Farewell to Skip Caray (cont.)
From the mailbag
How can you call the Dodgers winners because they only gave up [Andy] LaRoche and then call the Pirates winners because they got LaRoche? Can he play or not?
-- Scott Seibel, Dallas
Scott, I don't see the problem. Giving up a third baseman that had started to disappoint a lot of people in L.A. and getting a bat like Ramirez in return was a definite win for the Dodgers, even if Manny only plays in Hollywood for a couple months. And getting a young, possibly talented third baseman like LaRoche (the guy still has time to bloom) while giving up a player who wasn't going to be around very long anyway (Jason Bay) could be a nice move for the Pirates. I think both those teams got better in the three-team swap with Boston. It's just going to take the Pirates a little longer to realize it.
Everyone keeps talking about the Red Sox's loss of production by getting Bay for Manny. Is a healthy and motivated Bay really a downgrade from a severely unmotivated, possibly unhealthy and most likely disgruntled Manny? We're not talking about trading Manny in his prime for Bay in his prime, we're talking about Bay's production with the Sox through 2009 versus Manny's production with the Sox for the next two months. I'll take a good player who is healthy, well rounded, motivated and younger, over an excellent one-dimensional player that is possibly unhealthy (if he sits out), older and severely unmotivated if he stays.
-- Mike, Methuen, Mass.
I think what people forget in this argument, Mike, is that Manny's numbers are a little down from his prime not because of his age or any possible injury, but because he was unhappy and unmotivated in Boston. In L.A. he'll be extremely motivated (his free agency goal depends on it). I don't like how he does business. It's reprehensible. But you can't take this away from him: The man can rake.
Have you looked at the Marlins rotation? At what point do you stop saying the numbers don't add up, and accept what the important numbers say? We have the best record against the division, and our offense (while inconsistent) is just as good as the other two. I think we are going to take it.
-- Manny, Miami
I can't call the Marlins the equivalent of the Mets or the Phils, either offensively or on the pitching side. Not yet. Look at the numbers. And as far as their record against the East ... Sorry, I'm still not convinced. Look, there are lots of guys I like on this team. But there are lots of things (the strikeouts, the on-base percentage, the errors) that I don't.
The Braves trading Mark Teixeira is the sign to me that they are "rebuilding" -- but that is what happens when teams just don't have what it takes to be among the elite. We had Tex and we still didn't make it to the postseason. I hope Tex has success out there in Anaheim.
-- Kente Bates, LaGrange, Ga.
The Braves don't like to use that word. But, yeah, it's a whole 'nother world for them now. More on that later this week ...
Re: Billy Beane. Thing is, they never actually get to the point where they are truly in the running. Every time they assemble some young talent they have to trade it away before it comes to fruition. Same issue with my team, the Twins. In Minnesota everyone is all excited about this good young team ... just like a few years ago with Santana, Hunter, et al. And when this current group of young guys reaches their prime they'll say they can't afford them and will trade away everyone but Mauer since he's from Minnesota. It gets tiresome. I've lost the illusion that the Twins will ever truly compete absent an owner willing to spend and/or true revenue sharing.
-- MK, Albuquerque
Understood. It's hard enough for a low-revenue team to get to the postseason and actually win something -- well, think Florida in 2003. And then stop there. I think revenue sharing has definitely made it easier for Florida, Minnesota, Oakland and teams like that. But if you're smart and have the money, that's a tough combination to beat.
Why do you and other sportswriters keep putting Barry Bonds out there? Sure he may be a cheap date now, but let it lie. Let him slip into obscurity. There are a significant number of players out there who are working hard for their teams every day. Spend some sentences and paragraphs on them, not on Bonds. If some team really, really wanted to deal with his baggage, he would be acquired by now. Let him go.
-- Derek Aldridge, Austin, Texas
Derek, you may not believe this, but that piece wasn't meant to inflame. I just find it odd that arguably the best hitter of this generation, coming off a fine year, can't find a job with anyone, let alone the sole team that would be able to handle all the debate around him. I understand why most teams wouldn't want him. And I think that's a good call ... for just about every team. But Bonds with the Yanks is something that I think is worth talking about. Maybe the Yankees think he's done, baseball-wise, that he's simply been away too long to do them any good, that he's not worth even a minimum-wage chance. That's the only explanation I have.
What do you think of Detroit finally giving up on "Roller Coaster Jones" in the closer spot? I don't have much faith in Zoom Zoom or Rodney, but the 80 mph meatballs needed to stop! Do you think Detroit even has a chance to catch Chicago? The wild card is out of the question (too strong in the East). It's division or bust!
-- Jack Henry, Detroit
Agree with the division-or-nothing call, Jack. I'm not sure whether Fernando Rodney can work as a closer -- he didn't on Sunday -- or even Kyle Farnsworth, if that's the way the Tigers go. Either way I don't think it matters. The Tigers just got swept by the Rays. They're back under .500. They just don't have enough pitching. But you probably knew that.