Because the world needs more blog posts about baseball. Seriously, it does. What else is going to keep us going until spring training?
Yesterday, Jackie bemoaned her Orioles’ ongoing inability to, you know, do anything to improve the team. In particular, the arch-rival* Red Sox went out yesterday and spent approximately eleventy-zillion dollars–about two thirds of what the Marlins spent on Giancarlo Stanton–to sign Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Meanwhile, the Os have signed, um, well, you tell me. It’s an immensely frustrating position to be in. The Mariners have been doing it to their fans for years.
* The Red Sox are the arch-rival of more teams than anyone except the Yankees. By my count, the Sox have twenty-eight arch-rivals, every other team in MLB except the Rockies. The Yankees count is currently 42: They’re so hated, they’re not only the arch-rival to every team in both leagues–including themselves–but football, basketball, and hockey teams are signing up to have the Yankees as arch-rivals. But I digress.
I mean, this is the off-season, the time when the fans of the teams that didn’t win the World Series get to say “Just wait until next year.” But how are they supposed to say it with any conviction if the team hasn’t added players to fill their needs? Or at least re-signed last season’s major contributors? It’s especially frustrating when you–the fan–seem to have a better idea of what the team needs than management does. As Jackie points out, at a minimum the Os need to re-sign Nick Markakis. Doesn’t ownership know that? If they do, why aren’t they doing it?
Then there’s Seattle. Every fan knows they need to nab a couple of solid bats. Seattle fans know better than anyone that pitching and fielding don’t win games. Watch Felix lose an endless string of 1-0 games, watch Brendan Ryan make an impossible defensive play and then ground out weakly, and you figure out quickly that your team needs to score at least an occasional run to win games.
So what have they done? Swung and missed on Victor Martinez, Billy Butler, and Adam LaRoche. But, hey, they’ve signed Kyle Seager to a long-term contract. That’s a good thing, no question. Seager was a big part of their success last year, and locking him up is a move they had to make. In a “well, at least they did something” way, it means that Mariners fans can lord it over Orioles fans because the Os haven’t done diddly. It’s still maintaining the status quo, not taking a step forward, and it means the Red Sox fans can lord it over the Mariners fans.
Pity the poor Giants fans, though. The Giants failed to re-sign the Panda, so now they have to replace probably the most-loved player on the team (apologies to Timmy’s fans). They need to take a big step forward just to stay at the same level. OK, so it’s a level that won the World Series, but it’s easy to argue that they wouldn’t have made the playoffs, let alone won the Series without Sandoval.
They’ve got some major names they need to re-sign or replace: Sergio Romo, Michael Morse, and Jake Peavy spring to mind immediately, but there are several more. What have they done so far? Pretty much the same as the Orioles.
Maybe we need a new rallying cry. Who wants to try “Just wait until the Winter Meetings!”
Your Mariner’s are also eyeing Nelson Cruz, dangling money and trying to snatch him away from us. The M’s are much more likely than the O’s to do the 5-year deal he’s looking for. Your M’s probably talked to Nick Markakis’s people, too. To the Orioles credit, they will probably do *something* in mid-January, when whatever free agents are left are getting a little nervous and are more willing to make a deal. We do love a deal and shopping in the “scratch and dent” aisle in Baltimore.
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Given the rumors that the Ms’ management nixed a deal for Cruz at the last minute last year, I wonder how eager they would be to sign him this year. Five years seems unlikely.
Hey, “Rent a Wreck” is a viable model for cars, why not for free agent ballplayers?
Sandoval’s signing with the Red Sox is a bracing and (in my case) badly needed blast of Gaiter-Ade in the face, for all of us who tend to sentimentally forget that baseball is a business and that players are businessmen. Because we tend to project all that affection and hope and- yes- love on these complete strangers, we come to believe that we know them and, more important, that they, somehow, know and care about us. We think they’re our friends, and if they have characteristics that are easily cartooned (like Sandoval’s) the presumption is even worse.
And then, something like this happens. Johnny Damon signs with the Yankees. Sandoval leaves San Francisco, where he’s, literally, adored, and it’s like a slap in the face, but one of those slaps after which we say, “Thanks. I needed that”. Reality sucks, sometimes, but some fantasies are just unsustainable and have to be busted, from time to time.
So, I shouldn’t be angry. No, I shouldn’t. I try to be a better person than that. I shouldn’t hope that Sandoval shows up for Spring Training a hundred pounds overweight, and tears a knee in his first scrimmage. I shouldn’t hope that his tendency to swing at anything spherical that is thrown in his general direction becomes an insurmountable problem, and he is eventually hooted off the field by the notoriously intolerant Sox fans. I especially shouldn’t hope that he spends the next five years slumped over a sticky bar with a glass in his hand, staring at the mirror, wondering how he could have ever made such a mistake. Or that the Boston fans give him a new, insulting nickname, like “Blubberbutt” that causes him to run from the field in tears. Because I try so hard to be a good person, I hope for none of those things, and if any of them happen, I will feel only compassion and no sense of satisfaction or vindication at all.
Honest. No, I mean, really.
Hey, what ever happened to Johnny Damon, anyway?
Well said. We’re above such low sentiments as envy and hate.
Which is not to say that we wouldn’t feel a certain amount of schadenfreude, or in the case of a significant decline in skills (with or without a corresponding weight gain), a sense of “Thank God it happened after he left SF.”
Odds are, the majority of that money is guaranteed. If he falls apart before the end of the deal, he’s not going to be sitting in a bar. Either someone will take a flier on him, hoping a change of scene will revitalize him, or he’ll take the money back to Venezuela and do Good Works. Or, being above envy and spite, that’s what I’d hope, anyway.
As our Orioles blogger friend suggests, Sandoval seemed intent on leaving. I think he couldn’t take yes for an answer. Management supported him through all his personal and professional problems. Fans endured and gave him as much love as he can expect anywhere. He wanted something else I guess. He will be fine. So will giants. I’d like kyle seager to take over down here.
According to the reports I’ve seen, the Giants’ offer was very similar to the Red Sox. That certainly supports an interpretation that he was going to go somewhere, no matter what. I’m not buying “I wanted a new challenge,” though. You want a new challenge? Find one on the field. Cliff Lee counted any season in which he gave up a walk to be a failure. How about shooting for a season with no golden sombreros? That would be a nice challenge.
As for Kyle, forget it. I’ll grant you that the extension hasn’t been confirmed by the Ms, but just the fact that they’re talking about seven years and $100 million says they’re not going to be willing to trade him for chicken feed. Remember, he’s still got three years on his current contract. The Ms might listen to an offer that included Mad Bum, but not much less than that.
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Bumgarner belongs here
And his agent is probably talking to the Giants about extending his contract right about now. Pitchers being notoriously fragile, they’re unlikely to go for it, since they’ve got him nailed down through 2018, but that won’t stop the talking.