All Things Bubba

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

It's Leap Day. In the un-liberated days of yore, Leap Day was the day when a woman could ask a man to marry her. If he refused, he had to pay a penalty, such as giving her money or buying her a new dress.

My Uncle Richard was born on Leap Day. (That was considered very unlucky in Scotland. Luckily, he's not Scottish.) My dad (his brother) teases him about being only 12 years old. (Thirteen as of today. ;-)

Andy Phillips was not in the starting lineup today, but was subbed in at 1B after Votto was pulled. He was 0 for 1 with a walk. The Reds lost, 6-7. Tom Shearn gave up the winning run in the 9th.

It's very early, but Paul Janish is having a nice spring training so far. He's really impressing with his glove, and the bat's not bad, either. He went 1 for 2 with a double today.

Today the Reds announced that A-Gon has a compression fracture in his knee, and will be out at least three weeks. If he's not ready to play by the time the season starts, the Reds will need a shortstop. There's the slick-fielding Juan Castro, who is no longer slick-fielding and can't hit a lick. There's Jeff Keppinger, a fan favorite who can play SS but doesn't really have the range for it.

And there's Janish. He's supposedly got a good glove, but a light bat. However, he's hitting well, and light bat or no, he's better than Castro.

Janish just might be in a sort of sweet spot for the Reds. Good enough that they are willing to let him start every day, not so good that they are hesitant to start his arb clock. Eh, probably not. It will probably be Castro or Kepp. But if Janish hits well in spring training, they just may give him a shot.

Meanwhile, Seattle won 5-3 over the Giants. Miggy Cairo led off and went 1 for 3. Sardinha wasn't in the starting lineup, but was subbed into CF later. He was 0 for 3.

It was Bedard vs. Lincecum, and though Seattle prevailed, it was no thanks to Bedard. He had a rough couple of innings (and now has an ERA of 13.50 to show for it). Hey, it's the first game of spring training.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:38 PM | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, February 28, 2008


It was in the 50s at game time in Sarasota today, and everyone was complaining. Give me a break! We're in the single digits here.

Andy was in the starting lineup today. He was at 2B, batting third. He went 1 for 2. The hit was a single on a hit-and-run. Reds beat the Twins, 6-1.

Seattle had an exhibition game against the Padres today. Kind of strange, since they're kind of all exhibition games in spring training. But this one raised money for charity. The Mariners won, 10-3. Bronson Sardinha did not play. Miguel Cairo did, though. He was subbed in at 2B, and went 2 for 2.

Seattle's first "real" spring training game is tomorrow.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:46 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The first day of spring...., that is. It was actually pretty cold down there in Florida. Fans and players were huddled under blankets and towels, trying to keep warm.

Meanwhile, it was in the 80s in Phoenix. Bubba's getting the nicer weather, at least at the moment. (The Mariners had their intrasquad game today. Bronson Sardinha hit a home run.)

Back in Sarasota, Andy Phillips was subbed into the game in the 5th inning. He got one at-bat, grounding out to third. The Gameday link for the game is here. (The Phillies won, 8-1.)

And Reds reliever Gary Majewski is now the proud owner of a 162.00 ERA. Ouch.

Bret Boone has admitted the reason he quit baseball was an alcohol problem. He went into rehab, and has been on the wagon for seven months now. He's apparently swinging the bat so well they moved him from the minor league camp to the big club.

Maybe he can give a few tips to Scott Spiezio. It would be funny if it weren't so sad:

Witnesses saw a man they identified as Spiezio get out of the car and run. Police officers who arrived at the scene found the car, with both of its front tires blown, and verified it was Spiezio’s.

Spiezio allegedly went from the crash site to his condo complex, where a friend noticed that he was disheveled and apparently injured. The friend brought Spiezio into the friend's apartment and tried to clean him up, then Spiezio vomited inside the condo, police said.

When the friend said something about the vomit, Spiezio allegedly became angry and attacked the man, "punching him repeatedly and then throwing him against a wall," according to a statement by the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Good gravy.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:38 PM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We gotta get out of this place

Yesterday, it was 40F. Today, we got a blizzard.

Well, not really, but what was supposed to be a "wintry mix" of snow, rain, and ice came down as mostly snow. The biggest snowflakes I've ever seen. I tried to take a photo from my office window, but it didn't come out that great. (It was the cheap little camera I carry with me all the time, not my good camera. Plus, the window is right outside my boss' office, so I couldn't fool around too long. ;-)

February is the worst month of the year. Snow has long lost its appeal, but we still get a lot of it. Football season is over, baseball season has not yet started. The holidays are over, but the holiday bills are still rolling in. Cabin fever makes people thin-skinned and grumpy. It's one of the worst months for Internet flamewars.

I'm ready to get away from it all. I have eight days of vacation time that I have to use or lose by the end of March. And I'm thinking of going to Arizona for spring training.

I regretted not going to spring training in Sarasota last year. I thought there would be lots of time to see Bubba play - plenty of "real" games to see. Didn't work out that way.

Unfortunately, I'm really terrible at making decisions. A decision made is a door closed, and people hate seeing doors close. And I'm even worse than most.

I'm leaning toward going, but I'm also wondering if I should really be spending the money.

At least I don't have to decide "drive or fly?" as I would if I were going to Florida spring training. Arizona is too far away from New York to drive. (Well, I could - I have - but I don't want to this time.)

Then there's the question of when to go. I suppose it should be March 15 or later, since the minor league spring training games don't start until then. Leaving on March 19 would fit my work schedule. I'd probably stay about a week.

Then I have to pick a hotel. I found this guide to spring training. It's four years out of date, but might still be useful. There's a hotel listing here. It says the major league players stay at the Four Point Sheraton. (I wonder if that's still true; the rates are fairly low, probably because it's relatively far from Peoria.)

The minor leaguers reportedly stay at the Hampton Inn in Peoria - closer to the ballpark and more expensive.

The Comfort Suites Peoria Sports Complex is probably the closest; only a block away.

However, it might be cheaper to stay elsewhere in Phoenix, rent a car, and drive to the ballpark. I'd probably want to rent a car anyway, so I could tour some of the other sights. (I've already seen the Grand Canyon, but Sedona is supposed to have some very nice scenery. And I'd like to visit the Phoenix zoo, which is in a large urban park that's supposed to be quite beautiful.)

Decisions, decisions. Hotwire has a "build your package" thing, where you can get hotel, car rental, and airfare in one package. The only problem is you don't know what hotel and what airline until after you buy. I'm not too picky, though. All I want in a hotel is a room that's clean, and has Internet access. Preferably free, high speed, wireless Internet access.

And if I do decide to go, should I make my reservations now, or wait until the last minute and hope for a deal? I've gotten some very good rates by waiting until the last minute.

Maybe I should just flip a coin. Or ask the Magic 8 Ball.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:48 PM | link | 2 comments |

Intrasquad Game

The Reds traditionally start off the spring training schedule with an intrasquad scrimmage. Today, they played home vs. vistors...with some very loose rules.

Andy Phillips started out DHing in the last spot in the lineup of the Visiting Reds. But in the second inning, he switched to the other team, becoming the second baseman of the Home Reds and batting cleanup.

Andy had a pretty good day. He went 2 for 3 (a flyout and two singles). Or maybe that should be 0 for 1 and 2 for 2. The Home Reds won, 8-2.

Rice alum Paul Janish (SoftJ, as Trent calls him) had a good day, too. He had a single and a walk, and made three plays on defense that impressed the reporters and manager Dusty Baker.

John Fay's blog has the lineups and the play by play.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has a writeup of the game.

posted by BubbaFan, 4:55 PM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, February 25, 2008

Red Legs

Dandy Andy

Gotta love a guy who wears his pants high. Especially teams like the Reds, who are named for their sock color. They're the Redlegs, they should show their red socks.

And speaking of the Red Sox...they signed Bartolo Colon. To a minor league deal with no guaranteed money. Seems like a desperation move. On Colon's part. As deep in pitching as the Sox are, will Colon ever get out of Pawtucket?

It really is a bad year for free agents. Josh Fogg turned down a $5 million offer from the Rockies...and ended up signing for $1.5 million with the Reds. Seems like a lot of players misjudged the market this year.

And there are a lot of players who are still looking for work. Kyle Lohse, Reggie Sanders, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Corey Patterson, Kenny Lofton, Shawn Green, Akinori Otsuka, Jeff Weaver. Okay, they're not exactly hall of famers (or are hall of famers past their sell-by dates), but it seems like in other years, someone would have signed them by now.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:37 PM | link | 3 comments |

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Picture Day

Andy Phillips in his Reds uniform

Yesterday was photo day for the Reds. The players dress up in their uniforms and pose for photographers from the media and from the baseball card companies. (Trent says everyone hates photo day. Perhaps because they seem to spend most of their time waiting in line for their turn with the photographer.)

Judging from the above pic of Andy, the photos are better this year than last. Last year, they used weird underlighting that made everyone look like they were possessed. I like this year's darker background better, too.

Meanwhile, Bubba is reportedly on his way to Arizona today. He doesn't have to show up until March 6, but I guess he's going early. A lot of players do.

And once again, a patented A-Rod "insert foot in mouth and stomp out brains" moment. Wednesday, he said he was tested for 'roids 9 or 10 times last year. Rather than reassuring people, it immediately raised questions. Players don't get tested that often unless there's a problem. Such as testing positive. So the next day, he said it wasn't that often; he was just exaggerating.

And what the heck? ESPN publishing an article about peak oil and global warming? What's this world coming to? (They're mostly joking, but during the '70s oil crisis, they really did shorten NASCAR races in order to save fuel.)

Boy, did we get socked with snow yesterday. It was supposed to be only 2-3", with a changeover to ice/rain by afternoon. Only the changeover never happened. It all came down as snow. So we got about a foot. Yikes. I went out this morning, and it was really treacherous. There's a layer of ice under all that snow. It's slick as glass, especially in areas that have been shoveled. It looks nice and clear and dry...then you step on it, and fall flat on your face.

posted by BubbaFan, 4:06 PM | link | 4 comments |

Friday, February 22, 2008

Craig Wilson released

Looks like Craig Wilson won't be returning to Reds spring training camp. He's been released. They didn't say what the problem was - probably can't, with the new rules about medical confidentiality. But the assumption is that it's the shoulder he had surgery on last year.

Outfielder/first baseman Craig Wilson was released. Wilson didn't take the field after his physical. He spent most of last year on the DL with shoulder problems.

“That’s a big turning point in your life and your career," Baker said. "I’m hoping it works out. I could see it in his eyes."

Poor Craig.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:08 PM | link | 3 comments |

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Moon Shots

Last night started out cloudy, but cleared up well before the eclipse reached totality. Unfortunately, it also got much colder, with a brisk wind. This not only made it uncomfortable for would-be eclipse watchers, it made it hard to keep the camera still enough for long exposures, even with a tripod.

Luckily, I had a great view of the rising moon from my back deck. I set up the tripod and camera there, and only went out from time to time to see how it was going, and take photos.

It's a very different kind of photography. Very relaxing, compared to sports photography. There's no "darn, missed the perfect shot, I'll never get another chance." There's plenty of time to fiddle with the camera controls, experiment with different settings, check photography books, and Google the web for tips.

I'd never used anything like the really long exposures you need during a full eclipse. Even though I had a tripod and remote switch, the camera wasn't quite still enough to get a sharp image. (Probably due to the wind.) So the photo above, of the uneclipsed moon, turned out much sharper than the others. Being brighter, it required a shorter exposure.

At first I thought we weren't getting a nice color, but as the eclipse progressed, the part of the moon in shadow slowly turned dark copper, then red-gold.

Here's the best photo I got of the eclipsed moon:

And here's the moon emerging from our shadow:

It really does look like there's a bite taken out of it.


posted by BubbaFan, 8:07 PM | link | 1 comments |

Bad news for Craig Wilson?

Reds beat reporter John Fay is reporting that Craig Wilson is no longer in camp. He thinks Wilson didn't pass his physical.

Outfielder/first base Craig Wilson is no longer in camp. He was here yesterday for his physical, so that tells you something. The Reds haven't announced anything, but they likely will soon.

Bad news for Craig, who seems like a really nice guy, but it could open the door for Andy Phillips.

And I forgot to mention...former Yankee Shawn Chacon signed with the Astros. He got one year, $2 million.

posted by BubbaFan, 2:35 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Actually, it's a total eclipse of the moon - tonight. And it's just about ideal for those in the eastern half of the US. (Californians - and Seattlites - are out of luck.) The peak of the eclipse is about 10:30 pm eastern time. Late enough so the moon is high and it's nice and dark, early enough so people are still awake.

Here's a map of eclipse visibility:

More info, including the times for other time zones, is available at NASA. (If you get a 404, try again. They're getting a lot of traffic today.)

This will be your last chance to see a lunar eclipse for three years. You never know what you're going to get. Sometimes the eclipsed moon looks dark gray, sometimes it's flaming orange, sometimes it's somewhere in between. A cleaner atmosphere means better color.

I am going to try to photograph it. I have a fairly long lens that I use for sports photography (at least when I feel like lugging it along to games - it's darned heavy!). Not sure if it will be enough for good moon photos, but I'm going to try. Night photography is pretty new to me, so who knows how the pics will turn out.

And of course, I'm at the mercy of the weather. Hopefully, there won't be too many clouds tonight. The forecast this morning was great, but they're predicting some clouds now.

Then there's this article:

Lunar eclipses have coincided or been consequential in several historic events, from the death of Roman kings to the journey of Christopher Columbus, from the fall of ancient civilizations to the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series in 86 years.

Maybe this eclipse will herald the Mariners' first World Series - ever. Hey, they've got Bubba now.


posted by BubbaFan, 5:40 PM | link | 4 comments |

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

By the time I get to Phoenix...

It never rains but it pours. Nothing much happened over the weekend; the weather was awful, so I ended up doing such exciting things as re-organizing the cabinets and backing up my hard drive. Today, all heck broke loose. Computer disaster at the office (there was apparently a fire in the data center over the weekend). Crude oil hit a new intraday record high, and closed over $100/barrel for the first time, causing much excitement. Some home and family stuff came up. (Nothing major, but unexpectedly time-consuming.) And finally - an official announcement on the Bubba front.

Here's how AP wrote it up:

The Mariners signed outfielder Bubba Crosby to a minor league contract. Crosby played in 65 games for the New York Yankees in 2006 and spent all of 2007 playing for the Cincinnati Reds' AAA team in Louisville.

That's not quite accurate. He didn't spend all of 2007 playing for Louisville. He played only two weeks, and was on the DL the rest of the time. He'd have been called up if he were healthy.

It's disappointing that the Mariners wouldn't even give Bubba a spring training invite, but not really surprising. Especially with this year's market. He missed an entire year of baseball, and had shoulder surgery. He's going to have to prove himself all over again. If he plays well, he'll get a chance. With Seattle, or with another team.

The Mariners' spring training is at Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. Peoria is basically a suburb of Phoenix; if you go, you'll fly in via the Phoenix airport.

The minor league spring training games are free, and not many people attend. Which could be kind of cool, really. You'd be guaranteed good seats! (The Mariners have not released their minor league spring training schedule yet, but usually, the minor league games don't start until around March 15.)

Getting tickets shouldn't be a problem for the big league games. The Angels and Cubs games sell out, and weekend games may sell out as well. But it sounds like most days, you can just walk up and get tickets.

The major league spring training schedule is here. Looks like there are more day games than the Grapefruit League has.

In other news, Ron Villone signed a minor league deal with St. Louis. Still no word on Kevin Reese, but there's still time. Players are often signed during spring training, as teams see what they've got...and what holes they need to fill.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:40 PM | link | 2 comments |

Bubba signs with Mariners

It's official. Mariners sign Crosby:

Oh, yes. Our headline. It's true, the Mariners just signed Crosby. No, not Bobby Crosby. We're talking Bubba. As in Bubba Crosby. Yes, I know. Big difference. It's strictly a minor league deal, no spring camp invite. Crosby was actually an everyday major leaguer once. Played for the Yankees from 2004-2006, the D-Rays once, but was in Class AAA with the Reds last season. For 13 games, anyway.

He's still only 31 and has some speed for a guy named "Bubba". But his .553 career on-base-plus-slugging percentage doesn't hold out much hope for him ever helping the big club. Just thought I'd mention him up top because there isn't much news coming out of camp for the moment.

Grrr. I hope Bubba makes that son of a silly person eat his words.

The Mariners are in the Cactus League, holding their spring training in Phoenix. I assume their Triple-A club plays at the same complex. I'll see if I can rustle up a schedule. And he may end up playing in some of the big league games, one way or another. He did last year, with the Reds, even after he was assigned to the minors.

posted by BubbaFan, 4:32 PM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pettitte Faces the Music

Andy Pettitte spoke to the press about his HGH use today. He also apologized to George Steinbrenner. Jeter, Posada, and Mo were at his side. (They came through the Yankees system together, along with Bernie. One of the advantages of home-grown players. I know some very good teams have featured players who hate each other, but surely it's easier if your teammates have your back.)

Pettitte did the right thing, but I don't buy his excuses. Injury is part of the game, and shortening your time on the DL (or your time playing injured) gives you an unfair advantage over other players. Indeed, some doctors claim that's the major advantage of PEDs: they shorten the amount of time players are impaired by injury. It's a long season, and everyone ends up playing injured sometimes.

And in the most improbable comeback attempt since Juan Gone: Bret Boone signed a minor league deal with the Nats. Yikes. He's 38. And he hasn't played for three years.

His dad is an assistant GM with the Nats, and younger brother Aaron Boone is a backup infielder. Plus, Jim Bowden has a habit of collecting former Reds.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:48 PM | link | 1 comments |

The Ft. Myers Serial Killer

Almost one year ago, near the end of spring training, there was a bit of a stir when eight skeletons were discovered in a wooded area of Ft. Myers. They had apparently been there for many years. Police were unsure whether the remains had eroded out of an old cemetery, had been dumped by an unscrupulous crematorium, or were the work of an undetected serial killer.

Well, CNN has an update today. It's looking like the "serial killer" answer is correct. All eight men were murdered. Two of them have been identified, through the cumbersome method of having dozens of people who had missing relatives give DNA for comparison. Both men disappeared in the mid-90s, and lived lives on the edges of society.

An artist has done forensic reconstructions of each of the victims, in hopes of identifying them.

Probably not the kind of news Ft. Myers wanted, just before the spring training/spring break vacation season...

posted by BubbaFan, 2:57 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Randomness

I was poking around Amazon tonight, and came across this item.

Official Rawlings NL baseball autographed by assistant coach Larry Hays and 23 members of the 1997 USA National Team that finished in 4th place at the International Baseball Association's XIII Intercontinental Cup in Barcelona, Spain: Brian Oliver, Jason Tyner, Josh Bard, Casey Fossum, Bubba Crosby, Adam Pettyjohn, future Phillies slugger Pat Burrell, Zach Sorensen, Rob Morrison, Jeff Austin, Chris Magruder, Mike Fischer, Eric Munson, future All-Star Brian Roberts, 2002 NL Rookie of the Year Jason Jennings, Ryan Mottl, Chuck Crowder, Monty Ward, Jody Gerut, Dave Matranga and three players who have yet to be identified. Some signatures have minor fading, overall in excellent condition.

This must be the college all-star team Bubba played on. The one where he roomed with Brian Roberts.

I don't see Bubba's sig on the pictures posted, but they only show two sides of the baseball. You'd need four to see all the signatures. I do see Brian Roberts' name.

This story is making a splash in the blogosphere and the tabloids: A-Rod one of baseball's best shortstops, Jeter is worst.

Comparing Jeter and A-Rod, Jensen said, "suggests the Yankees have one of the best defensive shortstops playing out of position in deference to one of the worst defensive shortstops." A-Rod won two Gold Gloves as a shortstop before he came New York in 2004.

I wonder if Jeter would still be playing SS if he were on another team. The Yankees don't seem to care much about defense.

Here's what the article says about outfielders:

The toughest outfielders to hit against were the Indians' Jason Michaels, as well as Coco Crisp (now with the Boston Red Sox) and Gary Matthews Jr., currently playing for the Angels, they said.

The worst? Bobby Higginson, formerly of the Detroit Tigers; ex-Yankee Bernie Williams; and Wily Mo Pena, now with the Washington Nationals.

Success depended on a player's range as well as good decision-making and positioning themselves well, said Jensen, an assistant professor of statistics at Penn's Wharton School.

The study covered 2002-2005. According to my favorite defensive stat, BP's rate, Bernie's defense fell off a cliff in 1996, and then fell even further in 2002. So the study basically captured the very worst years (defensively) of Bernie Williams' career.

Wow, I never noticed before that Bernie's defense fell so precipitously, so early. He went from being well above average (110-116, when average is 100) to below average. Oh, I knew he was declining by 2002 or so, but what's up with the sharp drop in 1996? That was his age 27 year. He should have been at his physical peak. Injury, maybe? (It wasn't the Lasik surgery, as many fans suspect; that was in 1999.)

And check out this prank played on a hapless rookie by Brett Myers. Funny, but pretty mean to carry it that far. I hope the kid gets Myers back. (Actually, Myers belongs in jail, the wife-beating idiot.)

And it appears Phil Hughes' new number is 34. He took it from Sean Henn, in exchange for dinner at Flemmings. Why 34? He explains:

3+4=7, my Mom’s favorite number, and 34 was the number of my favorite pitcher growing up, Nolan Ryan

Nick Green is wearing Andy's old number, 12. (Nick's previous number, 17, is now being worn by Shelley Duncan.) Outfielder Jason Lane is wearing Bubba's number 19.

I just noticed Jason Lane bats right but throws left. That's kind of odd. You see right-handed players batting left fairly often, but left-handed players batting right is unusual.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:58 PM | link | 2 comments |

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bubba to Seattle?

In yesterday's comments, an anonymous tipster reports that the Mariners have offered Bubba an invitation to their Triple-A spring training camp. The Mets and Rangers are also interested, and we'll likely know in a day or two.

Well, it's great to hear some news on the Bubba front. Though the Mariners wouldn't be my first choice for him. They are an AL team; he's said he thinks his skills are better suited to the NL, and I agree. And from my purely selfish point of view: they're on the left coast, which means their games will be really late for us east coasters. Their Triple-A team, the Tacoma Rainiers, are also in the west coast, and play in the PCL, meaning it won't be easy for New Yorkers to get to their games. And their spring training is in Arizona - again, not as convenient for New Yorkers as Florida.

They reportedly didn't offer him a spring training invite to the big league camp because it's already full. But they have only one non-roster invitee who is an outfielder: Bronson Sardinha. So Bubba might have as good a chance of being called up with Seattle as anywhere. And if he is called up, we Yankee fans may get to see him, since the Yanks play the Mariners pretty often.

The Mets are an NL team. They have their spring training in Florida. And their minor league team is the New Orleans Zephyrs. They are a PCL club, but at least they're not on the west coast. New Orleans is in the Central Time Zone, which would be much easier on east coasters than the Pacific Time Zone. And of course, should Bubba be called up, we New Yorkers would get to see every game.

And then there's the Rangers. They are also an AL team. Their spring training is in Arizona, and their Triple-A team is the Oklahoma Redhawks, a PCL club. They're also in the Central Time Zone. The Rangers have a ton of outfielders, including a couple who, like Bubba, were in the Reds organization last year. (Josh Hamilton and Jason Ellison.) They also have David Murphy, recently of the Red Sox, and just signed Kevin Mench.

I'll be very happy Bubba is playing this season, no matter where it is. Though I'm hoping for the Mets. Just because it would be easier for me to follow the games.

Plus, it would maintain his eligibility for Red Hot Mama's NLC's Hottest Baller tournament. (Arroyo is gaining on Bubba. It's Crosby 75%, Arroyo 25% at the moment.)

Speaking of which, the Cincinnati Reds really were a very good choice for us fans last year. In the Eastern Time Zone, spring training in Florida, Triple-A team in the IL. Too bad it didn't work out. Hopefully, it will work out for Andy Phillips this year.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:50 PM | link | 6 comments |

Where did you come from, where did you go?

Baseball Prospectus has posted their projected standings. They are predicting the Yankees will finish first in the AL East, the Red Sox second. Not surprisingly, they expect the Orioles to finish in last place, below even the Rays.

I dunno. The Sox were the champs last year. They aren't notably worse this year, and I'm not sure the Yanks have improved all that much. Call me a pessimist, but I'm not expecting the Yankees to win the division this season.

Chad Jennings' excellent SWB Yankees Blog has a good overview of where last year's Scranton players will be this year. He hasn't heard anything about Kevin Reese, but he's sure Reese will sign somewhere eventually. And he's not sure about Colter Bean. He heard that Bean had signed with the Braves, but hasn't seen any confirmation, so that might not be accurate.

Here's what he has to say about Andy:

1B Andy Phillips
Cincinnati Reds

Last year: Late cut from big league camp, Phillips came to Triple-A, hit well and wound up getting regular playing time in New York.

This year: Of all the places for Phillips, I can't figure out why he chose a place with two first basemen, two utility players and an outfielder who can play second and third.

Up or down: Down. I know the Yankees seemed reluctant to give him much of a look, but Cinci has a load of similar options, including a big time first base prospect in Joey Votto.

Yankee replacement: Juan Miranda

And while I was typing this post, someone posted a hot tip about Bubba in yesterday's comments. The tipster says Bubba has received a minor league offer from the Mariners, and that the Mets and Rangers have also expressed interest. More on this later.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:36 PM | link | 1 comments |

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hot and Not

I looked in on Red Hot Mama's "Who's Hotter" tourney. Bubba is beating Bronson Arroyo, 81% to 19%. Despite Bubba's indisputable and irresistible hotness, I find it hard to believe that a bunch of Reds fans would pick him over their rock star ace, Arroyo. Must be Bubba fans wandering over to vote. Good job, folks!

OTOH, Josh "Beckett o' Lard" is, well...let's just say he's looked better:


posted by BubbaFan, 4:56 PM | link | 6 comments |

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hometown Hero

The Tuscaloosa News has an article about local boy Andy Phillips. It's basically a piece handicapping his chances for the making the Reds roster this year.

A total of 62 players, including Phillips and 21 other non-roster invitees, are expected to be in Cincinnati’s camp with new manager Dusty Baker. Saturday, 33 pitchers and seven catchers will officially report to Ed Smith Stadium, with the first scheduled workout Sunday afternoon after the completion of physicals.

Although Phillips, 30, was primarily a first baseman with the Yankees, who selected him in the seventh round of the 1999 amateur draft, he may not have a chance to land a starting job there with the Reds.

Cincinnati plans to take a long look at rookie Joey Votto, rated the third-best prospect in the Reds organization by Baseball America, will win the job outright during spring training. Last season, he was Triple-A Louisville’s most valuable player and listed among the International League’s leaders in home runs (22, fourth), RBIs (92, second), hits (146, tied for fifth), on-base percentage (.382, seventh) and batting average (.294, tied for 13th).

With the parent club, he hit .321 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 24 appearances.

The Reds also have left-handed Scott Hatteberg, whose $1.85 million club option was picked up after he batted a career-high .310 in 116 games with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs.

However, Phillips’ versatility could be the key to landing a spot on the opening-day roster, as he can also play third base and the outfield. If so, he might be competing against players like switch-hitter Javier Valentin, utility infielder Juan Castro, and outfielder Craig Wilson.

Right-handed power and pinch-hitting power were sore spots for the Reds last season. Cincinnati was eighth in NL pinch-hitting, but batted just .227 (53-for-233) with five home runs and 29 RBIs.

That last is very true. The Reds really need some righty bats.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:13 PM | link | 2 comments |

Red Hot

Reds blogger Red Hot Mama has been running a "NLC's Hottest Baller" tournament, where she pairs two NL players and you vote for which one is hotter. (Hey, you have to fill up the off-season somehow.) Tonight's matchup: Bronson Arroyo vs. Bubba Crosby.

The final round of the tourney finally brings us to our guy in limbo, the illustrious Bubba Crosby. Crosby was with the Reds last season and so strong was his energy for the forces of good that his injury turned out to be season-ending…for the team. For the moment he’s without a team, but this hotness can’t stay unclaimed for long.

Very sweet of her to remember Bubba, considering his brief (so far) career in the NL. (Though Arroyo is pretty stiff competition. Dunno if Bubba can beat out Goldilocks. Vote early, vote often. ;-)

And I hope she's right about him not staying unclaimed for long.

posted by BubbaFan, 12:47 AM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For the Yankee fan who has everything...

Coming this month from MacFarlane Toys: a Chien-Ming Wang action figure.

Gary Sheffield and a few others are also available.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rampant 'Roids

There was a report in the news today that Andy Pettitte's deposition supports McNamee and contradicts Clemens. If true, things aren't looking good for the Rocket.

Mike Celizic thinks Clemens has no clue what he's getting into. That he's lived in the insulated world of the superstar athlete so long that he doesn't understand the rules normal people live by, let alone that they apply to him, too, this time.

And John Rocker crawled out from under a rock somewhere, and admitted that he failed a drug test...and said that MLB encouraged him and other players, including A-Rod, to juice.

Rocker said that doctors from management and the players’ association, following a spring training talk with the Texas Rangers about steroids and other topics, pulled himself, A-Rod, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez aside. Rocker was with the Rangers in 2002.

“Looks guys, if you take one kind of steroid, you don’t triple stack them and take them 10 months out of the year like Lyle Alzado did,” Rocker said the doctors told them. “If you do it responsibly, it’s not going to hurt you.”

Rocker's a scuzzball, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's telling the truth. One thing that comes through from the Mitchell Report is that MLB, the players' union, and the teams were complicit in the juicing.

As for A-Rod...well, Canseco has hinted twice now that A-Rod is a juicer. Canseco is an obnoxious attention-seeker, but he's been vindicated in just about everything he's said about 'roids.


posted by BubbaFan, 6:58 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, February 11, 2008

The waiting is the hardest part

Doug Mientkiewicz has found a home. The Pirates signed him to a minor league deal.

Baseball America's weekly minor league transaction report is out, and Bubba's not listed on it. Not that I was really expecting it; I think he's a big enough name that it would have made the news if he had signed anywhere last week. Nary a word about Kevin Reese, either.

I think it's more a reflection of the market than anything else. Craig Wilson was in much the same boat as Bubba. He's the same age, and had shoulder surgery that kept him out all season last year. Only he has a lot more big league experience. And still...he just got a deal a few days ago.

There's still plenty of time; players are signed even during spring training. But I have to say, I never expected Bubba to still be in limbo the week of Valentine's Day.

Maybe I should have quoted Guns N' Roses instead of Tom Petty: "All we need is just a little patience..."

posted by BubbaFan, 6:39 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, February 10, 2008

File this under...

..."What were they thinking?"

Upper Deck created some baseball cards of the current crop of presidential candidates, casting them as various baseball personalities. Fred Thompson is Babe Ruth. Mitt Romney is Carlton Fisk. John McCain is the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. Johnny Damon's favorite, Rudy Guiliani, is Jeffrey Maier. Barack Obama is Jermaine Dye. John Edwards is Archibald "Moonlight" Graham. There's also a card which features Jon Stewart as Nolan Ryan, fighting with Bill O’Reilly as Robin Ventura.

And Hillary Clinton? They cast her as Morganna, the Kissing Bandit. Then promptly pulled the card, when "an informal focus group" raised concerns. (My guess: "informal focus group" means the women in the office, and/or the wives and girlfriends of the men.)

Geez, Upper Deck. It's not like there aren't a lot of women in baseball you could have picked. Morganna the Kissing Bandit?

Of course, the few Morganna cards that did slip through are going for ridiculous amounts of money on eBay. Like, $1,500. Insane.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:38 PM | link | 4 comments |

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Reds Sign Craig Wilson

Reds beat reporter John Fay reports that Cincinnati has signed former Yankee Craig Wilson.

I wasn't expecting this, I must say. Last I heard, it was the Mets who were going to sign him.

Wilson was traded to the Yankees in 2006, in part because he was about to become a free agent, and the Pirates expected him to get $5 or 6 million a year - more than they wanted to pay.

But he never played well for the Yankees, and was truly awful in 2007 for Atlanta. They released him, and the White Sox signed him to a minor league deal. He was awful there, too...but it turns out there was a reason. He had a chronic shoulder injury, and in June, he finally had surgery for it. It ended his season.

If he can bounce back from the surgery to be anything like his former self, this is a bargain for the Reds. He could be the replacement for Jeff Conine: righty bat off the bench, half of a first base platoon, occasional corner outfielder. Wilson actually came up as a catcher, so he could be an emergency catcher, too - always welcome, especially in the NL. (The Reds were notorious for carrying three catchers last year. Maybe if Wilson makes the roster, they can get by with only two.)

This could be bad news for Andy Phillips, though. Craig Wilson will be in direct competition with Andy. Wilson has had more big league success, can play more positions, and is only a few months older.

I think Wilson had the same kind of shoulder surgery as Bubba had, only he had it a month earlier.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:46 PM | link | 1 comments |

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gung hee fat choy!

Today is Chinese New Year. It's the Year of the Rat.

Which reminds me...McNamee claims to have the goods on Clemens:

Brian McNamee has given federal investigators bloody gauze pads, vials and syringes he said he used to inject Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001, a lawyer with knowledge of the case said Wednesday.

McNamee, Clemens’s former personal trainer, hopes that DNA and chemical tests on the materials will support his contention that he injected Clemens with those drugs, the lawyer said. The disclosure came a day after Clemens gave a sworn deposition to Congressional investigators Tuesday.

Clemens’s lawyer, Lanny A. Breuer, responded that McNamee “apparently has manufactured evidence” and was “a troubled man who is obsessed with doing everything possible to destroy Roger Clemens.”

Yeesh. That's weird. Who keeps bloody gauze pads for seven years? Was he planning to sell them on eBay or something? Nope:

McNamee, a former police officer, decided to save the evidence rather than discard it, the lawyer said. “He was always concerned that if he ever got caught, he would be the most vulnerable and people would throw him under the bus,” the lawyer said.

Kind of paranoid, but given what's happened, maybe not. Though I would think McNamee would be in trouble for not turning this stuff over sooner. He says it was out of lingering loyalty to Clemens. It was only after Clemens played that tape that McNamee decided to produce the evidence.

This is getting weirder and weirder. Clemens could be in big trouble. OTOH, bloody gauze and used syringes aren't really proof. McNamee could have put Clemens' blood and some incriminating PEDs on the gauze himself.

Geez, Roger, you should have just fessed up. You'd have been fine if you just told the truth.

In other news, there's finally some talk about Craig Wilson. The Mets are rumored to be interested in signing him to a minor league deal. He was awful last year, but I really think it was his bad shoulder that was to blame. He was a solid player for the Pirates for years, but his numbers fell off a cliff last year.

And Curt Schilling has a serious shoulder injury.

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling will not have shoulder surgery for what appears to be a partial tear of his rotator cuff, despite the recommendation of the doctor who operated on the shoulder in 1995, and will follow the more conservative course recommended by Sox medical director Thomas Gill, after the club and player agreed to submit to today's recommendation by an outside medical expert.

Even without surgery, the 41-year-old Schilling is not expected to be ready to pitch until at least the All-Star break, according to several sources familiar with his condition.

Apparently, Schilling and the team disagreed about whether he should have surgery. If he has surgery, he has no chance of playing this year. At his age, it could be the end of his career.

He'll be replaced by Clay Buchholz in the rotation.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:11 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Law and Order

Heard from someone who asked the seller about this auction. No explanation of why it has the wrong date for Bubba's first home run, but he did say it's to raise money for a scholarship in memory of Gary Stymiloski, a New York police officer who died while making a seemingly routine traffic stop.

It was a very sad and rather bizarre case. Mr. Stymiloski was murdered by a serial killer. And not your everyday killer, but a Hannibal Lector-type serial killer. When they caught Alex Mengel, they found a woman's scalp in his car. He had worn it as a wig, put lipstick on, and tried to abduct a little girl. When they found the woman's remains, they discovered that that skin of her face had been cut off, as well as her scalp. Kind of makes you wonder if he tried to wear his victim's face, as well as her hair.

Meanwhile, it was Clemens' turn to talk to Congressional investigators today. He apparently told them under oath that he never used PEDs. Oh, boy. He better hope they don't have any proof, or he's going to be wearing horizontal stripes instead of pinstripes.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:17 PM | link | 3 comments |

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yankees West

An extremely brief weekly transaction report at Baseball America today. It's really uncanny how slowly free agents are being signed this year, and how many fairly big names are still jobless. Everyone's talking about it. Cashman thinks it's because the "middle class" has disappeared. It's all superstars or young kids, nothing in between.

There's a familiar name in this week's report, though: the Dodgers have signed Mike Myers. Torre seems to be reconstituting his old bullpen out there on the left coast.

The Red Sox traded Willy Mota and Miguel Socolovich to the White Sox for David Aardsma. Aardsma was a first-round pick out of Rice in 2003.

Andy Pettitte was deposed today. He spoke to under oath to congressional lawyers for 2-1/2 hours. No word on whether he ratted Clemens out.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:49 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Autographed baseball

Pretty good Super Bowl so far (even though I'm not a big fan of either the Pats or the Giants). But halftime shows generally bore me (even though I kinda like Tom Petty.) So jumped on the net...and found this eBay auction.

It's an auction of a "limited edition" baseball signed by Bubba. Underneath his signature, he wrote 4/11/04 1st NY HR. The seller says he bought it from Steiner Sports for $100.

That inscription is kind of strange. Bubba's first NY home run was actually on 4/9/04. He came in as a sub in the 9th inning, because the game was out of reach - and hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee. April 11, 2004 was his first start as a Yankee (and resulted in his second home run).

Weird. Did Bubba actually not remember the date of his first big league home run?

In other news, Phil Hughes says in his blog that he's switching numbers. A lot of people felt #65 was unworthy of him, being the kind of number that kids wear in spring training. He said he was sticking with it, because he wanted a number that ended in 5. Well, he's changed his mind. though he hasn't decided what number he wants.

Perhaps he'll take Bubba's or Andy's old numbers; 19 and 12 are currently available.

posted by BubbaFan, 8:07 PM | link | 1 comments |

A Happy Ending For Michael Vick's Dogs

The NY Times had an article yesterday about the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick's dogfighting kennel. Both the Humane Society and PETA recommended that the dogs be euthanized, but animal rescue groups stepped up and volunteered to take them in. Vick agreed to pay almost a million dollars for the care of the 47 animals seized by the feds.

One of those had to be put down for its aggression toward humans, but the rest are in shelters across the country, including 22 at Best Friends, probably the premiere animal shelter in the country. It's one of my favorite charities.

Vick is serving two years in Leavenworth. Wonder if he'll get to see any of the Super Bowl today?

posted by BubbaFan, 1:37 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Looking for a major-league job? Stand in line

ESPN's Jayson Stark has an article about the unusual number of free agents who haven't found jobs yet.

Here at World Rumblings Headquarters, we keep a free-agent transaction book every offseason. But we've never seen a winter like this. As of Friday morning, we still had more than 150 names in our book that hadn't been crossed off. Yeah, 150.

That's not guys who played in Korea last year. That's not guys who played in the Gulf Coast League. That's the number of players who have played in the big leagues within the last two years -- counting men who have been released, non-tendered, designated or pretty much forgotten altogether -- who still don't have jobs.

And it's February.

The explanations?

We asked a bunch of executives from both leagues about this free-agent gridlock. They offered all sorts of plausible explanations.

One of the least compelling free-agent crops ever. … Too many interchangeable parts. … Too much trade talk involving bigger names, which held up the market. … The Mitchell Report. … Renewed emphasis on younger players. … Yada, yada, yada.

As we said, it's all plausible. It's all true. But that doesn't mean it isn't weird.

Stark even suggests that collusion is a possibility, though it can't be proven.

In any case, this appears to be a lousy winter to be a free agent.

posted by BubbaFan, 3:40 PM | link | 0 comments |

Behind Blue Eyes

Scientists have tracked down the mutation that made brown eyes blue. Basically, it was a genetic error that reduced melanin production. Blue eyes are very diluted brown eyes.

Most interesting is that DNA analysis shows that this error arose only once - 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Before that, there were no blue eyes. It also means every blue-eyed person alive today, from Turkey to Denmark to Bellaire, Texas, is descended from one person.

Not that this has anything to do with baseball. Just me indulging in some science neepery again.

The Times had an article about Cashman yesterday. Among other things, it notes that he regrets the things he said last week.

Cashman spoke last week at an event with Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Surprisingly, Cashman spoke critically of Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, and said his team was not mentally tough enough to withstand the bug swarm in Cleveland in last fall’s division series.

According to people who have spoken with him, Cashman has expressed remorse over those comments. Usually deft as the Yankees’ primary spokesman, Cashman is struggling with Hank Steinbrenner’s quick ascension to that role. At times, Cashman has seemed especially cautious; at other times, unusually candid.

Wow, I hadn't heard that part about the team lacking mental toughness. That would be Joba Chamberlain; the other players seemed to withstand the bug attacks pretty well.

I'm really wondering if Cashman is going to stick around when his contract is up. He's complained about his loss of authority to the Steinbrenner brothers. He seems to have won the Santana debate, but it sounds like it's his head that will roll if the Yankees miss the playoffs. Especially if Santana plays well for the Mets.

Speaking of Santana and the Mets, they went down to the deadline and a little more, but did get the deal done. Santana is a Met.

The Yankees spring training overview says goodbye to the departed, including Andy Phillips:

Andy Phillips: If he hadn't broken his hand being hit by a Jason Hammel pitch on Sept. 2, Phillips very likely could have been the Yankees' starting first baseman for their playoff run. Instead, he declined an assignment to Triple-A and elected free agency, latching on with the Reds.

The article notes Ron Villone and Doug Mientkiewicz haven't signed with new teams yet. One time Yankee Craig Wilson hasn't been signed yet, either. He's hinted that he'd like to return to Pittsburgh, and wouldn't mind a bench role (a sticking point when he left).

Speaking of the Pirates, former Pirate and Red Sean Casey has signed with the Red Sox. Guess the Yankees aren't the only ones collecting first basemen...

posted by BubbaFan, 11:08 AM | link | 0 comments |