Saturday, June 13, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday

What do you think of the new color scheme and design? I'm still tweaking the text fonts and colors as well as the link and followed link colors. The color wheel for html is a rather tedious attempt to give website designers every imaginable option. For someone as indecisive as I can be, the color choices are simply too many! A few more days and hopefully the scheme here will be set.

Now for today's baseball smorgasbord...

The Major League Baseball draft has concluded. The big name player picked first by the Washington Nationals was of course San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg. The kid has an arm and I'm not about to say otherwise, but my question is this: How many agents are there that represent big leaguers? Seriously, does Scott Boras have to represent every big-name player? I can't help, but feel a little contempt for the drafting of Stephen Strasburg, regardless of how good the kid coached by the great Tony Gwynn may be, simply because he is being represented by Scott Boras. Boras, as you may know, represents all sorts of all-star caliber players including the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Manny Ramirez, Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordóñez, nearly half of the Boston Red Sox lineup (Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jason Varitek), big-discussion free agent Matt Holiday, a pair of Atlanta pitchers (Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens), Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltran, and the reinvented Barry Zito. Turns out the list of players in the majors, minors and even amateur is enormous. The whole ordeal that landed Manny Ramirez in L.A. and the controversial opt-out and subsequent A-Rod contract that overshadowed the 2007 World Series, were more or less orchestrated by Scott Boras. Where does his influence in the game end? I'd contend that he has more of an influence on what becomes of a Major League season than the commissioner himself. It's ridiculous. There should be some sort of rule against this, but then again I firmly believe in salary caps for the MLB.

Another point on the draft. The hall-of-famer Peter Gammons had a great post on his blog about the toughest position to fill in the game--the catcher. I had never really thought about the draft in previous years, at least not at the level I've contemplated it this year, but really, catchers aren't usually the big news of the draft, but they appear to be the most needed by clubs. They don't usually get picked up in the first roud. Of course, there are exceptions like Minnesota's Joe Mauer who has become not only a defensive wonder, but a power hitter to boot. This year one catcher went in the first ten picks to Pittsburgh. In the 2008 draft, three catchers were picked up in the first ten picks. Is baseball finally breaking away from the standard power/offensive picks and realizing they need good defense and superb pitching? More and more I see a game that looks nothing like it did ten or even five years ago. The need for catchers, solid pitching and speedy, defensive outfielders and infielders only serves as proof that the game really is getting back to fundamentals in the post-steroid era. And it is always nice to see catchers getting the recognition they deserve. If any one player controls the field and the game, it is the guy behind the mask and behind home plate.

It's been an interesting week in baseball. Word is that following his successful rehab start last night, John Smoltz will be ready to pitch again in the majors. The Red Sox (it's still unbelievable to me that Smoltz is no longer a Brave) have had Smoltz with their Triple-A Pawtucket team as he makes his way back from the shoulder surgery that put an early end to his season last year. I have never been completely certain where Smoltz will fit into the Boston rotation. He won't close games like he has in the past because Boston has a solid closer, but I wonder how long Smoltz will hold up as a starter in a rotation with the likes of Brad Penny, Daisuke, Lester, and Josh Beckett. John Smoltz is a great guy and has had amazing stuff in both the starter and closer role. It's just going to take some time to get over the sting of seeing him in a Red Sox uniform.

Nate McLouth has been a welcome burst of energy in the Braves clubhouse since he was picked up from the Pirates. In fact, it wasn't a bad week for the Braves by any stretch. Chipper is hitting consistently and is apparently healthy. His consistency hitting from both sides of the plate seems to place Chipper on the path to Cooperstown. You have to assume that when Chipper retires, he still has plenty of years to go, the Braves will retire no. 10. He's been the face of the franchise ever since the three-headed pitching monster of Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine broke up. Tuesday was a great day for the Braves as manager Bobby Cox recorded his 2,000th win as manager of the Braves. Cox has served three stints with the Braves, his latest being the most successful (fourteen straight division titles helped his cause immensely). Despite all that is good in the Braves clubhouse, it's still a little disheartening that Frank Wren would release Tommy Glavine.

One last observation: The Red Sox have been on the television a great deal over the past week and I have been incredibly happy to see Mark Kotsay return to their lineup. The veteran outfielder has been hitting up a storm since his return from back surgery. The time table the Red Sox estimated for his return was May at the very earliest (he had arthroscopic surgery in January). He's made it back and in fine form. Kotsay isn't the only Boston outfielder you can't help but cheer for. Rocco Baldelli, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays, has a chronic medical condition and can't start in consecutive games, but is a good and decent player who loves the game. J.D. Drew has a bat that, when hot, can carry a club. Jacoby Ellsbury has unbelievable speed and the guy in left field, Jason Bay, is in so many ways the anti-Manny Ramirez. I don't much care for the infielders or the pitching staff, but with all the Boston games that are televised, I've grown to find some positives in not having other games available to watch, the Red Sox outfield being mosts of those positives.

I expect the oncoming trade deadline to heat up some talks. Don't be surprised to see a move of Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Roy Oswalt. Jake Peavy's ankle problem may keep him in San Diego and his veto power of any trade may well keep him in the pitching haven that is Petco Park. If he goes anywhere, the NL Brewers may be a perfect fit. Look for a lot of talk about Erik Bedard as well.

And in case you hadn't noticed in my new blog header, I added the image of a baseball for days that require a little baseball news roundup. Guilt free!

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