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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Diamondbacks acquire 3B Johnson from Houston

Will the last remaining Astro please turn out the lights?

The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired third baseman Chris Johnson from Houston in exchange for outfielders Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering.

The 27-year-old Johnson hit .279 with eight home runs and 41 RBI in 92 games with the Astros this season.

Johnson has hit .274 with 26 homers in parts of four seasons in his career with Houston.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 29, 2012 at 02:03 PM | 54 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, diamondbacks, fire sale, prospects, trade

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   1. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: July 29, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4195275)
What? That seems like an awful lot for Johnson. He's not much of a third baseman by anyone's reckoning.

I don't like this deal much at all from a D-Backs perspective, particularly since they just disposed of Ryan Roberts.
   2. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: July 29, 2012 at 05:30 PM (#4195289)
Seems like the White Sox gave up less for Liriano, Myers and Youkilis than the Diamondbacks gave up for Chris Johnson or the A's gave up for George Kottaras. Maybe the way to go is to just acquire half year rentals and pay nothing for them. These cost controlled guys are expensive to acquire.
   3. Boxkutter Posted: July 29, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4195290)
Agreed. Krauss and Borchering may not have the most upside, but both should be at least replacement level outfielders when they get to the majors. But both could still turn into 280/350/470 type hitters too and it wouldn't be shocking.
   4. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 29, 2012 at 05:55 PM (#4195315)
I have now heard of more Sugar Land Skeeters players than Astros.
   5. Tricky Dick Posted: July 29, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4195328)
Chris Johnson is a streaky hitter, and he has been on a hot streak lately. I am surprised that the Astros got this much for him. He isn't a bad line drive hitter but you have to overlook some glaring flaws to use him as a starting third baseman--he just can't take walks, and he is a poor defensive third baseman.
   6. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: July 29, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4195339)
Finally, I can stop confusing Bobby Borchering for Matt Davidson.
   7. zonk Posted: July 29, 2012 at 06:19 PM (#4195350)
That's a nice haul for Chris Johnson.
   8. RJ in TO Posted: July 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM (#4195371)
So far this year, the Astros have traded their starting 1B, their starting 3B, their #1 and #3 (I guess. I'm not really sure where Happ ranks) starting pitchers, their closer, and one of their better middle relievers, and lost their starting SS for the rest of the year.

Not that they were all that great before the trading bonanza, but this is going to be one impressively wretched team to watch for the rest of the season.
   9. Bourbon Samurai Posted: July 29, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4195388)
This is another trade where baseball mogul has warped my
Mind so I think "mark Krauss! What a steal!" before I realize none of the things I am thinking of actually happened
   10. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 29, 2012 at 07:11 PM (#4195403)
Marc Kroon! What a steal!
   11. base ball chick Posted: July 29, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4195404)
imagine getting a better haul for chris johnson than for michael bourn

CJ isn't THAT bad with the glove. he's no mo ensberg let alone scott rolen, and he has actually improved a LOT this year. he isn't a butcher.

and what's funny is that he actually didn't want to leave, unlike most everyone else. but best to the guy. who is a guy the astros never wanted to succeed in the first place and did anyway. hope he killz the ball with the dbax.

now we have this great team made up entirely of suckage AAA rejects plus jose altuve - and the team ran into james mcdonald on a rare bad day and hey presto, there goes our nice losing streak and we were almost halfway to the record, too. breaking records is really tough to do.

seriously - we have ONE actual real major league baseball player on the team. they keep adding all these old guys - steven pearce - are you KIDDING me? these are the position players and no i am NOT kidding: carlos corporan, chris snyder hitting 180, matt downs, brett wallace, altuve, marwin gonzalez, scott moore, steven pearce, justin maxwell, jordan schafer, brian bogusevic, JD martinez.

the only one besides altuve who belongs on a ML roster is bogusevic strictly as a DR/PR because he is an OUTSTANDING fielder with an OUTSTANDING arm in center or right and he runs really well.

our staff ace is now lucas harrell. really. they'd trade bud norris who is gonna be arb eligible, but unfortunately, he got hurt earlier and just has not been the same since he came back. and they were gonna flip crystal lowrie too, but he got hurt.
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 29, 2012 at 07:30 PM (#4195414)
Hey, Jordan Schafer and Brett Wallace were both extremely highly rated prospects until the very second they were traded to the Astros.
   13. 33Boots Posted: July 29, 2012 at 07:53 PM (#4195430)
Yeah, this is getting ridiculous. Johnson has 1100+ at bats of .274/.314/.421...certainly not awe inspiring, but he's a very decent hitter for a 3B, and the defense has improved. He's not even to arbitration yet. 3b is not an easy position to fill, and the best the Astros have to replace him is Matt Dominguez, whose bat projects to sub replacement level. *shrug*

Astros are closing in on 03 Tigers bad. They have a plan obviously, but they're going so far with it...idk, tough to swallow as a fan.

Krauss might end up being okay, Seth Smithish. Astros will need a DH next year. Borchering looks barely a lottery ticket at this point.
   14. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: July 29, 2012 at 08:12 PM (#4195457)
Cleveland Spiders caliber here. At least since mid may. I'm sorry, but damn.
   15. base ball chick Posted: July 29, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4195468)
brett wallace, yes

jordan schafer - not a freaking chance in heck

i don't get the matt domingues replacement and if they're thinking jimmy paredes, all i can say is that his glove makes CJ look like brooks robinson

i've said to a whole lot of astros fans for a long time that CJ is a lot better than they think - they're hoping for mo ensberg 2005. interesting they didn't do all this grousing about geoff blum
   16. TomH Posted: July 29, 2012 at 08:57 PM (#4195494)
How many wild cards berths can NL Central teams win? The 'Stros are really contributing to schedule imbalance.
   17. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 29, 2012 at 09:15 PM (#4195501)
they keep adding all these old guys - steven pearce - are you KIDDING me?


Hey, if you're gonna be a Pirates fan, you need to cultivate at least a little residual affection for Steve Pearce. He can actually hit a little, and was just handled badly by the front office.

Well, OK, he also has a knack for getting hurt at exactly the wrong time. But he's still a perfectly adequate MLB bench player.
   18. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: July 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4195514)
I'm not sure that zips agrees w you vlad, but I do...
   19. Ron J Posted: July 29, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4195517)
One of the odd things about Johnson is that he has an extreme reverse platoon split.

You can live with .283/.324/.440 against RHP and give him a normal platoon advantage against LHP and you've got a decent player. Instead he's hit .249/.285/.361 career against LHP.

Yeah, totals count and all that but the number of players who keep a reverse platoon split is pretty small.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 29, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4195565)
I'm not sure that zips agrees w you vlad, but I do...


It would like him better if it "knew" how well he was hitting at AAA in the first half.
   21. Dan Posted: July 30, 2012 at 12:55 AM (#4195581)
Seems like the Astros want to do want the Nationals did - be bad enough for a few years to get #1 picks and then build a team around them. Unlikely they'll get the lucky break Washington got in nabbing two amazing talents like Strasburg AND Harper that way, but it might still be better in the long term than bouncing around at 75-80 wins or so every year and never getting a top pick.
   22. Dan Posted: July 30, 2012 at 01:17 AM (#4195586)
In other ex-Astros news:

Andrew Baggarly ?@CSNBaggs
KPIX-TV is reporting that the Giants have a "deal in place" for Hunter Pence, pending ownership approval.


And apparently somebody jumped the gun:

Andrew Baggarly ?@CSNBaggs
Giants VP Bobby Evans texts that there's "no truth to the rumor" the Giants have a deal in place for Pence.
   23. shoewizard Posted: July 30, 2012 at 04:04 AM (#4195602)
Glad to hear the reports about Johnson's defense not being too bad, because on paper he looks like an error prone guy with poor range. I really haven't seen him play enough to form an opinion on his defense though.

   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4195662)
Chris Johnson has not hit a home run outside of Houston since September of 2011. So....good luck Arizona!
   25. JJ1986 Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:29 AM (#4195664)
Didn't Baggarly just apologize for publishing unsubstantiated rumors the other day?
   26. Justin T steals bases with his bat Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:37 AM (#4195670)
Yeah but in this case he was passing on what was reported by the local CBS affiliate. I think he's ok on that.
   27. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM (#4195710)
So far this year, the Astros have traded their starting 1B, their starting 3B, their #1 and #3 (I guess. I'm not really sure where Happ ranks) starting pitchers, their closer, and one of their better middle relievers, and lost their starting SS for the rest of the year.

Not that they were all that great before the trading bonanza, but this is going to be one impressively wretched team to watch for the rest of the season.
They're tanking!

Given the new rules on draft bonuses, having the #1/#2 pick seems like it's even more valuable than it once way. I honestly think the Astros are tanking at this point.
   28. base ball chick Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4195714)
shoe

when he first got to the bigs, he had a lot of trouble with rushing throws and made LOTS of throwing errors. he has really cut waaaayyy down on that. i've seen the improvement. he has also improved his range. we've had all kinds of butchers at 3B and he's not caminiti, but he's not mike lamb/ty wigginton neither.
   29. base ball chick Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4195717)
matt

agree
they are just using a bunch of Old Guys - AAA lifers to play in the bigs (except for altuve and JD martinez) so as they won't start the clock on the young guys. the idea is to have a payroll at league minimum next year - crane has a lot of debt and he'll make lots of money even if nobody shows up

i would guess that they are gonna do the billy beane constant turnover thing if possible.

   30. Randy Jones Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4195720)
They're tanking!

Given the new rules on draft bonuses, having the #1/#2 pick seems like it's even more valuable than it once way. I honestly think the Astros are tanking at this point


I think they are just attempting to slash payroll at all costs. I don't think it has anything to do with the draft and is really just about saving as much money as possible. They can probably get away with being super cheap for at least 3 or 4 years before the union can convince MLB to fine them like they did the Marlins.
   31. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4195729)
I'm a Crane cynic, but I'm not all the way to finding the "slash payroll" explanation persuasive. Johnson is on the minimum salary right now, and he won't make more than $2M next year - this looks like a trade to weaken the roster for a couple seasons and get a couple more lottery tickets.

The Astros footed the bill on Lee and Myers, and they sent cash with Rodriguez. I think they could have accepted fewer and worse minor leaguers in order to dump more salary if that were the only goal.

My Crane cynicism is that it looks like he's decided to run the club as if they're the Pittsburgh Pirates or Tampa Bay Rays. Houston can support a mid-range payroll even in down seasons, but Crane is going to pretend he's a small market owner. I hate that. He hasn't yet shown he's even worse than that, but it could come.
   32. kthejoker Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4195755)
How can you pay $615 million for a team and treat it as small market?
   33. fra paolo Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4195776)
How can you pay $615 million for a team and treat it as small market?

Arte Moreno ($180 million for the Angels) sure looks sharp right now.
   34. Tricky Dick Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4195795)
Glad to hear the reports about Johnson's defense not being too bad, because on paper he looks like an error prone guy with poor range. I really haven't seen him play enough to form an opinion on his defense though.


Chris Johnson's fielding has improved somewhat over the course of this season---but that's not saying a lot. His average UZR/150 is -18.3; and I doubt that he is really that bad; few third basemen are. Johnson can make some sparkling defensive plays on difficult chances, and then turn around and fumble an easy play. He has a strong arm, but his accuracy is below average (to my eyes). It would help if the D-Backs have a first baseman who is good at catching off-line throws.

As an Astros' fan, my best hope for CJ improving his defense is that he has pretty good tools, like a strong arm and decent speed. However, at this point, his fielding detracts a lot from whatever offense he brings to the table. (And his current offensive stats may be a bit above his normal level, since he had been on a hot streak going into the trade.) He actually looked pretty good fielding first base---but his bat doesn't play well there.
   35. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:54 AM (#4195800)
I think its pretty clear they had a terrible farm system, and are trying to get a respectable farm system by trading every asset they have. That they will get early draft picks will help. But I don't think this is a cost-cutting move, this is about acquiring young talent and making a run in a few years. If it was purely cost-cutting, they'd do what the Marlins do and refuse to pay the freight of the talent they are shipping off, in exchange for getting lesser prospects. I bet in a year or two the Astros are quite active in free agency and the payroll is back up to respectable levels.
   36. Tricky Dick Posted: July 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4195815)
the idea is to have a payroll at league minimum next year - crane has a lot of debt and he'll make lots


In an interview with Rosenthal. Luhnow said the payroll will start with a five---which I take to mean that it will be in the $50 - $60 million range. Given how low the payroll currently stands after the trades, that would imply some free agent signings.

Johnson is on the minimum salary right now, and he won't make more than $2M next year - this looks like a trade to weaken the roster for a couple seasons and get a couple more lottery tickets.


I doubt that Johnson is worth $2 million. Given some of his glaring flaws, I don't think he is that far from being equivalent to a AAAA player. He is on a hot streak right now and probably won't sustain his current offensive stats. (However, maybe playing in Arizona will help.) His ZIP projection to begin the season: .731 OPS, which might not be so bad if he was a reliable defensive third baseman.

I think one of the motivations for trading Johnson is to create position room and playing time for Brett Wallace. The Astros still think he can be a third baseman (heck, he has played some passable shortstop in AAA this month), and they want to give him a chance at the playing third base. It may not work out, but the Astros have to find out if Wallace will be a major leaguer.
   37. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: July 30, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4195820)
Given how low the payroll currently stands after the trades, that would imply some free agent signings.
Yes, enough to stave off a grievance. Crane will make a hefty profit in Houston with a payroll that low, even if the team loses.

I agree with AG#1F that the real test comes in two or three years, and the Astros should be running an above average payroll then, if Crane is serious. I disagree with AG#1F in his optimism that Crane will do that. He looks like a classic undercapitalized just-lets-turn-a-profit problem owner.
   38. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: July 30, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4195871)
heck, he has played some passable shortstop in AAA this month

Wait, what? Really? That's weirder than Troy Glaus.
   39. MM1f Posted: July 30, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4195962)
Hey, Jordan Schafer and Brett Wallace were both extremely highly rated prospects until the very second they were traded to the Astros.


No. Most of Schafer's luster had come off in the Braves system long before he was traded. He lead the minors in hits in 2007 but a combination of a drug suspension, a dumb arrest, a bad attitude and 3.5 years worth of not hitting made him an expendable spare CF when he was traded to the Astros.

Wallace's value was dropping at the time he was traded to the Astros as well. In a one year span he had played with four different organizations and, when he was acquired by Houston, he was ranked as just the tenth best prospect in the AAA Pacific Coast League... hardly "extremely highly rated" material.

Brett Wallace. The Astros still think he can be a third baseman (heck, he has played some passable shortstop in AAA this month),


Where did you see this? I can't find any record of this happening.
   40. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 30, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4195963)
Yeah, this is getting ridiculous. Johnson has 1100+ at bats of .274/.314/.421...certainly not awe inspiring, but he's a very decent hitter for a 3B, and the defense has improved. He's not even to arbitration yet. 3b is not an easy position to fill, and the best the Astros have to replace him is Matt Dominguez, whose bat projects to sub replacement level. *shrug*


I agree with you. Me and KT were sampling some really robust dank I brought him right after this deal, and as he (cough) explained it, it's a standard KT win-win deal.

Trade valuable assets that are far too young and unproven to be of interest to KT.

Get a semi-lifeless body that has a proven ability to make it on time on the bus to the game every day in the majors (none of that minor league bus attendance ####, minor league bus attendance records are MEANINGLESS in the big pants league).

Not sure we understand the criticism from others here. The Diamondbacks needed a 3rd baseman. Not today of course, since this team is DOA, if we thought this team was still in the playoff hunt we would have kept Roberts to see if he could turn it around, I mean at least he plays defense. Next year this team will be better if it has a good 3rd baseman. Of course, Chris Johnson isn't a good 3rd baseman, he's really a bad, if not terrible third basemen, and he'll be blocking any of the young prospects we have from even getting a try, but NOW we have Chris, and he's a third baseman. So if you just think about it the right way, problem solved. No stress, no mess, stop wearing out your dress, man.

Sometimes KT and I just wish everyone would just smoke a bowl and calm down a bit about his trades. Get some perspective guys.
   41. The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4195969)
Should we direct you to the live-action roleplaying thread?
   42. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: July 30, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4196125)
mm1f on Schafer: Yup.

Now, Wallace was still a decent prospect, but his stock had clearly fallen.

Wallace at SS: Not sure about passable, but he's been playing there off and on since 7/12, per BA's box scores.
I'm not even sure that they think he can stick at third, but it's worth their time to try.
   43. Tricky Dick Posted: July 30, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4196197)
Wallace lost a lot of weight coming into this season, and he doesn't look like the same player. He looks almost like the kid coming out of high school. Wallace initially played shortstop in an emergency, and apparently made some decent or notable plays. The Oklahoma City manager was surprised that he looked OK at shortstop and has slotted him at shortstop several more times in order to get more bats into the Red Hawks lineup. Wallace said that he thinks the work at shortstop has improved his range at 3d base.
   44. Tricky Dick Posted: July 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4196284)
Adding to the comment above: the Houston Chronicle says that Brett Wallace will also be the back up at shortatop for the major league team, since Bixler, the previous back up at shortstop was sent down at the same time Wallace was called up.
   45. base ball chick Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4196543)
i have watched brett wallace play 3rd. he is awful. he had more errors at 3rd in significantly fewer chances in the minors than CJ did in the majors. ANYTHING would improve his range at 3rd.

he had THREE errors in 6 games at SS. He is NOT gonna have range and is gonna look like angel sanchez there. his only asset is a strong arm

the move chris johnson to play brett wallace is pure horsestuff. there is absolutely ZERO excuse for playing matt downs/scott moore at 1st instead. ZERO.

   46. The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4196560)
I dunno, at least Wallace at SS has the advantage of being original. Play a first baseman at shortstop! Use a three-man rotation! Pinch-hit for the pitcher every time he comes up! There may never again be a baseball team in a better position to try weird stuff.
   47. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:04 PM (#4196613)
I remember Kevin Mitchell at short... though he was a better third baseman (at the time) than Wallace is.

That said, I prefer Wallace to Johnson at third. Better bat and not necessarily a worse glove. (That's an indictment of "I've committed more errors than I've turned double plays Johnson*", not praise of Wallace, mind you.) Incidentally, their career minor league defensive numbers (for what very little this is worth) are similar: .938 FA, Johnson's RF is 0.03 higher, Wallace has a slight edge in DP/E.
As for why you play that over Moore/Downs: Wallace is 25 and shown flashes of being a good hitter in the past. Moore and Downs are 28 and have shown flashes of being above replacement level in the past. (Preseason projections had them pegged as around the replacement level.) I don't think Wallace will be part of the next good Astros team, but - if things work out - you can eventually flip him for a piece that will be.

* Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Though I guess it's no 'death to flying things'.
   48. base ball chick Posted: July 31, 2012 at 03:01 AM (#4196733)
der k

wallace is absolutely positively a worse glove. not sure how much astros you've watched, but wallace has the range and speed of mo vaughn. carlos lee was better at first base, fer goodness sakes. i don't have any problem giving wallace another chance to prove he can hit, but at third??? roll eyes. ima bout stopped caring real too much

and WHAT is their love affair with matt downs??? barf

wallace is not gonna be flipped for much of anything, IF anything

fact is that scott moore has a better glove at third than he does at first
   49. vivaelpujols Posted: July 31, 2012 at 03:40 AM (#4196742)
Johnson's solid career line comes with a .348. Not likely to sustain that long term. Drop him .020 points of BABIP and he's basically a .5-1 WAR player and will be getting expensive soon. Good job for the Astro's to get anything good for him.
   50. shoewizard Posted: August 02, 2012 at 10:31 AM (#4198784)
Chris Johnson has not hit a home run outside of Houston since September of 2011. So....good luck Arizona!


Chris Johnson in his first 3 games for AZ, played in Los Angelos

G   PA AB R H 2B HR RBI   BA  OBP   SLG   OPS OPS+
3   13 11 2 6  1  2   7 .545 .615 1.182 1.797  357 


   51. shoewizard Posted: August 02, 2012 at 07:43 PM (#4199268)
Somehow Johnson managed to raise his OPS+ from 103 to 114 in 3 games.
   52. shoewizard Posted: August 08, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4202928)
So Johnson hit 2 HR tonight, his 4th and 5th homeruns since joining the D Backs. All 5 HR on the road. 2 in LA, 1 in Philly and 2 in Pittsburgh. And this after not hitting a road homer all year. The HR in Philly no cheapie....deep to the left field corner, a HR in almost any park.

You just can't predict baseball.
   53. base ball chick Posted: August 08, 2012 at 01:42 AM (#4202949)
shoe

so what do you think of his D?

i TOLD everyone he is better than they think. and he sure as HECK is better than scott moore/matt downs/anyone else in the astros system

matt dominguez has a .600 something OPS at AAA
   54. shoewizard Posted: August 08, 2012 at 02:52 AM (#4202953)
Honestly i just took a new job and am living in china....so games are being played when im getting ready for work and on the way to work. So ive mostly been watching highlights. All his highlights have been hitting ;)

The guys i post with on the d backs board seem to think no big issues so far. I havent seen anyone complaining...so thats good. But i have only personally seen him field a few balls and dont have an opinion yet.

By the way Krauss and Borchering got off to hot starts for corpus cristi. Good luck with them.

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