As we head into the weekend, what do we see over the past couple of days?
The Rose Bowl is set. Oregon (who beat Oregon St. in what basically was the Pac-10 title game) vs. Ohio St.
The Phils got a 3B. 34 year old Placido Polanco is going back to Philly, where he spent part of 2002, all of 2003 and 2004 and part of 2005. He hit .285-10-72 for the Tigers last year, OPS+88. Gold Glove at 2B (which he also won in 2007). The Phils will move him from 2B to 3B. Earlier, the Phils didn’t renew the contract of Pedro Feliz, their 3B from this year. Polanco is a .303 career hitter, OPS+98, who doesn’t strike out much (43 per 162 g. average) but doesn’t walk much either (35 per 162). His 162 g. average is .303-10-64. I hear talk of him in the #2 spot behind Rollins with Victorino dropping down. I think that may be a mistake. Maybe the Phils should bat Victorino (.292-10-62/.358 OBA/.445 SA/OPS+ 109/25 SB) leadoff and move Rollins (.250-21-77/.296 OBP/.423 SA/OPS+ 86/31 SB) down. Keep the better OBP in front of Utley and Howard and drop the better slugger down. Polanco at 2? .285-10-72/.331 OBP/.396 SA; doesn’t have the steals, but… The Phils could go Victorino (S)/Polanco (R)/Utley (L)/Howard (L)/Werth (R)/Ibanez (L)/Rollins (S)/Diaz (R)/pitcher. They have Brian Schneider (L; 2009 Mets .218-3-24 in 59 games, OPS+67) to backup Diaz (R; .255-9-43 in 107 games OPS+ 104).
The Braves signed Billy Wagner. The 38 year old missed most of 2009 due to TJ surgery which ended his 2008 season. In 2008 for the Mets, Wags went 0-1, 2.30 with 27 saves before the injury. Last year, in 17 games, just 15 2/3 IP (Mets and Red Sox), Wagner was 1-1, 1.72. He has 385 saves in his MLB career with a 2.39 ERA.
Not to be outdone, and getting someone OLDER to share the closer’s spot with Wagner, the Braves also signed Takashi Saito off of Boston. Saito will be 40 next Valentine’s Day. He was 3-3, 2.43 for the Red Sox this past year. In his short MLB career (he didn’t come over from Japan until he was 36 in 2006) he is 15-10, 2.05. He spent 2006-2008 with the Dodgers before going to Boston.
Apparently the Braves felt that they would lose both Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano. I am reading a lot about how the Yanks are very interested in Soriano, who was 1-6, 2.97, 27 saves for the Braves in 2009. 102 K in 75 2/3. They see his power arm as setting up RIvera (with, conceivably, both Joba and Hughes possibly in the rotation—especially if Pettitte retires). Soriano is 8-18 in his MLB career, but with an ERA of 2.92 and a 9.9K/9IP ratio. The soon-to-be 30 year old did have injury issues for Seattle in 2004-2005 and with the Braves in 2008. He is a righty. Interesting that (with Robertson, Melancon, as well as Hughes, Aceves and Joba) that the Yanks’ interest is in Soriano, when you might think it would lie more with the lefty Gonzalez, being that the Yanks’ lefties are Marte and Coke. I wonder, after his excellent postseason, how much stock the Yanks have in Marte, who is still signed for two more years at a nice piece of change.
In a recent column, Joel Sherman lists alternatives if the Yanks can’t bring back Damon. He is not thinking Bay or Holliday but cheaper—Cameron, Winn, bring back Nady, Ankiel, Juan Rivera. One name he floats is someone I liked a few years ago. Before signing Damon (something I didn’t see coming, an ultimate Red Sox “idiot” coming to the Bronx), I advocated two people for CF as Bernie’s successor. One was Victorino, then in the Phils minor league system. The other is someone Sherman puts out as one of the names (not mentioned above)—David DeJesus. DeJesus hit .281-13-71 OPS+106 in KC and maybe Yankee Stadium could suit his lefty swing a bit better. A local lad from Brooklyn, he will be 30 in a few weeks. $3.6M, mostly LF but CF in the past and you know how I feel about CF playing LF in Yankee Stadium (basically that with the 399 to LCF, you need to CFs out there, with the weaker one in LF. Damon, a former CF, fit that bill this year like Chad Curtis did in 1998-1999). Sherman says $4.7M for DeJesus in KC in 2010. Not the power of Matsui or Damon, but not bad production for the price (and we know the price of Matsui and Damon was $13M each in 2009).
George King floats that if Damon is lost at #2, that Chone Figgins could play LF and leadoff (dropping Jeter back to #2). Figgins could play 3B on days where A-Rod DH’s. Interesting. Figgins also matches that “CF actually in LF” mode. Should that ever come to be and you had say, Figgins leading off with Jeter second and say, it’s a game where Brett Gardner is in CF batting 9th…the other team’s catcher could be going nuts. Do I see Figgins in NY? No, but just riding King’s thought a little here.
Update:I see that Figgins is going to Seattle. Interesting in how he has been such a pain in the ass to Yankee fans while with the Angels. I have to e-mail “Uncle Joe” Colarusso from YFCR. You know how much he hates the Angels. Does this mean the Angels will be less of a thorn in the Yankees side? Seattle would then have Figgins and Ichiro as leadoff guys. King Felix will like that. But how much (if anything) does Junior have left at 40? Will Beltre return?
Seattle is also apparently heavily after Jason Bay. It looks like they may be big players this offseason.
Marco Scutaro to Boston to be their next SS. I saw rumors of the mighty mite, Pedroia going to SS. Just rumors, it appears. Scutaro was .282-12-60 for Toronto last year. OPS+111, the only year the 34 year old has been over 100 OPS+ in his career. 162 g. average, .265-10-57, OPS+ 92. It seems like a nice, but not earth-shattering pickup.
I watched the WS DVD. Nice to be reminded (in Games 3 and 4) of how close JD may have been from winning the WS MVP himself—and not Matsui. He did so much in both of those games, and not just the double-steal.
Also, it was interesting to see the one hit that Utley had that wasn’t a HR. Utley had six hits in the Series, five of them homers (tying Reggie Jackson for the most in a WS). Do you know what that sixth hit was? It was a double hitting high off the RF wall, where the Phils have that two feet of Plexiglass or whatever the heck it is. So, for three feet or so, Utley may have had the record to himself and could have had six HR in one WS.
Also nice to be reminded on the DVD of Lee being the first to have 10K/0 BB in a WS game since Deacon Phillippe in the very first WS game in 1903; Andy’s 18 postseason wins; Rivera’s 0.74 postseason ERA (WS ERA 0.99); and the quartet (Core Four as also known) each with five WS rings—most by teammates since 1962, when Yogi got #10, Mickey #7 and Whitey #6.
One tidbit on the DVD that will make you smile is the piece in which Jeter mentions Pettitte always talking about his hitting and now with the hit and WS RBI Jeter will have to hear Pettitte talk about it at Old Timers’ Days 30 years from now. Funny…and cute.
Did you see the photo of a guy on a plane who was so obese he was taking up one seat and half the aisle? C’mon buddy, lose the weight. Not to be cruel, but a huge safety and security issue. I mean this guy was so huge that getting out the emergency exit would be a struggle! Check out the photo for yourself.
I hope the passengers didn’t have to use the bathroom.
Speaking of fat guys, I guess you saw that Mangino resigned (or was forced to) from Kansas based on how he was supposedly treating and abusing players. If those allegations are accurate, Kansas had no choice.
The Post states that besides Aroldis Chapman, that the Yanks are also looking at another heat-throwing Cuban defector—Israel Soto.
Got to love the Tiger jokes in the Post today…cruel, but good…hey, he has no one to blame but himself.
Thanks to Mike F. for sending along the SI write-up on Sportsman of the Year Jeter. As Jason wrote, good piece in there of Jeter ripping Witasick after Game 6 of the 2001 WS (a game in which Witasick was pathetic but seemed to “shrug it off.”). Funny how each of the four outs Witasick got were K’s…but he also gave up 9R, 8ER, 10 hits in that 1 1/3 IP. In the article, Posada remarks that it was as mad as he ever saw Jeter get. I wish I was a fly on the wall to hear Jeter tell Witasick off. Witasick’s 2002 WS appearance (for SF) wasn’t any better…
If you didn’t like Skip Caray on TBS you are in luck. He isn’t there anymore. TBS let him go.