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Tag:Cliff Lee
Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:02 am
 

Cardinals refuse to be written off ... again

PHILADELPHIA -- This is a trick, isn't it? The way the St. Louis Cardinals are setting this up, it looks suspiciously as if it might be a referendum on how smart the rest of us are.

We wrote them off once, back in early September when they were 8 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

You and the Atlanta Braves know what happened after that.

Now, after they blew an early lead in Game 1 of this Division Series and then fell behind by four runs against Cliff Lee in the second inning of Game 2, yes, just when it looked as if it was safe to write them off again ... BAM!

The Cardinals undressed Lee, a tag-team of six relievers redeemed Chris Carpenter's awful start and Tony LaRussa's gang swiped one from the Phillies, 5-4.

This was a game made for LaRussa. He used four different pitchers in the eighth inning alone. And it worked.

The Cardinals have to feel great about this one, and not just because of the win. But because of how they earned that win.

Rafael Furcal chopped a leadoff triple in the first ... but his teammates failed to score him.

David Freese drilled a leadoff double in the second ... and never moved as St. Louis blew another early opportunity against Lee.

St. Louis was 0 for 6 alone in the first two innings with runners in scoring position. And Carpenter was so off that LaRussa ripped plate umpire Jerry Meals during his mid-game television interview for having two different strike zones for Carpenter and Lee. Blatently untrue.

But somehow, Phillies mustered just two baserunners against the not-so-vaunted Cardinals' bullpen over the last five innings. The Cardinals drove Lee from the game in the seventh.

And they drove this series back to St. Louis even.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 12:40 am
 

Rangers back-to-back AL West champs

Cliff Who?

Maybe if they run into the Phillies in this year's World Series the guy will return to haunt them. But on a wild Friday when the Rangers became the third team in one night to clinch a division title, a budding dynasty continued to grow without Cliff Lee.

Yes, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando helped prove there should be no doubting the Rangers' rotation. Adding Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre to a core featuring Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler was plenty.

And in the end, after beating Seattle 5-3 and then watching the Angels lose to Oakland 3-1, the Rangers proved it once and for all.

AL West champions for a second consecutive year, and that's not the autumn wind blowing in. It's a changing of the guard.

Where once the road to the AL West title led through Anaheim, that trail is now as dusty and abandoned as some of the old California gold mining spots. Where the Angels won five of six AL West titles between 2004 and 2009, the Rangers now have gone back-to-back for the first time since 1998-1999. Clmbing the charts with a bullet, and looking to finish with a better record than AL Central champ Detroit so they can open the playoffs at home on Friday.

Apparently, losing Lee didn't gut them as badly as just about everyone but the Rangers themselves thought it would. More impressively, Texas, 14-6 so far in September, is playing as well this month as it has all season.

Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:47 pm
 

"Little pieces" add up to big things for Phillies

LOS ANGELES -- All credit to the all-world Phillies rotation. With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the way, it is pitching for a place in history.

And we've all seen the damage wreaked by a highly decorated lineup led by Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

But you don't compile baseball's best record based behind just eight or nine players. And as such, the Phillies are getting plenty of help from these easily overlooked parts in their machine:

-- Reliever Antonio Bastardo: With closer Brad Lidge on the shelf for most of the season, Bastardo has played a key, late-innings role and currently is holding opponents to a .128 batting average -- second lowest among NL relievers. His 1.49 ERA is fifth-lowest among NL relievers.

-- Starter Vance Worley: With Joe Blanton done for the year, Worley is 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA and currently has won six consecutive decisions. He's fanned 66 hitters against only 28 walks in 84 1/3 innings.

-- Infielder Michael Martinez: With third baseman Placido Polanco hurt again, it is Martinez, plucked from the Nationals as a Rule V pick last winter, who is providing steady relief. Martinez's 15 RBI during the month of July ranked third among all NL rookies, behind Atlanta's Freddie Freeman (18) and the Padres' Jesus Guzman (18).

-- Outfielder John Mayberry Jr.: Acquired from Texas in a trade in November, 2008, Mayberry, 27, continues to develop into a serviceable backup outfielder with an intriguing future. Of his past 23 hits, 17 have gone for extra bases (and overall, 52.5 percent of his major league hits, 31 of 59, have been for extra bases).

-- Infielder Wilson Valdez: He's plugged in at second base, third base and shortstop at various times this season and, in an extra-innings pinch against the Reds on May 25, became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to start a game in the field and then become the winning pitcher. Though light-hitting overall, Valdez is batting .390 with runners in scoring position this season.

Shane Victorino, twice a Rule V pick himself (the Phillies took him from the Padres in 2004 after the Padres took him from the Dodgers in 2002), raves about Martinez and the "energy" he brings.

"Little pieces," Victorino says. "It always takes 25 guys. Somebody gets hurt, somebody else steps in."

Recalling when the Phillies signed pitcher Pedro Martinez for the stretch run in '09, Victorino said he was extremely wary of Martinez because of the reputation the pitcher brought as a fiery headhunter. But Martinez went 5-1 for Philadelphia in nine starts, pitched the Phillies into position to beat the Dodgers in a key NLCS game and Victorino now calls Martinez "the greatest teammate I've ever had."

"Here, it's all about winning, and winning right now," Victorino says. "If you don't care about winning, don't show up.

"We have so many superstars in here -- MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers. But Martinez is no different from me because it's all about winning."

That's the way it is throughout the Phillies' clubhouse right now, an impressive culture that is steamrolling everything in its path.

Likes: With the trade deadline having passed and at least a little more free time in August, looking forward to a big date night with my wife to see Crazy, Stupid Love sometime soon. ... Lots of TV to catch up on as well: Last couple episodes of Treme, last five episodes of Friday Night Lights (that's only with trepidation, though, because it's the last season and while I can't wait to see the last few FNLs, I don't want to get through them because then one of my favorite shows in recent memory will be done, sniff, sniff) and the first few episodes of Entourage. ... Haven't gotten all the way through it yet, but I'm liking Sky Full of Holes, the new Fountains of Wayne disc.

Dislikes: I realize there are plenty of parents out there who disagree with me, but man I hate to see summer dwindle down to its last few weeks before school starts again. Summer is never, ever long enough.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Then she wakes me with coffee
"And kisses my head
"And she starts to explain
"About something she's read
"I say, 'Darlin', you haven't heard a word that I've said'
"And I love that girl."

-- John Hiatt, I Love That Girl
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:16 pm
 

Pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game

PHOENIX -- Talked to both All-Star pitching coaches during batting practice, Mike Maddux of the Rangers and Dave Righetti of the Giants, and here's the tentative pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game:

AL starter Jered Weaver is only expected to go one inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked to Rangers and AL skipper Ron Washington and requested Weaver go no more than one inning or 25 pitches because he's due to start Saturday during the Angels' doubleheader in Oakland.

Boston's Josh Beckett is expected to follow Weaver to the mound, according to Maddux. After that, look for either Michael Pineda of the Mariners or Texas' C.J. Wilson. The way things were set up going into the game, Washington and Maddux were planning to use Pineda as the third pitcher in.

After that it's less planned, though Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden has been told there is a good chance he'll pitch in the fifth inning. While that's not guaranteed, Maddux said he did speak with some of the closers because, obviously, not everybody can pitch the ninth.

"Guys used to pitching the ninth inning, we gave everybody a heads up because if we need them early, normally, they wouldn't have even gone to the training table yet," Maddux quipped.

As for overall pitching plans, Maddux had another good line: "The only sure thing is, if Weaver carries a no-hitter into the second inning, he's not gonna get it."

As for the NL, starter Roy Halladay likely will pitch two innings unless he goes through a long first inning. Phillies teammate Cliff Lee will follow him to the mound. Then, Righetti said, it will be either the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw or Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens -- probably Kershaw.

 

Posted on: February 14, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Outtakes from a day with a Phillies' rotation that is moving into history's on-deck circle (maybe):

-- It bears repeating, because Cliff Lee mentioned it a couple of times Monday: He signed with the Phillies, he said, because "it was really about what team gave me the best chance to win world championships over the life of the contract."

He did not say he signed with Philly because it was best for his family. He did not say his wife loved it there. He did not say he signed to be close to Philly cheesesteak sandwich heaven (though he did allow, "I like Philly cheesesteaks. But that had nothing to do with me coming back to Philly.").

"I think Philadelphia fans should feel real proud about that," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said, referring not to the scrumptious sandwiches, but to Lee's feeling that Philadelphia can become Titletown. "I think things really started rolling as far as putting us back on the map, so to speak, when Jim Thome came here [in 2003].

"Ed [Wade, former Phillies GM] did a fantastic job bringing Jim here.. I think it legitimized what we were trying to do."

-- Lee's decision to bypass the Yankees and Texas reinforces what has been becoming fact these past few years: Philadelphia has become a destination for ace pitchers. Lee by choice, Roy Halladay waving no-trade powers to land with the Phillies and Roy Oswalt doing the same.

Which is very interesting, given that Citizens Bank Park has earned a unanimous reputation for being a hitter's haven.

"It's kind of a testament to the fans' support, and to winning, too," Amaro said. "It's a testament to the faith that our ownership group has in the front office to make these moves. It's a testament to all in our organization creating an atmosphere where Philadelphia has become a place where people like to go, from the guards who watch the cars in the players' lot to the people who take care of the wives' lounge, the medical staff.

"We make a concerted effort to build relationships here."

-- Manager Charlie Manuel opted to pass when asked which of his Murderers' Row rotation members would get the opening day start.

"We've got a chance to have a special club," Manuel said. "We've got a guy who threw two no-hitters and won a Cy Young [Roy Halladay] last year, and the other three guys standing there are tremendous pitchers.

"We're going to have a No. 1 starter going every day, so it doesn't really matter."

Of the Phillies' quintet, Cole Hamels is the only one never to have started on opening day. Halladay did it in Toronto and in Philadelphia last year, Lee's done it, Oswalt did it plenty in Houston and Joe Blanton did it in Oakland.

"The real good part of it is, it doesn't matter who you pick, it doesn't faze the other guys," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I don't think any of them has a big enough ego to say 'I have to have the ball on opening day.'

"They all want the ball 33 to 35 times."

Sunblock Day? It was perfect. High right around 70 degrees.

Likes: Great line from Yankees' starter CC Sabathia, that he lost a bunch of weight over the winter because he "stopped eating Capt'n Crunch." I would have picked A.J. Burnett as the Captain Crunch eater of that group. ... Phillies pitching prospect Justin DeFratus, who pitched in the Arizona Fall League last year, taking it all in early Monday morning before the first workout for pitchers and catchers. "It's been crazy here so far," DeFratus said ... Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro wearing a baseball cap with the final scoreboard line score from Halladay's playoff no-hitter against Cincinnati stitched onto the front. ... Arcade Fire winning a Grammy for best album for The Suburbs. Excellent. Great performances, too. ... Winter's Bone.

Dislikes: Getting to the gate for your flight at 6 a.m. and hearing the attendant say, "Sorry, this flight is delayed until at least 10." ... Missed Bob Dylan on the Grammy's Sunday night because of a too-long travel day.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Kids wanna be so hard
"But in my dreams we're still screamin' and runnin' through the yard
"And all of the walls that they built in the '70s finally fall
"And all of the houses they build in the '70s finally fall
"Meant nothin' at all
"Meant nothin' at all
"It meant nothin'
"Sometimes I can't believe it
"I'm movin' past the feeling
"Sometimes I can't believe it
"I'm movin' past the feeling and into the night
"So can you understand?
"Why I want a daughter while I'm still young
"I wanna hold her hand
"And show her some beauty
"Before this damage is done"

-- Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

Posted on: January 5, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 9:26 pm
 

Love Letters: The post-Christmas edition

In a perfect world, one would not begin the New Year with an apology. But here goes: I've made plenty of jokes in the past about the Rally Monkey. I had never written about New York Gov. David Paterson until zinging him in my Christmas column for improperly accepting Yankees World Series tickets. Problem was, never even thinking about the fact that Paterson is African-American, I trotted out another Rally Monkey joke. Plus, I referred to him "Peterson" instead of "Paterson." A couple of readers rightly jumped on me, and all I can say is, I apologize for the typo in his name, and especially for the unintended tasteless joke. Didn't mean it that way, but that's how it turned out, and, ugh. My bad, and my regrets. On with this week's letters. ...

FROM: Rick B.
Re: Christmas tidings for those naughty and nice around MLB

As an ex-New Yorker, I don't think Gov. Paterson has served the state well. However, the rally monkey to me came across as racist. I don't know what you meant, but it's what and how it was said.

See above. That may be the last Rally Monkey joke for me.

FROM: Eric B.

A. NY Governor is David Paterson, not Peterson. B. James Brown lyric is, "Sometimes I feel so nice, I want to jump back, and kiss myself." You conflated I feel good with the true lyric and jump up instead of back. Don't channel the Godfather unless you can feel it.

I thought I was feeling it. Turns out, maybe I really didn't know what I was feeling that day.

FROM: Andrew S.

Hope your Christmas was a joyous one for you and yours, Scott. Always enjoy reading the musings from one of baseball's tireless columnists! My Christmas wish for the O's: Don't mortgage the farm system, but somehow find a way to make a splash still this offseason if for no other reason than to show the big boys in the AL East the Birdies are coming back to roost.

I could feel the nostalgia and frustration in Orioles owner Peter Angelos' statement Wednesday congratulating former O Robbie Alomar for election to baseball's Hall of Fame.

FROM: Kurt K.

Hi Scott,

First off, a Merry Christmas to you and your family! I normally don't respond to articles, but I wanted to let you know that your "Christmas tidings for those naughty and nice around MLB" article was great! It was very well written and I really like you stressing the importance of class and sportsmanship. Those are some of what is great about the game of baseball. These things seem lost in the other pro sports. Anyway, keep up the good work. Merry Christmas from Switzerland, Kurt.

If it's up to me, the behavior of Detroit's Armando Galarraga and umpire Jim Joyce will be remembered for a long, long time. The way each man handled such an unfortunate situation was the highlight of the 2010 season.

FROM: Rick
Re: If playoffs ain't broke, don't fix 'em with expansion

It is either playoff expansion or a salary cap. I guess Bud Selig sees this as an alternative because he knows the league will never have a salary cap, at least not under him, and it allows small-market teams to make the playoffs.

It's too easy, though, isn't it? And this solution only patches a surface wound. No depth there.

FROM: Terry F.

Baseball has a tight postseason? How do you figure? Baseball teams playing in the World Series have more off days than they have scheduled game days in October. How is that a tight schedule? I would characterize it as a laid-back schedule. Teams play when they get around to it. Personally, I believe that baseball's current post-season is a total disaster.

I was writing in relative terms, Terry. It had been tight up until a couple of years ago, and comparatively speaking, it's far more tight than, say, the NBA. But that was part of the point of the column, too: It needs to be tightened even more, and it needs to REMAIN tight.

FROM: Frank D.

As usual, terrific writing and a very good solution. However ... unlike you, Selig isn't competent, nor logical. He is the worst commissioner in the history of North American sports. This cretin has canceled a season, stood idle while steroids have ravaged the sport's credibility and records and has allowed for unprecedented spending without a real obstruction, tipping the balance in favor of a handful of teams. He has taken the All-Star Game, once a fun event, and turned it into a game where an exhibition determines home-field for the sport's crown jewel. He's a weak, incompetent joke.

Your punches are harder than anything I saw thrown in The Fighter last week.

FROM: Paul

The problem with baseball IS the Yankees & Red Sox. I was once a big-time baseball fan. Seeing other teams compete every year made the game fun and varied, but over the last 15 years, seeing the Yanks & Sox every post season truly made the game boring. Is their rivalry and press coverage any different than say, Brangelina? Or Kate Gosselin? Lindsey Lohan? Over-saturation kills everything.

Baseball seems to think that shoving those two teams down our throat is good for the game. It's not. I'm a football fan first now, primarily because in any given year, with some good draft choices, a team can compete for a playoff spot and be contenders for a long time. Sadly, no matter how well the Indians, Padres, Royals or Pirates draft, their window to compete is short and their rebuild to contender status long. Baseball = boredom these days. Give me the NFL.

I think the next poll we do should be asking how many folks think the Yankees and Red Sox need to check themselves into rehab, prefarably in an adjoining room to Lohan.

FROM:
Christopher from Toronto

Scott,

Love the piece and I think you're bang on. Leave things the way they are. If one game could tell us something, the season would be 82 games.

I'll have you know that I think "bang on" is a very underrated term that I wish were used far more often. "Wanker", too.

FROM: Nathan P.

Scott,

Money will ruin the baseball regular season one day. How do you think guys get paid $150 million contracts over five years? It's all about advertising. The NBA ruined its regular season; the season should be shortened to 40 games. The NFL will expand to 18 games, which is way too long. Just accept it. It's too bad that's the way it is: a pennant used to mean something. Now most people don't know what a pennant is.

I think I had one hanging on my bedroom wall once upon a time. ...

FROM: CHISOX1958

I am a huge fan of baseball. But, as far as expanding the playoffs go, let's get real. This isn't hockey or basketball, where every lame team gets in.

Or, perhaps, the NFL, where the Seahawks not only qualify, but host a playoff game with a 7-9 record? Interesting how there is very little outrage about that.

FROM: Frank L.
Re.: Cleveland loses a true, rare legend in Feller
http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/
14447735/cleveland-loses-a-true-rar
e-legend-in-feller

Your article was right on after the initial sentence -- but the opening was insulting. To mention a hero in the truest sense of the word [Bob Feller] with a draft dodger [John Wayne] is very distasteful. Marion Morrison had no place in that article. You have really ruined my day and possibly many other vets of WWII.

(Signed)
A Feller fan since 1937

Say what you want about Marion Morrison. But where Wayne is concerned, I was simply comparing Feller to some of the same values people in general associate with the characters Wayne played. That part of it holds up.

FROM: Jerry K.

As a lifelong Indians fan whose first game in 1946 at age 8 was pitched by Bob Feller, I say you summed it up perfectly. Especially as to CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, who are not bad guys but are corrupted by the owners' greed.

Alex, I'll take "Corruption for $100 million plus, please". ...

Posted on: January 4, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Rangers, Beltre close to a deal

Striking to tighten their grip on the AL West, the Rangers are close to a deal with free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre that will lock him up in Texas for the next six years, sources with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The deal with Texas appears just about done, with one of the last remaining steps a physical examination for Beltre. Assuming no problems there, the Rangers are expected to announce what is believed to be a six-year, $96 million deal for Beltre, probably later this week.

As second choices go, there are far worse.

Though Texas swung and missed at this winter's free agent plum, Cliff Lee, the Rangers still will accomplish part of their winter goal of strengthening their pitching staff simply by adding Beltre, 31, a two-time Gold Glove winner and recognized as one of the best defensive third basemen in the game.

Multiple reports out of Texas suggest that All-Star Michael Young, the incumbent third baseman, has agreed to shift to designated hitter to make room for Beltre. That is just another testament to as classy and as professional a player as there is in the game: This will be Young's fourth position change in the past decade.

He moved from shortstop to second base when the Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez, went back to shortstop after A-Rod was traded, then shifted over to third base to make room for then-rookie Elvis Andrus two summers ago.

Now, Young again will be displaced by a personnel move. However, anybody who has watched the Rangers, particularly in the postseason last year, would agree that Young struggled defensively at third base at times. In the World Series against San Francisco in particular, a handful of balls got by Young that cost the Rangers.

With Beltre at third, the infield defensive immediately will improve (and with Andrus at short, the Rangers will field as talented and entertaining a left side of the infield as there is in the game). And with Young at DH and perhaps spelling various infielders at times during the brutally hot Texas summer, the Rangers will retain their team leader, a guy who long ago became the heart and soul of the clubhouse.

Beltre, after going quiet with the bat in Seattle's huge Safeco Field during his time there, re-emerged offensively last summer in Boston. He hit .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBI. His 49 doubles led the league, while his .365 on-base percentage and .553 slugging percentage both were close to career highs for the 13-year veteran.

The move at the same time improves Texas -- even though last year's DH, Vladimir Guerrero, now is not expected back -- while striking another blow to the beleaguered Los Angeles Angels. Texas' chief AL West rivals also were trying to lure Beltre, who becomes the latest free agent to decline the Angels' money.

Los Angeles also took a strong run at Carl Crawford earlier this winter before he signed with Boston, and the Angels held talks with Lee before he signed with Philadelphia.

Posted on: December 15, 2010 1:11 pm
 

Love Letters: The Crazy Winter $$ edition

OK, here's the mail call from this week's monster Phillies/Cliff Lee deal -- followed by some reaction from the winter meetings and Adrian Gonzalez/Boston -- but I'm warning you New Yorkers:

I don't give a crap if Lee's annual salary in Philly will be more than it would have been with the Yankees. Plain and simple, he left nearly $30 million of guaranteed money on the table. There is no disputing that. So don't tell me that he really didn't sign with Philly for less money. Because he did. Period.

FROM: Jim
Re.: In the end, Lee chooses (Brotherly) love over money

Your sense of reality is as delusional as these baseball players. You make it seem like he is making such a big sacrifice. You have no idea what goes on in the real world, and articles like this are sickening to the middle class and upper-middle class people of this country. Gee Scott, Cliff made such a sacrifice. My heart bleeds for him. Write something with substance. Your article was ridiculous.

I have no idea what goes on with the middle-class people in the real world? Really? Let's see ... drove my daughter's car pool to school for the third day this week today. Driving car pool to schlep her and two of her friends to volleyball practice after school later today. Hauled the trash and recyclables out to the curb this morning for trash day. Helped nurse my wife following her hip replacement surgery for the past five weeks after returning home from covering the World Series (imagine, we don't have full-time, in-home staff). Signed off on my daughter inviting seven friends over Saturday for a Christmas cookie-making party. So what is all of this, the upper class? The poverty class? Sounds suspiciously like middle class to me.

FROM: Dave S.

It is heartwarming to see a pitcher follow his heart and go to a league that allows him to be a complete player rather than being pressured by the Players Union into taking the money from the highest bidder ... aka CC Sabathia.

Like at the end of the Grinch, when the old Grinch finally understands the meaning of Christmas.

FROM: Barry R.

I love your work. However, when will sports writers get this salary thing right? He is being paid more per year by the Phillies than the Yankees or Rangers offers. He gets to say that. If he works seven years, he'll make more than the Yanks and Rangers offers if he take a huge paycut in years six (which won't happen with the option) and seven. He's making more per year, and likely more overall than the other offers. He gets his cake and eats it too.

Thanks, and I love that you take the time to write. But Lee will turn 33 next season. He will be 38 when his first five years with the Phillies is up. Odds are overwhelming that he will not see year seven in this deal. And odds are whelming that year six might not ever appear given health issues.

FROM: Mike
Re.: Blockbuster deals make BoSox winners of winter meetings

The Red Sox right now look more blockbuster than Blockbuster. You are correct since Blockbuster is in bankruptcy.

Don't worry, no way a judge allows the Red Sox in bankruptcy court. Daisuke Matsuzaka works too slowly even for the courtroom. He'd slow the proceedings down so much, even a discussion of tax law would be a thrilling upgrade.

FROM: Tom B.

Like most media, you say Boston made out great. All they did was replace hitters of equal value. If I recall, they lost Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. OPS for these hitters was about the same as Gonzalez and Crawford. So Boston stayed even so far. The biggest edge Boston has is that Pedroia, Youlkilis and Ellsbury will be back. They added a lot of payroll and gave away some excellent prospects for Gonzalez. Conventional wisdom has it that Gonzalez will struggle, lose .050 on OPS due to changing leagues. The ballpark will help both a bit. From the standpoint of improving from where they started the winter meetings I could agree, Boston did the most. But compared to the Yankees -- and I am not a fan of the Yankees -- I say they are the poorest run organization in baseball and have been for years. All they did was get back to where they were. Thanks for listening and keep your column going. I do like it.

Very well-reasoned points, sir, and as they say, that's why they play the actual games. Right now, we're grading paperwork, essentially. When the schedule starts in late March, maybe you'll be proven right. But I think you're under-valuing Adrian Gonzalez. He's going from one extreme to the other -- from Petco Park, which severely works against hitters, to Fenway, which works for them. And his style of hitting is so conducive to Fenway -- all those opposite field shots that will bang off of the Green Monster. We'll see. And as far as Boston being a poorly run organization -- the Sox do have two World Series titles since 2004, which is one more than the Yankees and two more than they've had for decades.

FROM: Grant MacDonald

I love your sense of humor and presentation of facts. Boston has indeed walked away the winter winner. I am sorry my Blue Jays can't compete since the early 90's. It's a shame to see the greed affect the game. For teams who can't compete, fan base will dwindle and the team may have to move on. This is just sad!

I know. In some of these cities, last one out, turn out the lights.

FROM: Steve H.

To the San Diego Padres:

Thank you so much for the early Christmas present. We have all gotten so much more competitive overnight [without any of us having to do anything!].

Sincerely,
The Dodgers, Giants, Rockies and D’backs.

Next thing you know, these four will be sending a joint Christmas card.

FROM: Chris O.

The Gonzalez to the Red Sox trade is another reason why MLB is losing its popularity in the past 20 years, and the ratings show it. EVERY time there was an NFL regular season game against an MLB playoff game, the NFL game got higher ratings. Even Two and Half Men and Modern Family beat out Games 4 and 5 of the World Series!

I have so many friends who don't care about baseball anymore simply because the Yanks and Sox hoard the free agents every offseason from the small-market teams. ... The NFL has a salary cap, salary floor, and parity has brought its best ratings in over 20 years because every team has a chance, and you never see a small market teams like Indy losing Peyton Manning to the NY Jets or Giants to Free Agency. If I were a Padres fan, I would not even care about the team anymore, because if you can't afford your best player, what is the point of rooting for them?

I am saying this as a Phillies fan, because they have become the Yanks/Sox of the NL and they just go out and get guys like Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt from small-market teams to improve their team. Hopefully things change, because MLB is slowly becoming a regional sport for fans.

It is very difficult to argue with your points, Chris. And your last sentence is ringing more and more true with each postseason rating dive.

FROM: Justin H.
Re.: The era's best GM, Gillick a master of the decades

Sure he built winners, but I think a lot of people overlook the fact that when he leaves a team, they collapse because the team got old and Pat Gillick had gutted the farm system to build the major league club by trading prospects and giving up draft picks for signing free agents.

This happened with the Blue Jays, it happened with the Mariners, and it will certainly happen to the Phillies as their veterans age and I think you saw the first signs of that last year. Think about the Jays first, who was drafted or acquired to replace Joe Carter or Roberto Alomar, David Cone or Jack Morris? Then look at the Mariners, who was there to replace Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Dan Wilson, Joey Cora, John Olerud, Jay Buhner, and Jamie Moyer? Now look at the Phillies, who is going to replace Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, and you could already see the effect of losing Brett Myers to some extent last year. You could say the Phillies are exactly like the Mariners were when they were winning but they are aging now and they don't have any youth sitting on that bench learning and they have traded away the farm to acquire players like Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, and now have lost Jayson Werth, which will hurt them more than anybody realizes at the moment. Utley is hurt all the time now and Ryan Howard appears to be losing some bat speed and is prone to slumps and high strikeout streaks.

I think Gillick was great at taking teams with deep farms systems and decent major league clubs and using that to his advantage. You'd have to ask those fan bases if the winning for 4 years was worth the future. I'm sure in the Blue Jays and Phillies cases it is but in the Mariners case they did not win a World Series and are now in such a deep hole the end isn't in sight so I'd say it wasn't worth it for them. I personally think Pete Gillick is highly overrated.

You've hit on the knock on Gillick, that teams swirl down the drain after he leaves. But it's sort of like the "It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all" thing, isn't it? Gillick helped give four cities -- Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia -- some of their most exciting baseball in decades. Wouldn't you take that, however you can get it, if you're in those cities? And the flip side of that argument is, if Gillick wasn't the GM, there is every chance those cities never would have won during that time anyway.

FROM: Dbarv
Re.: Yanks, cut drama and give Jeter fair offer for an icon

IMO, Jeter is worth about 8 bucks an hour.

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

 

 
 
 
 
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