Thursday, December 13, 2007


You'd have to be pretty naive to be surprised by this, but it still qualifies as a stunner to see the extent of it in print:

[Roger] Clemens was singled out in eight pages [of the Mitchell Report], with much of the information on the seven-time Cy Young Award winner coming from former major league strength coach Brian McNamee.

"According to McNamee, from the time that McNamee injected Clemens with Winstrol through the end of the 1998 season, Clemens' performance showed remarkable improvement," the report said. "During this period of improved performance, Clemens told McNamee that the steroids 'had a pretty good effect' on him." --

Um, wow! Sure, there were those of us who suspected all along that Roger’s "Rocket Fuel" was decidedly less benign than spinach. But who would have thought that Clemens was actually matching Bonds vial-for-vial? Oh, right... me! If I may quote myself:

We all know Barry Bonds is the poster boy for steroid abuse in baseball. Yet how is it that Roger Clemens consistently gets a free pass in the steroids debate? Has anyone noticed that he's a 45-year old power pitcher? That doesn’t send up any red flags?

I love how everyone dismisses Clemens as a user by saying "He's a workout warrior." HELLO! Who do they think are using all that stuff? Do they think players just inject steroids and become magically muscular overnight? Without the work, steroids won't do a damn thing. It’s these very “workout warriors” whom steroids benefit the most by aiding the body in rapidly repairing itself. -- Sports Crank, 9/25/07

Can we now put to rest all the “freak of nature” stories that have surrounded Clemens for the past however-many years? There is now a very plausible explanation for his “late career resurgence” and performance above-and-beyond his much younger peers. Certainly the preceding sentences could have easily been written about Bonds, but now baseball’s #1 pariah has some superstar company. And this won’t be the last time those two will be linked. Assuming neither plays baseball again – which after today looks like a pretty safe bet – in five years Clemens and Bonds will both appear for the first time on the same Hall of Fame ballot. Won’t that be a strange day for every baseball fan?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Getting Fat on Turkeys

The Giants have made a case for being the worst team ever to reach 9-4. They've beaten no one this season -- in fact, every win they have has come against a losing team. In stark contrast, as of today only three teams on the Giants' schedule (they played the Cowboys twice) have winning records. They account for all four Giants losses. Is anyone surprised?

Sure, you can only play the teams on your schedule, and this season the NFC happens to be littered with awful clubs. But the Giants catch a break by not having Tampa or Seattle on their slate -- the only other NFC teams with winning records to whom the Giants haven't lost. And they also lucked out in the NFL's annual round-robin by drawing the AFC Least, er, East, where the hapless Jets and hopeless Dolphins provided little resistance. Of course, dates with the Bills and Patriots -- the last two teams on the Giants' schedule with winning records -- still await.

So if form holds, and there's no reason why it shouldn't, the Giants will beat the Redskins but lose to Buffalo and New England. At that point, the Giants will have the distinction of being the worst NFL team ever to finish 10-6... only to suffer another swift and demeaning first-round playoff exit. The only suspense will be if another playoff appearance -- however brief -- is enough for Tom Coughlin to keep his job.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


"Fearful of the Twins delivering Johan Santana to the Red Sox, the Yankees decided last night to begrudgingly include Phil Hughes in a possible package with Melky Cabrera, and hoped it was enough to bring baseball's best pitcher to The Bronx." -- NY Post
Hughes for Santana? I'm on the fence. Usually I'd have no problem trading a prospect for an established star, but something about this deal seems fishy. For one, how much better do the Yanks get by trading their "potential" #1 for an established one? At the end of the day, all they did was trade pitching to get pitching (and lost their CF to boot). According to my math, 5-1+1 still equals 5. It's not like they were falling over themselves with starters they were pining to deal.

Sure, I was never overwhelmed by Hughes last season, and baseball is littered with "can't miss" guys who, well, missed. But for almost three years, all we've heard from the Yankee organization -- the scouts, the coaches, the players, the management -- is how Phil Hughes is the real deal. And up until last night, apparently, the Yankees had resisted every single trade offer that included his name. Why, suddenly, now? Were the Yankees equally nonplussed by what they saw?

The other part of this deal that makes me leery is Santana himself. If this was 2006, I'd probably be screaming for this deal to get done. But 2007 was a very different year for Johan the Great. In roughly the same number of starts that he'd made through his astounding 2004-06 seasons, Santana pitched about 13 fewer innings and had his fewest wins since his days as a part-time starter. More glaringly, his strikeouts were down (235 vs. an average of 249 for '04-'06), his ERA was a half-run higher and over 3 for the first time, and his remarkable WHIP also crept past 1 for the first time since '03.

To be fair, if you just looked at his 2007 numbers, Santana was one of the best pitchers in the game. But were the numbers just an aberration, a blip, a "down" year on a lousy team in expectation of being traded? Or are we seeing the first inevitable slippage, the fall from the heights that no pitcher can expect to maintain forever?

My faith in the Yankees brain trust is starting to wane, too. After starting out this off-season with a series of great moves -- dumping Torre, hiring Girardi, saying goodbye to A-Rod and bringing back Posada -- things are starting to take an unfortunate turn for the worse. There was the laughable and potentially debilitating turn-around with A-Rod (more money does not equal more hits in October, folks) and now this.

As I said, I'm really undecided on what the Yanks should do. Santana could win a Cy Young for the Yanks next season... or he could continue his downward trend to the point that the Yankees will be paying Barry Zito money but getting Barry Zito numbers, too. On the other hand, Hughes might turn out to be nothing more than a serviceable if unspectacular starter destined for the middle of the rotation... or he might earn a Cy Young of his own in a year or two, if what everyone's been telling us has been true. I guess only time will tell...