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Friday, December 19, 2008
The Red Sox have named JetBlue airlines as their official carrier:
JetBlue Airways Corporation, Boston's leading value airline offering more destinations than any other carrier at Logan International Airport, is proud to announce a multi-year partnership with one of the charter teams in the American League of Professional Baseball, becoming the Official Airline of the Boston Red Sox and partner of Fenway Park. Red Sox Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein, Red Sox Manager Terry Francona and JetBlue's CEO Dave Barger along with Wally the Green Monster celebrated the announcement today with hundreds of JetBlue crewmembers and fans of Red Sox Nation at Logan International Airport.
Ridiculously wordy press releases notwithstanding, this is probably a smart move by both parties. JetBlue is probably the best brand in domestic air travel. The Red Sox are probably the best brand in baseball. Unlike a lot of these kinds of corporate partnerships, I can imagine this arrangement actually helping the businesses of both the Sox and JetBlue.
Bonus: JetBlue crew members can help the team deal with the always-critical Boston media whenever they get out of line.
Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is one of the handful of newspapers dudes who really gets into blogging. Well, he calls it a blog, but because he's not really linking to anybody, it's more of a freewheeling stream-of-consciousness thing. Either way, it's nice loose Posnanski-lite writing that I tend to enjoy more than your typical, boring columny stuff. Here are a couple of notable thoughts from today's entry:
Among hitters, I just don’t think the Braves have any desire to give a three-year or whatever contract to a poor defensive outfielder like Pat Burrell or Adam Dunn. Not that they couldn’t use the homers (they obviously could), but I don’t think they want to go long-term with a guy who’d block one of the younger outfielders a year or two from now, namely Jason Heyward, their top position-player prospect.
I read a lot of O'Brien's work, and I get the sense that he's more plugged into his hometown's front office than many of his counterparts are at other newspapers, so my guess is that the Braves front office really is banking on a Francoeur rebound. Which isn't dumb, necessarily. If he can figure it out he's a good guy to have based on his talent and price tag. And indeed, after his terrible 2008, he's likely to regress (progress?) to the mean. The problem is that Francoeur's mean does not appear to be that of a productive corner outfielder, so he is not likely to ever bring real value to the Braves.
This may not matter all that much in the short term, however, because in light of one of O'Brien's other comments -- this one having to do with the notion of signing Ben Sheets or Derek Lowe -- the Braves may not be thinking about 2009 anyway:
The other thing is, if there’s any sort of thought within the organization — and I’m just thinking aloud here, not anything whatsoever that I’ve heard indicated by any Braves people — that they probably aren’t going to be able to win the division or wild card in 2009 and don’t believe it’s worth giving a big salary to Sheets even for a year because he’s not going to make the difference. But again, I’ve heard nothing from anyone in the organization to make me believe they’re thinking like that, as though they can’t contend for a playoff berth.
Regardless of what Atlanta really thinks about Jeff Francoeur, if they truly believe that they don't have a shot at contending in 2009, it would make a lot of sense to simply plug ol' hacky in right every day. If he catches 2005's lightning in a bottle again, great, trade him to a contender while his value is temporarily high. I think that's happened to Jose Guillen about 12 times. If he doesn't produce, well, at least they're not paying him all that much and they can enter 2010 with a clean outfield canvass upon which to paint the colors Heyward, Schafer, Hernandez, or someone else.
In the past 24 hours or so, I've noticed some annoying little bouncy ball ad on the page asking me to click through and take a survey. I hope it's some problem I alone am having, but if not, please know that THT is not responsible for it and the guys down in the engine room are working on the problem.
From page SR-7 of the Mitchell Report:
I sent a memorandum to every active player in Major League Baseball encouraging each player to contact me or my staff if he had any relevant information. . . . Through their representative, the players Association, I asked each of them to meet with me so that I could provide them with information about the allegations and give them a chance to respond. Almost without exception they declined to meet or talk with me.
From today's newspapers:
In a declaration filed in federal court in Houston as part of [Roger] Clemens' defamation lawsuit against Brian McNamee, assistant U.S. attorney Matthew Parrella said he told McNamee he was not a target of the investigation but could become one if he failed to cooperate.
Ask yourself: if you were asked to voluntarily come in and talk about your coworkers' conduct to a private law firm hired by a business association to which your employer belonged, and knew ahead of time that you would face federal prosecution if they believed that you were not being truthful, would you do it?
I sure wouldn't, and I bet George Mitchell wouldn't let any of his clients do it either. So forgive me if the above statement he made his report doesn't cause me to be outraged at the players, which I'm sure is what he intended.
Red Sox owner John Henry emailed the media late last night and said, in regards to Mark Teixeira, "after hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor." I think the Boston Globe pretty much nails it with this comment:
Henry's reference to the "other offers" leaves open the possibility he is calling the bluff of Boras, who has been known to inflate the value of offers and the number of suitors pursuing his client. Boras represented former Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon, who signed with the New York Yankees in 2005 after the Boston brass apparently refused to believe that the offer from their archrivals was real.
My guess is that Boras spun puffed-up stories about the Yankees' and Angels' interest that Henry didn't buy, and that Henry simply doesn't believe Teixeira's is truly interested in signing with the Orioles or Nats. If that's the calculus, good for Henry for recognizing it.
You know what happiness is? Happiness is having your mother-in-law AND your brother staying with you for a week. Yep it's a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency in the Calcaterra house. But we're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny effing Kaye.
Oh, the silent majesty of a winter's morn... the clean, cool chill of the holiday air... an a**hole in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer...
I wasn't a big fan of Lance Niekro: First Baseman, but this is something I can get behind:
Twenty years have passed since a Niekro threw a knuckleball in a major-league game. Lance Niekro, the longtime Giants infield prospect, now hopes to become the next to keep the family craft alive.
Longtime readers are well aware of my knuckleball fetish, so a knuckling Niekro playing for my favorite team is about as good as it gets.
Except for the fact that this will not end well. One of these knuckleball conversion projects come along every other year or so, and it never works. Remember Mark Lemke? There have been several others.
The thing is, knuckleballers are not gimmick pitchers or mere tricksters. They're real pitchers who have to master mechanics and technique and a pitcher's mental approach to the game just like a guy with a plus fastball and a sharp slider. Heck, it's probably even harder for a knuckleballer given the dearth of coaches and mentors out there. Sure, Niekro may have uncle Phil hanging around, but given his name and pedigree, if Lance had any promise as a pitcher to begin with, someone would have forced him in that direction 10 or 15 years ago. It never happened. Heck, Niekro himself admits in the article that he "has to develop some secondary pitches." Good luck with that.
If turning failed first basemen into viable major league pitchers was simply a matter of an offseason's worth of training, Rico Brogna and Travis Lee would still have jobs. It's not that easy, however, and no matter how good it would be to see the son of Joe Niekro tossing the flutterball in the bigs, the likelihood of that actually happening is something close to zero.
(link via Neate Sager and Pete Toms, both of whom sent me the article within about five minutes of each other. You gotta watch those wily Canadians. They hunt in packs and always walk in single file to hide their numbers).
CNBC's Darren Rovell shares the Christmas e-card he (and presumably others) received from Major League Baseball. See it here.
If they really wanted to create some marketing synergy they would have put LogoMan in one of them nifty earflap caps.
(thanks to Pete Toms who, from what I understand, is really behind in getting his Boxing Day cards out in the mail)