Here's to Books and Blizzards

book cover


The only thing Jane Leavy didn’t share about Mickey Mantle in her fine new book The Last Boy is where and when he made his deal with the devil; the one whereby he became the best-looking [white] ballplayer in America during the decade spanning the mid 50’s & 60’s, both on and off the field; the one that eventually cost him his dignity and family, plus tax. Or maybe the deal was struck by Mickey’s father deep inside an Oklahoma zinc mine and maybe Mutt didn’t drive a hard enough bargain.  Speaking of Mickey’s first coach, there is much more Oedipal fodder in this account of Mantle’s improbable life than just the hackneyed anecdote about the confrontation between father and son in a Kansas City hotel room when a demotion to the minors could have become a demotion to those Oklahoma mines.


I opened the book with a pre-existing fascination about Mantle. His stardom paralleled my boyhood and his agonizing demise at the end of life revealed some things about him that I related to. This is not to make a case for or against him versus any other ballplayer from any era. I am not a Mantle apologist. Nor did the book disillusion me, despite that it’s built around the author’s own disillusioning encounter with her childhood hero when she was assigned to interview him for the Washington Post in 1983. I’m too old for disillusionment. Instead my fascination was deepened. His extraordinary athletic prowess both obscured and excused what an otherwise uncoordinated person he was.


Laid bare are the childhood, career and afterlife of the man whose legacy runs a long, wide gamut from the tape measure home run to organ donation. Mantle is painted here as equal parts humble and boorish; a real, live Zeus who was saved from financial ruin but not himself by a nascent memorabilia craze that followed, not coincidentally, his folklorian playing days. He capitalized on celebrity despite that it confused him. He was always a ballplayer, even after he stopped playing ball, never having learned how to be anything else that could profit him.


Leavy earned commendation for the extraordinary depths of her research into, for instance, the mammoth and legendary home run at Griffith Stadium and a later one that rattled the pigeons’ perches at Yankee Stadium. So diligent and thorough was her excavation of Mantle’s ruins that I’m almost surprised she didn’t find her way to me for an account of how I got him to sign my ticket at a pro-am golf event in Iowa City in 1974. For a sportswriter Leavy is an accomplished archaeologist.


The title of the book is just right. Still, it occurred to me that Mickey Mantle would have fit as comfortably in the ranks of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys as he did in the juvenile sanctuary of the clubhouse. Only in dying did he ever grow up.


The Mick who emerges in Leavy’s portrait is someone who was to be pitied and then perhaps briefly admired, but rarely envied. His soul was as tortured as his once remarkable but finally dilapidated body.


When he was young and still enjoyed it himself I imagine Mantle would have been a choice drinking companion. In lieu of ever having that opportunity I’ll hoist this book, poured neat, as a toast to his tragicomic memory.


 

Return to Homepage

Comments

Can't wait to read.

Check out these Nike Heritage MLB Shirts, I think the Cubs one is suppose to be Buckner-

http://thebiglead.com/index.php/2011/02/03/ni...

here's the link to the Cub Heritage shirt

http://www.trendhunter.com/photos/101762/5

it does look like Buckner (hope they make a Jose Cardenal version)

Shouldn't they be HoF players, since they're called "Cooperstown Heritage"? It looked to me like Eck, though very few people would associate him wit the Cubs. I can't figure out who the Yankees guy is....

there's 3 Yankees, I get Reggie, Catfish and I think Goose is the third.

is the Twins one Bert? The commenters at Big Lead seem to think it's Johan.

If it is HOFers, I guess Randy Johnson will be in the HOF soon.

the only other Cubs I could think of would be Sutter or Williams, but it does look like Buckner the most.

I thought the Twins was this guy
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://im...

maybe, the hat is the old school Twins, but it did overlap a bit with Puckett's career. It shows they switched in '87.

and neat story of Nike ripping off the idea...I recall the Ron Washington shirt story from the playoffs.

Yeah these shirts are badass, really badass. So badass that when we made them during the Rangers playoff run we sold over 2,000 of the Ron Washington shirts in a week using this exact same concept. We started getting so much pub that not only the Rangers but MLB sent us ungrounded Cease and Desist letters to stop making them claiming we were infringing on the likeness of Ron Washington and he was filing suit. Even tho I had a shirt delivered to him and he liked it so much that he asked for more. However, since we obviously didn’t have the means to fight them in court we just relented took our profits and went about our lives. Also, during game one of the world series one of the guys who bought our shirt was in the front row in San Francisco and was shown multiple times on the MLB network. Now someone at Nike saw our shirt somewhere and obviously saw the potential in it and decided to expand this to the most famous players with recognizable hair and facial hair. Kinda sucks for us but really nothing we can do about it since its none of them are the exact images we used but just the concept. I guess its a compliment of sorts

I don't see player names listed for the shirts. Is Nike going to screw the players out of revenue from these?

probably

Actually I think your "likeness" is auto-copyrighted.

fascinating
http://www.sbnation.com/2011/2/3/1973171/year...

There are a number of possible explanations one could come up with for why offensive numbers were down league-wide last season, but Nick Scott over at Royals Authority might have stumbled upon the best. For some reason, no one else cared to mention the following rule change, put into effect before the year:

“Reduced maximum bat diameter to 2.61 inches. (Rule 1.10(a))”

In the 2009 rules, the bat was allowed to be a maximum of 2.75” in diameter.

------
like this line by Neyer on an article about Boras and Werth...

http://www.sbnation.com/2011/2/3/1973132/jays...


So, in addition to growing for the player’s performance, the brand in Washington is now a different brand. It is now an acknowledged brand. Their fans know it. Other players know it. And it provides a brand value to the franchise that did not exist prior to Jayson Werth signing.

Sometimes it’s disheartening to think about Boras wasting his talents as an agent, when he could instead be working for the State Department, convincing poor countries to sign distinctly unfavorable trade agreements that would make my sneakers cheaper.

The punchline makes no sense. If shoes cost too much, it's because the US applies tariffs to foreign imports, that's something we do to ourselves. Other countries want to sell us cheap shit.

I confess ignorance on the intricacies of trade agreements.

Still makes me laugh...

The Boras quote was pretty funny itself, but yeah, the trade department works to lower foreign tariffs and uses lowering taxes on imports as it's carrot: China, we will lower the tariffs on shoes and t-shirts, if you lower your own on computer chips and cotton. Produce and cars with Japan has been a good one over the years.

If Nike's cost too much it's because the greedy bastards that own the company are marking them up through the roof after 10 year olds get paid .05 per day to make them.

It wasn't too long ago the US actually manufactured things. Now we have a worldwide army of poor kids and adults being paid pennies to make expensive name brand clothes that keep rich fucks rich. It isn't to drive the price down, it's to boost the profit of the US corporations.

---------------------------

On a lighter note, the Cardinals have 11 days left to resign Pujols...
http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/profe...

thanks for the review Mike...

I just watched 61 again the other day, not sure how close the portrayal of Mickey is to the real life version, but still a damn enjoyable film.

I just read that Maris didn't receive a single IBB that entire '61 season. Unbelievable. And yes, that's quite a good movie.

BR seems to confirm

I counted 29 games where he played and didn't hit in front of Mantle, 11 of those in April where he struggled. The other 18 were in front of Berra, E. Howard, J. Blanchard, and T. Kubek. (probably missed a few)

Mantle didn't miss that many games at the end of the season as the movie makes it out to be. Played up to game 152 pretty regularly which is about the time they clinched, sat out 3 in a row, played 3, and sat out the last 4 and then played in 2 of the World Series games.

That was a good movie.

Kaplan/Mitchell in minor blurb in the Tribune that Hendry has Marmol close to signing a long term deal (but no terms in the report) with formal announcement before the Feb 13th P&C reporting date.

I'm not sure if an arb hearing date for them is set yet.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

Bruce Levine says February 15th for the arbitration hearing.

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

either way the cubs should win if it goes to arb with marmol...so that's a plus

marmol - $5.65m
cubs - $4.1m

he made $2.1m last year (first arb eligable year).

He also set the ML record for K's per inning last year.

From our evil "cousins to the North":

Fear the Kotsay!

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/115239...

1/800K

I remember Kotsay playing in the CWS - he sure was a beast. 2nd best college player I ever watched, after Todd Helton.

I never saw him in college. However, if I had to say one college guy that was the best I ever watched, it was Will Clark. However - only on TV of course. Those that saw him frequently at Miss. State, use plenty of superlatives in describing his play there.

Apparently he and Palmiero hated each other as the years went by in the Majors.

More BG on Will Clark, MSU:

http://www.mstateathletics.com/ViewArticle.db...

Palmeiro, who won a triple crown, was probably the better player in college, though Clark got more notoroiety. I guess Surhoff was considered the best college player of that time, but besides maybe a couple of Olympic games I never got to see any of them play.

Robin Ventura?

He was the next Olympics, but yeah, if you're naming a short list of all time great college hitters, he's on it, probably well ahead of the MS State duo.

Ty Griffin?

Pix taken by one of Santa's elves-

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?fbid=194587...

damn...

cards sign j.edmonds to a minor league deal. that would be one hell of a bench option even if his CF days are probably behind him.

a local sun-times article on Lou's new job...

... and help his ailing mother, 91-year-old Margaret. He was with her Wednesday in the hospital after she underwent a procedure and reported she is hanging in there....
Piniella will remain in Florida and do most of his work from his home base... He said he will scout American League teams in Florida during spring training and attend Rays games at Tropicana Field...“I’ll do it for a year, and we’ll see what happens,” Piniella said.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

Another person in the facility ... this is a significant attendance boost for the Rays.

per Carrie Muskat tweet, Cubs backing up the truck?

Cubs load up truck for Spring Training. Plus, some shots of Wrigley Field under 20 inches of snow.

http://atmlb.com/gp3ixG
----------
oops, packing...my bad.

good ol' Wriy Field...home of the Go Cubs.

http://www.cubworld.com/c=P18a2uQWGSvkuaV81yB...

I wonder if some kids with snowballs ko'd the "chica" on the marquee just to sing along on "go cubs'

...and the vandals took the handles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gYy5g1suhw

It's been that way since the press box roof section was blown off. If not longer.

Damaged by the storm? Or the Rickett's can't afford new light bulbs?

Or perhaps they need city approval to make repairs to it since it is one of the protected historic features of Wrigley.

i blame anti-hispanic gay racists who hate chicas...and the media.

The anti-hispanic gay racists who hate chicas are causing more trouble...

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/news/local...

that is some horrible can control...amongst other things.

new pitching coach Mark Riggins article in the Tribune/Dave van Dyck...Tough love approach to pitchers:

on Towel drills: "I saw that some of our minor leaguers like to do it, so I don't stop it, but I don't promote it," said Riggins... I'm not really a gimmick guy. They've pitched long enough and should know their bodies well enough that gimmicks aren't really needed at this level."

here's the part I like...

"The catchers are more important, to me, than the pitchers in getting done what I need done," said Riggins, 54. "I need a good relationship with the catchers.

"The catchers are the ones calling the signs and setting up (for location) and hopefully they're on the same page with the pitcher. The catcher has to know what he's doing. You have to have the right catcher out there or he will really mess up the pitcher."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

Daily Herald's Barry Rozner stumping for Dave Otto:

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110202/s...

newark bears hire jim "i got away with murder" leyritz as a coach.

i guess if MLB can suck the cocks of steroid/hgh users who cheated kids out of careers this isn't too bad, though.

when is MLB gonna retroactively give albert belle the 1995 MVP award stolen from him based on his attitude, let him in the HOF on the kirby puckett clause, and give him a coaching job, too?

when is MLB gonna retroactively give albert belle the 1995 MVP award...
---
when Jason Giambi gives his mvp trophy to Frank Thomas?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbKqTsQ3UIw

at least there's grey area there...mo shouldn't have won over albert in 95 when he only did better in SB's.

albert "angry black man" belle...what a piece of work...hell of a player, though.

I hate the Sox, but you gotta give the South Side fans props for their "Joe-y, Joe-y" heckling of Belle during his Cleveland salad days. Unlike most big leaguers, you could tell the heckling got under Belle's skin, too. I'm sure there were dozens of Ligue-wannabes hoping Joey would leap into the stands at Comiskular.

belle was easily a jackass. he hated that "joey" stuff because it marked an era of his life (heavily alcoholism) he was trying to leave behind...the "albert" change was part of moving-on-with-life thing.

he was probably one of the surliest guys in baseball who had the oldschool as hell "if you're playing against me, you're my enemy" vibe. he wasn't afraid to run straight though a player if he had the right-away and you got in his way on the base paths.

still...the guy put in 10 full seasons where he averaged 37 homers a year before his hips went south on him.

that 95 season he lead the league in runs, HR, doubles, RBI (tie), and slugging...while batting .317/.401

i honestly don't think he belongs in the HOF, btw...but i truly felt he was robbed in 95.

He drilled a Sox fan in the chest with baseball.

he drilled fernando vina in the chest and knocked him about 5ft, too.

vina thought twice about doing something about it, though...and didn't do anything.

He did it to him twice in the same game if I'm remember correctly.

Back when Milwaukee was in AL.

albert belle put the "ass" in class act.

-edit-

http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/sports/19...

...wish i could find a video, but MLB (unlike the film industry) is really f'n good at controlling their content on video streaming services.

I would consider one of those six packs if I didn't have season tickets. Not a bad deal. It's good to see them be a little more flexible, even though it is in response to declined demand.

hah.

We can finally rest easy, the game Ferris Bueller went to is figured out

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php...

skipping school on june 5th? i don't blame them.

My 25th birthday! Geez, that makes me feel old.

That seems like it would work from an on-field talent perspective (relative to one another and within the parameters of each team's construction), but trading an infielder with 3/48 left for an outfielder with 4/72 left is going to require some magic ... or a hell of a lot of Ricketts dollars.

Just to be clear, I do think Soriano is the better player talent-wise, but when considering the Cubs' depth chart and their relative contracts, I could see why this deal would be attractive to Chicago.

they're getting rid of young cuz they have no where to put him...they're looking to shed a bit of salary and pick up some prospects...or just shed more salary than that and get dregs.

they got a full slot of players everywhere in the lineup and they're still trying to pretend they can find moreland some ABs.

They also have injury-prone corner outfielders and a DH who should probably be a catcher or a 1B. Soriano easily gets 600 PAs with the Rangers in 2011 and would probably start 5-6 nights a week even when everyone is healthy. I don't think it's necessarily a roster management hinderance.

Besides, I can't name one team in baseball that will trade good prospects for Michael Young unless the Rangers keep writing checks (not happening).

The Cubs aren't on Young's list of teams he can be traded to without his permission. Is that an issue??

"Sources have confirmed the following are the eight teams on Michael Young's list of where he is willing to go.

Cardinals, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Rockies, Dodgers, Angels, Padres

The Rangers said right now they are dealing with just the eight teams on that list."

http://trsullivan.mlblogs.com/archives/2011/0...

Yeah, but who wouldn't want to be traded to the Cubs?

I can think of at least one guy: Michael Young

milton bradley?

Ryan Theriot

Ozzie Guillen.

My biggest problem with Soriano is the infrequency of his hot streaks.

Expert analysis brought to you by Ryno. You are welcome.

Well what I mean is when he's on fire, he becomes a one-man team. When he's off, you might as well bat him 9th. There is no middle ground.

Not sure Soriano can still turn it on. In 2007, he got hot in September, and between 9/3 and 9/22 (20 games) he hit twelve home runs.

Last year, he had one little streak where he hit five homers between April 30 and May 4, but outside of that, I only see one cluster of three in a week (late June).

rotoworld has redesigned their site featuring smaller round-style fonts which are hard to read.

brilliant.

why not just make the page load in flash and display flaming skull gifs while they're at it?

http://www.rotoworld.com/playernews/mlb/baseball

Ha

Jayson Stark grades the NL Central off seasons.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?c...

Bruce Levine chatting about Fukudome today:

He will make $13.5 million. Even if the Cubs eat half, most teams don't look at him as an everyday player. That's the reason you haven't seen any movement around him during the offseason. He doesn't hit for power, he doesn't have much speed and he's limited to being a corner outfielder.

Come on, Bruce, what are you, a Flintstone? Don't you know you're supposed to look at OBP first? He's a leadoff hitter!

David (Aurora,IL)
Do you See Blake Dewitt putting some big numbers this year?

Bruce Levine
(1:45 PM)
An interesting question. People forget he is still very young and could improve under Jaramillo. He's not a home run guy but he could be a 40-double player.

Well...............eh hem..........DeWitt said he started working with Jaramillo on his swing late in August and this is what happened:

His nice ( .284 .362 .401 .763 ) dropped to ( .261 .336 .373 .709) , so it's just as fair to say that Rudy could really screw him up.

im guessing .100 .110 .120 .230 in 650ab out of the leadoff slot while quade kicks dogs and makes prank calls to pinella's mom.

He doesn't hit for power, doesn't have much speed, and limited to the corner OF spot.....Well other than THAT what's wrong with him?

Cubs to broadcast most of their spring training games.

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110208/s...

Thanks for the link.

Eight games televised; two on WGN. I don't know about listening to a radio broadcast of a spring training game. I mean what's the point?

You've got to be hard core for that - they're pretty boring. Even the announcers are disinterested.

Disagree. You hear names you don't normally hear and it's just generally more laid back. I'll be listening just to hear if there's any chemistry at all early between hughes and ...?

Bruce Levine's 2/8 weekly chat

http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chicago/chat/...

Another version of the Soriano for Young trade by a commenter:

silverandblack4life375 (Today at 6:13 AM) Report Violation
Bruce, I know there has been a lot of talk about just about every team and Michael Young. My proposal, and I think it makes a lot of sense for both teams, is Soriano straight up for Michael Young. We shave an entire year off of our payroll, as well as 2M per for the 3 years. The Cubs get a very formidable 2nd baseman that could potentially move to 1b after this season if Pena bolts/we have one of our many prospects knocking on the door finally beat it down for 2b. The Rangers want to move Young, but they are using the fact they have no one good enough to DH if Young leaves. Well, Soriano is still a force with the bat. Granted, not the same he used to be, but the man can still rake when healthy. Maybe going back to Texas in the warm weather, he can find his stroke again. This would open up LF for the Cubs to sign a Podsednik for one year, or Fukudome could move back into RF with Colvin moving over to RF. Then when the year is over and Fukudome walks, there is a spot open for a slugging outfielder, or an open spot to slide Byrd over and let B Jackson roam CF. Baker would go to utility, and depending on options, Dewitt could go to AAA. I feel like it just makes a lot of sense for both teams and that it won't happen because it could make WAY too much sense. What are your thoughts?

My thoughts are that you shouldn't have first basemen that bat right handed and have an OPS+ of 105 and if you are foolish enough to do both those things, for God's sake don't pay him $16 million.

Also replacing Fukudome's bat with Jackson isn't going to help the offense too much in 2012.

I agree with you that Young playing 1b isn't the smartest idea in the world, but I think it is definitely preferable to playing Soriano at 1b, which is probably where he is headed in the upcoming years. Sure, Soriano will outslug Young, but Young hits for better average, has better plate discipline, and would field the position far better than Soriano could. I agree that maybe we won't have an improvement with the offense replacing Fukudome with Jackson, but I don't necessarily believe that there will be much of a downgrade either. Fukudome has great discipline at the plate, but so does Jackson. Fukudome doesn't really do much with his legs and I believe Jackson has an advantage there as well. On the power end of things, Jackson, at this point in his young career, probably already has as much power as Kosuke and still is projected to increase that part of his game. The only real area that I could see downgraded from Kosuke to BJax would be in the contact department, but if Brett is spraying 2bs all around the field and taking walks, I believe that we as fans can live with the K's. I guess this is just my opinion, but this trade could make a lot of sense

I forgot to add this part, and Brett Jackson costs the league minimum.

I am not sure of your assessment of fielding between Soriano and Young at 1st base. They're both bad infielders, you can't conclusively say that Young would be better than Soriano at first.

There are four spots generally considered to be "sluggers" positions in baseball. 1B,LF,RF,3B. The Cubs aren't going anywhere in 2012 filling in those four slots with Young,Byrd,Colvin and Vitters, regardless of how much they get paid.

Well, I'm not 100% sure of this, but isn't Young's defensive invalue(only using this because a better word for this is currently slipping my mind) found in his range? I don't think I've ever really heard the term "stone-hands" used much with Young, when that is essentially the only thing anyone ever associated with Soriano. If indeed the range factor is the only problem, that would be minimized by being at first base. I fully admit that I don't know his error totals or what the scouting report says about his hands, but I know that in the past people have complained of his UZR in the negatives rather than mentioning his error totals so I've just been going off of that.

I'm definitely with you on the slugger positions and we would definitely be going nowhere if that was our lineup. I will say that even a mix of Soriano/whoever they sign to play 1b, Sori/Byrd, Colvin, Vitters (or another young guy..Flaherty, Lemaeuhu(sp), etc)/keep Ramirez really isn't that intimidating either. The Cubs have some serious holes in their lineup, no matter what happens (unless they sign Pujols to play 1b in 2012, in which case I reserve the right to not be kicked when I'm wrong). They either need some huge steps forward from some young guys to fill the holes, Vitters, Flaherty, MSmith, etc., or they need to make a few really solid signings/trades. Either way, looks bleak

If I had to project the Cubs 2012 opening lineup right now it would be:

Jackson (CF)
Castro (SS)
Fielder (1B)
Soto (C)
Colvin (RF)
Soriano (LF)
Vitters (3B)
DeWiit (2B)

There's some function of Vitter's and Ramirez's sucess in 2010 that would play into that (as well as the other young guys). If Ramirez is gone, then the Cubs will have more money for a bopper at first, though him being back wouldn't preclude it. It's not a certaintity that the Cubs will get one of the 2 or 3 big name first basement FA's, but it's a heckuva lot more likely if they haven't blocked the spot with Young, who frankly doesn't hit well enough to play 1st base.

Fielder (1B)

Oh God, I hope not. I believe he won't age well. See Mo Vaughan.

Well...Fielder may not age well.....but he's only 27 after the 2011 season. So he couldn't be worth a 3-5 year deal? There's nothing set in stone that they would have to sign him to an 8 year deal. Vaughn played pretty damn well through age 32.

Eh....I don't think the Cubs would sign him anyway...

lot of weight on a small frame.

Something in his legs are going to give.

I'm skeptical that Soriano is tradeable.

Michael Young is tradeable. Here is an example of a team showing interest in him in a very recent account:

The now very public rift couldn't have helped the Rangers' bargaining position, and now potential trade partners are bailing out seemingly on an hourly basis. The Rockies are the most prominent team on that list, as the Denver Post reported Tuesday night that Colorado has pulled out of its pursuit of Young because of the high price the Rangers are requesting in return for the 34-year-old with $48 million remaining on his contract.

When has there been a story linking Soriano (or Fukudome) to any possible trading partner?

Most contracts are tradeable, and Ricketts must be wondering why the Cubs are holding two of the toxic kind. I guess Hendry has been able to shift some of the fault to McDonough and Gary Hughes. Hendry did get permission to spend $10 million on a free agent this offseason, but since it's for one season, tradeability is not an issue.

Fans who covet Pujols or Fielder are overlooking how annoyed Ricketts must be about the Soriano/Fuku/Bradley contracts. If I were Tom Ricketts, I would wake up every morning with the same thought: "$18 million for that mutt!"

If you're waking up every morning and comparing Fukudome, Bradley and Soriano to Pujols, you probably need a few more hours in detox.

Lol.

I doubt that Ricketts thinks about Pujols at all, since the Cardinals have many months, not one week, to discourage Pujols from becoming a free agent.

I doubt that Ricketts is interested in any high-priced free agents long term, but there a couple of red flags with Fielder, his weight and his dugout/clubhouse demeanor. He's fat already. How much fatter will he be when he's rich?

1.) Every owner in MLB is thinking about Pujols being a free agent.

2.) I am going to take Pujols' and his agent's word over yours, if you don't mind.

3.) You can really tell how the Milwaukee clubhouse despised fielder when they did the bowling pin thing. He is, fat, however.

I'm not sure Soriano is untradable. I said this above, but he might openly welcome a move to the AL where he can DH and still play everyday. If the Rangers are serious about moving Young, they will have to look at salary exchange types of deal, unless the want to kick in a HELL of a lot of money.

Soriano and Fukudome haven't been linked anywhere, this is pure speculation.

Niether of those guys is getting traded without a bad contract or a lot of cash being involved... unless the Angels think one of them can play third I guess.

I would say Marlon Byrd, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, and Rafael Dolis for Michael Young and Chris Davis might be a possibility.

The Rangers were supposedly going to get Dolis and Robinson Chirinos from the Cubs (with the Cubs acquiring C. Davis) if something had been done pre-Garza deal, and Byrd and Wells will have probably been traded by this time next year anyway (Byrd to make room for Brett Jackson in CF, and Wells because he will be first-time arbitration-eligible post-2011 and because the Cubs should have other in-house SP options).

Byrd ($5.5M), Silva ($6M), and Wells (likely about $500K) will be making a combined $12M in 2011, plus Byrd gets $6.5M in 2012 and Silva will get a $2M club buy-out post-2011, while Young gets $13M each season in 2011-12-13 (plus another $9M deferred to the end of the contract that the Rangers will have to pay), so making this trade would cost the Cubs just $1M in additional payroll in 2011, $4M in additional payroll in 2012 (when Fukudome, Grabow, Wood, Pena, and Samardzija, and possibly Ramirez and/or Dempster will come off the books), and $13M additional in 2013 (when Zambrano, Dempster, and Ramirez definitely come off the books).

So the Cubs could afford to add Young, while the Rangers would get back a useful position player (Byrd) signed through 2012 who is making half of what Young is making during that same period and who had previously had success in Texas, a SP (Wells), a pitching prospect (Dolis), and a big question mark (Silva). It would just be a matter of Young waiving his "no trade" rights, with the possibility of working with Rudy Jaramillo a possible motivation to do so (presuming Rudy & Young got along OK in Texas).

If the Cubs were to acquire Young in such a deal, he would play 2B and hit 3rd in the order in 2011 (replacing Byrd in the batting order and DeWitt/Baker in the field), and then he could be moved to 3B if Ramirez leaves post-2011 or post-2012 (that's if Vitters does not develop as hoped), or he could just remain at 2B through 2013.

Trading Byrd now would only mean that Colvin would play CF and Fukudome would play RF in 2011 (or at least until Brett Jackson is ready), and then Colvin would move to RF in 2012 (or sooner if B. Jackson pushes his way into Wrigley Field sometime in 2011). Wells and Silva would be immediately replaced in the starting rotation by Casey Coleman and either Wellemeyer, Looper, Diamond, Samardzija, Russell, J. Jackson, or Carpenter, with Trey McNutt perhaps ready to contend for a spot by 2012 (if not sooner).

Meanwhile, Chris Davis could play 1B at Iowa in 2011, and if he can finally get it together, he could possibly get slotted as the Cubs 1B in 2012 (presuming the Cubs are unable to sign Fielder or Pujols).

Yuck.

I like your deal Phil, other than including both Wells and Dolis, that's too much. One or the other.

I'm actually the one who suggested that. On both sides of the coin, I think it could make a lot of sense. At this point in Soriano's career, he won't be able to play the outfield much longer, as his legs are "starting" (and I use the word starting very loosely) to break down. He might openly accept an opportunity to go to the AL where he can DH most days and play some corner outfield on occasion. For the Cubs, they get a good average player who could potentially hit in the 2-6 holes while being a good leader. He makes good contact and if you replace Soriano in the OF with a good leadoff man like Pods, Young is a good guy to move him around. I agree that suggesting Young should move to 1b at some point doesn't make a ton of sense, but Soriano was quickly playing himself out of the OF and the only place for him to move would be 1b and that would be a complete disaster on the defensive side of things so I'd actually prefer Young to Sori there as well.

You lost me here:

Pods

The guy is done, but more importantly, he never really was that good. Lifetime .340 OBP does not a good leadoff guy make. Combine that with a career caught stealing rate of 25%, and a really crappy glove, and no thanks.

Fernando Perez could probably get on base just as well, run better and field considerably better, for 1/5 the cost.

I just mean a guy like Pods. It wouldn't have to be him exclusively. A guy like Perez would be just fine with me, but Scotty Pods has always been well regarded as a guy that could take a walk as well wreak some havoc on the base paths. I only floated Pods because it was a name that was mentioned in Levine's last chat

Is there a market in MLB for a player who can't play any position, who used to be a base stealer but no longer runs, who used to be a power hitter but fell short of 25 HR the last two seasons, and requires a salary of $72 million over the next four years up through his league-age 38 season?

If there is, somebody should give the good news to the agents of Jason Dubois and Jake Fox. Quick, call Hoffpauir before he gets on a plane to Japan.

You should try to look at a Soriano trade from the point of view of the team that would be getting him, not from the Cubs' point of view. Of course the Cubs would rather have Michael Young.

Is there a market in MLB for a player who can't play any position, who used to be a base stealer but no longer runs, who used to be a power hitter but fell short of 25 HR the last two seasons

You seem to think there is - read post 84. Over the last four years, Young has cost his team 28 runs defensively (according to Fan Graphs, ie UZR). Soriano has saved the Cubs 50.8 runs (at an easier position) over the same time.

Soriano can't go back for balls, can't come in for balls, and often can't catch them when they're right at him.

I don't know what UZR is looking at other than Soriano's outfield assists, but those are a thing of the past, just like his stolen bases. He had 19 assists in 2007, but only 23 in the three years since then, and the number declines every year.

Fans who watch the Cubs know that Soriano, aside from having a poor glove hand, is terrified of the wall, so that he gives up immediately on balls hit over him and plays the carom. Tell me how UZR or any other defensive stat captures that fear.

I think it's doable, but you would have to know how long any given ball is in the air. If it's in the air a certain length of time, and it lands in the playing field or not too high on the wall, it's catchable. Let me know if you come across a statistical scheme that looks at this. (Seriously.) Soriano gives up on numerous catchable balls, knowing that they never become errors.

Young, meanwhile, was a gold-glove shortstop in 2008, which suggests that he can play a pretty fair third or second for a few years after that. He hits about as many home runs nowadays as Soriano, has a higher BA and OBP and a similar OPS, etc. But the fact that he is competent at two defensive positions, and can play short in a pinch, makes him marketable.

I'm not an observer of the American League at all, so I speak under correction here, but I've long doubted that there's a "DH type," a slugger with absolutely no defensive or baserunning versatility, who fits seamlessly onto AL rosters. Correct me if I'm wrong. (One example or two examples does not settle the question.)

Besides, Soriano is not much of a slugger any more.

Michael Young is comparable defensively to Mark DeRosa, but he is a better hitter with more power.

Young was a solid defensive 2B when he played there, and that is his best position. Then he was moved to SS from 2B (which is backwards from the way it usually goes) so that Alfonso Soriano could play 2B, and he played SS for five seasons. I don't see him playing SS anymore (except in a pinch), but nobody would get him to be their everyday SS at this point anyway, but when he played SS he made the routine plays, and had an adequate arm for the position. He also had decent range.

Then Young was moved to 3B from SS in 2009 to open up SS for Elvis Andrus (who had better range and a stronger arm). Young struggled to adjust to 3B, and that's why the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre. Young can play 3B, it's just that he is a below-average defender there, and so he needs to hit a ton to justify playing him there.

2B is Young's best defensive position. If Texas didn't have Ian Kinsler at 2B, they would have just moved Young back there, but Kinsler is five years younger than Young and he's more-athletic, although he is limited to 2B because of a below-average arm.

Michael Young would be an immediate upgrade for the Cubs at 2B and an immediate upgrade over Marlon Byrd in the batting order, while also opening up CF for Tyler Colvin in 2011 (and then eventually Brett Jackson, with Colvin moving to RF).

"Tell me how UZR or any other defensive stat captures that fear."

You have two outfielders. One catches a ball near the wall. Another ball is hit to the same approximate location with the same approximate speed, and the 2nd outfielder doesn't catch the ball. The first outfielder is awarded credit for the play, and the second outfielder isn't. It has a lot of flaws. What it doesn't do, however, is take one bad play and remember it, and extrapolate it well beyond it's impact on the game.

If you surveyed Cubs fans and asked how often Soriano blows a play hit towards the wall, that most outfielders would make, they would probably say about once a game. If you actually watch the games, it's probably more like once a week.

Soriano is very good at moving laterally, and very good at coming in on balls, though he plays a bit deep to avoid slamming into the wall. Because you see him struggle with balls hit directly over his head, you want to deny the other aspects of fielding that he does, or has done well. It's an association fallacy. One or two years, yeah, you can say that he got lucky, but not over the course of four years.

The Golden Glove has little or no bearing on how well you play defense. The fact that the Rangers in three years pushed Young down the defensive spectrum all from #1 or #2 most important defensive position to #10, pretty much is all you need to know about his defense. It's bad. Aramis Ramirez is a pretty good comparison.

"One or two years, yeah, you can say that he got lucky, but not over the course of four years."

He hasn't done anything over the course of 4 years.

Fan Graphs Data
2007-2008-2009-2010

Range Runs: 19.2, 12.3, 4.3, 6.8
UZR: 32.8, 15.9, -3.1, 5.2
UZR/150: 37.8, 25.5, -5.2, 6.3

From 2007-2008, UZR rates him as the best outfielder defensively in baseball by a wide margin (UZR/150 of 32.9 to Andruw Jones' 18.6 in second). From 2009-2010, he was the 27th best outfielder defensively (with a UZR/150 of 1.1, effectively average).

UZR is notoriously flaky as hell, imo.

that said, soriano is a flaky as hell LF'r. he used to be able to keep people on 1st from taking 2nd, but the past couple years runners have been going on him.

he used to be able to field like crap and depend on his awesome arm to hold runners. now when he does stupid crap like "the hop" or catching a ball in no position of forward momentum, the runners just go.

if he'd just field the damn ball in a position where he's ready to use his momentum to throw back into the infield he wouldn't be in such bad shape...fielding theatrics aside.

"He hasn't done anything over the course of 4 years."

Add the numbers up. Then think way back to 2009 and see if you can come up with any reason that Soriano may not have been as good at catching baseballs that year.

"Aramis Ramirez is a pretty good comparison."

young wishes he could field and throw on the run like aram...he might be more valuable.

UZR says casey blake is a decent 3rd baseman and david wright shouldn't even dream of playing there.

And Aramis wishes that he could get balls two steps to his left, but overall, they're below average third basemen.

Defense is probably the most important part of the game, besides maybe pitching... and no stat can accurately quantify it. That's why I prefer the old school analysis of just sizing the guy up by gut feeling.

...and cup size.

And you prefer using your own hands to do the sizing.

"the Rangers in three years pushed Young down the defensive spectrum," etc.

You can say that he was demoted, pushed down, that he failed at this position or that position; but it's not necessary to go that far. Why not simply say that they got their hands on players at the three positions--second, short and third--that they liked better? You can indulge your tastes like that if your aging high-priced veterans are tradeable, like Young appears to be, since Texas and Colorado seem to have been disagreeing about players sought in exchange for Young, not about his salary.

Which brings us back around to where we started: it's a tremendous failure on the part of the Cubs that Soriano and Fukudome are untradeable.

There was someone the other week who was saying that the player who arrvies first (Castro and Lee was the discussion) would get to keep his position. Three guesses at who that person was. Oh wait a second, you just said it again. Why does Castro own a possession, but the guy with the $14 million contract, the batting title and the gold glove does not?

(Thanks for paying attention, anyway.)

It's a fair question, and I didn't have an answer until you asked it and I started looking at Young's background. Then the answer was obvious.

Young was not a full-time shortstop until he was 27. Even in the minors, he played twice as much second base as short. It's clear that in the Rangers' mind, he did not project as a shortstop.

Young made the majors at 24, in 2001. He played zero games at short in that year, 18 in the next two. Then at 27, he moved to short.

Maybe they had a second baseman and needed a shortstop, so he was a stopgap who became a perennial all star beginning in '07. Whatever the reason for the move, he wasn't enough of a shortstop to plant a flag there.

Jeter became SS at 22, won 5 World Series, etc. Castro became SS at 20 and I think will become a star. If he fills out and hits for power (which Jeter never did), he could move to third while he is still in his 20's, but not soon enough to have done Lee any good.

My point about Castro was that even a young player who is completely under club control has some leverage, since he can threaten to scram at the first opportunity. Castro doesn't have that leverage yet, but he may in a year or two. But he won't have much leverage when he gets to be Young's age.

Jeter is a special case and I probably shouldn't have compared Castro to him. I also may have made too much of Young's GG.

Michael Young was moved from 2B to SS (which is backwards from the way the move usually goes) in 2004 to make room for Alfonso Soriano at 2B, and then Young remained at SS even after Soriano was traded because Ian Kinsler came up and took over 2B. Then Young was moved from SS to 3B in 2009 to make room for Elvis Andrus at SS. In each case, Young was asked to make the move for the good of the team, and he agreed, even though he was a better second-baseman than a shortstop, and a better shortstop than a third-baseman.

Young was a solid defensive second-baseman and he did a good job at shortstop, too, after he was moved there. He was not a good defensive third-baseman, however. Given the way the Rangers roster is structured at this time, Young is unable to play his best defensive position (2B) or his seceond-best defensive position (SS). Because he made the moves to SS and then later to 3B to accomodate the team , it's no wonder he felt betrayed when the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to play 3B, even though it is fairly obvious that Beltre is the better defensive third-baseman.

As far as Young winning the Gold Glove at SS in 2008, he might not have been the best defensive shortstop in the A. L. that year, but he wouldn't have won the award if he was a butcher in the field, either. At the very least he was able to make all of the routine plays required to play the position.

Young, meanwhile, was a gold-glove shortstop in 2008, which suggests that he can play a pretty fair third or second for a few years after that.

Haha! I am guessing that you also think that, due to Jeter's gold gloves, that he is a good defensive player.

All I said was, if you can play shortstop, you can play third and second, two significant infield positions. If you can hit, that makes you a two-way player and probably worth what you're getting paid. Shortstop is the gold standard for infielders.

As for Jeter, I don't find it that interesting that the statistical fraternity has found flaws in his defense. For the time being, he owns that position on the Yankees, which he has earned. The manager isn't going to mess with that, whether he pores over defensive statistics or not.

It's like saying Hak-Ju Lee would have pushed Castro over to second. Not if, as is likely, two years from now Castro will own the position.

single game tix go on sale on santo's b-day...his statue dedication game is included in one of the 6 packs that go on sale tomorrow...

Bruce Levine reporting Cubs will be going after him next year

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2011/02/...

Cabrera?

This article is about the Sox signing Orlanda Cabrera. I'm confused...

Sox? Now I'm REALLY confused.

Sorry for the way too inside joke.

Levine has had Cabrera on the Cubs the last 3 times he was FA.

Sorry for the reach.

Cubs TV exposure national (FOX, ESPN) and local coverage (WGN, CSN, WCIU and CSN+)...

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2011/02/...

neat.

Samardzija told Waddle and Silvy today that the Cubs don't see him as a starter. He'll be competing for a spot in the pen.

Good.

"He'll be competing for a spot in the pen."... In Rochester?

BWAAHAAA!!

Ok..that was good TRN....

So, if Samardzija is saying that, it must have been made clear to him. Does that mean I can wipe him from my list of major concerns about this team? Whew!

elijah dukes is still batshit insane...

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2011/feb/11/11145...

ps- QUIT SNITCHING

"He says he was blackballed by baseball after he came forward last year with allegations that fellow ball players were smuggling drugs onto chartered aircraft, using drugs in hotel rooms after flights and how he would sometimes smoke marijuana before home games when he played for the Washington Nationals."

he might be surprised to learn this happens on 29 other teams and has been since half past forever...well, not the smoking before games part...that's just stupid.

Smoking before games probably isn't a bad idea if you are a DH. As long as you have a place to reload between at bats. I wouldn't be surprised if David Ortiz does.

bill lee approves.

Anyone want to help out Ryan Dempster?

http://chicagobreakingbusiness.com/2011/02/ry...

how many f'n physicals does marmol have to take anyway?

if this drags into monday...well, wtf?

Article about how MLB may have to open their books because of the Mets/Madoff case.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Investigat...

Blurb about revenue sharing:

Under baseball’s revenue-sharing system, which began in 1997, teams with net local revenues below the league average receive money from the wealthier clubs. One baseball executive said 19 clubs received revenue-sharing proceeds last year.

Charlie Sheen and Milton Bradley address UCLA baseball team-

http://www.lvrj.com/sports/do-as-he-says-not-...

"don't do crack"

Got it.

X
  • Sign in with Twitter