Archives for category: Uncategorized

The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

Better Know A First Baseman: Carlos Delgado

The clock’s ticking on Carlos Delgado and the Mets to talk exclusively.  He filed for free agency on November 5th, and the Mets alone can talk to him until the 20th, after which it’s open season.

Carlos Delgado on the Mets is really only a matter for discussion the way I think bringing back Cliff Floyd should be a matter for discussion.  There’s a heartfelt desire to see the man succeed in a Mets uniform before passing him on to others. 

I recall watching Delgado smack a home run into right in one of my first games of 2009 and shouting something about how he’d hit his five hundredth homer as a Met before Gary Sheffield ever did.  Of course, Gary Sheffield then hit his 500th homer and everyone (myself included) jumped around like maniacs.

Medical science and Delgado’s determination could be two reasons to trust that he’d come back and be a beast of a hitter.  Getting jobbed by one’s own relentless pursuit of work, then getting jobbed by one’s desire to get back to relentlessly pursuing work, isn’t a disqualifier in many fields.  This country’s simultaneously raised a generation of workaholics and a generation of slackers.  It’s significantly more difficult for athletes, but the system’s set up such that a man like Delgado can tear a labrum on Tuesday, have it surgically repaired Thursday, be home by Saturday and rehabbing by Monday.  All while earning a guaranteed paycheck.  The system’s built for speed.  If he looks good, if he says he’s good, if he’s willing to play and willing to kill it, then by all means, let him try.

Rarely does the “grit” or “passion” (or, as I’ve happily had to reference previously,”grission“) argument come with some tangible measure of the quality.  The success of rehab from injury is one such tangible measure.  Duaner Sanchez arrives at Mets camp with more rolls than a bakery dumpster at midnight: he didn’t work hard enough.  Angel Pagan fires a bullet from left-center right on the heels from a return after shoulder surgery, or throws his body into the wall to make a well-timed grab: that guy’s got guts.

Science has provided the tools with which one can determine the amount of scar tissue surrounding an injury, and the muscle lost and regained; we can measure a man’s capacity to run and jump and throw. The rest we leave to their mental state. Can they still throw on target?  Can they still see the ball?  How fast are their reflexes, really, when the chips are down?

It would take me months to recover from hip surgery, and even when I had my full physical capacity I wouldn’t be capable of hitting the broad side of a barn, and being without my glasses for a full week now has proved that I am just absolutely blind.  Until he pulled that oblique, Delgado was still looking to come back to the Mets in 2009.  That’s surgery in May, return in late August.  Three months?  The man is a god.

A god who pulls muscles, but still a god.

The difference between Delgado at this stage and Cliff Floyd at this stage is straight-up production.  Delgado’s been a consistent home run hitter throughout his career, discounting the portion of 2007 that was Willie Randolph-ized.  He rakes and he walks a decent amount, to boot.

And his off-field problems are not, in fact, problems: he’s got opinions regarding the world he’s asked to interact with.  Good.  Before and after baseball, there’s a world going on, and if he can be unconscious on the field, he can be conscious off it.  The man’s a stellar humanitarian and philanthropist.

This is a man to whom giving money to produce should not be a hardship.  He’s not turning the cash into Champagne and pouring it slowly on buxom women in bikinis, who are fresh from a lap in his middle-finger shaped pool; he’s giving toys to kids and supplying equipment to help doctors in Puerto Rico make effective diagnoses.

I have to think he understands the level at which baseball is a business, and a supremely cutthroat one at that.  To continue doing what he feels he has an obligation to do, he’s traded on his body, and in 2009, his body crapped out on him.  The last thing I would ever question is the man’s resolve. 

It must be a simple logic path in his head: come back, prove I’m healthy, prove I can still produce, make more money next year, consistently produce, repeat until my body just can’t anymore.

Any reasonable effort should be made to accommodate a man this determined and this accomplished.  I’m not saying the Mets should finance Carlos Delgado’s slate of causes for the sake of doing so.  But if he’s okay with coming back on an Abreu-’09-style deal: one year at $5 million, I take a real hard look at it, because even if he’s half the man he was, he’s an upgrade over the failsafe option. 

Add incentives: $500,000 bonus if he remains healthy through the trading deadline; $1.25 million if he hits his 500th home run as a Met–again, before the trading deadline.  He can succeed as a Met, move on to be a DH for a team on the bubble, and set himself up to be a high-priced assassin in 2011.  Good for everybody.

Daniel Murphy, as fun and gifted a guy as he is and could be, has a half-year in the tank to give to Carlos Delgado, in the event it all falls to that.  Re-signing Delgado means the pressure would be on to find a young star left-fielder, but that should be Job One anyway.

I think there’s still something there, and yes, I’m making the grission argument.  But it’s grission somewhat quantified, and grission for a purpose.

…I think I just talked myself into Carlos Delgado for 2010, which I wasn’t really expecting I’d do.  At the least, I think I’ve added another person to The Jim Plummer List; anything I read that dismissed Delgado as an option out-of-hand will now probably make me quite angry. 

But when does anything NOT make me angry these days?  I woke up with my pillows thrown across the room, for no other reason than at 2a, I’d decided there were too many pillows on the damn bed.

(I originally had first baseman in quotes.)

Where the hell have I been?

Been working.  Long days at my straight job, which pushed everything back.  Pushed back my screenwriting projects; pushed back my research for a freelance video project that’ll get going in about two months; pushed back the normal housework I have to do to keep from feeling like I’m in some Bohumil Hrabal-esque construct of eventual doom

It’s not that this blog is a low priority; it’s that making money, both in the short and long term, is a high priority.

The goal for the day is to try and catch up on the half-baked analyses I promised last week, now that my P.A. equipment is back where it belongs, and all my pay stubs are filed, and my spreadsheet workbook consistently calculates OTPS costs over a three-year period.  And now that I’ve wrapped up the first draft of Screenplay #3 in my ten-month plan to retire my debt.  If anyone out there is willing or knows anyone who’s willing to purchase a No Exit-style murder mystery set in wintry rural Massachusetts, drop me a line.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Grab your vegetables.

The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

Better Know A First Baseman: Russell “3TO” Branyan

So, would you prefer a thirty-three year-old first baseman with a herniated disc, who made $1.4 million last season, or a thirty-seven year-old first baseman whose recovery from hip surgery and subsequent conditioning caused him to strain (if memory serves) an oblique muscle? 

Keep in mind that the latter option wasn’t all that big on the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Russell Branyan is not the most flashy of options, no.  But for a team rumored to be profoundly cost-conscious, and perhaps waffling on the value of still-somewhat-unknown quality known as Daniel Murphy, a Russell Branyan looking to prove himself before a return to the land of the DH might make for a decent bet.

His age reminds one of Fernando “Let’s Turn Two” Tatis, and lately (the past three years), Tatis has had the distinction of seeming impervious to pain, either to himself or those subjected to his performances.  But the last time Tatis managed over thirty home runs, I was in high school.  Branyan did it this past injury-shortened season.  And the meta-story behind the Mets’ talent search in 2010 is home run production.

I’ll deconstruct that argument via hyperbolic hypothetical, and some rote.  Rote is important, however. A series of assumptions is worth squat if you don’t know how you arrived at those assumptions.  It’s time-consuming and tedious, but you’ll thank me in the end for showing my work.

Now, then: take a guy who destroys the baseball, like Albert Pujols (ignore 2009’s postseason; he was chippy).  Now surround him in the order with the infirm, the inept, and the inexperienced.  Give him some major-league caliber pitching to face.  He’s getting walked if there’s a base free, because chances are decent that the guy behind him will have a tougher time knocking the bean around.  Hell, if I’m batting behind him, then walk him even if the bases are loaded.  No way I’m scoring a run.  It’s too much pressure.

David Wright is not quite on Albert Pujols’s plane of existence when it comes to crushing home runs; neither is Carlos Beltran, nor Carlos Delgado.  Nor Russell Branyan.  They’re each legitimate run-producers, but any one of those guys ALONE in an order comprised otherwise of the aforementioned infirm, inept, and inexperienced, will find little protection and thus little opportunity to produce.  Protection is the name of the game.  And much like walking down Starr Street in Bushwick at night, protection comes in the form of a guy with a bat, who knows how to use it.

…I recently had to spend quite a bit of time in Bushwick.  My last visit was without my now-broken glasses.  Look at me on the right, there, in my profile picture.  I’m not scared of that punk, and I live with my demented self every day.

With Wright and Beltran back, and a year of Citi Field’s juju out of their systems, the Mets will be a quarter of their way toward presenting a solid batting order.  Assume Jose Reyes.  Assume Luis Castillo (because I doubt anyone else will).  Assume Chowdah and the pitcher’s spot, and we’re left with three holes in which to slot some protection.

So a guy coming off a shortened career year, and something to prove, might be worthwhile.  Fernando Tatis had something to prove in 2008, and didn’t do too bad for himself.  Dropping Russell Branyan into an everyday first baseman role proves to teams his range of motion and his ability to hit in a place that’s inaccurately rumored as death valley to power hitters.  Note: Ted Berg is not spreading said inaccuracy; he’s arguing against it.

(The video script for Marketing Citi Field To Power Hitters:

Liev Schrieber (V.O.): “This is Adam Dunn.”

INSERT: image of ADAM DUNN chowing down on a foot-high stack of funnel cakes, paper plates included.

LS (V.O.)(Cont’d): He’s thirty years old and his walk-on music is “In The Air Tonight,” by Phil Collins.

INSERT: ten-second clip of Adam Dunn hitting that 465-foot blast off JOHAN SANTANA on May 27th, 2009; include SNY BOOTH FEED.  REPEAT FOOTAGE FOUR TIMES.

LS (V.O.) “When considering your options for the 2010 baseball season, ask yourself: are you better or worse than Adam Dunn?”

RE-INSERT: image of Adam Dunn chowing down on a foot-high stack of funnel cakes, paper plates included.

FADE OUT.)

Delgado has the same things to prove, but given the years he has on most first-basemen, he can’t waste a year of power playing for the Mets and attempting to shag balls.  Russell Branyan can.

However, it seems as thought Russell Branyan probably won’t, as this post by Jim Street of MLB.com states.  Without knowing much about the Mariners, I’d say the reason they’d want him is the same reason the Mets would want him, and the only way they don’t get him is if he feels the money they offer doesn’t constitute fair treatment. 

The fine thing about the Mets is that they have that kind of fair treatment coming out the wazoo, and have shown a propensity for taking over-market flyers on redemption-seeking types with “experience.”  If all the stars align, I wouldn’t so much mind Russell Branyan on the Mets, as long as similar money isn’t spent on the same archetype elsewhere.

And as long as he’s not signed for three years and $36 million, or something similarly obnoxious.

If you go to Keith Olbermann’s Baseball Nerd (linked on the right sidebar, or click here), you’ll find some pictures he took last night at Yankee Stadium.  One he took was of Sean Hannity taking a photograph of him.

There is an object lesson here.

Anyone who watches Olbermann or Hannity (or both, if you can somehow manage to do so without your brain exploding from the convergence of matter and anti-matter) knows that they’re not much for each other’s company.

At the ball park, however, they are civil.  Civil enough to take photographs of each other, in a way that by no means seems to signal a truce, but rather an understanding of rivalry and where its place is, and how it’s to be conducted.

Rivalry in baseball takes place in the ball park.  It takes place on the field.  For fans, the players we cheer are our weapons with which we attempt to achieve superiority.  That’s why we go. That’s why we do our best to show our colors and fill to capacity the place we know as our second home.

Fans can get caught up in thinking that cheering is not enough, and that energy turns into something harsher, and unwelcome.  While cheering and jeering is perfectly acceptable, fistfights aren’t.  Battery isn’t.  THROWING batteries isn’t.

Again, I’d like to point out this photo, of a Phillies 2008 championship flag being set on fire at Citi Field this past season.

burn.jpgSmeared and blurry as it may be, this is the image that sticks in my head as fandom gone horribly wrong.  It’s fandom pushed to this place by rowdy idiots, but not to be condoned no matter who’s responsible.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series in part because I do believe it’s perfectly acceptable to root for a team based in New York if you live in New York.  That debate’s been had, and it seems that over the past week that rather than eat our young, Mets fans on any side of the issue have agreed to disagree.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series because they beat the Phillies.  I think Jimmy Rollins has some thinking to do about his freelance gig as a prognosticator.  I think Cole Hamels needs some time to burnish his image with the team’s fans.  I’m pleased as all get-out that Shane Victorino grounded out to end the game.  That guy’s a jerk.  Empirical study has proven it to be so.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series because it means Philadelphia today doesn’t look like a smoking hulk out of some Roland Emmerich movie.

But mostly I’m pleased because it provides me with the opportunity to make this extended announcement, to any fan of the Phillies who may have engaged in the kind of near-criminal abuse of other people who happen to come from elsewhere, and who may be reading:

“Fan”: there’s a time and a place to be a degenerate. 

New York has been home to MILLIONS of degenerates over the years.  They’ve burned parts of this city down over the course of decades.  They’ve been part of a culture of violence and decay that threatened to ruin it.

Yet while some today moan and complain about how no one in Times Square knows how to mug them right anymore, most of us are glad to have the pleasure of being concerned with how many Starbucks franchises constitutes the correct number for a five-block radius.  These are concerns of adjustment.  They’re not concerns of crisis.

The Yankees conducted themselves in a straightforward, business-like manner, and believe me, that’s infuriating to a lot of New Yorkers as much as it’s pleasing to others.  They did their talking on the field. 

They did their talking with their wallets ($201M in 2009), as the Mets tried to ($149M in 2009), and as the Phillies tried to ($113M in 2009), and as the Twins barely could ($65M in 2009).

When the Yankees won, their fans went as crazy as t.p.ing a tree a few blocks from my house, and dropping half-full beer bottles on the street.  I’ve not one report of a torched car, nor one report of some clown standing on top of a car that then takes off, leaving him prone and concussed on the asphalt.

Just because there’s no destruction of physical property doesn’t mean people didn’t drink so much they puked, or blared their horns as they drove down the street heading home, or conceived a child.  Or–sweet Jesus–all three.

(Section Five Twenty-Eight does not condone drinking and driving, or drinking, then driving.  Driving, then drinking, is the appropriate order.)

There’s a time and a place to be a degenerate, I say to those who’ve ever thrown a punch or urinated on a cap or verbally assaulted a minor while wearing the red and white. 

New York is not that place.

This is not a plea for you to change your way of life at home, though I’d certainly appreciate any further destruction attempted be kept away from our country’s national treasures.  This is a strong damn warning to refrain from acting like an animal when you come to the home of the Mets. 

Come in as many numbers as you want, or you feel you need.  Spend your money. Do your worst in jeering the players on the field if you think they’re overrated showoffs.  The Mets have a laundry list of problems to fix for 2010, but that doesn’t make them any less capable of stomping the Phillies at Citi Field, or Citizen’s Bank Park.  THAT is the fight that I and Mets fans like me–and there are thousands like me–are looking forward to. 

We’re NOT looking forward to telling you to shut your mouth when you start berating US and not the players on the field, and having to do so to the point where only a fist to the face will shut you up or keep our children from crying.  Our past is not so far from our minds that we’ve forgotten how to defend ourselves, and we will.  But fights are not why we go to the ball park.  If that’s why YOU go to the ball park, then DON’T come to our ball park.

My overarching hope with a Yankees victory was that people like you, the degenerate, will have gotten out of bed today, stared into the mirror, and found some humility.  There’s no one–not even Yankees fans–who can’t find their humility. 

As one who’s been humbled many, many times, I can say with certainty that THIS lesson in humility is one you deserve.  Not the Phillies fan down the street who goes to New York and cheers the Phillies and boos the Mets, but talks baseball, not pure obscenity.  Not the Phillies fans who celebrated 2008 by cheering Ryan Howard’s power or Jimmy Rollins’s skill.  Not those guys.

You, the guy who in 2008 thought it was great fun climbing up a lamppost and chucking beer cans at the world.  You, the guy who was looking forward to doing it again this year.  You, the guy that clapped as Jose Reyes took Chase Utley’s knee in his head, then cheered as he lay there.

You, guy.  There’s a time and a place to be a degenerate.  That you can’t even be one in the privacy of your own home is what I’d hoped would be taken from you, at the unfortunate expense of fans who deserved a championship a hell of a lot more than you or your ilk.  Look in that mirror, and think about what you’ve done in the past. 

Understand that, karmically, YOU caused this.  The team you proclaimed homegrown and gritty lost to superior numbers and superior dollars.  That, in my book, reads as success spoiled.

I don’t state this case cheerfully.&
nbsp; There is no tone of gloat, here.  I have no real problem with the Yankees or the fans I’ve met and are friends with.  But they’re not my team, so I can’t really share in the celebration.  Your loss this year is only the means to what I hope will be a more civil end.

Next year, Phillies fan, for both our teams.  Come correct, or don’t come at all.

**Someone please pass this along to the genius who wanted one put in Jose Reyes’s neck.

**Editor’s note: Updated November 9th, because I can’t tell the difference between Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

For those who’ve taken a look at my Twitter feed, you know Halloween was a rough time for Old Man Vargas.  Ten straight hours of work starting at 7p, and settling for (an admittedly excellent) cheeseburger for breakfast the following morning.  I’m still feeling sluggish on the ride in, and the eight thousand calories I consumed over the course of the past 60 hours may have something to do with that.

All my talk of productivity yesterday went down the crapper, as well.  That’s why the site looks much the same as it did Friday.

Difficult still is all the pain-in-the-neck stuff which always accompanies big A/V events.  Two days later and I still have to pick up gear.  This will interrupt my Game Five watching (I have comment on Game Four, but I’ll wait), just as attempting to do a pick up destroyed my day yesterday.

Really, when it comes down to it, my estimates of time it’ll take to do something are far too conservative.  Deejay a party?  Five days.  Strike the set?  Seven.  Cook a sumptuous meal for dinner guests, including Mr. Wallingford?  Don’t even ask.  Just mix me a drink and stop complaining for ONCE in your life, Maude.  Stop complaining, or pack a bag and go to your mother’s.  Hell, I’ll DRIVE you.

But we’re at least still on track to talk free agents.

If you recall, the exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth spending time and energy on.  The assumption with this exercise is that everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than trade prospects.

Today, we review the free agents who’ve played first base, at least on occasion, that the Mets shouldn’t touch with a ten-foot clown pole.

Hank Blalock (TEX): Slipping into DH land.  Methinks an unorthodox option, but after Duaner Sanchez and John Maine, anyone who’s had shoulder surgery (like Blalock in ’06) to end their season is no one I want to think about.

Jason Giambi (COL)
: Surely, you jest.   Hey, you know who’s almost eighteen months younger and I still trust to field a ball every now and again?  Carlos Delgado.

Ross Gload (FLA): Brooklyn-born Ross Gload has never hit more than seven home runs in the majors, and was part of a Grade-A cluster… bomb.  Clusterbomb… of a trade in 2002.  Check it out (from Baseball Reference):

January 21, 2002: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Colorado Rockies with Craig House to the New York Mets. The New York Mets sent Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch to the Milwaukee Brewers. The New York Mets sent Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile and cash to the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Rockies sent Alex Ochoa to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Milwaukee Brewers sent Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D’Amico, Mark Sweeney and cash to the New York Mets.

January 26, 2002: Purchased by the Colorado Rockies from the New York Mets.

Catch all that?  Because I’m still stuck on how he’s never hit home runs in the double digits.  Christ, I trust Daniel Murphy to hit more than ten next year, and hopefully from the bench.

Aubrey Huff (DET) (B): The dark-horse darling of the “Why-Don’t-We-Just”ers of the class of 2009.  Never proved to be an offensive powerhouse in same said year.

Nick Johnson (WAS) (B): For no real reason, Nick Johnson reminds me of a story told to me by a couple of friends who are Knicks fans:

Mike and Nick are riding up an escalator into Madison Square Garden, a couple of years back when the Knicks were running their “Experience The…” campaign.  They pass a banner with a close-up image of Eddy Curry; the text reads: “Experience The Emotion.”

Mike turns to Nick and asks: “Is hunger an emotion?”

Kevin Millar (TOR): Riding out the twilight in Toronto.  Fewer than three hundred plate appearances last year.

Robb Quinlan (LAA): Yeah… just ’cause he’s listed as a first baseman doesn’t mean he actually played first base full time.  That goes for most of you, in fact.

Matt Stairs (PHI): See above.  Anyway, as I said last week: over my dead and violated body.  Matt Stairs is a University of Phoenix course and car wash ownership stint short of selling his 2008 ring, anyway.  See you in twenty-three years, Matt.  Don’t take any calls from Jim Cramer.

Mike Sweeney (SEA): He, too, has slid into DH-dom, and not regularly, either.  I think I’d take a flyer on Hank Blalock before Mike Sweeney.  But when you get to players over 35, the Carlos Delgado clouds begin to gather again.  Pay attention, as he’ll necessarily capture a lot of later discussion about the position.

Jim Thome (LAD): No, hunger is not an emotion.

That’s not a fair joke to end on; I’m sure Eddy Curry could devour Jim Thome, if given the chance.  But that guy’s been through enough, anyway.

Curry, not Thome.

Tomorrow, Russell Branyan and Carlos Delgado, in a “Good God, Just Eliminate The Position” Steel Cage Match.

Later tonight, some World Series thoughts, provided I don’t get trapped in a web of XLR cables and packing tape.

My Friday has been consumed with budget spreadsheets.  Good thing, though, as I can barely keep my head on straight for five minutes.  WAY too much going on this weekend.

So, kudos to A.J. Burnett not going all Nuke LaLoosh, and on ad nauseum.  But this guy’s gotta buckle down, and get to work only… how many minutes late? 

Holy cow.  It’s really late. …Too many ugly people on this train. [ed.: I’m reviewing this now, and realizing it’s the truest thing I’ve said in a while.  Goddamn; woof.]

I’m working on sharpening up my online presence in advance of some new (and ironically, offline) ventures, so if I’ve timed things right you should see some changes to this blog on or about Sunday night, and connection to a larger one-stop, presenting all the things I do that have zilch to do with baseball.  That’s if I survive this deejay marathon Saturday night.  Pray for me.

I threw together all the John Olerud facts into one post, and you can find it here

And I went and got myself on Twitter, if anyone’s interested: http://www.twitter.com/omniality.  It’s new enough that you can smell the fresh binary; anything that comes out of my brain in the next 48 hours will probably find its way there, and there alone.  Baseball, non-baseball; y’know. 

So enjoy your weekends, and apologies to anyone subjected to my soft-launch horror; these things are unavoidable.  Try to act surprised when I make formal announcements.