Day: February 17, 2011

Miguel Cabrera

Dave Dombrowski on Miguel Cabrera: “We have an issue”


Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski spoke with the media about the Miguel Cabrera situation just after 4 p.m. today.  The highlights:

  • Dombrowski has spoke with Cabrera today. Cabrera was “down, feels bad and was apologetic”;
  • Dombrowski said “We have an issue here that needs to be addressed and helped”;
  • Dombrowski expects Cabrera to join the club soon, but he’s not exactly sure when.  First position player workouts are Saturday;
  • Dombrowski was asked if he was disappointed in Cabrera, but he wouldn’t comment on that.

Cabrera won’t be disciplined by Major League Baseball over all of this because there isn’t a mechanism for baseball to do anything about criminal stuff that doesn’t involve the game.  The focus of all of this going forward, then, must necessarily be on Cabrera’s health and obvious alcohol problem.  If you’re Dave Dombrowski, you have to weight sending Cabrera to some sort of treatment program.  Or, you have to wonder whether it’s better to get him back into baseball activities — a routine and physical conditioning that makes drinking harder for him –paired up with in-camp counseling.

No easy answers, of course. And it’s certainly the case that the person who is best positioned to help Miguel Cabrera is … Miguel Cabrera.

Baseball player reports to camp in the fourth best shape of his life

Spring training

I suppose a satire like this was inevitable.  I’m just sad that I didn’t think of it first:

Seattle Mariners veteran catcher Miguel Olivo reported to training camp this week feeling as though he is already physically ready for the 2011 season.

“I’m in the fourth best shape of my life,” said a sort of noticeably trim Olivo. “Last year I was only in the 11th best shape of my life, so I really put time in the gym this offseason. I wanted to get into the top 5 shapes of my life.”

Olivo entered his offseason workout regimen hoping to get into the best shape of his life, but soon realized that wasn’t realistic.

Now I await the ones about guys who didn’t have “great bullpen sessions” and guys who “looked real bad in the cage today.”

White Sox decide to keep Chris Sale in the bullpen

Chris Sale throwing
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After an offseason full of speculation about whether the White Sox would move Chris Sale into the rotation or keep him in the bullpen the drama is already over, as general manager Ken Williams announced that Sale will be used as a reliever.

Making that decision now is interesting because part of the reason why Sale moving to the rotation was considered a legitimate option stemmed from Jake Peavy’s uncertain health status. Peavy reportedly looked and felt good while throwing today, but clearly it’s too early to say when he’ll be ready to rejoin the rotation, let alone if he’ll be ready for April starts.

By making the call on Sale before knowing Peavy’s status the White Sox are seemingly saying he’s simply better off in the bullpen, where he dominated in his debut with a 1.93 ERA, .185 opponents’ batting average, and 32 strikeouts in 23 innings. However, he was a starter in college before going 13th overall in last June’s draft and the White Sox previously have indicated they feel Sale has a future atop the rotation.

That may still be true, but much like Neftali Feliz in Texas the decision to use Sale as a reliever in his debut and then keep him in the bullpen for his first full season makes it significantly less likely that he’ll ever get a shot in the rotation, particularly if he thrives as a reliever. I’m a big believer in giving young pitchers every opportunity to fill a 200-inning role before moving them into a 65-inning role for the rest of their career, but it’s awfully tempting to keep someone in a job they’ve performed extremely well in rather than taking the chance that they won’t have the same success in a different gig.

Most top starters could be elite relievers, but most elite relievers could not be top starters. It’s looking more and more like we may never find out with Sale.

A great, though not new story about Prime Minister Pete Nice and baseball memorabilia

Pete Nice

I was involved in a random Twitter exchange with Jason Collette and Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus today in which the subject of 3rd Bass came up.  No, not the hot corner, but the hip hop group best known for the single “Pop Goes the Weasel.”  Yeah, that was a long time ago, but neither Jason, Kevin nor I are that young, so it’s OK.

The mention of 3rd Bass reminded me that Pete Nash — more famously known as Prime Minister Pete Nice of 3rd Bass fame and the guy in the middle of the above pic — was a big baseball historian and memorabilia collector.  I couldn’t remember where I heard that but I knew it was the case.  Collette shot me a link to a Sports Illustrated story from a little over a year ago that jogged my memory.  Seems that Nash/Nice was so big a memorabilia collector that it drained his fortune, got him involved in all kinds of litigation and eventually led to a determination that he committed fraud related to phony baseball memorabilia. Fun times.

It’s fascinating stuff, as is the whole memorabilia market, really.  I dabbled it in a bit with baseball cards, which is the far more respectable end of the memorabilia pool.  When you get into old jerseys and letters and equipment and various other sorts of arcana, it gets dicey and seedy pretty fast.  This quote from the article sums up my experiences with it:

For all its many upstanding, passionate collectors, the baseball-memorabilia subculture is also a notoriously seedy shadowland of Mametesque schemers and dreamers, thick with forgeries and thefts, conflicts of interest, dubious “authenticators,” shill bidding, card doctoring and any number of other dubious practices. “The hobby is mostly filled with low-life hucksters, some of whom grow up to own important auction houses,” says a longtime collector of early baseball material. “You can count the number of people who are smart and educated and honest on one hand.”

I’ve mentioned that client I used to have who was a rare coin dealer and who got thrown in jail for 20 years over a $50 million fraud?  Well, he dabbled in the memorabilia business too. He told me once that he never got into it too seriously, however, because it was “too damn crooked.”  Really.

Anyway, if you like old baseball memorabilia or if you simply like 3rd Bass, it’s a good read.

Rays planning to use rookie Jake McGee as a reliever

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Jake McGee was a starter for 128 of his first 129 appearances as a minor leaguer, establishing himself as one of the top pitching prospects around, but he shifted to the bullpen at Triple-A in the second half of last season and then made his big-league debut as a reliever for the Rays in September.

And today manager Joe Maddon told reporters that McGee will be competing for a bullpen spot this spring, which makes sense given all the free agent relievers the Rays lost this offseason and the fact that fellow prospect Jeremy Hellickson is expected to claim the final rotation spot alongside David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Davis.

I still think McGee has a chance to be a very good starter, but his spotty control will likely be less of an issue in short appearances and his durability is still in some question after missing most of 2008 and 2009 following Tommy John elbow surgery. As a reliever he can let it rip with a mid-90s fastball and high-70s slider, and after racking up 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings as a starter in the minors McGee has a chance to be a shutdown late-inning option from the left side. Don’t be shocked if he’s in the mix for saves before long.