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Lock 'em up (cont.)

Posted: Friday July 13, 2007 12:30PM; Updated: Sunday July 15, 2007 2:12AM
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Mark Buehrle, SP, White Sox
Four years, $56 million
The White Sox reportedly were on the verge of trading their durable lefty, who has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the past six years. But when Buehrle demonstrated a desire to stay with the Sox, and when general manager Kenny Williams wasn't getting any trade offers that he liked, the two sides punched out a deal that very likely will keep Buehrle on the South Side through the 2011 season. He can be traded during some windows in his contract, but to do so would be an awfully expensive proposition.

The deal sounds like a lot for a pitcher, and it is, more than Ted Lilly got from the Cubs (four years, $40 million) last winter and more than Gil Meche got from the Royals (five years, $55 million). Still, it'll probably end up being below market-level next winter. It's certainly far below what Barry Zito got from the Giants (seven years, $126 million). So Buehrle gets to stay put, he gets a big raise and he hits free agency again in his early 30s with the chance of another fat contract. The Sox get a good innings-eating horse to steady the rotation, a guy they know intimately, for a relatively short-term deal for a pitcher these days. And at a price that could seem like a steal in a very short time.

The signing also allows Williams and the team to concentrate on trading others (pitchers Javier Vazquez and Jose Contreras, possibly, and outfielder Jermaine Dye) in trying to quickly rebuild.

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More on loving/hating Bonds, and just hating on the Mets ...

The constant pecking on Barry Bonds becomes annoying. Of course I'm gutted by the pollution of baseball stats through doping as well. But the bigots who are hunting down Bonds were invisible during Mark McGwire's hunt of the season home run record. I still own an old Inside Sports issue where Mac gives an interview saying his increased power comes from a changed nutrition. Of course he lied, but it seems all forgotten. So I would have cheered Bonds as well, to document my non-approval toward the bigots who were involved in this thing.
-- Oliver Kind, Cologne/Germany

Look, I'm not so na´ve to think that racism and bigotry don't play some part in this whole mess. But playing the McGwire card is no way to go about proving it. You're right, Oliver, that the media and fans weren't, at first, all over McGwire. But you have to remember, nobody was getting jumped on back then. For anything. Not McGwire, not Sammy Sosa, not Ken Griffey Jr. Nobody. Maybe it was because we were na´ve, or blind, or that we just chose to be blind. Whatever. We just didn't see. That said, once the androstenedione was pointed out in McGwire's locker, the whole situation began to blow up. It became very uncomfortable for McGwire. Nothing close to what Bonds is going through, true. Not even close. But it wasn't like McGwire got a free ride. His dealings with performance-enhancers were not forgotten. The subject hounded him for the rest of his career. And the media, through the Baseball Writers Association of America, spoke loudly when they forcefully turned McGwire away in Hall of Fame voting last year.

Why do you writers support Bonds? He's a cheat. Whatever he once gave the game, he has since taken back 300 percent. I guess the guy who wires his reflexes to a computer and hits every pitch out of the park will be your next hero. He's a cheat. He's made enough money for 40 people to live on comfortably. Send him home. Get him out of the game.
-- Fabian, Seattle

And thanks for that opposing point of view, Fabian.

Giants fans aren't (unseeing) or blind to accusations surrounding Bonds. It's very simple: Bonds may be a bastard but he's our bastard. There is a lot of sentiment that the national media is trying to force us to toe the line on the Bonds issue, basically saying that any opinion that differs from theirs is wrong.
-- Jon Ozenne, California

I laughed when I first read this, Jon, but I think there's something to your argument in explaining the favoritism some fans shower on Bonds. It's simply a backlash to all the criticism. And it happens elsewhere, too. The people in New York, for instance, show plenty of hometown love to Jason Giambi. Certainly you can argue that he has handled his situation better than Bonds has handled his, and that's why fans, for the most part, accept him in New York. But I think that you're right, Jon. Giambi is New York's guy, and New Yorkers are not going to let others tell them how to treat their guys. Maybe the same's true for San Franciscans and Bonds fans in general.

Do you really think you're being fair to the Mets? They were without three everyday players for long stretches of the first half, watched Carlos Delgado forget how to hit, watched Mike Pelfrey go 0-6 (if you include their other callups ex Jorge Sosa, it balloons to 0-9, which makes them 47-29 in their other games) and got shaky bullpen work outside of Billy Wagner and Pedro Feliciano. And yet, they're two games up in the division. Is this really "disastrously disappointing" as you suggest, or pretty darn good for the hardest luck team in the first half of the year?
-- Matt Barasch, Toronto

I don't think that the Mets faced any harder luck than many other teams. Delgado's poor hitting is not bad luck. The shaky bullpen is not bad luck. Tom Glavine's problems, and Oliver Perez's, are not back luck. You call Moises Alou's injury bad luck? If so, he's had a string of it lately. And injuries affect everybody. So face it: The Mets just didn't play well in the first half, for a variety of reasons inside and outside of their control, and if the rest of the division hadn't struggled, too, they wouldn't be in first place. Simple as that.

The Bottom Lines

I find it hilarious that people can get so worked up about supposedly poor managing in an All-Star Game. How can anyone hold Tony La Russa to any kind of managerial standard in a game that is anything but standard? The All-Star Game, from the start, is played differently than other games. (I saw Ichiro peel off instead of trying to break up a double play at second. And A-Rod wasn't about to bowl over Russell Martin at the plate, was he?) It's managed differently. (Brad Penny was pulled after nine pitches, for crying out loud.) And, seriously, if this game were really important, don't you think that La Russa would have had Albert Pujols in there, if not from the start, then very nearly after the start? Drop it, folks, like La Russa and Pujols have. Everybody knows by now: It's an exhibition ... Hilarious, too, is how the Yankees may be falling all over themselves to make A-Rod like them now. "Hey, A-Rod, wanna talk extension now, even though we said we wouldn't?" If A-Rod has a second half that comes anywhere near his first half, and the Yankees let him get away, they could end up regretting it for the next decade, at least ... See where Mark Teixeira ripped the Rangers the other day in the Dallas Morning News? "We're a big-market team that's playing like a small-market team," he said, sounding an awful lot like a guy who wants out of town ... Rickey Henderson is an entertaining guy. Rickey knows hitting. But a coach? A hitting coach? I just don't see it.

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