All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Edwar DFA'd

Edwar Ramirez has been DFA'd to make room for Chan Ho Park. Can't say I'm surprised. It was hard not root for skinny little Edwar, but he needed more than that Bugs Bunny changeup to cut it in the big leagues. I would guess that he can choose free agency, but there's probably a good chance he ends up in Scranton.

And congrats, Canada. Can't say I'm too upset to see them win hockey gold. They're the host country, and hockey just means so much more to them. Plus, it's kinda hard to hate Canada. :-)

USA Today has an interesting article about how baseball players are viewing Olympics hockey.

New York Yankees Rule 5 draft pick Jamie Hoffmann, aiming to nab the final outfield spot on their roster, actually played against Team USA members David Backes and Joe Pavelski in the USHL, the top juniors league. Oddly enough, his hockey-happy, remote hometown of New Ulm, Minn. has produced six major-leaguers, but no NHL-ers.

Not so much for Jason Bay, the newly-signed Mets star. His town of Trail, B.C. -- population 7,237 -- has produced the most NHL players per capita, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. All-Stars Adam Deadmarsh and Ray Ferraro, among others, hail from Trail.

Speaking of Jason Bay...he was not on his high school baseball team. He was on the curling team instead. Only in Canada.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:16 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Home for former Yankee pitchers

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a story about four former Yankees, now in the Pirates organization, and sharing a house:

Four former Yankees try family-style living with Pirates

It's Daniel McCutchen, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf, and Anthony Claggett.

Man, the Pirates sure do have a lot of former Yankee pitchers. That's not even counting Jeff Karstens and Octavio Dotel.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:07 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Spring training is underway for almost all the teams, but it's far from spring-like around here. Accu-Weather is predicting a "snow hurricane" or "snowicane" tonight and tomorrow. I'm not sure it will be all that bad; so far, not nearly as much snow as predicted has fallen. But who knows. It's supposed to snow all night, into Saturday even.

Lance Berkman is talking about leaving Houston:

Berkman is entering the final season of a six-year, $85 million contract. The Astros have a club option worth $15 million for 2011. If they don't exercise it, there is a $2 million buyout.

When asked about his take on the contract situation Wednesday, Berkman made a few jaws drop, saying if he fails to deliver this season and the Astros don't pick up his option for 2011, he will be looking for work elsewhere.

“I may have to, whether I like it or not,” said Berkman, a veteran of 11 seasons in the majors. “It may come down to a situation where if things don't go well, they don't pick up my option, then I probably won't be back.

“If they don't pick it up, I'll probably take my ball and go home.”

Don't get him wrong. Having spent his professional career with the Astros since he was drafted out of Rice in 1997, Berkman would love nothing more than to retire in a Houston uniform.

He said it was a matter of principle:

“If they don't pick up my option, then to me that says they may like me to come back at a discount, but they don't really want me,” Berkman said. “If that's the case, then I'll just see what else is out there.”

He later added it wouldn't bother him if he had to retire after the season if the option were not picked up, although he would be inclined to keep playing.

Wow. It's kind of hard to imagine Lance Berkman anywhere but Houston.

Pretty short transaction report from Baseball America this week. Jeff Weaver signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers again. Must be strange to go from making $9 million a year to minor league money.

Weaver was not beloved by Yankees fans, but they'd probably have been better off keeping him, seeing as the player they traded him for was Kevin Brown.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:20 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boonie calls it a career

Aaron Boone is retiring, and taking a broadcasting job with ESPN.

Best of luck to him. He was one of my favorites, even before he acquired a new middle name.

The Yanks got him in a deadline deal. They sent Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning, and cash to the Reds for Boone. Many fans were upset at losing Claussen, who was the closest thing to a hot prospect Yankee fans had seen in a long time. With Boone in hand, the Yankees were able to trade Robin Ventura to the Dodgers, which upset even more fans. Including me. I couldn't believe they traded Robin Ventura for the likes of Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor. I, um, came around on the wisdom of the trade.

Boone was a class act. He blew out his knee playing basketball, and admitted it. Which cost him millions. Because his contract banned basketball, the Yanks didn't have to pay him. They also suddenly needed a third baseman, and signed A-Rod. If Boone hadn't gotten hurt, A-Rod might be a Red Sock now.

The Yankees obviously appreciated Boone's candor, because they tried to sign him again a couple of years later, as a backup infielder. (Though he went to Cleveland instead, where he could be an everyday player.)

posted by BubbaFan, 5:02 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chan Ho Park?

I didn't see this one coming - the Yanks have signed Chan Ho Park. I thought they had enough relievers.

And the Reds have signed Jonny Gomes. It's a major league deal. I'm surprised at that. I would have thought they could have gotten away with just a minor league deal.

The Reds really need a power bat, but I'm not sure about Gomes. He's a very likable guy, and he certainly can rake it, but his defense is atrocious. I fear if he starts, his glove will taketh away more than his bat giveth.

And I came across this link:

Golf gives new goal to former Blue Jays youngster after loss of leg in accident

The title pretty much says it all. Manuel de los Santos was a hot prospect at 18, but his MLB dream ended when a motorcycle crash cost him his leg. He is now aiming for a golf career. He’s got a one-legged swing, with a baseball bat grip. And special crutches that don’t damage green.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:46 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Johnny Damon is a Tigger

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that Johnny Damon has signed with the Tigers. It's $8 million for one year, no deferred money and no option year. They're also saying he turned down $14 million for two years from the Yankees. If true, I gotta think he'd have been better off staying with the Yanks.

And does Paul Janish have weak wrists? (No Piazza jokes, please.)

The Reds have a fantasy camp for fans. Anyone over 30 years old who is willing to shell out $4,500 bucks gets to go to the Reds spring training complex and pretend to be a player. They give you uniforms, you are coached by the Reds staff and treated by the Reds trainers. You play a couple games a day, and in the end, you play against some retired big leaguers. (Too bad the Yankees don't do anything like this. Though it would probably cost $10,000 or more, and still be sold out.)

Anyway, "Slyde" of Red Reporter went to Reds Fantasy camp this year. One of the benefits was that he got to hear inside info from the Reds staff. One of the tidbits he came back with was from a coach who thinks Janish can't hit, because his wrists are weak:

Have I mentioned on this site the assessment I heard of Janish? “He’s got weak wrists. When you shake his hand, there’s no strength there. Most big leaguers have a powerful grip when you shake their hand, but not Janish. He’ll never hit because of that.”

They went on to explain wrist strength is something that a player must be working on early on. It’s not something you can just decide to fix. It changed my whole perspective on Janish. I’m not excited by Cabrera, but I’m also convinced that Janish isn’t going to put up better offensive numbers unless he gets lucky.

I dunno. Even if he does have weak wrists for a major league player, I can’t believe you can tell that from shaking hands. Surely he has enough strength the squeeze someone’s hand if he wants to. He’s still pro athlete, who probably has a lot more strength than the average Joe. I would assume he’s shaking hands that way by choice – either because his dad never told him nobody likes a limp fish handshake, or because he doesn’t want to get into those "who can squeeze harder" competitions. Or because he’s protecting his pitching hand. ;-) (Can a guy who can throw 90+ mph really have weak wrists?)

And if he does have weak wrists...shouldn’t the team that drafted him have been working on that over the past six years?


posted by BubbaFan, 2:19 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, February 19, 2010

A new season begins

Pitchers and catchers have reported for almost all teams; the new season is officially underway. Hard to believe, with all the snow on the ground.

Chien-Ming Wang signed with the Nationals.

Man, I never expected Wang and the Yankees would part ways so soon. He was my favorite Yankee not named Bubba.

I wonder if he'll rehab with Syracuse, the Nats' AAA club. Syracuse comes to Scranton early in the season - April 14-16. I'd like to see him pitch again. Though he may not be ready by then, or they may prefer that he rehab in a warmer locale.

Ron Villone has also signed with the Nats. Jason Lane signed wtih the Marlins, and Paul Bush has re-signed with the Yanks.

Reds beat writer John Fay talked to Paul Janish about losing the starting SS job.

Paul Janish and Jay Bruce arrived this morning. I asked Janish about the signing of Orlando Cabrera:

“I spent the whole offseason thinking I was going to get a chance. More than anything, it’s a change in mentality. Obviously, I thought I was going to be the everyday guy. Now, I’ve got to go back into the utility role. That’s going to be the role.

“It is what it is. I’ve got to go back to focusing on spring training and being part of the club.”

It was a little disheartening. But, at the same time, if you asked me in November if they were going to sign somebody, I would have said yeah. The fact that it happened so late is a little different.

“Anything to make the team better. We’re all on the same page.”

Sigh. I know Fay has to ask, and Janish has to answer (and he said all the right things). But it seems cruel to ask him about what must be a huge disappointment.

On a lighter note, check out this quilt. It was made by baseball fan Clara Schmitt Rothmeier. She was the daughter of a minor league player with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a softball player herself. She took up sewing as something to do while on the road with her team. She created portraits of her favorite players on fabric, had them autographed, and sewed them into a quilt.


posted by BubbaFan, 10:32 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, February 12, 2010

Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers...

There was a Rice intrasquad game after the alumni game, and I wanted to stay to watch it, but my time in Houston was limited, and there was something else I wanted to do: find the old Astrodome, and take a photo of it.

The Oilers were a pretty good team in my misspent youth, and they were on national TV a lot. I remember my dad telling me the Astrodome was the world's first domed stadium. Its astroturf surface was considered state of the art (with no one suspecting the injury problems it would lead to).

According to Mapquest, it was only a little over two miles away from Rice, so I set off on foot to find it. I wasn't sure it was actually possible to walk there or if I would be able to get close to it. I knew it wasn't in use any more, so I thought I might have to look at it from a distance, through a chain-link fence or something. (Yeah, yeah. I could have asked. But what fun would that be?)

It turned out to be a fairly pleasant walk. There were sidewalks all the way, passing through some interesting old neighborhoods and over some sort of canal. And it was pretty quiet and peaceful. There were a lot of joggers around Rice, but once I got away from there, I had the sidewalks to myself.

Then, there it was:

I didn't have to worry about access. The Astrodome is part of a larger complex including the new Reliant Stadium, and the place was hopping. No games at this time of year, but there was some kind of liquidation sale, and a monster truck show, and a kids' show (Sesame Street, maybe?).

I walked around the Astrodome, the old Houston Oilers fight song running through my head.

Houston has the Oilers, the greatest football team.
We take the ball from goal to goal like no one's ever seen.
We're in the air, we're on the ground, always in control,
And when you say the Oilers, you're talking Super Bowl.

'Cause we're the Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers,
Houston Oilers, Number One.

(I've always wondered what that line in the third verse meant: "Houston Oilers, Number One - Five - Seven - Eight, We're the best from the Lone Star State!" What's the significance of those numbers?)

The new Reliant Stadium was right beside the Astrodome.

It was only a couple of miles back to the hotel, but I got lazy, and decided to take the train. It's a light rail system, with overhead electric lines. In some places, it shares a lane with cars.

There was a stop right outside the stadium complex, and I was curious to see how it worked.

I'm still not sure how it works. No one seems to take tickets. But it did work.

I didn't get to check out Minute Maid Park, which is further away in other direction from Rice, but one day I will.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:29 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Damon and Melky, together again?

The Atlanta Braves have made an offer to Johnny Damon. According to Tyler Kepner of the NY Times, it's $2 million now, $2 million deferred. He also says the Yanks offered more and were turned down.

I wonder if Damon regrets turning down the Yanks. Though I suppose they could still come to terms.

The Yanks have signed Marcus Thames, who came up in the Yankees system (and, like Bubba Crosby and Andy Phillips, hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee). But it's only a minor league deal. Theoretically, the Yanks might still have room for Damon.

Meanwhile, Pete Abe says Chien-Ming Wang has decided to sign with the Nationals. But Ben Goessling reports that Wang is not close to a decision yet. He says Wang would prefer to be reunited with Joe Torre, but the Dodgers don't seem very interested.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:10 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Rice Alumni Baseball Game 2010

Reckling Park

Yes, I actually did go to the Rice alumni baseball game. I was staying in a hotel less than a mile from Rice University, so I walked over. It was a beautiful day for a baseball game. Just perfect. Warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky.

It's a little odd, to find a campus and a baseball field so close to downtown, but it's very nice. I really liked Houston. Lots of interesting neighborhoods, more walkable than I had expected.

The Houston skyline beyond left field.

The current team signed autographs before the game.

A sign by right field, honoring past champions.

The alumni lined up on the field:

The oldest alumnus there was from the class of 1950.

The little boy sitting next to me was hoping Lance Berkman would be there, but he wasn't.

Jeff Niemann was there, however. He was easy to spot, towering over everyone else.

He didn't play, but it seemed like he wanted to. He was fooling around with balls, bats, and gloves the entire time.

The best defensive SS (and worst relief pitcher) in major league baseball, Paul Janish, didn't play either.

Not sure if he's trying to grow a beard or was just too lazy to shave.

I think this is Steven Herce, the guy who organized this shindig.

According to the Baseball Cube, he was drafted by the Pirates but only played one year of affiliated baseball.

I think this is one of the Cruz brothers. Enrique? He hit a triple in the first inning, IIRC.

The game was pretty laid back. They kept forgetting the score, and there was no batting order to speak of.

The catcher missed the ball, so decided to field the runner instead.

I didn't get a lot of game photos, because the alumni were all standing along the left field line, and it was hard to photograph around them. I meant to move around the stands a little, but I was just too comfortable, sitting in the front row, soaking up the sun and listening to the crack of the bat and the cheers of the crowd. It was sheer heaven to be in a ballpark again.

I do have more photos here. If you can help identify any of the subjects, tag or post a comment under the relevant pic. (Since there were no real lineups, no program, and few names on jerseys, it was kind of hard to keep track of who was who.)


posted by BubbaFan, 10:19 PM | link | 5 comments |

Sunday, February 07, 2010

How old is Jose Tabata?

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates think Jose Tabata may be older than he claims. They don't say why they think that, and they say it doesn't matter to them, but of course, it does matter. If he's 21 in AAA, he's a stud. If he's 27, not so much.

This Bleacher Report post claims that Tabata nearly quit baseball in the weeks before the Yankees traded him, due to the stress of pro baseball and the expectations put on a top prospect. I hadn't heard that before. I know he was feeling pressure, and had done some things that got him disciplined.

He's probably better off with the Bucs. Less pressure there, and probably more of an opportunity. All in all, I can't say I disagree with the trade. I'm more bummed about the loss of Austin Jackson, who seems a lot more mature and grounded.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:40 PM | link | 0 comments |

More minor league transactions

Meant to post this earlier, but apparently I saved it as a draft rather than posting it.

From Baseball America:

Kevin Cash signed with the Astros. Dan Giese re-signed with the A's. Freddy Guzman signed with the Phillies. Doug Bernier signed with Pirates. Heath Phillips signed with Rays.

Anthony Claggett and Steven Jackson were DFA'd by the Pirates. They cleared waivers, and were outrighted to the Pirates' Triple-A club, the Indianapolis Indians.

The Yankees traded infielder Mitch Hilligoss to the Rangers for outfielder Greg Golson. The Yanks seem to be stocking up on outfielders. Funny, they had such a glut of outfielders a few years ago. Now they're worried about running short.

And speaking of former Yankee outfielders...Bronson Sardinha signed a minor league deal with the Rockies. Sounds like he didn't get an invite to big league spring training; he'll be competing just to get a job with the AAA club. Still, that's good news, considering that he couldn't even get a job in the independent leagues last year. Josh Phelps also got a minor league deal with the Rockies.

posted by BubbaFan, 12:20 AM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Emmitt Smith, Hall of Famer

Emmitt Smith is headed to the hall of fame. Hardly a surprise, but still great news. He fell to the Cowboys because many scouts thought he was too small and too slow to make it in the NFL. Now he's in the Hall of Fame. (And he won Dancing With the Stars, too. What a stud! ;-)

Jerry Rice also made it in the first year of his eligibility, to the surprise of no one. John Randle, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau are the others being inducted this year. Worthy players all, but as a lifelong Cowboys fan, Emmitt is dearest to my heart. Not least because he seems to be such a good guy. At least, he's never been arrested (unlike some of his teammates from those championship years).

Busy day today, and I'll be posting photos and such later, but I just had to offer my congratulations to one of the heroes of my youth. Way to go, Emmitt.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:09 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, February 05, 2010

My boss, geek extraordinaire

Things have been strange at work lately. Besides the economic issues (budget, layoffs, etc.), one of my coworkers died unexpectedly of a heart attack. K. was fairly young (in his 40s), wasn't overweight, and didn't smoke. It was a total shock. He left three young daughters.

My desk is across from his, and it's weird to look across and know he'll never be sitting there again. The worst is the phone calls. The first couple of days, my boss told us not to tell anyone that K. had died. I ended up saying, "Leave a message, and he'll call you back later" - which was of course a blatant lie. It wasn't much better when we were allowed to tell the truth. "I'm sorry to inform you he has passed away" sure is a quick way to kill a conversation.

Anyway, yesterday, the boss decided he needed to do something about morale. So he called a meeting. He couldn't quite bring himself to mention K.'s death. He kind of tapdanced around it, talking about the "rough start to the new year," the "loss of personnel," etc. Then he said he had something for us, to help us through this difficult time. And he passed out sheets of paper to each of us.

I was expecting maybe a list of counseling resources, or one of those corporate team-building exercises. No. It was a copy of the company policy on sexual harassment, complete with threats of discipline for non-compliance. It was so off-the-wall we were speechless. Near as I can tell, the boss searched the company documents for "workplace morale," and the sexual harassment policy came up. Because it says "sexual harassment is bad for workplace morale." And that's what he gave us.

The sad thing is he probably meant well. He is a good engineer, but like many engineers, hasn't made the transition to manager very well.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:36 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rice Alumni Baseball Game this weekend

Just a reminder - the Rice Alumni Baseball Game is this Saturday. They've posted a schedule of events for the day. There's an article here with a little more info. Admission is free!

posted by BubbaFan, 11:20 PM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, February 01, 2010

Reds still dealing

The Reds acquired yet another shortstop today. They sent Adam Rosales and Willy Taveras to Oakland, in exchange for Aaron Miles and a PTBNL. This deal seemed more about each team getting rid of a liability than anything. It's hard to say who's happier: A's fans celebrating Miles' departure, or Reds fans celebrating Taveras'.

Adam Rosales was a rather polarizing player in Cincinnati. Some fans loved his scrappiness, calling him "Pete" Rosales. Others thought he was a liability on offense and defense. The A's supposedly wanted a cheap reserve guy who can play SS. I can only assume they've never seen Rosales play SS. He's also not that cheap, since they had to take the $4 million dollar man, Taveras, with him. (They've already DFA'd him.)

This means Janish has gone from the starting SS to fighting for a reserve infielder spot, against Miles, Drew Sutton, Miguel Cairo, etc.

Although Cabrera is a two-time Gold Glove winner -- with the Expos in 2001 and the Angels in '07 -- Janish is considered the stronger option defensively. He has more range and, after the Gonzalez trade to Boston in '09, led all Major League shortstops with a .995 fielding percentage.

However, Janish is a .205 career hitter in 128 big league games over the past two seasons. The 27-year-old did show improvement at the plate down the stretch last season, and hit 21 doubles in 256 at-bats overall.

Baker and second baseman Brandon Phillips both voiced approval last weekend for entering the 2010 season with Janish as the shortstop. Janish would have also been significantly cheaper for the budget-minded Reds. He is likely to make something near the $400,000 league minimum this year.

In the end, the Reds believed that Cabrera's track record as a hitter couldn't be ignored -- especially for a club that finished 15th out of 16 National League teams in hitting and 11th in runs scored.

"In our case, it means a lot," Jocketty said. "One area we felt we still had to improve was our offense. Obviously Paul is an excellent defensive shortstop, we were going to give him every opportunity to see him play on an everyday basis. But when this deal came to us where we could afford it, we felt we had to go forward."

I think Janish is very likely to get a roster spot, but how much playing time he'll get is another story. Supposedly, Jocketty has spoken to Dusty Baker and told him to make sure Janish gets a lot of playing time, so he can continue to develop. But Dusty hasn't been very good at giving his bench players at-bats in the past, and I don't see him starting now - not with durable workhorses like Orlando Cabrera at SS and Brandon Phillips at 2B. I suppose there might be some work available at 3B; Rolen is notoriously injury-prone. But I fear Janish will be buried on the bench as he was last year.

In other hot stove news, the Dodgers are interested in Chien-Ming Wang. (Torre does like to collect former Yankees, especially pitchers.) However, they don't think he'll be ready to play for another three months.


posted by BubbaFan, 8:48 PM | link | 0 comments |