Now that we've had a little time to let Ozzie's latest spout settle in, its time to praise the man.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ozzie's latest antics, here's a recap:
Quotes From ESPN:
"We've got a $100 million payroll and they don't show it on the field," Guillen said. "If this keeps up, bring on the Double-A kids. They're killing me. They're killing my family, my coaching staff and the White Sox fans. I hope they care the way we care. I'm tired of seeing this [expletive] every day."
In the day and age of "politically correctness", Ozzie Guillen brings a breath of fresh air to the baseball diamond. Too often are major leaguers (NBA, NFL, NHL included) treated with kid gloves. Endorsement deals often leave players concerned over potential injuries that could derail their marketing careers. Rather than run out a ground ball or dive head first into the warning track to save a run, a good portion of ballers tend to half-ass it.
As Ozzie puts it, maybe the White Sox need to bring up a Double A Kid, someone who will inject life into a listless lineup.
''You see this since April,'' Guillen said. ''I keep giving people a chance to succeed. A pat on the back. I wish I played for a manager like that. I swear to God I wish I could have played for a [expletive] manager like that. Every time you fail and keep putting guys out there who fail day-in and day-out, that's easy to play."
Good point #2, which also reinforces our last statement, detailing players being treated with kid gloves. Players need to realize that gone are the days where everyone gets a free cup of soda after the game, and everyone is a winner in our book. Playing for a Major League Franchise is an honor, not a right. The amount of hard work and effort these guys had to put in their game to get to the level they're at right now is indescribable, but now that hard work is nothing but a memory for far too many players.
Ozzie is right. Nothing more, nothing less.
We as fans, sportswriters, bloggers, casual channel changers, need to celebrate what Ozzie is saying. Now, he's not often the best choice or has most conventional means for relaying a message, but he's right. We as a sports nation need to hold these players up to task. Boo the guys who don't run out of the box, boo the guy who dogs a ball in the outfield. But most importantly, celebrate the ones that don't.
Now that we've had a little time to let Ozzie's latest spout settle in, its time to praise the man.
We'd like to introduce to you, Clark; The Canadian Hockey Goalie.
With only a few weeks left in the season, its time for me to look back and dissect one of the most important franchises in baseball. Where did they go wrong? How can a whole team simultaneously slump? When is it ever a good time to say goodbye to an fan favorite? In short, where did I go wrong with my fantasy team, "The Lugnuts"?
Over the past seven seasons, the Lugnuts continually hover around .500 baseball. They sneaked into the playoffs last year, but were crushed in the second round. In the seven years of existence, they've only won one Yahoo Championship. Considering the fact that I've been around the game since I was four, I should be able to build a winning team, right? Guess not. In a shameful look back on a dismal season, here are some reasons why the Lugnuts (and possibly your team) didn't do as well as planned.
1. Draft Day Jitters: Things were not looking good from the very beginning. Somehow I landed the number eight pick of the draft, a damning position in any fantasy league draft. David Wright somehow landed into my lap, and I grabbed Manny Ramirez followed with the 18th pick. Joe Mauer seemed like a sensible third round pick, but things quickly went south. Nick Swisher, Carlos Zambrano, Scott Kazmir, Takashi Saito, Barry Zito, Prince Fielder, and Ian Kennedy round out the top 12. They weren't bad moves at the time, but looking back, I overpaid for Swisher, Mauer, and Kennedy. Things started to unravel after my pre-draft day plans looked like a rorschach test.
2. Loyalty: This can kill any fantasy league player. One guy performs and carries your team in previous years, and you ultimately wind up overpaying and riding on wishes and fairy dust for the rest of the season. To date, Nick Swisher, (my hero, my rock that I built the team around, my player least likely to be back in Lugnuts uniform next season) has stats unbecoming of an outfielder: AVG: .269 R: 65 HR: 17 RBI: 63 SB: 2
3. Mediocrity and Slow Starts: It took Zambrano and Kazmir forever to get going and Zito has been hot and cold every other start. By the time the front four of my rotation got going, I was floundering at the bottom of my league. Picking up Tom Gorzelanny and Joe Blanton helped, but it was too little too late.
4. Injuries: I know, every team has to deal with injuries, but this season, I felt like I should have drafted a medic instead of a corner infielder. Ian Kinsler (after a dominating April) lands on the DL for the majority of the season. Nick Swisher and Carlos Beltran (acquired via May trade) are banged up before the All Star Break. The worst injury (as a close friend put it "When I found out the news, it was like a family member died".) was when Chase Utley went down with a broken hand. No sooner does he start to show some positive signs, does Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels plop themselves down on injury lane. Oh yeah, and Joe Mauer, he got hurt too.
Looking Towards the Future
This was the first time our league decided to join ESPNs Keeper League. I was able to make some trades (Acquired Chase Utley and Carlos Beltran via trade, Ryan Zimmerman via Coup d'état) and plucked Prince Fielder out of the draft in the 20th round (Thank YOU, Starbucks!)
So my keepers look like Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Prince Fielder, which are not a bad three to build your team around. They're all young, and each does something that the other doesn't, so it looks like I've got all the bases covered. Now, if I can just resist the urge to draft Swisher next season.....
The baseball season is getting down to the wire, and its time to take a look at past and potential acquisitions that will or have helped a team in its push to make the playoffs. Need to seal up that division title? Looking to squeak in through the Wild Card Door? Check out these players that have helped or can help your team in the final weeks of the season. (Impact is based on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest rating)
1. Atlanta Braves: Woah! Has Mark Teixeira re-found his power stroke! Possibly the best acquisition for any team in baseball, Teixeira cost the Braves a lot in terms of mortgaging their future, but has paid off in full. Teixeira shores up a weak spot in the Braves lineup offensively and on the field as well. He just recently hit 4 home runs in 2 games, and has been a spark plug, igniting the Braves lineup.
2. NY Mets: With Damion Easley out for what could be the rest of the season, the Mets were quick to pull the trigger on a deal to land veteran outfield Jeff Conine from the Reds. Conine adds playoff experience to a team that floundered last season in the finals against the Cardinals. This could be a big payoff for the Mets, now that Conine has something to play for. He can spell any of the corner outfielders and corner infielders, which is something Willie Randolph needs to prepare for the postseason.
3. Phillies: Get one, lose one. Things started to look bright for the Phils when doctors cleared Chase Utley to begin throwing and swinging on a regular basis. Then Cole Hamels hurt his elbow, and is expected to miss 2 starts as he heads to the DL. Utley is a welcome addition to any lineup, but losing your ace can't be good.
4. Yankees: Get out the way old man! The Yanks have injected life into their cranky, stiff bones with the recent call ups of Joba Chamberlin, Shelley Duncan, Edwar Ramirez, and the return of Phil Hughes from the 60 Day DL. Combine that with the everyday "Baby Yankees" Melkey Cabrera and Robinson Cano, the Yanks can keep their heads above water for the next few weeks.
5. LA Dodgers: Anytime you take strengthen your team by weakening another in your division, it has to be a good move, right? Well, not in this case. Dodgers traded for Giants firstbaseman Mark Sweeney for a player to be named (or cash). The move doesn't seem to make any sense at first, but now that Nomar is on the 15 Day DL, its a good move, sort of. If you're the type that salivates when you see anyone named Sweeney in the starting lineup, maybe you should check out this blog.
6. Mariners: So you want to win the AL West? One of the easiest divisions in baseball to win, the West is constantly up for grabs every year. So your biggest acquisition of the season is left hander John Parrish from Baltimore? Its a wonder that Ichiro signed the deal, if this is an example of your commitment to winning.
7. St. Louis Cardinals: Everyone wrote them off before the All Star Game. Now, with the NL Wildcard Up for grabs, and the Central looking as stable as Baghdad, the Cards gamble on signing Troy Percival looks like a briliant move. In 21 innings pitched, Percival has only given up 2 runs, batters are only hitting .183 against the righty, and he's managed to win 3 games in relief. With the resurgence of Rick Ankiel, the Cards are starting to looking like a dark horse.
It's a thankless job, but here at 108 Red Stitches, we're more than happy to take on the task of providing ways for ownership to fix the worst team in baseball.
1. Stop drafting outfielders. The Devil Rays outfield is more crowded than an LA Freeway or (going to reach deep into the pocket here) the old Star Jones in a pair of size 0 jeans.
Crawford, Young, Rocco, BJ Upton experiment, Greg Norton, Jonny Gomes, plus countless others in their minor league system.
QUICK FIX: Its time to give up on Rocco Baldelli and let him get a fresh start somewhere else. Trade him to a team like the Padres, who are rich in pitching and might need a new centerfielder in case Mike Cameron decides to leave via free agency at the end of the season. Baldelli would fit nicely in the Padres vast outfield, allowing him to roam and use his speed. He might also see his batting average rise, playing all those games at Coors Field.
2. Pitching. I'm sure this has been said before, but pitching is one of the most important elements needed to win ball games. It's very tough for Scott Kazmir and James Shields to go out and pitch effectively every night, only to have their bullpen blow lead after lead. It has to be mentally debilitating for a pitcher to suffer through the same fate game after game.
QUICK FIX: Again, a surplus of outfielders could bring in some pitching help. There are a ton of free agent outfielders this season and most will command big dollars (Hunter, Cameron, Andrew Jones, Corey Patterson). Teams looking for a cheap alternative could find one in the Devil Rays system.
3. Fan Base. I know, you ask, but how can fan base translate into winning or losing games? Try playing 81 games in front of less than 3,000 people showing up. Of the 3,000 half could give a damn about what's going on in the field, and the other half are from out of town. Your biggest crowd comes when the Yankees are in town, which is basically like playing an additional 10 games on the road. We're not saying its the fan's fault that the Rays are awful, but give them something to root for, and maybe, you'll begin to understand what a home field advantage is.
For more info on this subject visit this old ESPN PAGE 2 ARTICLE
4. Respect Factor. If you want to bring in a quality free agent player, you need to be serious about your franchise. No one is going to play for a franchise hoping completely disappear
off the baseball map. The quote from the film "Field of Dreams" applies in this case; "If you build it, they will come." Make that investment in a quality arm or a power bat that isn't on the downslope of a career (see Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco). Show other players that your team is committed to winning now and in the long term. Nobody wants to play for a AAAA team, and wait to be traded to a contender around the deadline.
5. Move Out of the AL East. Maybe a change of "leaguery" would be good for the organization. I'm not advocating re-alignment or contraction, but the move seemed to have (eventually) paid off for the Brew-Crew.
With his recent heroics on the ball field, Cardinals pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel, is becoming a modern day Roy Hobbs. Meteoric rise to the majors, swift encounter with darkness, and never to be heard from again, until...
108 Red Stitches' over analysis begins now:
Roy Hobbs: On his way to the majors (via train) Hobbs strikes out the immortal Walt "The Whammer" Whambold (the best hitter in the majors at the time) during a brief pit stop at a local carnival.
Rick Ankiel: With his dominating fastball, devastating sinker, and looping curveball, Ankiel strikes out 194 batters, posting a 3.50 ERA at the ripe old age of 21.
Advantage: Hobbs. Nobody strikes out a guy names Walt "The Whammer" Whambold and lives to tell about it.
Into the Darkness:
Hobbs: Shot by a temptress in a black dress.
Ankiel: Can't find the strike zone in Game 1 of the 2000 NLDS against the Braves, he allowed 4 runs on 2 hits, walking 4 and throwing 5 wild pitches before Tony LaRussa took him out of the game.
Advantage: Ankiel. It only gets worse; Ankiel goes on to pitch against the Mets in the NLCS. First inning = 20 pitches, five of which scoot past the catcher. He returns later in the series, still unable to find the plate, walking a handful more batters, and the Cardinals lose the series.
Hobbs: Well, depends on who you listen to. Hollywood and the book says Hobbs returns 15 years later, as an outfielder, and begins to go on a hitting tear. He helps the Knights crawl out of the cellar, and this is where things diverge. Hollywood has Hobbs hitting a homerun that crashes into a light tower, ensuing fireworks display wows all. The book has Hobbs striking out in his last at bat, after accepting a handsome ransom from the teams owner to throw the game.
Ankiel: Returns to the majors as an outfielder, hitting a three run wallop in the 7th inning, to help the Cardinals beat the Brewers. Standing ovation, curtain calls, firstborns, all thrust at Ankiel.
Advantage: Movie Hobbs. Anyone that can hit a homerun and set off fireworks, while nursing a 15 year old gunshot wound and dealing with the fact that he might be a father, wins in our book.
Hobbs: "Pick me out a winner Bobby".
Ankiel: "The frustration that built up, it seems like it was really eroding my spirit and starting to affect my personality off the field. It just became apparent that it was time for me to move on and pursue becoming an outfielder."
Advantage: Hobbs. Not one movie quote has spawned more jokes about picking one's nose.
A few days ago, former Major Leaguer Jose Offerman went ballistic with his lumber after being hit by a pitch. Offerman, playing for the Long Island Ducks, went after Bridgeport Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech, after being hit in the leg with a pitch. Offerman was eventually arrested after he was thrown out of the game, and bail was posted at $10,000.
This event brought back memories of another famous bat beating incident, none other than Juan Marichal's head bopping of LA Dodgers catcher, Johnny Roseboro.
Here at 108 Red Stitches, we thought it would be fun to compare both events. Here goes:
Fight Started Because.....
Offerman: Hit a homerun in his first at bat off of Beech, then was pegged in the leg in his next at bat.
Marichal: Thought Roseboro's throws back to the pitcher were coming a little to close to his noggin.
Advantage: Offerman. Physical evidence always outweighs mental issues.
Offerman: possibly broke Beech's finger and gave Bluefish catcher, John Nathans, concussion like symptoms.
Marichal: slammed Roseboro in the (unprotected head) and gave him a pretty gash that would require 14 stitches.
Advantage: Marichal. Nobody makes me bleed my own blood, nobody.
Offerman: arrested on two counts of second degree assault felony, bail posted at $10,000.
Marichal: fined $1,750 and suspended 9 games. Eventually sued (and settled out of court) by Roseboro.
Advantage: Offerman. Good luck getting that "felon" label taken away.
Offerman: case pending until August 23, when Jose must appear in court.
Marichal: would later become good friends with Roseboro, as the two would autograph the picture that make them famous.
Advantage: Marichal. Always loved a Hollywood Ending.
Pain? Joy? Confusion? A sub conscious slip back to man's earlier days when the Greeks would wrestle in the courtyard? Whatever emotion that is evoked when you look at this photo, know that, no matter what, this photo wins 108 Red Stitches first ever Photo of the Week Award.
While everyone is making playoff predictions and crossing fingers as teams vie for that elusive championship (see Chicago Cubs), we're looking ahead to what figures to be an interesting off-season. Your teams needs some back end pitching help? One big bat away from sneaking into next years playoff? Looking to patch up a bullpen that's springing leaks and you just ran out of duct tape? Assuming that A-Rod and other players who have options/out clauses in their contracts stay on their current team, look no further than the 108 Red Stitches Free Agent All Star Lineup.
Color Key: Injury Prone, Offensive Nightmare, Likely to Resign With Old Team, Bargain Buy, Franchise Savior.
- Jorge Posada: Having an unbelievable season behind the plate, offensively and defensively. Currently is batting .337 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI. His "timely" hitting (yeah yeah, there's no such thing as clutch hitting) has been the key to many of NY's wins this season, and has only let four balls get past him while behind the plate. Good luck signing him though, as he's a home town favorite and the Yankees would be crazy to let him go. Especially when the Captain says he wants him back.
Runner Ups: Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Kendall, Paul LoDuca
-Sean Casey: Probably the best, and only option in this years thin crop of free agents at first base. He's a clubhouse leader and a veteran that would provide excellent leadership and knowhow in a young locker room.
Runner Ups: Craig Wilson, Shea Hillenbrand
-Tadahito Iguchi: has seen a bit of a rebirth with his trade to Philly, but will be expendable once Chase Utley recovers from a broken hand.
Runner Ups: Mark Loretta, Mark Grudzielanek,
- David Eckstein; another clubhouse leader whose dedication to the game is second to none. Plays hard day in and day out, David would be a welcome addition to any clubhouse. Good luck prying him away from the Cardinals.
Runner Ups: Tomohiro Nioka (Yomiuri Giants), John McDonald, Omar Vizquel
- Mike Lowell; see previous blog post. This guy is on a tear this season, batting in a very dangerous Boston lineup. The only way Lowell becomes available is if A-Rod leaves NY and signs with the Sox.
Runner Ups: Geoff Blum, Aaron Boone, Pedro Feliz
The year of the outfielder. This year's crop of outfield free agents is the strongest its been in years. Here's 108 RS's rankings:
2. Corey Patterson; CF 8. Trot Nixon; RF
3. Aaron Rowand; CF 9. Milton Bradley; RF
4. Barry Bonds, LF 10. Brad Wilkerson; LF
5. Bobby Abreu; RF 11. Ryan Klesko; LF
6. Jermaine Dye; RF 12. Mike Cameron; CF
Ace: Carlos Zambrano
Middle Rotation: Curt Shilling, Jeff Weaver, Jason Jennings.
Back End Help: Eric Milton, Freddy Garcia, Josh Fogg
Long Shots: Matt Clement, Kris Benson, Bartolo Colon
Best Bets: Francisco Cordero, Mike Timlin, Scott Linebrink, Luis Vizcaino,
Bargain Bin: Kerry Wood, Antonio Alfonseca, Ray King, Mike Myers, Joe Kennedy.
As season's end is right around the corner, and the Yankees are making an interesting run at the playoffs, one can't ignore that nagging thought; what if A-Rod leaves New York? He has an out clause in his contract, in case the Rangers weren't going anywhere and "A-Rod" needed a change of scenery. Are the Yanks prepared to deal with life after Alex? What are their options if they need to find a replacement at the hot corner?
1. Wilson Betemit; The 26 year old switch hitter, acquired from the Dodgers in the Scott Proctor trade, might be the Yanks best insurance. The trade looks like a preeminent strike against sudden departure. He's a lifetime .265 hitter and has a little pop that would look to improve with the short porch in right field. Betemit can play first base, shortstop, and second, which makes him a more valuable player. If the Yanks hold onto A-Rod, he's a huge upgrade offensively over Miguel Cairo, although Cairo's leadership and clubhouse presence will be missed.
2. Andy Phillips; Probably a long shot, this homegrown Yankee has rode the Columbus/Scranton shuttle quite a bit. His most recent stint in pinstripes has been better than his previous, but his glove work at third is suspect. He's good on the other corner of the diamond, but a move to third would signal the Yanks having exhausted all other options.
3. Eric Duncan; Get on the Duncan Bandwagon! Shelley, Chris (Cardinals) and....Eric? No relation, but can the Yanks catch lighting in a bottle with another Duncan in the Bronx? It's still a little early for the New Jersey native, he's only batting .231/9HR/41RBIs in AAA Scranton. He does have that last name though....
4. Mike Lowell; In line for a nice paycheck after what's turning out to be a monster season for the BoSocker. Red Sox would be hard pressed to let him leave, especially if he were leaving for Pinstripes.
5. Geoff Blum; 34 year old Padre becomes a free agent at the end of the season. He's no A-Rod, but he is a CHEAP and short term solution to buy Duncan an extra year in the minors. The Yanks have a new stadium in the near future, and to trot out a lineup of home grown players on opening day (Jeter, Posada, Melkey, Cano, Duncan, Phillips, Hughes, Chamberlin, etc) would make the pinstripes proud.
Barry Bonds, don't get too comfortable holding onto your throne. The record is yours right now, but believe me, what happened last week should (and will) keep him up at night.
Jayson Tyner hit his first major league home run. And he's not stopping until he owns your "record".
Well, Jayson Tyner is probably one of the least likely candidates to surpass Bonds, once he retires. But here's a list of guys that will most likely (as Bonds has so eloquently put it) erase the Slugger from History Books.
1. A-Rod; No one has gotten to 500 hum dingers this quickly. Since this is one of the most obvious of choices, I'm not going to discuss much more.
2. Albert Pujols; Sweet swinging first-baseman has the ability to replicate his swing almost everytime he unloads on a pitch. Whether or not he can uncork on say, 600 more of them, might be another story.
3. Ken Griffey, Jr; Feel good story of the century. "The Kid" passes "The Juice". Griffey is too far gone, and has lost precious plate appearances to nagging injuries. Nothing would bring baseball out of its darkest period than Griffey trotting the bases...
4. Sammy Sosa; Just hit #600, but that'll be the end of the line for Slammin Sammy. He's lost playing time to a younger group of Rangers, and isn't upset by the benching.
Snowball's Chance in Philly:
5. Ryan Howard; if only! Sweet swinging lefty, who embodies (as of 3:01, August 13, 2007) all that is good in baseball. Too bad his major league debut came during his mid twenties, robbing him of valuable at bats that guys like Pujols, A-Rod, and Griffey all had. Howard spent too much time in the minors to be a considerable threat to break Bond's "record".
Time will tell:
6. Prince Fielder: 23 years old, powerful young lefty who hits the ball a ton. Is tops in the NL in Homeruns and is only in his second season. He could be a dark horse if he stays healthy and plays 20+ years.
- ► 2008 (191)
- Reason #27 Why Ozzie Guillen Rocks
- 108 Red Stitches Video of the Week
- Why the Lugnuts Failed to Make the Playoffs
- So You Think You Can Help My Team?
- How to Fix the Devil Rays
- Knights vs Cardinals
- Then and Now
- 108 Red Stitches Photo of the Week
- Free Agent All-Stars
- What if A-Rod Walks?
- Don't Look Now!
- New Home Run King
- ▼ August (12)