Happy first Friday of 2014! Here's a handful of links that are all less depressing than taking down the Christmas tree.
Depth the key to Tribe success in 2014 | ESPN Sweet Spot Blog (Joseph Werner) - The Indians may have gotten lucky in 2013 with scrap-heap signings like Scott Kazmir and Ryan Raburn, and they're taking the same approach this offseason. That makes it as likely that they'll win 80 games as it is that they'll win 90+ again.
The Rock talks | Did The Tribe Win Last Night? (Steve Eby) - DTTWLN interviews Indians icon Rocky Calavito, who talks about his unique place in Indians lore. Rocky also discusses modern day baseball, calling Barry Bonds and his ilk "cheaters" in unequivocal language. Personally, it never ceases to amaze me to hear old timers be so quick to judge PED era players, as if no one every cheated before the 1990's.
Still waiting on Ubaldo | It's Pronounced "Lajaway" (Adam Hintz) - Part I of the series discussed the likelihood of Ubaldo signing a certain type of deal, while part II examines which teams are most likely to sign him. Hintz sees the Mariners and Dodgers as frontrunner, but I find it curious that he writes the Yankees off.
Trevor Bauer's crazy pitch designs | The Hardball Times (Kyle Boddy) - For the pitch mechanics gurus out there, here's another intriguing post on Trevor Bauer.
Around the league
Thinking about the five-man rotation | Fangraphs (Jeff Sullivan) - Including this partly because it's an interesting piece about rotation depth, but mostly because of this insane stat: the 2013 Tigers got 156 starts from their original five-man rotation. That is either staggeringly good luck, or staggeringly good scouting/coaching/conditioning. My bet is on the former.
Diamondbacks getting serious about Tanaka | Fox Sports (Ken Rosenthal) - Those who are following the saga shouldn't rule out Arizona, as they're apparently going pretty hard.
Twins considering Matt Garza... again | NBS Sports (Craig Calcaterra) - Via a tweet from Darren Wolfson, the Twin are interested but don't want to commit to a long contract.
Analyzing the A-Rod/Levine emails | Sports on Earth (Emma Span) - More on this strange, strange saga.
Because it's kind of a slow day, and because top movie and book lists seem pretty popular here, I thought I'd throw in a list of my own, my personal top 5 games of 2013.
5. Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360) - While the gameplay was a little repetitive, the story was captivating and the ending was phenomenal. As is typical of the Bioshock series, the atmosphere is unparalleled. Perhaps not a good as the original, it still lived up to the hype.
4. Guacamelee (PS Vita) - In the ever-growing pile of 2D, "retro" style side-scrolling games, Guacamelee is a real standout. The simple but addictive combat is perfectly complemented by the killer music, unique art style, and humorous story telling.
3. Tomb Raider (Xbox 360) - I ddn't expect much from this series reboot, but they really nailed it with this one. Thd "gritty" cinematic story doesn't go overboard on the grit, and the gameplay is a satisfying mix of platforming, third-person combat, and exploration. Also, it's a pleasure to watch the progression of Lara Croft's character.
2. Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360) - What can I say that hasn't already been said? GTA V lives up to every bit of the hype, allowing players to jump into a beautifully-designed mock LA and cause havoc. If the game falls short anywhere, it's the lackluster story. The character switching was pulled off particularly well.
1. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Playstation 4) - I'm surprising myself with this one, but I haven't played a game that is this much straight fun in years. There's just so much to do in a huge open world, and none of it seems like a chore. Playing the role of a badass pirate, setting sail to start a mission, but being derailed by a naval battle before going on a whale hunt... it's just pure joy. It doesn't hurt that the game is probably the best looking game on the new console generation so far.
This was probably a little self-indulgent, but I'm interested to hear if other people have opinions on ther games of the year.