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Planet Appier Returns (Henry Blanco, too)

  • If anything, Kevin Appier's one tenacious booger.

    Even after his 2004 season proved that he has nothing left, Planet Appier's decided to give it one more go in 2005, throwing his 86-mph fastballs for all they're worth. I'm starting to think that a person could run the guy over with a semi next June, and it wouldn't faze him in the least when he decides to come back and try to pitch (again) in 2006.

    I'm only half-kidding. When combined with his stuff, that competitiveness made him a sleeper for the Hall of Fame in the early-to-mid-90s, and the same bulldog mentality is what's keeping him going ten years later. However, his blessing is in many ways his curse, because I'm afraid Ape's going to embarrass himself if he continues to believe he can hack it in a major league rotation. Or the Royals rotation, for that matter.

    No pitcher is going to see very much success when he has one pitch that's even league-average: In Appier's case, his still-filthy slider. His fastball tops out in the high-80s on good days, and his splitter is nothing to brag about. But if he wants to extend his career, I think he could do so by pitching one inning at a time out of the bullpen, where he could throw that slider 'til the cows come home while mixing in a few "heaters" to keep opposing batters honest. It'd be a worthwhile experiment for the Royals, who are almost as short on decent relievers as they are on starters.

  • The horrible signings continued late last night, with Henry Blanco and Tony Womack agreeing to two-year deals with the Cubs and Yankees, respectively. I think everyone's already getting a good chuckle at George Steinbrenner's first step towards catching the Red Sox, so I'm going to leave that one alone. The Blanco signing intrigues me, though, and not just because the Cubs probably gave him entirely too much money to be a reserve catcher.

    This might be one of the few times a GM isn't the instigator of talks with any type of free agent, because Greg Maddux made this signing whether the Cubs want to admit it or not. Maddux has always been weird about having his own catcher for a wide variety of reasons, none of which are important enough to talk about in detail here. Maddux had three personal catchers while he was in Atlanta because he couldn't do his thing with Javy Lopez behind the dish:

    Charlie O'Brien (1994-1995)
    Eddie Perez (1996-1999)
    Paul Bako (2000-2001)
    Henry Blanco (2002-2003)

    Not-so-ironically, Bako played for the Cubs last year, and Blanco's taking his place in 2005. The Braves only catered to Maddux's desires because, well, he's Greg Maddux. As you can probably guess, O'Brien, Perez, Bako, and Blanco were or are all pretty much your everyday, run-of-the-mill reserve catchers, meaning that they can't hit a lick. Having Lopez's bat in the lineup on the days Maddux pitched would've offset any kind of a negative the Braves would've experienced because Javy and Greg couldn't click.

    Here we are years later, and the Cubs are doing the exact same thing. Michael Barrett finally emerged into the hitter everyone thought he'd be in Montreal, but because Maddux apparently needs to work with a familiar face, the Cubs are willing to sacrifice 25% of their offense from the catcher position to make their pitcher happy. It probably won't cost them much, perhaps a win, but I still view it as a questionable strategy.
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