A-Rod traded to Blue Jays for Marcum and McGowan…

A-Rod traded to Blue Jays for Marcum and McGowan…

Sound ridiculous?

It is … but not for the reasons you may think.

If the Jays made this deal, I’m fairly certain there would be a mob of fans outside general manager J.P. Ricciardi’s home with the requisite torches, pitchforks and a hemp necktie just begging to be properly fitted. I might even be among the vigilante committee. However I would most certainly ask that common sense and mercy prevail and J.P. be allowed to live.

Then I’d suggest we use the rope on a different part of the anatomy. A painful twist on those spam e-mails we used to receive to make us, ummm, more “manly” should we feel short-changed on life’s ultimate game of inches. Suffice it to say, it would be Ricciardi’s worst extension since Eric Hinske.

Ah well.

I’m getting older, you understand (excuse me, I’ve got to shoo some kids off my lawn) and I can remember when trades used to be about a trade of talent: one team has an excess of middle infielders and needs a catcher while another team has excellent catching depth but severely needs an upgrade at the keystone.

When I was a kid, a deal for one of the game’s greatest players for a couple of young arms was also unthinkable, but for the opposite reason. Go back to 1967 and imagine the furor if the New York Mets had announced they were trading Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman to the Atlanta Braves for Hank Aaron.

Getting back the present, we see how much the game has changed. A young, promising pitcher—whether starter or reliever—with five years until free agency often has more value in the trade market than a future Hall of Famer with a number of years left in the tank.

I realize that the most of you realize how today’s trade market works, but it’s good to reflect that it has not always been this way. It’s not that talent has never changed hands because of big money, but what is fascinating is that young talent has much, much more value than proven—and even Hall of Fame level—talent in the trade market.

Getting back to the nightmare scenario in the beginning, think about when you were a kid and all you knew was the game: who was great, who was not, etc. You didn’t know about things like arbitration, free agency, draft pick compensation, opt-out clauses and arbitration eligibility. If you heard that your team traded the greatest player ever in history (looking through a kid’s eyes—pretty easy for me, while not young at heart I am most assuredly immature) for a couple of young, fairly inexperienced pitchers with electric arms, and everybody who cheered for your team thought it was an amazing trade, you would have every dark thought you ever had about grownups confirmed.

But that’s baseball today.

I have no doubt that Yankees GM Brian Cashman would jump at such an offer from J.P. Ricciardi (although I’m pretty sure Cash could convince J.P. to toss in Troy Glaus and some cash since they don’t need him anymore).

My point? I’m not one to say money has destroyed the game (it hasn’t), but geez, it sure has sucked the fun out of the trade deadline.

Oh well.

The Whine Cellar

My boss at MSN/Sympatico wanted me to do a column dealing with Barry Bonds, which left me with no outlet for my weekly vitriol drain.

And believe you me, I need an outlet. I’m listening to the tail end of the third game of the Devil Rays/Blue Jays series and have come to a conclusion: Carl Crawford is history’s greatest monster. The man simply destroys Toronto pitching. He destroys the Jays, period. First he was a pinch-runner in the ninth inning of game one, stole a base and later scored tying the game. He finished off Toronto with a walk-off home run. Today, he is three-for-four with a two-run HR and another stolen base.

Last year he batted .404/.433/.474 against Toronto and stole 12 bases in 13 tries. Although he was less impressive than that in 2005, he did hit three homers and was seven-of-seven stealing bases. In 2004 he also hit three bombs and was five-of-six swiping bags and hit .295/.321/.500. Not counting today, Crawford is batting .356/.370/.711 with four HR and again seven-for-seven in stealing bases. Counting today, since 2004, Crawford has hit 12 HR and has 32 SB in 34 tries.

It’s like they took the DNA from Rickey Henderson during the 1989 ALCS and injected Crawford with it.

The man is evil. Pure unadulterated evil. I don’t want him dead. I don’t want him tortured. I want him in the National League.

Equally evil is the Toronto offense. The Jays are wrapping up their 107th game. They have scored three runs or fewer in 49 of them and four of those games were extra inning affairs. In 61 games they have scored four or fewer. Simply put, if the Jays had faced league average starting pitching in every game in 2007, they would be at least 46-61.

The fact the Jays are one game below .500 demonstrates how good Toronto pitching has been this year. In April, the Jays posted a 3.90 ERA. May was awful (4.79 ERA), in June it got better (4.36 ERA), and in July it was an AL-best 3.40 ERA and second in MLB only to the Cubs (3.26 ERA)! Despite having the best pitching in the AL, they went 14-12. They scored two or fewer runs 10 times and were 4-6 in those contests. The Devil Rays bullpen has an ERA of 6.65 but in the three-game set against Toronto, they were used for 13.1 IP and the Jays could muster only one run!

One! Against a historically bad bullpen, it should be noted. One. Stinking. Run.

Deion Sanders in the secondary hit more often. A geriatric cheese aficionado gets more runs.

I phoned my mother a moment ago. I asked if she was the Jays batting coach. She was curious enough to ask why I would ask and I told her that she always taught me not to hit. I’m trying to find out if Ted Fujita can help, since he’s an authority on things that really, really really, suck. We’re dealing with an F5 here folks.

Somebody’s head should roll for this level of offensive ineptitude. While I appreciate the gesture of mounting Royce Clayton’s head on the DFA pike, he isn’t the problem. They didn’t sign him to hit, or field, or for his experience or clubhouse presence, or because he was the heir apparent to Ozzie Smith when my kids were in diapers. The Jays signed him because Clayton’s agent kept a straight face when Ricciardi phoned. Clayton was acquired for next to nothing and proved he was worth every cent.

The man delivered what was expected and he’s cut? Heck, he was one of the few guys in the lineup to fulfill expectations. He rolled into Toronto a .258/.313/.368 hitter and left after batting .254/.304/.344. Heck if Vernon Wells, Frank Thomas and Lyle Overbay hit that close to their normal production, Toronto might still be in this thing.

Gah.

For the first time, somewhere in the bowels of the Rogers Centre, there exists a batting tee dreaming of a no-hitter. Doubtless the other batting tees laughed at their brother for harboring such a wild fantasy.

They’re not laughing any more. Oh no. It will happen. Pittsburgh’s Dave Littlefield will hear of it and trade Jack Wilson for it and make it the Pirates’ No. 3 starter. The move may garner laughter now, but there will be an inter-league series and the Jays will roam through PNC Park. They’ll catch up on old times around the batting cage, remembering the good ol’ days of soft breezes, light caresses and gentle love taps.

Sadly, the batting tee won’t win, the game will go to extra innings and the Pirates will hit a bloop single in the bottom of the 13th off Jason Frasor and win 2-1. However, the tee will live content in the knowledge that it gave the team eight solid innings and didn’t walk anybody and will have made more money in one year than I have in the last decade.

Would somebody please stop the pain?

Webb Search

As of Aug. 2…

Players who are on (or close to*) pace to top Earl Webb’s record of 67 doubles (assuming 600 AB):

Uh oh. Somebody had better get hot. While nobody is on pace for 60, Chase Utley (41), Dan Uggla (40) and Magglio Ordonez (38) can get back on track with a hot streak (and a healed hand).

*on pace for at least 60

We’ll be following their progress on this page as the season goes on.

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