Here's some more quick hits for the end of the week:
Ankiel signs, avoid arbitration. I'm glad the deal got done. Personally I thought Rick was asking for a bit much for a guy that hasn't made it through an entire season at any position in the majors. I certainly hope he does this year though, as he should hit close to 40 homers if he can make 150+ starts.
I'm actually getting excited about the World Baseball Classic. I know that it is hardly a true contest to decide the best baseball playing country in the world with the limits placed upon the pitchers, but it's the closest we are likely to get because it's doubtful everyone involved would ever agree to shut things down in the middle of the season to stage the contest properly. I think it's a lot of fun personally to watch multi-millionaires play for something other than their multi-millions. We get to see this in basketball and soccer more fully realized, but it's nice to have it in baseball, even in a watered-down form. Remember, this is were Dice-K first became an international star and now with two solid seasons in Boston, we have seen it was no fluke.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Roberto Alomar may now be explained. Growing up, this guy was the best second baseman I'd ever seen and one of my favorite players because I'd played second in my very short baseball career. In 2001 Alomar hit .336 with 20 homers, 34 doubles, and 12 triples. He also stole 30 bases, walked 80 times, scored 113 runs and even knocked-in an even 100. That's what you call well-rounded production. He'd been having seasons similar to that for the last 10 years as well, all while playing the slickest 2B you will ever see. He and Omar Vizquel formed at the time, hands-down, the best double play combination of all time. Their combination of range, great hands, and the ability to make difficult plays routine is unrivaled. Then in 2002 - Boom!, he simply ceased being an effective player. I mean, he went from great, to below-average at the major-league level. He batted .266 in 2002 and all his other stats went down dramatically across the board. He was also clearly not just one, but three steps slower in the field. He played only two more years, 2003 and 2004, and his production was similar to 2002. Before you say, well, he just got old - I'll give you a comparison. Jeff Kent just retired, and he is only one year younger than Alomar currently (40 to 41). Jeff Kent was a darn good player, but in their primes, their was no comparison to Alomar. Power is the one and only place you'd give Kent the advantage. Well, this week information has come-out that suggests that Alomar may have been playing 2002-2004 while having the HIV virus if not full-blown AIDs. I won't go into the details because they involve a lawsuit with a ton of unseemly information, but I will say that Alomar and his family (such as his dad, Sandy Alomar Sr.) are denying the allegations. Personally, I think it seems to explain a great deal. Certainly, many player's production have trailed-off as they got older, but I've never seen it happen so suddenly and completely to such a great player. Alomar was only 34 in 2002, and most players of his skill level don't fade that quickly at that age. We will see what happens with this lawsuit. Though he was a great player, Alomar was always known to be a less than ideal person, so I'm interested to see if this effects his legacy in positive or negative manner. If it turns out he is a complete scumbag, he may find getting votes for the Hall hard to come by. Then again, if it turns out his worst years were caused by a sickness, his great years may get more of the focus. I'll be interested to see which is which.