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Twelve Thoughts: Peavy Retrospective, Showalter, Lilly Loving L.A.

Aug 5, 2010 – 10:00 AM
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Tom Krasovic

Tom Krasovic %BloggerTitle%

Jake PeavyNow that five ace pitchers have been traded in the last 13 months, one of the early trades, the stunner that sent Jake Peavy to the White Sox last summer, somehow is even more incredible.

Comparisons between the price paid for Peavy and the prices paid for Cliff Lee (dealt three times in that span), Dan Haren, Roy Halladay, or Roy Oswalt are a waste of time, because there's no comparison. The White Sox swallowed all of the $56 million guaranteed Peavy at a time when no other club was calling for the right-hander, who had full no-trade powers, a bum ankle that likely will require surgery and a violent delivery to go with a history of DL-level shoulder and elbow ailments.

Willing to eat money and accept a case of Old Style beer from Chicago in lieu of actual talent, the Padres instead moved all of the contract and obtained four pitchers led by left-hander Clayton Richard (9-5 with a 3.60 ERA for $424,000 this year).

Aside from freeing up San Diego's payrolls in 2011 and 2012, the salary relief helped the Padres to sign three above-slot draftees and later starting pitcher Jon Garland (who saw that San Diego's ballpark is best for him), and retain stars Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell for this year when Peavy's $15 million salary would've put the club well over budget.

• Speaking of the $38-million Padres, they are exploiting the "Winning Is Secondary" market inefficiency.

"Winning is the only thing that matters to every guy in this clubhouse," said David Eckstein, a second baseman whose two World Series championship rings reinforce the message.

Don't tell the Little Leaguers, but winning is secondary to a lot of big leaguers.

"You know why the Cardinals have such a good clubhouse?" Eckstein told FanHouse. "Because winning is all that matters to the best player on that team (Albert Pujols)."

• Used to be, a ballplayer risked getting beaten up by teammates if he repeatedly played like winning wasn't primary.

A ballplayer asked to get pummeled if he chronically loafed or goofed when Andre Dawson or Rick Sutcliffe was a teammate.

"We'd get physical, if that's what was needed after we had talked to him a few times," said the 6-foot-7 Sutcliffe, a Cy Young winner in 1981. Like the time when Sutcliffe and Dawson stuffed a Cubs teammate into his locker upside down and tossed his gear outside the clubhouse.

"If you love the game, it'll love you back," Dawson said several times at his recent Hall of Fame induction.

• Just guessing here, but Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti likes the music of Neil Young.

It's better to burn out than to fade away, Colletti seemed to be saying when he made three prospects-for-veteran trades last week although the Dodgers' chances of reaching the playoffs were maybe 10 percent.

Too little, too late or not, three executives on other clubs praised Colletti's trade for pitcher Ted Lilly, even before Lilly, in his Dodgers debut, retired 20 consecutive Padres hitters on Tuesday. Colletti's rentals of Scott Podsednik and Octavio Dotel were less admired.

• You can take the man out of Chicago, but you can't take the Chicago out of the man.

Two months ago when the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961, Colletti reacted like San Francisco Giants fans would if their team won a World Series. "I had tears in my eyes when [Patrick] Kane scored the goal," Colletti told West Coast Bias, as if we care about hockey teams in Flyover Land. "It was the first time from my childhood that any team that I had ever really rooted for won a championship."

If Torre's Dummies continue to blunder and loaf on the basepaths, Colletti may be crying different tears.

• When the Orioles hired Buck Showalter to manage, clubhouse men throughout the American League groaned.

Buck ShowalterShowalter's detail obsession, while productive in terms of team-building, drove some clubbies nuts years ago before Buck left the duguout for the TV booth. Like when Showalter demanded a new brand of toilet paper in both of Arizona's clubhouses. Or when he chided an attendant who handed him a ketchup bottle because it was plastic instead of glass. Or, when he told staffers to rid the visiting manager's office of odors left by Jack McKeon's cigars, then hours later yelled for them to bring him cigarettes.

• Now that he's living on the Evil Coast, has LaDainian Tomlinson lost his mind?

That was my reaction this week after reading that the former San Diego Chargers star is happy that New York Jets teammates are tackling him in practices. L.T. said the hits will better prepare him than Norv Turner's no-tackle practices in San Diego. L.T. should know what's best for him, but NFL defenders thumped him several times in preseason games last fall yet LT still had a rough opener in Oakland. Once the hitting started, the 30-year-old wasn't as quick and bold as he had showed in training camp, and I saw every Chargers practice and scrimmage.

• Hard to believe anyone's watching the Astros now that football has started in Texas, but some scouts worry that pitcher Brett Myers is relying too much on his breaking pitches this year.

The Astros, though, did their homework before giving the right-hander a $23-million extension last week.

"We have no concern," Astros GM Ed Wade said Wednesday via e-mail. "He still possesses a solid four-seamer and his two-seamer is effective. From a health standpoint, we preconditioned his extension on MRIs of his shoulder, elbow and hip, and all are clean. He's a 29-year-old horse."

• There's still hope for the Toronto Blue Jays, who snuck into West Coast Bias' cyber space here.

Unless the Jays are moved out of the smothering AL East, it may all be for naught, but pro-active rookie GM Alex Anthopolous has obtained potential frontliners who are far from free agency in shortstop Yunel Escobar and Double-A pitcher Kyle Drabek.

"Drabek looks outstanding," a veteran scout said. "He looks like his dad (former Pirates ace Doug Drabek), only he's bigger and stronger and up to 94 with a plus slider and changeup."

• Troy Tulowitzki's injury isn't what knocked the Rockies down the mountain.

The Rockies are a better team now that shortstop Tulowitzki is recovered from a wrist fracture, but if the Rockies pitch like they did when he was on the DL, it won't matter. Colorado had a 5.12 ERA over a 30-day stretch. Ace Ubaldo Jimenez finally regressed, allowing 28 runs over six starts. Previously the Rockies were 15-1 in his starts.

• Baseball needs more players like Torii Hunter.

Because winning is the most important thing to him, Hunter made no waves this week when the Angels moved the nine-time Gold Glover from center field to right field. Hunter also praised newly promoted center fielder Peter Bourjos, a rookie who'll be pressed to hit major league pitching even without adjusting to left field. The move may only be temporary, but Hunter sent a practical, team-first message to the entire club.

• If Lilly pitches well down the stretch, his free agency will be among the winter's better storylines.

Folks in Flyover Land say Lilly will sign back with the Cubs because he really enjoys Chicago and built a new house a few blocks from Wrigley Field. However, California dreamin' could take root as Lilly ponders the Golden State's pitcher friendly ballparks and pleasant climate. If the Dodgers decide that Lilly will go elsewhere, will club ownership allow Colletti to pursue compensatory draft picks by offering salary arbitration? Recent history says no.
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