The Question

You asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.

12 Comments

Q: Craig, what’s your favorite baseball site to read?

Until Manny Ramirez launches his own blog, that would be HardballTalk. Non biased answer: Baseball-Reference.com, though that’s less “read” than used. But I get more enjoyment using it than I get out of reading almost anything else.

Q: Does anyone in the AL West have a legitimate shot at winning the division besides the Rangers?

No. But if you can persuade me otherwise my ears and mind are open.

Q: More awkward: Ortiz playing first base, Randy Johnson batting, or seeing Picard in his sequin pajamas?

Johnson batting, by a long shot. Ortiz has some vestigial first base skills. Picard looks good in anything.

Q: Bigger letdown: Fukudome in Chi, Dice-K in Bos, or Borg plans for world domination?

The Borg. They can annihilate all of Starfleet, but “putting them to sleep” defeats them? This is the biggest design flaw since those engineers put fighter ship-sized trenches leading to the main reactor on the Death Star.

Q: Cliff Lee is to baseball what Rick Flair is to professional wrestling. Discuss. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

This is so false I can’t even begin to explain it. So I’ll let this man do it:

Tell Cliff Lee to call us back when he has 600 suits, a Cadillac, a Rolls-Royce and the biggest house on the big side of town, Jack! Wooo!

Q: Where did all the cowboys go?

Right here, buckaroo.

Q: Have you ever tried to name months after players? I’ve been calling this month “Swisher Sweet Month of June.”

It all breaks down in Rocktober, doesn’t it?

Q: Heavier first baseman: Ortiz, Cecil Fielder, Prince Fielder, or Richie Sexson?

Boog Powell

Q: Best song about lawyers: Lawyers, Guns and Money or Lawyers in Love?

Warren Zevon > Jackson Browne, 100% of the time.

Q: Very curious…what are your top 3 (relatively serious) reasons baseball beats football?

Obviously most of this is just personal taste, but the basis for my tastes have more to do with tone and mood than anything else.  My current job notwithstanding, I consider sports to be a pastime and a leisure activity, not some Deadly Serious Pursuit. Football basically requires that people ramp-up from their normal routine. To get psyched. To place importance on this one game — because there are so few — and to cast it all in stark and desperate terms. Baseball is the opposite. No one game really matters. It’s a comedown thing at the end of the day as opposed to that ramp-up. You can have a casual conversation while watching the game, sip a beer and unwind. It’s all about temperament.

Q: Greater threat to sabermetrics: Grantland or our schools’ inability to teach math anymore?

Actually, the answer is Jose Reyes.

Q: Strangest movie: “Blue Velvet,” “Nashville,” “Fight Club” or “To Live and Die in LA”?

I’m sorry, the answer is “Freaks.”

Q: Do we belong to the light? The thunder? The sound of the words we’ve both fallen under? 

This is what happens when, while asking for Twitter questions, you say “hit me with your best shot.”  But I’ll admit it: if I ever hear the song “We Belong” on the radio, I listen to it until the end. I’m not made of stone, here.

Q: You have 99 problems, but a ________ aint one.

Morning commute.

Q: What happened when you fought the law?

I won.

Q:  If you could have dinner with four famous people, but then four of you would have to eat the fifth for dessert, who would you choose?

I’m going to assume we can go with people living or dead, so: Socrates, Kurt Vonnegut, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker. We probably eat Socrates at the end. I get the sense he’d be fine with that.

Q: If you had a rap career, what would your rap name be? What if you were a country singer? A stripper?

2Bald, Buck Abilene and Chester Drawers.

Q: How could Captain Malcolm Reynolds perform as a baseball manager?

He’d be like Billy Martin. He’d get results, but he’d breed so much dissension in the meantime that he would always wear out his welcome quickly.

Q: If you could give some law students studying for the bar one bit of awesome, life-changing advice, what would it be?

Don’t be evil. Really. You think it will be easy to keep your moral gravity in place — and you’ll believe that by adhering to legal ethics and following the orders of clients and superiors that you’re doing so — but those are very different things. Do a self-assessment once a year to make sure that you haven’t become something you despise.

Q: Did you read all of the Harry Potter books? See all the movies? Dress up as Hermione when no one is around?

I have read none of the Harry Potter books and I have seen none of the movies. As for that last question, I don’t have to answer that and you can’t make me.

Q: Next time you do a Dodgers chapter 11 roundup, can you explain why it’s in Delaware rather than California?

I’ll do it here. The reason is that it’s in Delaware is because the Los Angeles Dodgers are registered as a corporation in the State of Delaware (all U.S. corporations register in a specific state).  The reason for Delaware: it’s a well-known corporate haven. Over 50% of U.S. publicly-traded corporations and 60% of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated there. Why? Lots of reasons. Initially because they adopted a bunch of corporate-friendly laws in the late 19th century with the sole intent of drawing business away from places like New York and Philadelphia. Since then it’s been a matter of inertia: with so many corporations there, the corporate law has developed to a far more sophisticated degree in Delaware than anywhere else, with a separate court charged with handling corporate disputes and far more certainty with respect to outcomes for corporations than they would face in other states.

Q: Match the manager with a drink: Makers Mark, Macallan, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels:  Jim Leyland, Art Howe, Ned Yost, Davey Johnson.

I got the impression that both Yost and Howe drank milk or — when they were feeling sinister — root beer.  I’d say that Leyland is Jack Daniels guy. Davey goes for the scotch.

Q: Is Morrisey better solo or with The Smiths? 

If you’re talking about musical quality: The Smiths. If you’re talking about as a persona who is absolutely ridiculous and therefore great fun to mock even if we still admire on some level, it’s solo Morrisey.

Q: General bat and ball question: Which is more impressive, Nolan Ryan’s 5714 Ks or Muralitharan’s 600 career test wickets?

I was gonna leave this one for the video, but I didn’t have the heart to make Tiffany try to pronounce “Muralitharan.”  I’m going to go with the test wickets record, however, because it’s much harder to do something impressive while playing a ridiculous sport like cricket than a thing of fundamental beauty and truth like baseball.

Q: What do you think of Grantland so far.

Hit and miss. For all of the hype — and Bill Simmons has a way of attracting hype, be it intentionally or through no fault of his own — it’s a magazine. And like every magazine, there are good articles and bad ones. There are good editorial decisions and bad ones.  And of course, like every magazine in the history of magazines, it will take time for it to hit its stride.  I find most of the early general criticism to be imbued with no small amount of Bill Simmons bashing. Which, while great fun and often warranted, says more about the critic than it does about Grantland as a product.

That’s all I got, kiddos. Watch for HBT Daily later, where I actually answer some baseball questions. And let’s do it again next week.

CC Sabathia: getting in shape and ready for baseball

sabathia getty
1 Comment

CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.

He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.

 

Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.

Jacob deGrom open to extension with Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom talks during media day for the Major League Baseball World Series against the Kansas City Royals Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
1 Comment

The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.

While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.

“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’

It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.

DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.

Royals, Mike Moustakas avoid arbitration with two-year deal

Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates after hitting an RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Seriesagainst the Toronto Blue Jays  on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
1 Comment

The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.

The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
1 Comment

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.