My initial plan for Halloween was to go as a fat baseball writer who doesn't like to leave the house, but that seems awfully ambitious and this costume may be even better in a "you are what you eat" way.
What are the chances of a blond Philadelphia woman getting arrested for attempting to trade sex for World Series tickets and her not being Sweet Dee Reynolds? Which brings me to this amazing scene from last week's Phillies-themed episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
Say what you will about Mac's love letter to Chase Utley, but at least he has good taste.
In addition to letting Steve Phillips go, ESPN has now also fired the 22-year-old production assistant with whom he had an affair. Meanwhile, agent Steve Lefkowitzrevealed that Phillips entered rehab for sex addiction in an effort "to save his marriage."
HBO renewed one of my favorite shows, In Treatment, for another season and Theo Epstein's sister is taking over as the executive producer, which caused me to stumble upon the mind-boggling "early life and family" section of his Wikipedia page. After reading that, my family really ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Many of the allegations about the NBA and referees in Tim Donaghy's new book are pretty damning.
Between this news and my discovery that EA Sports isn't even making NBA Live for Playstation 2 any more it may be time for a Playstation 3. Or maybe just admit that I'm old and stop playing video games.
One of my all-time favorite basketball players, Bobby Jackson, has called it quits after a career that included one unforgettable year with the Gophers and 12 solid seasons in the NBA.
We just finished the 12th season of "Gleeman World" in WhatIfSports.com's Hardball Dynasty game and it looks like we'll have one or two franchise openings. Hardball Dynasty is not a fantasy baseball game, but rather a simulation of running a fictional MLB organization from rookie-ball to the majors. It's incredibly detailed and time-consuming with a steep learning curve, so first and foremost we're looking for owners who've played Hardball Dynasty in the past, although anyone is free to express interest.
Random pizza recommendation: Sarpino's. I've had it multiple times recently and the pizza is a clear step above the usual Papa John's, Pizza Hut, and Domino's. Plus, their pasta is pretty good too.
My only rule in life is that I'll always link to a blog that calls me "the Jesus of Twins bloggers."
Adam Carolla's recent television pilot for CBS was not picked up, so now he's giving NBC a try.
After spending the past five seasons as the Twins' backup catcher Mike Redmond is now a free agent and the 38-year-old made it clear last week that he has no plans for retirement. "I'm definitely planning on playing next year," Redmond said. "For some reason, I think people think I'm going to retire. I still feel like I've got a lot of fight left in me, a lot of energy left to play. I don't know if it will be here. But if not, I plan on being somewhere."
Redmond signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Twins as a free agent in November of 2005 after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Marlins and then agreed to a three-year, $2.85 million extension in mid-2006. He's been a near-perfect fit in Minnesota, serving as the veteran, right-handed-hitting backup for the young, left-handed-hitting Joe Mauer while batting .297/.339/.359, throwing out 30 percent of steal attempts, and emerging as a team leader (and source of nude hijinks).
He's remained a productive player far longer than most catchers, but Redmond has shown significant signs of decline both offensively and defensively over the past two seasons, batting .261/.310/.311 and throwing out 10-of-63 steal attempts. Even that kind of minimal hitting and weak-armed defense would leave Redmond as a reasonable backup catcher because the standard for that job is so low, but he can't be counted on to avoid further decline at age 39 and the Twins have another in-house option.
Jose Morales shared catching duties with Redmond while Mauer spent all of April on the disabled list and hit .340/.380/.404 in 50 plate appearances, but was sent back to Triple-A once Mauer returned. He was called up again a couple weeks later and went 7-for-20 (.350) in a bench role before heading back to Rochester, where he hit .336/.413/.436 in 58 games. Morales rejoined the Twins for a third and final time when rosters expanded in September, hitting .269/.361/.308 in frequent starts at designated hitter.
Morales has batted .328 through his first 55 games in the majors, which along with Ron Gardenhire turning to him as the DH down the stretch has the fans who don't know any better assuming that he's destined to be an impact hitter. In reality Morales will be 27 years old next season and failed to homer in 134 plate appearances with the Twins after going deep a grand total of eight times in 868 trips to the plate at Triple-A, so he's not exactly destined for stardom.
However, he's a switch-hitter with a line-drive swing who rarely strikes out and draws plenty of walks, which combined with being somewhere between atrocious and passable defensively behind the plate makes him a very solid backup catcher. Morales has hit .317/.373/.413 in 222 games at Triple-A and .328/.394/.385 in 55 games with the Twins, so a reasonable projection for him going forward is likely pretty similar to the .297/.339/.359 line that Redmond produced over the past five seasons.
The downside to Morales is that his defensive reputation pales in comparison to Redmond and his bat was more potent versus right-handed pitching in the minors, which makes him a less ideal fit to back up a catcher who should take most of his days off versus left-handed pitching. The upside to Morales is that he's a dozen years younger than Redmond and would probably be significantly more productive offensively if pressed into a full-time role because of a Mauer injury.
My guess is that the decision to let Redmond depart as a free agent while turning backup duties over to Morales won't be an easy one for a team that no doubt places a huge amount of value on the veteran's leadership and experience, but realistically going younger and cheaper in the role makes sense given Morales' track record over the past three years. Don't let his batting average fool you into thinking that Morales has star upside, but he's earned a chance and is a better bet than a 39-year-old Redmond.
Joe Nathan and Justin Morneauunderwent similar surgeries last week, with Nathan getting two bone chips removed from his right elbow and Morneau getting one bone spur removed from his right wrist. Morneau was already recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back that ended his season in early September and has him out of commission for several months, so relatively speaking a bone spur in his wrist is no big deal and just gives him something else to come back from in 2010.
Removing two bone chips from the elbow of a 34-year-old pitcher like Nathan is a bigger deal, but the procedure is still not considered especially risky. For instance, Johan Santana had bone chips taken out of his left elbow in October of 2003 and won his first Cy Young award in 2004 by going 20-6 with a league-leading 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts while not missing a start. Nathan is a higher risk due to his age and somewhat diminished velocity over the past two years, but there's still no reason to panic.
There's also no reason to assume that the bone chips "explain" his ugly postseason outing against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS given that his elbow felt strong enough for him to finish the regular season by converting 13 straight saves with a 1.17 ERA and 19-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his final 15 appearances. And really there's no reason to "explain" one game, however awful, although certainly plenty of fans and media members are willing to equate the outing to some sort of weakness mentally.
During the regular season Nathan blew five saves and allowed seven homers, so his blowing a save against the best offense in baseball by allowing a homer to one of the greatest hitters of all time hardly seems like evidence of much beyond the fact that good players can have bad games and the playoffs are unpredictable. Along with Nathan, the list of closers who've blown saves this postseason includes Jonathan Papelbon, Huston Street, Jonathan Broxton, Brian Fuentes, and Ryan Franklin. It happens.
People who misguidedly think that every closer should convert every save opportunity in every playoff game are now calling for the Twins to trade Nathan, who since joining the team in 2004 has posted a 1.87 ERA in 419 innings while converting 91 percent of his save chances. That includes a career-high 47 saves with a 2.10 ERA, 89-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .171 opponents' batting average in 68.2 innings this season, so decreased velocity and elbow issues or not he remained a stud in 2009.
On the other hand, while calling for Nathan to be traded because of one ugly postseason appearance is silly the notion of trading a 34-year-old closer, period, is perfectly reasonable. He's paid a premium for a limited amount of work because teams' over-reliance on the save statistic assigns added value to the ninth inning, but closers are created rather than born and Nathan himself was merely a very good setup man before arriving in Minnesota.
A huge part of Nathan's value, both perceived and real, comes from the fact that the Twins use him for the ninth inning, but they're free to trade him and begin building up another pitcher's value by utilizing them in the exact same role. Successful closers aren't something that fall from the sky, fully formed with mid-90s fastballs and ice water running through their veins. Instead most great setup men who're given a chance to pitch the ninth inning become successful closers, and then the process repeats.
Of course, the question is whether the Twins have that great setup man waiting in the wings, because regardless of what you think of saves as a measure of value and closers as a defined role the fact is that Nathan has been one of the elite relievers in baseball in each the past six seasons. Actually, that's probably understating his case, because Nathan has been one of the elite relievers ever. Here are the top adjusted ERA+ figures from relievers with at least 650 career innings:
IP ERA+ Mariano Rivera 1090 202 Billy Wagner 834 182 JOE NATHAN 685 157 Tom Henke 790 156 John Wetteland 765 148 Trevor Hoffman 1042 147 Troy Percival 709 146 Dan Quisenberry 1043 146 Hoyt Wilhelm 2254 146 Mark Eichhorn 886 142
If you focus on his run prevention Nathan has been one of the greatest relievers in baseball history. If you focus on his save percentage Nathan has been one of the greatest closers in baseball history. And in either case his performance this season fits in perfectly with the rest of his dominant Twins career. Regardless of the setup men waiting in the wings the chances of finding one to truly replace Nathan's performance are next to impossible.
However, with his 35th birthday next month, a pair of bone chips recently removed from his elbow, and some signs of diminished raw stuff Nathan's odds of continuing that spectacular run aren't particularly great either. In other words, the Twins wouldn't be replacing the Nathan who has been one of the best relievers of all time through the age of 34, they'd be replacing the Nathan who's turning 35 and is owed $11.25 million in each of the next two years with a $12.5 million option or $2 million buyout for 2012.
If you're going to call for the Twins to trade Nathan, don't do it because he served up a home run to Alex Rodrigez. Do it because he carries a huge amount of value, perhaps even more perceived value, and is about to turn 35 while being owed a ton of money over the next 2-3 seasons. In other words don't call for the Twins to trade Nathan unless you were calling for it before Rodriguez even stepped to the plate. For better or worse, it makes exactly as much sense now as it did then.