Haren Traded

Here’s a good example of the real price of young pitchers. Arizona just completed a trade for Danny Haren and they gave up four of their top-ten prospects (according to Baseball America) plus two other players to get him.

That’s a pretty amazing haul for one pitcher (ok there was a 26-year old AAA reliever thrown in by Oakland) and I think it will probably drive the price up for a certain pitcher from Minnesota.

But, think about that 1-2 punch in Arizona, Webb and Haren, that’s impressive.

Isn’t it nice to talk about baseball on the field again?

We Won’t Move On

You know I watched Selig and Fehr and a bunch of commentators talk about the Mitchell Report last night and I was struck by how many of them think this will allow us to move on. I think that is impossible until a couple of things happen.

First, all the current investigations have to come to an end. As Tom Verducci so rightly points out Mitchell essentially got lucky that Radomski and McNamee “fell into his lap”. Without them, this report would essentially name the same names as BALCO did. Radomski is sentenced February 8th, other investigations are still ongoing. Until all of that has wrapped up, I would expect we will learn other names.

Next, we can’t move on until we know that there is a test for HGH. Reading through the report it struck me how much HGH was being used. I had, somewhat naively, thought that HGH was something that only the heavy hitters did and, most importantly could afford. But look at the names in the report, Mike Bell (19 career games in the majors in 2000) for one admits to using HGH.

In addition, from the prices named, it appears it costs from $1200-$1600 for “a kit” of HGH. While the report specifically says that Chad Allen could not afford HGH I would think that a player on the major league level, making the minimum salary (380K in 2006) could afford a couple of doses of HGH. Players also on the big league roster get $85 a day for road games and travel days. So, a thrifty big leaguer could probably afford a kit of HGH by cutting back on their food purchases. My point is, I don’t think any of us can look at any player and know whether or not he is clean. From A-Rod to a fringe major leaguer (like Mike Bell) these drugs are readily available and affordable.

So, the sad lesson I draw from all of this is that everyone is suspect until baseball really cleans things up. It won’t stop me from rooting for my team or admiring the game, but I won’t look at the players in the way I used to.

Red Sox and the Mitchell Report

What do these players all have in common?

Manny Alexander
Roger Clemens
Jeremy Giambi
Josias Manzanillo
Chris Donnels
Mo Vaughn
Mike Lansing
Kent Mercker
Mike Stanton
Eric Gagne
Brendan Donnelly
Jose Canseco
Steve Woodard
Paxton Crawford

They all played for the Boston Red Sox at some point in their careers and all were named in today’s Mitchel Report.

Chad Allen – Spring Training Invitee in the early 2000’s.
Larry Bigbie – Red Sox called off trade for Bigbie July 2005 (for Kelly Shoppach and Adam Stern) in an almost deal that still makes Colorado Rockies management mad.

Allen and Bigbie were also named. While neither actually played for the Red Sox, both came very close.

It is unfair to suggest that all those listed played for the Red Sox while using steroids or HGH, but the report named an alarmingly high number of former Red Sox players. I was stunned. Peter said in one of his posts today that he didn’t think there were that many ex-Red Sox players, but I disagree. Before I continue, Mitchell’s report is just that, a report on what Senator George Mitchell (ME) found during his investigation. Players are likely to cry foul, like Roger Clemens has already, and they have that right as none of these players has been found guilty in a court of law.

That being said, many of the guys wrote personal checks to individuals who cooperated with Mitchell and the federal government, so the evidence is strong, don’t you think?

While Roger Clemens has already denied using steroids, his name is by far, by far the biggest name on the list outside of Barry Bonds. As Peter said today, if Bonds is considered the best offensive player of his time, then Clemens certainly has to be considered the best pitcher of his time. News of his using steroids is a bombshell. It means MLB has had its 2 best players of the last 20+ years labeled as cheaters, again, like Peter already said.

I’m not ready to say that because all players were doing steroids that it was an even playing field, but I am left wondering just how I feel about this. I am bummed, but it was so rampant that I’m not certainly how, if at all, it will impact my enthusiasm for the sport. This needs to sink in a bit more I think.

By the way, if I missed anyone that played on the Red Sox, please let me/us know. And if any of these guys (on my list or the Mitchell report) has been found guilty in a court of law, also let me/us know.

This Isn’t A Shock

Well, Clemens has chosen to fight this and since he really has nothing to lose at this point, it isn’t a shock.

The question is, can MLB, the media, whomever, prove these accusations? It seems to me that the only way to get that proof would be for the Feds to intervene. McNamee, the guy who named Clemens, is part of the Kirk Radomski investigation. Radomski named McNamee as someone he had given steroids and HGH to and in turn, Radomski named Clemens and Pettitte as recipients.

Now, Radomski pleaded guilty in April, but he will not be sentenced until February 8th because the investigation is ongoing. That leaves open the possibility that the Feds subpoena a player like Clemens or some of the other players named in the report. To me, that is about the only way you will ever know the 100% truth about this because that is when the players will be under oath to tell the truth and face the same choice that Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi did in the BALCO investigation.

And, I would be very, very careful if I were a player who did some of this stuff. There are other investigations that are ongoing and more names will probably be on the way.

Reactions To The Mitchell Report

I have skimmed the Mitchell Report and I have some initial conclusions.

1- I think Mitchell did a pretty good job. He will rightly be targeted as biased because of his involvement with the Red Sox but I am pretty sure that is not the reason for all the Yankees named in the report and the lack of many Red Sox players. The fact is, Mitchell got a lot of testimony from Kirk Radomski and Radomski was based in New York. Just as there are a lot of Giants and A’s players who got fingered because of BALCO, Radomski brought in the New York element. If Mitchell had gotten someone from a lab in Quincy or Natick, I am sure we would have a lot of Red Sox names. That being said, baseball would have been smart if they had put someone in charge of the investigation who didn’t have ties to the sport in any capacity.

2- The sad reality of this report, that Mitchell fully admits, is that he has only scratched the surface. Mitchell talks about how the people who design these drugs are ahead of the testers. Furthermore, they are serious problems with how the test are conducted. MLB can fix some of this, but not without significant help from the players’ association.

3- Based on the above, you have to view stats carefully. As the report showed, it’s not just power hitters who use this stuff. Nook Logan bought some of it. I will be interested to see how Baseball Prospectus handles this with their PECOTA system.

4- Roger Clemens is as big a crook as Barry Bonds. You cannot excuse one and condemn the other. Reading the reports of Clemens getting injections in the butt makes you realize that the greatest hitter and the greatest pitcher of the past 20 years are both cheats.

Those are my initial reactions, what do you think?

Timing Anyone?

This is quickly becoming the most bizarre day in Yankees’ history. For some reason, the Yankees are currently announcing the A-Rod deal.

I have no clue why they chose today and considering the revelations of the last hour, the timing could not be worse. Anyway, it will be interesting to hear Alex’s explanation for acting like he did, but it is going to get swallowed up in the Mitchell Report.

Maybe Dan Duquette Was Right

ESPN is reporting that Roger Clemens is going to be named in the Mitchell Report. In addition, the Bergen Record has a source that proclaims “It’s going to be a rough day in the Bronx”.

I am not going to indulge in speculation at this point, but I am hoping that we don’t see names like Rivera, Jeter, Williams and Pettitte in the report. Either way, get ready for a sad day for baseball.

Back after the report comes out.

UPDATE- apparently, I am going to be disappointed.

Somewhat Of A Surprise

The Yankees tendered Brian Bruney and are letting TJ Beam, Darrell Rasner and Matt DeSalvo go. There is always a chance to sign them to minor league deals, but it may be the end for all of them with the Yankees.

As an interesting side note, the Cubs have non-tendered Mark Prior. If I am the Yankees, I at least make a call to see what he wants for a deal.

Tender Is Tonight

Tonight is the tender deadline which means that clubs have to offer contracts to their arbitration-eligible players or those players become free agents. For the Yankees there are four guys who fit that description: Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano, Wilson Betemit and Brian Bruney.

Obviously, Wang, Cano and Betemit are going to be tendered and I will renew my plea that the Yankees talk to Cano and Wang about longterm contracts. The question is, what will they do with Bruney?

The Yankees face a numbers crunch right now because they have three players, Mariano, A-Rod and Hawkins, that they are finalizing deals with and 0 spots open on their 40-man roster. They have asked Carl Pavano to accept a minor league deal to help the crunch, but he doesn’t seem thrilled by the idea.

I imagine the Yankees will just cut him if he doesn’t accept because even if they lose some insurance money (and I am not sure if they would or not) they wouldn’t want to lose a player who might help them in the future.

That’s one spot and I think Bruney will be non-tendered tonight and offered a minor league deal as well. Bruney certainly has the arm, but I think his head just isn’t there. With all of the other arms in the system, his loss won’t be felt.

That leaves one more spot to open and I would guess Sean Henn is the most likely candidate to go. I will update later with the decisions.

On a side note, the Dodgers invited Tanyon Sturtze to Spring Training. If Torre can get Paul Quantrill to come out of retirement he will have all three of his favorite relievers to abuse next March.

Santana Dreamin’

The Red Sox left Nashville without Johan Santana, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports “that the folks in position to have insight into the Johan Santana talks strongly believe that the Twins and Red Sox will eventually work out a deal.” Olney references Mark Christianson of the Star Tribune as saying the Twins prefer a deal surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury and not Jon Lester.

I have no idea at this point if this deal will get done, but I think I can be forgiven for dreaming of a starting rotation that looks like this (Buster Olney also had a Red Sox rotation projection):

SP – Beckett
SP – Santana
SP – Matsuzaka
SP – Schilling
SP – Lester/Buchholz/Wakefield

That looks good. If/when Schilling is done after 2008, either Lester or Buchholz steps in full time. Same can be said for Wakefield.

If the Red Sox do trade Ellsbury, perhaps they will still deal Coco Crisp and focus on Japanese League star Kosuke Fukudome who today declared his ententions of playing in the Majors in 2008. Some say Fukudome isn’t an ideal fit in CF, but his bat projects to be superior to Crisp’s. A long shot though as Fukudome is expected to get at least $10mm a season based on what I’ve read.

I will be happy with Crisp in CF because of his defense, but he really needs to find his stroke again and give the Red Sox a 2004 or 2005 like performance with the bat. Could those 2 seasons really have been a fluke? Or did his finger injury in 2006 really set him back this much?

Anyway, the most newsworthy post, but something to keep our interest in the Hot Stove League as things have slowed to a crawl.