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Baseball down the line

July 04, 2010

Helping out

Manny Ramirez got Josh Byrnes fired.

It wasn't just Ramirez, of course. But the Arizona Diamondbacks were well on their way to a second consecutive National League West championship in 2008 when the Boston Red Sox dumped Ramirez on the Dodgers.

If Arizona had won, that might have bought a little more time and credibility for Byrnes, the Diamondbacks' general manager.

The Dodgers, a .500 team until Ramirez showed up, roared past Arizona and into the playoffs. The Diamondbacks were remembered for blowing a 4 1/2-game lead with a month to play. Byrnes was remembered — by the blown saves nearly every game — as the guy who had traded closer Jose Valverde.

Brandon Webb, the ace, was injured on opening day in 2009, and he has not pitched since. Byrnes fired manager Bob Melvin and replaced him with A.J. Hinch, who had not managed at any level. They finished last. When this season was no better, the ax came for Byrnes and for Hinch.

Logan White, the Dodgers' assistant general manager for scouting, is a candidate to replace Byrnes. Baseball America recently ranked the top drafts of the last decade, and White was credited with two of the top four: the 2002 draft that produced James Loney, Jonathan Broxton and Russell Martin, and the 2003 draft that produced Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Andy LaRoche and Xavier Paul.

You never know

In these weeks preceding the July 31 trade deadline, teams generally guard their top prospects like a mama bear guarding her cubs.

In the last two years, few teams were as stocked at one position as the Texas Rangers were at catcher. The Rangers traded Gerald Laird to the Detroit Tigers, and Texas still had Jarrod Saltalamacchia — trumpeted as the jewel in the Mark Teixeira deal — and Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden.

The Rangers, leading the American League West but desperate for catching help, acquired Bengie Molina last week. Journeyman Matt Treanor is the backup, and Saltalamacchia, Ramirez and Teagarden are in the minor leagues.

New tune

There is no love lost between the Angels and Jose Guillen. Manager Mike Scioscia kicked Guillen off the team for insubordination in 2005 — with a week to go in a pennant race — and the next year Guillen called Scioscia "a piece of garbage."

But with Guillen marooned in Kansas City and tired of the constant losing there, consider how he said he wished the Royals could be more like the Minnesota Twins.

"They are the smartest team in baseball, them and the Angels," Guillen told Fox Sports. "They do all the little things so well."

Ticket prospecting

There was no formal announcement, but this pitch quietly popped up on team websites last week: Would you like to buy the right to buy a postseason ticket?

For $10 for the first round, $15 for the league championship series or $20 for the World Series, you can reserve the opportunity to buy a ticket. If your team makes the playoffs, you get to buy a ticket at face value. If not, you lose your reservation fee.

You might say you are betting on your team — or betting on baseball, under the sanction of the commissioner's office.

—Bill Shaikin

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