As a Minnesotan who’s been forced to listen to Chip Caray announce the most important games of my beloved Twins’ season I’m in complete agreement with Richard Sandomir of the New York Times, who basically eviscerated the TBS play-by-play man in his column today.
Sandomir gets into all the gory details of Caray’s ineptitude–including his numerous screwups from Game 1 of the ALDS–but here’s the short version:
Caray is still prone to bad play calls, descriptive exaggerations and factual errors. Every announcer makes mistakes, but Caray’s lips form a pattern of an announcer out of his element. The producer, Glenn Diamond; the director, Lonnie Dale; and the statistician are either failing him or he is spurning their advice and support.
No one in the production truck could rescue him from his 10th-inning classic faux pas during the Twins-Tigers tie breaker Tuesday night. Caray called the Twins’ Nick Punto’s sharply hit liner to left field this way: “Line drive. Base hit. Caught out there. The runner tags. Throw to the plate. On target. And in time! A double play.”
Sandomir’s description of that play doesn’t even do it justice, as Caray completely botched the call of one of the most important and action-packed moments of the season. Worse, he made zero mention of the massive blunder and then did the exact same thing the next night, breathlessly announcing another line out to left field as a “base hit” before trying to save himself by acting as if the ball nearly dropped for a single.
Those are the two most glaring mistakes, but Caray is incredibly tough to listen to even when he’s not making huge errors. Every ball hit with any sort of authority is “belted” or “smoked” and every pop up is “fisted.” He fills the broadcast with non-stop babble focused on hyperbole, lavish praise of mediocre players, half-truths passed along as facts, apocryphal stories and anecdotes, and the blatant misuse of statistics. And at least once an inning he says something that’s just flat-out wrong.
Phil Mushnick of the New York Post described Caray’s announcing style perfectly when he wrote: “He’s like an interpreter who can speak with a French accent but doesn’t know French.” It’s almost as if Caray is playing the part of a baseball announcer, rattling off the lines he’s supposed to say with the inflection he’s supposed to use, but unlike his legendary grandfather Harry Caray and his highly underrated father Skip Caray he’s not fit to actually do the job. I’m already dreading listening to his mistake-filled nonsense tonight.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.
Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.
It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.