Baseball thoughts.

Yeah, I just talked about baseball (kind of) yesterday. Still, you’ve got to go with what you know. You wouldn’t be complaining if I talked about video games two days in a row, would you?

1) Man, is that Vernon Wells trade awful. If you’d asked me a week ago I would have told you that Wells’s contract is among the three most immobile in the sport, behind only Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rodriguez, but the Angels not only picked up the whole shebang, they gave up real talent (in the form of Mike Napoli, a catcher who’s an offensive positive) to do so. Wells isn’t a terrible player, but he’s not $86 million good.

What we’re looking at here is an object lesson against making a move just to make a move. Arte Moreno, the Angels’ fabulously wealthy and fabulously uninformed owner, promised his fanbase that he’d up payroll this offseason after the Angels missed the playoffs for the first time in a few years. Well and good — but then the Angels got outbid on Carl Crawford, who if scuttlebutt is to be believed was not only their top target, but also the peg on which they were hanging their entire offseason. After Boston punk’d them in that department, they turned to Adrian Beltre — but kind of half-assedly, and as a result let him slip to the division rival Rangers. They weren’t even in on Cliff Lee or Rafael Soriano, presumably because they had their heads up their butts.

So they looked around, and saw that the best free agents remaining were Carl Pavano and Johnny Damon, and told themselves they had to do something… so Vernon Wells, come on down. Toronto’s GM must have shit himself when he realized the Angels weren’t going to ask him to pay any of the freight. It’s a rare move that makes a team older, more expensive, and worse all in one fell swoop, but Moreno, GM Tony Reagins, and manager Mike Scioscia have managed the hat trick.

It’s really amazing, but the Angels have gone from odds-on favorites in the AL West to also-rans in a single calendar year. Texas was much better than Anaheim last year and has gotten better. The A’s are younger and have gotten better. The Angels, meanwhile, are stuck between Scioscia’s rigid team-building philosophies and Moreno’s desire to acquire name players, even at the cost of winning ballgames. If Seattle’s offense wasn’t historically inept, they’d be in danger of slipping into the basement.

2) Apparently the Braves are in on Jorge Cantu. Don’t ask me why, I haven’t the slightest idea — he seems more or less like an Eric Hinske clone to me, and you don’t need more than one of those. I guess he could provide insurance if Chipper can’t go and Prado needs to play third… His hideous offensive approach, and the fact that he whined like a little bitch when Tampa sent him down several years back, does not endear him to me. Shades of Jeffy Francoeur.

3) …Who is in the news again for whining about CitiField’s dimensions. Keep telling yourself that you sucked because of the park’s shape, Jeffy — and start dreaming up excuses for why you didn’t hit in Kansas City, either. I have a feeling you’ll need them.

4) I saw where Lil’ Nicky Punto signed with the Cardinals, which is a match made in heaven if I ever saw one. Both Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis media will be sucking his cock by May, I predict. I’m not sure at what point a fetish for scrappy white guys who can’t play becomes damaging to your franchise, but I’m pretty sure you’ve reached that point when you sign a guy who is too much of a lightweight for the Minnesota Twins.

5) Andruw Jones signed with the Yankees. Andruw hasn’t been a good player in years, but it still stings a little to see someone who was a Braves icon for so long don the pinstripes, even if it’s only a bench role. I haven’t really thought about Andruw in forever, but seeing him next to Jeter and A-Rod will no doubt make me sick to my stomach.

6) If you want to make some easy money, bet on the Tampa Bay Rays to make the postseason next year. Common wisdom is that they’ve gutted the team this offseason. Common wisdom is hilariously wrong. They’ve shed names, but they can still play baseball. They’ve got more young talent than anyone short of Kansas City, and their talent is a lot closer to the bigs than KC’s. The amount of young pitching they’ve got is just crazy, and they signed Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (bargain of the winter, I think) to help with the offense, which is already pretty good. Best manager in the game in my opinion, and pretty easily best management team. I think both Boston and New York are overrated, so if you want to pick an underdog for 2011, Tampa is it.


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