Post-Thanksgiving News Update…

Mighty Casey has been on a bit of a holiday – for that I politely ask for your forgiveness – but after a vacation in the Florida Keys, I return ready to write about baseball.

Belated Congrats to Albert Pujols…

The National League writers, knowing the right answer when they saw it, unanimously selected Albert Pujols as the best player in the league for 2009, and it’s the right choice.  Pujols has more power than anyone, really.  He’s a selective hitter who rarely strikes out; he can still run the bases, and his fielding skills are as good as they get.  The last few years, I have been assembling the most productive players in baseball – basically adding up the number of runs created by ones offensive numbers (a basic Bill James’ Runs Created formula) and adding (or subtracting) the number of runs saved on defense and NOBODY is close to Pujols.

As a Marlins fan, I root for Hanley Ramirez, but as good as he is – and he’s VERY good – he’s really not in Pujols’ league yet.  [FoxSports, et al]

Hot Stove News…

Baseball writers are actually covering the Marlins…  So far, the team and Josh Johnson have yet to come to terms for a long-term deal (Marlins offering three years and potential vesting for a fourth, while Johnson wants four guaranteed years), but it looks like they’ll head to arbitration for this year and see what happens.  Johnson would become a free agent after 2011, and the Marlins – who likely would not be players in that bidding war – want to maximize whatever they can get out of Johnson (time, prospects, cash) before he heads out of town.

Here’s Buster Olney’s take

Here’s Ken Rosenthal’s take...

Having witnessed his skills, I generally trust Larry Beinfest in these things and it’s easy to fall for Johnson who is the best pitcher on the staff.  He’s been a bit frail, though – and you want to see if he can keep going after his first really complete season.  Likely, Johnson will be expected to be an ace until, oh, the first sign that the Marlins aren’t going to win the division between now and July, 2011, at which point he will be dealt for the best available offer.  That’s what I think  is going to happen.

Let’s stick with the Marlins theme…  Former fish shortstop, Alex Gonzalez, signed a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for 2010 ($2.75 million) and an option for 2011 ($2.5 million, or a buyout).  The deal could be worth $5.25 million – but only this coming season is guaranteed.  This is a sign that Marco Scutaro is out of town for next year.  Alex, when healthy, can still field his position – though not as well as he once did.  He can hit a little, but not much…  Some power, no control of the strike zone.  So, he’s really a league-average shortstop at best and not a sign that the Blue Jays think they can compete in 2010.  [ESPN]

And, Toronto signed their utility infielder, John McDonald, to a two-year deal worth $3.5 million.  McDonald is still a very dependable fielder in the middle of the infield and last year hit enough to keep his job (obviously).  [SI]

The Chicago White Sox, having lost Scott Podsednik and Dewayne Wise, signed Andruw Jones to a one year deal as a backup outfielder.  Personally, I’m not sure why they would do that – but what the heck…  Let’s look at what Jones did in 2009.

For a couple of months, Jones looked spry again.  He was 5 for 6 as a base stealer and lost a little weight which helped when he was playing the outfield.  He LOOKED smoother out there, but he’s lost more than a step.  As a hitter, he had a great April (.344 with some power and walks) but after that his best month was May (.245) and he was only over Mendoza one more time for the rest of the year (not counting his ten at bats in October).  So, aside from that one month, there was little sign that Jones can be a major league hitter.

And, while his season stats look nearly tolerable (17 – 43 – .214) because of the power numbers in just 281 at bats, he hit .214 in Texas – where everyone is a better hitter (in league average parks, that translates to (15 – 39 – .207).  So, why would you give $500K plus performance bonuses to a guy who obviously no longer has major league talent?  Because at $500K, he’s cheap – and he has a major league recognized name.  [ESPN]

Other News…

Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner of MLB will likely end in 2012 when he contract is over.  Selig will be about 78 when that happens and when asked to stay longer, Selig reportedly declined.  [SI]

Hall of Fame Watch

The Hall of Fame ballot was released last week.  Here’s a pretty good list…  Of those on the ballot, here’s my picks:  Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, and Alan Trammell.

I go back and forth on Bert Blyleven.  He was a great pitcher for a lot of years – and on a lot of teams that weren’t necessarily very good (Twins of the 1970s and later in the 1980s, Cleveland and Texas for a while), but he was on other teams that did win (1979 Pirates, 1987 Twins).  He lost the better part of three years to injuries, otherwise he might have easily clipped 300 wins…  He was a workhorse otherwise – a lot of innings, and a lot of other stuff.  He’s not appreciably different than Don Sutton, really, and if Sutton is in, you’d think Bert would get in there.  At the same time, I just never think of him as one of the dominant pitchers of his era – and that’s why I wonder if he’s being left out.  Who was better than Bert in the 1970s and 1980s?  Carlton, Niekro, Jenkins, Ryan to name four, and a lot of guys were better for short stints – Reuschel, Tanana, Richard, Tudor, Saberhagen, Guidry, Catfish Hunter…  Once you start doing that, you think that Blyleven might not be good enough.

Joe Posnanski (SI) lists players he thinks are already on the path to the Hall of Fame.  I buy about seven on that list…

And, Mike Bauman (MLB) thinks that Union Boss Marvin Miller deserves to be there, too…

Happy Birthday! Vincent Edward (Bo) Jackson, one of the most unique athletes of our time, turns 47 today.  Wow.

Others on the list include some of the more interesting names in baseball history…  Alamazoo Jennings (1850), Tacks Latimer (1877) who was one of Rube Waddell”s early catchers, Win Ballou (1897), Firpo Marberry (1898), Clyde Sukeforth (1901), Steve Hamilton (1935), Craig Swan (1950), Juan Berenguer (1954), Bob Tewksbury (1960), Matt Lawton (1971), Ray Durham (1971), Shane Victorino (1980), and Rich Harden (1981).

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Filed under Albert Pujols, Alex Gonzalez, Andruw Jones, Chicago White Sox, Florida Marlins, Hanley Ramirez, John McDonald, Josh Johnson, Marco Scutaro, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays

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