It seems to be time for another “D” themed entry, as two more “D” topics have alerted my attention today. The first of these involves the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners improved a great deal last year, and have had a great offseason so far, acquiring both Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. Cliff Lee appears to be stronger than ever after a fantastic postseason performance for the Phillies, and the possible combo of him and 2009 AL Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez was seen by many people as one of the best (if not the best) duos in baseball. The only thing left for Seattle to do to make this dynamic duo a reality was resign Hernandez, who filed for arbitration this year. Today, they accomplished this, signing Hernandez for $78 million and 5 years.
Despite the large price tag, this is truly a fantastic deal. Locking this ace up for 5 years means that even if something doesn’t work out with Lee in the next few years, Hernandez is still there to anchor the rotation. Most baseball experts agree that good pitching is just about the most important factor in being a successful baseball team. Hitting and defense are instrumental for sure, but an ace pitcher is probably the most valuable type of player on the field (an all-around star like Pujols would be an exception, but players like that are so rare). Therefore, Seattle has done a great job this offseason by strengthening a good pitching staff, with the Hernandez and Lee deals and the resigning of closer David Aardsma. The Angels, who are expected to wage war with the M’s over the AL West crown in ’10, lost their ace John Lackey, and did a little bit to add to their pitching. Certainly, they didn’t do as much as Seattle, and I believe that this will hurt them this season.
Not only is a good pitching staff a must, but a good duo is always something to be reckoned with, and Seattle could have the best in the MLB. Cain and Lincecum are a fantastic duo for the Giants, both having chances at the NL Cy Young last year (with Lincecum taking the award home); Halladay and Hamels should be very strong together for Philly; Beckett and Lackey (with the added bonus of Lester) will hopefully play above expectations and should make the case for being one of the better duos in the league; Sabathia and Burnett is another great one, both playing very well last year and helping the Yankees enormously; and several others are very formidable. Not only can a dynamic duo strike fear into the hearts of opposing lineups, but it can just about guarantee 2 games out of a 3 game series when both pitchers are at their best. Hitting duos are also a great luxury, but I think pitching ones are the most imposing.
Here in Boston, we certainly had trouble with this pair last year.
Seattle’s duo will help them in many ways, and I wish luck to them in 2010. Truly a job well done in the offseason as well!
The second piece of “D” news was that of the retirement rumors surrounding Johnny Damon. Having still not come anywhere near agreement with any MLB teams as far as we know, Damon seems to either have some kind of plan, or absolutely no idea what he’s doing. Honestly, I think it’s the latter. I highly doubt that Damon will really retire (although I’ve been surprised before by this guy, *hint, hint*), but I also think that he is still a long way from agreeing on a deal with anyone as long as he keeps asking for $13 million a year. I’ve never been in a situation like the one that every baseball player faces when they become a free agent: I’ve never had to put a price tag on myself. However, I think that Damon may be asking for too much. He’s still a very good player, but the Yankees need him less than they did last year (even though he would be a great asset). The Yankees are the team that is most interested in him at this point, and they are not yet close to working out a deal with Damon. It appears that he may be forced to lower his demands, or he may find himself without a club come April. I feel bad for any ballplayer that doesn’t have a game to go to each night when Spring rolls around, and I think Johnny will see this coming and may work out a deal with someone. I can’t say I wish him luck, but he’s not such a bad guy. I’ll be interested to see how this whole thing works out.
As for any Red Sox news, there has been a shortage of it in the recent days. I hope for more this weekend. I’ll try to post tomorrow night, but I may be unable due to the varsity basketball game I’ll be attending to support my school. Let’s hope they dominate and I’m able to get home early to blog!
Thanks for reading.
I was reminded of these ads after watching a few games last night:
“Why?” you may ask. Well yesterday in the MLB it was a day of absolut(e) slaughter. I will start off with the slaughter that least affected me (in the real world, at least).
Interestingly enough, the case of slaughter (baseball style) that least affected me was probably the worst. The scene of the crime was Citizen’s Bank Ballpark, in Philadelphia. The Phillies beat the Reds 22-1 in this game. Unfortunately, the sorrow I feel for Reds fans everywhere is only half of my problem with this one. See, the Reds’ starter in this contest was Johnny Cueto, a bright young player who has performed well this year, keeping his ERA in the 2.00 range and posting 8 wins. I’m not even sure when he was taken out of the game, I think he allowed 9 or so runs, ballooning his ERA to 3.45. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, aside from being a new favorite player of mine, Cueto is the ace on my fantasy team. But really, should that concern me in the real world?
There was also a case of slaughter to a lesser extent here in Boston. It was brightened only by the glorious return of Nomar,
as the rookie Brett Anderson threw a 2 hit shutout vs. the Red Sox. We lost it 6-0, and all the more depressing were Jason Bay’s continuing struggles, as he struck out once and went 1-3. In the past week he is 2-25, among the worst in the league. This miserable week has even included an 0-5 with 5 strikeouts on July 1. Hopefully the All Star game will cheer him up and get him back on course to take that MVP award from Texeira in the second half.
The final case of slaughter came in Seattle, where Jarrod Washburn threw a 1 hit, 5-0 win against the Orioles, a team that I am actually starting to root for to at least make a little bit of a comeback in the second half. With such bright young talent as Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters, I’m beginning to really like the O’s.
It was a night to forget in the MLB, at least from this Sox fan’s point of view… (and I didn’t even consider the disappointing 9-4 loss for Kevin Millwood, another one of my fantasy pitchers, as legitimate slaughter)
Thanks for reading.