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Manny Ramirez Switching to Scott Boras

Funny, just a few months ago I was wondering whether or not superagent Scott Boras was losing power in the baseball world. He had little involvement in the A-Rod negotiations, we were told, and he was fired by Kenny Rogers, all within a few weeks. But now this revelation by Jon Heyman of SI that the Red Sox slugger is switching over to Boras means that all is still straight in the baseball universe.

Much ado has been made over Manny’s contract situation recently. He has said this week that he wants to remain with the Red Sox for his career. On the other hand, Manny also said he would have no problem becoming a free agent after the year, rather than exercise his option for ’09. So what to make of this news? Ordinarily you wouldn’t figure a man intending to re-sign with his existing team would go out and hire the most notorious of all baseball agents. It’s as simple as putting A and B together: hiring Boras = pursuing free agent contract.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Red Sox do have several Boras clients on their team, including JD Drew, Dice K, Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury, Julian Tavarez, and Alex Cora. Clearly Boras and the team have a good working relationship, so the possibility that Boras re-signs certainly exists. I just don’t get why any player would switch to Boras if they didn’t have the intention of making a huge score in the free agent market. We’ll wait to see what happens.

Barry Bonds to Play Ball in Japan?

You always knew there was a possibility, as remote as it may seem. With nobody paging Jeff Borris to inquire about Baroid this off-season, the agent threw it out there that his unemployed client could be headed to the Far East to play ball in Japan. I’m sure it was meant more as a joke than a threat, but nevertheless, the idea is quite humorous.

“He’s not retiring,” Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris, told Metro yesterday. “He intends to play somewhere. If a door doesn’t open for Barry in the major leagues, as unbelievable as that possibility sounds, then Japan certainly is an option.”

It’s amazing how hard they’re trying to find Bonds some work. Just this week a story hit the wire reminding folks that Barry’s services were still available. As suggested in the article, it’s quite possible that Bonds is being blackballed from the game. Whether it’s unspoken and subtly insinuated by Bud Selig is unclear, but we do know that it’s already Spring Training and Bonds does not have a job. Japan? I would die to see it. And let’s not forget that Barry actually does have a job offer on the table.

Roger Clemens’ Attorney Now Hedging, Maybe He Was at Canseco’s Party

Ahah! Maybe a serious breakthrough in the Roger Clemens/Brian McNamee he-said/she-said ordeal. Friday it came out in the NY Daily News that some kid had photo evidence that Roger Clemens was indeed at a Jose Canseco party in 1998. That would be significant because McNamee testified that Clemens first became interested in steroids in 1998 when he talked with Canseco about ‘em at a party. Additionally, Clemens swore under oath that he was not at the Jose Canseco party. Now the latest report from the NY Daily News is that Clemens’ attorney Rusty Hardin is hedging on his original stance because of the photo. Hardin’s backtracking represents a major turning point in the case.

If you remember a few weeks ago, I pointed out that Rusty Hardin said in a news conference that this was the “second coming of the Duke Lacrosse case,” and that many of us who said Roger was a user would have to eat our words. That was the first time I was worried about jumping to the conclusion that Clemens was lying. Hardin was so forceful and persuasive in his speech that I really had no choice but to reconsider my stance. Well now after reading Hardin say “Roger was playing golf at the time of the party, and has stated that he may have stopped by the Canseco house after playing golf before heading to the ballpark for the game,” I have no choice but to think these guys are full of it. How could Clemens say he wasn’t at that party, but Hardin is now reading statements saying “hey, there’s always the possibility the guy was there.” What the heck is that? Either Roger is lying to his legal staff, or the legal staff knew Roger was lying the whole time. Point McNamee.

Pedro Martinez 1999: Best Season Ever

I’ve been meaning to write something about this for quite a while, and thankfully all the Mitchell Report madness has given impetus to this very post. Just last week, Pedro Martinez proclaimed he dominated the Steroids Era cleanly, and added that he’s damn proud of it. I’ll gladly note that he’s the second Hall of Famer to recently say he dominated the Steroid Era cleanly. While I haven’t gone through every outstanding individual season of all-time, I have a pretty solid foundation for the history of the game. That being said, given the context of the era in which Pedro peaked, his 1999 season could very well be the most dominant season in the history of the game. Allow me to make my argument.

In 1999, names like Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Jason Giambi, and Ivan Rodriguez dominated the offensive categories, just to give you some context. In 1999, Pedro Martinez went 23-4 in 29 starts. He threw five complete games over 213.3 innings, walking a measly 37 batters the entire season. Oh yeah, he also set a career high with 313 strikeouts — a nice 8:1 ratio for those of you keeping score at home. In those 213.3 innings, a year in which 2,635 home runs were belted (the 2nd most in AL history according to my calculations), Pedro gave up just nine of them. His ERA was only 2.07, almost three full runs lower than the league average of 5.02 (also the 2nd highest in AL history according to my calculations).

The second closest pitcher to Pedro in ERA was David Cone at 3.44, almost a run and a half lower. Pedro had a 2.07. Three players with ERAs in the 4′s made it in the Top 10 of the league that year. Get that? An ERA in the 4′s meant you were having a really good season. Pedro’s WHIP was 0.92 — the next closest wasn’t even sub 1.2 — it was Eric Milton at 1.22. Pedro struck out over 13 batters per nine innings pitched. The next closest was Chuck Finley at not quite eight and a half.

I remember watching Pedro pitch that year and knowing it was special. It was news only when he lost; you always expected him to win that year. Pedro’s pitching prowess was unrivaled during his prime. Some people may say other pitchers had more dominant seasons, or that certain batters had more impressive years. Rather than fawn over the way Barry Bonds cartoonishly made a mockery of the record books in his super-human (steroids-aided) form of 2001 and 2002, I’d rather marvel at the 5’11″ 170lb specimen of a man who made all those hulking roiders look foolish like nobody else did.

If you have a suggestion as to what the best individual season was in history, please feel free to add it and defend it in the comments. I’m going with Pedro Martinez in 1999.

Other baseball posts you might enjoy:
The End of the 300 Game Winners
Johan Santana Doesn’t Make the Mets a World Series Winner

Omar Minaya Acquired Johan Santana for Prada Shoes

There’s an expression that exists to describe one-sided trades saying a player was traded for “a bucket of balls.” I’ve never really seen that happen, but I do know that Mets GM Omar Minaya got Prada shoes in the Johan Santana trade. Allow me to explain. Johan Santana is this edition of Sports Illustrated’s cover boy, and inside the magazine, Lee Jenkins writes the story of how Johan was acquired. As the tale goes, Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon doubted Omar Minaya’s ability to trade for Santana, so he bet Minaya and promised him a pair of Prada shoes if Omar could pull off the deal. Now far be it for me to challenge Minaya’s taste in footwear, but seriously, Prada shoes? The last time I remember those being relevant was in Legally Blonde, when they were used as a key piece of information to tip Elle off that the pool man was gay. Anywhoo, as soon as the trade was completed …

[Omar] drove to Richards, a clothing store near [Minaya's home] in Greenwich, Conn. He ordered a pair of black Prada lace tips and had them shipped to Port St. Lucie. When Minaya arrived at spring training, the shoes were waiting for him.

All I have to say … if the Mets get off to a shaky start, will Omar be tapping his feet at Johan in his “last season Prada chews.” Wow, just wow.

Kevin Millar Rips on Ryan Dempster

About a week or so ago, Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster was feeling pretty loose and said he expects the Cubs to win the World Series this year. Not to put any pressure on his teammates or anything. Ordinarily I would have ripped on the guy for making such a brazen guarantee, but when you think about it, shouldn’t all players feel that way about their club? I certainly think so, therefore I laid off Dempster. The only problem was that he could have simply kept his mouth shut instead of providing more fuel to his opponent’s fire. Anyhow, enter Orioles first baseman/DH/scrub/loud mouth Kevin Millar:

“I’m guaranteeing a 2008 World Series. Everybody else is,” Millar said while standing at this locker before yesterday’s first full-squad workout.

“I’m going on the record right now. We’re going to shock the world. I don’t know who Dempster is in Chicago, but if he thinks he’s going to win the World Series, he has to come through us first.”

Millar had one more prediction: “I’m going deep off Ryan Dempster,” he said.

Well, Millar certainly isn’t good for much production these days, but at least we know the dude can still be relied upon for a great quote. Count me as a man eagerly awaiting the Cubs/Orioles interleague matchup if it happens. And let’s all remember, for all the teams predicting World Series victories, only one teams accomplishes its goal at the end of the year, 29 are disappointed. Not everyone can be right.

Paul Lo Duca and Eric Gagne Issue Weak, Non-Apologies for Using HGH/Steroids

Honestly guys, we read the Mitchell Report, you guys are fessing up, we know you did steroids and/or HGH, and in the case of Lo Duca, served as a middleman in distributing the products. Why can’t you just come out and apologize for cheating the game by using performance-enhancers? How hard is that? In case you missed it, newly signed Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca issued an “apology” Sunday for making a mistake in his career. It was vague and unspecific, much like when Jason Giambi apologized a few years ago without saying for what he was apologizing. When asked by a reporter for what he was apologizing, Lo Duca said, “Come on, bro. Next question.”

On a similar note, Lo Duca’s best friend from his Dodger days, Eric Gagne, apologized Monday for being a distraction to the Brewers. Just last week, we had Matt Herges and Glenallen Hill apologize specifically for using performance-enhancing drugs. Yes they cheated the game, but now they’re forgiven. As soon as he was named in the report, Brian Roberts fessed up and apologized for using steroids. He said he only used them once (which is certainly questionable), but now he’s forgiven because he admitted it.

There are many players who were implicated in the Mitchell Report and so far Clemens is the only one we know of who’s refuting the charges. Mostly everyone else has admitted and apologized for their wrongdoings. We are such a forgiving country and all about second chances. It’s just a shame that Lo Duca and Gagne don’t see or realize that, because they can easily be forgiven by fans for juicing. Instead, they appear to me as players who cheated the game and are too cowardly to straight up admit their wrongdoings. That’s just sad.