Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blockbuster Deal Done...

WOW!  This is what I call a blockbuster deal.  The 4 team deal is complete, and the Phillies acquire a former Cy Young winner in Roy Halladay, for another former Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee.  Here's the particulars...


Toronto sent Halladay and $6 million to the Phillies for three minor leaguers: catcher Travis d'Arnaud, right-hander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor.

Philadelphia dealt Lee to Seattle for three prospects: right-hander Phillippe Aumont, outfielder Tyson Gillies and right-hander Juan Ramirez.

Toronto flipped Taylor to the Athletics for third baseman Brett Wallace.




It's difficult enough to make a trade between two teams, let alone involving 4 in a blockbuster.  Interesting to see now what the Mariners do with Lee.  He will make some serious money this year and is a free agent at the end of the season.  The Phillies to me, get one of the more under the radar (pitching in Canada will do that for you) pitchers and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  They did give up a lot to get him, but Kyle Drabek is a prospect.  He's never pitched in the big leagues.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little of tomorrow to compete today.  


Lackey, Cameron in Boston, will Adrian Gonzalez join them?
There seems to be a lot of talk now about the moves being made in Boston.  Are they a set up for something bigger involving the Padres and Adrian Gonzalez?  The case can certainly be made.  Mike Cameron is not a left fielder.  Plus asking a CF to play LF in Fenway Park is asking him to do something.  It's a tricky position with the Green Monster right behind you, and close to the plate.  The moves made by acquiring John Lackey (free agent, LAA) and Cameron, certainly frees up some other names on the Boston roster to be dealt.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz can certainly be had, but if the Padres are going to make a deal for a young power hitter like Gonzalez, you need to get hard throwing Daniel Bard as well.  Some of the particulars may still be unclear.  Several reports indicate that the Red Sox may also throw in a catcher they acquire from the Rangers, in the Mike Lowell proposal, but that hasn't officially happened yet.  As indicated previously, if the Padres are going to trade Gonzalez, it's going to have to be in a deal that makes baseball sense.  A king's ransom will be required, and not just prospects like in the Jake Peavy deal last July.  The team will want Major League ready talent to fill immediate needs and if the names being reported are true, these are players that can contribute right away. This one is worth watching. (Vote on whether or not Adrian will start the season with the Padres or not on this blog)


MLB to do away with the DH?
Commissioner Bud Selig has formed his own version of a "competition committee", much like the NFL. The 14 members include 4 managers, 4 current or former GM's, 4 ownership reps, Hall of Fame player Frank Robinson, and noted columnist George Will.   The "advisory" committee will analyze ways of improving Major League baseball on the field.  Their first meeting will be this January in the Phoenix area.


One hot button issue is the use of the DH.  This debate could become a little more than that if several on the committee get their way. The American League has used the Designated Hitter for the last 37 seasons, and the NL has never seriously considered adopting it.  The DH has been good for the players, prolonging the career of several popular hitters, like Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Edgar Martinez, Dave Winfield, and Paul Molitor just to name a few.  But to me, it's a joke.  Why should one league have it and the other not have it or not even want it?  Can you imagine if the NFL decided that a 12th player could be used in AFC games and not NFC games?  Or if the NBA decided that a shot behind the arc counted for 4 points in a Western Conference game and not an Eastern Conference game?  Get rid of it. Make the game uniform.  I don't think that's the popular thought of the players, but from reading up on it, many in management both on and off the field, wouldn't mind seeing the DH go the way of baseball in Montreal.  Gone.  (tell me your thoughts, there is a poll on this blog getting your vote on whether to keep the DH or launch it)


More later....


Andy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Random Sunday Musings...

Lots of thoughts running through my head tonight, from baseball to basketball to hockey, football and travel...

NFL...
Let's start with football if you don't mind.  I was thankfully flying when my hometown Bears were losing to the hated Green Bay Packers, on another great day for Jay Cutler (Charger fans warned me), and head coach Lovie Smith.  Ugh, who calls a time out with the other team facing a 4th and short, to allow THEM to get their stuff together, and get a crucial first down?  The answer: LOVIE.  There should be a "help wanted" sign outside Soldier Field at the end of this year.

Now to my adopted hometown team, the Chargers.  Got home in time to watch the entire game on TV, and again I was totally impressed.  I said it when this blog first started, that I would take Phillip Rivers as my QB any day of the week and twice on Sunday's.  Let me amend that to 3 times on Sunday's.  I'm amazed at his arm strength, and his ability to thread the needle on his long distance passing.  He plays to the strength of the offense as well, tall receivers, that can go up and get it.  Good combination.  Throw in a sure fire hall of fame running back who is hitting stride, and a hall of fame caliber tight end, is there anything this offense can't do?

Against the Cowboys, give some props to Ron Rivera's defensive unit.  Pressure on Tony Romo, and a huge goal line stand really set the tone for the entire game.  Tim Dobbins, Brandon Siler, Ian Scott,  and Luis Castillo had a big hand in stopping Marion Barber at the goal line to swing the momentum.  Great win by the Chargers who win for the 8th straight time, and 16th straight time in December.  Just think, if the Chargers weren't like slow starter Kevin Kouzmanoff, think where they might be now?

SAN DIEGO HOOPS...
It's college hoops time now.  Was in Boise, Idaho with the Toreros this weekend, and USD came away with a huge victory, on the road 59-56 over the Broncos.  This team needed this win, and badly.  The victory snapped that 5 game losing skid, and more importantly gets the Toreros back on track for next weekend's games in Las Vegas, against Southern Illinois (Saturday 4pm on San Diego 1700) and South Florida (Sunday at 1:45pm on XX1090).  Roberto Mafra played perhaps his best game with the school, scoring his first career double, double, with 14 points and 12 rebounds in the win.  I was impressed that the team was able to rally from a lackluster first half, to slow the tempo, work the ball around, play great defense and sound team basketball.  Huge win indeed.

SDSU got themselves a big win this weekend as well a home win over Arizona.  I like what I see from Steve Fisher's bunch.  They impressed me with their athleticism and length.  They can rush it up the floor, and really shoot it well.  If they start coming together as a team, look out Mountain West Conference.

MLB/PADRES...
Glad to hear that the Padres and Kevin Correia were able to come to terms on a deal.  It would really have been a shame for him to be pitching somewhere else.  Not that it still can't happen in a 'sign and trade' scenario, but it appears that Correia will be in Buddy Black's rotation for 2010.  That's one less hole to fill this off season.   Correia won 12 games last year, including a complete game shut out at Arizona in September.

The team non-tendered Mark Worrell, who never pitched in a big league game for the Padres.  He was supposed to be the main ingredient in the Khalil Greene trade, but underwent "Tommy John" surgery in March and was lost for the season.  Of course the "player to be named later" in that trade proved his worth, Luke Gregerson struck out 93 hitters this season as a mainstay in the bullpen for the Padres.

NHL...
Alright, I know a lot of folks in San Diego, have no interest in the NHL, but some do and this is for them.  I grew up around the NHL, in an original six city, going to Blackhawks games with my dad at the old Chicago Stadium and more recently with my brother at the United Center.  I'm jacked about the Hawks this year.  I watched their game against Tampa Bay tonight on the NHL Center Ice Package (I actually made the purchase) and again was impressed.  Their penalty killing and power play units were dominant again tonight.  Back up goalie Antti Niemi recorded his 3rd shutout in 7 starts this season, while Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews (pronounced Taves) and Ben Eager scored the goals.  Hockey is an awesome sport to watch in HD, or in person.  With the Kings and Ducks playing just up the road, go check out a game, you won't be sorry.

Travels...
Fresh off my trip to Boise, Idaho with the USD Toreros, I've discovered what a hassle airline travel has become.  High prices, no meals, no extras and just a lot of attitude.  It's bad enough that most airlines have decided it's a good idea to charge to check in baggage ($40 bucks for two bags on Alaska Airlines), but what's with the attitude?  The person checking in my radio equipment today, figured that since it wasn't her bag, she could just chuck it onto the conveyor belt.  What's up with that?  Seriously?  Do you have to THROW it on the belt?  Do you have NO regard for OTHER people's stuff?  Mine wasn't the only bag that received this treatment.  Come on people you are BETTER than that!

Even flight attendants are getting less and less friendly.  They have little patience for people, getting on the plane or getting off the plane.  Fake it.  At least make me think that you really appreciate my business.  Oh well.  What can you do?

Alright that's it, I hope you had a great weekend, and have a great week ahead.  Happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating and the best to all this holiday season!  More later...

Andy

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm Back...

Sorry all, it's been a hectic few weeks in my world, and has not allowed me much time to update the blog here!  Hope you understand.  Let's get right to it...

All has been quiet at the Winter Meetings to this point for the Padres, as many of you thought it would be. Not surprising is the fact that GM Jed Hoyer has been getting "action" on several of his players, including Heath Bell and Kevin Kouzmanoff.  At first glance it doesn't seem like Kouz will be going to the Giants.  The names that were floated, Fred Lewis and Kevin Frandsen don't get my heart racing and apparently didn't get Hoyer's going either.  We already have a better version of Lewis, in Tony Gwynn Jr., and I'm not certain that Frandsen would be a good enough fielder, or hitter to succeed in the utility role on the bench.   Keep searching.  Kouz attracted interest from up to 8 teams.   As I pointed out on Darren Smith's show on XX1090 a week or so ago, the situation at 3rd is a bit crowded, especially with the emergence of Kyle Blanks in the outfield and at the plate.  I guess as I mentioned it's a good problem to have.  Chase Headley is a natural third baseman and it would seem that either he or Kouz will be moved to open up the slot for Blanks.

The Kevin Correia situation is worth watching.  The Padres know that if it gets to arbitration, Correia is going to get a healthy raise from the 1.1 million he made after incentives last season.  Hopefully they'll be able to agree with him before it gets to that point.  I thought that Correia excelled in the starters role and provided a great lift to the team as a starter.  He's still young and can contribute.

Heath Bell is another interesting situation.  42 saves in his first year as a closer, but also due a healthy raise in arbitration.  The Padres have to figure out if they believe Bell has reached his "ceiling" or if there's still room to grow.  I'm sure the team feels there are some internal candidates to replace Bell if he's dealt, like Mike Adams who is also arbitration eligible, Luke Gregerson and to some degree Edward Mujica.

Keep track of all the developments at the meetings in Indianapolis by following Corey Brock on Twitter @FollowThePadres, or at www.padres.com.

USD Back home tonight...
The USD Toreros return to the Jenny Craig Pavilion tonight, with another tough non-conference matchup facing New Mexico, coached by Steve Alford.  The Lobos are a perfect 8-0 this year and feature a very experienced team, which beat the Toreros last year at the JCP 57-54.  USD is trying to snap an ugly 4 game losing skid that started in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Toreros have been struggling terribly from the floor, shooting around 35% over the skid, and scoring just 52 points a game.  Brandon Johnson should return to the lineup tonight after missing Sunday's game at Fresno State as a result of a coaches decision.  Hope you can make it out to the game tonight, but if not, I'll have the call for you starting at 6:45 on XX1090 and on the web at www.usdtoreros.com.

A family loss...
Sad news hit me yesterday, when my dad called from Chicago, to inform me that the family dog, Maxwell, a great Golden Retriever, had to be put to sleep.  We had him for nearly 15 years and this friendly, warm animal, turned me into a dog lover.  I didn't have a dog growing up due to allergies, so this was my first real pet.  Max was rescued by my family from the Anti-Cruelty Society and given a great home, where he was treated like a king.  Max was not doing well toward the end, having a lot of trouble walking, and fell a few times.  He was developing cancer, and the vet agreed it was time.  I'm really going to miss Max, and his wagging tail, it will certainly be strange to walk into my parent's house next time I'm in Chicago and not have him greet me.  I know he's in a better place now, and not in any pain, but it doesn't make it any easier.  Here's some pictures of him, when he first came to the Masur house...













That's all I have for you today...have a great day!

Andy

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Snow is Flying in Alaska!

When it snows in Alaska, it SNOWS!  Piling up at the rate of an inch an hour, its been non stop since about 8am this morning local time.  How snowy is it?  Well the valet guys at the hotel, weren't parking cars, they were doing something more productive with their time today as you'll see below.



So that's what we woke up to this morning.  Pretty cool.  The snow got so bad that Houston had to cancel it's morning practice.  The High School they were supposed to shoot in, is up in the mountains and it snowed almost a foot on that peak.  The Toreros however are going through their pre-game practice right now.  The High School they are working out in, is about 15 minutes on a dry day from the hotel, today it took nearly 30 minutes.

So USD will face the Houston Cougars tonight, 7:30 local, 8:30 Pacific time, for the right to advance to Saturday's championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout.  Houston scored 100 points in their game in a win over Oklahoma last night.  They are a very athletic team, they don't turn it over, but they also don't play much defense.  They scored 100 but gave up 93 to the Sooners.  I'll have the call again tonight, from the Sullivan Arena, starting at 8:15pm PT, and the tip comes your way at 8:30pm PT, on XX1090, and usdtoreros.com.  I hope you'll tune in!

Thanksgiving...
With having yesterday off, the Toreros had a great team Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant in Anchorage.  We all were able to eat a great Turkey dinner with all the trimmings, including a delicious apple sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables.  It was a great evening and the players and staff really enjoyed being together on the holiday since we were all away from our families.  Glad the schedule worked out that way and glad we took advantage of the time!

Hot Stove time soon...
With the Winter meetings only a few weeks away, teams are starting to finalize their plans heading into the gathering in Indianapolis.  No real concrete information is coming out of Padres camp to this point, but they could be a player in trade talks.   Judging from the informal poll on this blog, you are all as up in the air as I am about whether or not Adrian Gonzalez will be dealt or not.  The yes' and no's were pretty even as of the time voting closed.  I'll get a new poll up there shortly focusing on some other things.

Good links to keep an eye on for all the hot stove league news...
My buddy Corey Brock will be on hand for the meetings in Indy, and will be reporting as he always does for MLB.com, bringing in the latest on the Padres moves, or non moves.  Find his stories on the team's official web site.

The guys over at MLBTraderumors.com do a great job in re-posting some of the latest rumors from around the country, and the site is certainly worth bookmarking and checking back on often.

On occasion I also check out Pro Sports Daily, they also reprint stories from reporters and columnists from around the country...worth a look...

I'll also reprint or at least link to some good stuff when the meetings get started as well.

Final thoughts today...
Read that the legendary PA voice of the New York Yankees, Bob Sheppard, is calling it a career.  He's 99 years old, and has been in poor health for the last couple of years.  He is still heard at Yankee Stadium, because Derek Jeter insists that they play the recorded intro from Sheppard before he bats every time.  That's respect.  Sheppard announced his first game in 1951, and in the lineup that day, batting 8th and playing second base, number 42, Jerry Coleman.  It was a game between the Red Sox and Yankees.  Mickey Mantle was also playing in his first game for the Bronx Bombers.  Pretty cool.

Good call Gaslampball....
The guys at at Gaslampball.com pointed out on my Twitter account (@PadsCast) that the new picture I chose for the blog, was a little gray and ominous and after further review they were correct.  Thanks guys for pointing that out.  There is a new photo up and hopefully this one represents America's Finest City a little better.  By the way, the photos that grace the heading of the blog and most of the other ones you see, are taken by me.  I love photography and try to do the best job I can.  I think I over-photoshopped the first one, and posted a new one!

Alright, that's it for now.  Hope you'll tune in tonight for the Toreros and the Cougars at 8:30!

Andy

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hello from our 49th State...

Greetings all, as I write from Anchorage, Alaska.  I'm here with the USD Hoops team getting ready for the Great Alaska Shootout, which for me begins tomorrow night (first game v. Oklahoma, 10:45 on XX1090).

We landed last night to a mixture of freezing rain and snow, but had a mostly uneventful flight after our first leg, landed us in Seattle.  I think we caught a break weather wise, landing in 35 degree temperatures, as opposed to 8 as had been forecast.

When the sun came up this morning, today it rose at 9:55am, I could get a sense of how beautiful a place this is.  Low clouds, snow capped mountains and a regular suburban type feel to the houses and wide open spaces.  I'll try to include some photos at some point, and I'll let you know where to view them.

Heading off to practice to watch the team prepare for tomorrow night's first game.  Don't forget to stay up late with me, as I'll have the call starting with the Pre-Game show at 10:30pm, and then the game as the Toreros face the Oklahoma Sooners at 10:45pm on XX1090 and www.usdtoreros.com.

Padres news and notes...
All seems pretty quiet on the Padres front ahead of the baseball winter meetings in Indianapolis starting in a couple of weeks.  Lots of rumors about teams interested in Adrian Gonzalez, and of course Jed Hoyer's former team the Boston Red Sox figure prominently in most of the talk.  I'm still not completely convinced that Adrian will be dealt.  It's sometimes a good idea, even for later in the season, to find out what teams are willing to offer at this point, and have that in mind when the trade deadline comes in July.  I'll keep an eye on things and let you know what I hear.

Season ticket sales are up for the Padres, based on a few things, a 12 game improvement last year from the 2008 finish, and new lower prices.  My buddy Corey Brock has an interesting story about a couple of season ticket holders and their thoughts...check it out by clicking here...

MVP...
Albert Pujols is the unanimous choice for NL MVP...who else could it really have been?

More later...

Andy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spring Training Schedule...

Who's ready for Spring Training??  The Padres are, and the rest of MLB is as well.  Earlier today the Padres March schedule was released, and you can access it by clicking here.

The first game is March 4, 2010 in the annual charity game against the Mariners in Peoria, AZ.  In fact the first four games of the Spring are against Peoria Sports Complex companion Seattle.  The Padres will play each team in the Cactus League twice, with the exception of the Oakland A's.  The Padres and A's meet just once, and it is at the A's training facility in Phoenix.  The Cactus League welcomes a new member this season, the Cincinnati Reds have joined the Indians in Goodyear for the 2010 season.

If you're looking for a weekend to head to Peoria to check out the Padres, there are only 2 Saturday home games, one on March 6 against the Mariners, and one on March 27 in a split squad game against the Reds.  The Padres have a stretch of 3 straight at home, March 14-16, with games against the Indians, a night game against the Giants and then face the Angels.   The Dodgers make their only Peoria visit that same week, March 19 at 7:05.

We'll break camp on March 31, 2010, then travel to Anaheim to face the Angels on April 1 and head to Lake Elsinore to face the Storm on April 2, which will wind up the Spring Training schedule.  The Padres will hold a workout at PETCO Park April 3, and then travel back to Arizona, to get ready to open the 2010 season against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, April 5.

Gearing up for Alaska...
Ok, as you probably know, I grew up in Chicago, and am pretty used to Winter weather, but even I'm a little wary of what I'm about to face in Alaska!   I'll head there with the USD Toreros Monday for the Great Alaska Shootout.  I've never been to our 49th state, but hear it's a beautiful place.  Now to gear up, I went out and purchased a winter jacket, hat, scarf, gloves and thermal socks.  I hope it snows, since I haven't seen a good snowstorm in a few years.  There's something so peaceful about a steady snow once in a while.  I know many of you readers have never actually seen it snow, trust me it's pretty cool unless you have to fly or drive in it.  Different story there!

Now as far as the schedule in Alaska, join me for our first broadcast as the Toreros (2-1) face Oklahoma, Wednesday November 25.  Air time, is 10:30pm, with the game tipping off at 10:45pm on XX1090 and www.usdtoreros.com.  USD is off on Thanksgiving and will partake in a team Thanksgiving meal.  Friday the Toreros face Houston, that game tips at 8:30pm on XX1090.  The team will play a game against a team TBD (Washington State, Nicholls State or Alaska-Anchorage) either at 2pm, 4:30pm or 7pm on XX.  I hope you'll be able to join me for one or all of the games as you enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

Have a great night!

Andy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No News Yet...

So far, Adrian Gonzalez fans, the Gold Glove winning first baseman is still a member of the San Diego Padres.  December 7-10 of this year, Indianapolis will be a buzz with baseball front office folks, agents, and maybe even a few players invading the Midwestern town.

It will be interesting to watch along with you to see what the Padres decide to do.  New GM Jed Hoyer will undoubtedly receive many offers for his talented 40 home run guy, but he may hear some inquiries about a few other players as well.  Here's my thoughts on who Mr. Hoyer may be asked about in Indianapolis:

1. Heath Bell, closer.  Heath saved 42 games last year (in 48 opportunities) and stepped into a tough role in San Diego, replacing the great and future hall of famer, Trevor Hoffman.  Bell is due a larger pay day in arbitration, which may not fit alongside what the Padres want to do this upcoming season.  What also makes Bell attractive is he's under team control through 2011, so no free agency for a couple of seasons.  The Padres have some internal candidates that could step into the 9th inning role, like Mike Adams, Ryan Webb, Luke Gregerson and maybe even Edward Mujica, though he projects more as a starter this upcoming season.  Personally, I'd like to see the Padres hang on to Heath, but I understand if a move is made.

2. Chris Young, starter.  CY had an injury plagued year, and had to be shut down with a shoulder injury.  Young is emerging as a top of the rotation type of pitcher and is relatively inexpensive at around 6.2 million dollars.  Young will more likely be a more popular player to other teams later in the summer, perhaps around the July 31 trade deadline, due to the uncertainty of his arm, and how he'll bounce back. But trust me, there will be opposing GM's asking about Young.  My guess, is that Young stays a Padre through the season and that will be a good thing.

3. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B. Kouz had one of his best overall seasons, since coming to the Padres from the Indians three seasons ago.  Not only did he produce at the plate, he was a legitimate contender for the NL Gold Glove at third base this year.  Kouz is still a young player, and again is a guy under team control and is only arbitration eligible, not a free agent.  He has tremendous upside, and perhaps the Padres think that Chase Headley, is better suited to play third, to make him expendable.  Realizing that with Kyle Blanks waiting to get an opportunity, if Adrian isn't dealt, one of the two, of Kouz or Chase could be dealt to open up left field for the rookie.

Ok as those seem pretty obvious choices, I realize that, just wanted to get my thoughts down on "paper" to let you know where I'm coming from.  What about Hoyer's shopping list?  What will he go to Indianapolis looking for?  Here are my early thoughts...

1. Starting Pitcher.  With the emergence of some of the young arms, (Clayton Richard, Wade LeBlanc, Tim Stauffer and Mujica) Hoyer may look for a veteran to help Young and Kevin Correia at the front of the rotation.  There are some options via free agency, but a big money guy is unlikely.   To be honest the free agent list in this category is not that impressive.  Here's the list I looked at, courtesy of MLBTraderumors.com.

2. Catcher.  Nick Hundley really improved both defensively and offensively this season.  Unfortunately for him, the fastball by Chad Billingsley he took off his wrist cost Hundley about 2 months of the season.  Henry Blanco proved to be a low cost, good option, as a back up, but he has filed for free agency. He could be re-signed. Not saying it's a top priority, but getting a good backup in the fold, could be something on Hoyer's list.

3. Outfielder.  This one may not seem as obvious.  No slight intended to Tony Gwynn Jr, but with a flood of young outfielders, Hoyer may choose to bring in a veteran outfielder to provide a little stability out there.  Mike Cameron?

I'll certainly have more about this as the Winter Meetings approach.  It's always fun to guess along at home!

Ok, that's it for today, I'm off to Stockton, CA with the USD Toreros (1-0), for tomorrow night's game at the University of the Pacific.  The Toreros looked good in their season opener, a 77-64 win over Stanford at the JCP.  Brandon Johnson and De'Jon Jackson each scored 18 points.  A couple of other players were key contributors, Chris Lewis got the team off to a quick start, he scored 15 on 7 of 8 from the floor, and Roberto Mafra, went to work late in the game, with 2 key blocked shots and a big basket down the stretch to finish with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

I'll have the call on San Diego 1700 (XX1090's sister station), starting with the pre-game at 6:45, then the game at 7pm.  You can also listen on the web, at www.usdtoreros.com.

Talk to you later...

Andy

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gold for Gonzo, nothing for Kouz

Adrian Gonzalez won his second consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove at 1B today.  Kevin Kouzmanoff fell short in his attempt to win his first.  Here's the results of the final vote (and my thoughts):

C: Yadier Molina, STL (agree with this selection)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, SD (agree with this selection)
2B: Orlando Hudson, LAD (I guess)
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (not sure why)
SS: Jimmy Rollins, PHI (agree with this selection)
OF: Michael Bourn, HOU (agree with this selection)
OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (agree completely with this selection)
OF: Shane Victorino, PHI (agree with this selection)
P: Adam Wainwright, STL (if it's not Maddux, who cares?)

Now as I discussed yesterday, a lot of times this award is based on anything but fielding.  Reputation and even offense start to play a role in decisions to award the highest defensive honor in the game.  Kouz on paper really deserved to take the award.  He did miss some time down the stretch which may have hurt him, but still, the numbers don't lie.  Congratulations to Adrian, and hopefully next year for Kouz!

The Silver Slugger awards are announced tomorrow, then we wait until Monday to find out the Rookie of the Year winners.

CY Ready...
For those asking about how Chris Young is doing, make sure you read this article in the Union Tribune, today, Bill Center gives you an update...and it's a good one.  Think about what a healthy Young does to the emerging rotation for the Padres.  He provides some nice veteran leadership, and a front end guy, combined with Kevin Correia and the rest of the youngsters, could be a good staff.  We'll have to see if there's enough in the budget, or a deal is done by new GM Jed Hoyer to bring in another veteran arm.

Well that was....uneventful...
The GM Meetings have wrapped up in Chicago and there were no trades done in the three days.  Not to say that groundwork hasn't been set for free agent pickups or deals down the road.

Getting UGLY in LA...
Padres fans know all too well about what a divorce can do to a team.  The stage is setting for an ugly divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt.  Jamie was fired by Frank as the CEO of the team several weeks ago.  She sued to get her job back but was unsuccessful.  Now, she not only wants her job back, she wants to BUY the team.  She claims that she's been running the team since day one.  As she is quoted as saying...
"I was handling everything from catsup dispenser to whether [manager] Joe Torre should be hired," McCourt, 55, told the Los Angeles Times in a column published Wednesday.
This could get very interesting, stay tuned!

Alright off to USD to watch the Toreros practice for the game coming up Friday night against Stanford!

Have a great day!

Andy

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Random Musings...

To this point, there's been no huge news coming out of the GM meetings in Chicago, so I figured, I'd spout off about a few things...

Good as Gold?
Tomorrow we find out about the NL Gold Glove winners, and no doubt the Padres have two and maybe 3 legitimate candidates for the award.  It's hard to figure though, since this award sometimes gets based on reputation, and yes, even offense.  That makes no sense but it's true.  Ok, back to the SD candidates...

Let's start with the obvious, and that's Adrian Gonzalez.  He would win the award at 1B in back to back seasons.  It seems as though, once you break through, you are in real consideration every year.  He has the offensive numbers to back up the award as well.  He fielded .995 this season, which was tied for fourth in the NL.

Now, the guy that should walk away with the Gold Glove at third base, Kevin Kouzmanoff.  The question is will he?  If I had a vote, it would go to Kouz with no questions asked.  Watching him play the field this year was a true pleasure.  Plus I know how hard he works at his craft.  He is out well before batting practice taking grounders from infield coach, Glenn Hoffman, pretty much every day.  Kouz had the highest fielding percentage in the NL, and set a record for a single season, fielding .990 at the hot corner.  Now, will he win it?  I think that the award will somehow elude Kouz, and go to Nationals 3B, Ryan Zimmerman.  I don't like to say that, and certainly hope I'm wrong.  Here's where reputation and offense will come into play.  Ridiculous, I know.  Let's see how it works out.

Also in consideration is Mr. Steady, David Eckstein, who made a league fewest 2 errors all season, and fielded .997.  Will he beat out the rest of the field?  Let's wait and find out.  He should win it though, again having benefit of watching every game he's played as a Padre, his range is underrated, and his saving some of the young pitchers with the ability to turn double plays goes unnoticed too.

Revisit Replay?
Baseball's GM's did not take a vote on a chance to expand the use of instant replay after a season and post-season filled with horrible calls by umpires.  I find this to be a shame.  I realize that it's an uphill fight, since the man in charge, Bud Selig, sees no reason to expand the current replay system, but come on.  Either improve the replay system, or improve the umpiring.  There are guys out there on the field that display the body language, of "why am I here, do I really need to do this" and others look to pick fights and are so confrontational that it's disgusting.  Mr. Selig, please do one or the other, PLEASE!

Will less $ = more deals?
Several teams have already indicated that they will not be big players in the free agent market, due to the economy and some of the big pay days that may be due to some of the top free agents.  My thinking is there will be more trades to try and improve clubs, rather than big money free agent signings.  Of course the big market teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and others may buck that trend, but for the most part we may be looking at a much busier trade market when the teams get together in Indianapolis for the Winter Meetings next month.  Just a thought.

Scully not silenced...
Dodgers long time play by play announcer Vin Scully may not walk away after next year as previously thought.  Scully turns 82 soon, and made some statements in July that indicated he would be done after 2010.  He immediately regretted those statements saying he still loves what he does and is leaving the door open for 2011 and beyond.  Folks, this is a quality human being, not just a great announcer, but a great person.  Scully is so friendly, and is always in a good mood.  And why not?  He's been with the Dodgers forever and like me, gets paid to watch baseball games for a living.  I hope he keeps going as long as he wants.

USD...
Don't forget, USD opens up it's season against Stanford at the Jenny Craig Pavilion, Friday night.  It's a young team, with a lot of potential, and some more athleticism than last year's team.  Brandon Johnson and De'Jon Jackson are back and will try to lead the youngsters to a great season.  Hope you can join us at the JCP, and if not, I'll have the call on XX1090, starting at 6:45 Friday night.

Alright, have a great day!

Andy

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Turn up the Hot Stove...

I just love that term, "Hot Stove League", but what exactly does it mean? I took the time to look it up for you, and here are some definitions courtesy of Wikipedia...

The Hot Stove League is a baseball-related term, referring to the off-season. Therefore, it is not actually a "league", but the term instead calls up images of baseball fans, anxious for the start of the new season, gathering around a hot stove during the cold winter months discussing their favorite baseball teams. The term has also come to refer to the wave of off-season player transactions (trades, re-signings, free agency, etc.) that occur between seasons, especially during the winter meetings. Since most free agent signings and trades occur during the off-season, this time of significant player transactions (including rumors and speculation about possible trades), is often referred to as the "Hot Stove League" or sometimes more simply "Hot Stove". Essentially, teams continue competing, except it is the team owners and general managers who are doing the playing, with the score being in terms of human resource losses and gains.

Ok, now with that out of the way, it will get underway starting with the GM Meetings in Chicago, starting tomorrow morning. Some deals may get done, but more likely the groundwork for deals to be consummated at the winter meetings will be laid. Padres new GM Jed Hoyer will make his first official appearance representing the team, and it will be interesting to find out who he chats with and what his off season plan is.

Before being let go, Kevin Towers, had reportedly wanted to upgrade in a couple of different spots, including perhaps centerfield. There were also thoughts of trying to get another starter, to go along with a hopefully healthy Chris Young, and Kevin Correia. We'll see what transpires in that department.

Of course the other name that will keep fans on edge this winter, is that of Adrian Gonzalez. His contract is extremely manageable. Adrian is owed $4.75 million in 2010, and there's a club option for 2011 at $5.5 million dollars. This makes him good trade bait, but at the same time, good to keep. I'm not waffling, I just don't know what the plan actually is.

If it's me (and the decision is not mine!), I hang on to Adrian Gonzalez. I realize that you might be able to make a slightly lesser "Jake Peavy" type deal, and maybe get some pitching back for him, but I just like what Adrian brings to the team. A pure long ball threat, a walk and OBP machine, plus Gold Glove defense. I know, all of that makes him attractive to other clubs, but can you get equal value for his age (27) and relative cheap price tag? I know that all options will be explored, but I'd like to see the team hang on to Adrian.

I will try as best I can to keep you updated on what is going on at the GM Meetings, so check back during the day tomorrow as well...

How do rumors get started...
I mentioned the name Mike Cameron before, and now that he's expected to become a free agent, the rumor is he may be coming back to SD? Check out this link to mlbtraderumors.com where the writer makes predictions about where the top 50 free agents will wind up. Interesting stuff.

Only in New York...
When the Yankees "ticker tape" parade rolled through the streets of New York, some apparently ran out of confetti, so those in the high rise office buildings took matters into their own hands. They began tossing files and personal financial documents out the windows. Somebody walking around after the parade found sheets of paper that included personal banking documents, pay stubs, court files, and even law firm memos. Isn't the old saying, "Act like you've been there before?" Haven't they?

Football Sunday...Chargers with a Giant win...
What a big win for the Chargers today at the Meadowlands. Phillip Rivers led the game winning drive, hitting Vincent Jackson for the touchdown. Now the debate will always come up, whether or not the Chargers would have been better with Eli Manning or with Rivers. To me, and I know I haven't been in town all that long, I would always side with the guy, that is the warrior. Rivers throws his body around, plays hurt, makes the tough throws and is a leader. I take him. I know Manning has a Superbowl ring, but come on, give me Rivers everyday of the week and 2 times on Sunday.

Sunday bloody Sunday...
Now, the team I grew up rooting for, just didn't show up again. The Bears get blown out at home by the Cardinals and Kurt Warner who threw 5 touchdown passes. Tommie Harris gets kicked out of the game on the 4th play from scrimmage, and it was down hill from there. And to think I rushed to run some errands to get back and watch that game. Ugh.

You all remember the last time the Bears and Cardinals played right? It was in the 2006 season, when the Bears made that crazy come back and then Dennis Green melted down in the post game press conference. Well today, Ken Whisenhunt made light of it. Check out this tweet from my friend Zach Zaidman who is the Bears sideline reporter...

@ZachZaidman "The last thing I'd like to say is, we didn't let them off the hook," Whisenhunt joked at his postgame news conference.

Good stuff Ken.

It's Torero Time...
Stopped by the Jenny Craig Pavilion last night to watch the Toreros in their only exhibition game this year, against Occidental College. The Toreros looked good in a 91-52 win. 5 USD players were in double figures. They are a much more athletic team this season, and are deeper. Coach Bill Grier went 12 deep on the bench, although the regular season rotation may be a bit tighter. Keep an eye on freshman guard Patrick McCollum from Tacoma. He has a ton of energy and just looks like a ballplayer. He could be fun to watch this season.

Along the equal time theory, as I know many of you are Aztec fans and they beat Cal Baptist in an exhibition game as well, 72-57. There was a great article about Aztec freshman Kawhi Leonard in today's Union Tribune. It kind of puts basketball into perspective for a young athlete. I highly recommend checking it out by clicking here.

Alright, that's it for me...have a great night and we hope to have more tomorrow on the GM Meetings!

Andy

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Need Your Help...

From time to time, I'm going to ask for your help here at "Masur's Musings" and I have a couple of questions/favors to ask of you...

1. What are your early thoughts on my blog "Masur's Musings"? What would you like to read more of? Less of? I'm new to this blogging thing, so let me know your thoughts.

2. I'd like you to check out my official web page, located at www.andy-masur.com and let me know your thoughts on the site as well. I'm building it and updating it myself, so realize there are some limitations, but feel free to check it out and give me your thoughts.

Please respond with your comments here on "Masur's Musings" in the "comment" section just below this entry. I want this to be an interactive thing, and make it reader friendly and give you useful information.

Thank you kindly, and enjoy your weekend!

Andy

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Flurry of Activity...

This could be a very busy off-season. We are a weekend away from the GM's meetings in Chicago and already some deals have gone down.

To no real surprise, JJ Hardy was dealt by the Brewers, he heads to Minnesota in exchange for centerfielder Carlos Gomez. Hardy as you recall was demoted to the minors, just as the Padres came to town, and it created a major controversy. The move by the Brewers affected Hardy's arbitration status and the player was not happy. Also interesting to keep an eye on, now that Milwaukee has acquired an every day centerfielder, will Mike Cameron be elsewhere in 2010?

The on again, off again deal between the White Sox and Royals, seems to be on again, and has been completed. The Sox acquire Mark Teahen from the Royals for Chris Getz and Josh Fields. The White Sox plan to play the versatile Teahen at 3B, and move Gordon Beckham to 2B. The White Sox also plan to part ways with 2005 WS MVP, Jermaine Dye and will buy out his 2010 option.

Other random notes on a busy Friday: (from MLB.com's, Steve Gilbert) The Diamondbacks picked up the 2010 option on Brandon Webb. It's for $8.5 million.

The Phillies exercised the option on post-season hero Cliff Lee. It's a $9 million option. According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies would like to engage Lee in long term extension talks. That's a no brainer.

That's a quick look at some of the moves, and again, I'll try to stay on top of any Padres moves at the GM meetings in Chicago Monday. Haven't met the new GM, Jed Hoyer yet, obviously he's been a bit busy, getting to know the organization and preparing for his first big event as the GM. He does have some experience in this realm, since he represented the Red Sox at the GM and Winter Meetings when Theo Epstein walked away from the team briefly several years ago.

Some Padres news/notes...
According to the Union Tribune today, Nick Hundley underwent surgery for a sports hernia. He tells the paper he first was injured in May and played through the pain receiving treatment for the hernia.

Also in Padres news today, Brian Giles and Henry Blanco officially filed for free agency. There had been talk before Kevin Towers was dismissed as GM, that Blanco was a guy the Padres wanted to bring back. We'll see if that has changed now that there's a new guy in charge.

USD 6th Man Dinner, a big success...
It was my pleasure once again to serve as the emcee for USD's annual fund raiser, the 6th Man Dinner last night. The staff and crew of the Jenny Craig Pavilion make the building over, and turn it into an elegant banquet hall. It's hard to believe every year that we are doing this event in a basketball arena. Kudos to them.

This year the committee brought in a guest speaker, and Steve Lavin, the former coach at UCLA and now college hoops analyst for ABC/ESPN was the guy. Lavin watched practice yesterday and offered his thoughts, he addressed the team, and spoke about the importance of being a student/athlete. A very good talk from Lavin. He also talked extensively about Bill Grier's ability to coach, and how he is able to adjust during games to what is going on. He also mentioned that Grier felt that San Diego is a place he'd like to lay down roots, and not be a "one hit wonder". Let's hope that's the case. Grier is not only a good coach, but a great person to be around. He certainly makes my job as the play by play voice much easier, allowing me access to the team and it's practices.

Also coach Grier addressed the gathered crowd, and introduced his 2009-10 team on stage. Fans, from first glance, it's a young team, with a good mix of some veteran leadership. This team has some speed and can get up and down the floor. Grier made it known that it is great to have Brandon Johnson back in the fold after his season ending injury of last year, but that BJ is only operating at about 75 percent. It will just be good to have him on the floor, as he's one of the fiercest competitors I've seen. All you have to do is look back to the game in the 2007-08 season, at the WCC Tournament, playing all 50 minutes in the come from behind, double overtime win over St Mary's. Amazing.

The Toreros only exhibition game is tomorrow night, at the JCP, 6pm against Occidental College. Then it tips off for real, a week from today, against Stanford in the home/season opener at 7pm.

Alright, a lot to digest, perhaps more later...

Andy

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bouncing In The Bronx...

New stadium, same old result, the Yankees are the champions of baseball again. For the 27th time in the storied history of the franchise, the Yankees celebrate as World Champions. It's an unprecedented number, the most titles in American and for that matter North American sports.

The Yankees didn't hide the fact that they were going to throw money at this team, and go for broke. It PAID off in a big way. Bringing in CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira cost plenty, ($423.5 million to be exact) but I'm sure that there is not a Steinbrenner alive that even cares a bit tonight. Combine the big money spent with the big game players this team has, like Andy Pettitte and his 18 playoff wins, Derek Jeter and his 170+ hits in post season, and 5 WS titles and Mariano Rivera, the greatest "post season" closer (Trevor is still the all time greatest and there's not an argument here) ever, is it really a surprise that this team won it all? I didn't even mention A-Rod, Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon.

Let's talk about Joe Girardi for a minute. He won 3 titles as a Yankee catcher, now he gets his first as a manager. I couldn't be happier for a classy guy, who deserves to win it all. Girardi took his lumps last year, and even this year there was plenty of second guessing, but now, #27 helped the Yankees to #27 and has another ring to celebrate. Girardi was able to win the title with a 3 man rotation. Give the former catcher a little credit for being able to get his pitchers ready to go on short rest and in big games. He actually started to think about a 3 man rotation in September when the Yanks had several off days in the month and a comfortable lead in the division. He rested starters in the regular season, to get them ready for the big stage. Congratulations Joe on a job well done.

Hideki Matsui was named the World Series MVP. He solidified his hold on the trophy with a 6 RBI game tonight, joining Bobby Richardson another Yankee, who did it in the 1960 WS against the Pirates. Matsui could be one of the first MVP's of a World Series, not to be back with the team in which he won the award. He's a free agent, and it's not likely that the Yankees will bring him back.

Random series musings...
George Steinbrenner must be in really bad shape, he was noticeably absent in New York tonight. Love him, or hate him, it's the 7th title for the Yankees since he bought the team in 1973.

Couldn't help but chuckle a little, when I saw former Padre Chad Gaudin on the field celebrating a title with the Yankees. Think about his 2009...cut by the Cubs in spring training, signed by the Padres, sent to the minors to build arm strength, in the rotation, then traded to New York. Congrats Chad!

On to the off-season...
Now starts the season that a lot of baseball fans really enjoy, the off season, and the start of the Hot Stove League. Baseball's GM's including the newest among them Padres GM, Jed Hoyer will be meeting in Chicago next week. Trades sometimes happen there, but more often groundwork for possible deals are set up, and then consummated at the Winter Meetings.

1 Gonzalez Gone...
It appears that we've seen the last of Edgar Gonzalez in a Padres uniform. The older brother of Adrian Gonzalez was outrighted to Triple A Portland today, and will likely choose free agency instead of his minor league assignment. He talked to the Union Tribune today...
“I think this is the end of my run here,” Gonzalez said. “I love San Diego. And the Padres gave me an opportunity that I'm thankful for. But my future is probably elsewhere.”
Edgar hit a total of 11 homers in just under 500 total at bats with the Padres. He made his big league debut with his hometown team in May of 2008. Gonzalez missed 46 games after being beaned by Colorado's Jason Hammel. The next day the Padres acquired Oscar Salazar. I'm going to miss Edgar. He is a great person, and a lot of fun to talk to on a daily basis. Edgar really appreciated every day in the big leagues, and it showed. Good luck Edgar.

Other notes...
Dodgers' pitcher Vicente Padilla was accidentally shot today at a target range in Nicaragua. He's recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg after the instructor shot him after Padilla's gun jammed. He went 4-0 with the Dodgers over the final 2 months of the season.

Getting there is NOT half the fun...
Ok, as promised the story of my long night in the air and on the road. I boarded a plane at Chicago's Midway Airport, bound for San Diego at 7:30 central time. The flight was supposed to land at Lindbergh Field at 10:00 pacific time. The key words are supposed to. We were informed before leaving that there was fog rolling in and that we could be delayed on the ground. Nope. The flight took off and with about 25 minutes left in it, the captain came over the speakers saying, that the fog was too thick in San Diego, and since Lindbergh has only one runway, more visibility is needed to land there than anywhere. Ok. With that we were off to lovely (no offense to anyone from there...) Ontario, California. After landing we were given bright green boarding passes, our "ticket" for the bus ride home to San Diego. After retrieving my luggage (from the wrong carousel) it was outside to wait in a long, long, long, long line to get on the bus.

I find that you learn a lot about human's in general when the chips are down. Me being the social sort, befriended a couple of people in line. We tried to rent a car, but the airport terminals closed and we couldn't. So we waited. Finally it was our turn to get on the bus and begin the 2 plus hour journey down the 15. Thankfully the two people I met were great. We passed the time talking about a bunch of different subjects, including the World Series, world travel, the internet and it's affect on society, and how SLOWLY the bus driver was going! I want to thank those two folks, for being so cool, and making a bad situation tolerable.

Again to revisit, supposed arrival time in San Diego, 10pm, actual arrival time, 1:27am. Ouch.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Have a great night, and stay tuned to this blog for all the latest on the Padres off-season news and the latest on the USD Toreros!

Andy

Game 6...

It's all on the line for the Phillies again tonight, as the Yankees can close out championship #27 with a win tonight. Philadelphia forced the series back to NYC with an 8-6 win in Philly Monday night. Tonight's pitching matchup is one for the ages, two veterans, with tons of post season experience, Andy Pettitte on three day's rest for the Yankees, against Pedro Martinez for the Phils.

Chase Utley has had himself quite a series, he's blasted 5 home runs, to tie Reggie Jackson for the most ever hit in a single World Series.

Late breaking news from @Philaphillies (the official team twitter), Shane Victorino is in the Phillies starting lineup. It reads as follows: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Werth, Ibanez, Feliz, Francisco, and Ruiz. Ibanez is the DH.

From @Yankees (the official team twitter) here's the Yankees lineup tonight: Jeter, Damon, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Matsui (DH), Posada, Cano, Swisher, Gardner.

More after the game. And some details on my crazy adventure of a flight back to San Diego last night. I wound up in Ontario.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Incredib-LEE the Phillies are still alive...

Cliff Lee once again proved he was the best pick up of the season before the trade deadline. Lee pitched into the 8th and gave his team a chance, and they cashed in, with a hard fought 8-6 win in game 5 of the World Series. It's heading back to New York now, with the Yankees in front 3-2. You knew that the defending champs would not go quietly into that goodnight (nice obscure "Back to School reference there for all you Rodney Dangerfield fans), and that was the case in their final home game of 2009.

Once again it was Chase to the rescue, and I'm not talking about the bank. The only deposits being made were balls off the bat of Chase Utley into the stands. The Phillies 2B hit two more in game 5 giving him 5 for the World Series tying "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson for the most in a single World Series. The Phillies certainly needed both of his HR's, and got another homer off the bat of Raul Ibanez to force a Game 6.

AJ Burnett pitching on 3 days rest, looked like he needed some more. He only made it into the third inning before being lifted by manager Joe Girardi. It's a shame for the Yankees too, because with their offense they are rarely out of games. They made a valiant come back but fell just short.

World Serious...
Ryan Howard, is mired in a terrible offensive slump, he's 3 for 19 (.158) with 12 strikeouts, tying the WS record held by Kansas City's Willie Wilson in 1980...

Eric Hinske got a pinch hit at bat tonight, he has now appeared in 3 consecutive WS, with 3 different teams. 2007, Boston, 2008 Tampa Bay (homered against Phillies) and 2009 Yankees. He joins Don Baylor (1986-88) as the only players to accomplish this feat...

Lee gave up five runs in his 7 innings, but remained perfect this post-season, he's now 4-0...

The series now shifts back to New York, for game 6, on Wednesday. Pedro Martinez will start for the Phillies, facing Andy Pettitte for the Yankees.

Random Musings...
I'll be the emcee for the USD Toreros 6th Man Night on Thursday as we get ready to lift the curtain on the 2009-10 season. Steve Lavin, the former coach of the UCLA Bruins will be the guest speaker for the event. Lavin was the only analyst to correctly predict that the Toreros would upset UCONN in the NCAA's two years ago. I'll have a full report on the events of the night later in the week. Toreros start the season at home against Stanford, Friday November 13. Hope to see you there. Or hope you listen starting at 6:45 on XX 1090!

I will not have a blog (at least not planning on it, but you never know!) tomorrow. It's a travel day for yours truly. Heading back to San Diego after a relaxing few weeks in the Windy City with my family and friends. It was great catching up, but now it's time to get back and get ready for hoops!!

Have a great night!

Andy

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Advantage Yankees...

Nick Swisher? The same Nick Swisher the White Sox got rid of? The Nick Swisher that was benched by manager Joe Girardi in game 2? Yes, it was that Nick Swisher who came back to help the Yankees, win game 3 and take a 2-1 lead in the World Series. A crushing blow to the Phillies, who give up a game at home, and now will have to hope they can force the series back to New York. Cole Hamels last year's MVP has looked like anything but that this post-season, while Andy Pettitte looked like the solid veteran pitcher he is, in helping his team to a win.

It wasn't only Swisher (2-4, HR, RBI), it was replay to the rescue in a critical part of the game. The Phillies had a 3-0 lead, as the top of the 4th began. Mark Teixeira drew a walk, and then Alex Rodriguez drove a ball to the right field corner, it looked to have hit off the wall, for what was ruled a double. But after further review...the ball hit the TV camera down the line and over the wall, and was ruled a 2 run homer, and the Yankees were rolling after that.

Tonight, the Yankees and Phillies go in game 4...Joe Blanton will take the ball for Philadelphia and CC Sabathia will throw for the Yankees, on 3 days rest.

After further review...my thoughts on replay...
REPLAY. It's the dreaded "R" word for baseball and its umpires. This was the first time the video was used in a world series game, EVER. Is it a sign of things to come in the regular season? It very well could be. To me, you can't slow the game of baseball down anymore than it already is (not a bad thing to me, love the drama and no clock), but something needs to be done. I realize the human element has been in place since the game began, but these humans make critical mistakes and cost teams games. Something like the NFL plan can be put into place. Allow team's managers to "challenge" 2 plays a game. Here's the way to regulate it though. If you lose your first challenge, you lose your second challenge as well. This way, team's will have to be absolutely certain of their challenge or they could lose both.

Balls and strikes would not be a situation allowed to be challenged. Fair/Foul, HR/no HR, catch/no catch, and perhaps those bang-bang plays on the bases would be challengeable. Wonder if baseball will agree with me? Wonder if you agree with me? Comment!

Random musings on a Sunday...
I still don't get this daylight savings time thing. Why do we insist on being miserable in the winter time with less light? I know that there were reasons for it way back when, farmers and the like needed earlier sunrise in the fall/winter to harvest crops, but now we have portable lighting systems and other technology. Hmmm.

Just in case you didn't know. Brett Favre is returning to Lambeau Field as a Viking today to play his former team the Packers. Not sure if you heard that enough.

I predict that the Chargers will roll over the Raiders today at the Q. The Raiders are playing better lately, but their QB JaMarcus Russell looks lost at times. Ron Rivera will have to get his troops to the QB, not just to sack him, but to hit him, make him uncomfortable and he'll throw picks a plenty.

Personal Note...
It was 10 years ago today that a childhood hero of mine passed away, much too soon. Walter Payton, the man they called "Sweetness" died of complications due to liver cancer on this date in 1999. Two of the toughest things I've ever covered in my career as a sportscaster were Payton's announcement that he had the disease. He broke down on the podium and it was a surreal feeling to be there. Payton passed just before a Bears/Packers game at Lambeau Field. I covered his funeral from a distance, and then the game in Green Bay. The Bears had a 14-13 lead with :05 left in the 4th quarter. Ryan Longwell was setting up for a chip shot field goal to win the game. Somehow, Bears lineman Mike Wells, reached up and blocked the kick. It was an amazing scene on the field. Everybody knew that #34 had something to do with it and who am I to disagree. Rest in peace Sweetness.

That's it for me...enjoy the game tonight and football today....

Andy

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's All Even...

It was deemed a must win for the Yankees, and they came through at home in Game 2 of the World Series, with a 3-1 victory over the Phillies. It was a good pitching battle for the first few innings, with AJ Burnett and Pedro Martinez keeping each offense silent. But in the end, it was the Yankees offense that woke up, Mark Teixeira hit a homer and New York knots the series at 1 a piece.

As I suspected last night, Joe Girardi went to Mariano Rivera for 2 innings to nail down the save. Girardi has seemingly lost faith in that middle relief/set up corps, including Joba Chamberlain and Phillip Hughes. Rivera is not exactly in the early part of his career and you have to wonder how often Girardi will be able to call upon him to get 6 outs.

As hot as Alex Rodriguez was in the ALDS and ALCS, is as cold as he's been in the first two games of the World Series. He is 0 for 8 and has struck out 6 times in the series.

World Series Musings...
Noticed today (sorry if I'm late to the party), but the Phillies have an old sport coat once worn by legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas, hanging in the dugout. I think that's a great gesture on the team's part. Kalas was a part of the Phillies previous two WS wins, in 1980 and last year.

Umpire Brian Gorman was front and center, robbing both teams of scoring chances. He called a "line drive" caught by Ryan Howard, when replays show it was short hopped. Howard threw to Jimmy Rollins who tagged Jorge Posada to "double him up" and the Yankee threat was over. Gorman also called Chase Utley out at first base completing a double play in the 8th inning. Replays show it was not that close, that Utley beat the throw and should have been on base with Howard at the plate. Nope. The 6 man umpire crew huddled a couple of times tonight, that's never a good thing, especially when they don't get the calls correct. Most of the time.

Have you ever been to a game at Yankee Stadium? Have you ever heard a bunch of orchestrated cheering in the top of the first inning and wondered, "what is that?" The fans in the right center field bleachers do what they call a "roll call" chant. They start in leftfield, by chanting that players' name, they move to center, to right, to third, short, second and first. They leave the pitcher and catcher alone. The only way they stop chanting the player's name, is when he acknowledges the cheer, with a wave, or a tip of the cap. It's pretty cool to see it and hear it live at a game.

Chase Utley just keeps on going. He's now been on base in 27 consecutive post season games.

Derek Jeter was named the 2009 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award. It's given annually to the player who combines community service and excellence on the field.

Padres stuff...
My buddy Corey Brock the Padres beat writer for MLB.com, is going back through the 2009 season and grading the starting pitching, bullpen, offense and defense. It's an interesting look at what was and what might be...the series is titled, Making the Grade.

Alright, have a great night....

Andy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Phillies Chase Yankees Home Field Advantage, Quick-Lee...

Two swings of Chase Utley's bat, and many swings and misses by Yankees hitters, that added up to a 6-1 win for Philadelphia in Game One of the World Series. Utley hit 2 home runs off of CC Sabathia, and Cliff Lee went the distance for the second time this post season. He allowed just 6 hits, walked none and struck out 10. He's now 3-0, with a 0.54 ERA in the playoffs. Lee struck out Alex Rodriguez three times, holding him hitless in 4 at bats in game one.

The Yankees have to be asking themselves what it might be like to possibly face the lefty Lee 2 more times. Sabathia lost for the first time in the playoffs this year, and didn't pitch badly, he just didn't get any offensive support and exited the game after 7 innings. That's when the lead was only 2-0 Phillies, and that's when the game turned. The Yankees bullpen imploded. The combination of Hughes, Marte, Robinson, Bruney, and Coke gave up 4 earned runs over 2 innings and it was pretty much over. Remember that one of the keys I brought up yesterday was getting the game to Mariano Rivera. If the Yankees can't find a way to do that, they could be in trouble.

Utley by the way, set a new post season record by reaching in his 26th straight playoff game. He failed to reach in his very first game in 2007, and has reached in every one since.

Game 2...
The Yankees won't have to wait long to try and even up the series. Game two is Thursday night in the Bronx. AJ Burnett will try to turn things around, after a rough outing in Anaheim last week as the Yankees couldn't close out the Angels that night. Pedro Martinez will go for the Phillies. He is no stranger to pitching in New York, he had some memorable games against the Yankees, while pitching for the Red Sox.

All the pressure in Game 2, squarely falls on Burnett. The Yankees and their three man rotation has usually featured a win by Sabathia, allowing Burnett and Pettitte a little margin for error. Not Thursday night. Burnett needs a strong 7 or more likely 8 innings to get things to Rivera. Joe Girardi is probably sleeping on whether or not to use Rivera for 2 innings like he did in the clincher against the Angels.

For Martinez he'll make his first career start at the New Yankee Stadium, but he won't be phased. Pedro is a career 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA against the Yankees in New York. He has made only 1 post season start this season, he didn't figure in the decision against the Dodgers in the NLCS. He went seven scoreless innings in that start. That's the last time he's pitched, so the 38 year old should be fresh and ready to go.

Umps get one right...
I know I'm not alone in beating up the umps this post-season, and I've certainly pointed out when they've blown calls, now it's time to point out one they got right. Give this crew some credit. With Yankee runner at first, in the 5th inning, Robinson Cano hit a sinking liner to Rollins, he made the catch on the line, just to be certain he stepped on second and then threw wide to first pulling Ryan Howard off of first (maybe). Matsui the runner at first, believing he'd been forced at 2nd, stopped running, and Rollins noticed it, yelling to Howard to tag Matsui. He did. Now at first, the umps ruled only one out. They huddled, all six of them, and then realized that if Rollins made the catch, the touch of second was a non factor, and Matsui was off the bag at first, for a very strange 6-3 double play. Way to get it right guys. Congratulations.

Notes...
This was the first World Series matchup of Cy Young winners, since Greg Maddux (Atlanta) faced Orel Hershiser (Cleveland) in 1995.

The last six teams to win the series opener, have gone on to win the World Series Title.

Sex for tix?
Police in Philadelphia arrested a woman for offering "sexual services for world series tickets" in an on line ad. The 43-year old self described "buxom blonde" was trying to 'score' tickets on line to take her husband to a Phillies WS game. She was arrested when she showed up at a bar, and met up with an undercover police officer who responded to the ad. Her lawyer is trying to get the charges dropped.

On that note. Have a great night!

Andy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here We Go...

It's World Series eve, and it's time to get things underway. The Yankees host the Phillies in game one at the new stadium in the bronx. It's going to be a matchup of former Cleveland Indians teammates, each making their first world series start, CC Sabathia for the Yankees and Cliff Lee for the Phillies. They are the last two AL Cy Young award winners as well.

Let's break down this series...

Philadelphia Phillies, NL Champions, Defending WS Champs...
The Phillies certainly have recent experience on their side. Virtually everybody on the roster played for the WS team of a year ago. That certainly bodes well for them. When you look at the Philadelphia starting rotation, it gets off to a great start with Lee. He was arguably the most important pick up of the 2009 season. The Phillies come back with more post-season experience in Pedro Martinez and then last year's MVP, Cole Hamels. Then Charlie Manuel has a choice, with either Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, or go right back with Lee depending on how the series is playing out.

The Phillies bullpen again is a source of questions. It seems like Brad Lidge has regained some of his form of last year, nailing down saves in the NLDC and NLCS. His confidence is back, but will it remain if a hot hitting Yankees team lights him up in an outing. Getting the ball to him has also been a tough chore at times. Chad Durbin did a nice job in the NLCS, Ryan Madson had his moments, veteran lefty Scott Eyre has been solid and Chan Ho Park has been a bit up and down. This is going to be important to the Phillies if they hope to repeat as champs.

We know that the Phils hit some home runs, and Yankee Stadium along with Citizens Bank Park, are both conducive to the long ball. The Phillies do not completely rely on the long ball though, with some speed at the top of their lineup with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.

New York Yankees, AL Champions for the 40th time...
Even though it's been a while since the Yankees made it to the World Series, there are a few key members of the team that have some credible experience in the post-season. Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera to name two. The Yankees manager, Joe Girardi also has WS experience as a player. The New York starting rotation is pretty similar to that of the Phillies, with CC Sabathia the ALCS MVP going in game one, AJ Burnett who has been up and down this post season gets game two, and Andy Pettitte will throw game three. It's very likely that Girardi will bring back Sabathia for a fourth game and possibly a 7th game if its necessary, and why not?

The Yankees bullpen is also quite similar to that of the Phillies. The only difference is a rock solid playoff and world series tested closer in Mariano Rivera. Getting the ball to him has been a bit of an adventure in the post season, but if the Yankees can get leads, and get him in the game, consider it won.

Home runs were flying off the bats of the Yankees this season as well. So again the offenses are similarly matched each team having some good table setters and good power in the middle of the lineup.

Who will win...
It's been a while since two teams that are basically mirror images of one another will face each other for all the marbles in the World Series. After thinking about some of the facts in the breakdown segment, I'm going to select the New York Yankees to win the series, and it's going to go the full 7 games.

The difference is going to be Rivera. He's about the only thing that really separates the two teams. I give the slight edge to the Yankees also in the starting rotation. Sabathia has been as advertised and worth every penny he signed for this off season and is there a bigger game pitcher in the post-season out there than Andy Pettitte? Defensively the nod goes to the Phillies, and I give them the slight edge in offense, but as many around baseball will tell you, good pitching can stop good pitching.

The other interesting thing to watch will be the use of the DH in the AL park and no DH in the NL park. Ben Francisco will likely start as DH for the Phillies in game one against the lefty Sabathia. To me the difference will be hard to notice. The Phillies are built almost like an American League team.

I really hope it's an exciting series that provides some drama, and that NO GAME IS DECIDED BY A BLOWN CALL BY AN UMPIRE!

Can I get an AMEN?

WS Notes:
* The Phillies are the first NL team to go to back to back World Series since the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and 1996.
* The Yankees won the World Series in their first season in the Old Yankee Stadium, and played exactly 100 series games there.
* The Yankees are the last team to repeat as champions, they won three WS in a row, from 1998-2000.

Jimmy "The Greek"?
Jimmy Rollins is stirring up the pot a bit, making a bold prediction before this series starts. He told New York Newsday:
"Oh, man, well of course we're going to win," Rollins said. "If we're nice, we'll let it go six. But I'm thinking five and close it out at home."
Rollins has made statements before, just ask the Mets in 2007. Rollins irritated that New York team by saying that he had no doubt the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East that year. He backed up his words by winning the NL MVP Award that season as the Phillies won the division.

Random Thoughts...
Mentioned yesterday that Mark McGwire was hired as the Cardinals new hitting coach. It prompted an interesting comment from a viewer. To paraphrase, the question is, why is McGwire allowed back into baseball and Pete Rose is still banned? McGwire never admitted to steroid use, and basically dodged the issue in front of the US Congress. Rose, denied and denied and denied he ever bet on baseball, that is until it was time to sell a book, and he in a roundabout sort of way admitted to it finally. It's a tough call. McGwire never tested positive for steroids. The whole issue started when someone noticed the Andro (not going to even try and spell it) in his locker. I think the fact that McGwire has been out of sight makes many think he's guilty. I do believe that McGwire owes the game and the fans an explanation. He needs to hold a press conference before Spring Training starts to clear the air. Otherwise his presence is going to be a distraction to the Cardinals and to the game. He'll be the focus of the media every time the Cardinals visit a new city. This could be interesting.

Brad Mills has been hired as the new manager of the Houston Astros. Mills has been the bench coach in Boston under Terry Francona the last 6 seasons. He does have minor league managing experience, spending 11 seasons as a skipper for three different organizations.

The Ricketts family is finally the owner of the Chicago Cubs. They were approved by the other major league teams, and have taken a 95 percent controlling interest of the team, and Wrigley Field. The sale from the Tribune Company, was for a reported 845 million dollars.

Not sure if you realize this or not, but Brett Favre is playing the Packers this weekend in Green Bay. A special thanks to Fox-TV for making this point, VERY CLEAR during every waking moment of Sunday's NFL coverage. Ugh.

The NBA season opened tonight, somebody please wake me when it ends...

On that note...have a great night!

Andy





Monday, October 26, 2009

Hoyer In the Fold...


The Padres made it official today, announcing that Jed Hoyer will be the team's new General Manager replacing Kevin Towers.

Hoyer is 35 years old and makes his way to San Diego from Boston where he worked as the assistant GM to another man with Padres ties, Theo Epstein. Hoyer held his first press conference this afternoon, and talked extensively about his plans for the organization moving forward. One thing he really hit hard, was using PETCO Park to the team's advantage.
"It's really important to dominate your home games, to do really well," Hoyer said. "One of the advantages in San Diego is you can tailor the team to the ballpark."
That process seemed to start last season, with the addition of some speed on both the bases and in the outfield. The acquisition of Rule 5 draftee Everth Cabrera, Tony Gwynn Jr. and the emergence of Will Venable as a solid defender in the outfield certainly helped out a young pitching staff.

Hoyer was very complimentary of his predecessor Kevin Towers.

"I grew up in baseball listening to Theo extol Kevin's virtues," Hoyer said. "I got to know him a little bit through Theo. He's one of the best baseball guys in the game. ...

"I'm incredibly thankful for what he's left behind. He's left behind some great players, some great building blocks and a great baseball operations staff. Every day I walk into the office, I'm going to be thankful for the work he did."

He also outlined a brief philosophy on how he wants to proceed...
"My goal is consistency. I want to make sure that on Opening Day every year, there's a quality team on the field. Really, the only way to develop that kind of consistency is through scouting and player development. Relying on external forces -- trades, free agents -- that's not the way I want to build a team. I want to build from within."
I look forward to meeting him when I get back to town. I'll certainly provide some details when I get that chance. I want to say thanks to Friar John and his blog for providing the picture above, and the quotes.

World Series...
The matchup is set, the Yankees look for their 27th World Championship, taking on the Phillies who are looking to make it back to back titles. I'll provide a little more insight into the series and give you my pick to win it all tomorrow. I think these two teams are quite evenly matched and have pretty similar strengths. Could be a good series.

Who's the Boss?
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was not at the "House that George Built" to celebrate another American League Pennant. "The Boss" as he's referred to, is not in great health, and only saw 3 regular season games this year. He will be in attendance Wednesday when the World Series starts. Love him or hate him, the Yankees players and coaches are excited to see him at the stadium. Steinbrenner was and is still in some circles a polarizing figure. He had a reputation of being a hot headed, quick tempered owner. He hated losing, and sometimes didn't go about making his changes in a "politically correct" manner, if you will. He made few friends outside of New York, but give him his due, the Yankees have been a dominant force under his leadership. Brash as it may be.

Not even close...Yankees crush Giants...on TV...
Fans in New York, chose the Yankees over the football Giants by a wide margin last night. The ALCS clincher was seen by 26.4 percent of the TV's in the market, while the Giants were watched by only 9.3 percent of households with TV's. By the way, what households don't have TV's these days?

Big Mac is back, so is LaRussa...
Tony LaRussa agreed to a one year extension with the Cardinals marking his 15th season as the team's manager. As I eluded to yesterday, he made one change to his coaching staff, with the hiring of a new hitting coach, Mark McGwire. Big Mac has been in virtual baseball seclusion since his famous "I'm not here to talk about the past" statement before Congress. It will be interesting to see how he will be received outside of St Louis. Some are quick to forgive, some are long to forget.

Alright, that's it for now...perhaps more later....

Andy