things you may be missing in the off-season

USA Today Sports

a round-up of things baseball

ESPN is counting down something alleged to be the top 100 baseball players of all time.

that's not what you may be missing. when you are missing something on the ESPN website, i will let you know that they are announcing the end of sportscenter.

what you may be missing is twitter demigod/ectoplasmic-american/ex-beaneater old hoss radbourn's savaging of ESPN's terrible top 100. get thee to his twitter feed, posthaste.

in what is almost certainly shameless pandering to modern baseball fans, ESPN's list is full of modern-day names that the casual baseball fan will recognize, and lists only sparsely pre-Nixon administration names, and (at least so far) no names from the Negro Leagues at all. why not just call the list "the top 100 baseball player names we think will get us page views"?

did you know that ken griffey, jr. (83.9 career WAR) is better than mel ott (115 career WAR)? sure, why not.

thus far, ESPN and hoss have gotten from #100 to #26. it is unclear if ESPN will actually post the remaining 25 tomorrow or simply an article entitled "we surrender, old hoss."

note that i didn't put any links up to the ESPN site. that's not an accident.

you should, of course, be reading old hoss to absorb his general baseball bon mots, such as his recent comment on the phillies' contract with michael young: "Adding a no-trade clause to a M. Young contract is like putting a Do Not Eat sign above a pile of feces."

* * *

as covered amply yesterday, the cardinals severed ties with skip schumaker who - along with chris carpenter, adam wainwright, and yadier molina - was one of the longest tenured members of the current team. he spent 11+ years in the cardinal organization, drafted in 2001. he was worth 5.6 WAR in 2600-odd PAs across eight seasons.

i can't say he was one of my favorite players, but he was, on balance, a useful piece on the team.

he was very well liked in the clubhouse, and i will say i was impressed that he never made a single complaint (that i recall) to the media about his playing time or the shift in roles. sure, he got as much playing time as he deserved and his shift to the infield was as much in his interest as the club's, but those factors have not stopped less talented players from complaining under similar circumstances.

i think the move is probably a win both for the team and for skip: the team clears a roster spot and $1.5m in payroll, while skip is more likely to see playing time in LA, backing up right-handed mark ellis and switch-hitting nick punto, both of whom are older and fragile. he also has the potential to see more time as a backup outfielder. he will no longer be competing against a left-handed second baseman like Daniel descalso, nor against left-handed backup outfielders like adron chambers or oscar taveras. to boot, skip makes his home in the LA area. so, even if you're going to miss skippy, this is really the best outcome for everyone.

*****

anyone hoping for an Ian kinsler trade as a festivus miracle will be disappointed to hear that kinsler has quashed rumors of dissatisfaction with proposals to move him off second base to address their middle infield glut (that phrase gives me heartburn, like someone complaining about having too much pie or sex).

*****

for some reason, the mets have decided to make this the season of needless antagonism, accusing RA Dickey of being intoxicated with his own celebrity, instead of thanking him for being an exceptional pitcher on an underperforming team. while I understand they're in the negotiation process, it's hard to see how this could help the ongoing negotiations, or indeed how this does not actively harm them in future negotiations. I would not want to work for an employer with a history of throwing players under the bus as a negotiating tactic.

*****

the reds pulled off quite a deal this week, getting shin soo choo for drew stubbs and didi gregorius in a three way trade with arizona and cleveland. that seems like a wager that shin-soo will return to his earlier levels of performance. shin-soo and stubbs have been worth about the same over the last two seasons. if shin-soo cannot reverse his decline, the Rees may see little improvement over stubbs.

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