Monday, August 10, 2009

Bits and Bytes: 8/10/09

Kevin Youkilis is grimacing about plenty these days. Photo from this site.

Sincere thanks to Jon Couture, who produces the so-good-it-makes-me-jealous Better Red Than Dead blog at, for penning a very complementary review of Fighting Words in his Sunday column in the New Bedford Standard-Times. As nice as it is to receive verbal boutiques from family and friends, it’s particularly humbling and invigorating to get such positive feedback from a journalist unrelated to me. Cooch, you’re on the Christmas card list!

Some other bits and bytes from my mini-vacation:

—When it comes to absorbing the media attention during times of crisis and generating a rallying cry for his teammates, Kevin Youkilis isn’t exactly evoking memories of Kevin Millar, as your good friend and mine Joe Haggerty details in this blog post from yesterday. It would be folly to read too much into Youkilis’ feistiness, as the 2007 Sox proved a team could not exactly welcome the attention bestowed upon it yet still block out all distractions—real and perceived—and win a championship, but it will be interesting to see (or hear) how the Sox and the press get along if the Sox continue to stumble.

—I don’t know about you, but I was stunned Tuesday night, when the Dodgers’ Guillermo Mota plunked the Brewers’ Prince Fielder with two outs in the ninth and the Dodgers clinging to a 17-4 lead. I mean, who has ever heard of a Joe Torre-led team sending a noted headhunter to the mound in the ninth inning of a blowout win to exact revenge for an earlier plunking (Manny Ramirez had been hit by a pitch by ex-Sox farmhand Chris Smith)? That’s crazy talk.

Afterward, Fielder channeled Mike Piazza by trying to barge into the Dodgers’ locker room and assault Mota. Ramirez was shockingly out of the lineup the next day, leading to this classic reaction from Brewers manager Ken Macha.

Torre, of course, expressed surprise and disgust at still being asked about the incident less than 24 hours later. Let’s give him credit though: He doesn’t seem to have blamed ESPN for it.

—Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is talking about going to a six-man rotation once Pedro Martinez is ready for big league action. And somewhere in Fenway Park, Theo Epstein laughs, because the only other alternative is to cry.

—Looks like our instincts were, for once, right. Indians president Paul Dolan met with the Cleveland media last week and wailed about how the Indians had to trade Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez because they’re hemorrhaging money—$16 million, to be exact, which just happens to be how much the Indians would have paid Lee and Martinez had the club exercised their options for next season. Funny how that works.

He also mentioned how difficult it is for the Indians to compete under baseball’s current financial system and how the club is unable to retain its own players once they get beyond their arbitration years. Of course, he wasn’t squawking two years ago, when the Indians were a win away from the World Series, nor over a nine-month span in 2007 and 2008 when he managed to find enough change in the cushions to lock up Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona to long-term deals. Those three will make more than $24 million this season, a pretty gaudy sum for a 32-year-old injury-prone DH, a pitcher unlikely to appear in the bigs as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and a hurler who was sent to rookie ball following an awful start.

Dolan also complained the small-market teams are unable to even compete for amateur players anymore. Mark our words: This is just the beginning of Dolan and other hawkish “small-market” owners doing the dirty work for Bud Selig as he aims to implement a salary cap and overhaul of the draft in the next labor agreement

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