I’ve got nothing against the idea of the big league farewell tour. If the Padres care enough to put Chipper Jones on a brand new surfboard, and the Mets want to go all out to give Bobby Cox a bottle of wine, good for them. I have no doubt that the Rays will do Mariano Rivera right this year, especially if Joe Maddon is involved in the plans.
But if Peter Gammons really is done writing – several of you pointed out that his MLB.com page, which hasn’t had any new content since December, now says the “three-time National Sportswriter of the Year was a columnist for MLB.com from 2009-12 after almost 22 years with ESPN” – it’s time for our national media to honor the man the way it should be done. Count me among those who’d prefer to see the great ones paid tribute to while they’re still around than to have them eulogized later on.
I don’t know if Gammons, who had a health scare six or seven years ago, isn’t well enough to work right now, or if he’s simply tired of the grind, or if it’s just time to play guitar and tweet, but every national columnist who occupied space with his own spin on Nolan Ryan’s silence ought to be working up an homage piece on what Peter Gammons has meant to baseball.
We know he’s still out there thinking about the game. Setting aside the occasional butt-dial tweet, Gammons’s Twitter OBP is strong. You may not agree with what he said about the Astros on Tuesday, but like he’s always done with his column, the man makes you think in the space of 140 (or 420) characters, and we’re better baseball fans for it.
The last tweet Gammons posted before his Astro-blast two days ago was this:
Andrus not being moved. Jon Daniels: “We’re not breakin[g] up our strengths, and one of [our] biggest strengths is the left side (Andrus, Beltre).”
Then, shortly after the Houston tweets, we got this:
Rumored Profar-Oscar Tavarez [sic] deal “has not been discussed” according to involved GM. But if Boras didn’t represent Andrus would it be?
After getting past my disappointment that the two Gammons comments weren’t the basis for a column I’d love to read, I thought about what he said.
Elvis Andrus not being moved? Of course he’s not. That’s something you do at the start of a winter if you’re a contender. Not just before (or during) a season.
The point about the left side of the infield being a strength? Unassailably true. But even if Adrian Beltre weren’t around, the first point remains the same.
Now, for that rumored Rangers-Cardinals trade?
First, I’m not one who believes that Andrus would have locked up long-term by now if he had a different agent – or that just because Scott Boras is involved, he won’t ultimately agree to be a Ranger for life.
As for the rumor itself – Jurickson Profar for the young Cardinals outfielder Taveras, an imagined exchange of two 20-year-olds who were busy tearing up Low Class A when Texas and St. Louis were teeing it up in late October two years ago – I don’t believe it hasn’t been discussed. Surely there have been spirited debates over nachos and Corona’s in Surprise and in Jupiter, and lots of them.
But a conversation between Daniels and Cards GM John Mozeliak?
GM’s talk a lot. (With each other.) I’m sure Mozeliak called Daniels, particularly after Rafael Furcal went down with his elbow injury, asking whether Andrus was up for discussion.
Daniels probably responded, tongue only partly in cheek, “No. Is Taveras?”
To which Mozeliak probably answered, “No. Is Profar?”
A hearty laugh, best of luck, catch you later, back to the nachos.
It’s actually a dialogue that may have played out three or four times over the last year, with one just checking to see if the other had altered his thinking.
And it still wouldn’t qualify as “a Profar for Taveras deal” being “discussed,” at least if I were one of them, asked the question on the record by a legendary columnist with 300,000 Twitter followers (if not a column).
The Angels wouldn’t trade Mike Trout for Bryce Harper, and the Nationals wouldn’t do it, either.
Neither team makes a LeBron James-Kevin Durant trade, or RGIII for Andrew Luck.
These aren’t Rotisserie Leagues.
I don’t know where the Texas-St. Louis rumor started, but it’s just as likely to have been birthed by a writer over beers and nachos at Don & Charlie’s as anywhere else. Chances are pretty good you concocted it yourself well before it found Internet life.
Profar and Taveras are the two best position player prospects in baseball.
Texas has a surplus at shortstop, St. Louis a deficit.
The Rangers could use some outfield pop going forward, having lost Josh Hamilton and with Nelson Cruz a free agent after the season (as is David Murphy). There are big corner bats on the Rangers farm, but most are three years away, at least.
It’s a picturesque fantasy league trade. It’s probably had some level of big league life, but as an internal debate rather than a negotiation point.
When Ken Davidoff (New York Post) suggests four of the five teams in the AL West are off-season “winners,” and only one is a “loser” – and the loser is the Angels – it has as much bearing on the 2013 season as a story on the Web suggesting Texas and St. Louis ought to get together and make Taveras a Ranger and either Andrus or Profar a Cardinal, or another respected journalist’s prediction that Texas and St. Louis will meet in the World Series again this year.
It’s all fun to think about. But that’s all.
What we know is that, barring some unforeseen injury to someone else, Mike Olt will start the season in Round Rock, playing third base and the outfield corners.
That Josh Hamilton is expected to make the bus trip tonight to Surprise, as the Angels take the Rangers on in a game televised here on TXA 21 (and nationally on MLB Network), but that Los Angeles closer Ryan Madson (elbow) has been shut down again and Tommy Hanson exited his start yesterday with triceps tightness.
That in a not unrelated story, Jim Bowden (ESPN/XM) wonders if Kyle Lohse might wait until after the June Draft to sign since it wouldn’t cost his new club a premium draft pick, to which Gammons tweets: “Scott Boras insists Kyle Lohse isn’t holding on past the draft. ‘We have too many teams in play,’ Boras says.”
That with Hamilton and Mike Napoli gone, Ron Washington will be much more likely to force the issue on the bases this season, “[j]ust trying to be aggressive, trying to always take the extra base and put pressure on the defense,” at least according to Craig Gentry.
That Gerry Fraley (Dallas Morning News) spotted three Boston scouts watching Rangers minor leaguers on the back fields this week, not a terrible place to spend your time scouting. That you can’t find a story about left-handed reliever Joe Ortiz that doesn’t include the word “fearless.” That Yoshinori Tateyama and Brandon Snyder have March 24 and March 29 outs in their non-roster deals, and that they’re going to have decisions to make then.
That Jim Adduci, who doesn’t have a contractual out, was great pro scouting, and Jeff Baker and even Nate Robertson might be, too.
That Leury Garcia, fresh off his run on the Dominican Republic’s bench in that club’s undefeated run through the World Baseball Classic (Wash: “Maybe he’s not seeing game action, but he’s getting repetition out there and working his mind about being in competition”), remains in camp competing for the Rangers’ utility infield job – and is evidently a player of interest, along with righthander Nick Tepesch and more, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi (Fox Sports), as the Tigers shop righthander Rick Porcello.
And that middle infielder Ryan Theriot remains jobless, and wouldn’t cost a draft pick to sign.
But with 10 days to go, is he really a legitimate candidate to get his own spring training started and be ready for a big league opener?
For that matter, is Profar a candidate for that job? Based on comments by Washington and Daniels and Ryan, who suggested the club would need to be able to project 350 Profar at-bats to keep from optioning him to AAA, he’s probably not. But Fraley predicts this morning that Profar will make the club.
With roster decisions.
And with trade opportunities.
Texas didn’t relent on Justin Smoak until the 11th hour, swooping in to steal Cliff Lee in July 2010 when it appeared that the Yankees were closing in on a trade with Seattle.
But I’d be shocked if there were any about-face in the Texas front office regarding the idea of trading a shortstop to St. Louis, and I don’t expect the Cardinals to spend any meaningful time pondering a move of Oscar Taveras.
I’d like to think plans could change as far as the career of Peter Gammons is concerned, but either way, if we’re not going to get a column from him jumpstarted by his Tuesday Profar-Taveras tweet, we could at least get a late-March column or five from the community of great baseball writers who follow him, not about Profar or Taveras or Andrus, or about Lohse or Porcello, or about what Nolan Ryan will do, but about what Peter Gammons has meant to this game and to their business, and about what this baseball season and all those that follow will be like if Peter isn’t out there setting the standard like he always has.