Over-the-hill veterans like Seattle

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sweeney_090908.jpgFirst, Ken Griffey Jr. said he was interested in playing another season, perhaps in Seattle. Now, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, Mike Sweeney is singing the same song.

“We’ll see what happens this winter. I probably won’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to play for another five months or so. But if I do and it can be in a place where we could all make it work, then I’d love to play another season.”

According to the report, Sweeney was interested in Seattle or Anaheim, though the Angels seem like an unlikely fit.

So it might come down to Seattle, which is apparently a place all the over-the-hill-but-respected veterans want to be. What’s next? Jay Buhner coming out of retirement for another season? Mark Langston lobbying for a role in the bullpen?

It just goes to show you they’re having fun in Seattle after quickly turning a 101-loss team into a fairly competitive ballclub. In fairness, Sweeney and Griffey have received plenty of credit for their positive veteran presence in the clubhouse, but it takes more than chemistry to win games.

As general manager Jack Zduriencik continues to remake the roster Bill Bavasi left him, he’ll have to weigh the worth of having respected guys like Griffey and Sweeney around vs. having guys who can actually still play.

He might get some mileage out of having one of the two around, but use up two roster spots? Not gonna happen. Personally, I’d stick with the guy who can get away with tickling Ichiro (scroll down), but that’s just me.

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If you Twitter, and wonder what happened to Ken Phelps, follow me at @Bharks.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.