Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thoughts and Musings For the First Time in '10

- The Marlins, after receiving a scolding from the MLB and the Players Association, have agreed to increase payroll. They've started by signing Josh Johnson to a four-year deal and avoiding arbitration with Dan Uggla for 2010. My thoughts? I still don't believe either of those players will finish out those contracts in South Florida.

- Did I miss something about Joel Piniero? I'm sure he's a nice guy, but do you really trust a guy who had a great walk year with the Cardinals (and Dave Duncan) to continue that success? Does anyone remember Jeff Weaver and Braden Looper? Admittedly, Piniero is better than those guys, but spring training starts in about a month, and teams are looking at this guy as a rotation fixer? I don't think so. He only had 105 strikeouts in 214.1 innings in 2009, which should scare a team looking to give him a long-term deal.

- Now after my Joel Piniero-is-just-a-guy-rant, watch him go 18-2 with a 2.79 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 220 innings this year. If he ever signs.

- Jose Valverde is an upgrade at the closer spot for Detroit. I'm not sure how much, though, as it just seems like everytime I see Valverde, his appearance turns into a high-wire act. Having said that, he's got better stuff than Fernando Rodney, and will give up fewer base runners. But I'm not sure the Tigers should spend $7 million a year for a closer when they've already lost several players because of payroll considerations. Good closers are hard to find, but if you're never ahead in the ninth, they don't do you much good.

- Tom Verducci's latest theory explores which teams got the most production for their money in the first decade of the 21st century.

- It merited far too little attention, but one of baseball's most dominant forces ever hung it up two weeks back with the retirement of Randy Johnson. The 6-10 lefty was so feared that many a lefthanded hitter coincidentally pulled up lame just before they were scheduled to face Johnson, and some (John Kruk, Larry Walker) publicly out and out refused to face him, only to be embarrassed when they did. Johnson was a 10-time All-Star, won five Cy Youngs and retired second on the all-time strikeout list. His best year may have been the strike-shortened 1995 campaign in which he went 18-2 with a 2.48 ERA and struck out 294 in only 214.1, propelling the Mariners all the way back from a big September deficit to overtake the Angels in a one-game playoff. Johnson pitched in relief a few times throughout his playoff career, taking home World Series MVP honors (along with Curt Schilling) in 2001, when he won game seven in relief. Johnson is the most dominating and intimidating pitcher of this generation, and he stacks up well with any pitcher of any generation. He is a first-ballot Hall of Fame lock when he comes up for election in January 2015.

- Finally, is that really the manager of the Phillies?

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