Monday, June 25, 2007

Pity the GM, some baseball musing and a Californian Pinot Noir of note

Pity the poor General manager, well poor might be the wrong term but you get my drift. On Friday John Frerguson Jr. (JFJ), the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, traded away the 13th pick in the upcoming draft, along with a 2007 2nd rounder and a 4th round pick in 2008, for Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell and was quickly proclaimed an idiot by "The Press".

From my point of view JFJ addressed a team need, goaltending, and got an enigmatic but gifted power forward in return for the 13th pick and 43rd pick in a mediocre draft plus a 4th rounder (crapshoot at best). Toskala is 30 years old and well regarded in the NHL, many feel he is at least as good as Nabokov the goalie San Jose chose to keep. Toskala is also under contract for $1.4 million this season and while Mark Bell is apparently a whack-job he's also 6'2", 220 pounds, 27 years old and only one year removed from a 25 goal season.

The pundits however decry JFJ's actions as more indication that "he has no plan", "he's making up for last year's mistake (acquiring Andrew Raycroft)" and "The Leafs continue to trade away the future". These same pundits however praise the Florida Panthers for trading away a 1st round pick plus two 2nd rounders for a 30 year old goalie (Tomas Vokuon) a year after they traded away All Star Roberto Luongo for 3 magic beans.

Ferguson, quite frankly, can't win. He is the General Manager of the most closely scrutinized franchise in the NHL and his hands are tied by an ownership that is at least as interested in the bottom line as in success on the ice.

Toronto could, and in fact may have at times, fielded a team of 19 rhesus monkeys on skates and people would still fill the rink. Ferguson's boss Larry Tannenbaum is the personification of smarm, and keeps poor JFJ twisting with one year extensions all the while pressing him to respect his wishes. I can imagine the scene below being played out.

Larry calls JFJ to his office with the following request:

"John, I'll tell you what you can have a five year extension and free rein over hockey operations if you can get me a magical flying horse and the ring of true power."

JFJ: "Sure Larry, I think I've got some tape of that horse playing in the Ukraine".

On a totally unrelated subject: Why do I have to tidy up the house before the cleaning lady comes over ?

Another thought: How big is Frank Thomas' head ?
I can't look at him without thinking of So I married an Axe Murderer.

Matt Stairs is third in the Canadian Home Run Derby, only one behind Jason Bay, with 11 dingers. Has there ever been a ballplayer who was so obviously Canadian looking as Matt Stairs ? I can't believe he's not wearing a John Deere cap out there with a "go cup" beside 1st base .......... I love Matt Stairs.

Magglio Ordonez has 34 doubles through Detroit's first 74 games, this pace would see him hit 74 doubles for the season and eclipse Earl Webb's major league record of 67 doubles hit in 1931. No major league hitter has posted 60 doubles in a season since 1936 yet I have not heard one mention of this on a website or sports show.

Had a nice Pinot Noir last night Castle Rock Sonoma County 2005, not cheap at $25.95 but given the price of Pinot Noir these days pretty fair value. Lots of bright fruit flavours and good tannins, it will cellar nicely for a year or two. It is widely available in the BCLDB as part of their new Californian Wine promotions - CSPC#316687.

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