off hopes and the young guns of the Royals will look to prove themselves. Add this in with no football and Kansas City may be a volatile place to visit.

September 26-28 @ Minnesota – the final series of the year sees the young Royals take on the perennial contenders in the Minnesota Twins. The Twins will be making a playoff push and the Royals will be looking to end 2011 on a high note. The Royals may benefit from a division race that may be decided before this date, giving them the opportunity to play the Twins while they are not at their best.

Key To a Hot September:

Let the kids play. The young guys will put butts in the seats and score some runs. It could be the most exciting baseball that Kansas City has seen in quite sometime.

At the end of September:

If the Royals have 15+ wins… then the farm system is all it is promoted to be and then some. It is a lofty goal, but with some big bats and big arms on the way, the Royals need to start dreaming and start dreaming big.

If the Royals are above .500… they will have, honestly, proven enough. This team does not need to over-achieve right now, they simply need to prove they can compete. This is not about win now, it’s about proving to the division and the league that 2012 will see the Royals no longer being American League whipping boys.

If the Royals are below .500… most people would expect this outcome, but I would think it would be slightly disappointing. It could also mean that the team did not jump on the youth movement this year and chose to keep the kids in the minors and under wraps.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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That Was A Dream? Darn!

Do you ever have a dream that is so fantastic and real, that when you wake up you are very disappointed? That’s how it is for many of us lately when we think of the possibility of the Royals making a push to sign potential free agent Albert Pujols after the 2011 season.

There are several ways to look at it and I cannot think of a single negative for making the offer. Even if the offer is rejected the Royals should shout it from the rooftops and issue a press release. The buzz that just the offer would make would be a nice topic of conversation in offices, homes and ballparks all over the Midwest. The Glass family would be given credit for putting their money on the table for the best player in the game. For once you would not have the “what players are you going to surround him with?” negative responses. The Royals will have the players to build a team around him, for 2012 and beyond.

#5 then and #5 now

As long as I can remember, it hasn’t made any sense for his team to go after a top free agent. Most would not even consider talking to Kansas City since they have put such a horrible product on the field. The Royals could not even make offers without being laughed at. There are those that would laugh at this dream as well, but once you lay out your case, and they actually seriously think about it, they seem to not be as firm in their ridicule.

30 million dollars a year, for 10 years. During interviews from Florida on Thursday, Albert was saying that what is being reported is not even close to reality. What actually is reality when you are talking about numbers like that? It’s amazing what baseball has become isn’t it? Dream with me for a little bit. To make the payroll easier to make, and with the Royals youth being fairly low dollar the next 2-3 years, you could heavily front load the contract. Maybe like this, 3yrs@40, 4yrs@30 and 3yrs@20. This way, while the young players are at their lower salaries, you would pay the most to Pujols. Then when service times start hitting the salaries for players like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, Albert’s pay would be less. And if after 3-4 years, the grand experiment is not successful, the front loaded contract makes it easier to find a trade partner that would take on his contract.

I am sure you may have heard this topic or similar proposals. I even heard the ESPN Baseball Today podcast from 2/15 where Eric Karabell said that it’s looking like Pujols “…doesn’t want to come back to the Cardinals, it’s starting to look like he wants to be a Cub or a Royal or whatever else he wants to be.” It is nice to hear a Royals reference on ESPN, without negativity being the driving factor. Still the thought that amazes me is that the Royals are even in this position. They could actually consider making a run at the best player in the game. Also amazing is the fact that even for the skeptical observers it is hard to shoot down. Sure it can be done, who would have thought just 1 or 2 years ago that the Royals would even be close to being mentioned as a possible factor in the biggest sports story this spring.

Perhaps the smarter solution would be to go after some other top tier free agents next off season and maybe some top starting pitching. Among those who would be free agents after the 2011 season include Rich Harden, Roy Oswalt, or Scott Kazmir. Talk of pursuing one of the players from that list would also generate excitement, especially if the Royals’ highly touted prospects perform well for the organization during 2011. If the Royals, one year from now have not made a splash of some kind via free agency, I will be surprised. The fans are very hungry while some of them are still asleep to be honest. In this dream, they would wake up and begin to see that light at the end of the long dark tunnel which is October baseball in Kansas City.

For almost 20 years, the Royals DID have one of the best players in the game at the time in #5 George Brett. The town buzzed about the Royals. It bled Royal blue because Kansas City had a winner. The Royals were among the BEST. That number 5 made history here in Kansas City, who would have thought that Kansas City would perhaps have a chance at another “one of the best” in the game, another number 5?

What’s that you say? Oh yeah… I need to let the dog out. I hate mornings!

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Kansas City Royals Monday Morning Links: December 20

The Royals sites are all a buzz as the team has traded ace pitcher Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers. Since I-70 got caught on the outside looking in for the first time this off-season, let’s round up what’s going on on the Internets out there.

When we start with the links, let’s start with our friend Jim Breen, who will join us on I-70 Baseball Radio tonight. Jim runs Milwaukee fan site Bernies Crew and broke the rumor that Greinke was headed to Milwaukee before anyone. You can read his original post here.

The guys over at Royals Authority figure that Things Just Got More Interesting as they break down the Greinke deal here.

The team of writers at Kings of Kauffman break down the trade, but they also chimed in with the “shocking” news that Greinke demanded a trade shortly after signing on with a new agent this week. Read their prelude to the storm by clicking here.

One of our standing links every week goes out to our favorite Podcast (other than our own). Give Nick a listen on his Broken Bat Single Podcast each week by clicking here.

Bob Dutton of the KC Star breaks down the deal as in depth as anyone on the Internet. Read his account of it all by clicking here.

That’s it for the links this week. Happy holidays to all or you from all of us.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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