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The Bleacher Bums: July 28, 2006 Archive

Somewhere Lenin is smiling....

Posted at 9:17 AM on July 28, 2006 by David Zingler

According to the Star Tribune (the print edition at least, I was unable to locate in on-line), MLB is considering charging fantasy leagues to use (what they consider) their statistics. Yes, you heard me right. This would quickly lead to many smaller leagues folding and eventually, they hope, to a centralized, MLB operated fantasy league. I’m sure their product would be better and cheaper – just like goods and services in the old Soviet Union.

Who knows how far they could take this, the Star Tribune wondered if game shows like Jeopardy or board games like Trivial Pursuit would be affected. I meanwhile, always looking out for No. 1, shuddered to think about how it could change blogging or writing in general. Would we need to post links to MLB approved PayPal accounts to allow readers to access Joe Mauer’s batting average? If he were hitting .400, would we even know without opening our checkbooks? This is madness!

Our tax dollars fund the stadiums, we pay top dollar for tickets to enter them and then get gouged for concessions once we’re there – Now they want US to pay for statistics generated by basic mathematics. Yes, baseball is all about (getting) the fans (money).

Well, there goes that deal

Posted at 11:04 AM on July 28, 2006 by Ben Tesch (2 Comments)

Brewers trade Lee to Rangers, get Cordero
The Brewers are sending slugger Carlos Lee and minor league outfield prospect Nelson Cruz to the Rangers for relief pitcher Francisco Cordero and outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix.

Hmm, methinks the Brewers just got a helluva deal. Apparently El Picante (the new chorizo sausage racer) was included earlier in the deal, but the Brewers could not lose such a prized young prospect.

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The unlikely third baseman

Posted at 7:41 PM on July 28, 2006 by David Zingler

Nick Punto entered this season as .239 hitting utility player that had trouble staying off the Disabled List. You had to love his heart, hustle and glove, but you never would have thought he’d be the starting third baseman on a contending team. As it turns out, neither did he.

“It was something that was new to me,” Punto admitted. “I had played sporadically over there, but I didn’t ever envision myself as an everyday third baseman. The more I get out there, the more comfortable I get. I feel really good right now.”

Anybody on an 18 game hitting steak, batting .321 and reaching base at a .403 clip would “feel really good”, but what is the secret behind his drastic increase in production?

“A little bit has to do with maturity and a lot is due to the fact I changed the mechanics of my swing,” the 28-year-old explained. “It’s a shorter swing more suited for contact and just putting the ball in play. That’s helped me see pitches better and also draw some walks.”

Like most Twins hitters, Punto is quick to give credit to first year hitting coach Joe Vavra and his “positive” approach, but the scrappy infielder also received a boost from a Hall of Famer.

“Rod Carew was a big help,” Punto pointed out. “He was the one that actually changed the mechanics of my swing, so I’ve got to give him a lot of credit for what I’ve been doing this year -- just getting on base and putting the ball in play more.”

(The mechanics change) was just a spring training thing,” the San Diego native continued. “(Carew) actually only came in for two weeks and worked with me. Joe Vavra has done a good job of helping remind me of the things that Rod Carew had mentioned.”

After swatting 4 homeruns in 2005, the diminutive former Phillie has yet to leave the park this year. He says that is the lone downside to his new approach, “I’ve got a more compact swing now, that’s part of just putting the ball in play,” Punto stated. “There won’t be many homeruns.”

Throughout his career, Punto has been bitten with the injury bug, so when he left a game with a knee injury earlier this month many expected the worst. The hardnosed Punto however, returned to the line-up the following day and hasn’t left since.

“It’s just a jammed knee, it feels a lot better,” he commented. “It didn’t matter if it hurt or not, I wasn’t coming out of the line-up.”

At 5-9 on his tip-toes, Punto is hardly the prototypical third baseman, but he can field the position and is a refreshing change from the sluggish Tony Batista. And, as well as he and the Twins have been playing, why change now?

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