Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Misdirection (Alex, Omar and the game)

Let me be the target, let your bullet hit, I'll handle that
Let me see you flex aggressive ignorance, see half these cats
Stagger like the simple common sense to put one foot before the other

So these pitchers, man. Blanton. Lannan. Floyd. Spring training beat writers would have you believe that the Greek is licking his chops at the visage of every John, Joe or Gavin on the market, but then this is The Game. Who is the real target? Is it the system, man? There are five starters in camp, plus Luis Perez, Carlos Villaneuva and enough prospect pitching depth to tickle the fancy of the nerds. Things are not always as they seem. And why on earth would the Jays, a team with three left-handed-hitting young outfielders already, be linked with Gerardo Parra, of all people?

The infield is set: Lawrie, Yunel, Johnson, Lind. Arencibia and Mathis split the catching until D'Arnaud is ready. Bautista, Rasmus, and the winner of Snider/Thames fill the outfield, while Encarnacion DHes. Three bench spots go to an infielder (Vizquel), an outfielder (Davis) and someone else (McCoy?). Any other roster spots go to the loser of the LF battle (if a starter goes down) or to the somewhat inexplicable ex-Indian monster in camp of Ben Francisco/Luis Valbuena (if it's bench depth that's needed)...And then of course, we get to the prospects...and there's no reason to bother with the Heches and Goses and McDades of the world until those situations presents themselves. 

So Snider for Blanton and Arencibia for Parra? Sheeee-it. I'll pass - if you're going to sell that as an all-in push, you better sell me on a good reason why you gave Manny the old bait-and-switch. Fuck that. And Blanton's nothing but a two-bit hustler anyway, more Poot than Bodie. If you're trading upside for established talent, make it real talent. 

Even Gavin Floyd. There's too much smoke to that fire to pin it on Alex's head. I don't think Kenneth Williams plays it quite so smooth. When he tells a reporter he's not looking to move Gavin Floyd, I believe that statement (superficially). And is Floyd really all that? If there's a bounty on his head Alex will keep his distance. More likely, if he's searching for a pitcher at all, there's someone who can give him Floyd's innings but with a far smaller premium to be paid. Which brings us most obviously to name #3: John Lannan, a 27-year-old whose team seems awfully eager to be rid of him given his numbers. Is he Randy Johnson? No. Is he better than Brett Cecil? Maybe. He's a pitch-to-contact product of the NL East who's making 5 million dollars, but he's also a 27-year-old who has been a thoroughly solid starting pitcher for four seasons, and that's not entirely worthless. Not worthless, that is, if Anthopoulos sees a roster spot for him - and therein lies a big if; McGowan will more than likely be seen in the major league rotation if he is seen at all, and the other four projected SPs each deserves their slots as much as Lannan might.*

But I don't really buy the Lannan talk, either. John Lannan just doesn't seem like Alex's type. He likes them young and hot, not middle-aged and average. How about moving Snider for someone like Brian Matusz (and presumably something else as well)? It was only a couple of years ago that Keith Law, sour grapes or none, alleged that Matusz was a lock to be a better big league pitcher than Ricky Romero. And before last season's shit brigade, he wasn't all that bad at all. 

Attitude problems are fair game, so why not shitty seasons? Dan Duquette is new to Baltimore, and while he's no stranger to under-the-radar pitching superstars, one imagines he might have less attachment to a certain high first-rounder than some members of the previous regime might have.

Although (poetically, perhaps) broaching the subject brings up the clusterfuck in Baltimore. I mean, of course, the abomination of an Orioles' front office that presumably drove Tony LaCava back to his old digs, not the political situation portrayed on The Wire, although they probably do have their similarities. Can Dan Duquette even trade Brian Matusz? Would he try, if only to piss off his overlords?

P.S. Smacketology. Awesome.
*Sidebar: Does anyone know if there's any kind of limitation on teams acquiring major league players and assigning them to AAA? I mean, aside from the obvious - service time requirements, opt-out clauses, the like - is there anything to prevent a team acquiring a prospect who also happens to be a young starting position player on a division rival and stashing him in AAA?   

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