Thursday Motivation (1/31)

Thank you despair.com and your diy. So, the diy motivational poster is from The Office, the original British version. David Brent is the boss at Wernham Hogg and here is a little gem from him.

A reminder

BaseballAmerica.com is going to post their Top 10 Mariner Prospects list on February 1. No link yet, I just wanted to throw up a reminder. Why?

No reason. Just the fact that I forgot about the on-line Jeopardy test last night even with a reminder right at my computer. That was classic.

It's the turn of the rotation

The main Mariner site has the latest weekly writing assignment. This one is on the starting pitching rotation. Guess what is brought up within the first two paragraphs.
The top of the Mariners starting rotation already has one No. 1 pitcher in right-hander Felix Hernandez.

But a No. 1A sure would be nice.

That's the thinking of general manager Bill Bavasi, who has been trying for more than two months to acquire hard-throwing left-hander Erik Bedard from the Orioles. However, just three weeks from when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz., the proposed trade remains on hold and no one seems to know when -- or if -- a deal will be finalized.

As of now, there will be 12 potential starting pitchers in camp vying for five spots.

"It is going to be an interesting Spring Training," said new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre. "I don't know the guys real well, and they don't know me real well. But we will have six weeks together to get on the same page.

Here are Stottlemyre's thoughts on the ex-Rattler in the rotation:

RHP Hernandez: "Felix is at the top of the rotation. He's a young pitcher that's shown a lot of progress and we're hoping he can step it up and go to the next level. He certainly is capable of it, stuff-wise. He has as good of stuff as anyone in the American League and his future has barely been tapped. He has a lot to give us and we look forward to getting as much out of him as we can."

The Saga continues

Sides stay quiet as trade talks persist

The Mariners equipment truck leaves Safeco Field for Peoria, Ariz., on Friday, a concrete illustration of just how quickly spring training is creeping up.

Whether there will be a locker in Peoria for left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard when the pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14 remains unknown.

After a turbulent week of tense negotiations, the final impediment to a trade bringing Bedard to the Mariners could be a last-ditch effort by the Baltimore Orioles to sign the 28-year-old to a long-term contract.

In exchange for Bedard, who last season set a Baltimore franchise record with 221 strikeouts, the Mariners would send the Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, left-handed reliever George Sherrill and 19-year-old pitcher Chris Tillman.

The M's are likely to add one more prospect, possibly pitcher Kam Mickolio or pitcher Tony Butler, to the package.

The Mariners, always cautious to speak about impending deals, were especially closemouthed on Wednesday, perhaps fearful of any comments that might displease the Orioles as talks reached a sensitive final stage.

In an e-mail to The Seattle Times, general manager Bill Bavasi declined to comment.

This we know. What else is there?

MLB.com, citing multiple major-league sources, said the teams are close to finalizing a deal.

But MLB.com, in a separate article later in the day, reported that Orioles owner Peter Angelos wants to retain Bedard and called him last Sunday to discuss a five-year contract.

Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail was noncommittal to The Baltimore Sun in assessing the status of trade talks.

"There's really been no change in our circumstance," he told The Sun. "We'll always keep an open mind, regardless of what time of year it is."

What time of year is it? Time to talk extension?

In last Saturday's Sun, MacPhail said the Orioles wanted to talk to Bedard's representatives about a multiyear deal during the winter, "and they suggested that they just do a one-year deal."

But in the same article, Bedard expressed disappointment that the Orioles haven't made a greater effort to sign him to an extension. At the same time, Bedard said he didn't want to be part of a rebuilding process. MacPhail appears to be doing just that in Baltimore after trading Miguel Tejada to Houston for five prospects, with all-star second baseman Brian Roberts also on the trade block.

According to MLB.com, MacPhail was recently told by Pieper that it would take a seven-year, $100 million contract to retain Bedard in Baltimore. Angelos has been known to be reluctant to commit to such a long-term deal for a pitcher.

Head over to Geoff Baker's latest blog entry for more of an update. The main one being a rumor that can only be called "crazy"

Those crazy rumors out of Baltimore yesterday that Adam Jones has a degenerative hip condition? Toss them out the window. Not a touch of truth to it. Both sides are laughing that one off emphatically. Yes, Jones was being brought in for a physical. But it wasn't for a serious type of injury or anything that would be a deal-breaker. So, there's nothing on that front that would impede a trade.

Then, what is the holdup?

I heard on Sunday night, within moments of his being told, that Orioles owner Peter Angelos was furious to learn that news of the impending deal had broken. He was about to head into the hospital for a minor procedure the next day and could not believe Adam Jones had spilled the beans. Would it be beyond Angelos to hold things up another 48, or 72 hours before giving his go-ahead and making everyone sweat a little? Nope.

None of the usual Mariner fan blogs, have anything more on the "trade". Must be holding their collective breath.

More on Randy

The Hawkeye of Burlington, Iowa has a good follow-up on the announcement of Randy Wehofer moving on from the Bees to the Iowa Cubs.

Wehofer off to I-Cubs

There is plenty of good stuff in the story and here is just a taste:
Wehofer's first season turned out to be the most memorable overall. The Bees won the 1999 Midwest League championship.

"It was so exciting when we were on that 13-game road trip. Every guy stopped at my seat on the bus and asked if Quad Cities had won," Wehofer said, adding that only top draft picks had cell phones in those days. Now, every player on the roster is rarely seen without a phone stuck to his ear. "I'll never forget what it was like going through that process and getting into the playoffs. I learned so much that first year. I walked into the clubhouse after the championship game and remember getting stuff dumped over my head. It was a great way to start."

Since then, Wehofer has ridden in a limo with George Brett, watched a perfect game thrown by Chris Coughlin and jumped out of his seat when James Shanks made a leaping catch and Brian McFall hit a grand slam. He has coached first base and lost equipment. He has had future Major Leaguers ask for $100 on road trips.

"Why he thought I'd have $100 and then an extra $100 to give to him," Wehofer said of Runelvys Hernandez's request. "Everything has its memories and personality."
Susan Denk, the Bee beat writer for The Hawkeye, has a blog and a few more thoughts about Randy in this post.

Randy knows baseball. As the media relations person for the Bees, there was rarely a question Randy could not answer. He easily recalls games that happened years ago and circumstances surrounding those games. And he was a blessing for me throughout my eight seasons covering the team. Randy spent countless hours researching statistics and facts to put together a Bees media guide. His game notes are legendary, containing more stats than even most baseball people want to know. What will I do without Randy’s game notes and his wacky, witty headlines?

I'll have a few thoughts on Randy and on former Dayton announcer Mike Vanderwood before the season starts.

63 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 63 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories Volume I by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The excerpt is from A Study in Scarlet and it is unlike any Holmes story. It is unlike any other Holmes story for the following reasons: the narrator of this section is not Dr. Watson, this action is taking place in the United States, and there is no mention of Holmes.

“On, on to Zion!” cried the crowd of Mormons, and the words rippled down the long caravan, passing from mouth to mouth until they died away in a dull murmur in the far distance. With a cracking of whips and a creaking of wheels the great wagons got in motion, and soon the whole caravan was winding along once more. The Elder to whose care the waifs had been committed led them to his wagon, where a meal was already awaiting them.

“You shall remain here,” he said. “In a few days you will have recovered from your fatigues. In the meantime, remember that now and forever you are of our religion. Brigham Young has said it, and he has spoken with the voice of Joseph Smith, which is the voice of God.”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Wednesday Baseball Movie Clip (1/30)

Three things before getting to the clip for Fear Strikes Out.

  1. Anthony Perkins plays Jimmy Piersall as crazier than Norman Bates.
  2. Anthony Perkins did not make for a realistic ballplayer.
  3. This is the second day in a row in which Karl Malden makes an appearance in a post. That is just...crazy?
Now, on to the clip.

Is that good enough? Was that good enough?

Let's go through this again

Update: Edited. Because the largest possible font on Angelos was kind of creepy looking.

Still no deal between the Mariners and the Orioles. Why?

Orioles owner has nixed deals before

High-powered attorney Peter Angelos was hailed as a hero when he purchased the Baltimore Orioles in 1993 from the bankruptcy-laden Eli Jacobs, heading a group that spent $173 million to restore local ownership.

Now, to some Baltimore fans, Angelos is a pariah. Under his hands-on ownership — heavy handed, many would say — the Orioles have had a revolving door of managers and general managers. Their front-office operation has been viewed as largely dysfunctional, and they haven't posted a winning season in 10 years.

Angelos, 78 and still feisty enough to put in six-day work weeks at the Baltimore law firm that made him a multimillionaire defending asbestos victims, apparently looms at the crux of the stalled trade talks between the Mariners and Orioles.

With Adam Jones heading home from Venezuela to Phoenix on Tuesday, discussions continued between the two teams. The proposed deal would bring left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard to Seattle for outfielder Jones, reliever George Sherrill and an undetermined number of Seattle minor-leaguers.

However, there was new word Tuesday that the Mariners might not be the only team in the hunt for Bedard.

Geoff Baker's Blog has made for interesting reading over the last few days.

First there was Angelos strikes again

Just when you think it's safe to tell your players they're being traded, the Mariners have seen Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos step back into the fray to remind everyone who's really running things. Today has been one of those days that reminds writers just how frustrating it can be to cover some of the comical personalities in this game. The latest from the Baltimore Sun is that an O's club source confirmed Jones was supposed to be in Baltimore today for a physical, but that's been scuttled.

You know what? This situation is now becoming a circus and Angelos is far from the only clown. Let's look at what Adam Jones, who let the cat out of his equipment bag about the deal in Venezuela on Sunday, is now telling people, as per KOMO 1000 radio reporter Shannon Drayer's blog.

"He says that he said nothing about being traded to the Venezuelan press,'' Drayer writes, relaying details of an email conversation with Jones. "Something may have been lost in translation somewhere."

Ah yes, if all else fails and you've dug yourself a gigantic hole, just cover it up by shovelling a bunch of manure into it and blaming the Spanish-speaking reporter from the South American country. Here's the problem with Jones's first attempt at a media coverup of what he told reporter Augusto Cardenas from Diario Panorama on Sunday. My first language is English and Cardenas, well, he happened to make an audio recording of the conversation with Jones.

I just had the tape played for me over the phone from Venezuela and, yes, Jones definitely said he was off to Baltimore this morning for a physical and that he'd been traded to the Orioles. Talked all about looking forward to meeting his new teammates in Florida this spring. So, nice try. But Jones should stick to baseball and leave the backpedalling to football players.

Anyhow, I don't want to go off on Jones too much. He's just a 22-year-old who probably feels terrible about what's happened and been told to keep his mouth shut from now on. But I don't like it when baseball players and management types try to pass off their mistakes on to the shoulders of reporters from other countries whose language skills make them an easy target.

Then, there was this Jones not the scapegoat

Just got caught up on all my reading from last night and it seems we've had ourselves quite the journalistic debate on this baseball blog. Hey, that's OK. Whatever turns your crank. Let's just make a few things clear this morning, so we can all move forward:

1. The Erik Bedard-Adam Jones deal is not dead
2. Jones is not to be blamed for the deal being hung-up

OK, so it's only a couple of things. About Jones, no I was not happy with him yesterday for implying that Augusto Cardenas of Diario Panorama had lost something in translation and misquoted him about going to Baltimore for a physical. Here is last night's game story by Cardenas from Venezuela. He is a professional reporter -- not some creative writing supermarket tabloid type. The audio of the Jones interview shows it was not off-the-record. It was legit. And as I said, I don't like it when people try to cover mistakes by throwing someone else, and their credibility, to the wolves.

That said, Jones is not a bad person. He was trying to be as helpful as he could to Cardenas and inadvertently set off a chain of events that the Mariners are now unable to stash away from view. Jones is only 22 and, like I said, as a media member, I like that he takes the time to speak to Cardenas honestly and that he emails Shannon Drayer with updates for her blog.

In this case, he made a mistake by talking too soon. He made another one by trying to pass the blame off to Cardenas instead of saying "no comment". And I called him on it. But he is not a "clown" as a person, he's actually fairly mature for his age. Jones comes off looking funny and clown-like in this particular instance, as do the three other main players -- Peter Angelos, Bill Bavasi and Andy MacPhail -- trying to cover-up a trade that was obviously about to happen.

Read both posts in their entirety.

The silence of some of the Mariner blogs...concerns me.

Movin' on up

Randy Wehofer, the radio announcer for the Burlington Bees, has been a friend of mine since I've been in the Midwest League. This could not have happened to a better guy.

"Voice of Bees" to Join Iowa Cubs
After nine years in the front office at Community Field and doing play-by-play on KBUR and KBKB, "Voice of the Bees" Randy Wehofer will be moving on. Last week, Wehofer accepted an offer to join the front office staff of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs as a broadcaster and account executive on their sales staff. Wehofer will remain with the Bees through February 15th.

"This is a great opportunity both professionally and personally for me and my family," Wehofer said. "I get the chance to advance to Triple-A without our family having to go half-way across the country. I'll be joining one of the most respected organizations in Minor League Baseball, I'll get to broadcast with Deene Ehlis and learn from his over 20 years of experience in this business, and Des Moines is a growing community where Joanie and I already have good friends and can feel comfortable raising our family."

Good luck, Randy.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara lost Game Six 9-2 to Aragua. This ends the Venezuela Championship Series and Aragua wins.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Ivan Blanco ('05): IP, H, 2R, BB
Renee Cortez ('02, '03): 1-1/3IP, 4H, R

64 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 64 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson. This is a book about the Peloponnesian War, the war between Sparta and Athens.

Later in the war Alcibiades would exhibit a strong desire for the offensive, perhaps as a reaction to the senseless war of attrition in Attica that marked his first years of service. Some eighteen years after the Spartans first marched out to cut down the trees of Attica, a much older and by then treasonous thirty-seven-year-old Alcibiades, ensconced in Sparta, would advise his former enemies that such annual incursions were no way to wreck his homeland. Better, he told his new hosts, to create a permanent fort, thirteen miles from the walls of Athens at Decelea, and thus destroy Alcibiades’ own native soil year-round.

But all that was well into the future. For now, the teenager rode into battle against ravagers full of zeal and hope, confident after the first year’s assault that Attca had taken the best punch Sparta could offer – scarcely aware that both his country’s and his own greatest tragedies lay just months ahead.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


I may never leave the trailer again

Sick of all that trade talk. Don't want to deal with the weather. Car troubles got you down?

Hello, Retro Television Network up in the HD tier on Time Warner.

They have this guy:

And this guy:
And this guy along with all his buddies:
This guy is there, too:

So is he:
This guy is still running:
These guys are there:
The gang is all there.
And much, much more.

Summing up. Never leaving the trailer again.

What the...?

From the Seattle Times

M's would-be deal for Bedard is stalled

The Mariners' efforts to obtain Baltimore's ace left-hander Erik Bedard, seemingly on track over the weekend for a blockbuster trade centered on Seattle outfielder Adam Jones, have hit a snag.

Jones was reported Monday afternoon to still be in Venezuela, rather than heading to Baltimore for a physical exam originally scheduled for Monday or today, but then canceled.

Meanwhile, there is widespread speculation Orioles owner Peter Angelos is threatening to squelch the trade, after the teams reportedly had agreed to the basic structure of a deal that would have sent Jones, reliever George Sherrill, 19-year-old pitcher Chris Tillman and one or two other prospects to Baltimore for Bedard.

"We are where we were last night," Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, told The Baltimore Sun on Monday. "We have no agreement."

But, here is the really, really interesting part, in bold below:

On Sunday, Jones was pulled out of the winter-league playoffs in Venezuela by the Mariners and told to return to the United States. He indicated to a reporter from the Diario Panorama newspaper of Maracaibo, Venezuela, that he was headed to Baltimore for a physical as a prelude to a Bedard trade.

"I've got to go to Baltimore this morning and handle things there," Jones said on Sunday. "I'm the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners' side. It's an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard is."

But on Monday afternoon, Jones sent an e-mail to KOMO radio reporter Shannon Drayer saying that he was still in Venezuela.

Drayer reported on her KOMO blog that Jones was "obeying orders from his MLB team and not playing. He said he said nothing about being traded to the Venezuelan press ... Adam says he does not know what is going on, and that with his winter-league team in the finals, it sucks to not be able to help them."

The Seattle Times listened to the tape of Jones' interview with the Venezuelan newspaper via telephone, which revealed he was quoted accurately throughout.

The Mariners had confirmed on Sunday that Jones was told by them to come home. On Monday, Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly said, "We've asked him to come home. That hasn't changed."

Over at the M's site there is this:

O's denying reports of Bedard deal
The Erik Bedard-to-Seattle rumors continue to have a life of their own, and the Orioles continue to deny any semblance of accuracy in the various reports.

Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of operations, reiterated on Monday afternoon that there is no trade in place and that he's not sure where the rumors originated. That denial, issued in the face of repeated requests for comment, lends new perspective to a story that has steadily built over the last 36 hours.

"As I said last night, we don't have an agreement with Seattle or any other team," he said. "I'm not expecting anything in the next few days and I'd be surprised if anything developed in the next few days."

Lookout Landing just wants it to be over.

We've been talking about Erik Bedard since the beginning of December.

This is so stupid.

That LL post has a link to a Ken Rosenthal story at FOX. The first sentence tells the whole story, but do follow that link to gaze deeply into why the Orioles haven't had a winning season since...
As usual with the Orioles, confusion reigns.

M's Mailbag

Jim Street, the Mariner beat writer at MLB.com dives into the mailbag again. Rattler related questions below.
What is the status of pitcher Mark Lowe?

-- Brett H., Moses Lake, Wash.

Lowe, who had right elbow surgery nearly one year ago and missed most of the 2007 season, has been working out at the Spring Training complex in Peoria and will report to camp with other pitchers and catchers on Feb. 13. He worked out at Safeco Field recently, and head trainer Rick Griffin was impressed with what he saw. Lowe will be monitored closely during Spring Training, but he has a good chance of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster.

How many years until Adam Jones is eligible for salary arbitration?
-- Katie H., Sunnyside, Wash.

Jones has 139 days of Major League experience under his belt, which leaves him 48 days short of one full season. A player needs three full Major League seasons to qualify for salary arbitration, but those in the upper 17 percent with less than three full seasons fall into the "Super Two" category, becoming eligible for salary arbitration. Mariners reliever George Sherrill was a "Super Two" player this offseason.

Do you think there's a chance the Mariners can pick up another quality pitcher without trading Jones? And, what ever happened to Carl Everett?
-- Gary W., Issaquah, Wash.

To acquire the caliber of pitcher the Mariners desire, it will cost them Jones, among others, and there is no getting around that. As for Everett, he currently is on the roster of the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The White Sox and Angels have expressed interest in the veteran slugger, but he remains unsigned.

This one isn't exactly a Rattler related question, but it is interesting.

The Mariners added a farm team at Pulaski in the Appalachian League. Is this a lower league than the Northwest League? What is the reason for the Mariners to add another team?
-- Phil M., Philadelphia

The Appalachian League is regarded as a "Rookie-advanced" caliber league, and the Mariners view it as an opportunity to place some of their Latin American players as well as some of the top high school players that aren't quite ready for Class A Everett, which is more of a college-level team. So instead of sending certain players to Arizona, they will be sent to Pulaski, "so they can play under the lights and in front of people," farm director Greg Hunter said. Seattle and Pulaski signed a one-year working agreement.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara lost 3-1 to Aragua in Game Five of the Liga Venezuela Championship Series. The Cardenales trail the series 3-2.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Ivan Blanco ('05): 1-2/3IP, H, R, BB
Cesar Jimenez ('03): 1-1/3IP, 2H, 0R

Game Six is tonight at Lara. Lara needs to win to force Game Seven.

65 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 65 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is A Taste for Death by P.D. James. This is an Adam Dalgliesh novel. James is describing police pathologist Miles Kynaston in the passage below.

He never wasted time. Even as he greeted Dalgliesh he was taking off his jacket and drawing his fine latex gloves over his stubby-fingered hands which looked unnaturally white, almost bloodless. He was tall and solidly built, giving an impression of shambling clumsiness until one saw him working in a confined space, when he would seem physically to contract and become compact, even graceful, moving about the body with the lightness and precision of a cat. His face was fleshy, the dark hair receding from a high speckled forehead, the long upper lip as precisely curved as an arrowhead, and the full, heavily lidded eyes dark and very bright, giving his face a look of sardonic, humorous intelligence.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


"Done deal"?

You may have noticed that Adam Jones ('04) was not in the Rattlers in Venezuela post below. I was curious. Now, you don't have to be:

Is Jones-Bedard trade a done deal?
A winter-long quest by the Mariners to obtain Baltimore Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard is expected to play itself out later today.

The oft-rumored trade between the teams is said to be close to completion, with Seattle having called outfielder Adam Jones home early from his winter-ball stint in Venezuela. Jones told a reporter in Venezuela that he was headed to Baltimore for a physical and that Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi had made him the centerpiece of a deal for Bedard.

"We've told him to come home to the U.S.," Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly said of Jones leaving his team in the middle of the Venezuelan winter league's championship series. "I can't say anything beyond that."

The Orioles spent much of Sunday denying that a deal had been finalized.

A few quotes from one of the tradees:

"[Bavasi] called me [Saturday] and told me the news," Jones told the Venezuelan newspaper. "I've got to go to Baltimore [this] morning and handle things there. I'm the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners' side. It's an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard is.

"He's one of the best. Last year, he finished up as arguably one of the top candidates for the Cy Young. He's that good, so for me, it's an honor. You know, I like Seattle, but if I am in Baltimore, as I think I am now, I'm going to embrace it and have the best time of my life in Major League Baseball."

Best guess, Geoff Baker's Blog or SeattleMariners.com or mlb.com is where the story will break. Shortly thereafter, checkout Lookout Landing. They are already at it...just go over there.

Prospect Insider has a report on the minor leaguers involved. Recognize any names?

What I am getting is that it’s Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Tony Butler and Kameron Mickolio going to Baltimore.

So far, no word on anyone but Erik Bedard coming back to Seattle in the deal, and still no word on whether the two sides were allowed to get extension talks started pre-deal.

USS Mariner has some reaction as well. Posts titled Zero days since a bad move and 22 Things I believe about this trade are worth checking out. And there are already over 200 comments on the 22 Things post.

Mariner Minors will probably have a few notes on the minor leaguers involved in the trade.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara evened up the Liga Venezuela Championship series (which is best-of-seven not best-of-nine according to some people who would know) with a 5-3 win over Aragua. Look at the winning pitcher.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Rich Dorman ('03): 5-2/3IP, 5H, R, BB, 5K, Winning Pitcher
Cesar Jimenez ('03): 1-1/3IP, 0H, 0R, K

Game five is tonight.

66 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 66 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Triathlon Training by Michael Finch. This is from Chapter 4, Tackling Your Training.

The question is, how do triathletes keep up interest levels in such strenuous activity? The secret is to listen to any of the world’s most successful sportsmen and women – almost all of them will tell you that the secret to their success is the continuing enjoyment of their particular sport. Even in sports that offer their stars huge financial returns, people like golfer Tiger Woods, for example, attribute their success to a love of the sport rather than the financial rewards.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Light posting advisory

Sorry for the lack of posts this weekend. There is a lot to do and I have to get going in a little bit.

I may do some later tonight. Or, I may have some up on Monday morning.

Have a great day, everyone.

67 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 67 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is The Seventy Great Battles in History edited by Jeremy Black. Liegnitz, a battle during the Mongol invasions of Europe, took place in Poland in 1241.

Baidar thrust into Poland, burning as he went, lured out and massacred the garrison of Cracow, which was sacked, then advanced towards Breslau where he joined Kadan. Henry of Silesia was awaiting the army with 50,000 Bohemians, but as the Mongols approached, he chose to give battle, not realizing that Wencelas was only a day’s march away. Accounts of the battle are confused. It seems that Henry divided his army into four divisions: the Bavarian gold-miners and other peasants; the forces of Greater Poland; the forces of another Polish principality, Opplen, with the Teutonic Knights; and his own Silesian troops and mercenaries perhaps numbering 10,000.

The Mongols seem to have attacked by surprise, disordering the Silesians and drawing the allied troops into an ambush. Duke Henry, seeing what he thought was a small enemy army, sent his cavalry forward against their centre, but the wings of the Mongol army now revealed themselves and swept around the attacking knights, separating them from the rest of their army. Accounts refer to the Mongols using smoke to confuse the westerners and this may be true, since gunpowder was known to the Mongols from China. Duke Henry was killed in the rout of his army and most of his troops were slaughtered. The Mongols cut off ears to count the enemy dead and after Liegnitz are said to have sent home nine bags full of this gory evidence.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Rattlers in Venezuela

Game three of the best-of-nine championship series in Liga Venezuela was last night. Aragua beat Lara 5-4 in thirteen innings. Aragua scored in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and in the bottom of the thirteenth on an RBI single by former Cedar Rapids Kernel Alberto Callaspo.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Adam Jones ('04): 0-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and two K's
Ivan Blanco ('05): 1-1/3IP, H, 0R, K
Cesar Jimenez ('03): 2/3IP, 0H, 0R

Aragua leads the series 2-1. Saturday is an off day for the series before it resumes on Sunday.

68 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 68 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is The American System of Government (8th Edition) by Ferguson and McHenry. It’s a civics textbook first written in 1947. The 8th Edition is from 1965 and the excerpt is from a chapter on the U.S. Constitution.

Criticisms: The Federalists stressed the weaknesses of the Articles and labored to convince the people that the choice was the proposed Constitution or anarchy, chaos, and possibly civil war. Complaints were heard concerning almost every provision of the proposed document. The pious complained that the Constitution nowhere recognized the existence of God. Many who otherwise favored a stronger government strenuously objected to the fact that they must accept or reject the document with no opportunity to amend it prior to final action. Others were opposed because the Convention had exceeded its instructions and recommended adoption contrary to the method required by the Articles. Many contended that the President would become a monarch because he would serve an indefinite number of terms.

Patriots like Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, noting that the document contained no bill of rights, dwelt upon dangers to liberty. The courts, it was feared, would usurp the powers and functions of state judiciaries. Paper-money advocates believed that the central government would upset the gains they had made through their state governments. Southerners were alarmed lest commercial interests of the North dominate the Congress and use the treaty, tax, and commerce powers to the detriment of their sectional interests. Northerners made a moral issue of concessions to the slave trade; while residents of larger states argued that too much had been conceded to the small states. The most persistent theme was that the states would be destroyed and the central government would become a tyrannical overload. To offset these objections, the Federalists yielded to the extent of promising the addition of a bill of rights as soon as the new government was organized. Without this concession, the Constitution might never have been adopted.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Outfield writing assignments are in

Each team website in MLB has a story about their outfielders this week.

Guess who prominently figures into the Seattle story...
As he prepares for his first season as the Mariners' first base/outfield coach, Eddie Rodriguez knows that any outfield that includes Ichiro Suzuki is awfully good, and having him right in the center of all the action makes it even better.

"The way he gets to balls makes it easier on everyone else," Rodriguez said. "The guy is a superstar in every facet of the game."

A few players with Appleton ties are included...

But things aren't as solidified at the corners. Standing to Ichiro's right most of time in 2008 will be the veteran Raul Ibanez, recognized more for his bat than his glove, but more than just a decent defender. And standing to Ichiro's left -- for the moment, at least -- is Adam Jones.

The trade talk about Jones is briefly recapped. Then, there is a bit on Ibanez (Appleton Foxes '94).

Ibanez, entering the final year of his contract with Seattle, had 10 assists last season, one of only nine American League outfielders to reach double-digits in that category.

"He has done a real fine job out there," Rodriguez said, "but he's better known for his offensive prowess."

After a sluggish start caused by a shoulder injury sustained during Spring Training, Ibanez finished strong, batting .357 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in August and September. The splurge enabled the 35-year-old to surpass 100 RBIs for the second consecutive season and third time in his MLB career.

And look who else is in there

The list of potential backups is pretty long, though one of those candidates would move to the forefront if Jones is traded.

Wladimir Balentien, selected as the Pacific Coast League's Rookie of the Year in 2007 after batting .291 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs, would seemingly be in line to move right in. He's the same age as Jones (23), has about the same amount of pop in his bat and strikes out almost as often.

The biggest difference is foot speed. Jones is much faster.

Soriano gets paid

Rafael Soriano (WI '00) avoided arbitration with the Atlanta Braves and gets a nice payday.
ATLANTA -- The Braves won't be going to arbitration with Rafael Soriano next month -- and they no longer have to worry about having to bid for his services next offseason.

Braves general manager Frank Wren announced on Thursday afternoon that the club has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with Soriano, who would have been eligible for free agency at the end of the 2008 season. The right-handed reliever had been the Braves' only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player.

Soriano's two-year contract is worth a guaranteed $9 million, which includes a $500,000 signing bonus. He will receive $2.4 million in 2008 and $6.1 milllion in 2009.
There are some incentives in the deal that could bump that up a few bucks.
Now, why would the Braves want to make this deal?

"We went into the arbitration discussions with the strategy that we'd love to keep Rafael for multiple years," Wren said. "The last two years, Rafael has been one of the best relievers in baseball."

Other than the injury risk that every team assumes with every contract, the only evident pitfall with the deal would come if Soriano doesn't live up to expectations as he prepares for his first full-time venture as a closer. He assumed the role for Atlanta after Bob Wickman was released in late August.

Lunch with the Rattlers

Geoff Baker has a post about the Seattle Mariner Spring Training Luncheon at his blog. General Manager Bill Bavasi, Manager John McLaren, closer (and former Rattler) JJ Putz, and bullpen coach Norm Charlton were all there on Thursday and there is plenty of stuff to read. So just head over there.

But, from the Rattler perspective, here are two things to pull out of the article.

1.) The trade

Bavasi still expects to get a deal done for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. He never mentions names, but it's clear he was talking about Erik Bedard. It's also clear that Bavasi feels this team is ready to challenge for a playoff spot and is ready to give up Adam Jones and plenty of other names to get a deal done.

"We're in a position now where we have to do our best to make those moves for a top-of-the-rotation guy so we can slot the rest of the rotation where it should be,'' he said. "We feel we have to make a move -- one more move."

Bavasi says he's already put his best offer on the table and that it's now a waiting game. He says there's been a genuine reluctance by some clubs to part with young prospects, but "we're not one of those clubs. We're prepared to move...but there is a limit.''

What would that be?

"I don't think you can give a club its terms and its price,'' he said. "We can move a premier prospect and numbers (of players), but we're not going to move a number of premier prospects."

So, what's going to happen now?

"As I'm sitting here today, I think we will (get a deal done),'' he said. "I think there's a good chance of that."

2.) The bullpen -- with a lot of ex-Rattlers

All of the people in attendance -- Charlton, McLaren, Putz -- seemed to agree that the lack of experience amongst most of the bullpen members finally caught up to them down the stretch. Charlton wouldn't flat-out suggest some of the younger relevers were nervous, though he did admit he was nervous at times as a young pitcher in similar circumstances.

Putz suggested some of his younger teammates may have learned the hard way that it's OK to take a day off late in the season.

"I think the only problem was that they were young and a lot of these guys, it was their first time pitching in September and they didn't realize what kind of a toll that takes on your body in the major leagues,'' Putz said.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara evened up the best-of-nine series with Aragua at a game each with a 5-2 win on Thursday.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:

Adam Jones ('04): 3-for-3, RBI, run scored
Cesar Jimenez ('03): 1-2/3 IP, 0H, 0R

Game three is tonight.

69 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 69 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is 69 A.D.: The Year of the Four Emperors by Gwyn Morgan. This is a book about a turbulent time in the history of the Roman Empire.

According to Tacitus, Otho’s main goal was to induce his audience to take the next step and kill their legal emperor. So he pointed out, first, that the welcome they had given him bound them together indissolubly. Now they must finish the job or submit to punishment by Galba, when his record proved that there was no hope of leniency. The emperor had put to death men of high rank and low, soldiers and civilians, individuals and groups, not only in Rome but in every camp and province of the empire, and each time he masked his ferocity with claims to have “restored discipline.” Although Icelus and Vinius in a mere six months had managed to amass fortunes larger than those accumulated by all Nero’s favorites put together, Galba prated about “economy” to cover up his tight-fistedness, and refused to pay the troops the donative promised by Nymphidius. Nor, finally, was the situation going to change for the better. Galba had picked as his successor a young man embittered by exile, a man who, in the emperor’s opinion, best matched his own grim disposition and meaness. And the gods had shown their displeasure with the storm that attended the announcement of the adoption.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Thursday Motivation (1/24)

A late start and a lot of stuff to do means a limited posting time this morning.

Here is a little something from Chris Carter's Millennium for your Thursday motivation.

Peter: His body is covered with tattoos. I look at this man and I wonder. He fought the same fight we waged today. Did he have the knowledge that we lack? The knowledge to overcome the evils of the millennium? And did he have the foresight to pass that information on to us? Are these tattoos merely decorations or, are they secrets to be deciphered? What does he say to you, Frank?

Frank: He had the knowledge, Pete, but it's inside him. And I think that's what he's saying... It's inside us. We just have to find it for ourselves.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara lost 4-3 to Aragua in Game One of the best-of-nine Liga Championship Series.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Adam Jones ('04): 0-for-4, 2Ks.
Ivan Blanco ('05): 2-2/3IP, 3H, 0R, 2K
Renee Cortez ('02, '03): 0.0IP, H, 0R

Game Two is tonight at Lara.

70 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 70 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. New York in this passage isn't New York. It is ... difficult to explain. Read the book.

“Then we can get to New York.”

“Can we, Pieter? Have you ever tried to walk across four kilometers of ice?”

“Oh – I see what you mean. Just imagine what Stores would say if we asked for a set of skates! Not that many of us would know how to use them, even if we had any aboard.”

“And there’s another problem,” put in Rodrigo. “Do you realize that the temperature is already above freezing? Before long, that ice is going to melt. How many spacemen can swin four kilometers? Certainly not this one.”

Dr. Ernst rejoined them at the edge of the cliff, and held up the small sample bottle in triumph.

“It’s a long walk for a few cc’s of dirty water, but it may teach us more about Rama than anything we’ve found so far. Let’s head for home.”

They turned toward the distant lights of the hub, moving with the gentle, loping strides that had proved the most comfortable means of walking under this reduced gravity. Often they looked back, drawn by the hidden enigma of the island out there in the center of the frozen sea.

And just once, Dr. Ernst thought she felt the faint suspicion of a breeze against her cheek.

It did not come again, and she quickly forgot about it.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Wednesday Baseball Movie Clip (1/23)


I saw this column over the weekend and thought about doing something here. But in the end, I thought, eh, not interesting enough. But, the reader reaction is amazing and screams for some attention.

So, here is the original column by David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press

Inge plays role of cowardly Tiger
Brandon Inge might become all accountable and forthcoming when he grows up someday, though that day was not Friday.

The Detroit Tigers third baseman, or utility infielder, or would-be catcher -- or perhaps soon-to-be-ex-Tiger, if the Tigers have their way -- hasn't uttered a public peep all winter.

Not a word since last month's Miguel Cabrera trade with Florida brought the Tigers a top-shelf third baseman, which Inge assuredly isn't.

See where this is going?

He signed autographs for several hundred fans at a Grand Rapids Griffins game, but as for speaking to the masses, he opted out.

For a brief moment, he turned the northeast corner of the arena, started to chat upon seeing familiar reporters -- Tom Gage of The Detroit News, Jason Beck of mlb.com and myself -- shook hands with Whitecaps executive Jim Jarecki, and was considering a question about when he might grant an interview, when that thought was terminated.

Sean Wright, senior director of advertising at Van Andel Arena, quickly wrapped an arm around Inge, declared "No media tonight," and set into motion a sequence of events that led to the reporters' removal from the area.

I'm not sure who seemed pettier at the moment, the man who wouldn't stand up and answer for himself, or the man who prohibited it.

Or the man who writes about being snubbed in a newspaper column?

From there we go into the realm of what Inge might have said in response to probable questions. Then, there was this wrap up to the column.

In lieu of a players-only room in the clubhouse to hide in, which is Inge's usual trick, he orchestrated Friday's media boycott long before his arrival. The Griffins, citing information gained from Inge's agent, sent out an e-mail informing media the player would not grant interviews.

The Griffins advertised his presence and asked for the publicity, and Inge presumably cashed the check for his appearance fee, all without granting answers to a single question the larger masses want answered.

We've seen this lack of accountability before. It was on full display during Inge's ridiculously bad second half last season, when he hit three home runs after June 12.

Look at that bold text again. Remember it. This will be important in a minute or two.

Now there is this: Readers come to the defense of Inge

When Press columnist David Mayo took exception to Brandon Inge's refusal to grant interviews during a promotional stop Friday at Van Andel Arena, it struck a nerve with baseball fans.

Mayo was highly critical of Inge ("Inge plays role of cowardly Tiger," Saturday, Jan. 19). The Detroit Tigers third baseman has refused interviews since he told team officials last month he wants to be traded, after the Tigers acquired All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera. The popularity of Inge, a former West Michigan Whitecaps player, remains strong, according to these letters.

Inge not obligated
What a sorry job of reporting by Mr. Mayo. Or maybe I should say whining. I'm not sure where it is written that an athlete like Brandon Inge has to give an interview. Inge was invited by the Griffins to meet the public and sign a few autographs. Mr. Mayo even stated he knew there would be no interviews granted in advance of showing up. What is it about "no interviews" he didn't understand? Attacking someone for wanting a little privacy just doesn't seem right to me. Getting paid to do it is even worse!
-- MIKE O'DONNELL/Grand Rapids

Criticism unwarranted
It appears David Mayo had his nose bent out of shape because he was not able to talk to Brandon Inge at the Griffins' event, even though he had been notified in advance that Mr. Inge would not be available to the media. The vitriol spewed by Mr. Mayo was completely inappropriate and not worthy of a newspaper as fine as The Press.

Tom Gage, of the Detroit News, covered the same incident in a fair and balanced manner that did not reflect any of the rage expressed by Mr. Mayo. Since when did it become a duty for anyone to speak to the press? Mr. Inge has every right to not share his thoughts and feelings about his situation with Mr. Mayo, and for him to call Inge a coward for not doing so is just plain wrong. Mr. Mayo's immature outburst should have never made it passed the sports editor's desk.
-- ALAN MILLAR / Jenison

Oh, one more.

Story is disgusting
The Saturday sports edition contained an article by Press Columnist David Mayo entitled "No Media Tonight." Below that headline were the comments, "Inge plays role of cowardly Tiger in Grand Rapids appearance." I can only describe my feelings as totally disgusted about this article. All because Mr. Mayo did not get his way so that he could interview the guest of the Griffins. Poor baby!

The Detroit News also reported this story by Tom Gage, who also was denied access for an interview. However, Mr. Gage only reported this happening. He did not proceed to rant on like a spoiled child about not being granted access for an interview. Mr. Gage also said that "Inge was a smash at the meet and greet." He also mentioned that at one time it was estimated that 1,000 people were in line to greet Brandon and get an autograph or a photo taken. I think this comment speaks for the reason Brandon was in Grand Rapids.

My advice to Mr. Mayo is wake up, not write trash like this when you do not get your way. You struck a nerve on this one!

There are plenty more at the link.

Rattlers in Venezuela

No game for Lara yesterday. Also, no Caribbean World Series just yet. The Cardenales start a best-of-nine Championship series against Tigres de Aragua tonight.

The Cardenales web site will get you ready. It looks like Rich Dorman (WI '03) is the scheduled starter in Game Four for Lara.

71 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 71 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Accusations by Lois Tilton. This is a book based on the J. Michael Straczynski series Babylon 5.

Sheridan was alone. Alone with Wallace’s report on his desk.

A lot of hard things he’d had to do in the course of his career. Writing those letters to the families of the men killed under his command – that was the worst, hands down. But this wasn’t much far behind.

He’d read the report. Read it, as Wallace intended him to, the way Earth Central would certainly read it when it showed up on their desks. It twisted the facts. Twisted them until they bent backwards in both directions, sometimes. But – the facts were there. Indisputable. Ivanova was – compromised.

His link chimed softly. “Captain? This is Ivanova. You wanted to see me?”

Sheridan forced himself to meet her eyes when she came into the command office. The anxious look on her face – she knew what this was about.

“Sit down, Commander. I won’t keep you hanging. I’m not happy about it, but Commander Wallace’s report really leaves me no choice. Until further notice, you’re suspended from all duties as a member of the command staff of Babylon 5.”

It hurt her. He could see it. Her face went white and she remained on her feet, eyes front, almost at attention. No matter how much she thought she was prepared, it hit her hard.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

January 22 Field Photo

Taken from the left field grass seats around 4:00pm on 1/22/08.

That was an interesting shade of blue yesterday.


Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara looks to have wrapped up its Venezuelan post season with a 9-1 win over La Guaira. The winning and losing pitchers were both Rattler alums.

First, the Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Adam Jones ('04): 2-for-5, 2 2Bs, 2 RBI, run
Rich Dorman ('03): 6IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 5K (win)
Cesar Jimenez ('03): 1/3 IP, 0H, 0R
Renee Cortez ('02, '03): .2IP, H, 0R

Ex-Rattler for La Guaira:
Nibaldo Acosta ('04): 3IP, 4H, R, 2BB, 2K (loss)

According to this page -- scroll down a bit -- de Cardenales finished 12-4, tied with Aragua after the round robin. Keep scrolling for the stats.

I'm not sure, but I think that Lara is now headed for the Caribbean World Series. If they are, I'll keep updating. If not, I'll figure something out.

Mariner Mail Call

Here's Jim Street's latest Mailbag at Mariners.com. The Rattler related Q & A's are below:

Do you feel that Felix Hernandez is ready to take the next step this season and become one of the top pitchers in baseball?
-- Jason G., Deshler, Ohio

If Hernandez improves as much in 2008 as he did in '07, which I believe is extremely possible, he would become one of the top hurlers in baseball. He has everything it takes, including the desire, to become a perennial All-Star pitcher. I would be more surprised if he isn't an All-Star this season than if he is.

Is there any chance Yung Chi Chen can be the main second baseman this year?
-- Steve Y., Taipei, Taiwan

As long as incumbent Jose Lopez performs close to his ability, which is All-Star caliber, Chen figures to receive more seasoning in the Minors, most likely with Triple-A Tacoma. But if Lopez falters and recently signed Miguel Cairo is too valuable as a versatile backup, you could see Chen in Seattle.

Is Phillipe Aumont, the young prospect out of Canada, still in the Mariners organization and if so, how is he doing?
-- James A., Van Nuys, Calif.

Aumont, the Mariners' first-round Draft choice last June, signed shortly before the Aug. 15 deadline and pitched for the Canada Junior National Team in the World Cup instead of a Seattle Minor League club. He will report to Spring Training on Feb. 13 with the remainder of the pitchers and catchers invited to camp. I would expect him to start the season at either Class A High Desert (California League) or Class A Wisconsin (Midwest League).

Who was the player traded to the Indians for Ben Broussard?
-- Hayoto U., Beaverton, Ore.

The Mariners traded outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and a player to be named later (Shawn Nottingham) to the Indians for Broussard on July 26, 2006.

72 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 72 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Seasons in Hell by Mike Shropshire. He chronicles his time as a Texas Ranger beat writer in this book. This passage is a snapshot of the times late in the 1973 season.

David Clyde’s resounding, albeit improbable, triumph on the banks of the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike elevated the morale of the whole state. When Clyde’s stats were flashed on the garish scoreboard in the Astrodome, Houston fans responded with a standing ovation.

In truth, the spirits of most Texans were already stimulated by a long-awaited even in Austin, the signing of the bill that reinstated the death penalty. Unrestrained joy not seen since the repeal of Prohibition greeted this measure. That same year, somebody was campaigning for the governorship of Alabama with the slogan: “I want to fry ‘em until their eyeballs pop out and green and yellow smoke comes out of their ears.” Texas’ own governor, Dolph Briscoe, clearly lacked the zeal of the Alabama politician. But Briscoe did sign the bill with the same pen that a deputy sheriff in San Antonio was using to write a traffic ticket when some goon gunned him down. Briscoe would be re-elected the next year, and overwhelmingly.

In Atlanta, the same week of David Clyde’s celebrated launch, Hank Aaron was belting career homerun numbers 696 and 697. In California, Nolan Ryan was pitching his second no-hit game of the season. And in Luckenbach, Texas, Willie Nelson and other notables of what was then known as the progressive country music movement performed an outdoor concert before thousands of adoring “dope smokin’ goat ropers.”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

January 21 Field Photo

Taken from the left field grass seats at a little before 4:00pm on 1/21/08

It was a crummy day yesterday.


Debating Society

Larry Stone has a column in the Seattle Times about how the off-season debate about trading or not trading Adam Jones to the the Baltimore Orioles is keeping things interesting in the Northwest.

As hot stove debates go, the one currently raging among Mariners fans is close to perfection.

So, without further ado, here's a heartfelt thank you to Adam Jones, Erik Bedard and that multitude of Seattle minor-league prospects who, perhaps unbeknownst to them, have enlivened what otherwise has been a largely uneventful offseason for the Mariners.

At issue, of course, is whether the Mariners should trade Jones and an amorphous, ever-changing group of potential future stars (or busts) for Bedard, an emerging ace for the Baltimore Orioles.

This imponderable is loads of fun to ponder. Delve into it long enough, and almost every aspect of baseball analysis comes into play: statistical breakdowns; how to quantify the importance of defense; the efficacy of predicting future performance; the salary structure of baseball; the pros and cons of playing to win now versus building for the future.

To cut the suspense, my position on making a deal for Bedard is a qualified yes — the qualification based first on just what, precisely, the final package sent to Baltimore for Bedard would end up being, and second, on what is general manager Bill Bavasi's plan to replace Jones in right field.

To the quick:

Any trade of prospects is rife with the potential for it to blow up in a team's face. But for every such instance, one can point to a corresponding trade where the so-called can't-miss prospects did indeed miss. Or, alternately, said prospects were so coveted by an organization that they refused to include them in any deal, only to never reap the benefits of those alleged phenoms (cough, cough, Ryan Anderson).

I don't expect Jones to be a bust. I think he will develop into a quality major-league player with a long and fruitful career. Torii Hunter-like, perhaps, or maybe even Jim Edmonds-esque. He could also be Ricky Ledee, Corey Patterson or Ruben Mateo — highly touted outfield busts — but I'd be surprised.

Whether Jones is ready to take the step to productivity in 2008 is a little murkier. Some growing pains are likely. Still, it would be difficult for the Mariners to give up on that kind of potential, especially considering that Jones is under club control for another six years, compared to two for Bedard.

I would admittedly feel better about this prospective deal if the Mariners locked up Bedard to a multiyear extension. But top-of-the-rotation pitchers come with a high price tag. The Mariners should swallow hard and include Jones.

Any number of names have been bandied about in the rumor mill as accompanying Jones to Baltimore. Brandon Morrow. Jeff Clement. Chris Tillman. Wladimir Balentien. Carlos Triunfel. Matt Tuiasosopo. Tony Butler. Et al.

All have tremendous upside. Some will likely make it big; others will likely be serviceable; a few are likely to make no impact at all. While minor-league numbers have proven to be indicative of major-league performance, any follower of player development will attest to the ultimate unpredictability of assessing how good a prospect will pan out to be.

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