Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Transaction Wire
(warning: the above link contains names of a Gammons-esque nature)
Knicks get Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway from the Suns for 25 guys who were immediately cut. New York finally decides that one good PG and one good-when-healthy kinda-PG are better than 6 mediocre PGs. They didn't win the first night out, but the changes being made will make the Knicks a decent team. Tough luck for Charlie Ward - just when he thinks he's becoming a real journeyman (see my article a few weeks back), he's cut. As for the Suns, apparently they're planning on playing 5 PFs at all times, since they're only carrying 2 real guards as of right now. The best part about researching this trade: going to the Sun's website, and watching the rotating image on the left of the page, which cycles though (I kid you not) Jake Voskuhl, Tom Gugliotta, and the gorilla. High comedy.
Giants hire Tom Coughlin. Coughlin, an assistant under Bill Parcels while in New York, promises to return to smashmouth, mistake-free football. That remains to be seen. Smashmouth, mistake-free football may also mean doom for Tiki Barber (Ellen loves him), the small, fumble prone runnning back. We'll see how that plays out. I don't know what else to say. Head coaches are hard to come by these days, and except for Nick Saban (who they weren't getting) and maybe Dennis Green, Coughlin may be the best fit for this team.
Padres sign David Wells. You know, with Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko, Trevor Hoffman, et al., the Padres really shouldn't be a bad team if they stay healthy. As the past few years have shown, however, that's a huge if.
Yankees sign Javier Vazquez. For years, I've been trying to figure out if Vazquez is underrated by the media or just overrated by baseball uberintellectuals. Although his record may not show it (perhaps due to the team he played for in Montreal), he has good numbers. The way the Yankees are, though, expect the W-L numbers not to change much. At 28, he's very young compared to Mussina, Clemens, and Wells, but that could mean another Jeff Weaver-type disappointment.
Indians get Scott Stewart for Ryan Church and Macier Izturis. I grew up playing baseball with a kid named Scott Stewart, so I'm sure I'll run the "Did you hear Scott Stewart signed with the Indians?" joke into the ground around here. Stewart is a good pickup in the back of the bullpen, considering the loss of Danys Baez, the uncertainty of Bob Wicman's health, and the contract situation of David Riske. Church was buried deep in the Indians' rotation of minor league outfielders, and Izturis apparently isn't going anywhere, so this is a good deal for the Tribe.
Indians also sign Kevin Orie, Jeff D'Amico, and a few others. Orie, the former Cub, is AAA insurance at 3rd. Believe it or not, there are actually 2 starting pitchers named Jeff D'Amico. After the "bad" Jeff D'Amico toiled in the Cleveland minors for a while, the Indians must have realized they had the wrong guy, and finally signed the "good" Jeff D'Amico, who will be a good middle-of-the-rotation starter for this young staff.
Mets sign Brandon Looper. He's a solid young back-of-the-bullpen guy. He's another good-as-a-closer-but-great-as-a-setup-man pitcher.
Diamondbacks sign Robbie Alomar for $1mil. If Arizona contends, Robbie will love the change of scenery and the huge gaps of the BOB. If they don't, he may get sick of being in the middle of nowhere and continue his fall from grace.
Royals sign Juan Gonzalez. Hey, we're spending money now! He has some pop, which will help the team especially if he hits behind Mike Sweeney. But, with his health, this may be another case of "spending loads of money to show we want to contend" turning into "we're a small market club who screwed ourselves by not spending wisely."

The Baseball HOF
Who's in:
Paul Molitor, a great hitter (3300+ hits, .306 lifetime average) who found a way to keep playing (2nd to 1st to DH) and keep winning (Yount's Brewers to Kirby's Twins).
Dennis Eckersley. He tips his cap to a hitter that wins the battle (screaming "WOW" when Manny Ramirez crushes a game-winner off of him, being the "victim" of Kirk Gibson's "This is gonna be a home run!", coining the phrase "walk-off"). We remember him as a dominant closer from the A's mini-dynasty of the early 90s, but my dad remembers the day he didn't feel like walking from his Cleveland State dorm room to municipal stadium and ended up missing a young starter named Dennis pitch a no-hitter.
Who's not in:
Ryne Sandberg: solid ballplayer, nice guy, consummate professional. Unfortunately, first ballot inductions are more for guys like Molitor and Wade Boggs (next year), but Ryno should be there some day.
Bruce Sutter
Jim Rice
Andre Dawson
"Goose" Gossage
Lee Smith
Bert Blyleven
Jack Morris
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Alan Trammell
Don Mattingly
Dave Concepcion
Dave Parker
Dale Murphy
Keith Hernandez
Joe Carter
Fernando Valenzuela
Dennis Martinez
Dave Stieb
Jim Eisenreich
Jimmy Key
Doug Drabek
Kevin Mitchell
Juan Samuel
Cecil Fielder
Randy Myers
Terry Pendleton
Danny Darwin
Bob Tewksbury

Many good names on this list. There will always be the Jim Rice argument. Dale Murphy is incredibly underrated, and Dennis Martinez got a surprisingly low total in my opinion. Other than that, there are some good names on this list, and a few will make it some day (Mattingly, Dawson, Carter), but this isn't the NFL. It's nice that the NFL lets everyone in, but in a way it's awe-inspiring at who doesn't get into Cooperstown. For instance, Fernando would be a shoe-in in the NFL for his personality, and Tommy John's legacy of the elbow surgery would also get him in the hall. But, just because these guys don't have plaques, that doesn't take away from great careers.
Joe Jackson: with all the Pete Rose talk, I once again wanted to get on the Shoeless Joe soapbox. He had a great career for the Indians and ChiSox. He was one of the greatest hitters of all time, and his glove was
"where triples go to die." He was accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, but, as Field of Dreams points out, how are you throwing the series when you hit .375 and commit no errors? Say what you want about Pete Rose, I'm still undecided on that one, but Shoeless Joe does deserve the respect of induction into the Hall.

Alright, that's enough time in front of the computer. Time to go enjoy this unusually balmy January day (wind chill is actually above 0!)