WHILE I WAS OUT…
Here are some things that went down over the past 5 days, which may be of some interest…
Both Mike Piazza and Guillermo Mota were suspended for 5 games as a result of their run-in last week. Vlad gets 3 games for throwing bolo’s, and Piazza gets 5 for intent. Something is fishy here, Bob Watson.
Theo Epstein, the Red Sox new general manager continues to be accessible and articulate. We’ll see how he handles things come September, but it’s my feeling that the Red Sox will have a lot to cheer about this year.
Yankee pitcher, Jose Contreras got off the shnide late last week with an impressive outing against the less-than-impressive Devil Rays.
Meanwhile, it looks as if Yankee reliever Steve Karsay, may start the season on the DL. No suprise there.
Aaron Gleeman has an excellent analysis of the Jack Cust-Chris Richards trade between the Rockies and the O’s, as well as the Kenny Rogers signing by the Twins.
Steve Goldman, author of the Pinstriped Bible, likes to move as far as the Orioles are concerned:
The acquisition of Jack Cust by the Orioles on Tuesday was a strong move by that team, the first good deal they’ve made in literally years. Although Cust is likely never going to be more than a 1B/DH, and the O’s already have a surfeit of that kind of player, for once they’re ahead of the development curve instead of behind. Cust is just 24, a baby for an Orioles organization that has liked its roster so crusty that Boog’s ribs have been more tender than their players.
Cust has real power, and will take a walk. He’s also going to strike out. A lot. Perhaps too much — Cust looked as if he was swinging with his eyes closed during a September audition in the bigs. Even so, he has the potential to combine with Jay Gibbons to give the O’s two lefty power threats, something they haven’t had in quite some time. The trick for Mike Hargrove will be finding him playing time amidst the wreckage of David Segui, Jeff Conine, Marty Cordova, and other relics of the days when steam engines puffed their way across the lonesome prairie. No matter what happens, this is still a red letter day. The Orioles have acquired a genuine, bona fide, prospect.
Jay Jaffe, the futility infielder has a terrific piece on the L.A. Dodgers and the all-mighty dollar that is worth checking out too.
Lastly, the much maligned Jayson Stark filed this article on Vlad Guerrero last week, in which he examines the possibilites of where Vlad may end up next season. Guerrero will obviously be wooed by big money teams like the Yankees and Mets, but I wouldn’t be suprised if he takes less money to stay with the Expos, no matter where they wind up next year.
"I don't know what the personality of this guy is," said one NL executive. "I don't know what his personality is because he's such a quiet kid. And I don't know what his personality is because he plays in Montreal. To be honest, there's really not much that any of us know about him, except for his ability."
They don’t call Vlad “the Mute” for nothing.
"Montreal is the perfect place for him," said Expos third-base coach Manny Acta. "He doesn't care if people ever talk about him. He wants no attention. In Montreal, he can walk down St. Catherine Street, and some people don't even know who he is. He enjoys that. He enjoys being just another guy in the community."
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some pretty good players,” Minaya said. “Sammy Sosa. Juan Gonzalez. I know all those guys. And this is one of the simplest guys I’ve been around.”
Which isn’t to say that Vlad is dumb. He’s just a good ol’ country boy. He looks little bit like a goat after all, albeit a very strong goat. (He acts like a goat sometimes too, which may explain why he was caught stealing 20 times last season.)
What makes Guerrero an oddity is that he doesn’t crave the money or fame that a player of his caliber usually commands.
Guerrero grew up in almost incomprehensible poverty, in Nizao, Bani, in the Dominican Republic. For most of the great Dominican players, baseball has been the chauffeur that whisked them off to a better, ritzier, more comfortable life. Yet Guerrero continues to live on the same street where he grew up.
“This winter, I went to visit him,” Acta said, “with Alfonso Soriano and another friend. I thought we’d have to search to find him. Instead, we found him sitting in the middle of the park there, with all the shoe shiners and the mojo concho (scooter riders) and all the people in the park.
“We spent the afternoon with him, and during the afternoon, there must have been 10 people who came looking for him, with problems, looking for money, people coming up with prescriptions and asking if he could help fill them.
“Imagine how hard that is, to stay that simple. But he’s so humble, so down to earth. He doesn’t want to separate himself from his roots. A lot of big stars move away. They get big places so nobody bothers them. He’s not like that. He wants to stay with the people he grew up with.”
As tantalizing an option as Guerrero would be for the Yankees, or the Red Sox, I fear that tampering with his little cocoon could effect his game. Maybe I’m not giving him enough credit. Anyone who can put up the numbers he does should be able to do it anywhere, right? I’d like to think so, but it would be a pity if Vlad signed a mega-deal and then faltered. Heck, Vlad is the Bizarro A-Rod, after all.
It would only be in keeping with his personality for him to do something completely different. (Maybe he’ll sign with the Padres.)
“He needs comfort and familiarity,” said an agent who represents several Expos. “He would best be served by staying with the club and its new owners. Clearly, new owners will want to keep their marquee player. If the new owners have the capital to invest in the purchase of a club, then they will likely factor in the cost of keeping one of the game’s best players and, undoubtedly, their greatest asset.
“Washington is not much different in size than Montreal,” the agent said. “Whatever the differences, being with the same guys and friends will make the transition easier for him.”