Thursday, February 05, 2004

Transaction Wire

Pretty much a quiet week, except for the Pudge Rodriguez signing, but I covered that last week. Here's one, though:
Mets sign Shane Spencer. Spencer and Karim Garcia join the ranks of former Yankee/Indians turned mets, following in the fine footsteps of Alvaro Espinoza. Too bad Jeff Manto isn't on that list.

Baseball Preview #1: NL West

As will be my tradition, I'll give the starting lineup as I'd play them (not necessarily as the manager will play them), players who will be making the majority of the starts this year, and any comments that may come to mind.

Ray Durham 2b
JT Snow 1b
Edgardo Alfonzo 3b
Barry Bonds LF
Michael Tucker/Dustan Mohr RF
AJ Pierzynski C
Marquis Grissom CF
Neifi Perez SS
Josh Schmidt
Brett Tomko
Kirk Rueter
Jerome Williams
Jesse Foppert
Kevin Correia
Dustin Hermanson
This lineup doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of an AL fan, but the giants will find a way to get it done again. Tucker is overrated (mostly by himself), but playing him with Mohr will be aa decent combination. Pierzynski is a jerk and a crybaby, but a decent catcher nonetheless. Unfortunately, the Giants had to give up pitching prospect Boof Bonser to get him.

Dave Roberts CF
Caesar Izturis 2b
Paul LoDuca C
Shawn Green RF
Juan Encarnacion LF
Robin Ventura/Bubba Trammell 1b
Adrian Beltre 3b
Alex Cora SS
Hideo Nomo
Odalis Perez
Kaz Ishii
Darren Dreifort
Wilson Alvarez
Jeff Weaver
Andy Ashby
The Dodgers need offense... so they lost Brian Jordan (Rangers), Daryle Ward (Pirates), Jeromy Burnitz (Rockies), and Chad Hermansen (Blue Jays). Juan Encaracion will help. If Shawn Green hits like he did the year before, and Adrian Beltre finally hits like everybody expects him too, they'll do OK again. I'm also very interested in seeing how Jeff Weaver does. Hopefully he can relax and go back to his Detroit Tiger self, instead of pulling a near Rick Ankiel.

Alex Cintron SS
Robbie Alomar 2b
Louis Gonzalez LF
Richie Sexson 1b
Shea Hillenbrand 3b
Steve Finley CF
Danny Bautista RF
Robby Hammock/Brent Mayne C
Randy Johnson
Brandon Webb
Shane Reynolds
Casey Fossum
Steve Sparks
They lost Miguel Batista to the Blue Jays, but between Reynolds, Fossum, and their young pitchers, the rotation should be fine. The lineup can go one of two ways. Situation A: Alomar finds the rejuvenation machine, Gonzalez holds his numbers thanks to the addition of Sexson, Sexson picks up where he left off in Mil-ee-walk-ey, and Shea Hillenbrand continues to prove the OPS geeks wrong. Situation B: Alomar and the team start to suck and Alomar gets upset, Gonzalez continues to feel the effects of age, Sexson can't adjust to the new park, and Hillenbrand finally proves the baseball geeks right.

Clint Barnes SS
Jeromy Burnitz LF
Todd Helton 1b
Preston Wilson CF
Larry Walker RF
Charles Johnson C
Vinny Castillo 3b
Aaron Miles 2b
Shawn Chacon
Shawn Estes
Joe Kennedy
Jason Jennings
Denny Stark
By the time the dust cleared, 41 different players had either left or joined the Rockies this offseason. The offense will do alright once again, except they're very lacking in the middle infield (2 or 3 guys with half a season's experience, and a few guys up from AA - that's it). I'd still like to see a few more doubles hitters in the lineup at the big-gapped Coors field. Look for another solid year from Preston Wilson. The Rockies don't have to many proven starters, which will definitely be a problem. Joe Kennedy was a good pickup, but going from Tampa Bay to Colorado can't be good for this kid.

Ramon Vazquez/Khalil Greene SS
"Sweet" Mark Loretta 2b
Brian Giles CF
Phil Nevin 1b
Ryan Klesko LF
Ramon Hernandez C
Sean Burroughs/Jeff Cirillo 3b
Xavier Nady/Jay Payton/Terrence Long RF
David Wells
Brian Lawrence
Ismael Valdes
Jake Peavy
Adam Eaton
Akinori Otsuka?
Sterling Hitchcock
This isn't a bad team, if they stay healthy (ok, ok, when they get hurt). I'd even say this lineup is better than San Francisco's. Vazquez was the starting shortstop last year, so he'll probably be the starter again this year. I just wanted to point out Khalil Greene, though. Remember Steve Stanley's senior year, when Stanley was #2 in the nation in hitting, and finished #3 in career hits? Well, take Stanley, move him to shortstop, and make him #1 in hitting and #2 in career hits. That's who Khalil Greene is. Someone to watch. Jay Payton isn't a terrific pickup, but you can't expect to play Brian Giles in center every day. Payton/Giles will be a more than acceptable substitution for the loss of Mark Kotsay. The rotation is OK but not great. Otsuka is from Japan, and I'm not sure whether or not he's a starter. I also haven't heard anything about his acting career. The Beck/Hoffman combination will make the pen decent as well. It'd be nice to see just one year when everyone on the Padres stayed healthy, but good luck with that.

Next week: AL West

Random Kanka Family Discussion

For religion class, my sister Becky was learning about what's valuable in life. The assignment was to list 10 things you would want to take with you if the house caught on fire. My comment was, "a coat, because it's cold outside." My dad one-upped me though. Standing right next to my mom, his comment was, "my tape of the Super Bowl half time show."

Cavs Lose to Lakers in OT

At least I get a free chalupa

Well, now I know why Shaq was so upset with refs the other day. Apparently, they weren't letting him get away with murder. Well, fortunately for Shaq, the refs last night made up for that. I was in the second to the last row (technically. the last row doesn't go all the way around, so I was still up against the back wall), but I could still see Shaq wrapping around with the forarm and getting "fouled" by Zydrunas Ilgauskas and DeSagana Diop. (Devon George would've made Michael Jordan proud with all the pushing off he did, but that's another story). Well, the Cavs played well, and they're becoming a good team. When Tony Battie and Rueben Boumtje Boumtje are healthy again, there will be 4 legitimate centers on the team, which is 2 more legit centers than the rest of the Eastern Conference combined. Other highlights:
  • Carlos Boozer is a great, hard working player. I'm almost starting to wonder how Ryan Humphrey (Ellen loves him!) was able to contain him).

  • First a UNC game, then a Lakers game. I sure am getting sick of bandwagon fans by now. Anyone have Yankees tickets?

  • A local rap group performed at the end of the first quarter. One of the guys wore a wine and gold Cavs throwback. From where we were sitting, I commented that it looked like a Dominique Wilkens era Hawks jersey. My friend Matt's response: "Must be a costume malfunction.

  • Ton Loc, rap pioneer famous for the song "Wild Thing," performed at halftime. Unfortunately, a microphone problem caused him to be booed. He kept yelling to the guy at the mixer "Turn it up!" - meaning the microphone - but apparently, the mixer guy thought he was just trying to fire up the crowd. Good good.

  • That LeBron James guy is going to be pretty good. The funny thing is, I keep expecting him to do Chris Thomas-esque things, but he seems to have his head on straight. It does seem, though, that lately he is shooting more in situations where he would pass before. Maybe it's just confidence in himself. Who knows.

Tom Pagna and Bob Best's Era of Ara

A solid book that takes you from Ara's playing days at MiamiU, to a short stint with the Cleveland Browns, and then through his coaching career. Written circa 1974, Ara's resignation is a continuing theme in the book. Still, an interesting look at Ara the man, the changing times that were 1964-1974, and a few pretty good football teams. By the way, the most losses Ara ever had in a season at ND was 3.

Well, that's it for this week. Happy belated National Signing Day. I know this is Dave's favorite holiday; mine will be in a few weeks. Be sure to check out NDNation for links to and discussions of the ND football class of 2008.