Hawking Autographs Hurts Baseball’s Integrity

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Autographs 101. Members give advice and judge the authenticity of signatures. One of the things I love about the group is that its members truly love the game of baseball. Seeing someone proudly display pictures of hawking autographstheir grandfather’s Ted Williams autograph is exciting. One of things that really bothers me though is when someone shows of an autograph they got for free at a game and wants to sell it. Someone gets a baseball signed by Kris Bryant or David Ortiz, then posts a picture of it asking for an obscene amount. Hawking autographs for personal profit not only hurts the game’s integrity, but it’s a selfish thing to do.

I’d go to ballgames as a kid hoping I’d get a few autographs. Other teens and I would stand behind each other patiently waiting for the signatures of Brett Butler, Moises Alou, Pat Hentgen, and Andy Petite, who all signed for me. Nowadays though I see full grown men shoving kids away to get an autograph. Some ballparks now have a Kids Only section where they can get autographs.

These hawkers get hundreds for Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and David Ortiz. Knowing that fans are profiting off of them, some ballplayers now refuse to sign for adults. Others will sign a ball but won’t do it on the sweet spot because they know a fan won’t be able to get as much for it. Washington Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer is going an extra step to ensure fans aren’t hawking autographs. Scherzer set up a website where fans can buy his autograph with all the profits going directly to charity. This angers some fans who won’t be able to make a 100% anymore. They brought it on themselves though.

Hawking Autographs Ruins It For Other Fans

I attended the Hall of Fame Classic game last weekend in Cooperstown. Hundreds of fans stood behind a fence on the first base line waiting for Hall of Famers to come and sign. Most were little kids. But I saw many adults with 2×3 foot posters hoping that someone like Wade Boggs would sign it. How obnoxious do you have to be to not only take a kid’s place, but lug around something that large?

I attended the game with my buddy Angelo who told me a story about Alex Rodriguez. A few years ago, his brother stood outside the ballpark for A-Rod. Most of those who were waiting were little kids who A-Rod is apparently more than happy to sign for. But an overzealous fan almost ruined it for everyone when he handed a box of a dozen baseballs to A-Rod asking him to sign each one. “C’mon man, really?” A-Rod said to the guy. “I know what you’re going to do with those.” A-Rod ignored the guy and continued signing for the kids. The guy got nothing, and deservedly so.

I collect autographs myself. I mail baseball cards to former players, and pay a fee to meet them in Cooperstown. One thing I won’t do is push kids aside. If you think that’s okay then you need to get a life.

What Would it Take To Get Doug Fister?

Doug Fister

With nine games in the books, the Boston Red Sox have taken two out of three games three times this season. Yes, now two out of three is nice, but Boston seems to be relying on their offense way too much. Teams that have done that in the past, most notably the Toronto Blue Jays, have not been able to succeed down the stretch.

Three times in nine games this season, a Boston starter has allowed over seven runs and that’s something to be worried about. Well, Washington has a pretty good pitcher named Doug Fister Doug Fister that could be up for grabs.

Right-handed Doug Fister, 31, is entering his second season with the pitching-heavy Washington Nationals. Fister is also entering his last season under contract and will be heavily targeted come free agency. So, what does Washington do?

Washington has shown it’s not going to shy away from committing big time money to big time players, as they gave ace Max Scherzer seven-years and $210 million, but Fister could be in a different situation. Washington’s lineup has really struggled at times this season and we’ve seen Boston go three deep into their bench and still put up ten runs. Washington also has 28-year-old Jordan Zimermann(2.66 ERA in ‘15) up at the end of the year as well.

 Here is my proposed trade:

Boston Trades-

1B/OF- Allen Craig

3B- Garin Cecchini

Washington Trades-

SP- Doug Fister

This trade would be a good deal for both teams. Boston would be able to grab that work horse veteran starter that they desperately need come playoff time. Fister and his 3.32 career ERA would immediately work at the top of the Red Sox rotation, adding an arm Red Sox fans would be comfortable throwing out there come the playoffs. Justin Masterson would be able to slide into the bullpen, where he excels, and also be able to make spot starts here and there. Washington would acquire an a-plus bat in Allen Craig who can fill in for the injury prone, Ryan Zimmerman. Craig would also bolster a thin Nationals bench. Cecchini would serve in a utility player form for Washington, as he can play third base as well as outfield.

Is Tom Werner Hinting at a Jon Lester Return?

Jon LesterTom Werner might not always be the lead spokesperson for the Boston Red Sox, but, when he does speak, he has shown to have great insight into the workings that John Henry and Larry Lucchino don’t normally give on a regular basis.

In an interview on WEEI Thursday September 11, the Red Sox chairman talked about all the money the Red Sox will have to spend this off-season.

“I wouldn’t say that we have limitless money, but we’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free-agent market and improve the team,” Werner told WEEI.

Not only does he want to spend the money, but the front office also knows what it needs in order to improve in 2015—pitching.

“We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve,” said Werner about what the team needs to do this offseason to get better in the coming years. “I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of Rusney Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent.”

It has been apparent that the Red Sox need a front-tier pitcher who can step up in the mound every five days to give the team the chance to win nearly 35 times a season. But does this mean Jon Lester is in the fold?

Lester was part of a package to acquire slugger Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics, and he has shown that he wants to make the big bucks with his last free-agency deal of value.

The 30-year-old is not the only option the Red Sox have to spend money on during the offseason. James Shields, Max Scherzer and even Edison Volquez could be near the top of the Red Sox rotation and old friend Justin Masterson should see a long-term deal after a couple successful seasons as a front-line starter for the Cleveland Indians before a down year in 2014.

Lester might just be one of a few options the Red Sox take a look at, but Werner definitely wants to see improvement for everyone’s sake. Another last place finish is not what fans, or the ownership, want to see going forward.

“Last year, as we all know, was just a dream. This year is a nightmare,” said Werner to WEEI. “It’s been painful. I was at the game yesterday and it was just not a good experience for the fans, it wasn’t a good experience for the players, it wasn’t a good experience for me. The only thing I can take from it is we are determined to get back to being first next year.”

If the Red Sox spend the money on pitching, and possibly trade for one more bat, then a first place finish might be a plausible outcome in 2015. But Werner and Co. are focused on spending the money on a pitcher who may or may not be Lester.

Giancarlo Stanton’s Nice But…..

Giancarlo StantonIt’s no secret Boston Red Sox fans want Giancarlo Stanton and want him badly. I mean, why wouldn’t you? His raw power is in a class of its own, he’s a decent defender, and he’s only freakin’ 24 years old! Oh, and just imagine his sweet right-handed swing in Fenway Park with the Green Monster only a short distance away from home plate. You’d be crazy to pahk your cah on Lansdowne Street whenever Stanton was penciled into the lineup, because there’s a good chance you’ll leave the game with a shattered car window.

That being said, Boston should not prioritize pursuing Stanton this offseason. Before you hastily, and prematurely, scoff at me, give me a chance to share my rationale.

The Red Sox have a talented crop of outfielders now and looking ahead to next season. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Brock Holt, and the newly-signed Rusney Castillo.

Not only does Boston not have an urgent need for another outfielder, but they have a logjam. What’s bound to happen is they’ll have to deal two or three of those guys before the ’15 season commences.

I like Stanton as much as the next guy, however, Boston should look to improve their inexperienced rotation before upgrading a strong surplus.

If Cherington and Co. decide to sacrifice coveted-prospect(s) for anybody it should be for a pitcher. Whether that be for Cole Hamels or someone else, that needs to be their main focus.

Surely they could acquire pitching on the free agent market, yet Boston’s shown of late they’re weary to pay top-dollar for prized free agents. This puts Boston at a huge disadvantage to acquire a Jon Lester or Max Scherzer on the free-agent market.

Conversely, given their abundance of talented prospects, the Red Sox have a leg up on other teams on the trade market.

So, really, the wise thing to do in this situation would be to offer a package of prospects for a quality starter before draining your farm system on Stanton. If, however, they find a way to acquire say a James Shields on the free agent market then, yes, by all means get the man. They just need to get their priorities straight before attempting to land the biggest fish on the trade market.