2006 Wrap

Today’s the last of the year, a particularly rainy one that I’ll spend in my house today in my flannel pants and watching football. Since I’ve got the time and no desire to get out of the big chair, this will be a pelthora of stuff.

Business first: Huff is done

Hey, I like this signing. He’s always taken care of business at Camden Yard. 

From ESPN.com

   One factor the Orioles had to appreciate: Huff has a .285 career average at Camden Yards and has batted .297 against the Orioles over his seven seasons in the majors. He has more home runs (20) and RBI (63) against Baltimore than against any other team

 Great numbers, but you have to ask…is that the park or the O’s pitching. Either way, I think this will be an improved team next season.

Here’s how I’m thinking the batting order will look

1. 2B Brian Roberts

2. 3B Melvin Mora

3. RF Nick Markakis

4. SS Miguel Tejada

5. 1st Aubrery Huff

6. DH Jay Gibbons/Kevin Millar

7. C Ramon Hernandez

8. LF Jay Payton

9. CF Corey Patterson

This is a pretty decent lineup. It’s not the world’s greatest by any means. But there’s not the blackholes in it like there was last season with Fahey, the conga line of useless back up catchers (though Bako is ten miles from being an average hitter). With Gomez, Millar, and I assume Bynum and Stern on the bench…the bench is better. That said, I’m betting with Zito signing with the Giants for the Gross National Product of a small country and with the O’s now signing Huff….Rodrigo Lopez and Jay Gibbons are probably going to have new addresses. I can’t say goodbye to Lopez soon enough. Gibbons would make me sad a little, because the talent is there, but he can never ever stay healthy.

Oh, and here’s Huff’s numbers

Here’s some personal year end lists of mine.

 Ben’s top five books of the year that I’ve read.

1. A Confederacy of Dunces. by John Kennedy Toole

I really don’t know how to describe this book and I’m not going to try. I polished it off in 3 days.

2.  Cobb:a Biography by Al Stump

I’ve read about some of things Ty Cobb did. He beat up a handicapped guy. He was a racist. He was a drunk. He was a bad guy. Then I read this book and I realized that he was a rotten guy. It’s an interesting read and makes you wonder, why was this guy not kicked out of baseball and how could he live with himself?

3. Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness by Donald L Barlett and James Steele

I’ve always food Hughes to be a fascinating character. He made movies, romanced starlets, flew jets, had an empire, and was crazy. This is a long book, but the length was needed to cover all the ground.

4. Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories by Raymond Carver

I’m a big fan of Carver and picked up book a few months ago. It’s probably about twenty stories and they’re all portraits of middle class everyday life. Something big doesn’t always happen, but the words paint such a vivid picture

5. Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero by Jeff Pearlman

I read this book in one sitting. I never do that. But this is an easy read and it gives a lot on insight on why Bonds is the way he is. It doesn’t give him a pass by any means.

honorable mentions:

Black and Blue by Tom Adelman- It’s about the O’s/Dodgers and the 1966 World Series

As for the movies, I’ve been to EXACTLY one movie this year. I just don’t go to them like I did back in my teens and early 20. Then if there’s something I like, I just buy on DVD when it comes out because it costs 8.50 now to see a movie in Greenville. I saw Casino Royale and I was disappointed.

So here’s five movies that you might not have seen, but should. I’m tried linking, so look them up yourselves.

1. Dark City

2. Rushmore

3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

4. Chinatown

5. Adaptation

My personal top 5 sports moments

1. The Opening of West End Field in Greenville

2. Being at Tejada’s 1,000 straight game in Atlanta (which was also Russ Ortiz’s O debut…I witnessed history right there).

3. Seeing Carlos Beltran belt two homers against the Braves.

4. Getting up to Durham and see the Bulls play the Charlotte Knights.

5. Seeing the Asheville Tourists play in their one of a kind park.

That’s it here. This has been pretty much a year since I’ve been doing the blog. I started it up before Spring Training last year, I think. It’s been a fun year. There’s been times where I’ve neglected it and there’s been times where I’ve posted too much. But thanks to all of those who drop by and read whatever I’m babbling about. Have a Happy New Year and hope it’s better than mine(I have an EARLY day at work tomorrow, so no going out tonight). And now the lamest line of them all, SEE YOU NEXT YEAR…..Hahahaha.

O’s sign Aubrery Huff

Exhale…Aubrery Huff is now an Oriole

Terms are 3 years and 20 million. This is a pretty sane deal. I like Huff and the fact that he can play first, third, left field and right. With the exception of that month he missed last season, he’s also been very durable…something Jay Gibbons knows little about.

Huff’s only 30 and still has plenty of pop in that LEFT HANDED bat. So now Mora can get a day of a week and Huff can play third (farewell, Fernando Tatis). Does this signing mean the end of the Jay Gibbons era?

I’ll havd more on this tomorrow, but I just wanted to get this out there. A solid move. This term is definately better than we saw last year.

From the Rocky Mountain News:

Baltimore hopes to sign outfielder Shannon Stewart to an incentive-laden contract that will protect the Orioles in case foot injuries that plagued him in 2006 flare up again.

Not a fan of this one. I don’t think Stewart will be this year’s Frank Thomas, partly because he’s never been a Frank Thomas in the first place. Sign Craig Wilson and end this nonsense.

The Orioles Year in Review is up.

This is short, but the Clemson game is starting and I gotta get going.

Awesome Ripken article

Great article from Tim Kirkjian about Cal Ripken today.

I’ve always liked Kirkjian and this piece makes me like him even more. It paints another side of Ripken, the clubhouse guy with a big competive streak. Really great piece.

USA Today has a lengthy but rather ho-hum piece about Leo Mazzone and the O’s, along with some outdated news and notes.

Newhan is cut

Widger is gone

Mazzone and Wright have worked together before in Atlanta, thous that healthy contract he got from the Yanks

I believe Lopez has only 1 year left

and 1st base and leftfield are still weak spots

I except a little more out of the newspaper of the entire United States.

Barry Zito is a Giant. 126 million dollars over 7 years is complete lunacy. Good Lord. Winning must not mean a lot to Zito, because I don’t think the Giants will be winning the NL West. They’re a team comprised of rapidly aging players. If you think the O’s are bad about not committing to a rebuilding plan, the Giants are ten times worse (thanks in part to Barry Bonds) in terms of aging players.

Giving 7 years to a pitcher is crazy. As much maligned as the Soriano deal has been, it makes more sense to give a position a long term deal (especially a corner outfieler) instead of a pitcher. I think Zito is overrated. Would I love to have him on the O’s, of course…but not at that price tag. That said, I think he’ll fare well by moving to the NL and the NL West. This won’t push the Giants to the top of that division because the Dodgers are better. The Padres are better and the Diamondbacks have plenty of young talent.

Carlos Zambrano had to be pleased to hear of this deal. He’s a free agent after next season and he’s a better pitcher than Zito and he’s younger. Of course, the Cubs aren’t scared to spend money, so I except him to get a similar deal, though only over 5 years.  Maybe 95 million over 5 years.

Let me introduce another new O’s blog that’s going into the blogroll

earlweaverrules.com

This is a good spot for concise and to the point O’s news and recaps without all of the heavy sarcasm and bellyaching of blogs like mine.

Wilson or/and Huff?

Roch says that the O’s are still in talks with the agents of Craig Wilson and Aubrery Huff, but not to expect anything til the New Year.

I’d like for the O’s to sign both of them. They’re both versatile players. Huff has played both corner outfield spots, 3rd, and 1st over the course of his career. Wilson has played both corner outfield positions and 1st. They can always DH too.

The bench last year was awful. But if these two sign, then the bench would look like Gomez/Bynum, Bako, Millar, Wilson, and maybe Stern/or another OFer. I’m already projecting the human sparkplug, Brandon Fahey, to be the Norfolk Tides starting shortstop.  With these signings the bench would be much better and the starters could afford days off. Rest Melvin more during the season and start Huff at 3rd. Sit Patterson against some of the lefties, move Payton to CF, and have Wilson in left. It’s a win-win, that hopefully will result us in getting more wins.

Why is this article on the O’s website?

Let me just say this. If Belle had played a full career, he’d have the numbers to be in the Hall of Fame. But that didn’t happen. Yes, he was an unsavory character. But there’s plenty of those in the Hall of Fame. If he were to finish his career out on his terms and hit 500 homers then definately. But that didn’t happen, so he’s going to be in the Hall of what coulda been.

Randy Johnson looks like he’s getting traded to a west coast team. The D-backs are leading the charge with all of the California teams interested too. If they give up anything of merit, they’re fools. Johnson has one maybe two seasons left in him. They’re bound to be a rollercoaster of medicority, bad games, and some good ones mixed in. The thing is, why would you trade young pitching for someone like Johnson. The Diamondbacks are not that one player away. In the end, this is a salary dump. I’m going to predict that if the Yankees trade Johnson, they will sign Roger Clemens.

Merry Christmas… I got you a present

Hope every one is having a merry one. I just got back from the parents’ house and had a good one myself. Christmas isn’t as huge of deal to me as it used to be. When I was a kid, there were two weeks of school that I got off, plenty of presents, the fact that I didn’t have to buy presents, and I didn’t have to work then. So as I’ve gotten older, it’ s not as special as it used to be. I know when the day that I have a family of my own, it’ll be different, but at last check I don’t think I have any kids or a wife. But this was a good Christmas. It was fun getting together with the family and getting some gifts. Some cool gifts of note.. the Eddie Murray Cooperstown Collection bobblehead, THE classic O’s hat (black, orange AND white), and an awesome O’s cartoon bird’s face t-shirt (which I’m wearing right). I’m not going to bore you with any of my awesome gifts. BUT I will give a present of my own.

I credit myself in being pretty down with all the Orioles blogs out there, but I found a damn good one today that I had never seen.

http://oriolepost.blogspot.com

Check it out, I highly recomend it.

Now it’s off to the couch with me, where I’ll watch football, read my new books, and play with all the new toys that Santa gave me.

My Christmas Post

Christmas is pretty much here and this will likely be my last post before the holiday. As of tomorrow, work will consume my soul for the last remaining days and the evenings will be full of family obligations and time with friends visiting from out of town. Now if some signing or trade happens, I’ll muster up a few lines and post.

The new Orioles’ Atlantic Team has a who’s who of O’s coaching staff.  Chris Hoiles as manager? Absolutely genius.

No Ryan Klesko for us.  Take down the Christmas tree, rip down the lights, and burn the presents because Christmas in ruined.

Pete Rose   says Mark McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame. Because if there’s anybody who’s an authority on should be in the Hall of Fame, it is Pete Rose.

Buster Olney had a good piece on Cal:

Eddie Murray somehow managed to maintain his right-handed and left-handed swings, one identical to the other, and if Tony Gwynn had five at-bats, he’d usually smash the ball with the barrel of the bat at least four times.

Cal Ripken, who ranks 14th all-time in hits with 3,184, was unlike any other members of the 3,000-hit club. He will be formally elected into the Hall of Fame in the next couple of weeks, and he also may have had the ugliest looking at-bats of the elite hitters.

There was nothing fluid about what he did at the plate, nothing pretty in his swing. He’d tinker with his stance throughout the season, like someone beating up his pillow every night, just to get comfortable at the plate. Sometimes he’d hold the bat almost straight back, like a softball swing, and sometimes he’d stand with his feet closer together, like a cricket player, and sometimes he’d lay the bat flat over his shoulder, flexing his fingers before raising the bat when the pitcher began his delivery. Sometimes he’d set up in a stance with his knees bent almost at a right angle, the way you would if you were milking a cow.

When Ripken swung and missed, he looked the way we all did while playing Wiffle Ball on Labor Day weekend, flicking his wrists desperately to make contact, his weight sometimes carrying him backward while his hands flew forward, his midsection jackknifed.

But the man made it work somehow, enough to generate 431 career homers and 1,695 RBI, through consistency. He hit more than 30 homers only once in his career, when he hit 34 in 1991, and he never had more than 114 RBI in any season. He was more steady than a metronome; of course, a metronome needs to be rewound, but Ripken never did.

He did have some great physical skills: A powerful throwing arm, and hips and legs strong enough to discourage opposing runners from attempting to break up double plays. David Howard, the former Royal, once recalled how he slid into Ripken hard on an attempted double play, and it was Howard, not Ripken, who came away gasping for breath. It was like sliding into a fire hydrant, Howard said years later.

But his other extraordinary attribute — either learned from his father or inherited from the Ripken gene pool — was his belief that he could conquer any weakness through practice, through work. A lot of players don’t know how to work, and others know how to work but get discouraged and beaten down by failure. Cal was just beginning his decline as a player in the two years I covered him, and yet he always seemed to assume that any slump, particularly with his hitting, could be solved, and it was only a matter of time until he found his answers, through hours spent in a batting cage. It was there that he tried those crazy stances, those experiments, anything he could to get his hands in position to hit, anything for him to feel more at ease at the plate.

Watching Ripken hit was more fascinating, in some respects, than watching great hitters like Molitor and Gwynn and Barry Bonds, because every at-bat was a grind for Cal. Some fans related to Ripken because of the fact that he showed up to work every day, punched the clock. But I always thought that was the extraordinary part of him — the almost impossible consistency of his effort, more plow horse than human.

The part of Ripken that was Everyman for me — the part of him that was like the commuter fighting rush-hour traffic and deadlines and office politics and somehow making it all work — was watching him hit. He took his modest hitting talent and combined that with his imagination and knowledge and exceptional effort, and turned all these small pieces of himself into hits, so many hits

That’s it, have a Merry Christmas everybody.