Saturday, August 04, 2007

News & Notes

Justin Upton was called up yesterday. In terms of physical tools, he's the best player to come up in years. If you want someone to compare him to, think of Ken Griffey Jr, only less reliable defensively. He spent this season tearing up the minor leagues and working with Brett Butler (perhaps the most underrated player of the past 30 years) until Butler suffered a mild stroke last week.

The Dunne Deal fan favorite Lew Ford was sent down to Rochester today. It made me realize that I'm probably the only person alive who would welcome being demoted from my job back to Rochester. Lew could probably help a team looking for a backup outfielder, but it seems that the Twins have an organizational philosophy against trading from their strengths to fill their weaknesses.

Right now I'd have Justin Masterson as the #1 prospect in the Sox organization. He strikes people out, doesn't walk people, and when people do hit the ball, they hit it on the ground. In 33 innings since his promotion to Portland, he's striking out more than a batter per inning, about four times as many times as he's walking someone, and getting 4.5 times more ground balls than fly balls. For comparison's sake, groundball master Brandon Webb gets 2.78 ground balls for every fly ball. 33 innings is a small sample size, but nobody puts up stats like that by accident.

As I'm writing, Bonds has hit #755. Most of the guys Bonds homered off of were doing PEDs too. What are people so offended about anyway? Do they think people will appreciate Henry Aaron less? There are plenty of reasons to dislike Barry Bonds, but this steroids issue, and the constant battering we've taken from holier-than-thou sportscasters has managed to make Bonds into a more sympathetic figure than he's ever been.

One of the funniest things I've seen this week is on ESPN's "Page 2" they have a list of "50 future football Hall of Famers" includes 20 guys who would be there if they retired today, and 30 who are all the guys who have been drafted high in the past two years. Really, it's embarrassing. One of the picks they have there is Shawne Merriman. Who, as you recall, failed a steroid test, and also got votes for defensive player of the year. If Barry Bonds gets suspended next season for 50 games (which is about 5% more of the season than Merriman's four game suspension in the NFL) and spends the rest of the season being the best player in the league, he'd be getting serious MVP consideration? I seriously doubt it. The hypocrisy on this issue is just overwhelming.

So it seems to me that Bonds two biggest crimes have been being better at baseball than everyone who is doing what he does, and not smiling enough.