What up fellas?

First of all, real life – The move is over! Everything went well, although I couldn’t physically function for two days afterwards. Diane and I moved the whole frickin’ thing, over Friday and Saturday, and we’re in the new digs. It’s a great change too. Much more space, brand new construction, the whole 9. Just about 2500 square feet, and we are utilizing every inch so it feels even bigger than that. Rooster, we’re planning on a house warming in January, after the holidays and all that stuff. MAYBE even a Super Bowl party in early February?!?! Hmmm, would be interesting if the Seahawks and Colts were on the schedule that day…..

There is always a downside, though, and I have to say the homes are very “cozy” as there isn’t a whole lot of space between homes. That’s the rage today, though, especially up here, as builders are building bigger homes on smaller lots as the days of a big back yard are starting to disappear with new homes. But, our builder isn’t as bad as some of the others I’ve seen, where it literally looks like you are living in a town house. And, we got a decent back yard, not big but not exactly miniature like I’ve seen some other new developments, where it’s literally you walk out the back door on your deck and you can reach out and touch the fence. The best part of all is that we back right up to protected green belt so we have a lot of privacy. The area is nice in Mill Creek, too, very little traffic for now, and for the commute, my office is only 15 minutes away on local roads. No more 45 minutes on 405! It is SO quiet too, it feels like we are way out in the country compared to the heavy traffic by our old house (Michael wouldn’t know as he’s never been there, but Rooster, if you remember, that road we lived next to over the last 3 or so years has really gotten busy!).

Plus, we got great news – we accepted an offer on our old house! And the inspection has come back very positive, already, so things are moving forward to a 1/13 close. Of course anything can happen between now and then, but we feel like we’ve cleared some major hurdles.

This has been a huge learning experience, selling a house for the first time, and I’m convinced more than ever that a great agent MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE on a lot of levels! We changed agents over a week ago and it’s been night and day. I could write a novel with how many things our original agent screwed up, it’s really pretty laughable now that this thing is going to wind down.

Ok, on to the Cougs – You’ve all read the articles, but it sounds like Hill is going to wait a few more weeks as he has asked for an NFL opinion. Apparently Jerome was on an ESPN chat yesterday and said flat-out that he expects Hill to come back for his senior year, and that he SHOULD do it, but anything can happen. An NFL scout meanwhile remarked that he “isn’t real physical, doesn’t have the best hands, doesn’t like going over the middle”. Sounds like second-day draft, and then released on waivers by August if you ask me! That kid NEEDS one more year to get better, and, get that degree in December ’06, which would make him the first member of his family to achieve.

In recruiting, it sounds like the Cougs are in hard on JC WR Charles Dillon, a kid they signed out of HS. He could be a perfect fit to compete right away next year. Arizona is recruiting him very hard as well, but he’s leaning Cougs. Also, RB JT Dietrichs (sp) is tripping this weekend and there is a real strong hope that he will end any speculation and announce he’s coming to Pullman for sure. Apparently in an interview he said that Jerome’s season had a huge impact on him, seeing how he could be extremely successful in this offense! But he’s also said all along that he’s got his ears open to other schools as well. He’s now grown to a crazy 6-2, 225, and he runs with power and speed we haven’t had around here! Getting him would be HUGE. They are still linked with some DB’s, but I don’t know much on that as I’m not an insider anymore 🙁

By the way, on the M’s – sounds like they whiffed on getting Juan Pierre, and IF they would have landed him? It would have triggered at least two more trades to fill other holes. Personally I’m glad they didn’t get him. Pierre didn’t really fill a need, at all, unless they were committed to moving Ichiro down in the lineup….or trading him??? Who knows.

Speaking of Ichiro – I heard David Locke last night say that after covering Ichiro since 2001, he is convinced that Ichiro is the MOST selfish, individualistic, non-team player he has ever seen, period, end of discussion. It’s not so much his manner in the clubhouse, but it’s the known facts of what he does on the field that play out those theories. Locke says it’s absurd that Ichiro still uses an interpreter, and if you talk to any of his teammates off the record, they think it’s the biggest joke ever and that Ichiro speaks GREAT english behind the scenes! It’s weird. He NEVER gives himself up to move runners, on more than one occasion he has bunted in key RBI situations, on his own, just trying to get a drag base hit vs. doing the thing you need to do in a situation like that, and he’s proclaimed in interviews that he will rarely dive for the ball or crash into a wall because he wants to stay healthy!

I don’t know what to make of Ichiro anymore. I read his book, Ichiro on Ichiro, and it was really interesting to the extent of how hard he works on his game, how much he prepares, I mean he must work harder and prepare more than any other player in MLB. He’s truly a samurai with a bat. His old man pushed him harder than you can believe, too. One year, when he was 7 or 8 years old, his dad made him hit and field ground balls and fly balls every single day, for 2 hours, for an entire year! 365 days, even when he was sick, or on holidays, or lousy weather, every day he was doing that work. He even said one day he was so tired of it that he just laid down on the field at the end of their workout. His dad just left him there and he cried for a while, then got up and walked home. They never discussed it, only his dad said something like “you are now starting to understand what it is like to work hard.” He’s just a different dude.

I love the Johjima signing. I’ve read a lot about him, and many say he projects to about .275-.280 with 15 – 20 HR power, as well as great defensive weapons. Bobby Valentine said in an interview that he could be an All-Star quickly, he’s that good. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with the pitchers, but that could be overrated. I mean it’s not like he’s trying to play QB and call offensive plays in the huddle! It’s just 1 for fastball, 2 for curve, 3 for whatever else you got. That’s pretty much it.

I don’t like hearing 5 years on Millwood. Boras is trying to top the AJ Burnett deal, even by $1 dollar, and trying to match him in years, and there just aren’t teams out there ready to do it. Meanwhile I’ve read that a couple of “insiders” believe Millwood will sign with the M’s, but it might not be for a few more weeks, if not even into January. Remember, Boras has a great relationship with Bavasi and they were very successful on Beltre last year. But, back in October of last year, Boras was talking between 8 and 10 years for Beltre at $100 million, but in the end? 5 years, $64 million got it done. Same thing with Beltran, he said 10 years minimum, but it ended up 7 years including a couple of options. So Boras will throw out stupid numbers to the media, and will even go as far as saying “there is a “mystery” team involved in the bidding”, etc, but in the end they’ll just take the best available offer. It sounds as though 4 years, $44 million will get it done eventually, but nobody wants to go to 5. The one team that might have done it just went 5 years on AJ Burnett, so that pawn is gone.

The other thing is the M’s didn’t make any splash at the winter meetings, but then again, they really didn’t last year either. They agreed to terms with Richie Sexson on the last day of the meetings, but didn’t announce the deal until the following week in Seattle. Same with Beltre, they only got that deal done after the meetings and after the Dodgers wouldn’t go 5 years or $64 million on him (I think I read 3 years, $33 million, with a 4th year option that would have taken him to about $45 million or so). So, just because they didn’t get in on the fun like a lot of other teams did doesn’t mean they won’t do anything. I have to believe they will get at least one, maybe even two starting pitchers, and will also finally land that hitter they have been looking for on the left side, be it Carl Everett, Jeromy Burnitz or Jacque Jones. Personally I wouldn’t even consider Everett, he’s a complete idiot, and while I like Burnitz, his skill set is taking a slide. I would do what it takes on Jones. He only hit .249 last year but reached 20 HR’s and plays excellent D. That left-handed bat would be perfect in the lineup. He’s got some good years ahead of him still as well.

I predict:
1) M’s won’t land Millwood, but they’ll instead sign Jeff Weaver for 4 years, $40 million or so.
2) M’s will sign Jacque Jones, 3 years, $8 million per, plus 4th year option
3) M’s will ALSO take a flier on Kevin Brown, 1 year, $5 million plus incentives (don’t be surprised at this one)

1) Ichiro – L – RF
2) Reed – L – CF
3) Beltre – R – 3B
4) Sexson – R – 1B
5) Jones – L – LF
6) Ibanez – L – DH
7) Johjima – R – C
8) Lopez – R – 2B
9) Betancourt – R – SS

You could move some guys around to break up the lefties, but no matter what you have to keep Sexson at 4. Maybe Lopez at 2, Jones at 3, Sexson at 4 and Beltre at 5, something like that. Lots of mixing and matching. Still, the bench will be weak and it’s something they’ll have to shore up.

1) Weaver
2) Felix
3) Brown
4) Moyer
5) Pineiro

Meche most likely heads to the bullpen, if he isn’t dealt or even non-tendered? Weaver is opening day, then Felix just based on less pressure as the #2. Brown #3 and he could have a big season. I like Moyer at #4 and Jo-EL as the 5-guy. That’s a solid rotation, if not STRONG, if everyone is taking their vitamins.

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