Browsing Archive February, 2008

Much Ado About El Duque

With the arrival of Johan Santana, who would have believed there’d be so much concern and discussion surrounding Orlando Hernandez at the beginning of spring training?

Only two weeks of workouts, and already pundits are clamoring for El Duque to move to the bullpen, citing his various physical woes.

For example, from Marty Noble in his most recent “mailbag“:

The Mets would be better off now and in the future if they move Hernandez into the bullpen and start Mike Pelfrey in the rotation. Hernandez would stand a better chance of lasting the entire season, and Pelfrey would get some positive big league time.

Really? Based on what? Pelfrey’s 5.57 ERA and 4 1/3 inning starts last year? Because his performances were so glowing and full of potential compared to El Duque’s 6-, 7-, and 8-inning efforts and his 1.17 WHIP?

I hate to single out Noble’s comments, because he’s far from the only pundit who has this stupefying notion that El Duque is somehow better off in the bullpen. In fact, the theory has spread like a virus this winter, and I suppose it’s based on Duque’s miraculous three innings of relief work for the White Sox during the 2004 ALCS and another single, hitless inning of relief in the World Series a few days later (he walked FOUR in that inning, by the way).

Take a look at Hernandez’s career, and you’ll notice that he’s pitched in 219 games — 211 as a starter. But those three innings against the Angels four years ago stick in people’s heads like a moth on flypaper.

I’m not going to argue the fact that Orlando Hernandez is fragile, and the fact that he might be surreptitiously carrying an AARP card doesn’t increase our confidence in his health. He’s going to break down — that’s for certain — and he’s going to spend at least one stint if not two on the DL this season. But we know that going in, and it’s OK because we have Pelfrey waiting in the wings to grab a dozen or so starts. It’s not unlike “the deal” we have with Moises Alou: no one expects more than 100 games from Alou — but no one is calling for the leftfield job to be handed to Endy Chavez, either. We know these guys are older than dirt, but also know that when they’re in the lineup, they’ll be better than at least 75% of the rest of the men who play their position. More importantly, we have Alou and Hernandez for the postseason. That’s really their singular purpose on the roster, to somehow keep their bodies patched together so they’re able to provide October heroics.

The notion of putting El Duque in the bullpen is not only baseless, it’s sheer stupidity. We all agree that Orlando has health issues — so why in the world would we think that putting him into a role of irregularity would somehow keep him healthier? People who opine that a relief role would be “best” for Hernandez based on health concerns clearly have no idea how the human body works in an athletic environment nor have any experience managing pitchers. Talk for a few minutes to a professional trainer or a physician and they will tell you that the ideal routine for an injury-prone athlete is exactly that: routine. Fragile (and recovering) players need to adhere to a strict, consistent program of physical activity — a starting pitcher’s routine, in fact, is ideal. You want to see El Duque land on the DL? Have him sit around the bullpen doing nothing for a week and a half, then put him into the fourth inning of a game for mopup duty. Better yet, tab him for a middle relief role, making him warm up and cool down three or four times during a game before getting in. Remember, he’s been a starter his entire life — to suddenly switch him to relief is not something that he can be expected to adjust to without a) difficulty and b) experimentation. For example, we don’t know if he can pitch on back to back days, because he’s never done it before. We don’t know if he can throw an inning or two, then come back two days later, on a consistent basis. Off the top of my head the only longtime veteran starters who made a successful transition to the bullpen were Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz — but they were in their early 30s when they did so, not their early 50s. Change is difficult as one gets older.

Personally, I think bullpen management is challenging enough for Willie Randolph — he doesn’t need the added pressure of wondering whether he can use El Duque or not from day to day. Let’s remember that, when healthy, Hernandez put forth some of the best starts we saw all year — and with that in mind how should he be used out of the ‘pen? You certainly don’t want to waste his talent in a long relief, Aaron Sele role, where he may or may not pitch for weeks at a time. But does he have the physical ability to be useful in a middle relief or setup role? It might turn out that his body doesn’t recover quickly enough to pitch EFFECTIVELY more than once a week — and if that’s the case, wouldn’t you rather try to get 7-8 innings out of him rather than one or two? If he’s going to falter, I’d rather see it happen in the third or fourth inning of a game that can be salvaged, rather than the seventh or eighth frame of a 4-3 ballgame.

In a fantasy world, where all we rely on are PECOTA or Strat-O-Matic cards, having Orlando Hernandez in the bullpen seems like a great idea. In reality, where we must deal with the quirks and inconsistencies of the human body, it’s not so clear-cut. Maybe El Duque’s body will easily transition to the rigors of relief — but maybe it won’t. In a rotation where he’ll take the fifth turn — a turn that won’t be needed until late April — and isn’t expected to make more than 20 starts, is it worth the gamble?


The Next Mets Manager

One thing is for certain: Willie Randolph will not be manager of the Mets forever.

Personally, I hope he sticks around long enough to win a ring. Despite the frequent lambasting of his mysterious managerial moves and the funny Photoshopping of his face that you see here from time to time, Willie is one of my favorite people in baseball and I always root for him. I have the utmost respect for his old-school approach to the game — and the way he played it for 18 years.

However, all managers are hired to be fired, and eventually it will be Randolph’s time to go (hopefully later rather than sooner). Thinking ahead, there’s one name that would be a perfect fit as Mets manager, and it’s not Ken Oberkfell.

Wally Backman.

Before you say “whoa, has Joe lost his mind?”, understand that Backman is not the loose-cannon nut job that he’s perceived to be thanks to the media. In fact, he might be the best manager in baseball without a Major League job.

First, we’ll address the horrendous image of Backman created by the mass media, which is based on these misconceptions:

1. Wally Backman is a drunk.
People cite Backman’s DUI charge in 1999 as evidence that he is an out-of-control alcoholic. He readily admits to incident, has profusely and persistently apologized for it, and hasn’t had an issue since.

If someone can’t be a manager because he has a DWI on his record, then why does Tony LaRussa still have a job? How did Billy Martin succeed? Gene Michael was once arrested for DWI, and he was both a manager and GM for the Yankees. Those are only a few of the many throughout the last 30 years. Backman’s problem is not that he has a DUI on his record, but that it occurred BEFORE he became an MLB manager. It happened almost ten years ago, he did his time, now how much longer before he’s absolved?

2. Wally Backman is a wife-beater.
Not even close. This piece of fiction was crafted, we assume from a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by his ex-wife in 1995 during divorce proceedings. As it turns out, the TRO was dismissed by the judge because the former Mrs. Backman was found guilty of perjury in obtaining it. Beyond the lies that produced the TRO, there is no evidence that Backman has ever laid a hand on his wife, nor any other woman. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. During a dispute with his current wife, he was wacked with a baseball bat by an intervening friend — breaking his arm and landing HIM in jail.

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that Wally has not been an angel, and absolutely has some issues with the women in his wife. But the physical violence part of his image is completely erroneous. Yes he has a temper, and it’s a lot bigger than that of others — and that same passion is part of what makes him a great manager (which we’ll get to soon).

3. Wally Backman is a loose cannon with a fiery temper — and therefore can’t be trusted.
I LOVE this one. Backman has been derided for throwing temper tantrums on the field, performing acts of insanity such as screaming at umpires and throwing objects onto the field. Hmmm… let’s see, that sounds a lot like …
Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox, Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, Leo Durocher, Ozzie Guillen, Tom LaSorda, Dick Williams, Jim Leyland … wow! and every one of those guys wears a World Series ring!

Most Mets fans chide Willie Randolph for not showing enough emotion on the field, and for not “backing up his players” during umpire disputes. Showing passion on the field wouldn’t be an issue with Backman.

4. Wally Backman can’t manage his own life, so how can he possibly manage an MLB team?
This is one of the few criticisms that MIGHT have some truth to it. Yes, he’s been placed under arrest for alcohol-related incidents. Yes, he’s been married twice. Yes, he once filed for bankruptcy. But do any of these personal issues really have anything to do with his ability to manage a baseball team? It’s not like Backman is perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown; even if he was, it didn’t keep Billy Martin from winning a few rings. And contrary to popular belief, Backman’s life and mental state is a heckuva lot more stable than Billy’s.

But Why Take the Chance?

The popular wisdom is simple: why bother giving Wally Backman a chance when there are plenty of other candidates who come without the baggage?

Certainly, there’s something to be said for offering jobs to people who have done a better job of keeping their nose clean — particularly in today’s image-conscious society. The emergence of the internet as a news source has put immense pressure on all media outlets, so it’s doubly important to steer clear of any personnel who may show the slightest vulnerability to a publicity nightmare. That’s exactly why Backman was fired only days after being hired to manage the Diamondbacks — the Arizona brass was more concerned with how the team would be perceived in the media than how it would perform on the field.

In my mind, there’s one reason and one reason only to consider Wally Backman as a Major League manager — regardless of his off-the-field issues: he wins.

Backman the player was part of the 1986 World Champion Mets — that much you might know. Backman the manager has been a winner everywhere he’s been, winning titles in the Western League, Southern League, California League, and the South Coast League. Last year he led the Georgia Peanuts to a 59-28 record, adding yet another league title to his cred. Just prior to being hired (and then unhired) as manager of the D-Backs, The Sporting News named him “Minor League Manager of the Year” after taking the Lancaster Jayhawks to the California League championship series. And while he’s often compared to Billy Martin for his fiery attitude and ability to get the most from his roster, he gets much better reviews from his former players.

From current Diamondback Conor Jackson:

“I’ve got the utmost respect for Wally. I love playing for that guy, and I know about a thousand other guys that say the same. He taught me how to win, how to play hard, how to make a difference.

“If anybody needs a reference, tell them to call me.”

That’s not an isolated example, but rather a representative one. Beyond his winning percentage, Backman has been lauded for his innate ability to communicate and relate with players, as well as a genius in the art of handling a pitching staff — particularly the bullpen. The Diamondbacks admitted — though not publicly — that Backman’s interview for the managerial spot blew them away, and that it was the best they’d ever experienced. In fact, former AZ farm director Tommy Jones referred to Backman as a “45-year-old version of Jim Leyland.”

There’s no question he has the ability to manage — and manage well — at the big league level. What makes him an even more perfect fit in Flushing is his obvious history as a hero from the ’86 team, and his immense pleasure of working in New York City. How many men have the personality to manage in pressure-cooker of the Big Apple? How many are also happy to embrace it? To put it in perspective, consider that the rumors inside the Yankees’ brass was that Tony LaRussa was well-respected, but “not a good fit” for the media sensitivity of the Bronx.

In my humble opinion, Wally Backman is something of a mix among Bobby Valentine, Billy Martin, and Jim Leyland. He’s exactly the opposite of what the Wilpons would like their ideal manager to be, so we’ll probably never see him in the Citi Field dugout donning the orange and blue. But it’s an intriguing option to contemplate.

By the way, this idea isn’t completely my own — it was recently brought to my attention through various sources, most notably the upcoming “Playing for Peanuts” documentary, which will be airing this spring and might very well help Backman win a job in organized baseball (he’s slated to manage the Joliet Jackhammers in the independent Frontier League this season). I also encourage you to read a recent in-depth entry on Wally’s plight at Gotham Baseball Magazine, as well as listen to Gotham’s “Live From Mickey Mantle’s” radio show from this past Sunday, which includes a lengthy interview with Wally himself.

For the moment, though, I’m happy with Willie in the dugout. Let’s hope there’s no good reason to replace him for a few years.


Out of Options

As mentioned earlier, Ruben Gotay is “out of options”. If we are to trust the list on MLBTradeRumors, there are a number of players who could be available at the end of spring training, and might fit into the Mets’ plans.

Although the Mets’ roster — other than the 25th man — appears to be set before an exhibition game is played, anything can happen over the course of the spring. For example, an injury could open up a spot. A trade is not out of the question. Someone might be caught with PEDs. Or, it could be that no one player clearly grabs the 25th roster spot.

We’re assuming that one of Ruben Gotay, Olmedo Saenz, Angel Pagan, or Brady Clark win the spot. We can’t completely count out Ben Johnson, Jose Valentin, Michel Abreu, Fernando Tatis, and Anderson Hernandez, either. But, it’s possible none of those players overwhelms the Mets’ coaching staff. There’s also a slight possibility that the Mets figure out a way to bring one less pitcher north, since they won’t need a fifth starter for most of April, and therefore another roster spot opens up — albeit temporarily. With those ideas in mind, plus the fact that it’s fun to contemplate other teams’ players, let’s take a look at a list of players out of options who may become available and could be of interest the Mets.

Rangers – Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz

I’ve mentioned this pair several times this winter. They’re both righthanded hitting outfielders, who hit with power, and still young. One or both could be available in April.

Indians – Andy Marte
The Mets have no use for the young third baseman, but he was the top prospect in baseball a year ago. Maybe he could be transitioned to 1B or the outfield.

Athletics – Dan Johnson
I have some kind of weird man-crush on this guy, because he takes his walks and in the past looked like he’d be a great hitter. The Mets will need a first baseman in 2009.

Red Sox – David Aardsma

We’ve mentioned him before — he was a big-time NCAA closer who has been bouncing from one team to another since being drafted in the first round by the Giants in 2003. He’s only 26 and still has time to emerge as a setup man in the mold of Dan Wheeler.

Royals – Justin Huber
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Huber return to the organization? The big Aussie still hasn’t earned an MLB spot, but he’s hit well in the minors. There’s no guarantee he makes the KC roster, where Ross Gload, Billy Butler, and Ryan Shealy are ahead of him at his primary position of first base. He’s a righthanded hitter, he plays first base, the outfield, and can catch in a pinch. Hmm … sounds like exactly the kind of utilityman the Mets need.

Dodgers – Delwyn Young

A switch-hitter who has proven he can hit in the minors, but hasn’t proven he can play anywhere defensively. He’d be a decent outfield option off the bench — but is he any better than Angel Pagan?

White Sox – Gavin Floyd

Once the jewel of the Phillies’ organization, Floyd has been a bust in Chicago and may not make their big club after a 5.27 ERA last season. If no one takes the long relief role, it might behoove the Mets to consider this 25-year-old as a reclamation project for Rick Peterson.

Rays – Edwin Jackson
As Floyd was to the Phillies, Jackson was to the Dodgers only a few years ago. Like Floyd, he’s been a bust since being part of a major trade. He went 5-15 last year, but is only 24 years old. The Rays might keep him around despite his struggles.

Braves – Chris Resop and Royce Ring

I always liked Royce Ring, though it’s doubtful Omar Minaya would bring back a “Duquette guy”. Resop has been mentioned here before — he’s a converted outfielder still learning to pitch who throws in the mid-90s.

Anyone else out there worth thinking about? Post your comments below.


Gotay Could Be Gone

As has been pointed out by several MetsToday readers, Ruben Gotay is “out of options“, meaning that if he does not make the 25-man roster coming out of spring training, the Mets would have to place him on waivers — thus making him available to all other MLB teams — before sending him to the minor leagues.

Considering that Luis Castillo is the Mets second baseman for at least the next four years, that there is only one positional roster spot up for grabs, and that spot would most effectively be used by a strong righthanded hitter, there is a very good chance that Ruben Gotay will be in an organization other than the Mets come April.

This could turn out to be a good thing for Gotay. Because the Mets would prefer to get something in return for him, rather than lose him through waivers, he should be getting every opportunity to make the big league squad and/or display his wares to other teams’ scouts. A strong showing by Gotay could net the Mets a couple decent minor leaguers in a March trade. So don’t be surprised if you see less of Luis Castillo — under the guise of “taking it slow after offseason knee surgery” — and more of Gotay at the keystone. My guess is that Gotay will also be given plenty of time at shortstop, third base, and anywhere else he might be used (RF? 1B? C?). The way I see it, the only way Gotay makes the 25-man roster is by 1) hitting well from the right side; and/or 2) proving to be extremely versatile.

While there is the argument that the Mets wouldn’t have a legit backup shortstop if Gotay’s not around, that’s a moot issue. Jose Reyes is expected to play 150-155 games, and should something happen to him, Damion Easley can play the position in a pinch. Heaven forbid Reyes would be out for more than a day, the Mets can easily reach down to AAA and bring up Anderson Hernandez.

There is, however, a possibility that Gotay doesn’t make the team, and the Mets are able to keep him. Looking around MLB, there aren’t a whole lot of teams desperate for a second baseman with Gotay’s skills and experience. Off the top of my head, the San Francisco Giants appear to be a team that could benefit by getting younger in the middle infield. Depending on whether the A’s plan to trade Mark Ellis and/or Bobby Crosby, Oakland could be a destination for Gotay; same goes for Baltimore and what they do with Brian Roberts. The Cubs might be interested, but it appears they’re after Roberts. Anyone else out there I’m thinking about?

Other than Gotay, I don’t *think* there is anyone else the Mets have to worry about as far as options go. But please correct me on that if I’m wrong … the rules are complicated and after years of studying them, I still don’t completely understand them.

Next post: combing over the players out of options from other teams.


Bret Boone is Back

Bret Boone crying in Mets 2006 spring training campAfter muddling through the transactions over the past week, I couldn’t help but take note of Bret Boone’s return to the ballfield.

Boone signed a minor league contract with the Nationals but only recently was promoted to the big league camp (he was participating in the minor league camp).

According to the Washington Post, he’s doing better than expected:

“We didn’t think he’d be this far advanced” in his conditioning and baseball skills, said General Manager Jim Bowden, who watched Boone work out Friday. “And certainly, he can compete with the players in this camp. . . . We have a small window to make a decision here, so it’s more valuable to have our asset here than it is to wait and stall his progress.”

During Saturday’s infield drills, Boone stood in at second base, along with incumbent starter Ronnie Belliard, while Felipe Lopez — who is considered a candidate to start at either middle infield position — worked out at shortstop along with Cristian Guzman. Boone has said he is not interested in switching positions or playing in the minor leagues.

“Obviously, if this is going to work and I’m going to go out and play for another year or two years,” he said, “this is not going to be normal spring training.”

According to inside sources, he has yet to shed a tear.


Shannon Stewart Off the Market

The Blue Jays have signed veteran outfielder Shannon Stewart to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

Remarkably, the Athletics will receive a supplemental pick at the end of the first round in the 2008 draft as compensation. Isn’t it time that MLB takes another look at the compensation structure? I realize Stewart is a solid .290 hitter, but consider that the A’s get essentially the same compensation as the Phillies will receive for Aaron Rowand, and the D’Backs for Livan Hernandez. Something is amiss.

Several MetsToday readers were supporters of a Stewart signing, but I’m not losing any sleep over him signing north of the border. Yes, he fits the veteran RH OF bat they need, but he’s also old, fragile, and not accustomed to a bench role.

By the way, the signing of Stewart creates something of a logjam in the Jays’ outfield. It would appear that 24-year-old lefty slugger Adam Lind or veteran RH hitter Reed Johnson could get squeezed out. Something to keep an eye on.

Other player movement in the last few days …

Major League Deals:

– Byung-Hyun Kim with the Pirates
– Josh Fogg with the Reds
– Shawn Chacon with the Astros

Minor League Contracts / ST Invites:

– Trot Nixon with the Diamondbacks
– Tomo Ohka with the White Sox
– Jason Tyner with the Indians
– Russell Branyan with the Brewers
– Ron Villone with the Cardinals
– Bubba Crosby with the Mariners
– Odalis Perez with the Nationals
– Alex Cintron with the Cubs
– Bret Boone with the Nationals (!)
– Matt LeCroy with the A’s

In addition, Jeremy Brown — immortalized in Moneyball— announced his retirement.

Finally, C-OF Craig Wilson was released by the Reds after spending only a few hours in camp.

Per the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Wilson, who was in camp Wednesday, apparently failed his physical. He had signed a minor-league deal with the Reds.

The Reds did not say why Wilson failed the physical and were non-committal about a possible return.
“I don’t know,” Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said Thursday. “We’ll see.”


Beltran Guilty of Plagiarism

According to Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Beltran has committed plagiarism.

The evidence was published in an interview on; following are the most important quotes.

First, the lawbreaker’s comment…

“To Jimmy Rollins: We are the team to beat,” Carlos Beltran said.

Next, the response …

“Two things come to mind,” Jimmy Rollins said. “One, there are four other teams in our division who are going to make sure that doesn’t happen, and two, has anyone ever heard of plagiarism?

There it is folks … Carlos Beltran, guilty as charged.

From Merriam-Webster, the definition of plagiarizing:

: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (another’s production) without crediting the source intransitive verb : to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

Wow … it’s pretty clear that Beltran stole Rollins’ words, though he might be able to prove he gave Rollins credit. It’s not fair, really, since Beltran is from Puerto Rico, where plagiarizing is legal as well as part of their culture. Luckily the Mets have a large team of high-powered attorneys on retainer, who can probably keep Beltran from serving his sentence until after the season. My guess is they’ll start with a change of venue to hold up the conviction.

Interestingly, Jimmy Rollins also said this in the interview:

“The pressure is back on them,” Rollins said. “They were on paper the best team in the division last year and supposed to win and didn’t.”

Strange … the Phillies were ‘the team to beat’ last year, yet Rollins also says the Mets were the best team.


Pitching Competition Begins

Pitchers and catchers have now been playing catch for a week, and in less than six weeks from today, only two catchers and 12 pitchers will be leaving Port St. Lucie as New York Mets. Unless something drastic occurs between now and then, the backstops will be Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro (sorry, Robinson Cancel and Raul Casanova). The pitching staff, however, is another story.

We’ll assume the following pitchers are positively guaranteed a spot, barring injury:

1. Johan Santana
2. Pedro Martinez
3. John Maine
4. Oliver Perez
5. Orlando Hernandez
6. Billy Wagner
7. Aaron Heilman

For the remainder of the spots, the following pitchers have the best chance:

8. Duaner Sanchez
9. Pedro Feliciano
10. Scott Schoeneweis
11. Jorge Sosa
12. Matt Wise

Hmm … many would argue that the above five are pretty close to guaranteed a spot on the staff as well. If that’s true, then what’s the competition?

A few things to consider: first, at least one or more arms will go down with either a minor or serious injury — that’s the odds, particularly when your staff includes El Duque. Second, no one is sure exactly what to expect from Sanchez yet. Yes, he looks in great shape, and appears healthy. But he hasn’t thrown an MLB pitch since July 2006. We don’t know for certain that he’ll be able to regain the velocity and movement that made him a lights-out setup man. Third, there’s a chance that of someone not on the above list has an unbelievable spring — good enough to push someone out.

Still, had I not put up that list of 12, would you have realized the pitching staff was so close to being “set”? Take a look again … do you see anyone missing who you thought for sure would be in that group?

Let’s take a look at “everyone else” — the pitchers who will have to fight for the chance to go north:

(from the 40-man roster)

– Joe Smith
– Mike Pelfrey
– Stephen Register
– Ruddy Lugo
– Brian Stokes
– Willie Collazo
– Carlos Muniz
– Jason Vargas
– Adam Bostick

OK, from Lugo down, we’re looking at guys who likely already have their AAA ticket. But Smith would have been a shoo-in for the 25-man roster had he not burned out last June. Pelfrey of course was the top candidate for a rotation spot before that lefty from Minnesota showed up, and we’ve heard enough about Register to think he’s the next Nolan Ryan. Yet all three could start the year in New Orleans.

Non-roster Invitees:

– Tony Armas
– Ricardo Rincon
– Juan Padilla
– Andy Cazavos
– Nate Field
– Nelson Figueroa
– Joselo Diaz
– Ryan Cullen
– Eddie Kunz
– Brant Rustich
– Jon Niese
– Bobby Parnell

We know that Cullen, Kunz, Rustich, Niese, and Parnell don’t have much of a shot to make the big club, but have been brought in just in case one of them turns out to be the next Joe Smith. Before pitching in Japan, Joselo Diaz was the Mets’ annual February wunderkind, the phenom who hit triple digits on the first day of spring training. Nice to see him back in camp to light up the guns; wouldn’t it be great if he could finally find the strike zone?

Of the veterans, we’d think that Armas had the best opportunity — presumably to take the long relief / spot starter / poker partner role that Aaron Sele slept in last year. Rincon has an outside shot to be a LOOGY if the other four LOOGYs car pool to camp every morning and have the misfortune of driving off a bridge. Juan Padilla was the 2004 version of Duaner Sanchez (almost) and it would be a fantastic story if he could come back from his myriad injuries. No one has any idea why Cazavos, Figueroa, and Field are in camp, but I suspect they really weren’t invited but rather were inspired by the movie Wedding Crashers.

Bottom line: there isn’t nearly as much open space on the pitching staff as many of us may have imagined. In fact the competition appears to be as tight as the fight for the 13th position player.