Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bear in the Shadows

What should've been a week of triumph was turned bittersweet this week for TC Bear.

It should have been a week to revel in the mascot home run derby championship, easily outslugging Bernie Brewer and Junction Jack. But instead of headlines proclaiming his second consecutive title, he was greeted the next morning with a story linking him to steroid abuse.

The San Francisco Examiner claims that leaked documents from the BALCO investigation indicate that Mariner Moose claims he and TC have injected each other with HGH in private. TC Bear called the allegations "baseless" and agreed to "cooperate fully" with the grand jury.

Mascots have long been suspected of steroid abuse due to the demands of their occupation. "You try walking around in a fur suit for three hours, 82 times a year and tell me you don't need a little help occasionally," said a mutli-colored chicken, under the condition he remain anonymous. "And it's not like the snot-nosed brats want their high-fives any less because it's 92 degrees in the shade."

Rumors have swirled for years specifically about Mariners Moose and TC Bear due to the appearance. "Where there's smoke, there's usually fire," comments Twins Cities radio host Dan Barreiro. "I mean, would you look at the size of TC's head? And take a look at TC when he started with the organization and compare it to now. You think that's coming from honey?"

The news brought swift action from Baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, who immediately proposed new banned substance testing for mascots. "I remember in 1992, I was mistaken for a mascot," said Selig, who still looks vaguely like an unkept, nerdy and somewhat shifty muppet. "That could never happen now. An extra in "Dark Crystal"? Maybe. But not a ballpark mascot."

The MLMU, was critical of the proposal just as quickly. "I didn't see the owners complaining as revenues were pouring in. I didn't hear them complaining as they sold tickets to the All-Star macot home run derby this last week," chided union representative Mr. Met.

The First Shoe

If you're looking for some big news on the trade front (and really, who isn't?), here's something to fire you up a bit. Alexander Smit, the Twins prospect from the Netherlands who got me all jazzed up a couple of year ago because he was striking out insane numbers in the lower minors, is no longer with the organization. He was claimed by the Cincinatti Reds off of waivers when the Twins took him off of their 40 man roster.

La Velle E Neal, in his blog comments, claims this is a performance related move, and there's no reason to doubt it. Smit struggled this year at a 22-year-old in High A ball. his ERA was 5.86, and he had just 38 K in 50 innings, and was bouncing between starting and relieveing. If he wasn't taken off the 40 man roster now, he likely would have been early in the offseason. In fact,I wouldn't be shocked if the Reds do just that.

But one needs to ask, why wouldn't the Twins wait until then? The obvious answer is that they needed room on their 40-man roster. But for what? Those players in AAA who are most likely to be called up are already on the 40-man. Nobody is coming back from the 60 day disabled list (RonDL was never put on it). Just why did the Twins need that spot right no

Ichiro Revisited

Got this email from a reader yesterday, and I'm always up for filling space with other people's words...

First of all, I couldn't DISAGREE more with the people who say the Mariners' overpaid for Ichiro. I saw something in the Wall Street Journal last offseason that says that the presence of Ichiro and Kenjo Johjima on the Mariners made the team upwards of 22 million dollars a year, from merchandising, to their share of "local" revenue being generated by broadcast rights sold to Seattle (everything from TV and local radio direct broadcasts, to and gameday audio rights, etc., etc.) to direct marketing (stadia advertising, television advertising, etc.). I then heard from an agent that losing Ichiro would reduce that amount AT MINIMUM to 15 million dollars a year. SO, the amount they are paying Ichiro in real terms is $13 million a year if those "minimum" numbers are taken into account

Second, any Twins' negotiator worth their salt will throw those numbers in Torii Hunter's face should he try to do a direct comparison.

I pointed out yesterday that Ichiro, who is one of the premier outfielders in the game, isn't signficantly more desirable than Hunter in the free agent market. In terms of his performance for the length of this contract, I'd stand by that. But that doesn't mean he doesn't bring some additional revenue that Hunter might not necessarily bring.

Hunter is awfully personable and would likely leave some merchandising money on the table if he re-signed with a small market club (a point the letter writer made later on in the letter). And, in general, I feel like the impact on revenue by Japanese ballplayers is overstated. But it's very possible that Ichiro will make more than Hunter just because of his popularity.

Or maybe I'm just hoping with my heart. Because deep down I see this as another indicator that salaries are going to continue to explode upward this offseason, and leave small market teams struggling again for answers. And Torii playing somewhere in the Northeast.

Feedback. Feedback! FEEDBACK!

Just a reminder. Check out, especially the dynamic blog links at the bottom, and lt me know what you think r if I'm missing your Twins blog.

And Finally, Wave REAL HARD!

At the Twins game tonight, if you are sitting along the first base line, you'll likely find yourself being waved at by TC Bear and a couple of couple of mini-TCs. Wave realy hard, because one of those little guys is The Boy. We'll try and give you a behind the scenes look, and continuer our investigative report of A Bear in the Shadows. See ya there!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Speed of Stupidity

What is the speed of stupidity?

We know it is pretty fast. For instance, say The Voice of Reason asks me how I like her haircut. And let's say my immediate stupid reply is "Um, did you want it that short?" The time between the last word coming out of my mouth and the bedroom door slamming is less than five seconds. That’s pretty fast.

But I think we can safely say that Bill Bavasi shattered all previous speed records this week. Bavasi, in case you don’t know, is the Seattle Mariners GM, and a couple of months ago, it looked like he was close to losing his job. His biggest mistake? Giving two veterans (Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre) huge guaranteed money after career years. But he wasn’t fired, and Mariners surged to be a couple of games out of the wild care.

Granted a stay of execution, he did what any of us would have done – he went on a bender. And in this case the bender apparently means offering Ichiro, an aging veteran having a career year, to a huge, guaranteed, five-year, $100 million contract. Bavasi voluntarily offered an extra $5 million per year and an extra guaranteed year beyond what any other team had ever given a 30-plus-year-old center fielder, outpacing even the Yankees’ deal with Johnny Damon.

Stupidy sped 2000 miles to Minneapolis. And everything changed.

Suddenly, the cost of retaining Torii Hunter next year had increased about $40 million over what it had been a week earlier. Ichiro is a helluva a player, but he’s a year older, has less power, and isn’t a true center fielder. Not only did any chance of reaching a deal with Hunter before he reaches free agency go right out the window, but in all probability, re-signing Hunter just went from “a stretch” to “irresponsible”.

Unfortunately, the impact of that moronic agreement doesn’t just affect the Twins next year. The Twins start this homestand seven games out of the playoffs. Terry Ryan is always looking first and foremost at the present year, and will likely try to add impact bats if the Twins are within range of a postseason push. But if they find themselves double-digits back as this homestand ends – a homestand featuring three opponents with .500 or better records - he may need to change his tune and fast.

If there’s no chance of reaching the playoffs, and there’s no chance of re-signing Hunter, you can bet he’ll seriously consider moving Hunter for an impact player next year. Or to restock the offense in his minor league system.

Doing anything else would just be, well, stupid.


Hey, if you haven't stopped by today, for the love of all that is good and right, get your butt over there. I spent the last week redesigning it, and I'll be so hurt if you don't at least stop by.

And PLEASE scroll down to the bottom and check out the links. A couple of years ago, I fired up to try and provide a place that Twins fans could come for nearly limitless Twins content. But I hated that the writers needed to join and use that site for me to provide the links.

Now that's not necessary. Over on you'll find links to over twenty independent blogs, all with their latest post. If you're a writer and want yours to be included, please let me know and we'll add it to the feed.

Thanks everyone. Let me know how you like it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Links for a Monday

I've written today, just not here. Today's post is over on the GameDay Writers Blog, where myself and a few other writers are having a contest. The challenge is to write a story centered around a quote. I went first today, and you'll see a couple of more attempts later this week. As always, if you want to try it yourself, either on your blog or in the comments, let me know so I can call attention to it. And just a reminder that if you would like to join the GameDay Writers, let me know that too.

It's rare that the timing works out this well, because it's a great day to stop by there. Immediately below my entry you'll see an enormously long entry by Kyle Eliason and John Sharkey where they chat their way through yesterday's game. The last timt they did this, it was enormously entertaining - one of The Voice of Reasons' favorite entries overe there. Save up some time during your lunch hour for this one.

Oh, and speaking of new writers, below their entry you'll find our newest writer, Ty Omoth, "The Northwoods Wanderer". Ty is going to be blogging a couple of times per week about the Northwoods League, a particular passion of his. A summer league that draws so many college prospects would, I imagine, be of interest to baseball junkies. Keep an eye out for his stuff on Mondays and one other time during the week. His first post sums up the league's first half as they head into their all-star break.

That's it for today. It should be plenty to keep you busy.