Saturday, January 24, 2009

David Newhan: Back to the Astros?

For those of you who like your Jews with a dash of Jesus, Messianic Jew David Newhan has a standing invite to come back to to spring training and battle for a reserve infield spot.

Newhan, the son of sportswriting legend Ross Newhan, was a delight to deal with when I had the chance during his tenure with the Mets. And unlike his time in New York, Newhan even hit a little with the Astros, posting a reasonable line of .260/.297/.404.

His whole career has been an unlikely one. And I'd imagine some will say he doesn't belong in my book. But he was Bar Mitzvahed, and considers himself Jewish. I will leave it to others to say who is and isn't a Member of the Tribe. (The Indians, incidentally, are one of the few teams he hasn't played for.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brad Ausmus: Modern-Day Moe Berg

No, he's not a spy (that I know of- though if I did, he'd be an awfully poor spy!)- but in the fact that Brad Ausmus continues to get work- a $1 million, one-year deal with the Dodgers after also being courted by the Padres.

And no, he's not getting paid for his offense- his line of .218/.303/.296 is unimpressive- but more so when you realize he put it up in Houston's Minute Maid Park, which had a park factor of 103 last year- hitter-friendly.

But like Berg, Ausmus is Ivy League-educated. And like Berg, teams believe it is helpful to have him around. Berg hit .243/.278/.299 for his career- and lasted 15 seasons.

Ausmus should get a fair amount of playing time- the Dodgers want to play Russell Martin at third base more to keep him fresher. It is a great landing spot for Ausmus.

Of particular note to Jewish fans- with 10 games played in 2009, Ausmus passes Buddy Myer for the all-time record in games played among Jewish players. Let's hope he has a Rickey Henderson moment where he holds up a Torah at second base and recites the Sh'ma.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Jewish Greek God of Long-Term Contracts

Okay, perhaps not Zeus, more like the Department of the Interior God, but great news for Kevin Youkilis, who signed a four-year, $41 million contract that covers his final two arbitration-eligible seasons and two free-agent years.

Youkilis has developed into an all-star level player at first base- at third base, he'd be in Hall of Fame discussions, should he continue at this level offensively and defensively for another 5-6 years (though his last start hurts him in terms of career totals).

Regardless, he is certainly in the discussion with Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler for best Jewish player in the game today.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another Florida Jewish Transplant

The news came today that Gabe Kapler signed a one-year, $1 million deal to join the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays.

Kapler is a terrific signing for Tampa. He can fill all three outfield spots, which will help if B.J. Upton is slow to recover from offseason surgery, and he has the bat to play in the corners. His 2008 line was terrific--.301/.340/.498.

The projections system put his 2009 OPS at .759, .751, .746 and .775- Dan Szymborski's ZIPS, Bill James, CHONE and Marcel, respectively. This is very good for a fourth OF- and I suspect this is a softer prediction than many others, as the comps for players that took a year off, then resumed a career must be few and far between.

I am hopeful that there will be a fan group created at Tampa games called either "Kapler's Knishes", who will all dress up as enormous potato products, or "Kapler's Kvetchers", who will all dress up as my grandmother.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Marquis and Hirsh and Some Guys Who Go to Church

Ah, the variation of the old "Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain" chant. But it is entirely possible- the Colorado Rockies, known just a few years ago as the Christian baseball team, will have a rotation next year that is 40% kosher following the acquisition of Jason Marquis from the Chicago Cubs, and the hopeful return to health by Jason Hirsh.

As a Mets fan, I was hoping the rumored deals sending Marquis home (he is a Staten Island native) would replenish the Semitic stock in Queens, with Scott Schoeneweis off to Arizona. Alas, it is not to be.

But the Rockies can easily become a favorite team for Jews, especially should Jason Hirsh regain form. Hirsh not only has the chance to become a tremendous pitcher, he is also the tallest pitcher in Jewish history, at 6'8".

Other things to watch for: Jason Marquis is a terrific hitter. What will the .206 hitter do in Coors Field? He hit 2 home runs last year-will 5 home runs be possible? Mike Hampton hit 7 in his first season in Colorado.

Most promising will be, of course, if both Marquis and Hirsh become the 1-2 punch for the Rockies. Here are some themed nicknames, to get the ball rolling ahead of time:

Yom Kippur for Hitters
The Mordecai and Esther of Denver
No Ham or Hits
The Two Answers
The Festival of Lights-Out

Feel free to add your own to the mix!