The Deitch Pit

Monday, November 5, 2007

Schill selling Schill

I'll have a story in Tuesday's DT on Curt Schilling's chat with the media following his charity golf outing Monday in Lafayette Hill ... it was an interesting chat. Schilling swears that 2008 is it for him. He wants a one-year deal, period. I also get the feeling that he considers the Phillies one of the two- or three-best places to go if he can't get something done with the Bosox. The Phils, however, seem to be sitting back and waiting for the negotiation period to arrive before they contact Schilling. Whether that puts them behind any of the teams that have made preemptive feelers to Schill remains to be seen.

Here are a few trivial tidbits from the press conference:

--Schilling admits he arrived in camp last spring fat. Said he's ashamed of that and that he will come to spring training leaner this time. Just my opinion, but it looks like he has some work to do.

--He really doesn't like the media a little bit. Sadly, whereas most guys seem to chill out and make peace late in their careers, Schill just seems to get more bitter with time. He says he doesn't give a hoot about solidifying his Hall of Fame credentials with a strong farewell season - mostly because he thinks many of the voters are jerks who don't like him and will therefore spite him on the ballot. I just find his ambivalence tough to believe since he was with the Phils when Whitey and Schmitty were inducted, and that induction ceremony was one of Cooperstown's and Philadelphia sports' finest moments. I can't imagine a moment that special didn't resonate with Schilling.

--Oh, and some television idiot asked a question about Alexander Rodriguez. I think he was talking about A-Rod, but I was too busy wallowing in the misery of knowing that many athletes lump lame brains like that with writers and the select few TV types who actually have a clue.

To paraphrase a quote from Joe Piscopo's character in Johnny Dangerously: "I'm embarrassed to be a media member these days. The other day someone asked me what I do for a living, and I told them I was a male nurse."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Great Business Idea: Detox Clinic For Baseball Writers

After two failed attempts at making a blog post, I think I'm actually going to complete this one. It takes me a few weeks to decompress after the baseball season. And by decompress I mean, "muster the energy to say something interesting about baseball." And even with my time away from the QWERTY board I can't really guarantee this will be interesting.

The Phillies are wrapping up their organizational meetings as I write, and they have some serious decisions on the docket. I know there's a lot of bloviating taking place over the chances of A-Rod or Mike Lowell playing third base for the Phils, but just get that out of your head. Can we please admit to ourselves that 1) A-Rod will never, ever, ever be worth Scott Boras' price tag because it requires a team to dedicate way too high a percentage of the payroll to a single player. Baseball cannot be won by one player - as A-Rod's numerous truncated or nonexistent postseason appearances show; and 2) there is NO WAY IN HELL that Boston G.M. Theo Epstein will let the World Series MVP take a walk. Theo is actually good at his job, despite the fact that he lists playing Guitar Hero with uber-rock dork Peter Gammons among his hobbies.

There was a transaction this week that Gillick should circle in red ink and use as inspiration for his offseason list of tasks. The Braves traded SS Edgar Renteria to the Tigers for a pair of prospects, RHP Jair Jurrjens and OF Gorkys Hernandez.

Man, do I love this deal for Atlanta. Jurrjens, who turns 22 this winter, is a terrific young pitcher. He went 3-1, 4.70 in seven starts with the Tigers last season, and his numbers hint at a guy who will be very tough as he fills out and gains a little experience. I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a Kyle Kendrick-like season in 2008 for the Braves. Atlanta had to make a tough concession to get this kid, but new GM Frank Wren knows that young, talented pitching is a must-have these days.

I think Gillick has to take this approach this winter. I know how popular Shane Victorino is in this town, but the Phillies have to be willing to trade some of their offensive clout for pitching. Victorino is the best option because 1) he's cheap, which means other teams will want him; 2) he is a five-tool guy, which makes him desirable; 3) the Phillies still have the option of re-signing Aaron Rowand, which would give them the option of dealing Victorino and taking a Burrell-Rowand-Werth-Bourn (and Dobbs as a 3B/OF hybrid) into next season. Greg Golson also is getting to the point where the Phils need to decide whether he's going to be the next Mike Cameron or next Reggie Taylor.

So, which team would possibly have enough young pitching to unload it for an outfielder? Well, I'd give the Indians a call. They really could use some help in the outfield - they picked up Kenny Lofton during the season to help, but Kenny doesn't have that much left in the tank - and ex-Phils David Dellucci and Jason Michaels have been about as valuable out there as Abe Nunez and Wes Helms were at third for the Phils. You put Victorino alongside Grady Sizemore and Franklin Gutierrez, and you have a pretty impressive outfield.

What would the Phils want in return? Well, the Tribe has a left-hander named Aaron Laffey who is good enough to pitch in a big-league rotation, but not so good that the Indians would consider him untouchable (especially since C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona give them an awesome 1-2 punch, while Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook are an admirable 3-4). Cleveland would like to deal southpaw Cliff Lee, but he was so awful last season that I can't imagine GM Mark Shapiro would be stupid enough to believe he could get a quality OF for that stiff.

This is just an example. Maybe it won't be Victorino. Maybe with Pat Burrell in the final year of his contract and a willingness to pay at least half of that $14M can create trade value for him. But that's about it for established players who the Phillies are capable of trading and have trade value.

Bottom line: There isn't enough on the free-agent market to count on that to upgrade the team. Gillick HAS to make a trade in order to keep the Phils moving in the right direction.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Pregame blog, Phils-Rockies, Game 3 10/7

Here's the starting nine for the Phils:

Rollins SS
Utley 2B
Burrell LF
Howard 1B
Rowand CF
Victorino LF
Ruiz C
Nunez 3B
Moyer P

Manuel wanted to keep Utley and Howard split because Brian Fuentes owns them and pretty much everyone in red pinstripes. He also decided to stick with Nunez as a defensive third baseman instead of putting Greg Dobbs' bat in the lineup.
It looks like the D-Backs are going to sweep the Cubs. I think, if anything, that result might help the Phillies. It might make the Rockies a bit anxious to end this series. If there was a reason I had a concern about this game from the Phillies' standpoint, it was that I thought the 2-0 lead might really relax Colorado's hitters against Jamie Moyer, who is much more effective when the opposing hitters are anxious and overly aggressive.
That said, thinking that the Rockies are going to be distracted by Arizona's sweep ... well, it's a stretch.

Denver: Cool Town, Crazy Dudes

Well, I'm hanging out at the Starbucks at the 16th Street Mall area here in Denver, which is one of about 500 cool areas in this town. It's 85 degrees with 7% humidity here. That humidity figure is why sticking baseballs in a humidor has been such a factor here. If you let balls sit out in the arid air, it makes the leather dry out. Think about it: If you hit a ball you just dunked it water, compared to a normal ball, it won't travel as far, right? It might not be as obvious as dunking a ball in water, but when you hit a ball kept in 70% humidity compared to 7% humidity, it makes a subtle, but noticeable, difference.

Anyway, Denver is one of the better stops when traveling. It's a gorgeous place. But check back with me this time tomorrow. Apparently a cold front is going to come barreling through here around 8-9 p.m., and temperatures are going to drop like a Manny Corpas shirtball.

When I'm out here I like to run out to Black Hawk (a mountain town about 45 minutes West of Denver) to play poker if I have time. I might run out there Sunday morning, because the forecast there is for 1-3 inches of snow! I gotta see that!

As for Denver, it's supposed to be a cold rain. But temperatures for a potential Game 4 could dip into the upper 30s by the late innings. Yikes! Sometimes sitting in the front row of the press box isn't a reward.

I should give a shout out to the wacky (and I believe stoned) 'Nam vet who came up and wanted to know if this thing I am typing on is a laptop. I confirmed that, yes, this is a laptop. He then rambled about wanting me to pull up the Hell's Angels Web site and look for some friend of his who used to live in Oakland but moved to Arizona.

I like crazy dudes, so I said sure. But he couldn't hang around - he's a busy man, you know - so he asked for my phone number. So I wrote down 10 random numbers and handed it to him. It started 610-301-xxxx ... so if you have a number that starts with those six digits, you have a 1-in-10,000 chance of getting a pretty funny phone call at some point.

Probably the most interesting part of the conversation was the "Hell's Angels Web site" portion. You know, there are some organizations that you just never really connect with having official Web sites - but sure enough there is one! I took a glance and, well, grammar isn't a Hell's Angels strong suit. But I'm pretty sure kicking my teeth in could be, so I'm not going any further with that.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Rally Dog!

(AKA a convenient reason to post a picture of my dog, Buster.)

Exclusive! Deitch in Colorado, Admits To Using Performance-Enhancing Substance!

Oh, 6:30 a.m. flights. The good thing about them is that they almost never are delayed - a rare gimme when dealing with a business whose CEOs should wear red noses and oversized shoes. The bad thing about them is that they almost never are delayed - which means you better get your draggin' derriere up and at 'em and to the airport pronto, Cochise!
I made it. Cut it a little close, but I've had closer. So I'm at Coors Field, watching the Phillies take batting practice and trying to get over my irritation
with Rockies head groundskeeper Mark Razum. I asked the guy if we could reminisce about the tarp incident, and you would have thought I was Chris Hansen doing an piece for "To Catch a Predator." Dude, the tarp story is as warm and fuzzy as it gets. What, you worried that bringing it up makes it seem like you and your co-workers couldn't get the job done yourselves?!?


I don't want to generalize, but I'm going to do it anyway - groundskeepers are weird dudes. There, I said it. It's as if they take a vow of weirdness by placing a hand
on a picture of Carl Spackler when they earn their Master of Sod Arts degree.

So, that's an inside look at how a story idea goes up in smoke. Now I might have to do something ridiculous like write about, I dunno, baseball. Great! Super!

Time to change my I.V.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

In-Game Blog, NLDS Game 2, Phils-Rockies

Well, just when you're bemoaning the fact that two homers in the top of the first was the last thing the Phils needed to see from the Rockies, J-Roll responds with a first-pitch bomb in the bottom of the first. Big start for Jimmy, but he needs some help from the rest of the lineup.
Utley strikes out for the fifth time in five postseason ABs. Here's how many times Utley has struck out in five straight plate appearances in his big-league career: Zip. I would not be at all surprised to see him try to bunt for a hit in his next at-bat, just to break the ice and calm down.
... and Howard strikes out. Sorry, you can't have your superstars not putting a single ball in play. It doesn't matter if these are left-handed starters or not. If they are going to only put a ball in play one out of every 10 ABs, they might as well bat sixth and seventh in the order.
They need to make Morales work. He has a terrific arm, but he'll work a lot of deep counts. The Phils need to have a team goal of making him throw 20 pitches per inning. Make Colorado use its bullpen.
Seriously, Chase Utley better get his head out of his rear end. That's Rollins' play on the double-play grounder back to the pitcher. He takes the throw with the better positioning and momentum for the relay throw. That's Little League crap.
Maybe Rollins can win it all by himself. Two-run triple. Ridiculous.
With the toughest half out of the way, Rollins has a chance to become the first player in major-league history to hit for the cycle in a postseason game. That's about 1,200 postseason games, which at 18 starting players per game gives you approximately 21,600 players who have had an opportunity to hit for the cycle and not done it.
There have been three instances (Reggie Jackson in 1977, and Babe Ruth twice) where a player has hit three homers in a postseason game, so tell me: Is hitting for the cycle more impressive than hitting three home runs? Tough call.
As Kyle Lohse warmed up with the bases loaded in the fourth, I turned to Scott Lauber of the Wilmington News Journal and said, "I don't like bringing him into this spot. He should only start an inning fresh."
Bam. Grand slam.
I'll have to have Lauber vouch for me on his blog.
Sure, keep Mesa in to face Torrealba ... because watching him walk the first two guys isn't reason enough to yank him.
Charlie deserves to catch heat for his decisions today.
Wow ... now Kaz Matsui is a single away from hitting for the cycle.
Remember when Mets fans did nothing but dump on that dude?

There have been 84 five-game series in baseball. Here are the seven teams to overcome a 2-0 deficit:
1981 Dodgers vs. Astros (Damn you, offense - 3 R, 12 H in last three games for the 'Stros)
1982 Brewers vs. Angels (Damn you, Luis Sanchez!)
1984 Padres vs. Cubs (Damn you, Lee Smith!)
1995 Mariners vs. Yankees (Damn you, Jack McDowell! You made uber-Yankees fan Scott Lauber cry - in college no less! How embarrassing.)
1999 Red Sox vs. Indians (Damn you, uh, all those pitchers who gave up 35 runs in the last two games!)
2001 Yankees vs. A's (Damn you, Mike Mussina!)
2003 Red Sox vs. A's (Damn you, Trot Nixon!)

For what it's worth, since the wildcard was implemented in 1995 there have been 28 instances where a team held a 2-0 lead in the series, with four teams recovering to win the series. Keep in mind that Seattle's comeback in 1995 came in a series where they played the first two games on the road and the final three at home. The only Division Series team to lose the first two games at home and bounce back to win the final three games was the 2001 Yankees. Scott Lauber informs me that he jumped up and down and squealed like a 4-year-old girl when that went down.
(Lauber's reaction when I showed him that final line: "Heh, heh, heh .. I kinda did.")

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