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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Big Donkey may finally have a home:
The Washington Nationals have agreed to a preliminary deal with free agent Adam Dunn, a signing that would fulfill their offseason-long search for a left-handed power hitter. Two independent sources have told the Post that Dunn will sign a two-year deal, possibly announced as early as tomorrow.
You'll recall I was advocating for this back in December. Complete with promotional tie-in ideas! Of course, if the Nats had moved in December they would have likely been paying way more than I presume they'll be paying now, so let's just say I was ahead of my time both for better and for worse.
I would have liked to see the Braves take a flyer on Dunn, but (a) this is a good move for the Nats; and (b) Dunn doesn't strike me as someone who will care all that much about being on a losing team, especially if his buddy Austin Kearns is still hanging around.
Stadium giveaways to billionaires are foolish even in the best of times, but they are even harder to take in the worst. Now comes an analysis from the Miami Herald showing that the Marlins deal -- due for a vote on Friday -- is even more generous than your typical ballpark boondoggle:
The Florida Marlins stadium deal coming up for final showdown votes Friday -- where the public would foot 70 percent of the construction bill and share none of the revenue -- would be among the more generous to a team owner this decade, a Miami Herald analysis found.
The public works argument is the only argument in the stadium's favor, but I have to ask: what's the state of Miami's water lines? Its sewers? Its rail lines? Its roads? This ballpark is certainly not the best use of public funds in general, but even if you set aside the fact that it will primarily enrich Jeff Loria and serve a mostly well-off clientele, is this ballpark the best use of public works dollars?
By the way, there's a great quote in this article as well. It comes from the Giants' former owner Peter Magowan, a man I have often praised for building his team's stadium with private dollars. What I often forget to mention is that he tried really hard to get the public to pay first. His thoughts on the matter today, even after he built a jewel of a park that has done very well for his team's bottom line:
'We really would have preferred if the public had taken the risk instead of us.''
That's what it's all about for these guys: putting the risk on others and keeping all of the benefits for themselves. We normally excoriate people who do this, but for some reason, baseball owners get a free pass from government officials, most of the media, and most of the public at large.
I simply don't get it.
Brian Giles has now countersued his former girlfriend -- the one who claims he battered her -- alleging that she abused him.
Look, there is absolutely nothing funny about domestic violence, so I'm going to break form here and eschew my usual snark. Thank God, then, that there is something else of note in the story besides the ugly abuse allegations:
He also seeks the return of a diamond engagement ring he said he gave to her on Christmas Eve 2005 that is valued at $107,952.
Brian, according to the clearly unbiased people at DeBeers, the guidelines for an engagement ring is two months salary. You made $8.33 million in 2005, which means that you should have laid out something on the order of $694,000 for that ring, you miserable cheapskate.
Am I right ladies?
It appears as though Bobby Abreu is going to be a Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim:
The Angels are nearing a one-year deal with free agent Bobby Abreu that will pay the former Yankees outfielder between $5 million and $7 million, according to a baseball source . . . He was believed to be seeking a three-year, $48 million deal when he filed for free agency in November. But he -- and many of his peers -- soon discovered a free-agent market unkind to the aging veteran.
This is a great deal for the Angels, and it shows that even the teams without a long track record of sabermetric thinking are getting smart about stuff like old and rapidly-slowing outfielders.
And it's not like it's the end of the world for Abreu too. If he produces this year, there could still be a contract for him next year. Reggie Sanders spent close to ten years as a corner outfield bat-for-hire and made a nice little living out of it. Folks kind of thought it odd at the time, but I've always thought that most corner guys should be journeyman like Sanders. There's nothing to be ashamed at being competent, reasonably priced, and in demand each winter.
Look, I know I've been running about 95% A-Rod since Saturday, but it is a baseball story and this is a baseball blog, so at least I'm walking my beat here. For serious mission creep, check out Obama's press conference on Monday. We're in the midst of the greatest economic meltdown in living memory. Our government is casually using the word "trillion" when discussing what to do about it. People are suffering. The world is watching. And a reporter from one of the nation's most important newspapers has a chance to ask our dynamic young president a question about it. Mike Fletcher of the Washington Post: IT'S YOUR MOMENT!
Question: Yes, thank you, sir. What is your reaction to Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?
To his credit, President Obama did not say "Oh HELL no," but I hope to God someone gave Fletcher a wedgie in the locker room after the presser.
(thanks to Ethan Stock for the heads up)
Screw the Joe Torre, Darryl Strawberry is the author of the book I most want to read this April:
he New York Post reports the one-time baseball prodigy has a book due out in April and that "Straw: Finding My Way" will detail the boozing, skirt-chasing New York Mets of the mid-1980s.
I have no idea if it will be a good book or not, but I know one thing: Strawberry's story of alcoholism and hard drug use derailing the competitiveness of a fabulous team and a number of fabulous young talents will not be judged nearly as harshly as the story of PEDs used in the service of enhancing the competitiveness of more recent players. Booze, coke and speed are colorful, we will be told. Steroids are the tool of evil, godless cheaters.
A decade late and several hundred million dollars short, Wayne Huizenga has regrets:
Outgoing Miami Dolphins majority owner H. Wayne Huizenga bid an emotional farewell to his favorite franchise Tuesday, but for the first time admitted he might have broke up the Marlins a year too soon after they won the 1997 World Series.
Or he could have exercised a little moderation and foresight, cut salary some instead of completely, plowed some of the savings into player development, and allowed the Marlins to be consistently competitive as opposed to the occasional-feast-mostly-famine cycle they've been on for the past ten years. If he had, he might have seen his team value grow so greatly so as to substantially eclipse the operating losses from year-to-year.
I wish baseball wasn't so restrictive with respect to who can and who can't own a team, but if MLB is going to act as gatekeeper, I wish they'd ensure that whoever buys into ownership is committed to building the long term health, vitality, and value of the franchise as opposed to myopic idiots like Huizenga.
Just when you think this offseason couldn't get more sordid and sad:
Baseball great Roberto Alomar has full-blown AIDS but insisted on having unprotected sex, his ex-girlfriend charged Tuesday in a bombshell lawsuit. The shocking claim was leveled by Ilya Dall, 31, who said she lived with the ex-Met for three years and watched in horror as his health worsened. In papers filed in state and federal court, Dall said Alomar finally got tested in January 2006 while suffering from a cough, fatigue and shingles. "The test results of him being HIV-positive was given to him and the plaintiff on or about Feb.6, 2006," the $15 million negligence suit says. Nine days later, the couple went to see a disease specialist who discovered a mass in the retired second baseman's chest, the court papers say.
The article sets forth all of the complaint's sordid allegations, though people close to Alomar say he is healthy and this suit is baseless. I don't suppose it will be long before we get confirmation one way or the other about the state of his health.
If Alomar is sick, I would be incredibly sad. If he is sick and behaved irresponsibly as alleged in the suit, I would be sadder still. If he is healthy -- or if he is sick and acted responsibly at all times -- I hope this suit and this plaintiff are dispatched with a quickness.
Yesterday it was Jeff Weaver, today it's Eric Milton. It's like the Dodgers are going out of their way to sign guys I've seen give up ten runs and fifteen hits in a single outing.
Things to read as you wonder whether it's unethical to tell your five year-old daughter that there will be no shots at this morning's doctor's appointment when you know fully well that, yes, there will be shots:
Fine. So I'm lying to my daughter. She's going to get some Timbits afterwords, though, so it's not like I'm the worst father ever.