Mike Ilitch may be Johnny Damon's only hope

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Mike Ilitch.jpgReally he may be Scott Boras’ only hope, as outlined by Morosi in his latest FOX column.  After recounting the well-known story about how Boras failed to accurately read the market for Damon, Morosi traced Boras’ steps:

Boras retreated to a bunker in his Newport Beach
lair and broke the emergency glass over a seldom-used manual:
How to create a market for stars using duct tape and chicken
wire … two weeks before spring training.

It’s been some time since Boras has delved this deep
into his playbook. He didn’t need to go to extraordinary
lengths at this time last year, when it was widely assumed that
Manny Ramirez was going to be a Dodger. 
This is different. Boras is trying to find a new lead suitor
at a time when many teams are finalizing their rosters for the year
ahead.

So, he’s doing for Damon what he did for Ivan Rodriguez
in 2004 and Magglio Ordonez one year later. In each case, the
handbook prescribed the same first step.
Get Tigers owner Mike Ilitch on the phone.

And it has to be Ilitch, because GM Dave Dombrowski and others in the Tigers’ front office have already said no-way on Damon.  The owner and his money trumps, however, and given his track record, I could see him finding an extra couple of million for Damon and Boras.

I’m kind of torn about it. On the one hand, I kind of like Johnny Damon as a player, I hate seeing him twist like this, and I think that at his current price — which I figure is going to be a year and maybe $5 million — he’d be a nice addition to the Tigers. On the other hand, I really would like to see Scott Boras get burned in spectacular fashion once in a while because, well, just because.

I try to limit my schadenfreude intake as much as possible, however, so I suppose I’ll root for the former outcome and hope that Damon and the Tigers hook up soon.  And then we can all get on with our lives.

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.