Tag:St. Louis Cardinals
Posted on: December 30, 2009 12:42 pm

In a Less Than Desirable Situation, Mets Sign Bay

Jason Bay agreed in principle to a four year, $66 million contract with the New York Mets on Tuesday, officially ending his season-and-a-half stint with the Boston Red Sox.

 While GM Theo Epstein never explicitly stated that the Sox were out of the bidding war with Bay, the writing was on the wall. Epstein signed veteran outfielder Mike Cameron to a two-year deal, and used the money that would have gone to a long-term deal with Bay to sign right-hander John Lackey.

The Bay signing has wide-ranging implications for several clubs, but the actual move should raise some perplexing questions. Of the free agent hitters available at the beginning of this off-season, Bay was second best behind Matt Holliday. Bay wanted to stay in Boston and the Red Sox hoped to keep him. But Bay insisted on the prospect of a fifth year of any type of contract, and the Sox remained resolute against it. When the Mets came calling with a similar four-year deal to what the Sox were offering plus a vested option for a fifth, Bay accepted the deal that he had been looking for.

But once the Sox had signed Cameron and Lackey, they were effectively out of the discussions for Bay. The Sox are less than $10 million away from the luxury tax limit for the 2010 season, and re-signing Bay would have put them over that limit. The St. Louis Cardinals have focused solely on re-signing Holliday, thus removing one potential buyer for Bay. The Angels, Mariners and Yankees also went after other players and dropped out from the Bay sweepstakes as well.

In the end, it appears as though the Mets were bidding against themselves. Due to a rash of injuries last season that sidelined seemingly the better half of their lineup for extended amounts of time, the Mets were in desperate need of a power-hitting outfielder, and it showed in the negotiations with Bay.

One of the biggest snag-ups about Bay was his defense, which often went unnoticed in the strange dimensions of Fenway Park. With no designated hitter in the N.L., Bay will have to play the outfield until he is 35 or 36, a prospect that deterred the Sox, especially for $16 million a year. Bay also displayed an unfortunate inability to connect on off-speed pitches and was prone to very cold slumps.

The Mets’ new CitiField is quickly becoming known as a right-handed hitters nightmare. Just ask David Wright: his home run total dropped from 33 in 2008 (the last year in Shea Stadium) to 10 at the new CitiField. Bay has spent most of his career in the N.L., so there should not be a terrible layover while he tries to become acclimated with new ballparks and pitchers, but the Mets would be foolish to expect a home run total in the high 30s from Bay.

But at least the Mets got their man. For the Red Sox, the search is on for some spark in the middle of the lineup. They remain the number one buyers for third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is an excellent fielder with some offensive upside. But if Beltre is the answer, that means that Cameron and Florida Marlins cast-off Jeremy Hermida will patrol left field for the ’10 campaign. Combined with speedy Jacoby Ellsbury and the mediocre J.D. Drew, the Sox may field an outfield that has a legitimate shot to account for less than 30 home runs.

Other names are possibilities, such as ex-Yankee Xavier Nady, who would be a decent option in the outfield, but injuries limited him to only seven games in 2009. If the Sox were unwilling to go after Bay, they will definitely stay clear of Holliday, which means that any other move would have to come via a trade. And if the Sox were unwilling to unload the farm system to acquire Roy Halladay, then the same can likely be said for the PadresAdrian Gonzalez.
Posted on: February 8, 2009 9:57 pm

Make Steroids Legal? Try it MLB

The dust still has not quite settled yet from the Alex Rodriguez fall out over his positive steroid tests in 2003. While baseball fans are deciding whether or not to be surprised by this, Major League Baseball once again has a very hot issue they wish they never had to handle.

Commissioner Bud Selig will not be able to suspend Rodriguez, but his is likely currently in deep debate with the MLB player's union to decide how to handle this issue, and what to do with the other 103 names who tested positive.

In the end, it is likely that most of the names that fans care about will be leaked, sooner rather than later. Selig and MLB will be forced once again to merely pick up the pieces, sweep up the dust, and try to move on as though nothing happened.

So, since we are crunching as close to rock-bottom as possible, why not try this out:

Lift the ban off performance-enhancing drugs.

Yes, that's right, I said it.

Legalize it.

Selig, despite what his $17.5 million salary might indicate, is not exempt from the economy's downturn. Fewer and fewer fans are purchasing seats, jerseys, and, incredible to fathom though it may be, beautifully hand-crafted Bobble-head dolls (gasp!).

In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa almost literally held the defibrilaters to baseball and shocked new life into the game. New fans were introduced to the game, and old fans were brought back. It was a glorious time.

Until it became too good. With the "end" of the steroids era came a decrease in the number of 50+ home run seasons and 20 game winners. The fringe fans (we call them "Pink Hat Fans" in Boston) lost interest.

Baseball lost revenue.

So, Mr. Selig, why not lift the ban on PEDs? What do you have to loose? You will now have an easy way to dismiss why the best players under your reign as commissioner were all cheaters and give the fans what they want to see: longer home runs, faster pitches, and a widening of the gap that separates great players from mediocre players.

The players will bring in the guinea pigs, and you will bring in the money. After all, that's what professional sports is all about, right?

Posted on: January 22, 2009 10:28 pm

Time to Give Up the Ghost, Big Mac

It could be worse for Mark McGwire.

He could be Barry Bonds.

Look up "scapegoat" in the dictionary and find a picture of Bonds.

Look up "Pete Rose" in the dictionary and find a picture of McGwire.

Mark McGwire revitalized America's National Pastime, picking it up in the 1998 season by smashing the home-run record when the bitter taste of the strike-shortened 1994 season still lingered about the sport. He became a household name in the late 90s. However, his sparkling public imagine was soon muddied when the accusations of steroid use began leaking out of St. Louis.

He was never convicted of any steroid use, likely because most of what he was alleged to have done was not in fact illegal in Major League Baseball at the time. Nor has he admitted to any steroid use, mostly because his public appearances have been few and far between.

So when McGwire appeared in front of the House Government Reform Committee on March 17, 2005, it was the first time many had seen him since his retirement following the 2001 season. It was here that McGwire cemented the skepticism that now surrounded his career with the following statements:

"My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself. I will say, however, that it remains a fact in this country that a man, any man, should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty."

And let's not forget what was, at the time, the most famous one-liner of the conference (since surpassed by Rafael Palmiero's "I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period"): "I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject." 

Though heavily criticized for these comments, which left few believe that he remained clean for his entire career, McGwire has since stuck to his guns (pun intended), never admitting to using any performance-enhancing substances. Because of what was permitted at the time, he may be able to skirt the issue forever, leaving his involvement up to speculation.

But, with the release of a book in which his brother essentially takes credit for permanently marring his career, it is time for McGwire to attempt to win his baseball career back. Unfortunately, he has gone the way of Pete Rose, who stubbornly refused to admit to betting on baseball until decades after his banishment from the sport.

With the wounds of McGwire's choices still being relatively fresh on baseball, he may be able to slowly garner some acceptance from baseball fans. While clearly one of the most high profiled athletes involved, McGwire is by no means alone.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com