Whatever, Craig. Craig Monroe is best known in Pittsburgh for his 34 games with the Buccos last year, which included a memorable 2 HR game against the Braves in mid-April. It didn't fool me though, he was terrible during his time in a Pirate uniform. Although he did have some sweet facial hair that was so well kept that it looked like it was painted on. Some other fun facts about C-Mo: his mother's name is Marilyn Monroe and in December of 2004, he was arrested trying to steal a belt from a Florida department store. Cost of said belt: $29.99. Career salary: $12,880,000.00 (including the $750k he stole from the Pirates last year). Something doesn't add up.
The only reason I really bring up Monroe is that he played for one of the worst teams in recent history. The 2003 Detroit Tigers finished the season 43-119. That's crazy! And it wasn't even like they were completely unlucky; their Pythagorean W-L record was 49-113 (591 runs for/928 runs against). What a terrible team.
That was the second year of GM Dave Dombrowski reign, after he replaced Randy Smith, who is up there with Dave Littlefield as one of the worst MLB general managers in recent history. By 2006, Dombrowski had the Tigers winning 95 games and in the World Series. There are a lot of similarities between the two clubs; taking over a disastrous situation left by a former GM, Scouting Director Greg Smith calling the shots in the draft (Granderson, Verlander, Luke French, Joel Zumaya), and of course, the great Craig Monroe. I would like to take a closer look at the similarities between the two rebuilds (maybe for another day), but the only clear difference is that the Tigers have an owner who has shown that he will spend on ML payroll (Mike Ilitch), which can be a good thing (Miguel Cabrera) or a bad thing (Bonderman, D. Willis, Maglio Ordonez).
Let's get it out of the way first, I missed both games yesterday. My flight from Seattle to Chicago was during the Pitt game, which looked like a pretty crappy game (tough, defensive, poor shooting), and my layover was so long that I got to miss the USA/Canada game (just awesome all around and another reason I'm a little bummed Ryan Miller is in the Eastern Conference; only Nabokov has been better this year in the NHL). The worst part about it was the fact that they had us board the flight and then spend an hour on the tarmac in O'Hare, so I should have caught at least the beginning or the end of the game, but thanks to the great city of Chicago, I couldn't catch any of it.
I just found out that Roberto Luongo will be in net for Canada's first knockout game. There's been a lot of local talk about giving the Flower a chance. Most people around here are completely behind this, singing his Stanley Cup praises. I would love to see it happen, but it won't (and didn't). The Flower is kind of a lottery ticket, and I'm not exactly sure Canada is in the position to play that card (especially Mike Babcock, who seems very conservative in his moves so far). I would love for him to be wrong and Luongo to be terrible on Tuesday against the Germans, but I would also love to see a Canada/Russia match up in the quarters.
I'm excited for Pitt, they just seem to have it in them this year (although come tourney time, who knows). Despite the swoon in the middle of the season, Pitt didn't care and just kept on plugging away. I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said, but Gary McGhee has been the biggest surprise for me, he's just so solid right now. He's like the Rob Scuderi of Pitt Basketball this year. And how about Dante "The Myth" Taylor sending it in a few times in a row against Marquette? Good for him. And yes, I apologize to Trevon Woodall for calling him out before the WVU game, but hey, if he plays like that, I'll keep putting him down before every game. Hail to Pitt.
Tiger's apology was lame. 'Nuff said. If he's gonna market himself like he has over the past decade, he owes his customers a little more information than "I was wrong." Oh really, you paid people to help you come to that conclusion? God, I can't stand this guy. The only thing I somewhat respect is his decision not to come immediately back into golf, if he really thinks he has a problem, at least his priorities are in place. But if he's back by the Masters, you can forget I said that.
Before we get to Pirate links (I got a lot of them), the Steelers rounded out their coaching staff by hiring a new wide receiver coach in Scottie Montgomery. Great name, but he's just 31-years old, and he's a Duke alumni, so he's probably a bit of a doucher. Behind the Steel Curtain has been keeping up with the 'Lers this offseason pretty well, and they have plenty of good links and posts up if you need your fix.
Bucs Dugout has a lot of good posts and links up, I don't really want to go over all of them, but I think there's better ways to spend $30 million than Aroldis Chapman, and I hope he's a bust for the Reds (and I think he will be based on Cuban track records- especially pitchers). Also, Bob Smizik needs to stop with the "spend for spending's sake" routine; let's see Bob get out the DW-40 and open up his wallet just to prove he can. In no business in the world is spending just to prove you can a good idea, even an English Major knows that.
Joel Hanrahan's elbow is disappointing. Pat at WHYGAVS has a rundown of the injury and other guys who have gone through it. Hanrahan had a chance to really bump himself into that upper echelon of relievers this year, but it looks like he may be taking a step back rather than a step forward. This just shows how important it is to acquire and build depth.
I'm pretty excited for the Ed Wade era to continue in Houston. I think that Drayton McClane is the real problem in Houston, but having Wade around surely won't help, although if an Astro is looking for a punching bag...
A lot of talk has centered around John Russel's comments about Kevin Hart having the inside track for the fifth spot in the rotation. WHYGAVS looks at it as pitching coach's Joe Kerrigan's next project. I don't really mind this move, Hart has more upside and better stuff, plus his pitches induce ground balls (always a good thing), while McCutchen is more of a fly-ball pitcher (almost never a good thing). As long as the evaluators are impressed with Hart (which is what it sounds like), I have no problem with giving him the inside edge. Either way, it's one of those good problems.
On the prospect side, Baseball America has a podcast where they talk about last year's first round pick Tony Sanchez. I wasn't a big fan of the pick at the time, but he's winning me over little by little. He still needs to prove he can hit at higher levels (like AA), but in the podcast, the guys talk about how good his defense is. There still isn't a roundly accepted way to quantify catcher's defense, but if Sanchez ends up like Yadier Molina, I would be very happy. And then the PPG has a small feature on Pedro Alvarez and his eventual ascent to the Majors. People might be watching PA more than they'll be watching the Buccos (for me, it'll be about 50/50), but one thing's for sure, no matter how well Alvarez will hit in spring training, there is no way he should start the season in Pittsburgh.
And lastly (for now), there's the news that Neil Walker strapped on the catching equipment a few days ago. Walker is athletic enough to play anywhere on the diamond, and anything will help. I don't think he'll hit enough to force his way into a starting spot, so turning himself (willingly) into a super utility player can only do him good. The biggest thing for him is that he needs to become more patient at the plate. Walker showed good patience as a 21-year old at AA in 2007 (55 BB/86 K), but since then, he's been striking out more and walking less. If he can somehow get that patience back, he would be a much more attractive option as compared to Bobby Crosby, Delwyn Young, or Ramon Vasquez. No matter what, I'll be rooting for the guy.
The Harbaugh's are really lame. I'm pretty sure my buddy George got Hootie to play at his frat party at Vanderbilt a few years ago, so it really shouldn't be that tough to get him to play at a sold out Stanford game (although good luck getting the Blowfish to play as well, they split up a few years away). Way to shoot for the stars, Jim.