(Posted: 6/27/11; update 6/28)
The Cardinals, buy Brewers, sildenafil for sale Mariners and Mets are four teams that have big decisions to make: invest huge amounts in holding on to franchise players Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Reyes, or spend the money on collecting as many potentially good, if not great, players to carry them into the future. None of the four teams can afford to go into a total rebuilding mode if it wants to keep fans interested. How each improves its product – spending here, cutting back there, and how fast that improvement comes – could decide how viable the franchise is in the long run.
There are two franchises – Dems and Team GOP – trying to calculate the way to political viability into the near-future. Each needs a financial strategy targeting debt-reduction that fans will support. And each is currently playing a cautious game about the approach it wants to take. National Journal mainstay Ron Brownstein has watched the game from the pressbox and tracked every move:
“Insiders believe (both teams) are likely to…squeez(e) domestic and defense discretionary spending, while moving only modestly to restructure entitlement programs and the tax code…That’s understandable: Both parties are reluctant to settle those critical choices until they learn whether the 2012 election increases their leverage. But taxes and entitlements are unavoidably the key to stabilizing the long-term debt…
“There’s not much mystery about how to raise revenue: Washington can increase tax rates, eliminate tax breaks, or impose new levies. Nor should there be much mystery about the need to do so. Despite the fiscal pressures created by an aging society, federal receipts are now at their lowest level since 1950 when measured as a share of the economy. The problem is building majority support, in Congress and among the populace, for raising more revenue—particularly when so many congressional Republicans have pledged to oppose any tax increase.”
Some will say whichever decision voters make next year will not be critical, but a simple ballot-box choice. Attentive fans know it will be a game-changer, with the country’s direction and quality of life of the many in the balance.
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Fielder is 27, Reyes 28 and Pujols 31; they will be in, or close to, their prime. Ichiro turns 38 this year. A reasonable assumption would have Pujols, who plays first base, the least-taxing infield position, getting a seven-year deal, and Reyes, the most taxing at SS, signed for six. Fielder might get five; his weight hurts his negotiating stance. The Mariners would probably offer Ichiro at least two more years. But anticipating what the quiet Japanese star will do next is a challenging task.
Inter-League Cont. Coming out of the weekend, the Rays and Nationals have dominated the second round of inter-league play, Tampa Bay going 8-1, Washington 7-2 overall. The Rays were among three weekend sweepers, taking three from the Astros while the Brewers and Giants swept the Twins and Indians. TB moved to within two games of the AL East lead. The Nats have solidified a claim to be a better-than-.500 team. The W-L breakdown going into tonight: AL 67, NL 59.
Test for the Mets: As of Sunday night, the Yankees were in first in their division, having taken two of three from the Rockies while the Red Sox dropped two of three to the Pirates. That meant, for the moment, the Mets had the distinction of playing nine straight games against the three first-place AL teams – the Rangers (from whom they took two of three), the Tigers, with whom they have a midweek series, and, finally, the Yanks, whom they play at home next weekend. Media buzz says the Mets’ performance over the nine could well determine whether Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez will be kept or dealt as summer unfolds.
What We’d Rather Not Be Reminded About Derek Jeter (as laid out in Michael Sokolowe’s Sunday Times Magazine piece): “(Jeter) leads all of baseball, by a wide margin, in his ratio of ground balls to balls lifted in the air, an arcane but telling statistic. Jeter can no longer consistently bring the bat through the hitting zone at the proper moment, and with enough authority, to hit line drives into the outfield gaps or fly balls that clear the fences…’His hands are not as quick (said a scout). His feet are not as quick. His overall strength is diminished…Father Time catches up with all of us’.”
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