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Article:Baseball Notebook, Selig Takes Easy Way Out, Spring Training Notebook

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Bud Selig may be glad he picked up the "Bud" nickname so people wouldn't know his real name is Allan Huber Selig but "Do Nothing" would fit him better. It appears from the latest news reports that he plans to do nothing about most of the players named on the Mitchell Report.

Selig has again taken the easy way out of a bad situation. His way of facing a problem is to look the other way and pretend it never happened. In the summer of 1998, he looked the other way while fans poured into the stadiums to see Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battle for the home run lead and shatter the single season record of 61 home runs.

When all else fails for Selig he just looks the other way. Even taking into account that a lot of the players on the list took performance enhancers before there were any rules prohibiting their use, it was his inaction that gave the player's free rein to use them.

Jose Canseco has done more to fight the use of performance enhancers than Selig has. If not for Congress becoming involved, Selig would have stood on the sidelines doing nothing. When backed up against the wall, he and Don Fehr, the player's union representative, finally agreed to test the players. Fehr did make sure most players didn't talk to Mitchell's investigators though, in order to pretend that he wasn't really trying to solve the problem.

The most encouraging thing to me is that players like Derek Jeter and Jeff Kent have spoken out to get the game cleaned up. As long as there is baseball, there will be cheaters trying to get an edge, but those caught need to have 100 game suspensions and not be paid for those games missed.

On a side note, Barry "Balco" Bonds may think he won sort of a victory when a judge ruled that the prosecutors had to reword the charges against Bonds. However, I think he is no closer to being cleared of the charges than when he was indicted last year. At least his testimony has been released to the public so we can get a better idea of what questions were asked and what his responses were. To me, there is no doubt that he used steroids, but proving that he lied to the grand jury will not be an easy task.

Spring Training Notebook

It seems that just as baseball fans are trying to concentrate on what is going on in Florida and Arizona but the steroids issue keeps getting in the news (I apologize for writing about it so much, but it is of such major importance that the subject can't be ignored). So, now we return to what we all love about baseball, and that is what is happening on the field not what is happening in some courtroom.

One last off the field issue was the declaration of Jason Marquis of the Chicago Cubs that if he was chosen as a starter, he wanted to be traded, which angered Lou Piniella, who said Marquis was welcome to leave, but later softened his stance saying he overreacted to the comments by Marquis. In each of the last two seasons, Marquis had such a bad second half that he was taken out of the starting rotation while with the Cardinals and Cubs.

Jay Bruce, the minor league player of the year in 2007, is off to a good start with six hits in his first twelve at bats. He drove in two runs yesterday in the 8-4 win by the Toronto Blue Jays over the Cincinnati Reds. The Cleveland Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers 3-1, handing the Tigers their first defeat of the spring. Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Carlos Guillen, and Ivan Rodriguez are a combined 3 for 36 after four games.

Scott Olsen pitched three shut out innings in the Florida Marlins' 5-4 win over the Cardinals. It looks like the Cardinals may be in trouble this season if Troy Glaus can't play more than 115 games like he did last season. Albert Pujols may be pitched around if Glaus isn't in the lineup. This spring, only the Astros, Mets, and Dodgers have less home runs than the Cardinals do; the Cardinals have only two home runs in their first four games.

Mike Hampton pitched two scoreless innings in their 6-4 win over the Astros. Josh Anderson is hitting .571 this spring so far for the Atlanta Braves and is second on team in RBI's with 3; only Jeff Francoeur has more (4). Anderson is bidding to win an outfield spot on the team and he has stolen 40 or more bases in his last three minor league season so his speed may give him the advantage over the others contending for an outfield spot.

Livan Hernandez took the 8-2 win for the Minnesota Twins over the Boston Red Sox. Clay Buchholz took the loss after pitching two innings and giving up four runs; he left the game with an 18.00 ERA. Angel Pagan drove in three runs in the 6-5 win by the Mets over the Dodgers. The Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in all of spring training with a 3-0 mark after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5. The Rays and Yankees are the only undefeated teams in spring training, but the Yankees only have a 1-0 record.

The Milwaukee Brewers edged the Los Angeles Angels 4-2, as Chris Capuano took the win. Matt LaPorta was one for one raising his average to .500 for the spring. While it is highly unlikely LaPorta will come up north this spring he could be back up before end of the season. The Chicago White Sox split two games with the Arizona Diamondbacks with the split squad absorbing a 12-5 loss while the other team won 7-6 behind two home runs by Nick Swisher. Cuban defector Alexei Ramirez continues to hit well by hitting .500 this spring.

Six pitchers combined to pitch the Oakland A's to a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies. Bobby Crosby hit his second home run of the spring in the contest. Four of the six pitchers for the A's finished the game without allowing a run this spring. Josh Hamilton, who was 3 for 3 and is now hitting .667 for the Texas Rangers this spring, led them to a 8-7 win over the Kansas City Royals. The Seattle Mariners pounded out 14 hits but only one player (Richie Sexson) had two hits with twelve players having one hit each. The Mariners defeated the San Diego Padres 6-2 in the contest.

Lou Piniella will not have much confidence in Neal Cotts the next time he brings him into a game after the debacle yesterday in which Cotts gave up 5 runs, 3 hits and 3 walks in 2/3 of an inning and he left the game with a 27.00 ERA. Felix Pie hit his second home run in the 8-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Pedro Feliz is hitting .500 for the Philadelphia Phillies after the 7-7 tie with the Yankees yesterday. Carlos Carrasco has pitched well in his bid to make the Phillies pitching staff having pitched four scoreless innings this spring.

Spring Stats

Hitting

Jason Bourgeois who has played eight minor league seasons without playing a game in the majors is leading the majors this spring in hits with 7 along with White Sox teammate Paul Konerko, Angel Pagan, and Gerardo Parra of the Diamondbacks. Parra only has two minor league seasons and yet this is his second year to play in spring training games and he has not played higher than A ball. This shows to me that the Diamondbacks think he is going to be a special player to get this much attention at the age of 20 and won't turn 21 till May 6th.

Six players lead in home runs this spring with two each. The A's have two of those players in Jack Cust and Bobby Crosby. The surprise name on the list is Wladimir Balentien of the Mariners, who is only 23. He has had over 20 home runs and over 80 runs batted in during his last three minor league seasons. He batted only three times for the Mariners last season, but had two hits, including a home run and four runs batted in. He has improved his plate discipline cutting his strikeouts in his last three seasons from 160-140-105. In 2007, he had 33 more at-bats than the 2006 season yet still had 35 less strikeouts.

Jack Cust and Alejandro De Aza lead in runs batted in this spring with six each. Nick Swisher leads in total bases with 14. Jack Cust and Brooks Conrad of the A's are second with 12 total bases. Conrad is a seven year minor league with no major league experience. He had been in the Astros organization and has hit over 20 home runs the last three seasons. Two seasons ago for Round Rock he had 79 extra base hits including 15 triples. He may be getting his last chance for a shot at the major leagues since he turned 28 in January.

Eugenio Velez, who may see some playing time for the Giants because of the knee surgery of Omar Vizquel, leads the majors in stolen bases with five. Velez didn't start playing professional baseball until the age of 22; he is now 26. In 2006, he had 64 stolen bases and 58 in 2007. He hit 14 homers and drove in 90 runs in 2006 but in 2007 hit only one home run and drove in 25 in 2007 which included 14 games with the Giants and hit .273 while on the team.

Gerardo Parra is leading spring players in hitting with a .700 average among players with at least 10 at bats this spring with Paul Konerko next with a .636 average. Next on the list is Jason Bourgeois with a .583 average. Two A's and a former A's player lead in extra base hits this spring with four. Brooks Conrad and Jack Cust are the present A's players while Nick Swisher is the former A's player while Chris Snyder of the Diamondbacks is the only other player with four extra base hits.

Pitching

Scott Olsen and Mark Redman are the only pitchers with as many five innings pitched to have an earned run average of 0.00. Carlos Carrasco and Luke Hochevar are the only pitchers with four innings pitched to have perfect 0.00 ERA's. Geoff Geary has allowed nine hits to lead all pitchers this spring in hits allowed and it took him only three innings to allow those nine hits and has allowed five runs for a 15.00 ERA.

Lance Cormier the former Braves pitcher has allowed eight runs to score in one inning for a 63.00 ERA and also allowed six hits in that one inning. He shares the dubious lead of giving up the most runs this spring with Barry Zito, who pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed eight runs while giving up seven hits and two walks and has an ERA of 108.00.

Adam Russell of the White Sox leads in walks with 6. Bill Murphy of Diamondbacks and Chris Schroder of the Washington Nationals lead in strikeouts with five each. Murphy will be 27 in May and has only six innings of major league experience. Schroder will be 30 in August and has been a strikeout pitcher his whole career with over 8 strikeouts per nine innings three times and the rest of the time he has been in double figures in strikeouts. He has 82 strikeouts in 73 major league innings with the Nationals.

Looking at Spring Training Standings

The two Florida teams the Rays and Marlins are a combined 7-1 this spring early in spring season action. The Marlins are the only team to win as many as four games. The Astros are the only team to lose as many as four games with their 1-4 record. The Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, and Toronto Blue Jays are the only teams in AL to have losing records with those teams having identical 1-3 records. The NL has nine teams with losing records, while the Marlins and Braves are only teams in NL with winning records this spring with the rest of the teams at .500 or below.

Teams Will Make Cuts Soon

With the season only four weeks away, we should start seeing the teams start making their cuts in the next week or two as they send down rookies for more seasoning and end the careers of major leaguers who have passed their prime. It is much cheaper to release a veteran who would have been paid millions and keep a rookie making the $390,000 minimum on the roster.

There are still a lot of unsigned free agents who are running out of time to find a team. There will also be many former major leaguers who signed minor league contracts who will retire rather than play in the minor leagues if they don't make the major league roster. Opening day of 2008 will find a lot of former major leaguers on the outside looking at baseball on their big screen televisions instead of being on the field.

Most notable of those players will be players like Barry "Balco" Bonds (unless he signs with a team between now and then) and Kenny Lofton, who has proved age is not slowing him down much, and Sammy Sosa, who it seemed would have no trouble getting a contract after his 92 RBI season in 2007. He may have priced himself out of the market by asking for fourteen times as much this season as he received in 2007.


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