Monday, March 10, 2014: If this was the year I was coming into the Kirby Puckett $260 AL-only league with the team I had and saw that Luke Hochevar would be sidelined for the season with Tommy John, I might have left the league. After all, he was my ace for not only that year at $3 but for my second foray into this league the next season. That's how bad that team I inherited was. I'm sure that everyone has their favorite Hochevar story that they regale the family with around the dinner table. Mine is, and Tom should remember, when I needed a pitcher in our now defunct no trade AL in the last week of July, 2009. I put in my thumb on the list of free agents SP's and pulled out a plumb in the person of Hochevar. Tom told me at the time that I was crazy but who am I to stop genius? That night Hochevar went 7 IP, 5 HA, 2 ER and an amazing 13/0 K/BB. Tom called me the next day to tell me what a brilliant pick that was. But, like everything else, real life always has a way of turning into shit. Over his next 9 GS, Hochevar allowed 72 hits and had an 8.21/1.80 ERA/WHIP. He also sported a record of 0-6. When my team was eliminated from the race, Hochevar shut out the White Sox on Sept. 18 with 9 IP, 3 HA, and a 5/1 K/BB. That was like putting whipped cream on shit!
Sometimes you have to physically rip a player's jersey off his body to get him to see that he's through. If all reports were correct and Santana was clocked at a Jamie Moyer-like 81 MPH, it might just be time to hang up the cleats. Not so long ago Santana was the best pitcher in all of baseball, especially from 2004-2006. Those years of divinity saw Santana go 55-19 in 101 GS, 693 1/3 IP, a 748/146 K/BB, 522 HA, and a 2.75/0.96 ERA/WHIP. This took place in the AL and Santana led the league in K's and WHIP all 3 seasons while leading in ERA twice. It just doesn't get any better than that. He even found time to go 16-7 and lead the NL with a 2.53 ERA his first season with the Mets (2008). Those are the days that fans of Johan Santana want to remember from him. Not struggling in front of back-up scouts averaging 78 MPH with your fast ball. But, I know, it's all about that one more moment in the sun!
Those "great" numbers that any of you mention of 8 HR and 52 RBI happen to be career highs for Brett Gardner. First off I'd like to say that Gardner is a complementary player on a good team. He's being paid like a cornerstone. If the deal was for 4 yrs/$32-mil I might not have had a problem. Not that I have a problem with this deal. The Yankees felt it was the right thing to do for one of their home grown guys given that Gardner has been in the system since 2005. I wonder if the precipitous drop in SB from his last healthy season (49 in 2011) to 24 in 2013 had anything to do with hitting in front of Robinson Cano. But one thing about Gardner, he is what he is. He's not afraid to take a walk and will give the Yankees a good defensive presence in LF. So he's a nifty little player who I feel the Yankees overpaid for. But sometimes teams do the wrong things for the right reasons!
Homer Bailey was the 7th overall pick by the Reds in the 2004 amateur draft at the age of 18. When I read about this deal I wasn't dismayed as much as I was surprised. And I'm not saying that Bailey isn't a good pitcher, he is. With Cueto (if healthy) and Latos, the Red have a pretty good 1-2-3. Teams feel a strong affinity toward their homegrown guys, I know this. Bailey's 3.49/1.12 ERA/WHIP in 2013 were both career bests as were his 199 K's. He's incrementally been getting better with each passing year and has 2 no-hitters under his belt. I don't hate this signing but I have a feeling it could skew signings for other starters in the coming years. All a SP and his agent has to do is look at Bailey's deal and say, "But Bailey got $105-mil." Sadly, that's the state of MLB and it's definitely not a hometown discount!
When I read that the Braves signed Matt Gamel to a minor league deal a while back, I was happy for both the Braves and Gamel. He had been in the Brewer organization since he was 19 in 2005 and the change of scenery would surely bring him luck. Yeah, more bad luck! He now has 1 more torn ACL's (3) then O.J. Simpson has murders (2). Gamel was looking like he would be the starting first baseman for the Brewers in '13 with Corey Hart out for the season but, after his injury, the Brew Crew were stuck with the likes of Alex Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt. Gamel had a great season at Triple-A in 2011, his last healthy season, when he batted .310 with 28 HR, 96 RBI, and a .912 OPS. This does look like a death knell in the career of Gamel who would finish with a .229 BA in 240 AB, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 23 runs, 4 SB, a .671 OPS, and an 82/24 K/BB. At least Gamel lasted 4 days longer than Mark Mulder this spring, which has to mean something in office pools.
I can't say that I'm overly surprised by the news a few weeks back concerning the retirement after this season of Derek Jeter. Do you wonder If Jeter retired because he doesn't want to play with A-Rod when he becomes eligible in 2015? Jeter was limited to 17 games last season as he tried to come back from that severe ankle injury suffered in the 2012 playoffs only to land on the shelf again. Father Time has never lost a 1 on 1 when it comes to a player's longevity and Jeter is no exception. It was just 2 short years ago that Jeter had a season of 216 hits, 99 runs, 15 HR, and a .791 OPS. He managed to play in 159 games and have 683 AB that season. If Jeter stays relatively healthy he could move up to the #6 spot on the all-time hits list. As we sit here, Jeter has a .312 career BA, 1876 runs, 3316 hits, 256 HR, 1261 RBI, 348 SB, and an .828 OPS. He's a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer and should be making his acceptance speech at the dais in Cooperstown in 2020. But you know that some douche bags won't vote for Jeter (so he won't be unanimous) because they don't vote for anyone on their first ballot or vote for anyone who played in the steroid era. My one hope is that I'm still alive to see that day.