Friday, February 25, 2005

Notes and Comments

Among the early reports out of Clearwater was an item regarding David Bell’s fragile back. The 32-year old third baseman said it was nothing, but similar woes cost him most of the 2003 season and several games last year. Just one more reason the unexpected presence of Placido Polanco may provide needed insurance. Polanco has previously filled in for the oft-injured Bell at third. Bell told reporters he has spasms about once a year and they pass. Speaking as someone who has had spasms and disc surgery, one can lean over in the shower to pick up the soap and suddenly. . . .

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Let me be among the first to pronounce the Ryan Howard outfield experiment a failure, not for lack of determination or effort on his part, but because the 6-foot-4, 230 pound left handed slugger is just not outfielder material. The move smacks of desperation on the Phillies ‘part, to get his bat into the lineup somehow and to keep the kid happy. But Howard doesn’t appear to be unhappy and I believe he still has options. The best thing for Howard would be to start the season at AAA, where he can play every day at first base and get his at-bats. And it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to keep in mind item number one above (see Bell-Polanco) just in case Jim Thome, who played hurt all of last season, goes down for a stretch.

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I saw an item where Rafael Palmeiro is considering suing Jose Canseco over allegations the former used steroids. The interesting aspect of the story is that were Palmeiro to pursue the suit, it is rumored he would hire the law firm of O’s owner Peter Angelos to represent him. Angelos made his fortune litigating asbestos cases, not defamation of character suits. Indeed, Angelos has arguably made a baseball career of destroying if not defaming the character of entire franchises, namely his own. Nevertheless, payment plans in such an arrangement would be easy, I guess; Palmeiro could simply have the fees deducted from his salary checks. On the other hand, were Angelos to lose the case, it might be awkward for Palmeiro to do any public relations for the team.

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Just a minor digression here. The 76ers made two trades Wednesday just before the deadline and in the process left themselves shorthanded with a league-mandated minimum of eight players for a game they eventually lost to the Knicks last night. For a team that is struggling to play .500 ball to “give away” a game seems inexcusable. I’ve heard the expression to “have a game in hand”, but that usually refers to teams who have the luxury of losing a game and still maintaining their advantage. The 76ers hardly qualify.

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