Author: Craig Calcaterra

james shields getty

The Red Sox are the “early favorite” for James Shields. We’re doing this already?


Andy McCullough of the KC Star has a story today noting, quite correctly, that in addition to trying to pitch his Kansas City Royals into the World Series, James Shields is also auditioning for a big free agent contract after the season ends:

At 32, he figures to be the most affordable of the three. Kansas City is expected to at least attempt to retain him, even after Shields rejects a one-year, $15 million qualifying offer, but the competition in the market should be fierce. Boston has emerged as the early favorite for his services, but plenty of other clubs should be in the mix.

First a contract extension for J.J. Hardy, then a weird rumor about a Yasiel Puig trade and now we’re handicapping free agent destinations for guys who are still playing.

And you thought it was offensive that they sold pumpkin beer in July and that Macy’s has Christmas crap up already.

Must-click link: Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS isn’t what killed Donnie Moore

Donnie Moore

For those old enough to remember Donnie Moore, the usual story is “oh yeah, he gave up that homer to Dave Henderson in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS.” Followed briefly after with “and then in 1989 he killed himself.” That has morphed, over the past 25 years, into a story in which giving up the homer in the 1986 ALCS is what eventually caused him to commit suicide. And after that part of the story is re-told, everyone moves on, forgetting that there was any more to Donnie Moor’s story worth telling.

But there was more, much more, going on with Moore. And that story is told by Michael McKnight at Sports Illustrated in harrowing fashion. The story of Moore’s abusive and depressive personality. About his loneliness and secretiveness and about his violence. About a man who was in no way prepared to deal with life after baseball and, frankly, was not at all prepared to deal with life outside of baseball while he was still playing.

Through interviews with Moore’s teammates and few friends and, more significantly, with his wife and daughter, McKnight makes it clear that Moore’s life was defined by and ended by much, much more than a home run on a sub-par split-finger fastball in October 1986:

In the end, Henderson’s home run had about as much to do with the gunshot Moore fired into his own head as it did with that loss in Game 5, that is, not as much as most people think. Moore’s suicide was more comparable to the way the shoulder pain he felt after learning the split spread cancer-like to his back and then his ribs and later to his elbow until it had no more parts of his upper body to infect. All the while Donnie kept compensating, masking, numbing …

No one can be reduced to their worst moment. And hell, most of the time the moment people reduce them to is nowhere near their worst.

There’s a report that the Dodgers are shopping Yasiel Puig. It makes no sense.

puig getty

We tend to avoid highlighting dubious rumors around these parts, but since this is the first dubious rumor of the (for most teams) offseason, let’s use it to get our offseason debunking skills back into game shape, shall we?

So I saw this last night, from a sports anchor at WBBM radio in Chicago, George Ofman:

With the caveat that, sure, I suppose weirder things have happened, this makes no damn sense. Partially because Puig, his NLDS Game 4 benching aside, is still the Dodgers best every day player and the most versatile member of an outfield that needs to be made-over to some degree, making him far less expendable than, say, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. Partially because he’s a pretty marketable face which Dodgers’ ownership has increasingly used to promote the team.

But it makes less sense from a bigger picture perspective. As was reported yesterday, GM Ned Colletti is on the hot seat, with people speculating that he may be fired. It’s preposterous to think that a GM who may be on the outs in two weeks would be allowed to make a move so significant. That a team who is considering not allowing this man to decide who gets non-roster invites for spring training would be allowed to trade away one of the biggest stars in the game. Especially when the dust hasn’t even settled from the Dodgers’ playoff exit yet.

The only way this would make sense to me is if something big happened between the Dodgers and Puig recently. Something so big that it led to his benching for Game 4 and has made Dodgers ownership decide that they need to part with Puig as soon as possible. But if something like that happened, we’d have heard about it by now, don’t you think?

I don’t know George Ofman. He may be a crack reporter. But it’s rare that local radio guys are the first ones in on major transaction news like this. Maybe once in a while this sort of thing will be borne out, but when it comes to transactional stuff of this magnitude, remember that there are really only two pools of folks who tend to get this kind of news: (a) the national hot stove reporters like Heyman, Rosenthal and Olney; and (b) the beat reporters who cover baseball teams on the regs such as Dylan Hernandez for the Dodgers, Andy McCullough for the Royals, Nick Piecoro for the Dbacks, etc. etc. After that you’re most likely to hear the news from teams themselves and way, way, way down that list come local radio and TV guys.

Joe West was the worst ball and strike umpire in baseball this year


When I wrote that Joe West post a little while ago I will admit that I was mostly commenting on West’s reputation. He has one, of course, for becoming part of the game and part of the story and generally having a confrontational attitude. There have been incidents in the past, you see.

If you take out those incidents I couldn’t tell you with any degree of certainty if West was truly the worst umpire in baseball. I’ve seen him make bad calls and call entire games with very questionable strike zones, but in all honesty, I would have assumed that, yes, there are worse umps. Seniority is powerful in that world, but you have to have some skills to last that long, right?

Then Rob Neyer tweeted this a few moments ago:

And yep, he’s right. And that’s quite a thing.

So, that leaves a couple of possibilities: (a) seniority, and not merit, is basically the entire basis for getting postseason assignments; or (b) getting a postseason assignment is, secretly, punishment, not reward, and the truly good umpires are off in Cabo or something getting a jump on their vacations, laughing at old Joe West.

Given that Jim Joyce got the World Series last year I’m assuming that second part isn’t true, because he’s aces. But then I’m left with more uncertainty at why the Orioles and the Royals have had Joe West inflicted upon them.

Mike Matheny says Adam Wainwright’s elbow is “perfectly fine”

Adam Wainwright

There was concern yesterday that Adam Wainwright may not be able to go for Game 1 of the NLCS. Those concerns seem to have gone by the wayside today:

That assessment came after Wainwright threw a bullpen session at Busch Stadium today and seemed good to go. He’ll be the NLCS Game 1 starter Saturday against the Giants. Lance Lynn will start Game 2, John Lackey will start Game 3, and Shelby Miller will start Game 4.