November 16, 2006

Link-O-Rama

  • The lack of attention given to Johan Santana picking up his second AL Cy Young Award yesterday says a lot about his greatness. At this point he's become so consistently extraordinary--whether on a start-to-start or year-to-year basis--that his excellence is almost taken for granted. Even on the single most Santana-obsessed website in the history of mankind, there's only so much you can say about exactly how great someone is without repeating yourself and stating the obvious.

    Once upon a time I devoted every other entry to Santana, yet I saw fit to spend just two paragraphs discussing him when handing out my season-ending awards, and most of that focused on the fact that he should have been going for a third straight award. Very few pitchers in baseball history have ever been as good as Santana since moving into the Twins' rotation, and as the driver of the bandwagon from Day 1, it's been spectacularly rewarding and fun to watch him become the world's best pitcher.

  • As if getting me to begrudgingly name him my choice for AL MVP wasn't enough excitement for one week, Derek Jeter is now reportedly dating AG.com Fantasy Girl Hall of Famer and native Minnesotan Jessica Biel. I have no words.
  • Continuing with that same theme, the New York Post reports that former Timberwolves point guard and alien look-a-like Sam Cassell is dating former MTV host Ananda Lewis. While perhaps upsetting on some level--though not nearly as much as the Jeter-Biel thing--this does give hope to all of us. Regardless of what you look like, you too can date a beautiful, quasi-celebrity woman if you merely start for one of two professional basketball teams in Los Angeles and make $7 million per year.
  • Joe Mauer spent an hour fielding questions in an ESPN.com chat session yesterday afternoon and, in true Mauer fashion, somehow managed to say almost nothing.
  • These pictures of San Diego ace Jake Peavy slamming Jagermeister straight from the bottle aren't exactly shocking or even noteworthy, but for some reason I found them amusing. I expect photos of Mauer sipping milk to surface any day now.
  • The Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, LaVelle E. Neal III, mentioned this rumor about Colorado pitcher Jason Jennings in yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune, but here's the original version of the report from the Rocky Mountain News:
    They have discussed the possibility of building a trade around right-hander Jason Jennings with several teams, the most interested of which appear to be Houston and Minnesota. ... With Minnesota, a package would include right-hander Jesse Crain, who grew up in Boulder, and a younger starting pitcher. Texas officials indicated they remain interested in Jennings but most likely will have to wait until the Rockies exhaust talks with the Astros and Twins.

    Jennings is a solid pitcher who seemingly could thrive if he buys into the Twins' focus on throwing strikes, but he's also a pending free agent who's set to make $5.5 million in 2007. Given that the Twins figure to have a tough time keeping him beyond next season due to his likely price tag, I question whether it's smart to give up Crain, along with a pitching prospect, for what would essentially be 30 starts from a well-paid middle-of-the-rotation starter.

    While Crain is somewhat expendable given the Twins' excellent bullpen depth, he's still a 25-year-old reliever with a mid-90s fastball and a 2.95 ERA in 183.1 big-league innings. Plus, he's not eligible for free agency until 2011. If the Twins are going to part with him--and it now seems likely that Crain or Juan Rincon will be leaving town via trade this offseason--I'd much rather see them target a young hitter or a starting pitcher who'll be around for a few years.

  • On a similar note, here's a far less detailed Twins rumor from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
    Arn Tellem, the agent for Randy Wolf, spent yesterday visiting with clubs at the meetings. He said that the Phils have shown serious interest in re-signing Wolf and that the lefthander is open to returning but first wants to gauge the market. A number of teams, including the Yankees, Twins and Blue Jays, have interest in Wolf.

    Randy Wolf hasn't been healthy since 2003 and is one year removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, yet seems to be a very popular mid-level pitching target for a number of teams looking for rotation depth on the free-agent market. Of course, the high level of interest from various teams means he's no longer really a "mid-level" option at all and will probably be well out of the Twins' price range. Given the contract he's reportedly looking for, it's probably for the best.

  • I can't really explain why, but this is by far the funniest thing I've seen this month. Also, the next time I'm featured in Sports Illustrated wearing a jersey, you can bet it'll be NED 3.
  • One of the many problems with penning columns filled with lame one-liners and schticky attempts at humor 99 percent of the time is that when you climb atop your soap box for a rare serious attempt at analysis, it just ends up looking silly. It's difficult to take Shecky Souhan seriously when he throws around words like coward, bully, sycophant, liar, enabler, and criminal to describe someone, when a few days earlier he devoted about 650 words of a 655-word column to Pee-Wee Herman references.

    There's a reason Carrot Top doesn't mix up his act by performing Shakespeare once a month.

  • The offseason is barely underway, but you can already cross one of the Twins' low-priced (or so I thought) designated-hitter options off the list: Wes Helms signed a two-year deal with the Phillies worth about $6 million. Apparently all the campaigning for Helms that took place in the comments section here over the past month bumped his price up.
  • Michael Cuddyer got married last weekend, with Matthew LeCroy serving as groomsman.
  • If Ken Harrelson gets into the Hall of Fame while Bert Blyleven continues to be snubbed, I may just start blogging about hockey or something.
  • Random Music Recommendation of the Week: James Morrison.
  • I can't quite decide whether this note about Francisco Liriano from the Elias Sports Bureau qualifies more as "interesting" or "depressing," but it's definitely something:
    Since the end of World War II, only one pitcher won 12 or more games as a rookie and did not pitch in the majors in the following year: Kerry Wood, who was 13-6 in 1998 but missed the 1999 season after undergoing elbow surgery.

    Liriano, of course, went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA as a rookie and will miss the entire 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this month.

  • If you haven't already, please make sure to check out my column about Daisuke Matsuzaka over at NBCSports.com.
  • It's that time again: The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 is available for pre-order. This year's annual contains the usual contributions from THT's staff of writers, along with guest pieces from ESPN.com's Rob Neyer, Deadspin's Will Leitch, SI.com's Jon Weisman, Baseball Analysts' Rich Lederer, and Braves Journal's Mac Thomason. It also features David Gassko's excellent article on the impact of Tommy John surgery, which I've referenced here several times already in relation to Liriano.

    I'm biased, having co-created THT several years ago with Matthew Namee, but I think it's safe to say that this year's edition will be among the best baseball books of 2007. I'm incredibly proud of the finished product, which gets better each year thanks in large part to the work of the book's editor, Dave Studemund. Because of my contract with NBCSports.com, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 will be my final act as co-owner and editor-in-chief of THT, and I couldn't be leaving on a higher note.


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