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Gregg Zaun, formerly Canadien, has been signed by the Baltimore Orioles.  He will earn 1.5 million dollars.  That’s a tidy sum.  He will start for the Orioles if they decide to hold back hype-inducing catcher Matt Wieters (recently named the number 1 prospect by Keith Law).

Implications:

1. Zaun is a pretty hilarious fantasy catcher. He’s actually the catcher-equivalent of Aubrey Huff, a player notorious for producing until you pick him up, at which point he hits .015 with 2 ribbies over two weeks. You drop him, someone else picks him up and starts producing again. Thus is the Aubrey Huff circle of life. Except with Zaun he’ll hit 5 home runs in 10 games, and then not hit any for the rest of the season. You don’t want him on your fantasy team.

2. It must be obnoxious to have every new report sum up this section of your career as “stop-gap.” Them’s the brakes. And because I can:

Zaun is a pawn in Mannys World

Zaun is a pawn in Manny's World

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This is fake, right?  This is like a high school yearbook pic with a fake border?

This is fake, right? This is like a high school yearbook pic with a fake border?

Derek Lowe just signed a four-year $60 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Braves.  Their rotation now includes Javier Vazquez, that Kawakami guy from Japan, Jair Jurgggggens and Phil Neikro (103 years old, and the knuckler still works!).  People seem dubious of this signing, but I don’t think it’s that bad of a fit.  Do you know how you get a sweet 60 milly?

By being one of the most durable pitchers in the game.  By starting at least 32 times in the past seven seasons.  By owning an ERA of 3.24 with a WHIP of 1.13 last season.  By having a sub-4.00 ERA the past four seasons since entering the senior league.  He’s got a career ERA+ of 122, which makes him an above average pitcher if your glasses are constantly falling off your face and you own multiple pocket protectors.  For fantasy purposes, Derek Lowe is one of those hidden gems in the mid-to-low rounds who provides great ratios and is seemingly never hurt.  I like.

He fits perfectly into this rotation.  And by perfectly I mean the Braves will potentially have an all-right-handed rotation, which is nothing if not predictable.  With Charlie Morton and Jorge Campillo (yikes) fighting for the fifth spot, there will be little variation to the theme.  Oh well, at least they can depend on the solid play of Jeff Franceour to…never mind.  Remember Andruw Jones?  Double-yikes.  This team will be okay, especially if Kelly Johnson can get hit batting average up and Chipper Jones’s voodoo doll isn’t being stuck by a certain defensively over-rated third basemen from the New York Mets.  Will they win the East?  Probably not, especially if they don’t re-sign Julio Franco.  Will Derek Lowe make a big difference?  Yeah, I’d say he gives them some much needed stability that certain aging men (Smoltz, Hudson) could not seem to shoulder.  Terrible pun.  Just.  Terrible.

Then again, he is just a big bulky white guy one shoulder-snap away from the hallowed trenches of Atlanta’s Disabled List, permanent home of Mike Hampton. I don’t care that the Astros signed Mike Hampton. They will be confused when he doesn’t show up to training camp. They will soon find out he’s taken his wounded obliques back to Hotlanta.

THIS IS MIKE HAMPTONS HOUSE.  NO PAIN-FREE PERSONS ALLOWED

THIS IS MIKE HAMPTON'S HOUSE. NO PAIN-FREE PERSONS ALLOWED

He will always be on the Braves DL in my mind. Always.

The Mets are opening up a new stadium.  It will be called Citi Field Park, in the grand tradition of sucking the  fun out of naming stadiums (could you imagine Red Bull Presents: Robocop 3 Stadium?  I know I could).  With the naming of the new stadium comes not only the stadium but new merchandise, more expensive seats that offer worse views of the game, and of course the inaugural patch.  These patches are worn on the sleeves of player’s uniforms and do not feature the new stadium name.  Coincidentally, they generally aren’t terrible.  They are vetted by non-robot humanoids with reasonable limits of taste.

And then there is this:

Um...

Um...

Now, take a look at this:

The crust is like cardboard, but when one is blazed...

The crust is like cardboard, but when one is blazed...

The first image is the Mets new “Commemorative Patch” that recognizes the opening of their new stadium. The second will be recognized by every college student who lived during the 1990’s. The similarities are eerie, although I admit it’s a bit of a stretch. Either way, it’s frankly embarrassing. I’m from New York, now in Chicago. Never a Mets fan, but for Christ’s sake LOOK AT IT. It looks like a fucking parking validation stub from a movie theater! How does any graphic designer in the universe come up with such a shithouse awful idea?

I imagine myself in 10th grade visual arts class, something I engaged in to bump elbows with the hot arty girls. I’m essentially an autodidact, meaning I get terrible grades, smoke too much pot and still believe my horrific artwork has some kind of greater merit (all while listening to Radiohead like I’m the only one who “gets it”). We are given an assignment to create a commemorative patch for the New York Mets Stadium. A picture in the local rag, the Clinton Courier, is the reward. I, of course, get too stoned and end up using bright orange and blue construction paper as a backdrop. But because “Inaugural Season” won’t fit, I turn the patch diagonally to make it fit.

I mention this fantasy because it could have happened. I’m not sure of any other excuse the Mets’ design team could use. A 7-year-old child could have come up with a better design:

Fuck Yes

Fuck Yes

See? How hard is it to make a kick ass inaugural patch? Not hard at all. Instead, we’re left with a terrifyingly stale and grotesquely simple patch that can easily be confused for a poorly designed hotel key card. Sad.

But don’t worry Met’s fans, soon K-Rod will be your savior.  He’ll helps your team shed it’s reputation as a pompous gloating choke machine with the gracious, humble style of play he’s  always been known for:

This is his reaction to Strike One call on Marco Scutaro

This is his reaction to a strike one call on Marco Scutaro

Via ESPN and Youppi

A lot has been written about Steven A. Smith. He is a derisive character, one who seemingly has no friends on the internet, and few in actual media. What does not help Steven is writing an article about Manny Ramirez possibly signing with the Yankees. I will not go all FJM on this piece, I’ll just give you this golden turd:

From losses to Anaheim, Boston and Detroit in the playoffs, to more losses at the hands of Arizona and Florida in the World Series, many native New Yorkers — of which I am one — wouldn’t hesitate to admit those defeats are entirely too painful, too vivid, to recall or discuss.

Well, here’s a thought: Maybe this championship futility will change if the Yankees come to their senses and sign Manny Ramirez.

Far be it from me to be an arbiter of great writing or sanity, but this article is completely nuts. Maybe Steven knows he pissing in the wind; he points out the Yanks have already signed Texeira, Burnett and Sabathia, arguably three of the best players on the market. They got rid of Roid-less giant-head-no-neck Giambi, blah blah blah. He then safely assumes the Yankees have at least spent 426 mil on the new acquisitions alone.

Just read the article for the second time, and I’m guessing this is just an editorial, considering it includes the following phrases:

I think!

This is about winning, folks!

So damn it, sign the man.

Now, please!

Here’s a question: Why is Steven A. Smith even writing about baseball? His basketball articles are hard enough to swallow. Who gave this man money to write words? He comes off sounding like…well, my blog for instance. I’m hoping if anyone comes to this site, they’re here for a tiny bit of real baseball fact, mixed in with endless fantasy baseball griping, the public humiliation of Rafael Furcal, and a wee little bit of angsty humor. Meanwhile, when I go to ESPN’s website concerning baseball’s off-season transactions, I prefer to read articles that while not entirely bereft of opinion, provide the reader with a semblance of reality, not an entire article that is contrary to the parent company’s already researched facts.

ESPN’s own Buster Olney’s usual crack reporting on all things baseball has determined there’s no truth to rumors that the Yankees have entertained pursuing Ramirez at a price tag of three years for $75 million.

In the end, who cares? It’s funny to see Steven’s article placed between the work of Jayson Stark and Keith Law on ESPN’s Hot Stove page. So keep it up Steven, as I look forward to your article urging the Twins to sign the rest of the free agent pool, and start 9 infielders…

IN THE OUTFIELD!

Anything’s possible in Steven’s World. Anything.

Let’s play a fun game. The San Francisco Giants manage to sign Manny Ramirez. Their outfield in my mind would consist of Manny in left, Aaron Rowand in center, and Fred Lewis in right field. I see the Giants then trying to sling Randy Winn for a decent reliever or middling first baseman.

The line-up would read as follows:

1. Fred Lewis
2. Aaron Rowand
3. Manny Ramirez
4. Bengie Molina
5. Pablo Sandoval
6. Edgar Renteria
7. John Bowker
8. Emmanuel Burriss
9. Whoevs

Not a bad line-up, actually. Will it happen? Not with Barry Zito’s albatross contract sitting around. With the Giants starting pitching (Lincecum, Cain, Johnson, Zito, Sanchez), they could actually make an impact in the generally weak National League West.

One can dream, right?

Today’s Baffling Signing

Ah, nothing makes me happier in 2009 than a solid baffle.

Derrick Turnbow, he of the “Once a closer, now a hoser” fame, has been gaining attention from teams interested in his services. According to Rotoworld, up to five major league teams were pursuing him at one point during the off-season. Well, that’s pathetic.

I get it, Turnbow had an off-year, he’ll be cheap and accept a performance-based deal, but this guy reminds me of another hyped up bullpen stud, one Todd Coffey. Remember him? Exactly.

Coffey was supposed to be the Red’s future closer. I drafted him two seasons in a row, each at the tail-end of the draft. It was usually safe to assume David Weathers would not be able to hold on to his closer role if his life depended on it. Wrong. Every time Weathers faltered and the Red’s tried out Coffey, he would be brutalized.

Turnbow had one great season, and then spent the next three seasons pitching like he caught whatever virus destroyed Chris Capuano’s career, injuring himself and then whining about it. Sounds like a great teammate, am I right?

So today, Derrick Turnbow signed a deal with the Texas Rangers, guaranteeing over a million dollars if Turnbow makes the team and appears in enough games.

Implications: Turnbow is like any human being; he will have a decent season because sweet sweet money is his reward. While he will have arm problems somewhere along the line, I see him posting something along a barely sub-4.00 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP. If his strike outs are still there, he may perform even better. Fresh start in a new league will make this borderline-ignorable reliever slightly less ignorable. He’s not own-able in a 12 team mixed league unless you count holds.

From Underachiever to Underachiever

From Underachiever to Underachiever

Honestly, I wish the best for those folks in Washington. As Slanch pointed out, the Scott Olsen/Josh Willingham move was nice, and netted them some cheap, quasi-talented youth. I still believe they’ll grab Adam Dunn at a pretty good price and move him to first base somehow. People will complain. He will crush his traditional 40 homers, walk a ton, and provide the necessary stability a major league line-up needs at the clean-up spot.

And then, this, via Rotoworld:

Sources told MLB.com that the Nationals and Daniel Cabrera have come to terms on a one-year deal.

Quoting Cockcroft here: “Ick. Ugh. Dear Fucking God.”

I can’t really disagree with him here. Will Cabrera be any better than Odalis Perez? Yes. Ballpark factor isn’t really an issue, as the Nats moved out of spacious RFK stadium to a more hitter-friendly arena. Will the move to the National League help Cabrera’s numbers? Not if his WHIP can help it.

He will strike players out, but if he continues to over-throw the ball and  lose all semblance of control, he is as unreliable and erratic as Odalis. Too bad, as Cabrera’s always had huge potential.

Implications: The Nat’s starting five doesn’t look too pathetic anymore, with Cabrera, Lannon, Olsen, Bergmann and Balester available. Lots of potential, but can they deliver? I’d like to say yes, as it would make a great story. But my heart is nodding it’s tiny head no.

Which brings me to my last point: What happened to Shawn Hill?