Jan. 16, 1996

"We're No. 2! We're not good enough. But we're not as bad as the rest of those guys,"

--Andy Van Slyke, on how to sell the idea of a Wild Card to the fans.

OK, so it's been awhile. I'd like to say I've been busy, but lazy might be more like it. So here's a few things (proving that you CAN store things on your hard drive for long periods of time) for you to ponder while remembering that roto, in Spanish, means broken:

The local Austin rag recently (well, it was recent when I wrote this) quoted White Sox manager Terry Bevington, who, after watching a Frank Thomas home run land in the waterfall beyond the center-field wall in Kansas City, said, "I saw the splash. It reminded me of one of my golf shots."

For those of you can remember Bret Saberhagen's late season start in Coors Field where he gave up something like 10 runs in one third of an inning, Steve Hutcheson felt that Don Baylor employed a quick hook, considering it was Saberhagen's last start as a member of the Use the Whip staff. "The guy's a two-time Cy Young winner," Hutcheson said. "Let the man pitch."

After Colorado's Walt Weiss homered for the first time in 751 at-bats, teammate Larry Walker said, "We've now got the 30, 30, 30, 30 and 1 club."

Baseball America reported on a faux pas by Dante ;Bichette, where he failed to back up Mike Kingery on a fly ball. The result was an inside the park homer. "’I'm an everyday player, I don't have to back up," said Bichette, the man who stood in center field and watched Claudell Washington tumble into the right-field stands in Fenway, allowing Bill Buckner to limp around the bases with his last homer, an inside-the-parker. Colorado manager Don Baylor has said Bichette is the least intelligent player he has ever played with, coached or managed."

And now, the news.

Draft day is Saturday, April 13. More on this later.

As some of you may remember, those teams who had players on their reserve lists were supposed to call me sometime after the World Series to tell me if they'd rather keep the guy on reserve, or the guy on the active roster that he was tied to. (But since our last newsletter was before last year's draft, ...) Well, it's after the World Series. So the following is for those of you with guys still left on your reserve list: The day to call me with your picks is Monday, Feb. 12. (I picked that day because it is a Monday, and pitchers and catchers report Feb. 16.) I need to hear from every team except the Flush, Retinas, Thoroughbreds and Chin Music. (See next paragraph.) If you don't call me by midnight CST on the 12th, you will, in effect, be releasing any players on your reserve list.

At the end of these ramblings, you will find CRL season-ending rosters. I have deleted all those players who played out their options or were in the final year of a long-term contract. Also, if a team had a player still under a long-term contract on it's reserve list, I've deleted the active player and put the reserve guy on the team's active roster. As usual, I made no assumptions based on guys who are now in the AL, as they might end up back in the NL before April 1st, and can thus be frozen on a roster and kept.

*****FLASH***** *****URGENT**** ESPN has just reported on Sportscenter that the owners are seriously considering experimenting with interleague play. NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo. Unless, of course, one of my power hitters gets to play some of his games in either the King or Metro Dome.

As you might have noticed from the last paragraph before my editorial comment, roster-freeze day is still April 1, even though the first pitch will be thrown on ESPN on Sunday, March 31. At least you won't have to worry whether or not one of your guys will make the roster -- farm guys included. Speaking of farm guys, if they make an opening day roster, you can keep them as a $5 player. If they don't, you can still save them on your farm team by paying $5 into the prize pool. Remember, you can only draft two minor leaguers, but you can have three on your farm roster. (Incidentally, the minor-league draft rules have changed. In order to be drafted, a player must be on a National League farm team. That means no retired players. Nobody playing in Japan or in the AL. And no college guys. NL minor-leaguers ONLY.)

But back to the rosters. Positions given are the only ones the players qualify for based on the pro-rated 18-games, most-games rule. The letters in the "Link" column stand for players who are tied together and are the ones I need to hear about by Feb. 12. The "Co" column stands for contract status AT THE END OF LAST SEASON. Thus, a player with Lx (where x is a number) designation is a player under long-term contract with x-1 years remaining. (For example, Otis had Jeff Fassero -- the first long-term guy on my list -- listed as an L2 at the end of last season. That means he is an L1 this year.) A player with an S2 designation is a player who was drafted or picked up last season and can be kept with no strings attached. Then there are the S1's. They can either be dumped, signed to an option year -- meaning they are gone after next season -- or signed to a long-term contract.

(Here comes our yearly dissertation on long-term contracts. Those of you familiar with it can skip this paragraph.) If you decide to sign one of your players to a long-term contract, his salary becomes the sum of his current salary and $2.50 for each extra year he is signed. For example, if a player has a salary of $5, and you decide to sign him to a three-year contract, (this year plus two more) his salary becomes $10 (5 + 2.50 + 2.50). Also, you must pay into the prize pool a signing bonus equal to half the entire value of the contract. In this example, the above-mentioned player would cost a signing bonus of $15. (The total value of the contract is $30. Three years times $10. Half of that is $15.)

Now that everyone is back

Use the Whip can protect 11 players, Chin Music 12, Fenway 13, Pray for Rain 14 and everyone else 15. Of course, there is no minimum on how many players you protect.

Stat fee is still to be determined, as I haven't heard from the stat service yet.

But back to the draft. We'll be holding it in Vegas again. (Surprise!) I really think most of us will be there this year. Once again, the ones who don't make it will be joining us from Otis' kitchen by speakerphone.

Draft HQ looks like the Trop, as we have at least four rooms reserved there already.

We have several group activities planned for this year, so listen up. If you are interested in any of them, please let me know ASAP, so that I can make the arrangements – get tickets, tee-times, etc.

I'll be in LA on Tuesday the 9th, and several of us are planning on going to a Dodger game. (I don't know who they are playing, but Kerr promises me they are at home then.) If you want to go, let me know.

There will also be golf in LA Tuesday and Long Beach Wednesday. Tuesday is probably Griffith Park, and Wednesday some Long Beach course. (Beg Rec?) I'll keep the interested parties informed. If you are one of them, let me know.

Once we get to Vegas, the early arrivals will be playing Cloud Nine on Thursday, while, hopefully, we can get the entire group on the links Friday afternoon -- or morning, depending on arrival times. Again, if you are interested ...

But wait. There's more! I have checked the schedule for the Las Vegas Stars. On Thursday night they will be entertaining Tacoma in a PCL slugfest. (The Stars are San Diego's AAA affiliate, so you can consider it a scouting trip.) These games are a blast. The beer is cheap and cold. And you can get a Polish or Italian sausage dog with all the fixings for about $2. (Three years ago, Hutch and I sat about 10 rows behind home plate -- for about $5 apiece, and the woman in the ticket booth seemed almost apologetic about charging us that much to see a baseball game -- and watched Juan Agosto pitch to Lance Parrish. Thirty years of combined major league experience, and these two guys were facing each other 50-feet away.) We've got six confirmed already. I've got a ticket order form from the Stars. If you want to go, let me know by the end of January, because I'm sending it off on Feb. 1.

And don't forget pizza at Bautista's Friday night.

There is one proposed rule change I know of, and that's because it's mine. (If you have others, let me know and I'll put them in the next newsletter.) I think we need to change the initial (draft-day) eligibility rule. We have always done it so that any player that appears at a position once before opening day, is then eligible to be drafted at that position. (I've never liked that rule, even though I've taken advantage of it.) During the regular season, fine. It's even OK to shift players right after the draft when picking up free agents to fill in for drafted players on IR. But I think the draft should be based on last season's positional eligibility. Especially since we are having the draft two weeks into the season. (I know that's late, but the previous Sunday is Easter.)

I have one other proposal. Playoff rotisserie. We'd have to be 100-percent on this -- it would only be fair, we can't make other people spend their money -- but I propose each team throw an extra $10 into the pot (it doesn't have to be on draft day, but it must be agreed to) for a playoff pot. With the expanded playoffs, there would be three series' worth of games (four teams in the divisional/wild-card/whatever-the-hell-they-call-them playoffs, two teams in the NLCS and one team in the World Series) to follow. The rules would be the same, excepting no moves after the last Monday of the regular season. There would, of course, need to be some rule about minimum innings pitched, say five, (to prevent someone from having a reliever come in, face one batter, get an out and record either a save or win – while being that CRL team's only pitcher in the playoffs -- and get a 0.00 in both ERA and ratio, along with the win or save) and a minimum AB requirement, say 15. I propose it be $110, winner take all. I think this might tempt second-division finishers to make moves (the money for which would go into the regular prize pool) down the stretch. Lets say the Padres are one or the teams that are going to make the playoffs and Melvin Nieves is on waivers. I think a team that is out of the overall race, but still has a few players on the four NL playoff teams, might still try to jockey for position to win the $110 and spend $5 to make a move. Any money spent in late season moves would be go into the regular season pool and be split among the top five finishers. Since the pot would only be $110, (but that's a nice amount if you are finishing last and have Chipper Jones -- and you expect the Braves to win it all) hiring a stat service wouldn't be fair. I would volunteer to keep the stats as long as we have a common reference, i.e., USA Today, Baseball Weekly, ESPN Net SportsZone, etc.

And finally, a few more tidbits from the media watch department: (They're not all baseball-related. But I thought they were funny.)

Al Michaels in USA Today, on the Raiders' move back to Oakland, "Al Davis is getting a reputation as a guy who keeps his team in a town long enough for a conjugal visit."

Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren talked about this conversation with Reggie White on his team's flight home from San Francisco after the Packers defeated the 49ers in the divisional playoffs: "He came up and sat down next to me and said, ‘You know, I've never been this far in the playoffs before.’ He said some really nice things. A very quiet moment. And I told him he's still not getting my Bud Light."

Peter Gammons reported recently in his ESPN Diamond Notes feature on some baseball incentive clauses: Mark Davis, who signed a minor-league contract with the Marlins, gets $50,000 if he wins the Cy Young Award. Rob Deer signed a minor-league deal with the Padres giving $50,000 if he wins the NL silver slugger award. And Steve Scarsone, yes Steve Scarsone, will pocket a cool 50 grand if he is the Giants' World Series MVP. Stranger things have not happened.

And finally, after hearing a tape of Michael Buffer introducing the Cowboys before their draft, I think maybe it would be appropriate to close our draft with the Bob Costas comment made at the end of the NBA expansion draft show: "If you want a transcript of this show, none are available."

Brought to you by the guy sitting on Fort Knox.