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Monday, November 12, 2012

Baseball Notes for November 12, 2012

*** To say I loved the Red Sox signing catcher David Ross to a two year, $6.2 million free agent would be an understatement. He brings the kind of leadership, experience and defensive presence the Sox have lacked behind the plate for years. Although he won’t be a full-time starter he could play a significant role in changing the culture of managing the pitching staff and calling games.

*** The free-spending ways of the Los Angeles Dodgers seems to know no bounds. It was confirmed last week that they successfully bid $25.7 million for the chance to negotiate a contract with Korean left-handed pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin.

The 25-year-old Ryu has a career record of 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA, and a gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  He throws in the low-90’s with a slider, curveball and changeup. Despite the exorbitant price paid by the Dodgers I have yet to see a scouting report that projects him as being more than a number three pitcher. You can check out a good clip of him pitching here.

The Dodgers will only have to pay the negotiating fee if they are successful in reaching a deal with Ryu. It seems likely that something will get hammered out, given his desire to play major league baseball and the opportunity to do so in such a large Asian market like L.A.

*** A report citing a high-ranking official from the Texas Rangers indicated the team won’t go beyond a three year contract offer to Josh Hamilton. This was a nifty PR way of saying, “don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.” The Rangers were clearly annoyed by the eccentric ways of their MVP-candidate slugger by the end of the year and are willing to move in a different direction unless they can get him to return on the cheap— which won’t be happening.

*** The Colorado Rockies named Walt Weiss as their new manager. His hiring was a little surprising, as his lone managerial experience was helming his son’s high school team in Aurora, Colorado this past spring. Granted, he did have a lengthy playing career, but a team in as much disarray as the Rockies may have benefitted from bringing in a seasoned coaching veteran to get things in order. The Rockies are probably hoping to catch the same lightning in a bottle as the Cardinals and White Sox did by hiring first-year managers Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura prior to last season.

*** Mark McGwire was asked on the Dan Patrick Show if he believed he should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His answer was certainly surprising:

"No, not by the guidelines they have now. I’ll never fight it. I totally respect the Hall of Fame. I have never fought. They have rules and restrictions, I totally abide by them."

Although being arrogant and professing his merit would have been a poor strategy, it’s still surprising to hear Big Mac come out with such a refreshingly honest response. The Hall have inductees who were bigots, racists and even killers, so no matter how polarizing PEDs currently are in baseball, it’s hard to fathom that the game won’t be able to one day move beyond the hyperbole and place the era in a proper context. Regardless of PEDs McGwire should be considered a borderline Hall of Fame candidate anyways, so his present exclusion is no great travesty.

*** In the same vein of the McGwire story, another MLB player was suspended for PEDs last week. The culprit was San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, who tested positive for testosterone. Expected to be the Padres starting catcher in 2013, Grandal will instead miss the first 50 games of the regular season because of his indiscretion.

As reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney, the number of professional players suspended for PED use hit an all-time high in 2012. A possible explanation for the recent spike could be the rise in synthetic testosterone, which users can now apply in the form of creams, gels or patches. These new products are fast-acting and become quickly undetectable by testing. It will be interesting to see how baseball responds to this potential new crisis on the horizon.

*** Finally, if you are in need of a laugh, check out this clip of Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates doing an impersonation of the cartoon character Cleveland from the Cleveland Show and Family Guy. It’s pretty great.


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