Confession time. I played little league baseball in Parkersburg, West Virginia for a team sponsored by a business called “Doug’s Family Hairstyling.” All of the other teams were sponsored by sporting goods stores or hardware stores or at least something that sounded cool and manly. Not us! We were probably the worst team in the league and we had a pansy name. Oh, and we had all the fat kids on our team. And what did these talentless, pansy-named fat kids wear? Green and gold, that’s what. It was a nightmare on top of a nightmare on top of a nightmare. And have I mentioned that gold does not flatter my flesh tones?
The point is this: I may have hated the A’s traditional green and gold uniforms before 1985, but I know I hated them afterward, and I still hate them to this very day. I simply can’t abide the combination at all no matter who’s wearing it. My failure to develop a man crush on the Billy Beane A’s like so many of my sabermetric friends has a lot to do with the green and gold. And don’t even get me started on the white shoes, which baseball teams should never ever, ever wear, but the A’s still do for some reason.
With all of that out of the way, you can probably tell which direction this is going.
The Best: The blue elephants were kind of different, but ultimately I’ll go with the simple blue A on white, which they wore for nearly their entire existence in Philadelphia. A couple of red A’s thrown in, and yes, those elephants for a couple of years, but when Connie Mack was in charge they kept that blue A, and I like it.
The Worst: This 1973 look is pretty much exactly what Doug’s Family Hairstyling looked like. Except we didn’t have handlebar mustaches. And we had jellyroll guts and looked perpetually over-matched. Really, though. any look from the 60s through 1986 is fairly heinous. The more recent vintage Athletics teams have toned it down a whole lot, but I still see it. Like it was burned into my retinas, forever distorting my sight.
Assessment: I once thought that if I was ever a professional baseball player and I got traded to the A’s, that I’d simply retire than wear that getup. I know now that such a stance was a bit immature. With age and wisdom, I know better now. I’d simply demand a trade.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.