Thursday, January 21, 2010
So I underwent my first MRI of my life this morning. Our trainer said that not many ballplayers my age could say that. I don't know if that's a compliment or not.
To make up for lost time, I decided to have not one but two MRIs done at the same time. Due to my own stupidity, I've been ignoring pain in both my back and hip for too long. It was time to get it checked out.
The MRI was much louder than I expected. Here were some thoughts that came to mind while I laid there for an hour and a half without moving:
1. We're being attacked by aliens.
2. I feel like I'm trapped in my mom's old, 25-year-old washing machine (it makes similar noises).
3. If a heavy metal guitarist developed schizophrenia and still decided to rehearse, this is what it would sound like.
4. I hope we don't have a fire. I'd never hear the alarm.
5. Maybe this contraption is like the big golden thing in the movie "Sphere." Whatever dreams I have will become real. Except instead of being haunted by "A Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," I'm haunted by "A Thousand Leagues Under the Big Leagues."
6. Hopefully I don't emerge from this thing acting like Lady Gaga.
7. Am I being turned into an Avatar? I better be allowed to fly on one of those weird dragon animals.
Just a few thoughts. I emerged unscathed and free from alien attack.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
In the conclusion of a long saga which involved a catfight between agents and a parade around scouts, Aroldis Chapman signed with the Reds recently. The Cuban defector sparked a bidding war that resulted in a six year, $30 million contract.
First, let's talk about Chapman's stuff. He reportedly throws 100 mph (smoke tinges the words with each keystroke). No problem there. He's also left-handed. That's always a plus. He's 21-years-young (give or take a few years). No problem there. He has control problems. Uh oh.
Chapman allowed 5.37 walks per nine innings in Cuba. Last I checked, that wasn't very good. Now, yes, we've all seen pitchers get better command as time goes on. A quick look at Randy Johnson's career reveals an atrocious walk rate early in his career, and then an exceptional walk rate at the end.
In fact, Randy Johnson's name has been thrown around a lot lately. He's been retired for only a few days, and already people are expecting some kid from Cuba to be "The Next Randy." Let's not forget, Randy Johnson's a certain first ballot Hall of Famer. He's one of the top 5 pitchers of all-time. And we're comparing an unproven 6'4" defector to him, simply because he's left-handed, throws hard, and has terrible command?
It's symptomatic of a general problem in the baseball world, and the world in general. When judging someone or something, we look for shortcuts. We say a person reminds us of another person because it instantly delivers information. But that person is an entirely different person. Chapman is his own being. He's not Randy Johnson and shouldn't be compared to him. It's not fair to Chapman or Johnson, and it doesn't deliver enough meaningful information.
Back to walk rates, Chapman may very well have a long and successful career. He certainly has the raw ability. But the problem with raw ability is that you don't know what the finished product will look like. Instead of going down, his walk rate may instead increase. Nobody really knows what will happen. The Reds just gave a lot of money to a guy who is a "maybe."
Since he was on the open market, the bidding war resulted in this contract. Some will say this is his fair market value. I think it's too much money, but the market says otherwise.
A few of my teammates emailed me saying this is a problem. Some foreign players such as Chapman are able to use this open-market system to their advantage while Americans, Canadians and Puerto Ricans are subject to a draft. A phenom such as Stephen Strasburg had no control over who picked him in the draft. Once taken, he could only negotiate with a single team. While he was paid handsomely, there was no bidding war. On the open market he would've received much more--perhaps more than Chapman.
MLB and the union need to decide what system they want. Do they want free market system, where anyone can negotiate with any player, and the player has the ability to choose? Such a system existed prior to 1965 when the draft was instituted. Or do they want a worldwide draft?
Selig has said he wants an international draft. So have several others. I'm generally not a fan of systems that limit a player's options, but I recognize the need for a draft, as without it, talent would be even more unequally spread than today. The rich would keep getting richer. But if such a draft is instituted, mobility must be ensured as well. The Rule 5 draft should be expanded, and changes should be made to it to allow more players to stick with new teams. The length of contracts should also be examined.
The current system certainly segregates against players from certain countries. This is unfair. All players should be subject to the same rules when dealing with MLB teams. There are obvious complications to this (look at the Japanese posting system.) since you're dealing with several countries, but the status quo simply isn't sufficient. A system is needed that ensures mobility, allows a player to gain close to market value, and also provides equal access to talent for large and small market clubs. The current system provides none of these things.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I took a little holiday hiatus. Here's a few events from the past two weeks:
--I made the annual tour of the Midwest, in which I spent a day and a half in Advance, Missouri (my parents' house, actually ten miles outside of it in the middle of a woods) before spending a day and a half in Decatur, Illinois (where my in-laws live).
--I received six Zhu Zhu pets, and one Tickle Me Elmo. (That's a bold-faced lie. I received neither. Instead I got three sweaters and two dress shirts.)
--My mom made 18 different types of cookies, and I was disappointed. (Usually she's over the 20 mark.)
--I gained 2.5 pounds, from said cookies.
--I picked up my dogs poop, and for the first time, I was happy. (It's so cold that it warmed my hand up.)
--I watched Mizzou play perhaps the most atrocious bowl game ever played. Navy, well, blew them out of the water.
So those are a few highlights, and here a few links:
A teammate and friend, Dan Runzler, was named minor league Reliever of the Year by Milb.com. I played with Runzler at two different levels last year and have to say he's a good dude. I already told him this, but congrats again.
I wrote a "Suitcase Chronicles" article around the time of the Rule 5 draft, and finally it's posted. (Cleanliness, not timeliness, is next to Godliness.)
Lastly, Sadowski signed back with the Giants, albeit the Korean Giants. He'd talked to them for a while, even before his signing with the Astros. He and his agent even negotiated an opt-out date in his Astros' contract, in which he had a short period of time to still negotiate with Asian teams.
I think it's a great decision for him, as it's guaranteed money. When you've had two arm surgeries, you gotta take the money as it comes. And thanks to David O'Donoghue in Dublin (no, I didn't make that up) for forwarding me the link to the story in the Korean papers.
Keep sending me links! And here's to a wonderful and prosperous 2010 for all!