Tagged: Spring Training

The Freak vs. The Franchise, and Other Random Thoughts

The Freak Re-Ups with the Giants.  A couple of days ago, I started to write a screed on how dumb the Giants are for not giving Tim Lincecum the additional $3M he wanted for a 3-year contract and casting their fate before an arbitrator.  In the middle of writing, I decided to check the Giant’s website and found out that The Freak and the Giants’ Franchise had avoided arbitration with a 2-year deal.  But who won?  Or was it a draw?  A little analysis might shed some light on these questions.

Tim Lincecum’s agent asked for $40M for 3 years. 
 The Giants offered $37M for the same period.  Lincecum’s demand averages out to $13.33M per year, while the Giants’ offer was for $12.33M per year.

 
Tim Lincecum - cropped.jpgI don’t know about you, but I would have given Lincecum the additional $1M/year just to tie him up for 3 years.  But no, the 2 parties appeared headed to arbitration over a lousy $1M/year for arguably one of the best–if not the best–pitchers in baseball.

Lets put this in perspective.  Across the Bay, the A’s signed free-agent Ben Sheets to a 1-year deal worth $10M plus incentives.  Sheets didn’t pitch at all in 2009 because of elbow surgery a year ago, which makes him a risk, though if it was Tommy John surgery he’ll probably be just fine.  Sheets has 8 years in the majors, a career ERA of 3.72, 4 All Star appearances, and won the NL Cy Young in 2004.

Lincecum has 3 years in the Show, a career 2.90 ERA, 2 All Star appearances and won the NL Cy Young award the last 2 seasons.  He’s only 25 years old, and if he continues to pitch like he has the last two years, he’ll command a lot more in 2012 than he would have gotten under the $40M 3-year contract.  Maybe the Giants know something they aren’t telling.  If so, maybe they made a good deaI.  If not, they may have shot themselves in the foot.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Marty Lurie Moves Across the Bay.  In what seems a bizarre turn of events, the A’s radio home KTRB has decided that they can no longer make time in their broadcast schedule for  “Right off the Bat,” Marty Lurie‘s pregame show on the various A’s radio stations for the last 12 years. 
Marty Lurie - Resized.jpg
 Apparently, KTRB would rather have Mike Savage, a conservative talk-show host, from 3-6 pm, eliminating Lurie’s time slot.  Thus Marty’s wonderful insights into baseball, both current and historic, are no longer going to entertain A’s fans before Ken Korach and Vince Contronio’s regular 45-minute pregame show.

To make matters worse, the Giants gladly picked him up to do the pre- and post-game shows on the weekends on their radio home KNBR 680.  The one-hour shows will have many of the same features that the A’s fans have been treated to, plus the show will take more calls on air from the fans.  “I am excited to add Marty to the line-up of talk show hosts at KNBR,” said Lee Hammer, Director of Operations for Cumulus San Francisco (IKNBR 680).

Apparently, the A’s have signed a new deal with KTRB through 2019, so it doesn’t look like we will be hearing  Marty Lurie and Right Off the Bat again.  I think It’s a huge loss for us A’s fans.  His extensive knowledge of the history of the game, his insightful interviews with players, coaches, Hall of Famers, baseball writers, club executives and scouts, brought listeners a valuable perspective on the essence of the game of baseball.  We will miss you Marty!

Tidbits:  A’s Release outfielder Willy Taveras, who came over on Feb. 1st with Adam Rosales, in exchange for Aaron Miles of Antioch and a player to be named later.  Taveras was immediately designated for assigment and the A’s released him 8 days later.  He didn’t really figure in their plans as the player they really wanted was Rosales who is an infielder.  The A’s outfield is already set and has depth, so no room for Taveras..

Another radio deal was inked recently.  Ken Korach signed a 2-year deal as the lead play-by-play man for the A’s, which will keep him behind the mike in Oakland through 2011.  A good thing.

Spring training is upon us.  The pitchers and catchers have reported to Phoenix!  I’ll be there from March 17-23.  Can’t wait!

That’s all from here.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about anything that’s on your mind, whether or not it pertains to this article.  Go A’s!!!

Advertisements

A’s Swept and Spring Training Leftovers

Bay Area Teams Swept:  The A’s and their counterparts across the Bay were unceremoniously swept over the weekend.  I had hoped for a win yesterday for A’s 21-year-old rookieTrevor Cahill against Eric Bedard, especially after the very expensive Seattle hurler had such a mediocre season last year, but it was not to be.  Cahill pitched a terrific game through 6+ innings, only giving up a run, but it was one run too many.  Bedard was lights out, living up to his pre-Seattle reputation. 

Red Sox in Town:  Tonight the A’s begin a series at home with the Red Sox and as usual the Coliseum will look more red than green and gold.  Red Sox fans–at least those who come to A’s games–are some of the most rude and obnoxious fans I’ve ever encountered.    Unfortunately, A’s fans get sucked in and give as good as they get.  It doesn’t make for a pleasant evening at the ballpark and I avoid these games like the plague. 

A Leftover Post from Spring Training:  I wrote this on the plane coming home from Spring Training at the end of March.  It got sidelined once the season started and in all the sadness over the death of Nick Adenhart.  Since there is nothing much to celebrate after a weekend of losses, I have decided to put it in here–a positive note for a change.

On March 29th before the Colorado Rockies game (the subject of my “Speed Guns, Testosterone and a Snafu” post below) I drove out to the Minor League Camp at Phoenix’ Papago Park.  I parked the car under a Smoke tree, and walked in towards the playing fields.  Here the players in the A’s organization who are invited to Spring Training–from Single A through Triple A–work out in the mornings and play intra-squad games after lunch.  It was a slightly overcast morning in the seventies with a light breeze to keep things very comfortable.

 

I was astounded that there were exactly 5 people in the whole complex who were not players, coaches or groundskeepers.  A guy sat in a beach chair munching on chips and watching the Triple A field from about 30 feet away.  Across the way, an older couple and a woman on a cell phone sat on the metal bleachers at the Double A field.  The fifth was yours truly.

 

I had come on a mission:  to talk to “my guys,” three A’s minor league pitchers whom I had interviewed in October of 2007, when they were playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.  At that time I was doing research on the life of a professional ballplayer for my novel, “Contract Year”, which is now “finished”–is anything ever finished?  I wanted to say hello and catch up with them.

 

The first one I found was James Simmons, a lanky right-handed pitcher with a dazzling smile, who was drafted 26th overall by the A’s in the 2007 MLB June draft, and who commanded a seven-figure signing bonus from the A’s.  For the last two seasons, he’s pitched for the Double A Midland Rockhounds in the Texas League, completely bypassing all rookie and A ball levels.  He’s playing at Sacramento with the Triple A River Cats this season.

 

I asked James how he felt about Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson (both drafted the year after Simmons) getting an opportunity to play for the A’s this year.  He said, “I’m not ready yet.  There are still some things I need to work on.  I’m fine with it and they deserve it.”  Now there’s class!

 

While I was talking to James, Jeff Gray, another RHP who pitched for the River Cats last season strode up with a big smile on his face and extended his hand.  He’s the oldest of the three at 28, and I had hoped he might break camp with the A’s this spring.  Joe Stiglich, the A’s beat writer for the Contra Costa Times and other Bay Area News Group papers, told me that the A’s are “high on him,” but he’s going back in Sacramento to start this season.

 

I had to go looking for the last guy, Brad Kilby, a LHP who has pitched for Sacramento the last two seasons.  I found him sitting on the bench next to the water cooler, staring at the paper cup in his hand .  A man of few words, he’s also back in Sacramento for another season.

 

I have been following the careers of these three ballplayers  from Double A to Triple A, and in Jeff’s case to the A’s.  Last September Jeff got a “cup of coffee” in the majors, when the A’s called him up after rosters expanded on September 1st.  He threw 5 innings in relief with the A’s and I got to see him pitch two of them in person.  These guys have been invaluable to me in terms of my understanding of what minor league ballplayers have to deal with:  playing for peanuts, climbing up the minors, hoping to get called up, and dealing with the fact that so much of their fate is out of their hands.

 

I brought a copy of my book with me and gave it to James to read.  The other two will read it after James is finished.   James, bless his heart, agreed to write a blurb for the dust jacket when the book is published.

 

I must confess that my heart was aflutter standing around talking to these good-looking very fit young men who are living the dream I would have aspired to in my youth if I’d had a Y-chromosome.  They are all extremely nice and enthusiastic, and I am honored to call them my friends.