BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 28: Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won the game 4-3. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Week 8 of the NFL season is about the time I start to miss baseball. My team has been eliminated from contention by now (this is a yearly occurrence), all that's left is tuning in each week in anticipation of self-inflicted injury. Hockey won't mean anything until well after the New Year and that's if you care about hockey. Basketball can turn itself into the Naked Knitting League for all I care. Baseball, oh baseball, hurry back soon!
Free agency is in full swing, by which I mean nothing what so ever is going on. Sure, C.C. Sabathia weighs as much as most free agent classes put together, but really, he's just one guy and he didn't even technically hit the market. This, incidentally, still keeps Scott Boras up at night. Other than Sabathia, the Phillies signed a 41 year old DH to play first base, because that's how Ruben Amaro, Jr. rolls, and the and traded for stole my ideaDerek Lowe.
Absent actual news, speculation is the order of the day. In that vein, though in a a non-schlocky way, Chip Buck at Fire Brand of the AL takes a look at at the reliever market. It's unusually flooded with names, though we all know the volatility of most relievers would give day traders the pukes. There are some interesting pitchers available, though most of them are interesting because of what they were, not what they will be. GMs should wear arm swimmies and shark repellant (marshmallow ice cream, sharks feel cheated when they hit a bite of mostly marshmallow) when swimming in these waters.
Over at the Globe, Chad Finn's always excellent Touching All The Bases takes a look at Carl Crawford, and imagines a comeback 2012 season for the Sox left fielder. The farther removed from last season I get, the dimmer the images of Crawford lamely flailing at yet another slider in the dirt become. I think that will be true for Crawford as well. As Marc Normandin has said, an off season away from the game should do Crawford a world of good. Or at least, it can't possibly make him any worse. The guy the Red Sox signed is in there somewhere. Whether last season's debacle is due to lousy mechanics, the pressures of his new contract, a fear of giant green things sneaking up behind him, or some portion of all of the above, a fresh mind will do a world of good for Crawford. Mr. Finn's comp of Willie Wilson sounds fine to me, and Andy Van Slyke sounds even better. But honestly, I'd settle for the real actual Carl Crawford. Not that 2011 imposter. I'm talking the real article. That guy can play some ball. It says here he's the one who shows up next spring.
With the expiration of MLB's labor deal to come soon, the luxury tax is in jeopardy, folks. Well, OK, not jeopardy, but it is on hiatus. As ESPN's Jayson Stark reminds us, the tax is really called the Competitive Balance Tax, which makes it sound like a tax on competitive balance, the opposite of what it's intended to be. That little tidbit is brought to you by the OTM's Office of Unintentional Humor. Titles aside, the thing has, Mr. Stark reminds us again, expired. Oh, it should return under the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) but for now, there is no tax. The more signings and deals that occur now, the more unlikely it is they'll reinstitute the tax in the next CBA, or so says Mr. Stark. To which I say, come on, are they kidding? it'll be back and just as pointless as it was before. Here's to ingenuity! But more importantly, how great is it that this represents baseball's big labor battle? The NBA could stand to take a page out of baseball's book, and that's not something you could say twenty years ago.
A few quickies for you...
Over at RIver Ave Blues, Moshe Mandel doesn't think the Yankees will deal for an ace starting pitcher this off season.
Rangers Manager Ron Washington has a filthy mouth. (via Hardball Talk)
Finally, are you looking for the future of blogging? This video over at Fan Graphs will show you the way.