NY Sports Dog: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Jim Duquette Remains an Idiot

Jim Duquette reported the Mets were "canceling Fall League for financial reasons"...utter crap.

Fall League costs the Mets a few bucks in the grand scheme of things....like $300K for the entire Fall League.

When I read this over the weekend I was dubious, and now Adam Rubin confirmed it.

The Mets denied Sunday a claim by former GM Jim Duquette that they are dropping their fall instructional league for minor leaguers in Port St. Lucie for financial reasons.

Rather, the Mets said, the minor leaguers will work out at the club's new Dominican Academy in Boca Chica, D.R., because there's not enough competition in Florida, especially with the Cards purportedly no longer fielding an instructional league team in nearby Jupiter.

"In a reevaluation of the Mets minor league operations, the club made the decision to move our fall instructional league to our new Dominican Academy in Boca Chica from Port St. Lucie, Fla.," the Mets said in a statement. "We believe that by housing our minor league players in the Dominican, we will have more opportunities to have competition against opposing teams that have training facilities nearby. Over the past few years in Port St. Lucie, the competition has predominately been among our own players as a result of other teams leaving the area. This year's approach will bring approximately 75 prospects to train and compete at our academy and against players affiliated with other major league clubs."

Anyone that's been paying attention has seen the writing on the wall for Florida--both Spring Training and Fall League.

The simple fact of the matter is that teams have been pulling out of there in droves, and the competition is just not there.

It would not surprise me to see the Mets move to Arizona for Spring Training in the next 2 to 3 years.

I lived in Phoenix a few years back, and the baseball complexes there are clean, new, the weather is great (no rainouts), and the fields are all very close to each other--no 6 hour bus trips--everything is within an hour.

The best part of Duquette's quote was the following:
"Now the rumors within the scouting circles are that they can't afford it - which it roughly costs about 300 grand to staff and to invite and fly down all the players, to having meals throughout for about, it's like a four- to five-week program," Duquette said. "... And they're not gonna have it. They have canceled it for this fall. And to me, being a development guy, that's big news."
So you're a "development guy", huh Jim? Well duess what Mr Development, we remember Kazmir you idiot--just crawl in a hole and go away.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Still Love the Mets

Yeah, we have had a very strange season (to put it mildly).

But come on, this is our team...my #1 team...I am a Giants fan, Knicks fan, Devils Fan, Penn State fan (football), St Johns fan (basketball), but above all, I am a Mets fan.

Anyway, it's Saturday, I am watching the game, my wife and I saw "Hurt Locker" earlier, and I feel saucy (as a recently retired Air Force Officer who still has desert sand beneath his toes), and it just hit me...excuse my language but...

Fuck it.

Let's Go Mets! Let's go troops!

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Was Tom Verducci Right on Mike Pelfrey?

On April 7, 2009, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated put Mike Pelfrey in his cross-hairs.

He singled out Pelfrey for a potential drop-off in performance based on something that has become known as, "The Verducci Effect."

Verducci wrote:

Mike Pelfrey was ready for me in the Mets spring training clubhouse, as if he knew I was coming.

"Look at me," the Mets right-hander said one day last month. "I'm a pretty big guy." Yes, sir. Pelfrey is 6-foot-7. Thankfully, he is a rather pleasant, mild-mannered guy.

I didn't feel threatened, but my theory about young pitchers getting overworked was precisely in Pelfrey's crosshairs. Pelfrey was familiar with my rule of thumb that pitchers 25 and under are at risk of injury or significant regression in the year after their clubs boost their workload by 30 or more innings.

The Mets pushed Pelfrey, then 24, 48 innings beyond his previous professional high in innings pitched last year. The club preferred not to do it. In fact, the Mets had mapped out a plan to get Pelfrey about 180 innings last year, but injuries on their staff and a tight pennant race forced the Mets to keep running him out there, rolling the odometer on his innings up to 200 2/3.
Verducci "red-flagged" 10 pitchers for 2009, and looking at the numbers, his theory can certainly be called accurate, or at least another data point for mapping out a program for young pitcher development.

Here are the pitchers he flagged and their ERA increase from 2008 to 2009:

1. Jon Lester Red Sox: +0.39
2. Cole Hamels Phillies: +1.43
3. Chad Billingsley Dodgers: +0.69
4. Tim Lincecum Giants: -0.29
5. Clayton Kershaw Dodgers: -1.30
6. Dana Eveland A's: +3.66
7. Mike Pelfrey Mets: +1.08
8. John Danks White Sox: +0.50
9. Jair Jurrjens Braves: -0.77
10. Jonathan Niese Mets: Injured

So looking at that list, he was right on 6 of the 9 pitchers (Niese's unfortunate non-pitching injury takes him out of this equation).

Lincecum, Jurrjens and Kershaw are three that have improved since last year, but what of Pelfrey, or Cole Hamels for that matter?

In 2008 Pelfrey had an ERA+ of 113, compared to an ERA+ of 88 in 2009.

He is walking 3.4 per 9 innings vice 2.9 in 2008.

His K/9 is up slightly, however his K/BB is worse.

More troubling are his ERA numbers by month:

2008 season:

4.43, 5.35, 3.52, 2.70, 2.93, 4.06

Compared to 2009:

6.32, 2.92, 6.39, 4.84, 5.10.

It's as if we've been playing, "Where in the world is Mike Pelfrey?" all year long.

Now I won't go as far as saying his jump in innings from 2007 to 2008 is the cause of all of this, but it certainly does make you stop and think.

I only hope that over Pelfrey's final 6 or so starts in 2009 that he finds something to build on going forward.

One thing is for certain, he won't match his 200+ innings total from last year, and that might just be the right approach for the rest of the year--caution. He threw 118 pitches in his last outing, and that, in my opinion, is unnecessary right now.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Baseball is Not Hard to Understand: Yanks Claim Carter

Why is everyone up in arms and/or confused about the reason the Yanks did this?

The only reason the Yanks claimed carter was because he is on the Red Sox 40-man roster.

Big yawn...the Yanks were right to do this...they are fighting tooth and nail with the Red Sox...every advantage counts...it has nothing to do with the Mets, who will get Carter once the season is over.

The only real downside is not seeing Carter get at-bats with the Mets in September--then again, he also won't be part of the Mets 2009 injury brigade.

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Time to Stockpile

With the release of Matt Murton, and the trade of Billy Wagner, it's time for Omar to take an aggressive stance on stockpiling.

Bottom line is the Mets upper level minor league teams are paper thin talent-wise, and a former first rounder like Murton, who has hit at every level, should be picked up--and quickly.

Omar needs to shed any pretense he has of being a nice guy and go all out to find talent that can help the team--the mentality needs to change from "more slick fielding middle infielders or past their prime vets" to "more younger guys who can take a pitch and bang".

Get aggressive Omar

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Several Mets Bloggers Added to the Injured List

In what can only be described as a fitting continuation to a truly bizarre season, several Mets bloggers have recently gone down with injury.

Joe Janish of Mets Today lost a pinky in a freak typing incident while writing a story involving Jerry Manuel, on-base percentage, and Daniel Murphy's hip pivot--Joe's been outfitted with a specially designed keyboard and is listed as day-to-day.

Zoe Rice of Pick Me Up Some Mets fell off a step ladder taking down an Oliver Perez poster and has been diagnosed with "tendonosis" of her wrist. She's been put on an aggressive butter churner regiment to help her get back to full strength as quickly as possible.

Metstradamus entered into a state of total lethargy while updating his blog's hate list--he was last seen muttering "all of them" over and over again while wearing a custom made Felix Millan faux mustache--he is out for the year pending "further tests".

Matt Cerrone of Metsblog skipped a start due to losing his ability to "sense" what is going on with the Mets. After a 3-hour break from Mets blogging, Matt is back and convinced he can once again "sense" in the manner his readers have become accustomed to. Click here for an example of Matt's superhuman sensing skills.

Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society strained his groin chasing a man he thought was Tim Foli down the mean streets of Brooklyn. He's apparently had some history with Foli and wanted his revenge. Keane has been given a preliminary "Jose Reyes Diagnosis" and is expected to miss 2 to 36 weeks.

Mack of Mack's Mets is not injured, but he is taking some personal time to follow Lance Broadway around for the rest of the season in hopes that he can line up a gig to become Broadway's biographer or butler.

I wish all of my friends a very speedy recovery.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Done in by a Chicken Bone?

Oh evil spirits, why are you doing this?

Oh mighty one, please forgive us our sins, and let the players play the games.

How can we make amends?

Can we ply you with chicken bones? Perhaps rub some antelope grease on our helmets? Bury a dead warthog under Omar Minaya's office?

Just tell us please!

The List

  • Jose Reyes
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Ryan Church
  • Carlos Delgado
  • John Maine
  • Oliver Perez
  • Angel Pagan
  • Jon Niese
  • Luis Castillo
  • Gary Sheffield
  • J.J. Putz
  • Billy Wagner
  • Ramon Martinez
  • Fernando Nieve
  • Fernando Martinez
  • Tim Redding
  • Brian Schneider
  • Alex Cora
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Official: J.J. Putz to Miss Season

He has frayed ligaments in his forearm (Ulnar) and potential further damage to his repaired and still injured, elbow.

While he won't require surgery, he will need time to heal.

As excited as we all were in the off-season when we acquired Putz, his year, much like the Mets of 2009, has been one for the crapper.

I only hope Putz can come back healthy in 2010 to be the pitcher he once was.

With Billy Wagner gone, it's like the call for the old sage in Star Wars...

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."

Get healthy JJ...in fact, get healthy ALL of you....we need to kick ass in 2010 to make all of this 2009 bullshit worth it.

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10 Things to Know About Chris Carter

Like you, I've been hunting around the Net for Chris Carter stuff....the guy is quirky to say the least!

He can also hit and has power--we could see 100 at-bats for him the rest of the year as the Mets give him an extended big league look.

Here is a smattering on Carter...

  • Went to Stanford
  • He is extremely intense, quirky, and he plays very, very hard
  • .301 lifetime BA in 6 minor league seasons with 124 homeruns
  • Seen as a "major league hitter that plays weak defense"
  • 2008 International League All-Star
  • Can play 1B and corner OF
  • Made the Red Sox out of spring training as the 5th outfielder
  • Listed as 6 feet tall and 230 Lbs and doesn't allow anyone to touch his bats
  • Red Sox acquired him as a PTBNL in the Willy Mo Pena deal
  • Uses Hulk Hogan music as his theme song before each at-bat
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Speculation Still Looming: Chris Carter's Name Dropped

One of the players the Boston fanbase and some media are saying is part of the Billy Wagner deal is minor leaguer Chris Carter.

They are citing the dubious, "someone with inside knowledge", but he does seem a likely player "to be named", especially given the Mets first base prospects for 2010, his age (27 in September), and the Red Sox depth at first base throughout their system.

Carter has hit well at every level and made the Red Sox out of Spring Training.

Scouting Report

  • Has very good power potential and a keen eye for bases on balls. Is also adept at hitting the gaps for doubles.
  • Needs to improve his footwork and hands at first base in order to become a regular at the major-league level.
Career Potential
  • A backup first baseman or corner outfielder.
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Mets to Offer Free Surgery with Season Ticket Plan

The Mets have a new plan to bring their fans even closer to the action, but it comes with a price.

Just announced is the new "Dr Andrews Premium Plan."

Under the arrangement premium season ticket holders get their choice of arthroscopic surgery (knee, hip or shoulder), or an elbow cleanout.

"We feel this is the next logical step in the evolution of the Mets fan experience," said Fred Wilpon. "How better to get the feel of being a real New York Met than with some surgery by noted physician James Andrews?"

Sample packages include:

  • Jose Reyes "Knee Deep in the Hoopla"
  • John Maine Shoulder "Cool Cleanout"
  • Carlos Delgado "Too Hip to be Square"
  • Omar Minaya "Colon Cleanse" (* Diamond Prestige Level Only)
Wilpon went on to add, "Of course re-hab is extra and does not include your plane tickets to Port St Lucie."
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Wags Nets Two, But Who?

Word on the street is that the Mets will get two AA prospects from the Red Sox now that Billy Wagner has agreed to the trade. That alone is enough to keep hope alive as the Sox have a load of talent right now in AA, but again, that both guys will come from AA is just rumor.

Previously I had written that the one player the Mets should pursue from the Red Sox was Anthony Rizzo, but from the sounds of it, Rizzo will not be one of the two as he is in High A ball.

Another name being bandied about is pitcher Felix Doubront, who has very, very good stuff but has not excelled in his development in the way that says, "can't miss." He is in AA and would immediately upgrade our farm system.

So we'll be left to wonder--at least for a little while, on who from this list the Mets get in return.

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB Status MLB 40-man

Travis BeazleyPRR6' 0"17506-17-19837-day DLNo
13Bryson CoxPRR6' 4"20508-10-1984ActiveNo
28Andrew DobiesPLL6' 1"18004-20-1983ActiveNo
25Felix DoubrontPLL6' 2"16510-23-1987ActiveYes
18Kason GabbardPLL6' 3"20004-08-19827-day DLNo
19Tommy HottovyPLL6' 1"19507-09-1981ActiveNo
35Kris JohnsonPLL6' 4"17010-14-1984ActiveNo
34Ryne LawsonPLR6' 2"18006-21-1985ActiveNo
26Richard LentzPRR6' 2"21008-06-1984ActiveNo
18Derrick LoopPRL6' 3"22012-11-1983ActiveNo
45Blake MaxwellPRR6' 5"25508-01-1984ActiveNo
33Ryne MillerPRR6' 4"23009-25-1985ActiveNo
39Jarod PlummerPRR6' 5"20001-27-19847-day DLNo
36Chris ProvincePRR6' 3"22001-20-1985ActiveNo
15Chad RhoadesPRR5' 10"17503-10-1983ActiveNo

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB Status MLB 40-man
30Juan ApodacaCRR5' 11"18007-15-1986ActiveNo
23Luis ExpositoCRR6' 3"21001-20-1987ActiveNo

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB Status MLB 40-man
21Lars Anderson1BLL6' 4"21509-25-1987ActiveNo
40Jorge Jimenez3BLR6' 1"21009-12-1984ActiveNo
2Ryan Khoury2BRR5' 10"18003-19-1984ActiveNo
5Yamaico NavarroSSRR5' 11"17010-31-1987ActiveNo
37Jon StillDHRR6' 2"21011-16-1984ActiveNo
17Iggy Suarez2BRR5' 11"16505-03-1981ActiveNo

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB Status MLB 40-man
31Reid EngelRFLR6' 3"19005-07-19877-day DLNo
32Ryan KalishLFLL6' 1"20503-28-1988ActiveNo
43Daniel NavaRFSL5' 10"20002-22-1983ActiveNo
44Jason PlaceLFRR6' 3"20505-08-1988ActiveNo
12Matt SheelyRFRR5' 9"16008-30-1986ActiveNo

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Billy Wagner Makes an Interesting Decision

I'm not sure quite what to make of Billy Wagner's reported decision to invoke his no-trade clause after being picked up on waivers by the Boston Red Sox.

At 38-years old, he expressed his desire to pitch for a winner, like the Red Sox.

He's never been to a World Series, the Sox have won two in the last 5 years and were a game away from going again last year.

He has all sorts of other issues with the move--he doesn't want to be offered arbitration, he doesn't want to be overused, he wants to close next year, and on and on.

So here's the deal:

  • The Mets will not make the post-season this year
  • The Mets will use him
  • The Mets will offer him arbitration
  • He will not close for the Mets next year
So if getting what he wants on all fronts were the conditions for waiving his no-trade clause, he truly made a mistake.

I know Billy has a lot of pride and enjoys nothing more than sticking his middle finger up to the man, but this type of self-destructive behavior is a bit over the top.

Look, I'm very happy to have a healthy Billy Wagner on the Mets next year for $8M--or at worst, he tests the FA waters and gives us a draft pick.

Anyway, for a guy that professed his desire to "pay back" the Wilpons for the big contract he got, he sure has a funny way of saying thanks.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

27 Hard Outs

Now that the after effects from yesterday's crushing defeat have somewhat subsided, I'd like to focus on something that Ron Darling mentioned toward the end of the game.

27 hard outs.

Who gives them, and who doesn't? Who are the gamers on the team?

Let's start with Jeff Francoeur, who is the man behind Darling's comments.

In the 9th inning yesterday Francoeur made a wonderful diving catch that Ron Darling noted by saying, "there's a man that gives you 27 hard outs."

Jeff Francoeur is a gamer--he'll be back with the Mets and has the chance to get his career solidly back on track.

Corey Sullivan is another one--I like him for the bench next year. The guy is pure hustle in the outfield, runs the bases as hard as anyone on the team, and he plays high energy baseball.

Omir Santos plays hard--very hard. The guy has been beat up and battered and he digs in and does his thing. While not terribly gifted as a hitter, he has had some key RBIs this year, and he works his tail off. He is also hitting over .300 for the month of August.

Angel Pagan--he has had one or two tiny lapses this year, but the guy plays hard, runs hard, and might just be our centerfielder next year if Beltran moves to LF. I'd actually like to see Pagan in left a bit this year when Sheff isn't in there--put him in left and let Sullivan play CF.

Now I'm not going to come out and say the following guys don't have long stretches where they hustle a ton, but over the course of a season they have had moments where I questioned their desire: Brian Schneider, Gary Sheffield, and Luis Castillo.

Of the three, only Castillo will be back IMO. Luis hustles and plays hard--when he's doing well. He also has lapses in the field and pouts. That said, he's having a terrific overall season. He's a "26 out" kind of guy.

Brian Schneider--I wonder what is going on with him. His swing looks slow at the plate, his lateral movement behind the dish is off, and he has a different look about him this year than in seasons past. It could be injury, it could be seeing Church leave, it could be displeasure with any number of things--he needs to go.

The Mets made a colossal mistake in not letting Gary Sheffield go when they had a chance to get something in return. He played very hard for the team early, has had a few injuries, and he threatened to leave the team when he didn't get his way. It's typical Sheffield--play hard when he wants to play hard. I have no use for him at this point, and neither do the Mets.

27 hard outs...doesn't seem like much to ask.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Alpha-Omega: A First

Until someone tells me otherwise, I am saying that the Mets led off and ended the game in a way that has never occurred before, and will probably never happen again.

They led off the game with an inside-the-park homerun off the bat of Angel Pagan, and closed by falling victim to a triple play.

Now we know that today's game had the first unassisted triple play to end a game, but I'd also wager that we've never had a game start with an inside-the-park HR and end on a triple play.

Wackiest game ever!

Anyone that can prove to me that this has occurred before in a major league game wins a Mets related prize (it's a good one!).

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It's Official: We've Seen Everything

The Mets lost on an unassisted triple play to end the game.

The 15th unassisted triple play in major league HISTORY...yes, and of course it happens against the 2009 Mets.

Angel Pagan led off the 9th by slashing one through the legs of Ryan Howard and racing to third. He scored when Phils backup second baseman Eric Bruntlett botched Luis Castillo's grounder.

Suddenly we had a game--after being down 3 in the 9th, 2 errors and a hit led to a run, and suddenly there were men on 1st and second with Jeff Francoeur at the plate.

And then IT happened....

Jerry sent the runners, Francoeur hit a bullet right to Eric Bruntlett, who was moving to second to cover...he steps on the bag to get Luis Castillo and tagged Daniel Murphy, who was right in front of him.

It felt like Referee Mills Lane counting out the Mets...

ONE, TWO, THREE....y'er out!

We've officially seen everything now.

Here's the video of Buntlett's unassisted triple play.

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Omar is Wilpon's Guy

Bart Hubbach reported the following from Fred Wilpon in response to a question from The Post's Mike Puma: "Am I going to bring Omar [Minaya] back next year? Absolutely. That's a fact."

Oh boy.

Let's look at some of Omar's memorable moves, both good and bad...as you look through the list you will see some real doozies, including the trade for Bartolo Colon in exchange for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee that might be, in my opinion, the worst trade of all time!

As GM of the Expos

As GM of the Mets

The noise Omar made in 2009 was primarily to throw some money around--he did this to acquire Frankie Rodriguez and to re-sign Ollie Perez. He also went cheap on the 5th starter, signing Tim Redding and Livan Hernandez. I liked the pickup of Alex Cora for the bench and the trade of Scott Shoeneweis.

The "big trade" of 2009 was an Omar creation--and I did like the trade at the time though I wish we had managed to hold on to Mike Carp, long a favorite of mine--The New York Mets sent Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, and Mike Carp to the Mariners and Joe Smith to the Indians in return for JJ Putz(closer), Sean Green(RP), and Jeremy Reed(OF). The Mets also dealt 3 other minor leaguers, including Jason Vargas.

The trade itself has actually failed for each team--Jason Vargas is 3-6 with a high ERA for Seattle--Endy Chavez went down for the season with an ACL--Joe Smith had a poor first half, and he is pitching well now--Aaron Heilman's been a huge disappointment. Franklin Gutierrez has been the best value of the whole deal--he's having a very good season for Seattle.

For the Mets the trade was supposed to be addition by subtraction, but it really hasn't worked out at all.

JJ Putz cost money for very little return, and his future is in doubt following surgery. Jeremy Reed is a dime a dozen player. Sean Green has flashed hot and cold.

The in-season trade of note was swapping Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur--by all accounts this looks like a good move for both teams.

Bottom line is that Omar is from a GM school that is somewhat old fashioned--he likes to spend money--he likes older veterans--I believe he undervalues prospects and needs to learn to draft out of slot. I also think he fails when it comes to measuring players using newer, more advanced stats--something that is so commonplace these days.

The thing with Omar is it's not just the moves he makes--and again, he has made some good ones--but he has drafted poorly.

Remember, this is the guy who, in 2002, passed over Cole Hamels, Prince Fielder, Zach Grienke, James Loney, Jeremy Guthrie, Nick Swisher, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Cain, Joe Blanton and Scott Kazmir in order to take Clint Everts 5th overall.

So if we're to believe the Wilpon's it looks like the Mets will have Minaya at the helm for a few more years--that's unfortunate.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thank You 1969 Mets

The ONE Player We Should Demand for Wagner

You may have never heard of him, but you will.

His name is Anthony Rizzo, and he can hit, field, lead and be a major league star. Rizzo is 20 years old and 2 years away from beginning a very long and productive big league career.

He is at exactly the right level for the Red Sox to let him go--High A--he will also be blocked by prospect Lars Anderson, who is more of an elite prospect and "untradeable".

In 2008 he hit .373 in the Sally league.

If Omar does this right, he sheds some payroll in a lost year--a Wilpon mandate--and gets back a prospect that could potentially be a long-term solution at a position of need.

Omar--the Sox are desperate, they want to win now, and they absolutely need Billy Wagner--it's time to earn your paycheck.

Anthony Rizzo 38 | 1B
Status: Active

Full Name: Anthony Rizzo
Born: 08/08/1989
Birthplace: ort Lauderdale, FL
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 220
Bats: L
Throws: L
2009 Season
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