Sunday, April 22, 2012

El Hombre? We Now Know Who He Really Is

        By Ross Newhan

        Thoughts from the first month (or what do I know with a fantasy team in last place?):

        --Well, we now know that Arte Moreno was simply making a generous gesture to the other L.A. team with his billboards honoring El Hombre. Moreno was simply saluting Matt Kemp, the real El Hombre.

       --Albert Pujols is too much of a proven commodity not to live up to some measure of expectations, although it is worth remembering that, by Pujols' standards, he declined each of his last three years in St. Louis. The fact is that Moreno's 10 year, $240 million contract was an overkill, over-reaction to the Angels' division failures of the last two years and, in reality, all they really needed was a healthy Kendrys Morales to bat behind Mike Trumbo, the signing of C.J. Wilson to stretch out their rotation and a rebuilt bullpen, which remains an unresolved issue. As it is, Manager Mike Scioscia faces a daily lineup dilemma (and for all of Scioscia's talent there are bound to be blow-ups along the way), with the added issue of when to bring up Mike Trout and what to do with him when they do.

     --We all know that Vin Scully is irreplaceable, but I don't understand why Charley Steiner isn't the regular TV voice when Scully is ill or doesn't travel. Steiner is the best of  the rest of the Dodger broadcasting roster, and that isn't a backhanded compliment. The man knows his baseball, tells a good story, has widespread experience and displayed his ability again during the opening home series when Scully was confined to the house.

     --Philip Humber, who hurled baseball's 21st perfect game on behalf of the Chicago White Sox Saturday, is an example of the inexact nature of scouting--whether by eyeball or computer. The New York Mets had the third overall pick in the June draft of 2004. They wanted a future caliber ace with the potential of a quick return and focused on three college pitchers: Justin Verlander of Old Dominion, Jered Weaver of Cal State Long Beach and Humber of Rice. Verlander was picked second overall by Detroit, the Mets passed on Weaver because of his bonus demands and he ultimately went to the Angels as the 12th overall pick, and the Mets chose Humber at No. 3 overall. Humber made one start for the impatient Mets, was traded to the Minnesota in the package that landed Johan Santana in 2008, and he then bounced from the Twins to Kansas City to Oakland and, finally, to the White Sox, who made him an 11th hour addition to their rotation last year. Verlander and Weaver have become aces of their respective teams, but the well-travelled Humber is now part of baseball history, pitching the type of  dominant game that the Mets once envisioned at the top of their own rotation.

    --It would be quite a role and team reversal if Peter O'Malley follows through on his possible interest in buying the San Diego Padres, with the biggest hurdle being the fact that owner John Moores and every other major league owner are salivating over the $2.15 billion that Mark Walter paid for the Dodgers. Moores, who took back the Padres when MLB owners ultimately rejected the ongoing installment purchase by Jeff Moorad, would seem unlikely to get that for the Padres, although they recently signed a 20 year, $1.4 billion television deal with Fox Sports, including a $200 million upfront bonus and a 20% stake in the regional network. O'Malley would undoubtedly, at least in time, turn the operation over to son Kevin and a nephew, Tom Seidler, who have made a respected reputation as partners of the minor league Visalia Rawhide though their Top of the Third, Inc.             

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