What they're saying about Sammy Sosa

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Let’s take a quick stroll around the blogosphere to see how others are reacting to the Sosa news:

Goat Riders of the Apocalypse: I
hated the punk BEFORE he even joined the Cubs. I hated him when the
White Sox’ GM, Larry Himes (yep, HIM) traded Harold Baines, a friggin’
Sox icon, to Texas for the sideshow fraud. He came up and became a
free-swinging whiff machine. Sure, he had speed and power, a strong
arm, and obvious filling out to do. Physically, Sosa was a specimen.
But his arrogance rubbed his teammates wrong from Day one . . . I’ve
known he was a fraud for nearly 20 years, and if the damn corked bat
wasn’t enough to convince you, the truth is now out here.

Bugs & Cranks: It’s
expected because Sosa’s career progression and statistics smack of
performance enhancing drugs; there’s such a dramatic spike in his power
later in his career it almost moronic no one though to question Sosa at
the time. Sosa’s halfhearted denials and severe drop in performance
after baseball began drug testing only amplified the expectation that
his superstar turn was aided by the juice.

Deadspin: The
real outrage here, as it was with A-Rod, is not who’s on the list but
who’s doing the leaking, a story that for obvious reasons The New York
Times will not be writing. You’ll remember that those tests results
were supposed to be confidential — a perfectly reasonable expectation
of any employee who submits to a drug test — yet now they’re
trickling into public view, merely because somebody wants to remind you
to care deeply about steroids in baseball again.

Bleed Cubbie Blue: We now know, presuming the report on Sosa is true, that the joy [of the 1998 home run race] was
indeed stolen from us. The numbers put up were put up by cartoon
figures, not baseball players as we had known them for decades earlier.
I know, I know, amphetamines in the 50s and 60s, other PEDs, other ways
of cheating, ad nauseum . . . we were sold a bill of goods. They all
swore up and down that they were honest — “Flintstone vitamins,” Sammy
told us with a straight face. Now we know that face was lying to us,
presuming the report is true.

Cant’ Stop the Bleeding: The
obvious attempt to demoralize the Cubs on the eve of this year’s North
Side/South Side Chicago Civil War Reenactment fools no one, Mr. Obama.
It smacks of Cub fan Rod Blagoevich’s fall from the grace as you
ascended to the White House. A cheap shot, SIR, and I hope Bobby Jenks
gets bitten by a clubhouse rat tonight and Ozzie gets hit on the head
by falling concrete in the Wrigley media room.

Baseball Prospectus: I’ve
always followed the steroid story as something of an epidemic. It often
follows the same models, centering around hubs and nodes. The hubs are
players like Jose Canseco or Bill Romanowski in the NFL who were
evangelists for the substances, but the nodes are usually the drug
distributors. The Bay Area had BALCO, Baltimore had their “star”, and
Dallas had their Hollywood connection, while the NFL had doctors in
Pittsburgh and Charlotte, among others, who were willing to supply.
Chicago, however, doesn’t have this issue or at least hasn’t. Looking
at the Cubs roster in 2003 and a year previous, there’s *no one* that
tested positive or that has even had much speculation surrounding their
production. It will be interesting to see if the 2003 list shows such a
cluster existed or if Sosa was one of few singular users.

The Marlins have made a “monster offer” for Kenley Jansen

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning of game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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OXON HILL, MD — The morning after Aroldis Chapman signed for a record $86 million, the Miami Marlins are reported to have made similarly lucrative offer to the other top free agent closer, Kenley Jansen.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo says that the Marlins have made “a monster offer” of five years and more than $80 million to Jansen. This despite the fact that the club is coming off of a 79-win season and, tragically, lost their top pitcher Jose Fernandez in a fatal boating accident, which will substantially harm their competitive prospects. While it seems like a stretch to say that the Yankees will compete for a playoff spot, thereby making such an historically large investment in a closer a bit suspect, the Marlins doing so is even more questionable.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are said to be interested in Jansen as well, though Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post says the Nats are “uncomfortable” with the financial commitment signing him would require.

Jansen most recently pitched for the Dodgers and there have been no reports that they’re totally out on him, but there has been nothing to suggest that they are pushing hard for him either.

Jansen, 29, finished this past season with 47 saves, a 1.83 ERA, and a 104/11 K/BB ratio in 68.2 innings. That’s not quite Aroldis Chapman good, but he seems poised to collect something close to Aroldis Chapman money.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.