Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baseball Headlines and Observations

posted by Jon Williams

Rangers hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo Will Not Return

Longtime hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo rejected a contract and will not return to the Texas Rangers next season, a team official said Wednesday... The Rangers' offense struggled in 2009, scoring 784 runs, the fewest since Jaramillo was hired before the 1995 season. The team batted .260, its lowest average since moving into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 1994. The disappointing season came after the Rangers hit .283 and scored a league-high 901 runs in 2008.

I believed the Rangers would make a great effort to bring effort to bring Jaramillo back in 2010. For all I know, they did just that. Perhaps Jaramillo had a problem with the way manager Ron Washington used the offense. I have no idea. I do know that Jaramillo is roundly considered one of if not the best hitting coach in the game. The Rangers will miss him. As for Ron Washington, I can't help but like him. He's an old-time baseball guy. A throwback to the days of the chewing, spitting, tough love, pitching and defense managers that our fathers remember and sometimes miss. But I have no idea if he is actually a good manager.

Ricketts Family Acquires 95 percent of the Chicago Cubs

The Ricketts family has signed a definitive agreement with Tribune Company to acquire a 95 percent interest in the Chicago Cubs National League Baseball Club, Wrigley Field and Tribune’s approximately 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet (CSN) in a transaction valued at $845 million.

The Tribune Company had a reputation as an owner who was more interested in profits than winning. They would make moves with marketing and filling the seats as a higher priority than actually winning a World Series. The former Red Sox ownership had the same type of reputation. I believe that it is now possible for the Cubs to now take a giant step forward as an organization. I'm looking forward to watching how this transaction changes the way the Cubs do business.

TBS Wins Big By Backing Baseball Playoffs

According to Media Week, the network enjoyed the best ratings of its 33-year history with its coverage of the first-round playoff series, averaging 5.41 million total viewers, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data. The network also set highs by averaging 2.54 million adults age 25 to 54, 2.46 million viewers 18 to 49 and 1.12 million viewers 18 to 34. According to the report, TBS owned seven of the week's 10 most-watched cable telecasts, including Game 3 of the Yankees-Twins American League DS on Oct. 11, which drew 6.79 million viewers. That series was the most watched among the four DS matchups, averaging 6.63 million total viewers. Baseball boosted TBS' ratings 232 percent over the previous week.

I still miss the days of TBS airing the Atlanta Braves games. As a Yankees fan trapped in Boston, I appreciated the ability to tune in on a team that I actually enjoyed watching. the Red Sox are a little more fun to watch these days but I still miss the old TBS. Heck, for that matter I also miss Ted Turner as the owner of the Braves. Here's a perfect example of how much ownership can change the direction of a baseball team.

Billy Wagner's Agent Disputes Retirement Claims

Billy Wagner's agent refuted Tuesday's reports that the closer, who just completed his 15th season and is 15 saves short of 400, is planning to retire. The New York Post reported Tuesday that when asked where he might play next season, Wagner responded: "I don't plan on talking to nobody." When asked if that meant he would retire, according to the newspaper, Wagner said: "Why wouldn't I? I've got nothing else to [accomplish]" On Wednesday, Wagner's agent, Bean Stringfellow, told media outlets that the left-hander had no intention of retiring. "He wants a ring and he did not do all that rehab just to quit now," Stringfellow said, according to FoxSports.com. "His family supports him fully."

In Boston the rumors are flying wild about a possible trade of closer Jonathan Papelbon. If this actually happened Wagner would be a solid option to bridge the gap between Papelbon and Daniel Bard who seems destined to become Boston's closer in the very near future. Boston has promised not to utilize the option they hold on Wagner for the 2010 season but they could still very easily work out a deal if the closer role were open.

The San Francisco Giants retain Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy
...Bochy and Sabean each received two-year contract extensions with a club option Tuesday after meeting with managing general partner Bill Neukom... Sabean is gearing up for a busy winter. One of his top priorities will be to upgrade the offense by adding a big bat in the middle of the order, though he's said that will be a challenge in this free-agent market.

I love the Giants but I have had my fair share of doubts over Brian Sabean's ability as General Manager. There is no doubt that the organization is loaded with quality young arms. However, Sabean has consistently chosen to go with older veterans rather than younger players with more upside. Part of that has been due to a severe lack in the farm system but that is also on him. I would love to see a great hitter in the middle of the Giants lineup surrounded by their young players at catcher and third base. But Sabean seems to struggle to make meaningful trades as demonstrated in the deadline deals this season. I have high hopes but little faith.

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