About the best thing one can hope for during these lean, dark, no-baseball-having months is a snippet, a taste, a little droplet that reminds you how wonderful the game of baseball, our game, can be, and will be again soon. Like, for instance, Dennis Eckersley saying "bitch" live on the air (courtesy of the OC Register's Sam Miller). Ah... breath deeply and survive for another few days. Baseball is coming. Bitch.
Company man that I am, I want to start by pointing out some of the excellent work going on right here at SB Nation. First, there's Grant Brisbee, who put words to something many of us have probably been annoyed about if not outright pissed off by. That being MLB's ridiculous policy on YouTube videos. It isn't hard to find hockey or football videos and, as Mr. Brisbee points out, basketball vids are as ubiquitous as actors at an LA restaurant. But baseball videos are ubiquitous like grapes in GrapeNuts or good in Good 'N Plenty. They just ain't there. And that is by design. Yes, Baseball doesn't want you too watch baseball. And that is dumb.
The second piece is by someone you may have heard of, OTM's own Marc Normandin. Marc wrote about his non-sexual mancrush on Joe Saunders who, it turns out, might not be the Satan spawn of John "Way Back" Wasdin and Casey Fossum after all. Saunders isn't going to win a Cy Young anytime soon, but he could be just the serviceable and reliable starting pitcher the Red Sox lacked last season. He won't be the cornerstone of any team's off season plans, or at least he shouldn't be, but he can sit in the back end of a rotation and eat innings like a guy who really likes pancakes at an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast*.
*I'm as good at analogies as someone who is not very good at analogies.
Writing at Fire Brand of the AL, David Schubert of Curse of Benitez goes through the Red Sox starting lineup's ZIPs projections. Most notably to me is the projection for Carl Crawford, which looks, in a word, wonderfulamazingawesomegood. No, it's not what he did his last year in Tampa, but if Crawford can put up a .325 On-Base Percentage and a .448 Slugging Percentage, well, it isn't great, but I'd lock in those numbers in a heartbeat. Beats the hell out of paying $20 million for one of the worst players in baseball.
News of Ryan Madson's one year, $8.5 million contract with the Reds makes one wonder, just how silly is the Phillies' signing of Jonathan Papelbon looking right now? Answer: very very silly. I wasn't fond of that deal at the time, but now? Put it this way: the gave Papelbon almost twice as much money ($50 million) as the next highest paid relief pitcher (Heath Bell) received ($27 million). The Phillies could have signed Heath Bell, Ryan Madson and Joe Nathan and still spent less money than they spent on Papelbon. And -- shockingly I'm not done -- Not only did they give him a four year deal, but Papelbon has a $13 million option that vests if he either finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games in 2014 and 2015. In other words, chances are very good that the four year, $50 million contract is really a five year, $63 million contract. Think they overpaid? Maybe?
Finally, Allan at Joy of Sox sums up the problem with batting average in just twelve words. Brilliant.