December 2008

Could the 2009 Yankees be Channeling the 2008 Tigers?

 



 

I was thinking the other day about all these signings by the New York Yankees for their pitching staff, will these moves guarantee that the team will be better in 2009. On the surface, it looks like the team has made a huge upgrade in talent in their pitching staff, but does that always commute to a championship, or even a playoff berth. You only need to go a less than 500 or so miles to the west to get your answer here. Just because you took the Hot Stove season by surprise doesn’t put you in the playoffs in December.

 

In 2008, oddsmakers, fans and  legions of experts ( including the talking heads in Bristol ) declared the Detroit Tigers  the early favorite to win the whole enchilada after their blockbuster 7-player deal with the Florida Marlins.  That deal was completed a little over a year ago at last season’s Winter Meetings  when they pickjed up vital cogs , pitcher Dontrelle Willis and  power hitter Miquel Cabrera.  Along with the other upstart pitching they had, the Tigers looked like the runaway favorite to crush the American League Central enroute to a playoff berth.

 

In fact, it was a player outside of that 7-player  merry-go-round who made the most impact in 2008. In a little thought of deal with the Teaxas Rangers, the Tigers picked up a young thrower, Armando Galarraga. During the season,  Galarraga went 13-7, with a 3.73 ERA to be the standout pitcher, not the veteran Willis, who spent most of the year fighting control and delivery problems.

 

 

 

At one point in the season, Willis was pitching in the Class-A Florida State League for the Lakeland Flying Tigers before coming back up to the majors late in the season for the Tigers.  When he did come back up, he had a poor performance in his 9 appearances, going 0-2, with a 9.38 ERA.  Cabrera also got off to a rocky start , was playing musical chairs in the infield, and finally ended up at first base before righting his ship in 2008.

Cabrera did get the offensive side of his game going, and ended up strongly in 2008, but it a example of a little too much too late as the team was by then buried in the cellars of the American League Central division. By the time the entire team rebounded and played solid ball, it was too late and the dream was shattered as the team ended the season in the cellar of the division.


 

 

 

The 2008 Tigers are a prime example of the fact that big splashes do not always guarantee wins in this league.  Some times the act of acquiring great players doesn’t add up in the wins column. They got a bit blindsided in a deal for Edgar Renteria where they gave up a promising  righthanded starter, Jair Jurrjens, who went an unexpected 13-10, with a 3.68 ERA over 188.1 innings for the Atlanta Braves.  Jurrjens ended up 2008, being a consistant  pitcher for the Braves, and exceeded the teams expectations for him at his young age.

Tigers starter Kenny Rogers got old quick during the season.  Reliable inning-eater Jeremy Bonderman got hurt, and Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander did not have the expected seasons, actually showing decreasing numbers and suspect pitching at times during the year. With the season seemingly going down the tubes, the team even traded away power-hitting catcher Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez to the New York Yankees at the Trading Deadline.  Rodriguez at the time was in a offensive decline, which added to the Tigers; frustrations during the season.

 

So we come down to now, a year later, and the New York squad  hit the neon-clad Vegas strip for the Winter Meetings with their purse strings wide open seeking the ‘ miracle fix’ for their upcoming season that showed the Yankees struggled all season long to even stay out of 4th place in the Americna League East.  The team came into the Winter Meetings with an aggressive plan to upgrade and take the  best players on the board back to their new  shiny and sparkling cathedral to start the rebirth of promise in the Big Apple and reclaim the legend that is the Yankees.


 

 

            

 

The Yankees did seem to hit the jackpot early this off-season and made the biggest splash in the pool so far in the league, but will it be enough to even guarantee a playoff berth for the Bronx team.  Two days after the Yankees signed C.C. Sabathia to a seven-year $ 161 million dollar  deal, they agreed to give A.J. Burnett  a five-year, $ 82.5 million dollar payday. With the Yankees still having their purse strings open, they might even still bring in another ace like Derek Lowe, or even solid leftie Andy Pettitte  might come back to his old locker and play again for the Bronx bombers in the new digs.

 

There is still speculation that sluggers Mark Teixiera and even Manny Ramirez might even pack their respective West Coast bags and head to the City that never sleeps.  With targets like that, can the Yankees even still claim a divisional title or even a Wild Card berth in their own division.

 

Most would these deals put the Yankees on the front burner in the A L East, or will they struggle against the up and coming Rays and Blue Jays, and the always offensive-minded Boston Red Sox. Both of the teams that the Yankees looked up at in the standings in 2008 come back for more with consistant squads both in the offensive and pitching departments. And the Blue Jays and Orioles can battle with the best of them when the matchups are equal.

 

Both  Burnett and Sabathia had remarkable seasons in 2008, and should warrant a upgrade in  their salaries and a better chance to claim a World Series ring, but will 2009 be that season, or will it just be the first year building up steam for future runs at the trophy. The once powerful Yankees offense still  still seems to be churning on 7 cylinders in the off-season, with both Abreu and Rodriguez not in the fold any longer, can the pitching upgrade bring the team’s  sudden offensive holes to a small diameter.

 

 

 

Hank Steinbrenner must now channel his best imitation of his father and figure out a fast fix for the offensive lineup of the Yankees.  Two mainstays, A-Rod and Derek Jeter are back for another season, and should have consisitant years, but first base has a hole, rightfield is an issue, and catching must find an offensive leader to carry the team. Jorge Posada might finally move from behind the plate and be the upgrade the team needs at first base, or Designated Hitter. But that still leaves a huge hole to fill in rightfield.

 

 

Do the Yankees throw a bushel of money at Ramirez and move Xavier Nady to right and camp Ramirez in the left-field corner of the new Yankees Stadium.  That answer might be forth coming in the next few weeks, but the issue of Teixeira maybe coming to the Bronx will be resolved in the next few days. He wants to have a solid playing location and residence area by the end of the 2008 year. With the clock ticking and money again being thrown at the top guys, can the pinstripes again be on a roll to the championship?

 

 

2009 is on the horizon for the Yankees, and with sure issues still going on in-house as to a payroll or even a roster, the team will plug and fill from now until Febuary. But can this upgrade on both sides of the ball even guarantee anything for them next year. Will the team go strong out of the gate and then suffer the curse of the Tigers in 2009. Or will an unsuspecting injury or injuries take the wind of out of the 2009 sails by May. This is the game of baseball, nothing is a sure thing, and no one player can take this team on their backs and lead them to glory.

 

The Yankees do look like the team to strive to beat every game in 2009, but all the Yankees have to do is look to the west and remember the pre-season expectations of the Detroit Tigers to remember that nothing is guaranteed in this game…………Not even the price of a hot dog and a beer.

 

 

 

 

The Hot Stove season is not over yet, and either slugger could make a huge offensive weak spot strong again. But the Yankees need to be smart and not just try and fill a hole, but fill them with the right players who will be productive for the next 4 years. The A L East has become a battleground, with the Yankees finally showing age and weak spots in 2008. Can they totally hide those spots, or will there be more signings and better numbers to follow in 2009.

 

Speculation is that the team is not done firing up the pen and signing a few more checks before all is said and done. By the time the team hits Tampa for Spring Training, the entire middle of the lineup might have a new feel. But this by no means is an indication that Yankees will need ‘ Hi, I’m_______  badges for the first few days after pitchers’ and catchers’ report .  

Stone Crabs Unveil New Look to the World

                             

 Local Boys and Girls Club help model t-shirts and hats to more than 350 fans at mall

 

 The Charlotte Stone Crabs unveiled their logo and jersey designs yesterday with some help from members of the Charlotte County Boys and Girls Club at the Port Charlotte Town Center mall in Port Charlotte, Fla. The newest member of the Florida State League showed off their new logo to a crowd of more than 350 fans as members of the Boys and Girls Club helped model t-shirts and hats. Limited quantities of merchandise were available for sale at the event and sold out immediately.
 

 “We continue to have big milestones every week, and this is certainly our biggest,” said Joe Hart, general manager of the Stone Crabs. “After seeing the success of the unveiling event and the tremendous response from the Charlotte County community, this just adds to the excitement and momentum heading into 2009.

 

                           

 

The team’s primary logo features the local stone crab with its signature large, crusher claw and the familiar sunburst that was part of the Tampa Bay Rays new logo at the start of the 2008 season. The Stone Crabs home and road jerseys and home team hats also resemble their major league counterparts’ in design and color scheme. 

Since the Stone Crabs announcement as the third Minor League team owned by Ripken Baseball in late August, the team has sold more than 800 full season seats and recently opened up group ticket options in addition to their Full Season, Half-Season and 10-Game Mini Plans. 

 

 

                   

 

 

 

They will open their inaugural season at the Charlotte Sports Park on April 9 when they face off against nearby Fort Myers and make the Miracle look ordinary. “Unveiling our logo was another big step for our organization, and we know it will be a big help in promoting our family fun atmosphere at the Charlotte Sports Park next year,” said Cal Ripken, Jr., founder of Ripken Baseball. 

 

 

 

The logos were created by Studio Simon, a design company based out of
Kentucky that has worked with more than 60 minor league baseball teams across the country. In addition to designing logos for Minor League Baseball teams like the Trenton Thunder, Toledo Mud Hens and the Ripken-owned Augusta GreenJackets, Studio Simon has also worked with Major League Baseball and the National Football League
.
“Our goal was to create an identity that captured both the professional

 baseball and family entertainment components that are unique to the
minor league baseball experience,” said Dan Simon, creative director
for Studio Simon.   

 

                         

 

Ticket packages for the Stone Crabs are currently on sale and start as low as $60. Fans can call 941-206-HITS (4487) or visit www.stonecrabsbaseball.com for more information. 

 

Minor League Problems in 2009?

 

Minor League
baseball has always been the bread and butter of the major leagues. They help
support and replenish the league with players and coaches, and even bring about
change in promotions and in-game entertainment. So why is it in 2009, we might
see a huge reduction in minor league activities at our local ballparks? Is the
culprit the economy that is forcing the major league big clubs to scale back a
down flow of capital, or is it a sign of the time that when the economy is
slacking, so will the attendance at the lower levels of
baseball.

If you take a
brisk walk from the lavish suites of the Las Vegas epicenter of baseball
centered at the famed Bellagio hotel, where major league baseball executives and
agents  haggle and discuss multimillion-dollar contracts for players. You will
find another much more nervous group of baseball officials and job seekers
gathered around just looking for answers and promises for the upcoming 2009
minor league seasons.


 

At the Winter Meetings edition of the  minor league job fair and trade
show, the topic on many minds is the floundering and unstable economy, which
will be  expected to have a far more economical effect on baseball’s lower
levels than on the major leagues. Many minor league teams are searching for
creative ways to save  revenue and venue money but keep loyal fan bases’
heading out to their ballparks, and  current baseball experienced job seekers
are finding few openings. Some of the cost-saving measures will affect  the fans
in the long run, and others will reach out into the confines of the field.


Take for example, the St. Louis Cardinals’ entire minor league system,
where many of the teams’  players will be issued and will wear last year’s
uniforms. Buddy Bates, the  Cardinals minor league equipment  manager, said it
was difficult to find items to cut on the field because the teams still needed
catcher’s equipment, helmets and baseballs. But, he said, reusing uniforms was
something his organization could get away with. Uniform repairs cost will soar
in 2009, and with that fact, the teams’  seamstress  might be kept busier in
2009 repairing pants  than in stitching on players names on their jerseys.
Patches might be  the order of the day on pants and knee areas for the entire
minor league system.


 

 



Many other  minor league organizations have come to the same conclusion,
said Mike Gentz, the team uniforms promotion manager for Wilson Sporting Goods.
But will the lean times and reduced money flowing downhill from the Parent clubs
be enough to evoke cost saving measure early in the season. Or will the club
just start the season on a cost-conscious budget and  take a ‘wait and see’
attitude into the early stages of the upcoming seasons. And why is the uniforms
being the first thing cut in a time of crisis?

Most teams have upgraded or even done huge replacements on their uniforms
yearly, but this year  that number might be a bit scaled back until the true
number begin to hit the turnstiles of the stadiums.  You can bet at the major
league level, the cost cutting will not be as visible as in the minors,but will
it is not nearly as much enforced early in the minor league programs. Getz said
he has a talked to 15 to 20 team
representatives, and most were going to try
to just fill in a few standard things, but most have expressed a need to try
and reuse their old uniforms.”



Some teams
needing new ones, Gentz said, have decided against the traditional jerseys with
the logo sewn on the front. Instead, they have chosen a less expensive option in
which the team logo is pressed onto the jerseys, like a promotion T-shirt, or
jersey that used to be propelled into the stands with an air cannon in the
past.
“You can’t
notice it unless you are up close,” Gentz said. “It saves anywhere from a third
to half the cost.”


Teams are looking beyond uniforms for savings. One of the greatest
additions in recent years to the minor league experience, has been the upgrades
in in-game entertainment and stadium participation events. The Round Rock
Express, the Houston Astros’ Class AAA affiliate, has often bought or produced
yearly in-game entertainment features for fans from one season to the next. In
2009, however, the team plans to run the same video entertainment on the
outfield screen between innings.


That might include the same cap shuffle video instead of changing the
whole thing, like they have done in years past.  Most of these changes might
seem a bit subtle, but they do add up in the course of the season. Most teams
might not  redo their entire in-game system, but will strategically change their
entertainment. Even the action of maybe renting more of their inflatable things
will move in the right direction to show a decrease in spending and save more
traditional things, like a fireworks event during the season.

Because many teams at the lower levels of minor league baseball
played
their last games in late summer, they had not yet experienced  any type of brunt
from economic downturn. Since Sept. 1, the Dow
Jones industrial average has
dropped close to 25 percent, and the broader economic outlook for next year has
worsened by the day. Even with promises of economical upswings in the early
parts of 2009, it will take some time for any effects or upswings to hit the
minor league system, and  any upward move in revenues might not be felt by the
smaller clubs until 2010.

 

                               

 

 

At this years Minor League job fair, prospects seemed bleak for a
chance of landing  a good job with full benefits.  Most of the young turks
paid $225 to register for the fair, which helps them put their respective
résumés in front of minor and major league officials.  It seemed that in 2007,
at the same meetings in Nashville, Tennessee there were a lot more jobs and
a fewer people seeking the positions. Even jobs in ticket sales have been scaled
back in anticipation of financial downward spirals.



Broadcasting has always been a cherry position to acquire in the minor
leagues. In recent years, the broadcasting industry had more money flowing
through it, and few applicants for the positions. But now, the jobs are
considered seasonal, and benefits are also being pulled back to ensure financial
stability. So in 2009, you might get a coveted gig on the mic at one of the
ballparks, but it will most likely be only a 7-month position, and you will need
to seek a job for the other 5 months of the year.



A weak
economy is harder the lower you go on the ladder in the minor leagues. Most
teams survive on yearly budgets ranging from $3 million to $10 million, and have
relied heavily on companies like car dealerships to buy advertising and
sponsorships.
  Because of
the uneasiness in the auto industry right now, such sponsorships will be hard to
come by in 2009. More creativity will be needed to close deals with sponsors,
and multi-sponsoring events might become a great trend in the coming year.



 

 

 


To be able to
diversify sponsorship dollars among multiple sponsors might be able to bring
back some of the past years events, but might also limit other activities at the
ballparks. A great idea by one club in Minnesota is to pay $6,000 for an
inflatable jersey to use for in-game and promotional events, but to include a
velcro strip area on the jerseys front area to be able to use multiple logos, or
even seperate logos at events througout the year.



That would
save money, and also use creative measures to ensure sponsors are included at
their own events, and can be changed for every other events without huge cost to
the team. But will the economical downfall also be a time where sponsors who
might be making money hoard their resources and not even renew past contracts
with teams in spite of increased revenues. Will the influx of hard luck financial
stories be a catalyst for some sponsors as a excuse to pull
out.



Or will the
increase in gas prices and costs be a move for more people to go to local
ballparks instead of spending more money attending major league events and game
during 2009. Could being affordable or even a local option increase the people
walking through the turnstiles at minor league parks in 2009. By and far, the
minor league product is cheaper and more economical than attending a game at the
major league level. From ticket prices to concessions, the public get a better
deal at the minor league parks.



But will that
lead to concessions having a reduced price menu, or even a selected priced
location to get deals or even a series of deals within the confines of the
ballpark.  But in the end, the teams might just take the low road when it comes
to concessions ans offer a small portion, or even a smaller size to try and
eliminate the food costs and also help portion control issues.  Could last years
french fries  portion of 6 ounces be downsized to an economical 5 ounces this
year, or maybe the size of the stadium staple hot dog might be  a little
smaller, but still priced fairly reasonable.


 

 


Teams will
have to cut corners somewhere. The food courts and the food concessions is an
easy area to fulfill economical upside without throwing a lot of attention to the
plight. All I know is that in 2009, my hot dog will still be hot, my beer will
still be cold, and the sun will feel warm on my face when I hit those afternoon
games at Brighthouse Networks Field to watch the Florida State League Clearwater
Threshers.


Rays NEW Class-A Team Unveals Logo on Wednesday

 

Logo Unveiling.jpg

 

Earlier in 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays combined with the baseball gurus at the Ripken Baseball Group to coordinate a Spring Training and Florida State League ( Class-A) entry in the newly developed Charlotte Sports Park. The facility will be the Rays major league complex site along with the newly formed Charlotte Sand Crabs, which will occupy the stadium after Spring Training is over.

 

 

The Sand Crabs will be taking over a completely remodeled stadium that will feature a 360 degree viewing and walking venue around the new stadium. In left field will be a featured tiki bar that will be open on game days.

 

Amenities which include sports lighting on all fields, upgraded concessions/restrooms/press box, new scoreboards, increased seating, re-sodding of all fields, and an on-site restaurant will improve the opportunities to host local, regional, and national events throughout the months of April-January when the Rays do not have exclusive use of the park

 

 

As with any team starting their existence in a new location, the Sand Crabs will be unvealing their new looks and logos tomorrow at the Port Charlotte Town Center Mall on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 from 5 p.m. 

 

Want to be among the first to see the new Stone Crabs logo? 

Want to win a free Stone Crabs t-shirt? 

How about a grand prize of four 10-Game Mini Plans (a $240 value) plus $100 in “Crab Cash”?

The Charlotte Stone Crabs are partnering with the Charlotte County Boys and Girls Club to unveil their  new logo and jersey designs in front of the Regal Cinema at Port Charlotte Town Center mall on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 5:00 p.m. 

The first 50 fans to register* at the event will receive a FREE Stone Crabs t-shirt and all attendees can register to win door prizes including a Grand Prize of Four 10-Game Mini Plans PLUS $100 in Crab Cash (money equivalent used during Stone Crabs home games)! 

Members of the Boys and Girls Club will help Stone Crabs general manager Joe Hart unveil the logo and model t-shirts, hats and jerseys in a fashion show in front of the Regal Cinema.  Hart will give a brief introduction about the team and logo and will be available to answer any questions. 

In addition to door prizes, the first-ever Stone Crabs t-shirts and hats will be on sale at the event!  These original pieces of merchandise make a great holiday gift and only limited qualities are available so don’t miss this event!

Hats:  $18.00
T-Shirts:  $15.00
Logo Baseballs:  $6.00


 
Don’t miss this opportunity to see the Stone Crabs logo before anyone else!  Come support your  NEW local team and  don’t forget to sign-up for a chance to win a variety of amazing prizes! 

We’ll see you in front of the Regal Cinema in the Port Charlotte Town Center Mall at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 17!!!

*Registration for prizes lasts from 4:30 p.m. until 5:45 p.m.

 

 

Rocco Baldelli’s Diagnosis……………………Was Wrong!!

 

 

 

In a wild turn of events, it has been learned that former Rays D H  and right-fielder Rocco Baldelli visited a Cleveland Clinic last week and found out that his former physicians may have misread his results concerning his illness. As we all know, Rocco missed most of last season for the Rays after basically calling it quits during an emotional news conference in March 2008.

( If you go to my Archives for March 13, 2008, there is a blog about the disease and his entire news conference notes.)

.

  

Baldelli did  finally return to play for the Tampa Bay Rays later in the 2008 season and was inserted for the first time on August 11,2008  into the lineup against the Seattle Mariners’ at Safeco Field.  It was the first time that Baldelli had been in the lineup for the Rays since May, 7 2007. While on the DL since 2007, Baldelli has had a series of injuries from a knee operation, to a Tommy John’s surgery to repair as throwing arm injury, to his current nemesis, mitochondrial fatigue syndrome. The disease can be fatal if not monitored correctly. Baldelli was constantly being monitored by the Rays Head Trainer, Ron Porterfield while with the team on that long road trip.

 

A Baldelli family source confirmed that a recent visit to a reknowned  Cleveland Clinic  brought back amazing results that Baldelli was suffering from  channelopathy, a non-progressive, highly treatable disease. Even though Channelopathy is a disease involving  the interruption of the working of the body’s ion channels, it can be monitored and regulated with medication and strict protocol  with certain limitations. Channel-opathies are known to involve the ion channels , which regulate the body’s needs for potassium, sodium and chloride and calcium. 

 

 

 

 
Ion channels are critical to the living membranes surrounding every cell. This might be awesome news to all of the teams looking at Baldelli to supplement their outfield situations for 2009. With a renewed aspect of a healthier and more productive Baldelli, team will be bale to depernd on the slugger more than as a part-time position player. This might also give the Rays a  solid chance to offer a  roster position to Baldelli  as the daily  right-handed bat and possible everyday right-fielder for the upcoming season.

It is also learned from family sources that Baldelli has not been contacted recently by the Boston Red Sox.  It wasa thought he might be deep into negotiations with the teams as their fourth outfielder in 2009. At one point, it was considered that the Red Sox ,the Cincinnati Reds and The Philadelphia Phillies were heavily pursuing Baldelli for their teams. It is  an afterthought that Baldelli would give the Tampa Bay Rays a chance to match or beat any contract offered to him by another team. The Rays stood by Baldelli during the past 2 seasons while he was rehabbing his multiple injuries and helped set up treatment appointsment with leading docotrs and clinics who  prodded and poked Baldelli before diagnosising him in 2008 with the fatigue syndrome.

 
 
 
               
 
 
 
The sequencing of the human genome has provided a new view of this  disease. Rather than a mysterious force that somehow swamps our physiology, many diseases are now seen as simple mistakes in our genetic code that, once found can be fixed by variations of medical and physical treatments.
 
 
 
This has promoted researchers to take a second look at some long-studied biological entities, including the growing field concerning channelopathy. This is a term used to describe the set of diseases caused by defective ion channel proteins. Ion channels are proteins that are embedded in the  bodies cell membranes and contain pore-like openings to input and output chemicals. The channels regulate the way   the ions, such as potassium and sodium, cross the cell membrane through their pores. Ion channels have been under scrutiny for decades because of they are essential structure of the nervous system in our body.
 
 
 
It is the ion channel that generates the electrical signals that neurons use to communicate with one another. Channels are essential components of every physiological system, from heart and skeletal muscle, to the digestive tract, workings of the brain and spinal cord. Even skin cells use ion channels to regulate the amount of fluid they contain. It is therefore not surprising that many diseases turn out to have their origins in a defective ion channel protein. So to say that channleopathy might be a basic element of most diseases would not  be an inaccurate conclusion.
 
 
 
One of the first diseases discovered to be associated with a disorder of an ion channel was cystic fibrosis, the leading cause of chronic lung disease in children and young adults. It targets the lungs and exocrine glands by causing severe inflammation that progressively destroys the tissues. Cystic Fibrosis is caused by a mutation in the chloride channel.
 
 
 
When this channel does not work properly, the balance of ions and water in the cells is disrupted, leading to salt accumulation in some organs. The most promising advances in treatment options for CF begin to focus when it was discovered that it was a channelopathy.
 
 
 
Researchers are attempting to use gene therapy techniques to insert a normal version of the gene into patients to compensate for the failing one. Although there are a lot of hurdles to overcome before a cure is found, Phyllis Gardner, of the Stanford University School of Medicine says : “We have to work out the strategies to make this work. I believe that ultimately we will.”
 
 
 
Channelopathy has turned the light on multiple sclerosis as well. Recent research has established injury in peripheral nerves sending signals to neurons in the spinal cord that causes them to turn off the genes for one kind of sodium channel, and turn on the gene for another kind of sodium channel. The new sodium channel causes the cell in the spinal cord to become hyper-excitable, meaning they are willing to respond more to more low-level stimuli than would normally catch their attention. Such excessive excitability is thought to contribute to the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as difficulty walking, pain, fatigue and the feeling of “pins and needles” along the limbs.
 
 
 
In this case, researchers hope to design drugs that target the sodium  channel proteins that cause the over-excitability in the neurons. There already are a number of chemical compounds known to interact with these channels and the trick will be to develop therapies ” tailored to counter specific membrane ion channel defects,” says E F Bond, professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, in one of the many articles reviewing the explosion of channelopathies that have recently been discovered.
 
 
 
Among other  channelopathies are epilepsy, migrane, ataxia, and a cardiac illness referred to as long QT syndrome, which has to do with the heart beat. One advantage channelopathies have over other diseases is that the ion channel have been studied for many years. A great deal is known about the way ion channels work, about their structure and their functional properties. With such a solid foundation of knowledge, the development of drugs and gene therapies has been crossed and the academic community already has accomplished characterizing its function, to a large extent.
 
   
 
 
 
 

 
 
So with the announcement of this aliment diagnosis, what is the foreseeable future for Baldelli in the major leagues. Will the treatment take him again away from the game for an extended timer, or is it a treatment that will be on-going while he still battles on the diamond in 2009.  The prognosis is good that he will be able to attain a level of physical strength to enable him to keep the drive alive to play professional baseball.
 
 
 
 Let’s hope that this guy can get the final answer he needs and get along with his great career. Even if he is not with the Rays in 2009, the diagnosis tonight shows a bright future and a better outlook on his career starting today.  And we are better in baseball to able to watch this guy hit and run the bases. Where ever he plays in 2009.
 
 
 
 

Where is the ” Gambino? “

 

 

 

When I was younger, there were several television and  picture puzzle shows that questioned the location of its characters. “Wheres Waldo? ” and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? ” were institutions for kids to want to discover geography and hopefully, develop a love for other countries cultures and it hoped to cultivate a yearning to read about other nations around the globe.

 

Well, in the vein of such great shows and pictorial institutions, I think that the Tampa Bay community should create its own version called,” Where Is the Gambino? “. Seriously folks, since he has let it be known that he would love to play for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, I have seen multitudes of Giambi sightings in Las Vegas and in venues beyond the neon lights. The tabloids and the Internet are full of “Gambino” photos of him posing with the rich and famous, and with the fans of the blue-eyed slugger.

 

 

 

 

Here we have a nice keepsake photo of Rays Manager, Joe Maddon in the kitchen with culinary master chef Barry Dakake at his swanky Las Vegas bistro with the “G-man” at their side.  To say that Giambi is a social animal is an understatement. He truly enjoys the social side of baseball as much as the hitting and running. And he also pulls both off well. But be advised, he is great on the diamond as long as you hide his glove after Batting Practice.

 

So the guy with the steel-blue serial killer eyes wants to be a Ray?  He is currently campaigning to be a Ray, an Athletic and even a Blue Jay. All three need a highly potent bat at Designated Hitter for 2009. So where will Giambi park his Escalade in 2009? Most people think that the next sighting of the “Giambino” might be at a contract signing at Tropicana Field some time in the next few weeks. According to local gurus, the slugger is adamate about the area and wants to play for a winner next year. That combined with the aspect of putting it to his former team might be a great motivator for Giambi.

 

I can give you an honest opinion here that I like the idea of him playing here. I love it more for the fact it will drive Yankees Manager Joe Girardi absolutely nuts 17 times a year, and I like that idea a whole lot. And I am fine with that proposition, since I personally think that Girardi is not the right fit for the manager of the Yankees. Even as a player he was never the “go-to” guy on his Yankee squads. I can see him as a bench coach, or even a catching coordinator in someones’ minor league system, but not the head honcho of the Yankees. He was very lucky with the Florida Marlins, they were a good team before he got there and got better with him in the dugout, in spite of his managing skills.

 

 

 

 

But I do know that Giambi loves the Tampa Bay area. You got to remember, he spent every Spring Training here with the Yankees, and his rehab assignments have all started in Tampa, at the neighboring Yankees complex on North Dale Mabry by Raymond James Stadium. He has been known to stand out in the crowd at local hangouts during the spring, or when the Yankees were in town to play the Rays. I saw him a few times at Push Lounge during the Yankees series last year. And you know he was there for the music, not the fine assets that wear skimpy outfits in Tampa Bay. The nightlife in St. Petersburg and Ybor City would appeal to him, and we all know that he is not your typical baseball hound, he is usually seen mingling and chatting up with the locals either on the main floor or by the rails at the VIP lounge area.

 

 

                       

 

 

Can you imagine the St Peterburg Times section called “The Juice” blowing up in popularity by posting a “Giambino” photo essay weekely on the places to go, and be if you are an up and coming guy like Giambi. I can only imagine the rise in readership and webviews if such a section would be included in the publication. It would surely help the circulation woes of the paper and maybe even produce a cottage industry of people going to places to be Giambi watchers.

 

Might even spawn a club or two of faithful Rays fans who would be affectionately called the “Giam-Bros” who would be a outer perimeter posse for the big D H. Wow, could this area even support such a player who could transform a fan base into loving an ex-Yankee. Well, it might actually bring in a few Yankees fans to more games to just try and get Giambi’s signature. People in the Bronx had a hard time getting up close and persona with the giant, but now could get right next to him in the fan-friendy confines of the Trop.

 

 

 

 

And we already know that we will be able to find Giambi after Rays game somewhere in the community enjying life and the night life. Think of the crowds that would assemble for signing outside the stadium. And try and even imagine a Giambino sighting at a Lightning game or a USF football game. The crowd would go wild to know that he is supporting the local community.

 

 

 

 

And we do not have to worry about a posse or entourage for him. He is a personal friend of any celebrity that wants to meet him. Seriously, just becuase he took a photo with ?Rays crazy man Brian Knobs, doesn’t mean they do not have each others number on speed dial. Think of the entourage he could obtain of just the current Rays fans. He could have Hulk Hogan, Bill Goldberg, Knobs and John Cena in his corner as muscle while other locals celebs would flock to chat and mingle with the new Rays.

 

I have a personal “Giambino: story I know about that is quite halarious and think you might find it funny too. Back in the days when Jason and his brother, Jeremy played for the Oaklans A’s, they used to love to mingle in the crowds at Fergs’. This is true story, one time I was there with a friend and the two brothers were there with team mate Jason Isringhausen having a few brews and enjoying the sights. Well, come time to leave, a friend of mine decided to give them a ride back to the Vinoy, which is on the waterfront here in St. Petersburg. Well, somehow she got the Mercedes Benz pointed in the wrong direction and after driving for a spell, found them selves in Tampa, a good 20 miles norht of the hotel.  True story, and one that Giambi might still remember.

 

 

 

 

But beyond that, think of the crowds and the publicity this guy can bring to charity events and community outreach programs. While he was with the Yankees he was a vaulable pitch man and a community magnet for anything to do with the kids. That is the part of this guy that I admire greatly, and wish we had more of on the team. We do have the guys who give their all for the community, but sometimes the lack of name recognition right now gets the better of the Rays.

 

After this past post season, I truly feel that is a thing of the past, but we shall see on that front. Anyways, the guy would be an instant hit and a instant attraction at events. Tell me you would not stand in line for his autograph or a chance of a photo with Giambi. I can tell you I enjoy meeting these guys and taking a photo more for the sake of talking about it when I am old and gray.

 

Baseball players can make a huge impact on younger kids since the baseball seasons in Florida can run 12 months a year of the weather is good. With that kind of potential for new fans and interest in the team, a guy like Giambi might be a perfect fit. A local newspaper also has listed the odds of getting the big slugger at 3-1, and I will take those odds.

 

Heck, I have forgotten all about the Mitchell Report and everything else before 3 years ago with this guy. If you saw a photo of him in the minors, you know that he either took a huge responsibility to get bigger, or had some help. Since I played a bit of football at every level we have in the US, I know what he did and how he got that big. 

 

 But I also know it is the culture of sports and not the athlete that sometimes condones and expects such actions.  For that reason, I will never shout the “Steroid” word at him, or even riddicule him for something he did to make him better suited for his craft.  It is a fact of life that people love the long ball, and some players have to adjudt their body mass to get the same result as natural hitters like Ken Griffey Jr.

 

                            

 

But what has endeared me to the guy is what he did during the Spring Opener at Yankee Stadium in 2007.  Jason Giambi has known Cory Lidle during his days both as an Athletic and as a Yankee. You have to assume and know that the guys were friends. And when Lidle has that fatal airplane collision in 2006, you know Giambi was one of the first Yankees to break down and cry.

 

But the action he took with Cory’s widow Melanie and her son, Christopher that day truly touched me alot. Here is guy as big as a horse who was there foir the family of a fallen  team mate, kneeling with his son before the ceremonial first pitch of the 2007 season. I was a touching sight and one I have had signed by him on a 8 X 10. I know what I saw in his eyes when he signed it, and I let him know he was a baseball friend of mine form his short time with the Rays.

 

Giambi just patted me on the shoulder and asked how close were we, I told him not as close as team mate, but as close as you can get with a guy without violating that fan-player trust. He just smiled and told me to catch him anothe time when we could chat more…………That is why I like this guy as more thna  ball player. His personality and charm is just what the Rays need to convey that next level of greatness. I hope we sign the guy, but even if we do not, I am a “Giambino” fan for life now.

 

So what do you thinki, can we get a localized version of “Where’s the Giambino?” going if we sign this gentle giant, or will the polarized fan base of the Rays again make a great baseball player think twice about signing with a small market club. One of the huge advantages of playing here that is missed by so many players is tha fact you are no longer in that fishbowl, you can live your life with a bit more freedom and enjoy your time with the team.  And Jason, if you need an inside source for your entourage, call me..I am in the book.

 

 

Some Non Tender Thoughts

 

 

Alot of interesting things happened last night during the tender, non-tender deadline at midnight. Players got that realistic nudge of if they are considered a positive piece of the roster puzzle in 2009, or if they are totally expendable to the franchise.  Some names came across the board that you thought would be offered a contract, but ended up on the scrap heap with the rest of them.

 

There were a few names circulating who teams were trying frantically to try and trade before midnight to get some kind of value off the player before he left his old teams clutchs. Up until the witching hour, the Orioles tried to trade Daniel Cabrera and  in the same breath sign Lance Cromier to a reduced salary.  Neither player was offered a contract in the end, and that leaves the Orioles with an interesting starting pitching arrangement as of midnight. As of right now, only Jeremy Guthrie is penciled in the O’s rotation in 2009, but they do have options in the minor league system.

 

But some other names popped up on the radar after midnight that were suppose to be key pieces in their teams puzzles, but were discarded like old soda cups at the stadium when the clock struck midnight. Some have already re-signed with their old clubs, while a majority of the non-tenders are re-evaluating their careers and taking a breath before jumping back into the fire. 

 

 

                       

 

 

Philadelphia Philles Pitcher Scott Mathieson and Cincinnati Reds outfielder Norris Hopper resigned with their old squads during the night hours under a minor league contract. What was so wild about the Hopper non-tender is that it left the Reds, who also had their Fan Fest last night, with only 2 outfielders on their roster until Hopper inked his name on a contract.

 

  But some of the veterans that were left off of rosters last night will find solace today and  will not be out of work long. Several have had discussion already with clubs and it might be a minimal amount of time before they are signed, sealed and delivered to their new bosses’. But some names last night did not make sense on the syrface. Several of the names on the non-tendered list had great seasons and seemed to be in the plans before December 12th.

 

 

                    

 

 

Take former Astro Ty Wiggington, not only is he a super utility guy who can seriously play any position under the sun, but he left his old team with decisions to make no at third base. Wiggington was the Astros strongest candidate at third, and no it will escalade into a full blown battle for a successor at the position in the Spring. The 31 year-old hit a strong .285/.350/.526 in 429 plate appearances.  He probably doesn’t mind reaching free agency early in a weak third baseman market.  The Indians and Twins still have vacancies.

 

Then you have the relievers who seemd to put up excellent numbers and be on the teams’ radars for 2009, and got put out to pasture fast and without remorse. Such was the case of Florida Marlins’ reliever, Joe Nelson.  Wow…a 2.00 ERA still gets you non-tendered in Broward County.  He’s not effective as a close down reliever good, but he had a huge strikeout rate and is definitely a useful reliever in early innings.

 

 

 

 

The you have the case for my favorite whipping boy of 2009, Daniel Cabrera had been in the Oriole system for 10 years before finally getting the heave ho last night.  Let’s think about that again…………10 years.  This guy  has always been the ackwardly potent Orioles pitcher to face during a series. But his Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde pitching style might have finally out stayed its welcome in Camden Yards. Many a hitter will tell you about pitches grazing the strikezone like a surgeon, then the next one is coming at your head without a want or reason.  At times Cabrera  posted very big strikeout numbers  and had impressive groundball rates.  With a fresh start, who knows.

 

 

                 

 

Now here is a non-tender that made sense due to a earlier trade, but why do you give up speed  and youth and keep an older outfield that will get older as the year progresses in 2009. I truly feel that  former Kansas City Royal Joey Gathright was a victim of the inside rebuilding of the team, but they are giving no consideration to speed and upgrades.  Gathright is one of the fastest men in baseball, and that can wreck havoc on a pitching staff if used correctly. Gathright will have a uniform in 2009, and will be dirt and clay-stained by the 5th inning after stealing a few bases.

 

Then there is the case of former Colorado Rockies outfielder, Willy Taveras.  Like Gathright, Taveras is a speed demon, but his recent plus/minus ratings in center field are poor.  And you can’t steal first base. And there is the mystery still humming around on why he was not considered healthy enough to complete a trade with the Mets for Tim Redding earlier in the week. This one might take a few months to really get to the heart of the problem, then we can move on and let Willy play baseball again…somewhere.

 

 

 

This next one is pretty personal to me, because I have known this guy for some time and know the BS and the challenges he has faced in 2008. His former team the Tampa Bay Rays considered him a valuable member of the roster before the first half break in the season. From that moment on, Jonny Gomes was relegated to the bench and had minimum chances and outfield starts.

 

Gomes is the type of player who needs to play every day. He lives and breathes off the emotions and the enrgies of the game. To put him on the bench without a sense of the games pace, you take him mentally and emotionally out of the contest. Gomes  got pop, and destroyed lefties outside of this year.  That’s about it though.  But sometimes, things like this are done for a reason. Maybe a change of scenery will do wonders for him, and finding a team who might need a power fourth outfielder or D H might  be his calling in baseball.

 

 

 

When the Los Angeles Dodger let closer Takashi Saito go last night, there was a sigh of relief around baseball. Here is a bona fide closer who might not cost and arm or a leg, who can effectively close out a game without incident.  Saito posted some  dominant big league numbers for the Dodgers, but he’s a huge question mark after having platelet-rich plasma injected into his elbow in an experimental procedure.  Sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but without all the Godzilla and Mothra figures.

 

I think we all know where former Washington Nationals pitcher Tim Redding will be throwing in 2009. Now that he is free and clear, the Colorado rockies will be knocking on his door and frantically calling his agent to get him signed quickly to the Rockies starting rotation. In the high alititude of Denver, he might be good for a sub 5.00 ERA as a back of the rotation starter. Tim, I hear the Rockie Mountain oysters are great at the Buckhorn. 

 

 

 

What did not surprise anyone in baseball is the  non tendering of former Milwaukee Brewers starter, Chris Capuano. Because of his last 2  injuries there might be a small question of the ability for him to throw effectively in 2009. Considering the Brewers are in need of a extra pitcher now, you might see him resigned to a lower deal with a few health incentives thrown in for good measures.

 

People seem to forget that Capuano has his second Tommy John surgery in May 2008. But his past exploits from 2005-2006 might get him a Spring Training invite and a possible rotation spot out it all if he is shown to be healthy and productive for the team.

 

 

But then you have players like former Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash, who was Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher in 2008. You have to think that the Red Sox are using thisa to get a reduced salary for the part-time catcher. But can catching Wakefield and watching your errors and passed ball totals skyrocket into space be worht the reduced cash flow.

 

But then you have guys like Aaron Miles of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was also non-tendered in 2007 before signing again for 2008 at a reduced salary. Could the team be again trying to use this as a measure to instill costs with a player who has come back one after being slapped in the face by his team. Hopefully someone like the  Cincinnati Reds might find him a better liking to their team and he move on over without giving the Cardinals the satisfaction of another stay on their roster.

 

In all, Major League Baseball saw about 36 players who recieve non tendered offers last night. Some of these players will resign for a small contract or even a minor league deal with some organization, while other are currently seeking and wanting another chance at starting and helping a team to the next level.

 

But for people like former Royals infielder, Jason Smith, the non-tendering was not as bad as the designated for assignment he recieved earlier in the day from the team to make a roster spot for   newly signed relief pitcher Horacio Ramirez before the non-tender deadline.

 

Tendering Some Love to the Players…….Tendered Players 2008

 

 

The Greatest thing a player can learn on a day like today is how much his club loves what he does on the field for them. But sometimes even that get a bit blurred and the images seems to fade a bit before the reality comes that you either have a new start somewhere else, or you contact your old team and see if they just wanted you at a cheaper price.

 

Every December 12th, the MLB goes through this  sadistic tactic of non-tendering and tendering contracts to the arbitration eligible players on their rosters. Some people are shoe-ins to get picked up because of talent or maybe even a low cost towards the next year budget. Others are looked at under a microscope and the decisions might come down to dollar signs and not talent or ability.

 

 

                  

 

 

That is the sad reality of this date. You could be an up and coming talent, or a veteran that just had an off year and you could be looking for a job in a heartbeat after midnight tonight.  Also, just because they decided to offer you a contract doesn’t mean that the wheels stop turning and you might still be dealt to another team and they will make the decision on your fate again, and maybe at a financial disadvantages.

 

So on and on tonight I will be adding to this blog until I have a final idea of who, what where, when and why might pop up and bite some unsuspecting player on the buttock. Seriously here, there will be some surprises tonight. Some players might be getting held ransom for a financial sacrifice, while other might be rewarded for unforeseen changes in their game or ability. Which ever come about, it is not the end of the world or a career with any of the players tonight.

 

 

                                     

 

Everyone will find a place to play in 2009, it might not be the town you are currently playing in, but it also might turn into the best decision of your life. Just because you came up with a certain club does not mean that there are not other staffs or coaches’ salivating that your name is on the list tonight. People always have choices in life. The path we take is not predestined as many believe, but they are earmarked with signs and signals we either adhere to or avoid.

 

The players on this list still have had the honor to play at a level that few people ever achieve in life, on or off the ball field. And with that in mind, you have to remember the sacrifices and the sweat and tears that got you to this level will be rewarded again.

 

So as we embark on this night when some believe a dream has ended, you have to remember that through every closed door there is another opportunity maybe even down the hall. Here is the list of the guys who got the love and admiration of their clubs tonight. This list will be in no certain order, but will be update throughout the night.

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays:

Gabe Gross                                        ( OF )

Dioner Navarro                                  ( C )

Jason Barlett                                     ( SS )

Willy Aybar                                       ( INF )

Grant Balfour                                    ( RP )

 

 

Kansas City Royals:

Esteban German                              ( INF )             1-year contract

John Buck                                       ( C )

Mike Jacobs                                    ( INF )

Mark Teahen                                   ( OF )

Brian Bannister                                ( SP )

Kyle Davies                                      ( RP )

Jimmy Gobble                                 ( SP )

Zack Greinke                                   ( SP )

Joel Peralta                                      ( RP )

       

 

 

Florida Marlins:

Jorge Cantu                                      ( 3 B )

Dan Uggla                                        ( 2 B )

Cody Ross                                        ( OF )

Jeremy Hermida                               ( OF )

Rick Nolasco                                    ( SP )

Josh Johnson                                   ( RP )

Alfredo Amezaga                             ( RP )

Logan Kensing                                 ( RP )

Dallas McPherson                             ( INF )

 

 

Philadelphia Phillies:

Shane Victorino                               ( OF )

Ryan Howard                                    ( 1 B )

Ryan Madson                                   ( RP )

Jayson Werth                                   ( OF )

Eric Bruntlett                                   ( INF )                   1-year contract

Clay Condrey                                   (  RP )                  1-year contract

Joe Blanton                                      ( SP )

Cole Hamels                                      ( SP )

Greg Dobbs                                      ( INF )

Chad Durbin                                    ( RP ) 

 

 

Seattle Mariners:

Eric Bedard                                     ( SP )

Aaron Heilman                                (SP, RP ) 

Felix Hernandez                              ( SP )

 

 

San Diego Padres:

Scott Hairston                                  ( OF )

Luis Rodriguez                                ( INF )

Jody Gerut                                       ( OF )

Heath Bell                                        ( RP )

 

 

Atlanta Braves:

Kelly Johnson                                   ( INF )

Matt Diaz                                          ( OF )

Jeff Francoeur                                  ( OF )

Mike Gonzalez                                 ( RP )

Omar Infante                                    ( INF )

Casey Kotchman                              ( 1 B )

 

 

Boston Red Sox:

Kevin Youkilis                                ( 1B )

Jonathan Papelbon                        ( RP )

Javier Lopez                                  ( RP )

 

 

Minnesota Twins:

Jason Kubel                                   ( D H )

Matt Guerrier                                 ( RP )

 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers:

Russell Martin                                ( C )

Andre Ethier                                  ( OF )

Johnathan Broxton                        ( RP )

 

 

Oakland Athletics:

 Rob Bowen                                   ( C )          $ 535,000    1-year contract

Justin Duchscherer                        ( SP )

Jack Cust                                      ( OF )

 

 

Chicago White Sox:

Dewayne Wise                              ( OF )              1-year,  $ 550,000 contract

Wilson Betemit                            ( INF )              1-year    $ 1.3 Million contract

 

 

Detroit Tigers: 

Ramon Santiago                           ( INF )           1-year  $ 825,000 contract

Marcus Thames                             ( OF )

Fernando Rodney                          ( RP )

Bobby Seay                                   ( RP )

Joel Zumaya                                 ( RP ) 

Justin Verlander                            ( SP )

Edwin Jackson                              ( SP,RP )

 

 

Cleveland Indians:

Kelly Shoppach                              ( C )

 

 

Chicago Cubs:

Chad Gaudin                                  ( RP )               1-year  $ 2 million contract

Ronny Cedeno                               ( INF )

Reed Johnson                                ( OF )

Neal Cotts                                      ( RP )                1-year  $ 1.1 million contract 

Mike Wuertz                                  ( RP ) 

Kevin Gregg                                  ( RP )

 

 

San Francisco Giants:

Jack Taschner                                ( RP )

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays:  

Jason Frasor                                  ( RP )

Brian Tallet                                    ( RP )

Brandon League                            ( RP )

Jose Batista                                   ( INF )

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates:

Nate McLouth                                ( OF )

Adam LaRoche                             ( 1 B )

Ryan Doumit                                 ( C )

Zack Duke                                    ( SP )

John Grabow                                ( RP )

Tyler Yates                                    ( RP )

Paul Maholm                                ( SP )

 

 

St Louis Cardinals:

Rick Ankiel                                  ( OF )

Chris Duncan                               ( OF )

Todd Wellemeyer                        ( RP )

 

 

Colorado Rockies:

Garrett Atkins                               ( 3 B )

Clint Barmes                                 ( 2 B )

Jorge De La Rosa                          ( SP )

Taylor Buchholz                           ( RP )

Jason Grilli                                   ( RP )

Huston Street                                ( RP )

 

 

Cincinnati Reds:

Edwin Encarnacion                       ( INF )

 

 

Milwaukee Brewers:

Seth McClung                                  ( SP, RP )

Prince Fielder                                  ( 1 B )

Rickie Weeks                                  ( 2 B )

J J Hardy                                        ( S S )

Corey Hart                                       ( OF )

Dave Bush                                       ( SP )

 

 

Washington Nationals:

Ryan Zimmerman                         ( 3B )

Josh Willingham                          ( OF )

Scott Olsen                                   ( SP )

Shawn Hill                                    ( RP )

Willy Harris                                  ( SS )                           2-year  $ 3 million 

 

 

Houston Astros:

Brandon Backe                              ( SP )

Geoff Geary                                   ( RP )

Wandy Rodriguez                          ( SP )

Tim Byrdak                                   ( RP )

Jose Valverde                                ( RP )

Humberto Quintero                        ( C )

  

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Chone Figgins                              ( 3 B )

Robb Quinlan                               ( INF )

Maicer Ituris                                 ( INF )

Ervin Santana                              ( SP )

Mike Napoli                                 ( C ) 

 

 

 

As tonight comes to a close at midnight, the name will still be pouring in and this liost might not be totally complete by tomorrow afternoon. But I will do my best to be sure that you all have the latest listing of all players tendered contracts on December 12th.

 

I will also so a listing of the players who are deemed free agents now that their respective teams have put them on the open market. That listing might be a bit different as I want to block everyone into their respective positions, instead of teams for the non-tender list.

 

I will have that listing working by tomorrow afternoon and I have not decided yet if I might make prediction on what might happen to those players. As the night grows and the list gets longer, I will determine if that would be entertaining and informative to all of you.

 

 

 

Love Me Non-Tender Candidates 2008…Part Two

 

 

As they leave the bright lights and glitter of Las Vegas tonight, the decisions and the problems of the 30 MLB General Managers and their respective departments are not over.  Even if they are flying in luxury accomodations, the GM’s and their staff know that the next 24 hours can also make or break a season by selecting the right players to help the squad in 2009. For tomorrow bring more sticky situations to try and either keep or jettison players who might make a difference in 2009.

 

So in the morning on this Friday, December 12th, every team in the major leagues must decide to either tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, or set them free as more glut in the 2009 free agent market. And while in past years the non-tendered players weren’t considered to be difference-makers, the list could be more interesting this year.  There are several players on this list who either had bad situation on their teams or might have been fighting back from injuries in 2008.

 

Players who are “tendered” on Friday are considered signed for 2009 at a salary to be determined, not less than 80 percent of his salary the previous season, and both sides continue negotiating. If a deal cannot be struck, the team and the player will each file a proposed 2009 salary in early January. Those figures are exchanged on Jan. 19, and a date for a salary arbitration hearing is then set for Feb. 1-21. 

 

If the sides still cannot come to terms before the date of the hearing, a representative for the team and one for the player present a case before a panel of arbiters, which chooses one salary or the other.  On the other hand, if a player is not tendered a contract before Friday’s deadline, he becomes a free agent.

 

A nationwide economic downturn has affected how Major League Baseball teams are conducting business, and in an effort to cut corners, the number of non-tendered players could increase, based solely on the market’s projected rise in their salaries based on arbitration data and past results.. The same can be said for the quality of those players. Some of the guys being considered for non-tender have been great contributors to their teams in the past, but not during the 2008 season.

 

Past  players non-tendered include David Ortiz, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Franklin, David Eckstein, and Chad Durbin.  Usually at least a few useful guys are unearthed. I am going to submit a few names that are being considered to be non-tendered starting at midnight tonight. Some of these names might sign free agent contracts with their old teams, but usually if a player is released from that team, they tend to float to another organization instead of resign with their old clubs.

 

                   

 

 The Toronto Blue Jays will have to make decision on four of their players on Friday as to if they are being considered as future pieces to the Blue Jays  picture in 2009. General manager J.P. Ricciardi said this week that Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet, Brandon League and Jose Bautista are all likely to receive an offer.  Ricciardi noted that Frasor, Tallet and League are all in the plans to rejoin Toronto’s bullpen, which led baseball with a 2.94 ERA this past season.

 

Of the three relievers, Frasor is the most likely to not receive an offer, considering he’s due for a raise after making $1.125 million in 2008 and the Jays are strapped for cash this winter.  Last season, the 31-year-old Frasor posted a 4.18 ERA in 49 games for the Blue Jays, serving as a middle reliever. Across 47 1/3 innings, the right hander struck out 42 batters and issued 32 walks. Frasor limited hitters to a .208 batting average, including a .174 mark against right-handed batters.

 

The 31-year-old Tallet, who earned $640,000 in his first year of arbitration in 2008, established a career best with a 2.88 ERA last season. The left hander appeared in 51 games and registered 47 strikeouts against 22 walks over 56 1/3 innings. Tallet was especially tough on right-handed hitters, holding them to a .230 average. 

 

 

League, 25, is eligible for arbitration for the first time this off season after making $400,000 in 2008. Last season, the hard-throwing right hander posted a career-best 2.18 ERA out of the bullpen, with 23 strikeouts and 15 walks in 31 appearances. In his 33 innings, League had a 3.71 groundball to flyball ratio and limited right-handed hitters to a .200 average.  The Blue Jays acquired the 28-year-old Bautista in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in late August and the utility man appeared in 21 games for Toronto down the stretch. Overall, Bautista hit .238 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 128 games with the Pirates and Jays in ’08, when he earned $1.8 million.

 

 

 

Another ex-Rays has popped up on the non-tender candidates list coming into Friday night’s deadline to offer contracts to arbitration eligible players. The Braves aren’t sure exactly how Matt Diaz fits into their plans for the 2009 season, but the veteran outfielder can at least feel good about the fact that he seemingly fits into these plans. 

 

Among the group of Braves who are eligible for arbitration, Diaz, who missed most of this past season because of a torn ligament in his right knee, was seemingly the only candidate to be non-tendered by Friday’s midnight ET deadline. But all indications are that the Braves are looking forward to having a healthy Diaz on their roster. He could platoon in left field or simply provided a reliable right-handed bat off the bench. Diaz, Mike Gonzalez, Casey Kotchman, Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson and Omar Infante are the arbitration-eligible players expected to be tendered contracts by the Braves on Friday.

 

 

The Dodgers face a handful of non-tender decisions by Friday night’s deadline, with the focus . Takashi Saito. He is arbitration eligible, but only if the Dodgers tender him a contract. And even though he’s the highest-rated reliever in the National League over the past two years, the club might effectively release Saito, who missed two months with an elbow injury.

 

 

 

 

Money isn’t the burning issue for the Marlins as they approach the non-tender deadline. If they want, they have the allocation to sign all 10 of their remaining arbitration-eligible players. The team must decide if it wants to retain everyone, or pursue other options. 


 

In all, Florida has 10 arbitration-eligible players who must be either tendered a contract or not. The list includes much of the team’s nucleus: Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, Cody Ross, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Alfredo Amezaga, Logan Kensing, Joe Nelson and Dallas McPherson. Of the group, the possible non-tenders appear to be Nelson and McPherson.

 

Uggla, Cantu, Ross, Hermida and Amezaga are position players who will be tendered. Now, the Marlins are continuing to explore possible trades for Hermida. Johnson and Nolasco are the leading candidates to be the Opening Day starter. Kensing and Nelson are right hander relievers.

 


 

Baseball’s non-tender deadline should come and go on Friday night without consequence for the Mets, whose arbitration-eligible players will play significant roles on the team in 2009.  But the Mets have little reason not to retain their eligible players: Ryan Church, John Maine, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez and Jeremy Reed.

 

Church, 30, hit .276 with 12 home runs in 90 games last season, his first with the Mets. He was the team’s most productive hitter until a concussion sidelined him in May and created a series of lingering effects that plagued him for the rest of the season. Church, who agreed to a $2 million contract to avoid arbitration last off season, will enter Spring Training as the starting right fielder.

 

Maine, 27, is expected to be the third pitcher in a starting rotation that also includes Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. Coming off right shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his season, Maine will be arbitration-eligible for the first time. Feliciano, 32, produced a 4.05 ERA and two saves last season as one of the Mets’ two primary left-handed relievers. He also avoided arbitration last season by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.025 million.

 

Reed, 27, is the outfielder the Mets received as part of the 12-player trade Wednesday that also landed them Putz. He is expected to assume Endy Chavez’s role as a fourth outfielder.

Sanchez, 29, will begin his second full season since missing a year and a half after two surgeries on his pitching shoulder. General manager Omar Minaya has said publicly that he expects Sanchez to be more successful this season, especially now that the presence of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz will allow him to pitch earlier in games.

 

 

 

 

Pitchers Shawn Hill, Scott Olsen and Tim Redding, outfielders Willie Harris and Josh Willingham and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman must be offered contracts by Washington or they will become free agents. Entering the Winter Meetings, the Nationals had to make decisions on seven players, but the club released reliever Jesus Colome on Wednesday.

 

He appeared in 61 games and had a 4.31 ERA while being used as a setup man last season.  As for the rest of the players, Olsen, Redding, Harris, Willingham and Zimmerman most likely will be offered contracts. However, Hill will be a tough decision. He has had elbow problems the past four years in Washington and has pitched in a combined 34 games.

 

 

The White Sox are expected to tender contracts to Bobby Jenks and DeWayne Wise prior to Friday night’s 11 p.m. CT deadline for all arbitration-eligible players. This duo stands as the only two arbitration-eligible players on the team’s 40-man roster.

 

 

                        

 

Jenks, 27, could earn 10 times more than his $550,000 salary for 2008 if he goes through the arbitration process, having emerged as one of the game’s steadiest closers. Despite being attached to a great deal of Hot Stove trade talk deemed by general manager Ken Williams as “just rumor and innuendo,” the burly right hander enters the 2009 season as the second-fastest pitcher to reach 100 saves in Major League history. Jenks accomplished this feat in just 187 games, trailing only Kazuhiro Sasaki’s total of 160.

 

Wise had a rags-to-riches story in 2008. Independent baseball in New Jersey looked to be his season-long vocation, until Minor League director Buddy Bell, who knew Wise from their days together with the Reds, encouraged the White Sox to bring the 30-year-old veteran into Minor League Spring Training.

 

Wise ended up becoming an outfield starter against primarily right-handed pitchers during the final two weeks of the season, replacing the injured Carlos Quentin, and hit .248 with six home runs, 18 RBIs and nine stolen bases over 57 games. Wise also hit the White Sox first postseason home run in the American League Division Series against the Rays.

 

 


 

Love Me Non-Tender Candidates 2008…Part One

 

 

 

After all the Post season celebration have muffled to a silent roar, we embark on a journey that no player wants to roam. That journey down the road of arbitration. Where the road is lined with pitfalls and traps, one of tendering offers or letting the players kneel by the wayside to gather themselves after being cast off by their clubs. It is a time to reflect and expose the best and worst of this time of year for baseball. It becomes the time when you really know what your team GM and your coaching staff think of you as a productive member of their franchise. And the journey starts now……………….

 

 On this date, Friday, December 12th, every team in the major leagues must decide to either tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, or set them free as more glut in the 2009 free agent market. And while in past years the non-tendered players weren’t considered to be difference-makers, the list could be more interesting this year.  There are several players on this list who either had bad situation on their teams or might have been fighting back from injuries in 2008.

 

Players who are “tendered” on Friday are considered signed for 2009 at a salary to be determined, not less than 80 percent of his salary the previous season, and both sides continue negotiating. If a deal cannot be struck, the team and the player will each file a proposed 2009 salary in early January. Those figures are exchanged on Jan. 19, and a date for a salary arbitration hearing is then set for Feb. 1-21. 

 

If the sides still cannot come to terms before the date of the hearing, a representative for the team and one for the player present a case before a panel of arbiters, which chooses one salary or the other.  On the other hand, if a player is not tendered a contract before Friday’s deadline, he becomes a free agent.

 

A nationwide economic downturn has affected how Major League Baseball teams are conducting business, and in an effort to cut corners, the number of non-tendered players could increase, based solely on the market’s projected rise in their salaries based on arbitration data and past results.. The same can be said for the quality of those players. Some of the guys being considered for non-tender have been great contributors to their teams in the past, but not during the 2008 season.

 

Past  players non-tendered include David Ortiz, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Franklin, David Eckstein, and Chad Durbin.  Usually at least a few useful guys are unearthed. I am going to submit a few names that are being considered to be non-tendered starting at midnight tonight. Some of these names might sign free agent contracts with their old teams, but usually if a player is released from that team, they tend to float to another organization instead of resign with their old clubs.

 

Coming into the deadline are a few names that might mean somehting to several Tampa Bay Rays fans. A few names from the past are being considered to be non-tendered tonight. One of them is currently on the Rays roster and might have been pre-destined for this list during the season with the acquiring of Gabe Gross during the season.

 

 

                          

 

 

Designated Hitter/ Right-fielder Jonny Gomes has been the emotional sparkplug of this Rays young team for several seasons. But in 2008, after some spotty play in the outfield, both in left-field and right-field. Posting a ugly .167 batting average during the season might not bode well for Gomes to even be considered a contract in 2009. But one of the great facts of arbitration is that Gomes made $ 1.25 million in 2008, and the arbitration might not even give him a substancial increase.

 

He might skate by and be offered a contract based on his loyalty and the teams’ need for at least some kind of right-handed bat in the rightfield corner. Situations could change in the next few months, but the Rays could “rent” Gomes for now and get a trade return on him later in the Spring if needed.

 

The Rays have other players who will be on the bubble on Friday, like right-fielder and left-handed bat, Gabe Gross. He might be the best cltch hitter the Rays had in 2008, but he also might be caught in the numbers games as the team just traded for the young and undercontract for 6 more years Matt Joyce. Both players have a defensive pedigree, and it all might come down to if the Rays think that Gross will win the spot and be worh the money to keep, or set Joyce up in right and let Gross go, hoping he remains to be put under a free agent contract at a reduced price.

 

This might be the tricky one for the Rays. Gross did everything asked of him in 2008. He also is a great clubhouse guy who is never in trouble and always helping the younger outfielders. His ceiling might be higher than Joyces’ right now after a banner year where he set career numbers in almost every offensive category. It was a year where he was used more, and saw more plate appearances than any other time in his career.  Gross might join Gomes on the free agent market where there is a glut right now for corner outfielders. If not for that trade during the Winter Meetings, Gross would have been offered a contract without question.

 

 

 

 

An ex-Rays who might be getting considerable consideration from his current team is the Houston Astro’s Brandon Backe. However, with the current state of the Astros’ rotation — they have little Major League-ready depth in their farm system and few backup options to protect themselves from injury and inconsistency — they may decide to hold on to the right-hander. And with a salary of only $ 800,000 for 2008, he might come in at a considerable discount compared to the free agents on the current starting pitching market.

 

Astros General Manager Ed Wade sounded like he’s willing to give Backe another look but at the same time noted the right-hander’s 2008 season was a disappointment and he’ll have to prove a few things in 2009.  But the Astros have very little pitching depth, and the three top prospects — Brad James, Sergio Perez and Bud Norris — likely won’t be ready for the big leagues come Opening Day. That alone may ensure Backe is tendered a contract on Friday.

 

 

                        

 

Another ex-Rays who has had to basically live out of his suitcase this past season is reliever Chad Gaudin. Two years ago it seemed that the Toronto Blue Jays were serious about the young pitcher and staked him a claim in their Bullpen. But during the off-season he was traded to the Oakland A’s where he started and relieved for the Athletics. He was then sent packing to the Chicago Cubs in the deal for Rick Harden as a key plug for the Cub’s Bullpen problems.

 

Since arriving in Chicago, Gaudin went 4-2, with a 4.26 ERA and got 27 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of work in 2008 for the Cubbies. Gaudin is known for his slider and his sinker, which both have above average movement to both sides of the plate. Also in his arsenal is a sinking change-up that can come in on left-handers. Gaudin might be a casualty of expectations in 2009, and might be non-tendered as rendered a free agent by the Cubs.

 

 

                       

 

 

Another possible casulty to the non-tender pile might be a National League pitcher who has been fighting to get into game shape for over a year after having 2 injuries in the past 2 seasons. Milwaukee Brewers’ starter Chris Capuano came to the team with high expectations. He was considered one of the top 5 pitchers in 2007 before a labrum injury forced him to have surgery on 10/11/2008.  Capuano rehabbed and was struggling to get into game shape when another injury hit him during 2008 Spring Training. This time a torn ligament in his left pitching elbow basically shelved him for the entire 2008 season. He was retroactively posted to the 15-day DL on March 27th.

 

 

He was twice transferred on the DL lists in 2008, going from the 15-day disabled list again on September 1st, then subsequently put back  on the 60-day DL on October 31, 2008.  Capuano’s case is complicated because he earned $3.75 million last season but did not pitch because of the injury. If the Brewers tender him a contract, they could not cut his salary by more than 20 percent, and it seems unlikely they would commit such an expense to a pitcher still rehabilitating.  If the Brewers in fact decide to non-tender Capuano, they would try to re-sign him to a new, less expensive contract for 2009. He’s eligible for free agency after next season.

 

 

There are other “big names” being considered during the non-tender phase of arbitration. A few might have seemed like promising rising stars in the MLB a few years ago, but might have had tough times and might be in consideration for being released by their clubs.  One of the most visible name on this list might be former 2003 Rookie of the Year winner Angel Berroa of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

 

           

 

Another name sure to be heard on Friday will be Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher Daniel Cabrera. The club has to decide whether to offer a contract to Cabrera. If Baltimore doesn’t, the hulking right-hander will become a free agent one year ahead of schedule. If the O’s do, they may wind up going to arbitration. Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, said Thursday that he’s still trying to make a decision. Cabrera, although erratic, remains one of the most experienced starters in the Orioles’ organization .

 

Baltimore has just one starter penciled into next year’s rotation and is trying to add at least two veterans by trade or free agency this offseason. Jeremy Guthrie remains the only surefire member of the starting staff, and Baltimore must decide whether Cabrera is a replaceable asset or one that’s worth one last shot at trying to salvage his potential.  Cabrera has made at least 26 starts in each of the past five seasons, and he’s logged at least 140 innings in each of those campaigns. The 27-year-old started relatively strong in 2008, jumping out of the gates to a 6-5 record and a 4.33 ERA in the first half of the season. After the All-Star break, however, he was 2-5 with a 7.59 mark.

 

And still, the overall numbers represented an improvement on his previous season. Cabrera went 8-10 with a 5.25 ERA in 2008 and snapped a two-year streak of leading the league in walks. One year earlier, he went 9-18 with a 5.55 ERA.  I think the Birds will take a gamble on Cabrera for one more years and help place at least one more piece into the pitching puzzle for 2009. But I do think he will have a short leash in 2009 with the Orioles, and might be  a trade deadline casualty if he is again wild and uncontrolable next year. 

 

 

                      

 

Pittsburgh management has still not made a determination to whether or not they plan to offer a contract to right-handed reliever Denny Bautista before the midnight on Friday for teams to tender contracts to all arbitration-eligible players.  Bautista is the only one of the team’s eight arbitration-eligible players whose status is in question. The Pirates’ management team has had internal debates this week about whether or not to keep Bautista, though no resolution has yet been made.

 

The Pirates acquired Bautista late last June in a minor trade with the Tigers, and the control problems that Bautista had in Detroit and other previous stops resurfaced again with the Pirates. He allowed 28 earned runs and 28 walks in 41 1/3 innings of relief for Pittsburgh. He struck out 34.  Bautista earned $395,000 in 2008, just over the Major League minimum. He would be in line for a significant pay raise should he go through the arbitration process with the Pirates.

 

The Pirates will tender contracts to their seven arbitration-eligible players — Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke, John Grabow, Adam LaRoche, Paul Maholm, Nate McLouth and Tyler Yates. Of that group, Doumit, Duke, Maholm and McLouth are all arbitration eligible for the first time.

 

 

 

The Red Sox must tender 2009 contracts to all unsigned players on their 40-man roster by Friday at midnight ET. The only players this truly impacts are those eligible for arbitration. For the Red Sox, that list includes first baseman Kevin Youkilis, closer Jonathan Papelbon, backup catcher Kevin Cash and lefty specialist Javier Lopez.

 

Reliever Manny Delcarmen was seven days short of enough service time to qualify for arbitration, so the Red Sox can simply renew his contract in Spring Training. Cash is the most likely candidate to be non-tendered on Friday. The Red Sox’s catching situation is in a state of flux, as the team continues to negotiate with Jason Varitek and scour the market for trade possibilities.

 

Even if Varitek returns, the club might seek a young player with more offensive potential than Cash to be the backup. The Red Sox like Cash defensively, and he does a nice job of handling Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball. However, there’s a chance he simply doesn’t fit into the plans for 2009. Even if the Red Sox non-tender Cash, they are still free to negotiate with him or re-sign him at some point. The same goes for any non-tendered player.

 

 

                      

 

The Royals need to find some room on their 40-man roster and that could be accomplished on Friday, the deadline for clubs to offer contracts to players. When the Winter Meetings closed, the Royals had 39 players on the winter roster but had signed pitchers Doug Waechter and Horacio Ramirez. They’d also reached an agreement with pitcher Kyle Farnsworth, and when that contract is approved another body will be added.

 

Adding Waechter filled the roster and, by Friday, a spot will be needed for Ramirez. The Royals could designate a player for assignment or non-tender a player, in short, not offer him a contract. The only way a club can keep an unsigned player is to tender a contract. If a player is non-tendered, he goes off the roster and becomes a free agent. Then he can sign with any club, including the Royals.

 

 

One possible option for the Royals would be to non-tender pitcher Jairo Cuevas and sign him to a Minor League contract. Cuevas has been the subject of a tug-of-war between the Royals and the Braves, each team claiming him on waivers from each other in the last two months. One writer speculated that, in order to save money in an effort to sign shortstop Rafael Furcal, the Royals might non-tender such players as catcher John Buck and outfielder Mark Teahen who both figure to do well in salary arbitration.

 

 

 

 

 

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