Buster's Top Stories in 2008
Top stories, eh?
1. Where will Johan Santana be traded, and when will he be traded?
The Mets would love to have Santana, but Twins' talent evaluators view the Mets' prospects as being dramatically inferior to those of the Red Sox and Yankees.
Though the Mets deals are closer than many people think, the perception of course is quite the opposite. However, Mets could offer a deeper package. Hughes is the only blue chip getting tossed around really. Ellsbury has taken on a life of his own, Lester is really good, Lowrie is a better player than given credit for, Melky is just absurdly overrated...
My thoughts remain the same and if the Twins really want to move him, the Mets can put something pretty solid and rather comparable, if not better, than the other ones being bandied about.
2. Just how many runs will the Tigers score -- and will it be enough to prop up their thin pitching staff?
Yes. That one was easy.
3. Can the Colorado Rockies follow up and grow on their 2007 success
No, no, and no. I'm sensing that 83 wins would be a windfall for this team that plays in what has become the National League's best division. Also, just as the Mets needed a historic collapse to miss the playoffs, they needed an equally historic run to make the playoffs. They finally developed some pitching and according to Fox they have the best defense to ever be assembled on the field, but a lot can go wrong with this team and they need a lot to go better than expected.
4. Can the Mets rebound from their 2007 collapse?
Despite the efforts of GM Omar Minaya, the Mets still have not added a front-of-the-rotation starter to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Tom Glavine.
Fair or not, right or wrong, this is the reality for the Mets: If they don't make the playoffs this year, then the jobs of manager Willie Randolph and some players -- and maybe even Minaya -- could be on the line, depending on how the year plays out.
Of course they can rebound. They were one measly game away from not having to rebound. As for this top-of-the rotation crap, can we stop? Yes, Tom Glavine is going to the Hall of Fame. We get it. However, that does not mean every time he is on the field is a precious sight that we need to behold. He was 100% average last season and his '07 production is easily replaced.
Willie's job on the line? Dare to dream.
5. Will Kosuke Fukudome make the Cubs the favorite in the NL Central
On paper, he would seem to fit the Cubs' perfectly -- he's a left-handed hitter among many right-handed hitters, he's athletic, he hits for some power, and he gets on base.
They are favorites for sure. The Brewers losing their closer is going to cost them a few games and I just cannot see anyone else stepping up in that bullpen. Gagne is a nice move, but Cordero was historically good for quite a while.
6. Can Joe Torre make a difference in Los Angeles?
The Dodgers' clubhouse was fractured at year's end, and Grady Little couldn't repair the rift between the older and younger players on the Los Angeles roster. Maybe Torre can get more out of the Dodgers, with a lineup that has been augmented by the addition of Andruw Jones and a rotation that now includes Hiroki Kuroda.
Anyone with common sense could make a difference in LA. Play the young guys. BOOM! I just did his job for him. Let LaRoche play everyday. Let Kemp play everyday. Let Loney play. Billingsley is a stud and a rotation of Kuroda, Billingsley, Penny, Lowe, and whomever is badass.
The bullpen is tight and the addition of Andruw Jones to a team that direly needed power is a great one. Even in his off year he was a valuable player that added some wins and he should rebound this year, however slightly. This team is the real deal and is well balanced. Torre is going to receive a lot of credit for this team doing well, but that is just poppycock (sorry for the harsh language). This team is a good team.
7. Can the aging Braves' rotation hold up?
Hmmmm...I thought in #4 you were wondering if the Mets can manage to replace Glavine's top o' the ro' production and now you are wondering if his aging body will be effective? Prediction. He will be effectively average. 4.50 ERA here we come!
8. Is Joe Girardi a genius or an idiot?
If the Yankees make the playoffs and win at least one round -- something the team hasn't done since 2004 -- then Girardi will be cast as a genius. And if the Yankees fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 1993, well, he's going to be cast as an idiot.
Only by Yankee fans. The Yankees are heading into 2008 with three rookie starters (or two and Mussina....choose your poison) and a suspect bullpen. Their outfield is really not all that good and first base is kind of bad as well. Posada had a career year at 35 and I fully expect him to be his normal .260 hitting self next season.
Would anyone be all that surprised if the Yankees a) do not make it out of the first round again or b) miss the playoffs by a hair altogether? Missing it by a hair while developing a nasty rotation on the right side of 30 is never a bad thing. However, asking Yankee fans to exhibit some perspective is asking a bit much.
9. Can the Red Sox defend their title?
They will go into the season as solid favorites to win the World Series, especially if they do manage to complete the deal for Santana. And if Boston wins its third title in five years, then the conversation about whether the Red Sox qualify as a dynasty will begin.
Why the hell not? They waltzed into the World Series and dominated everyone. They still are going to add the best pitching prospect in the minors into the mix in Buccholz, Daisuke should be better, they have Lester back and in for a 100% healthy season, and they have depth in Ellsbury and Lowrie ready to jump in and start kicking ass.
This team is actually going to be better than they were last year, which is disturbing to think about. All of this assumes they will not get Santana and if they do, I would like to revise my previous statement and say they are going to be much, much better. Three titles in five years in any era is a dynasty in my book much less this era. Over the last five years, no team will have been as good as the Red Sox and that qualifies as a dynasty.
10. Who will get Erik Bedard?
If he goes to Seattle, is this really a big story? They are still a fringy team that made their future a bit darker.
11. How good (or bad) will Oakland be?
I may be missing something here, but how is this a big storyline either? They certainly will not be historically bad, which might be newsworthy, and they are waiving the white flag and conceding the season already.
12. Ken Griffey Jr. closes on 600 homers.
He has 593 and counting. And whether you think it's right or wrong, fair or unfair, his accomplishments will inevitably be cast as genuine, at a time when the other great player of his generation, Bonds, will be in court.
Griffey is flat out nasty. What he did from '90 to '00 was insane. OPS+ of 135, 155, 149, 171!, 170!, 122, 153, 165, 150, 139, and 133. For good measure, he dropped an OPS+ of 145 and 144 on us in the new millennium. Throw on top of that ten straight Gold Gloves starting in 1990 that were actually deserved. If he never played again after 2000, he would be a Hall of Famer.
Of course young kids like Benny are too young to remember all of this going down, but we would not be having a discussion about the possibility of Alex Rodriguez being the best player of all time if Griffey Jr.'s had his wheels had not failed him.
I hope this is a gigantic story and he is celebrated as one of the best to every play baseball.
13. Greg Maddux closes on Roger Clemens, and Warren Spahn.
Who doesn't like this guy? Ok, well maybe a lot of people, but I am not one of them. He will not get the 16 wins he needs to pass Spahn this year, but he will get it in 2009. Could he make a run at 400 wins? However small the chance is, yes.
The guy is basically a knuckleballer since his fastball dances around better than most knuckleballers. It is a true mystery how he pulls it off, but as long as he can keep hurling the ball towards the plate, he can be useful to some team and pile on some victories.
Maybe MacPhail finally realized trying to rip people off is no way to improve your club long term? He is a smart guy who has been around for a while so I would like to think he already knew that, but he certainly was not acting that way.
Ultimately, the Mets might be the best fit.
They have the greatest need. They have the money to sign Santana. And they play in the National League, where he's less likely to haunt the Twins.
The players the Mets would send the Twins aren't household names. There's no Jose Reyes or David Wright. The offers aren't perfect.
But it's become abundantly clear the Twins won't be able to make the perfect trade here. Not for a two-time Cy Young winner. Not for a lefthander who is 93-44 for his career and won't turn 29 until March.
No team is going to give the Twins everything they need when that team must turn around and hand Santana a five- or six-year contract extension worth at least $20 million per year.
According to people with knowledge of the discussions, the Mets have offered top pitching prospect Deolis Guerra, along with center fielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber.
Really, that is a great deal for the Twins if that is what is on the table. They like Gomez and he plays a smoooooth centerfield while having unlimited upside. Whether he gets there is another argument. Guerra is a legit blue chipper and Humber and Mulvey are still very good prospects that are almost certainly going to contribute on the big league level in the starting rotation in my eyes.
Now, would I do it? Hmmmmm....The Mets still have Fernando, who the Twins still want but should not be able to get, and still have Mike Pelfrey. Ideally the Mets keep Humber or Mulvey and swap in a younger guy, but I think that blows the deal up from the Twins perspective. You know what? After all my bitching, I would pull the trigger on that for the simple fact the Mets retain their best prospect and still have a young arm in the mix with upside, who essentially would have been their 3rd or 4th best prospect had he still qualified. It hurts a bit, but that is a palatable deal for both sides and only sort of guts the system rather than completely guts the system.
If they are insistent upon getting Fernando back, well then they have to scale back their demands significantly. Martinez has the chance to be that good and is better than any sole prospect the Red Sox have offered and might even be more valuable than Hughes. Yeah, I said it...what are you going to do about it? Hopefully Omar realizes these things and holds tight. The Mets can put something competitive together and it is up to the Twins if they want to pull the trigger.
Faced with foreclosure on her Russellville, Indiana home, Christina Snyder allegedly concocted the kind of plan that now has insurance executives on edge.
According to the county prosecutor, the 31-year-old Snyder allegedly offered to pay a neighbor $5,000 to help her burn down her house and make it look like a botched rape attempt - all in order to claim $80,000 in insurance money. Snyder wanted the neighbor to bind her hands in duct tape, write "whore" on her shirt, and then help her escape once the blaze was set, the prosecutor says. The neighbor demurred, instead reporting Snyder to police.
I really think writing "whore" on her shirt was a great touch. If some people could apply their evil genius part of their brain to good things, we would be alright.