Keeping track of the Canucks.
LH Eric Cyr signed with the Dodgers, I'd lost track of him. Evidently he played in Taiwan last year before pitching very briefly for the Quebec City Capitales of the Indy Can Am League. He then went on to play for Team Canada at the 08 Olympics qualifier. He's had a good career, drafted in the 30th round in 98 by the Padres, he's bounced around the minors mostly at Triple A up until last season. He did pith 6 innings for the Padres in 02.
C Pierre Luc ( Pete ) Laforest, local boy from Gatineau, has re signed with the Padres. Laforest is also enjoying a good professional career. He was signed as a free agent by the Devil Rays in 97. After 8 years in the D Rays organization, including brief stints with the big league team in 03 & 05 he was claimed off waivers by the Padres in Dec 05. I haven't been able to confirm that he was hurt last year but the only stats I can find are 15 AB's for the Padres Rookie Level team. Better luck to Pete in 07, he also has played for Team Canada extensively.
ESPN reports that 3B Corey Koskie is not expected to be fit to play when the season starts. Ongoing concussion problems.
Carl at the Ottawa Lynx blog http://ottawalynx.blogspot.com/ might be interested to know that former Lynx Brooks Badeaux signed with Tampa, guess we'll be seing him this year in a Durham Bulls uni.
Also for Carl, re. C Carlos Ruiz. According to ESPN "The Phillies' official site is reporting that Ruiz is a "lock" to make the major league roster." If that is accurate is Chris Coste, the real life Crash Davis, the Lynx #1 catcher?
The Winnipeg Sun is reporting that the Indy Northern League is interested in putting a team in Saskatoon. The Northern League Commissioner, Clark Griffith, is the source of the speculation. I suspect they are floating a trial balloon. On one hand it makes sense, with teams in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton, a team in Saskatoon would reduce travel expenses for the other Cdn teams. On the other hand, Edmonton is struggling at the gate and I don't think attendance is boffo in Calgary either. Any Indy ball in Ottawa rumors? The Can Am League has a team in Quebec City.....
Maury Brown at bizofbaseball.com is telling us to check out the interview in Sports Business Journal with MLBAM's Rob Bowman. I am a subscriber to SBJ, but am 3 issues behind because I moved and they haven't caught up to me yet. I'm mad as hell and....I'm gonna call first thing tomorrow AM.
At http://www.hardballtimes.com/ there is a column by John Beamer from Feb 19 "Measuring & Managing the Value of Ballclubs (Part I ). Mr. Beamer is reiterating what I read repeatedly, the Industry is flush with cash. "The average franchise grew in value by an astonishing 14% between 2004 and 2005, outperforming almost every other asset class. To put it another way, Frank McCourt trousered an extra $60 million in paper capital gain last year simply by owning the LA Dodgers." Since 1995 the Compound Annual Growth Rate ( I won't pretend to undertand exactly what that is ) of the franchises collectively ( save the expansion teams ) is 13.1%. I guess that's good because Mr. Beamer describes it as "hedonistic".
As for the unprecedented free agent spending this offseason, Mr. Beamer echoes what Maury Brown told USA Today, that it is a "market correction". To quote Mr. Beamer "Since 2004 average payroll has risen by only 2% a year, but values have accelerated at 15% a year. Based on that we’d expect 2007 to be a bumper payroll year and the current goings on in the free-agent world definitely support that." He goes on "....valuations have risen faster than mean payroll over the last 15 years. Total payroll as a percent of total value has dropped from 24% to 22% over the last decade. Collectively the owners are dripping with lucre."
I comment frequently that I don't believe that the sabermetricians are accurately measuring defensive performance. As an example I frequently point to their opinion that Derek Jeter is crap in the field. To wit, here is a quote dated Feb 21 from Matthew Carruth @ http://www.hardballtimes.com/ "Derek Jeter is not good at defense. I don't care what the Gold Gloves say, he's not. Furthermore, he's nowhere near one of the 50 greatest defensive players of the last 50 years. He might be one of the 50 worst cumulatively given that he's allowed a ton of playing time at a premium position because of his bat, but 50 best? Seriously? They're wrong." The 50 greatest over the last 50 years that Mr. Carruth is referencing is a marketing gimmick courtesy of Rawlings. They are asking fans to vote on the top 50 over the last 50 yada yada. I'll say it again, what am I missing? Am I impressed by his star power, the Yankee uni, the smile, the high end tail that he gets? Derek Jeter is crap in the field?
Baseball Prospectus just published their list of Top 100 prospects, we are still awaiting the word from on high at Baseball America. For what it's worth the Blue Jays have two players on the list. Travis Snider at # 40 and Adam Lind at # 43. Both are hitters first, OF DH types second. Canuck Joey Votto, likely coming to Lynx Stadium with Lousville this year, is # 53. Votto is a 1B, MVP in his AA league last year.
This has only very recently come to my attention but it is interesting. Last May, Seton Hall released results of a poll they conducted measuring Americans attitudes towards steroids in baseball and in particular towards Barry Bonds. Well, no surprise, opinion is divided between African Americans and non African Americans. "....35 percent of African-American respondents thought race was the most important reason for Bonds being the center of attention on the steroid questions, while only 2 percent of non African-Americans felt that race was the reason for Bonds being “singled out.”" I think race is a big part of it, as I've said before, why is Jason Giambi not scorned remotely as much as Bonds? Is it race? On the other hand, Gary Sheffield is part of the Balco scandal as well and it is also rarely mentioned. I'll blog more about this after I read "Forty Million Dollar Slaves" next week but I've always thought a big part of the hatred towards Bonds is not just that he is African American but that he is an arrogant, conceited, aloof, obnoxious, ungrateful African American. I think baseball fans, moreso than fans of NBA or NFL, aren't comfortable with this type of African American athlete. The poll also indicates something that I've blogged about before, that most sports fans are not keenly interested in this story, it's only baseball's chattering classes ( I'm at the front of that line ) that are interested. "Meanwhile, Bonds’ alleged use of performance enhancing drugs is likely of more interest to the media and sports commentators than it is to sports fans, according to the poll. Sixty two percent of sports fans have little or no interest in stories about Bonds and his alleged use. Only 11 percent have high interest." Thanks a lot to Arthur Pincus for emailing me the poll press release.