Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Nothing happened today, so you know what that means. Birthdays! Yay filler!

Remember when I said how much cooler the names of the early 20th century players were? Check out the names of all these guys born on January 31, all of whom played before 1920: Rasty Wright, Jot Goar, Rip Williams, Tex McDonald, Goat Cochran, Steamboat Williams, Stuffy Stewart, Pinky Hargrave, Webb Schultz, and Honey Barnes. These are names for jazz musicians (Steamboat Williams) or porn stars (Honey Barnes), not baseball players. And what the hell is a Jot Goar anyway? Sounds like it should be the name of some delicacy in Iceland made of fermented shark eggs and penguin pancreas. You can't make this stuff up.

January 31st is also the birthday of 3 hall of famers. Jackie Robinson, who would have been 87, Ernie Banks, who turns 75, and Nolan Ryan, who turns 59. January 31st did pretty well for itself. I'm going to give myself the assignment to find which day of the year has the most hall of fame birthdays. But not now. I hope this doesn't disappoint anybody. By the way, the Red Sox had their fourth annual Jackie Robinson day to honor his memory and educate local students about his life. This is nice. Think it has anything to do with the guilt the Red Sox organization feels over having been the last team to let a black man wear its uniform? The Sox waited a good long time after Jackie before they had their own black player - in fact, I'm pretty sure it was Jim Rice who broke the Boston color barrier, but we'll double check that. But good for the Sox for doing this each year; kind of like Ford sponsoring the TV showing of Schindler's List.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Thoughts on Mr. Met

So Mike Piazza is still not a San Diego Padre officially. I doubt there's a real problem that could jeopardize the signing; perhaps he wasn't able to take his physical yet. In any event, we'll talk about it now.

If you're a Mets fan, the last eight years have been defined by Mike Piazza. Sure, we know he wasn't a homegrown product, and we know that his last few years as a Met were less than spectacular. But that doesn't matter. Piazza will always be viewed by Mets fans a true Met and an all time great Met. I still remember being at home on Friday afternoon, May 15, 1998, when news broke of the Marlins-Dodgers trade that sent Piazza to Florida. Came kind of out the blue. I remember spending that Sunday at the Salute to Israel Parade debating with my friend Jared Jerome whether the Mets could then get Piazza from the Fish. I took the "shut up, you're nuts, they can't and they won't" side of the argument. (That was the day David Wells pitched his perfect game for the Yankees, by the way.) Over the next week, after the Mets had declared that they had no plans to pursue Piazza in a trade, a flood of angry calls to Mike and the Mad Dog poured in. And I thought, "these callers are wasting their time." Finally, Friday, May 22, 1998. Listening to WFAN at about 2:30 when Mike announced, "The Mets have called a 4 o'clock press conference to announce a major trade." Could it be? Are you serious? And then, a few minutes later, confirmation: "The Marlins have also called a press conference. It's Piazza."

Not having been old enough to witness 1986, that became the best day of my life as a Mets fan. This was a guy every team wanted, the Mets were given no chance to get, and they went out and brought him in. In the prime of his career. Unbelievable. We knew he'd be the face of the franchise.

If only he'd stay. New York being what it is, Piazza got off to a slow start, and some people I'd rather not call "fans" started the booing. Piazza was pressing, Piazza wasn't happy, and, according to every report, Piazza was as good as gone. As soon as he hit free agency in November he was going to sign with Anaheim, or Colorado, or maybe some other team, but he sure as hell wasn't staying to be treated like crap in New York. But not only did he stay, he didn't even file for free agency. We forget about that, my friends. We all remember how elated we were that day in May 1998, but we don't often talk about how lucky we were that Piazza had a miraculous (a word I HATE in the context of sports, but let's just go with it) change of heart at the very end of the season and stuck around.

$91 mil over 7 years. That was a lot of money (still is, whew) and a lot of years. 2005? I remember thinking, "when the hell is it going to be 2005? Where the hell will I be in 2005? I'LL BE 23 IN 2005??!?!?" And here we are. 7 seasons of great memories later, Mike Piazza will now be donning #31 for another club. It's fitting, for me, that Piazza is going to San Diego. Because that will always be one of my strongest game memories of Piazza: April 28, 1999, Padres-Mets at Shea. The Mets blew a 2-1 lead in the top of the 8th, and entered the bottom of the 9th down 3-2, with Trevor Hoffman on the mound. A virtual "game over." John Olerud got on (ok, that's not part of my memory - thanks retrosheet) and then Mike smacked one over the right field fence. Game winning 2 run homer, Mets win 4-3. I was going nuts. I went into my brother's room to celebrate, but he had already fallen asleep. So what did I do? I woke him up. "Jonny, Piazza just hit a game winning homer off Hoffman!! Mets win!" "Are you nuts? I already missed the homer, what good does waking me up do now? You're an idiot, thanks a lot." "Yeah, fair point. Sorry, good night." I have a theory that this incident is what turned my brother off to society and sent him to a life of religious fanaticism, but that's for another blog.

Anyway, let's focus on the present. This is a great signing for the Padres. I've said all along that Piazza at age 37 is still better than a lot of catchers in their primes. He's certainly better than Doug Mirabelli at 35. So $2 mil is well worth the investment. If Piazza can hit 15 homers, drive in 70 runs, and not be too much of a defensive liability, he'll be a bargain at $2 mil. Better than that he'll be an absolute steal. And if he loses it completely mid-season, the Padres didn't risk that much money. Buster Olney has predicted that Piazza won't finish the season as a Padre (presumably because he'll be released or will retire). I think he's got more left in the tank than that. Maybe not a lot more, but I think he can help the Padres out for at least all of 2006.

I hadn't started the blog yet, but most of you know my thoughts on the way the Mets replaced Piazza. Paul LoDuca isn't that much younger, has much worse power, is no better at throwing out runners, costs much more, is locked in for 2 years, and cost the Mets a decent prospect in Gaby Hernandez. And oh yeah, the little thing about him not being the face of the franchise for the last 8 years. I'm not saying that alone would mean you don't eventually move on. You have to be able to recognize a player for all his done for your team, and then be ready to show him the door to improve your club. But the Mets didn't do that here, and Piazza's bargain signing with San Diego bears that out. It's a pity. But at least Minaya was able to check something off on his little list there by jumping for LoDuca so we could all see what a quick and decisive general manager he is.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trade recap

I know that some of you are expecting a Mike Piazza post tonight. I have to be honest with you, I'm not sure I feel quite the same urge for a tribute as some of you seem to. This has nothing to do with the (very great) degree to which I think all Mets fans should honor Mike. It has everything to do with the fact that Mike Piazza's contractual ties to the Mets were officially broken two months ago, and he really isn't any further away from being a Met today than he was the day after they declined to offer him arbitration. That said, I don't want to disappoint, there is something about him signing with another team that makes it feel more official, and, since I wasn't blogging when the Mets officially parted ways with him, I still owe a blog in tribute anyway.

However, I'm going to hold it until tomorrow. I got in late tonight and want to give it a little more thought. Since the signing will become official tomorrow, that's probably better anyway. Also, I still haven't talked about the weekend trades, so let's do that tonight.

First up, the Phillies send Jason Michaels to the Indians for Arthur Rhodes. Good trade for the Phillies. Michaels was a spare part in the OF, and you have to trade a 4th OF for a reliever. Rhodes is coming off a very strong year, but he missed most of the last two months due to injury and personal family reasons. The Phillies had him undergo an insane number of MRIs and seem sold on his health. (I remember Tim McCarver arguing on more than one occasion that we should call it RsBI, since it's runS batted in. He probably has a point. But he probably wouldn't say this for the plural of MRI, since MsRI wouldn't make sense. Anyway...) Yeah, the Phillies are, should we say, a tad on the elderly side in the back end of the bullpen now. But go with and hope it holds. I have my doubts that at the end of '07, when Rhodes' contract expires, these two are going to be a lights out tandem for the Phillies. But with the way baseball is today, and the Phillies in contention right now, you cross that bridge when you come to it. Michaels was the right price.

Cleveland gets Michaels to trade Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard to the Red Sox for Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, Kelly Shoppach, and a player to be named. There is no word on the ptbn, but it is not prospect Manny Delcarmen, whom the Tribe had hoped to get.

This is an interesting trade. Partly because it has a vague ring of a roto trade, with such an even swap of positions. Like this whole catcher component just seems like what you do when you say, "yeah, we could make this deal as is, but let's make it a blockbuster - wanna trade our catchers too?"

Anyway, I like Crisp; I think he's a nice player. Good for 15-15 or even 20-20, plays hard, fairly young. But Michaels is a respectable replacement. His numbers from '05 project out to 10 homers, 60 ribbies, and 8 steals. This is far from eye popping from a corner OF, but neither are Crisp's numbers. And Michaels knows how to get on, compiling a .399 OBP in his 289 abs. He also had good solid numbers with runners in scoring position. Given the strong hitters that the Indians have in their lineup with Hafner, Sizemore, Martinez, and Peralta, they can carry Michael's sub-optimal power bat. Crisp to Michaels is a downgrade, yes, but I don't think a huge one.

Mota for Riske is probably also a slight downgrade, given Mota's struggles in '05. I'll still never forgive Riske for seeming to have a lock on the Indians' closers job in '04, causing me to bid on him and rely on him for saves, then accumulate a whopping one save before officially losing his job. Bastard. But he's actually been pretty good since then, as he was in '03. Mota, too, had his difficulties serving as a closer, and never really rebounded all year. But the Red Sox are contributing cash to cover Mota's salary, which makes more palatable the risk of taking him on. If he ocmes back strong he'll be just as, if not more, effective than Riske. But Mark Shapiro is risking a downgrade here if things don't break right.

Then you've got this Josh Bard for Kelly Shoppach thing, as mentioned above. Shoppach is still a "prospect," but he's about to turn 26, so that makes you wonder. And what are the Indians going to do with him, since he's blocked by Victor Martinez? But I guess the edge goes to the Indians on this.

And then you've got Andy Marte. Put all the other stuff that balances against the Indians, getting him outweighs that. A top 3B prospect is a great pickup for any team, and it's not like the Indians are so wedded to Aaron Boone for the next 5 years. Simply put, it's a terriffic acquisition, and while you don't know how prospects will turn out, this is as smart a move as any. The concern I have if I'm an Indians fan isn't the loss of Crisp for Marte, because that's well worth it. It's the risk the Indians are taking in the Rhodes and Riske for Mota change. The Indians are contending now, and with the White Sox seemingly getting better in '06, Cleveland is risking that they've gotten a bit worse. As I said, Mota could be as good as Riske, but if he blows up, that's a net loss of 2 relievers. That's a tough hit for a contending team, especially when your closer looks like he'd be more comfortable in a steel mill than a baseball mound. But: 1. Fernando Cabrera, Rafael Betancourt, and Scott Sauerbeck make up a nice bullpen themselves, and 2. Getting Marte is worth it even with the consideration that the pen might take a hit. Oh, and of course, Danny Graves and Steve Karsay will be in camp, so that's bound to be useful bullpen insurance. Because, you know, the Buffalo Bisons might need an extra arm at some point.

Good trade for the Indians. I like it a lot and am surprised to read that many in Cleveland don't. Does this mean, by extension, that the trade is a bad move for Boston? It wouldn't necessarily. But it may in this case. Marte is a top prospect. Crisp is a decent player. That's not a great exchange. The Sox had a vacancy in CF that needed to be filled, and it may be worth acquiring a player they can sell to their fans as a suitable replacement for Damon. And the Red Sox are obviously trying to win now. But if Mike Lowell falls on his face and Marte starts to emerge in Cleveland, Epstein/Hoyer/Cherington/Luchino/Yawkey/Jimmy Fund Kid/Cliff Clavin are going to regret that they didn't hold onto Marte and trade less for a player nearly comparable to Crisp. A player, like, I don't know...Jason Michaels maybe?

Yes, I'm alive

Ripken my ass. So, it seems that my streak lasted a month and a half. A far cry from what I would have hoped for. Thanks to procrastination, my journal article took my right up to Friday's 5 pm deadline. At that point, I had the choice between writing an entry for the day and violating shabbos. Make no mistake. This was a tough choice. I opted for the sabbath observance, but believe me, that hasn't been sitting well. I mean, in theory, I have a much longer streak intact of sabbaths observed, but frankly, I'm probably doing something to violate it each week. The blog writing streak has been, I would argue, far more pristine.

In a way, this is probably for the best. Sooner or later I was bound to be unable to write an entry, and I'm glad it came before I started to take this idiotic, pointless streak too seriously.

I will say this, though, and I mean it. Losing the streak in no way makes me feel like I have carte blanche to miss days simply because nothing newsworthy has transpired. I'm still as committed as ever to bring you guys something each day, whether it be a take on a minor signing, a recap of the day's birthdays, or a list of things in my apartment. I'm still on the case, have no fear.

But not right now. It's 3:00 am and I have to be up early tomorrow. But I assure you, full analysis of the Phillies-Red Sox-Indians deal tomorrow. My thumbnail analysis - good move for Philadelphia and Cleveland, probably not as good for the Red Sox, but possibly still good. That way you won't be in suspense until tomorrow.

Ok, a quick b-day. Happy b-day (January 28th) to Magglio Ordonez, who turns 32. Just the other day I stumbled on Ordonez' EPSN page and thought "Wow, Magglio Ordonez. Isn't he dead?" Anybody else feel that way? I must have been in a coma at some point in '05, because evdidently Mags played in 82 games and accumulated 305 ABs. No recollection of any of that. He's a good player though, and if he can stay healthy in '06, the Tigers might just win, oh, 78, 79 games. The sky is the limit in Detroit!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Info nugget

You guys are looking like a sympathetic crowd tonight. A crowd that understands that I still have a lot of work left on my article and don't have much time to figure out what to say after a very quiet day in baseball. So I thank you. But I'll give you a little something.

Happy birthday (on Friday) to 2003 ROTY Angel Berroa, who turns 28. Wait a sec, Angel Berroa. That's a hispanic name. Oh, he was born in the Dominican Republic. So happy birthday to 2003 ROTY Angel Berroa, who turns 42. Berroa, as you folks know, hasn't been that successful in the 2 years since his rookie year. Last week Ben Grieve's name prompted me to offer my nominee for worst ROTY of the 1990s. Berroa isn't the worst ROTY of the 2000s for three obvious reasons. One, the decade is only half over. Two, we don't have nearly enough perspective on Berroa's career to make that kind of determination. Three, if we were to ignore one and two, we couldn't deprive Eric Hinske of his much deserved honor.

Anyway, those who don't pore over these lists as often as I do might be wondering: "Eric, please, I must know, what was the BEST year for ROTYs?" Ok, I'll tell you. I think it's a 1 and 1a kind of thing. 1 is 1967, when Tom Seaver won the NL award with the Mets (Mets baseball!!!) and Rod Carew won the AL award with the Twins. Both pretty good players. 1a goes to 1956 when Frank Robinson won the NL award with the Reds and Luis Aparacio won it with the White Sox. 2001 could join as 1b depending on the career paths of Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki, but that's a long way off. I think there are a number of candidates for the worst year for ROTYs, and that'll be my next post when there's nothing of real importance to say.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Two quick thoughts

Sorry, I don't have a lot of time for this entry. Thanks to many other forms of procrastination, my progress on my journal article hasn't quite been up to where it should have been. A couple of quick thoughts:

Here's a quote from a major leaguer regarding the WBC: "I actually like our team. I feel very confident in the approach we're taking with the players we have. We are a fairly young team, and a lot of teams really don't know about a lot of our players. I think we can sneak in there." Who said this, you ask? Jason Bay, talking about Canada? A comment from China's manager Jim Lefebvre? Nonsense. That's Johnny Damon talking. Damon, for those who don't know, will be playing for the United States team. Yes, a team that has all stars at every position, and all stars as backups at every position, is a young team that might just "sneak in there." That's like Christina Aguilera going on American Idol and portraying herself as the feel good underdog.

Frank Thomas signs with the A's for a guaranteed $500,000. The deal could go up to over $2 mil, but only if Thomas is playing every day. A pretty easy no brainer for the A's. Not a lot of risk. I don't know if there's a lot of potential reward anymore with The Big Hurt, but $500,000 is a decent gamble. Even at half his former abilities he's better than Erubiel Durazo. Man, Durazo, what a sham. He got like a 3 year free ride in roto before everybody realized, "Hey, wait a sec. This guy's injured all the time and doesn't even hit that many homers anyway. Why, he isn't helping my team at all. Who let him in here?"

Ok, that Christina Aguilera thing up there? Did we like that? I can't decide if it's chuckle worthy or one of those hacky, obvious kind of jokes a very terrible warmup comic makes at a comedy club that isn't all that good. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The only prescription: More Theo

So Theo Epstein has come full circle and is back as GM of the Red Sox. This is an usually quick return. Didn't Larry Luchino learn anything from 90210 and Luke Perry's return? They almost got it right - a big to do was made over Theo leaving, and an unfamiliar cast of characters brought in. But they didn't let it simmer. Got to wait it out a couple of years, make us almost forget that Theo ever existed, and then BAM, bring him back, but only to find that the thing is so much in the shitter that the big return is meaningless anyway.

This does answer the question of who's going to be calling the shots in Boston. Maybe. I don't know if it's really settled. This thing has become such a saga that I wonder if it isn't one whole big WWE style swerve. Just watch, during the first time the Yankees come to town Theo will wait until the home plate ump's back is turned, sneak onto the field, and body slam Jason Varitek, thereby revealing that he turned heel, joined the Yanks, and returned only to sabotage Boston. Kind of like when Chyna and Triple H got back together after Chyna joined Kane, only for them both to turn on X-Pac and give Shane McMahon the European Championship. That's what the Red Sox are. They've become a modern day Degeneration X.

The Orioles avoided arbitration with Jay Gibbons by giving him a 4 year, $21 mil deal. I love that phrase as applied here in the news reports, "avoided arbitration." That's like saying, "Jim Smith avoided stepping in a puddle in the sidewalk today by walking in the street and getting struck by a car." This is a lousy move for the Orioles. Jay Gibbons is settling in very solidly as a corner OF who's good for 25 homers, 80 rbi, no walks, and injuries. At most he was going to get $5.3 mil in arbitration, so he wasn't in line for some out of whack salary. But now Baltimore is locked into him for 4 years. Remember, Gibbons is 29, so he isn't likely to get a lot better. The O's will regret the hell out of this contract. I'm envisioning a Tigers-Bobby Higginson "what on earth will we do with this guy" kind of thing. Maybe that's harsh, but this is another in a line of moves that I expect to maintain Baltimore's status as AL afterthought for a while longer.

Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon has stated publicly that she doesn't want baseball to retire Roberto Clemente's number, as some Hispanic groups want. That's gracious, Sharon. How about letting somebody else argue that point for you next time? Because maybe he didn't break the color barrier, but Clemente was a great man in his own right, with the whole dying on the way to help earthquake victims thing. Truth is though, she's right. Jackie Robinson is a special situation. He opened the door for everybody. Clemente might have been the first Latino superstar, but he didn't blaze the trail that Jackie did. And if you retire for Clemente, then where does it stop? "Jim Abbott led the way for one handed pitchers throughout this country. He needs to be honored." "Let's not forget Bob Harris, the first player ever from the state of Wyoming. Without him, baseball wouldn't have seen the likes of Tom Browning, Mike Lansing, and Mike Deveraux." (That's right, Mike Deveraux - evidently Wyoming has at least one black family. Who knew?)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Talking about the Reds makes me slightly uncomfortable

Ok all you many Reds fans reading this, tonight's post is for you guys. New Reds owner Bob Castellini, who just took control of the team the other day, fired GM Dan O'Brien. Castellini was quoted as saying, "It's nothing personal against Dan O'Brien. But we're trying to run a baseball team here, and an Olympic decathlete doesn't really fit with our vision. Plus, those Reebok Dan v. Dave commercials before the '92 Olympics started to annoy me, and O'Brien didn't even make the damn team."

Ha ha ha. I'm very clever.

According to O'Brien, this came as something of a surprise. "I do understand that it's new ownership's prerogative to make changes and hire new people," O'Brien said in a phone interview. "I was somewhat surprised by the move. It's not something that was in my mind 24 hours ago." This is a very diplomatic way of saying, "What the fuck, that asshole just got here yesterday. Doesn't he know I have a family?" If I were O'Brien I'd have just said it that way, but then again, I'm very profane and don't usually think through the consequences of my actions.

I think O'Brien got a bit of a raw deal. All this talk about Castellini wanting to bring in his own man - it's not like he's the president and needs to go with his own trusted Secretary of State here. Couldn't he have given O'Brien a shot? He'd only had two years and while they were not the most successful two years, Carl Lindner wasn't necessarily the best owner and, I think it's widely believed, didn't authorize nearly as high a payroll as he could have.

On the other hand...O'Brien didn't use the money he was given very wisely. $25 mil for Eric Milton? A guy who gives up more homers than anybody in a park that allows a ton of homers? Hell, forget that - $25 mil for a guy who just isn't good? I don't think any sane person defended that one. Then you have the very generous resigning of Paul Wilson, and the Ramon Ortiz move. Also factor in Austin Kearns' non-development, and Wily Mo Pena's so-so development so far (which aren't necessarily all or even mostly the GM's fault), a pointless Tony Womack trade the other month, you're not looking at a great resume. I think the jury is still out on the Dave Miley firing/Jerry Narron hiring. While Narron was unsuccessful during his two year tenure in Texas (alliteration is ever so much fun, you must try it), the Reds played .500 ball for him in '05. So we can keep that out of the assessment of O'Brien's job. Still, I'm less than impressed, and wouldn't be doing cartwheels if my team were to hire him. And remember, my team is run by Omar Minaya.

I wonder how often it is that a small market team's problems get compounded by a GM who doesn't know what he's doing. I'm not saying O'Brien is necessarily such a GM, but he might be. I guess Cam Bonifay is looming large in my head right now, and I don't love what Dave Littlefield has done after him. I'm not wildly impressed with the job Dave Dombrowski has done in Detroit, but I hate to call him a guy who doesn't know what he's doing. I'm pretty lukewarm on Allard Baird. Who wants to study up on this and share your work with the class?

Oh, Barry Bonds announced he's not playing in the WBC. Evidently the fear that Buck Martinez might bat him 2nd in the lineup was too great to bear.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Missing the point of the day in sports entirely

I kind of feel like an idiot struggling to write about baseball on the day of the conference championships and Kobe's 81 point game. It's like the day of a presidential election and you're the reporter who's been sent to cover the local elementary school bake sale. Ah well, bake sale it is. But first, Mr. Sinensky posed an interesting question tonight: If you were running SportsCenter, what would you have led with? I think it's a no brainer that you go with the football. A big game should always trump a big individual performance. It doesn't matter that both games were as far from classics as you could be. You have to show a respect for the team achievement. The Lakers and the NBA are the same tomorrow whether Kobe scored 30 or 81. The games that set up the Super Bowl matchup clearly go first in my book. I don't know what SportsCenter actually did, but it's still interesting to discuss either way.

Speaking of Kobe/LA, good work to Jae Ahn for citing a USC webpage touting USC over Texas in his article for the Journal of Labor and Employment Law. This is a model to all sports fans. I'm going to try to do that myself in my article due later this week. "The constitutionality of this issue has sparked heated debates. (Fire can be funny. See, "Howard Johnson & Roger McDowell: The Art of the Hot Foot, 1986 Mets team video)."

While I'm mentioning people, a clarification about yesterday's entry. It appears that Etan Bednarsh did NOT originate that joke about the girl with the penis. Kudos to Sinensky for discovering it in a letter to Bill Simmons. Bednarsh is mortified, as he should be, for misrepresenting his humor, which, after further investigation, doesn't actaully exist. He should no longer be considered a great or even a good man, but we will allow him to remain a great Mets fan by virtue of his apology. However, he's on thin ice. Verrrrrry thin ice.

I was all psyched to write about the Phillies-Indians-Red Sox dealings tonight. Alas, nothing is official, and I think it would be wise to wait until we know for sure just who is going where before delving into any analysis. So I guess that will wait until tomorrow.

Did anybody notice the article on Barry Bonds, in which he says that batting 2nd in the order "doesn't work" for him? Oh I see. The delicate genius has a policy! It's no shock that Bonds isn't the most accomodating guy, but it would be nice if the 41 year old coming off a year of "mysterious" knee surgeries would at least consider moving if that's what Felipe Alou thinks is best for the team. Just why should it "not work" for Bonds? It's not like he has to move positions in the field, or that Alou is talking about hitting him 8th. 2nd in the order is perfectly respectable, and Bonds might get pitched around less, which you'd think would appeal to him as he chases 755. Most guys his age are either retired or in a part time role; does he expect to hit cleanup until he retires, regardless of how effective he may still be? Alou probably shouldn't have even said a word to the media before talking to Bonds about it, but Bonds could be more flexible.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Omar Minaya Stinks

Oh dear, I've already revealed a bias with the title. That is terrible. Well, I certainly hope you'll continue reading. Act surprised when I get to the analysis of tonight's trade. Ok:

So it seems that Saturday night is going to be the night that we get a reprieve from birthday talk and have actual trades to discuss. The Mets have traded Kris Benson to the Orioles for Jorge Julio and John Maine. Benson for Julio was rumored during the winter meetings, but Minaya was told that the Mets could get more for Benson than Julio. So Minaya showed them all, he held out, negotiated, and lo and behold - John Maine is also a New York Met! Good job Minaya, I'd have been very displeased if it had been Benson for Julio straight up. This is verrrrrry better.

Anyway, the Mets' stated mission was to acquire additional bullpen help. So strictly speaking, by trading a starter for a reliever, they've done that. Less strictly speaking, because Jorge Julio's ERA has gone up each year to a lovely 5.90 in '05, they probably haven't really done that. Julio is nice to have in the mix, but clearly he can't be considered a solid acquisition. Maybe he'll help, maybe he'll rebound and be a useful addition. But who knows. It seems crazy that all Minaya could get for a pitcher like Benson is a guy who's only shown signs of extreme regression. No, Benson isn't an ace, and he's making $14 mil over the next two years. But Jorge Julio and John Maine? Seems that once again, Minaya failed to maximize value. I can't even think of an explanation. Except...Ok, call me crazy...But has anybody else noticed Omar Minaya's tendency to acquire Latino players? Nah, forget it. That's just silly.

As of now, Aaron Heilman goes into the Mets' rotation. There are thoughts that maybe the Mets are still involved in Barry Zito talks. That would make things better. But I'm done with this wait and see business for Minaya's moves. I said that after the Cameron-Nady trade. No more. So far, as Etan Bednarsh (a great man and a great Mets fan) said, it's like being patient for how things will turn out with a girl you're getting close with, only to get to finally hook up with her and find she has a penis. That's right, Jorge Julio - you're the girl with the penis. So Omar, make me happy, get Barry Zito. But I'm not banking on that right now. Your benefit of the doubt has expired.

As for the Orioles, it's a good trade for them because Benson is worth more than what they gave up. But it's a bad trade in that they are touting Benson as their possible ace. Kris Benson isn't an ace. If that's what you think you're getting, prepared to be sorely disappointed. I've maintained and still do maintain that the O's won't be much to talk about in 2006. If they can compliment Benson with a true front end pitcher then he does more for them. In the meantime, it's a good trade that I don't see making a huge difference.

Sorry if this post was a little Mets slanted. But I'm not super thrilled right now, and I should be granted the occassional indulgence. It's my own damn blog, I should really be granted whatever I want. No, that's not the answer. Without you, my three readers, I'd have nothing. NOTHING!! So thanks for reading. And Omar, if you're reading, and I know you are - try to make better trades in the future, if you don't mind. Thank you very much.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Ben Grieve signed a minor league deal with the White Sox yesterday. His post rookie of the year career of excellence continues! In honor of Grieve, I'd like to take a look at some of the all time least successful rookies of the year. Not much time now, but a quick question: Was Grieve the worst ROTY of the 1990s? And a quick answer, because I think shabbos started an hour ago: No, definitely not. Grieve had a solid rookie campaign followed by two more solid seasons. It was then that he fell into the land of horrible suckiness. So he's not the worst. I'm going to give that honor to 1992 AL ROTY Pat Listach. He won in 1992 as a leadoff hitter on the strength of 52 steals. He scored 92 runs, had a .354 OBP, and could have been setting up a career as a decent player. Nope. Just look at the rest of his stats, you'll see. Nothing, not even another year of full time duty, and retired by 29. Honorable mention to Bob Hamelin, but I'm giving this to Listach.

We'll continue this tomorrow, unless we're treated to some actual news.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oh Theo

So Theo Epstein is going back to the Red Sox, thus adding another chapter to the least interesting baseball story from the offseason. Is Theo staying? Is Theo going? What did Theo say? Theo this, Theo that. Who cares? Would the media stop trying to make this into the baseball equivalent of Brad, Jennifer, and Angelina's love triangle? I'm half expecting photos of Theo on the beach with the caption "Theo's on vacation...but that's not Larry Luchino he's with!" Anyway, the ESPN.com article has some great quotes about Epstein's return, check them out:

"[Epstein's] return had been rumored almost since the day he slipped out of Fenway Park wearing a borrowed gorilla costume to avoid the media." - WTF??? I'm on top of most of the baseball news; somehow this nugget eluded me. That's bizzare. But I did some digging and got a better explanation. Epstein wasn't trying to elude the media. He was actually just on the way to his friend's wedding and was already dressed for the shtick.

""Ironically, Theo's departure has brought us closer together in many respects, [said Luchino]." Thus adding quote #45 making this seem like some twisted gay love story.

"'Larry's role does not change,' John Henry said. 'Details next week.'" Why the hell is John Henry talking like a news bulletin? No time to give us a complete sentence, John? Were you in such a hurry that you had to talk like the anchorman giving a promo for the 11 o'clock news?

I don't know what this does for the Red Sox. They already had a fairly complicated front office structure, and this obviously only complicates it further. Assuming that Luchino, Hoyer, and Cherington are all retaining their roles, where does Epstein fit in? And is he coming in with some understanding that he's going to be named the GM again at some point in the future? Perhaps they're bringing him in as the full-time Manny babysitter, handler, and trade demand negotiator. All very interesting. Except it isn't.

Before the Epstein news broke I was planning to discuss a few birthdays. I'm still going to do that, as I think there are a few interesting ones. Two players who inspired movies were born on this day. Jim Morris, the 35 year old rookie about whom "The Rookie" was made was born in 1964. A little less directly, Chick Gandil, the player ringleader of the Black Sox scandal, about which the great film Eight Men Out was made, was born in 1887. Oh, and Jack Parkman, whose shimmy inspired Major League 2, was born in 1965.

Jeff Juden was born in 1971. Remember him? Bounced around the majors in the '90s as both a starter and a reliever. I always felt that he should have been forced to pitch with a yellow star affixed to his uniform, but alas, they never did that.

Two Mets of note. Jon Matlack, 1972 rookie of the year, was born in 1950. And the great Anthony Young, he of the 593 straight losses, was born in 1966. By the way, take a look at Young's peripheral numbers during his 1992-93 losing streak. Not so terrible.

A guy named Merle Settilmire, who played in 1928, was born in 1903. I just think that's funny because it sounds like Mel Stottlemyre, and what are the odds that anybody would have had a name that sounds like Mel Stottlemyre?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Quick thoughts

Did anybody catch that new Fox show Skating with Celebrities? I didn't, but am I the only one who finds it a little strange to bill Bruce Jenner as one of the uncoordinated celebs? I mean, sure, the guy isn't an ice skater, but didn't he win a gold medal in the decathalon? That requires some athletic ability I believe. Maybe his horrifying plastic surgery is so constricting that he's considered handicapped now, that could be it. Have you seen what he looks like? Yikes. Like the tan woman from There's Something About Mary combined with a jack o latern. Truly horrible.

Check this quote in an article about Rocco Baldelli on espn.com: "Maddon said right-hander Edwin Jackson, one of two prospects obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers for All-Star closer Danys Baez and reliever Lance Carter, could wind up in the starting rotation. 'He might be one of the guys that's coming in that may surprise as we get deeper into this thing,' Maddon said." That's right, Joe Maddon, set the stage. Set the stage for my disappointment. You're doing it very well. Anyway, the article says that Baldelli could be ready for opening day. The Devil Rays pitching is still dreadful and is going to keep them from doing much in '06, but if things break their way they could have one hell of a lineup. We'll look at it more during spring training.

Hey, did anybody notice yesterday that the Nationals gave Brian Schneider a 4 year, $16 mil contract? This is like on 90210 when they threw that huge party in the Walshes house without regard to the consequencs because it was being sold, before Nat gave them the lecture about treating their house with greater respect. Same thing - MLB figures this team won't be their problem for much longer, so why not authorize something insane. 4 years and $4 mil per for a mediocre catcher in a year that Bengie Molina is still out of work and the catching market seems to have taken a downturn? Sounds reasonable to me. I thought Jim Bowden was nuts for last winter's Christian Guzman signing, but this one competes pretty well. That team is in a strange place. It seems like half their players rotate in and out of Frank Robinson's doghouse, they acquired a player to play a position he refuses to go to, they need a mediator to get their stadium built, and they have the ugliest uniforms I've ever seen.

Ok, drinking beckons. For the record, do you know how many times I've been ready to go to a bar but first make sure to post something before coming back a little less coherent than you all deserve? Ok, not that many - but it's happened a few times. You can thank me later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Some talk about the Phils

ESPN has an article about Pat Gillick and the Phillies. Gillick is quoted as saying, "The team we have, we're going to be competitive. Are we going to win the division? No. We have to improve." Uhhh...Pat? You know, the Phillies team you inherited was already competitive, as evidenced by the 88 times they won in 2005. So congratulations on not making them worse over the last two months. That's good work. But I think your mandate was actually to improve the team, thereby making them a contender. I applaud your forthrightness in your assessment of your job performance so far. However, I'd suggest spending a little less time calling press conferences to announce the signing of Ryan Franklin and more time making the Phillies into the contender they not yet are. The good news, though, is the citizens of Philadelphia will be too busy with Ben Franklin's 300 birthday celebration and rehashing the Eagles' season to notice the Phillies. God this city sucks.

Staying with the Phillies, mlb.com has an article about Jimmy Rollins' hit streak. If you recall, Rollins ended the season with a 36 game hit streak, which will be considered active when the 2006 season begins. As the article states, "If Rollins is able to break DiMaggio's record, he would be recognized as the all-time leader, though DiMaggio would retain the record for a single season, unless Rollins managed a hit in 56 straight games this season." Do you think the guy who wrote that article was able to keep a straight face when he wrote that? Jimmy Rollins is working on a 36 game hitting streak. It isn't unlikely enough that he'll hit in 21 more to start the year; let's even raise the possibility that he'll do it in 56 straight this year. It seems very strange that Rollins' streak stays active. Isn't the whole thing behind a streak that you have to go out there and do it every day and not let the grind mess you up? A six month layoff and a new season kind of changes the dynamic of that. And you don't count a team's winning streak since the previous season, so why do it with a hitting streak? I hope Rollins doesn't break the record this way, basically because I'm stupid and can't wrap my mind around the duality of one guy having the longest hitting streak and another guy having the longest hitting streak in a season. I'm not too worried though. Rollins may only need what is in effect a 21 game hitting streak, but 1. That's plenty long enough and 2. The pressure has he passes the mid-40s will be just as intense as if he were doing it all in one season, if not greater because of the seeming illegitimacy of the record.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Team USA announced 42 players on its roster for the World Baseball Classic today. The roster is a who's who of all stars including Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Brad Lidge, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Barry Bonds. It's so good to see that baseball has made such inroads in the United States that their national team can boast so many great players. I don't think anybody back in 1810 would have thought that it would be possible. So kudos, Team America, you scrappy group of go-getters. Anyway, the remaining 18 players will be named by 5 pm Tuesday. Between now and then I'll be very busy not giving a flying fuck about who is and isn't on the Team USA roster.

In March though, I'll be into the tournament, without question, as I think most of us will be. I'm even going to join a pool. I feel like I'm probably going to pick Duke this year to win at all. But that really isn't for now, we'll talk about the NCAA tournament when it's time. Say, by the way, when is the WBC supposed to take place? Oh, what's that? It's going right up against the NCAA tourney? Well that's a shame, because that will probably distract me from focusing on not giving a shit about the WBC as it's taking place.

Just what does MLB expect us to do about this thing in the US? Walk around with an American flag, proudly screaming that the US is gonna kick the other countries' asses? That form of behavior may be acceptable if you're a guy in Alabama with a trucker hat and a mullet or you're at a WWE match between Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik. But I'm not feeling it. I guess it's because if you're going to root for a team you want to be able to rub it in the opposing fans' faces when you win. But I don't think that fits for this thing. "Hey, Latino guy on the street, where are you from? The Dominican Republic? Well Team USA just beat you guys in the WBC!!! So fuck you! We're better than you!!" I know, while I'm at it, why don't I shave my head and beat the guy sensless with a baseball bat. Because it feels like part of a natural progression. Hey, maybe that would be a good tagline for MLB to use to promote this: "The World Baseball Classic: An Excuse to Act Like a Xenophobic Racist Idiot."

I have other thoughts on this stupid thing, which I'll hold until it's going on. In the meantime, I'm going to use my brainpower on more valuable things, like speculating on where Daryle Ward is going to sign.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Not a good fantasy

CNN.com has an article about the litigation between MLB and CBC, a stats processing company. The legal issue is whether stats are property, which MLB may control and license as it wishes, or facts, which are public domain to be used by anybody. If MLB wins, then the days of being able to run a roto league for free on yahoo may be over.

For those who don't know, I have taken a survey course on intellectual property law, as well as a specific course on copyright law, and another on trademark law. So I obviously can contribute a great deal on the merits of this lawsuit for both parties. I won't do that however, because I don't want to be accused of being pedantic. And by "accused of being pedantic," I really mean, "accused of having taken three courses on a subject and not knowing jack shit about any of it." I am familiar with a case that held that stats are facts. But I think that holding included something that said that the stat use couldn't deprive the league of an income stream to which they were entitled. So since MLB can and does run fantasy leagues themselves, this could come into play. But you know what? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the lawyers on both sides of this case are probably better versed in the case law than the guy whose information is based on overhearing stuff in class while refreshing ESPN.com and then cramming for a final three months later. I'm sorry; watching the Alito hearings has given me the urge to pontificate on the details of some legal doctrine. When I've been a federal judge for fifteen years then perhaps I'll actually be qualified to do so. For now, I should just stick to wisecracks about Chuck LaMar.

Anyway, if MLB wins this case (to be argued in the summer) and actually can stamp out other sites from operating roto leagues, that won't be good. I never took economics, but I think I heard something about it generally benefitting the consumer when one company doesn't have a monopoly. I guess they might license the rights to other sites, but there wouldn't be nearly as many options as we now have. Certainly the free stuff would be gone if the sites had to pay MLB to license the stats. That doesn't sound so great.

Well, there would be one free option. We'd just all have to go back to what they did in 1983 and do it all by hand. Wouldn't that be fun? I get pissed enough when stat tracker is running three minutes slow. "Awesome, Manny drove in two runs tonight. I look forward to seeing how this has affected my team in two weeks when the next score report arrives by mail." And imagine the commish who gets stuck tallying all that up. I'm commish in both my leagues, but I'll tell you this. I'd sooner sign up to be detained for ten years in a Chinese political prison than to have to account for all that each night.

Let's go CBC!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ahhh...a trade

Thank you for returning after my little "who was born on January 13th" stunt yesterday. That was a low point for us all. It seems the baseball gods were less than pleased with that post, because they decided to give us a trade to discuss today to avoid a repeat of that. And now it seems that God is less than pleased, because I just referred to a group of pagan baseball gods controlling things. So let's talk about the trade before I anger any other possible deities.

The Devil Rays send Danys Baez, Lance Carter, and a minor leaguer to be named to the Dodgers for professional prospect Edwin Jackson and prospect Chuck Tiffany. So despite the criticisms that Andrew Steinberg has been doing his best Schmuck LaMar impression since getting hired and being difficult to deal with, he got a decent return in this trade. (You know this is the first time, in 8 years of bashing LaMar, that I thought to call him that fairly obvious nickname. Guess there are a number of schmucks here.) Edwin Jackson, to this point, has excelled at two things - he's very good at being a prospect and quite good at being labeled a roto "sleeper." So far he's been rather poor at doing anything in the majors. But he's 22, so he's far from over the hill, and part of his lack of success has been LA's reluctance to pitch him in the majors. The Devil Rays, whose yearly ambition is to lose no greater than 105 games, will probably give him a full shot. But I swear, I just know I'm going to once again draft Jackson in one of the last rounds of my drafts and then read a quote on April 2nd to the effect of, "Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon has opted not to go with Edwin Jackson in the starting rotation when the team breaks camp. 'We like Edwin,' said Maddon, 'but Mark Hendrickson has really shown us a lot, and we think that his 5.21 career ERA isn't indicative of just how much he can help our club." I don't doubt this outcome.

It's a good move for the Devil Rays. They were obviously trying to deal Baez, and with good reason, as they don't really need him right now. They brought in two solid prospects who can help as they rebuild with an eye towards 2008. Good move, and it seems that the waiting game paid off for Steinberg and Hunsicker. For the roto people among us, TB's new closer vacancy strikes me as a situation that won't be settled until right before opening day, and who knows if even then it will stay settled. Definitely needs close watching.

So is this a good move for LA? Baez and Carter certainly help their pen. Well, Baez certainly helps their pen. Lance Carter, an all star in the tradition of Ron Coomer (1999), certainly will log innings in a relief capacity. With Gagne not necessarily perfectly healthy, the Dodgers wanted closing insurance. But just a second, didn't this team just trade away some closing insurance to the Mets last week? Yes, I believe they did. So let's look at the two trades together. Old Dogers: Duaner Sanchez, Steve Accountant, Edwin Jackson, and Chuck Tiffany. New Dodgers: Danys Baez, Lance Carter, Jae Seo, Tim Hamulack. I don't love that. It's an upgrade for the pen, but not a huge one. Sanchez was very capable last year. Carter's ok, Schmoll was worse, but Schmoll's younger. Then you've essentially got 2 good pitching prospects for Jae Seo, who's 29, has a good month on his resume, and is coming in to be the 5 starter for a team that lost 91 games last year. That's a lousy move, and is not offset by the relatively modest bullpen upgrade. Jae, what's the thought in Dodgerland on this? Because I think it's pretty iffy for LA. Maybe the minor leaguer to be named going to LA is a higher level prospect than I'm assuming, which could make a difference. But as of now, I don't love what Ned Colletti has done here. I know they still have Broxton and this Scott Elbert, and Greg Miller if he's still alive - but the more pitching prospects the better. This is a Dodger team that has a number of positions that might need to be filled again very soon (may I remind you that they are currently starting Jose Cruz and Kenny Lofton), and who knows how a fuller compliment of organization prospects might help them make a later deal.

Now wasn't that nice? Talking about an actual development? It worked out well, because of all the players born on January 14th, the only guy I'd even ever heard of was Terry Forster, and what could I say about him besides that Letterman referred to him as a "tub of goo" 2o years ago?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Desperate for anything to say, and it shows

I really have nothing to say today. I won't subject you to any more hall of fame talk. You guys were very good troopers through that ordeal, and I'm very proud of you. So what am I to do?

Well, first, I want to mention Dr. James Andrews. For those who didn't hear, as the story slipped under the radar (good work Ander), he had a heart attack the other day. He's ok, and was actually able to see Jeff Bagwell from his hospital bed. I feel bad for Dr. Andrews. How would you like it if you became a very successful doctor, recognized as a leader in your field, but the mention of your name in a newspaper always elicited the universal reaction of "FUCK, he's going to Birmingham to see Andrews. SHIT, season's over." Plus, he lives in Birmingham. That can't be pleasant. So I salute Dr. Andrews and wish him a full recovery, along with the hope that I never have to read his name in an article about the Mets ever again.

Let's take a look at who was born on January 13th. That's right, I'm stooping to that. Jose Capellan, Elmer Dessens, and Akinori Otsuka were all born today. 1989 MVP Kevin Mitchell was born on this date in 1962. You know he was traded in a 7 player deal that also included Kevin McReynolds, Kevin Armstrong, and Kevin Brown (not that Kevin Brown). That always struck me as odd. Apparently there was a ballplayer in the 70s named Mike Tyson. He was an IF for the Cardinals and Cubs, and not an especially good one. I don't believe he is the same Mike Tyson who was heavyweight champion in boxing, but we'll get Elias on that just to make sure. There was a guy named Goat Anderson who was born in 1880 and played with the Pirates in 1907. Gotta love the names the ballplayers had back then. Everybody had a stupid nickname. You don't get that today, but it would be cool if we called our players Mark "Hog Anus" Prior or something, that would spice things up.

I'm sorry, this was a terrible waste of your time. Please give me another chance tomorrow.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Something to think about

So we've hit it. The most depressing time of the year for baseball. The hot stove has basically cooled off and we're still a little too far from spring training to feel like the season is upon us. The hall of fame voting has been announced, leaving very little to discuss or think about for another month. This, of course, is great for an idiot like myself who chose to begin a blog in mid-December with a vow never to miss a day of posting.

What is most depressing about this time of year for me is a look at the free agent list. By this time of year the remaining free agents can be classified into three categories. Most are the players who aren't stars, never were stars, never will be stars, and when and with with whom they sign is largely a footnote, to be noticed by only the most serious fans. We'll call this the Denny Hocking team. Then you have the decent players whose agents seem to have miscalculated and overplayed their hands, leaving their players on the market for too long. We'll call this the Bengie Molina team. But it's the third category that is most depressing. That's the "faded glory" team. Mike Piazza. Frank Thomas. Sammy Sosa. Rafael Palmeiro. Juan Gonzalez. These are names that not too long ago would have dominated the free agent market and hot stove talk. Now they actually might have to sign minor league deals (at least that's what Jim Bowden claims the Nats have offered Sosa).

When I think about it, I don't think I'm depressed for the actual players. They've made a ton of money in this sport, been cheered nationwide, could be headed to the hall of fame, and should be happy. An athlete's run has to end sometime. No, I think I'm really depressed for myself. I think, "Was it really that long ago that the Mets signed Piazza and I was so excited? Am I getting that old?" The decline of these players signals the inexorable march of time (tired literary cliche alert!!!). The evolution of Frank Thomas' career has taken me from a 2nd grader who used to walk around with his radio and headphones on family outings so as not to miss a Mets game to a 2nd year law student. Seeing him languishing on the free agent list in mid-January with Jeffrey Hammonds reminds me that I'm getting older too. And I realize that it won't be so long before I turn around and Albert Pujols is in the same spot in 10 or 15 years. I certainly hope and expect that we will all have aged for the better, and that we'll be very content with our lives at that time. But it's kind of scary just how quickly it all starts to move.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Don't kill me, but...

Thank you for enduring my Ken Burnsian 42 part series on the hall of fame. Unfortunately, I lied when I said that I was done talking about it. Just a couple of final thoughts.

For those wondering what future ballots hold, Jayson Stark has helped us out. We know that Gwynn, Ripken, McGwire are up next year, which should probably preclude any of the borderline candidates from gaining entry. Besides these three, eligible players who seem likely not to get voted right off the ballot include Harold Baines, Jose Canseco (say what you will, don't you think he'll get at least 5%?), Paul O'Neill, and maybe Bret Saberhagen and Wally Joyner. We can safely assume that Harold Baines will regularly receive strong support, although he'll probably never get into Cooperstown.

2008's only possible HOFer is Tim Raines. I don't know whether or not he'll get in eventually, but it stands to reason that he isn't going in on the first ballot. That should set up another year like we had this year, so Gossage, Dawson, and Rice will want to watch for it. That's probably Rice's only real chance, as 2009, his last year on the ballot, brings in Rickey Henderson, an obvious first ballot HOFer. 2010 is a lean year again, with Andres Galarraga, Edgar Martinez, and Robin Ventura. So with 2 more years with the focus on them, Gossage, Dawson, and Blyleven could get in soon.

I want to address Adam's comment about 400 or 500 homers as the gold standard. It's true, if there is anybody who has 400+ homers who isn't in the hall of fame, then by definition it can't have been an automatic election point. But 400 homers for a player in Dawson's era was a magic number. I distinctly remember that when players like Eddie Murphy approached and reached 400, the perception was that it was at that moment that they had solidified their hall of fame credentials. I'm not saying that 400 (or even 500) should lead to automatic election for anybody, but it is a fact that 400 homers was a big deal in Dawson's day.

Jayson Stark expounds on Bert Blyleven's case in a recent article. Evidently, according to Bill James, Blyleven had more "tough losses" during his career than anybody else during that same time. It's not a bad point, but I would counter with the general caution that the deeper you have to delve to construct a player's hall of fame case, the greater the proof that is that he isn't really a hall of famer. I'm still undecided on him.

I think that's enough of that for now. In other news, the Astros would like Jeff Bagwell to retire, but he isn't interested just yet. When the Astros signed Preston Wilson the other week I suspected that the Astros weren't figuring Bagwell into their plans, and this would seem to confirm that. The whole thing seems a little odd, trying to force a player into retirement. That's something you do with the 74 year old insurance salesman who's starting to go senile. It will be interesting to see how this resolves. I would think that forcing an icon like Bags out of Houston would be an unpopular move.

Julian Tavarez is going to sign a 2 year, $6.7 mil deal with the Red Sox. Tavarez, sanity permitting, is a decent pitcher and is a nice pickup for the Sox. I was hoping the Mets would get him, but I guess I'll just have to be content with Ernst & Young superstar Steve Schmoll. It's worth noting that Scott Boras kind of struck out on this one. He originally was looking for a 4 year deal for Tavarez, I think in the range of $4 mil a year. This is considerably less and could actually be termed a reasonable contract.

Sammy Sosa is in negotiations over a one year deal with the Nationals. Evidently Washington was rebuffed by BJ Surhoff and Gerald Williams and is now moving on to Plan C.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Last Hall post, I swear

So Bruce Sutter was elected to the hall of fame today. If you recall, I predicted that Sutter, AND ONLY SUTTER, would get in this year. I think I figured out why he got in. Remember, it's the BBWAA that votes for this, and it's in their collective interest to elect players who make their jobs easier. "Hey, if I vote for Sutter, then I can title my article, 'Suttable for Cooperstown.' Or I can go with, 'Sutting up for the Hall.' Oooh, how about, 'Bruce Has Many Suttors.' What the hell am I going to do with Gossage? Can't make a crappy pun out of that; Sutter it is!"

Anyway, I held yesterday that Gossage, not Sutter, belongs in the hall, and I'm sticking with that. Rob Neyer, whom I generally like despite my recent critique, wrote a very good article today along these lines. Neyer got into the numbers a little more extensively than I did (shocker), making the strong point that you can subtract Sutter's entire career out of Gossage's and you'd still leave Gossage with a decent (though non-HOF) resume. Translation: Gossage did everythng Sutter did plus more. By contrast, Mike Bauman at mlb.com wrote a totally unpersuasive article in support of Sutter's election, the lynchpin of which can be summed up with, "I saw Sutter in a game once and he did well that day." We've also been treated to more of this stuff about Sutter changing the game, although today's word has been "pioneer" instead of "revolutionized." So now Sutter is Daniel Boone instead of George Washington. Either way, that's not what the hall of fame is meant to honor, and if it were, shouldn't Sutter's managers, not Sutter himself, get the credit for being the pioneer? (Neyer's argument) Not worth losing sleep over, as there are certainly less deserving players in the hall of fame, and I don't think Sutter's election will open the floodgates to a whole pool of non-Hall of Famers. But these are my thoughts.

Some thoughts on the rest of the voting. Rice, Gossage, and Dawson all cracked 60%, which bodes well for their chances in future lean years, although Rice only has 3 more years of eligibility. I still think Dawson will get in eventually, and I think at some point most writers will figure that there is no reason to have Sutter in but keep Gossage out. Unlike Rice, they've both got enough years of eligibility left to gradually gain enough votes to hit the magic 75%. Blyleven got 53%, which I think is on the higher end of his vote percentages over the years. I wonder if maybe as more pitchers are let in who didn't reach 300 wins (i.e. Glavine?) the voters will look more favorably upon him. We may never know though, because by the time those guys get in Blyleven will be off the ballot. Lee Smith got 234 votes for 45%, which means 234 writers are crazy, but fortunately not enough to risk Smith's enshrinement any time soon. Dale Murphy only got 10%, so the Dale Murphy insurgency seems to be weakening, or at least so says Donald Rumsfeld. Forty writers would have pucketted Albert Belle, which means he got just enough to stay on for one more year.

I see that only Gary DiSarcina and Alex Fernandez got no votes at all. Hal Morris got 5. Gregg Jeffries got 2. Walt Weiss got 1. Without taking too seriously the voting process of a sports hall of fame, this troubles me. Either there are voters who are completely unqualified to judge what is and is not excellence, or there are voters who have such little respect for their responsibility and for their voting power that they feel justified in wasting it on players they know don't belong in Cooperstown. Either way, this is unacceptable, and these writers should be deprived of their right to vote. Reasonable people may disagree on Jim Kaat; nobody can argue with a straight face that Walt Weiss was a hall of famer or even a very good player. I know that the voters may list up to ten names, but this doesn't mean they should list all ten just for the sake of it. Most of us would love the chance to vote for baseball's highest recognition of accomplishment; take it seriously writers, out of respect to yourselves, the fans, the players, and the game.

Boy, the view from this high horse is great. Ok, I'll come down, hang on...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Still more of the hall

When the hell is Vince Young going to accept my facebook invitation? Mr. National Champion thinks he's too good to be my online friend? Well I caused a guy to jump out of a moving car today for absolutely no sane reason, so there. Now we see who's better. Ok, hall thoughts:

Dale Murphy is a no-brainer non hall of famer to me. He had five great years and while his homers come close to hall consideration, he only had 2111 hits and 1266 rbi. He just lost it at 32 years old and didn't nearly bank enough greatness before that point. Supporting Murphy for the hall is like driving around with a Howard Dean bumper sticker; yeah, he looked like he was destined for great things, but he crashed and burned, so get over it. At least Dale Murphy didn't scream "yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah" in the middle of the 1988 season.

Andre Dawson is a very tough call. He's most similar to hall of famers Billy Williams and Tony Perez. But these guys didn't sail in and are on the periphery of the hall, and I'm very leery of the argument that if player x is in, player y should be in too. Because then player y is in, so why not player z. And if I had thought it through better, I would have started higher in the alphabet, because now I've run out of letters and can't continue to illustrate my point. But I think you've got it - the slippery slope thing. So I think Williams and Perez help Dawson's case, but only somewhat. My gut is that Dawson belongs in. He cracked 400 homers, and I think we've quickly forgotten that 400 homers was actually a big deal when retired. At that time only Dave Kingman and Darrell Evans had passed 400 and not made it in, and we know that both of them had terrible career batting averages and offered little else besides their homers. We should be careful before holding Dawson to our steroid standards. Dawson also stole 314 bases and won 8 gold gloves, so he wasn't some empty slugger. I think he should be in.

It's tough for me to comment on Gossage and Sutter without having seen them play. Somehow I feel that personal observation is more important for closers than it is when evaluating other players. At times I've thought both should be in; at others I've thought neither should. My current stance is that Gossage is in, Sutter is out. Sutter's career only lasted 12 seasons and he was a closer for 9 of them. Not all 9 of them were great. This doesn't cut it for a closer; it wouldn't even cut it for a position player or a starting pitcher. They say Sutter revolutionized the position. Revolutionized? What the hell is that? Are we voting for George Washington here? You need a career of greatness, and frankly, the numbers say that Sutter didn't have it.

Gossage only saved 310 games to Sutter's 300. Somehow I feel like Gossage has a better case. He was a closer for more years, lasted until he was 42 (and was still at least serviceable even then), pitched more innings per season in his prime, and was a little less hittable. The kicker is he's most similar to Hoyt Willhelm and Rollie Fingers, whereas Sutter is most similar to Doug Jones. Again, I hate to be a slave to similarity, but I think that's important. In a tough call, I'm going with Gossage and saying no to Sutter.

Lee Smith was absolutely not a hall of famer during a career that saw him pitch for every team in baseball. Inducting him solely because he is the "career saves leader" would be folly, considering that Trevor Hoffman will probably eclipse him soon.

If Bert Blyleven could have converted one loss to a win in two out of every three years of his career, we wouldn't even be debating him right now. 13 wins over a 22 year career is really all that has kept him out of Cooperstown. But, as I've said, you have to have cutoffs somewhere, so that's kind of a flimsy argument. But 287 wins is 287 wins, not to mention his 3701 strikeouts. Blyleven is most similar to Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Tommy John, Robin Roberts, Tom Seaver, Jim Kaat, Early Winn, Phil Niekro, and Steve Carlton. As you know, all but John and Kaat are in the hall. When a similarity list is so heavily hall of famers, tough to keep the player out. BUT...the list is filled with those longevity, never really great but when all was said and done had the numbers kinds of guys (Seaver and Carlton most obviously excepted). And, as I argued, that's where you want to be careful about lowering the standard more and more. But is Blyleven really lowering the standard, or just keeping with it? It's pretty glaring that he only made 2 all star teams in his whole career. But 13 more damn wins and he'd be in. And yes, his career winning percentage wasn't great, but it's better than Nolan Ryan's, and he sailed into the hall of fame pretty easily. A common pro-Blyleven argument is that he would have won more games if he didn't languish for his whole career on such terrible teams. Well, take a look, this is pretty much not true. I'm not going to go through the numbers here, but check it out for yourself, his teams collectively were not strikingly bad and included a good number of .500 clubs and some 90+ win clubs. So frankly I think this argument should be stricken. I keep going back and forth on Blyleven. If he could be let in without then having to let in Kaat and John, I'd probably go for it. But I'm not sure about this.

Admitting Jack Morris is exactly where you start to just lower the standard more and more. If this guy gives up 4 runs in the first inning of Game 7 in '91 you think we're going through this each year? Probably not. Jack Morris was an excellent pitcher, but not every excellent pitcher is at the hall of fame level. Jack Morris was the winningest pitcher of the '80s, but that doesn't do anything for me. You don't get extra points for having a career that neatly fit into the borders of a decade.

Too bad Albert Belle was such a jerk; he could have been Pucketted in. Ah well, serves him right. The voters have no obligation to give you the benefit of the doubt, you have to earn it. Belle did nothing but piss that benefit of the doubt away throughout his career.

I think that somebody who's been sitting around on that ballot will finally make it in tomorrow, and I'm getting the sense just from reading who writers voted for that it will be Dawson and Sutter. Let's see what happens.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Kids in the Hall

Anybody seen that show? It's like the Canadian Saturday Night Live. No, I'm sorry, it's like the Canadian Mad TV. Except remember that one time you laughed at something on Mad TV? Yeah, pretend that didn't happen, and then you have Kids in the Hall. Just stick to hockey and government funded healthcare, ok Canadians?

Anyway, as I said, I'm going to talk about this year's hall of fame potentials. So let's begin:

Hal Morris had 1216 hits and 73 career homers. While this puts him somewhat behind other sluggers hoping to get into the hall, he placed 15th in the 1994 NL MVP voting. He is most similar to Sean Casey, John Kruk, and Tom Paciorek, which might help his case. I'm going to say that Morris will fall short for now, but perhaps the voters will rethink his case in 2008, after Gwynn, Ripken, and McGwire get in next year.

If I were Andy Kaufman, I would actually continue with what I just did for Gregg Jeffries, Gary Gaetti, Gary DiSarcina, et al until all of you stopped reading this. (Ooooh, that's an idea for the next time I'm really stuck; I'll just post the entire Great Gatsby here.) Anyway, if I were Andy Kaufman I'd also have wrestled Jerry Lawler and have died twenty years ago, so my whole schme would be terribly, terribly flawed. Ok, to a couple of real guys now:

Jim Rice. I've tried to rethink my position on Jim Rice, which was that he's not a hall of famer. And I've come to think that he's a little closer than I gave him credit for. 382 homers for his era does mean something. And I give deference to those who actually saw him play and attest to how feared he was. But Mike Schmidt played when Rice did; Schmidt passed 400 homers and 500 homers too. Dave Winfeld did it. Eddie Murphy did it. [1/9/06: I can't believe I wrote that last night, I'm so stupid. Obviously I meant Chris Rock] Reggie Jackson did it. Andre Dawson did it. Dave Kingman did it. So let's not make the 70s-80s into the dead ball era. I will nominate all 8 seasons in which he had 100 rbi as potentially "great," as well as 1982 when he had 97. Hell, I'll even throw in 1981, even thought 62 rbi in 108 games doesn't project to 100 over a full season. So that's ten possibly great seasons. But let's get real, they weren't all great. Maybe the number is more like seven, if that. And then Rice just totally dropped off at 34 and retired by 36. He wasn't great enough for long enough to afford such a young end to his productivity. It is no disrespect to Rice to say that he was feared and perhaps the best in the AL for a time. That's quite an accomplishment. But the hall of fame is for more than that. It's for the absolute greats. Jim Rice should be out.

I'm too tired for this right now. I'm not gonna just blow through five more half assed analyses since nobody will enjoy that. I wrote something though. The streak continues. I'll do more hall talk tomorrow.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

More Hall Talk

"Is this the end of the Manny saga? I think it is for at least a while."
- Eric Bienenfeld, 1/5/06

"'If Boston is able to work out a trade with Baltimore or another team, Manny is still open to making a move,' Ramirez' agent Greg Genske said."
- AP Reports, 1/6/06


And now as I write this I see the breaking story that Miguel Tejada has told the Orioles that he no longer wants to be traded, just in on ESPN.com. Let's see if that puts this to rest or not. Damn prima donnas with their on again off again needs.

The world's chief importer and exporter of bad corner IFs has sent Corey Koskie to the Brewers. Remember when I said Hillenbrand would be the first to go? Once again, I'm an idiot. And does anybody else wonder why these two teams coudn't have included Koskie in the deal that sent Lyle Overbay to Toronto? Or why the Brewers even want Koskie as an alternative to Bill Hall, who I think is as good if not better? Or why the Brewers don't just stop operating entirely and save everybody trips to Milwaukee? All worth thinking about.

Ok, on to our discussion of the rest of Rob Neyer's list. The "close" list includes Jeff Bagwell, Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, Gary Sheffield, Mariano Rivera, Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Kent, and Trevor Hoffman. The "still working" list includes, besides Manny, Jim Edmonds, Mike Mussina, Billy Wagner, Albert Pujols, Miguel Tejada, Vladimir Guerrero, Larry Walker, Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu, and Lance Berkman. Some of these are obviously correctly classified I think, so I comment on the more interesting calls:

1. A-Rod and Jeter stand out on this list because they have the most left in the tank. If A-Rod had to retire today due to a sudden injury, there is no doubt in my mind that he'd get the Puckett/Koufax treatment and sail right in. But let's say he Dale Murphys himself with a sudden shift to 6 poor seasons, then I guess he's gonna be a questionable call. I don't think Jeter is even on the fence yet. This isn't an anti-Yankee bias - he's south of 2000 hits. I do think he will ultimately be in Cooperstown, but I think as of today he's more of a "still working" type.

2. Frank Thomas was great for seven seasons, from 1991-1997, and then again in 2000. That's 8 seasons, on the low end for a potential hall of famer. That means he needs the counting stats to get him in, and he isn't even close. 2136 hits, 448 homers. He'll be 38 in May. I don't think he's on the fence, I think he needs at least a mini renaissance to really be close. If his career ends the way it currently projects to, I wouldn't even think of voting for him.

3. Sammy Sosa. To me, his numbers are unquestionably good enough to let him in, and I don't see how one could argue otherwise. But, as with Palmeiro, it's the steroid question that's going to determine what will happen with him.

4. Chipper Jones was very good/great for 8 seasons. Doesn't have 2000 hits yet or 400 homers. He's young enough to amass the necessary credentials, but I don't consider him on the fence yet at all. He's clearly still working as far as I'm concerned.

5. Who'd have thought back in 2000 that we wouldn't have already locked Griffey into the hall by now? I think he's very close though, and if he retired tomorrow I'd still vote for him.

6. Bagwell and Thomas are often linked. If you don't yet know that they were born on the same day, then you probably don't read very much. Bagwell has a stronger case for the hall than Thomas though because of his image (or Thomas' poorer image), his gold glove, his 30-30 seasons, and his consistency. Still though, any player from this era will probably need 500 homers to make it, and Bags is at 449. He doesn't have to come back great, just healthy enough to pick up his counting stats a bit, and I think he's in. So I guess this qualifies him right as Neyer placed him, on the fence.

7. Edmonds and Walker are too old to be still working. Hell, Walker's retired. Neyer knows this; he has them on the outside of the hall looking in. You can argue that Neyer shouldn't even list them at all with the works in progress like Tejada and Pujols, but whatever. Either way, they're out, pretty much undebatably.

8. I agree that Thome is still working and not yet on the fence. 430 homers, 1665 hits, 1193 ribbies. He's 34 and can't afford off years at this point if he wants to get in. We'll see how healthy and effective he is in Chicago. My gut is that his credentials will ultimately fall short, but he's a likable player who has never been linked to the juice, so I'm going to pull for him.

9. Mike Mussina has 224 wins, 2400 ks, a career 3.64 ERA, has never won twenty games, and only once came in even 2nd in the Cy Young voting. He's clearly still working. With that ERA getting worse each year, I don't think he's going to make it. By the way, Mussina is listed as most similar to Dwight Gooden, Kevin Brown, and David Wells. (Does that thing give extra similarity points if players played for the same team or something?) Full disclosure - the 4th most similar pitcher is Juan Marichal, so it's not like Mussina is worlds away from enshrinees by the similarity meter. But I think it's telling when the first three are clearly not hall of famers.

I hope my dry baseball remarks are at least semi-enjoyable in the absence of jokes. This of course presumptuously assumes that my jokes are enjoyable themselves. Anyway, tomorrow I plan to start discussing some of this year's nominees as we lead up to Tuesday's announcement of the Class of 2006.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hall of Famers and a very much not hall of famer

I open with the above picture because it is part of today's public service advisory: Bullshit Press Conferecnce Alert. What you see is Ryan Franklin being introduced to the Philadelphia media the other day after the Phillies signed him to a one year deal. For those who don't remember seeing Franklin on the free agent list earlier this offseason, that's because he wasn't. He was non-tendered by the Mariners. Non-tendered by a team with 69 wins last year, 5.10 ERA, steroid suspension - and he's a big glory signing? Perhaps I was too kind when I said that the Phillies are major league enough not to consider Abraham Nunez a key addition for them. The only explanation I can think of is that Ryan Franklin is a descendant of Ben Franklin, for whom the Franklin Institute, the Ben Franklin Bridge, Franklin Square, and the University of Franklinvania have been named, and he therefore received a hero's welcome. Otherwise, Phillies, act like you're a legit contender to win the NL East in '06 and bring in a guy like this under the cover of darkness next time. And I swear, one day we'll go to Citizens Bank Park and be greeted by the Phranklin Phanatic. Man I hate Franklindelphia.

Continuing yesterday's discussion, I'd like to discuss a few more of the players on Neyer's hall of fame list. His full list of "locks" are Maddux, Johnson, Clemens, Bonds, Alomar, Pedro, Glavine, Biggio, Piazza, and Palmeiro. Most of this should garner 100% agreement from everybody - Maddux, Johnson, Clemens, Bonds, Pedro, and Piazza. I think Alomar is in as well. After a few years when the memory of his bad last few seasons isn't fresh, the greatness of his career should be crystal clear and he'll be in.

I think Biggio will be in, although I wouldn't necessarily say he's a lock if he retired today since he hasn't gotten 3,000 hits yet. I would still vote for him even today, but whereas I'd put $20,000 on Clemens' entry to the hall as of this minute, I wouldn't feel quite as comfortable with Biggio.

Neyer later changed his mind about Palmeiro as a lock, but only given the steroid issue. I agree with this. The numbers on the statline are clear hall numbers to me - you don't keep a guy out with 3,000 hits and nearly 600 homers. " Don't give me the compiler argument. Why don't you go play in the majors for twenty years, see how much you compile. You only "compile" those numbers if you're great. Or, in this case, on steroids. Hence the question with Palmeiro specifically.

I also don't agree that Glavine is in as of this minute. Do I think when all is said and done he will be in? Oh yeah, he's really close, damn near there already. But as of right now, his similarity scores are closest to Jack Morris and Dennis Martinez. Glavine has 275 wins, Blyleven has more and isn't in. Glavine played on winning teams and has 2 Cy Youngs, which might help him more than Blyleven. But couldn't that cut both ways? If Blyleven didn't win 300 and isn't given bonus credit for having pitched on bad teams, surely Glavine won't get credit when he pitched on good teams his whole career. I think as long as Glavine stays healthy in '06 and can pick up ten wins, he's a lock. Yes, I know, what's ten wins really, that doesn't do much for his greatness, either he's in now or he isn't if all you're waiting for is one more undistinguished season. I agree with that; I'm talking about what I think the voters might do when just looking at career numbers on a piece of paper.

I would tackle Neyer's other two categories now but I don't have time. We'll get to that tomorrow night, with a discussion of this year's candidates coming within the next couple of days.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Manny staying put (?)

So now it seems that Manny Ramirez isn't going anywhere after all, according to ESPN Deportes. When was the last time anybody quoted ESPN Deportes as a source? Anyway, according to Pedro Gammonzo, Ramirez has accepted that he'll be in Boston and no longer wants a trade. This doesn't qualify as a big surprise, considering the numerous variations of failed trades involving Manny and the obvious obstacles to moving him. So I guess now Omar Minaya will have to stalk Manny the conventional way, by climbing a tree outside his house with a pair of binoculars. Not that I'm sure Minaya hasn't been doing that already.

Is this the end of the Manny saga? I think it is for at least a while. Teams generally don't want to trade sluggers who are basically on auto pilot for 45 homers and 130 ribbies each year. Now that Manny claims he's content to stay in Boston, I see no reason why Jed Hoyer, Ben Cherington, Larry Luchino, Ray Borque, Sam Malone, and whoever the hell else is involved in running that team will expend any more effort negotiating over him right now. It was tough to find a deal for Manny in which the Sox were truly getting better, and with Damon's loss they can even less afford to part with what he brings to the plate.

However, I don't think we'll make it the remaining three years Manny has on his deal without going through another thing like this. He's too fickle, too expensive, getting older, etc., and my guess is around the July '07 deadline we may be in for this again. Maybe it won't be until the winter between '07 and '08, but I think we should all be prepared for round 6 of daily Manny trade rumors at some point once more.

Rob Neyer had an article the other day in which he classified which current major leaguers would be locks for the hall of fame even if they never played again, which ones are close but wouldn't be assured of anything if they really did stop right now, and which ones are on the right path but still have a way to go. Interestingly, he placed Ramirez in the third category. Below are his career stats:

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG   TB   SH  SF IBB HBP GDP
1993 21 CLE AL 22 53 5 9 1 0 2 5 0 0 2 8 .170 .200 .302 16 0 0 0 0 3
1994 22 CLE AL 91 290 51 78 22 0 17 60 4 2 42 72 .269 .357 .521 151 0 4 4 0 6
1995 23 CLE AL 137 484 85 149 26 1 31 107 6 6 75 112 .308 .402 .558 270 2 5 6 5 13
1996 24 CLE AL 152 550 94 170 45 3 33 112 8 5 85 104 .309 .399 .582 320 0 9 8 3 18
1997 25 CLE AL 150 561 99 184 40 0 26 88 2 3 79 115 .328 .415 .538 302 0 4 5 7 19
1998 26 CLE AL 150 571 108 168 35 2 45 145 5 3 76 121 .294 .377 .599 342 0 10 6 6 18
1999 27 CLE AL 147 522 131 174 34 3 44 165 2 4 96 131 .333 .442 .663 346 0 9 9 13 12
2000 28 CLE AL 118 439 92 154 34 2 38 122 1 1 86 117 .351 .457 .697 306 0 4 9 3 9
2001 29 BOS AL 142 529 93 162 33 2 41 125 0 1 81 147 .306 .405 .609 322 0 2 25 8 9
2002 30 BOS AL 120 436 84 152 31 0 33 107 0 0 73 85 .349 .450 .647 282 0 1 14 8 13
2003 31 BOS AL 154 569 117 185 36 1 37 104 3 1 97 94 .325 .427 .587 334 0 5 28 8 22
2004 32 BOS AL 152 568 108 175 44 0 43 130 2 4 82 124 .308 .397 .613 348 0 7 15 6 17
2005 33 BOS AL 152 554 112 162 30 1 45 144 1 0 80 119 .292 .388 .594 329 0 6 9 10 20
13 Seasons 6126 1922 15 1414 30 1349 .314 .409 .599 2 66 138 77 179
1687 1179 411 435 34 954 3668

He's a 9 time All Star, by the way. Now, I wouldn't argue that Ramirez is a lock if he retired tomorrow. 400 homers is totally devalued now, he doesn't even have 2,000 hits, he isn't a great defensive player or a speed demon that can replace a lack of the big counting stats. So no, he's not in yet. But isn't he at least close? For instance, the third group had Pujols, Vlad, Tejada, and Abreu. There should be no question that Manny has already done a lot more for his hall of fame credentials than those guys. The "close" group included Jeter, Sheff, and A-Rod (damn Yankees), among others. Isn't Manny in with them? He should be. He's been one of the most feared hitters in his league for a decade and by my count has already had 7 great seasons and 3 very good ones. At his pace he'll eclipse 500 homers and 1700 RBI after two more seasons, certainly Hall numbers. I understand that he won't get any points for being a team player or super playoff performer (his October numbers are ok, not bad, not great) which might make up for any shortfall in the counting stats. But for me, Ramirez is damn close already, and I'm surprised at Neyer's assessment on this. I'd like to know what you guys think.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


The news of today is the Mets-Dodgers trade, in which the Mets send Jae Seo and Tim Hamulack to LA for Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll. Reactions to the trade:

After going 24 years and 2 weeks without once saying, writing, or thinking of the name Steve Schmoll, I have now done so twice in two days. This is kind of unsettling. And by the way Omar, if you were going to go out and acquire one of the "Jews" in yesterday's blog, you couldn't have made it Jason Schmidt?

This trade reminds me of the Hideo Nomo trade in 1998. Mets-Dodgers, 2 pitchers going each way (Dave Mlicki and Greg McMichael to the Dodgers, Nomo and Brad Clontz to the Mets), one of them from the Far East, bunch of crappy relievers involved, some surnames that sound like they belong to the nerds from Saved By the Bell in Clontz and Schmoll. I remember there was one Mets-Braves game back in 1997 when Clontz was with Atlanta in which Ralph Kiner called him Chad Clontz, Brad Coontz, Brad Fontz, and Wayne Fontz all in the span of an inning.

The Mets needed relief pitching and they acquired it here. Sanchez wasn't bad in '05 and even served as the closer at the end of the year. He's extremely tough on righties, who hit .182 off him, but not so tough against lefties, who hit .310. He's also soft on crime, which is gonna cost him in the red states. Anyway, if a reliever isn't billed as a specialist, better that he be strong against righties, but it would be nice if he weren't quite so terrible against lefties.

As for the 35 year old accountant with the fat wife, his numbers were lousy last year, including a 5.01 ERA. But he got rocked one day in August for 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning. If you take out that appearance, his ERA is down to 4.6. That still isn't good, but it's a little better. Yes, I know the argument that taking out bad games distorts things, but I think you can isolate one particularly bad appearance. (Also, wouldn't you rather see that a guy was truly awful in 5 games but perfectly usable in 30 than below average in all 35? The former would give you a fighting chance in a greater number of games.) Schmoll's most obvious problem is that he walked 22 batters in 47 innings. My guess is that Rick Peterson thinks he can work on this, and maybe he can. He's been very successful with Zamb...nevermind. Either way, Sanchez and Schmoll are both young and I don't think it's far fetched that they could both help the Mets out.

Nor am I terribly upset about trading Jae Seo. I wasn't sold on him as part of the Mets rotation, and frankly, his resume at age 29 is a good month of August in '05. Considering they still have Heilman, I think he was expendable. The real issue is that it appears, at least to us fans ignorant of the inner workings, that Omar didn’t get the best value in return. Trade Cameron, but don’t only get Nady. Trade for LoDuca, but don’t be so willing to give up Gaby Hernandez. And now, at a time when it seemed that Seo had very good trade value, he doesn’t get a reliever that you feel really comfortable with.

Interestingly, Dodgers fan Jae Ahn’s first reaction was that the Dodgers didn’t get enough for Sanchez, so who knows. I don’t think the Dodgers have an especially deep bullpen, and it’s even shallower now. But they have an excellent back end combo, and if Sanchez was slotting in for them as a 7th inning guy in ’06, I think it’s a sound move to have dealt him for a starter. Seo was needed insurance at the end of the rotation, and if Edwin Jackson or Jonathan Broxton make impacts then the Dodgers can make a deal. I think it’s one of those deals that probably will help both teams but no fan of either team is going to be all that enthusiastic about until they see some results.

In other news, I heard today that the Mets had signed Bob Boone to a minor league contract, and I thought that was a pretty solid move. Then I heard that it was in fact Bret Boone, which is much worse. Hey – isn’t it weird how Boone’s power dropped off suddenly the way it did. It’s just so unexplainable. I, for one, am stumped as to the explanation for his sudden power upswing and then just as sudden downswing. Puzzling, terribly puzzling. Anyway, how do you think it feels to be Kaz Matsui? Once you’re bringing Bret Boone to camp, you may as well put out a sign in Port St. Lucie that says “Second Base: Open Auditions, all this month.” Somehow I feel like Matsui is now the baseball equivalent of Milton from Office Space. He’s technically still employed, but everybody is kind of just working around him and making plans as though he doesn't exist.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Baseball and then a very strange transition

So Jeromy Burnitz isn't going to the Orioles after all. Reports have him going to the Pittsburgh Overhauls instead. So I'll have to adjust my previous analysis. The Orioles will still stink. Jeromy Burnitz will still stink in the very near future. The Pirates "makeover" gets a slight notch of extra credibility. They too will stink, however. That takes care of that.

The Astros sign Preston Wilson to a one year deal. Now, either Tim Purpura has forgotten that you only get to start 3 OFs or Drayton McLane has plans to move the Astros to a softball league next year and play Wilson in left-center, because I'm not sure what they're going to do. Berkman, Taveras, Lane left to right. Ensberg and Bagwell at the corners. Where does Wilson fit? Truth is, there is a place for Wilson on this team. First, they may know or strongly suspect that Bagwell isn't coming back as a full time player. If that's the case, Berkman will spend most of the time at 1st and there will be enough ABs for everybody. If Bags is healthy then I guess Lane or even Taveras is trade bait. The Astros need trade bait because they're short on pitching. They've got Wandy Rodriguez and Ezequiel Astacio making a weak back end of the rotation, and 0nly have 5 relievers listed on their depth chart. Their current 40 man roster has names like Matt Albers, James Barthmaier, Juan Gutierez, and Jason Hirsh. These guys are all younger than me and pretty much have no major league service time. However, I do think Jason Hirsh pitched well for Frisch in 1999.

Seeing Hirsh on the Astros roster got me thinking - what is the current all-yeshiva team throughout baseball? You guys know me, I'm dilligent. So I looked at each roster and came up with the following names for you, along with commentary (note: any similarities to actual names and/or personalities of people you may know is honestly 100% coincidental, so please don't get offended on anybody's behalf):

Dan Meyer (Oak) - If this guy doesn't shut up about making Aliyah you're gonna fly him to Israel yourself or kill him.
Gabe Gross (Mil) - Guy your age from LA, went to HaKotel. Have mutual friends and chat with him when you see him. Good guy.
Aaron Hill (Tor) - Nice guy in your grade, never knew him that well. He went to Sha'alvim and then YU and majored in accounting.
Josh Kroeger (ARZ) - Good ballplayer in Ramaz, kind of a druggie but flipped out in Israel.
Steve Schmoll (LA) - Mid 30ish guy with glasses and fat wife in your shul, works for Ernst & Young. You once spoke to him and could live without doing it again.
Steve Kline (SF) - Late 40's guy in your shul, lawyer at Skadden. Always gets there at 9:45 and talks most of the time.
Jason Schmidt (SF) - Friend of yours since 5th grade, and you're close enough that you were one of the guys dressed up in the chicken suit at his wedding.
Nate Schierholtz (SF) - Man, what a weirdo. You have a friend who got set up on a date with him and hasn't been the same since.
Jake Dittler (SF) - What an asshole. Has friends but nobody can quite figure out why.
Mike Jacobs (FLA) - You know three different guys with this name; none of them especially well. At least one of them is involved with YUSSR.
Aaron Heilman (NYM) - You don't know him but saw him on onlysimchas and thought his fiance was attractive.
Yoel Hernandez (SEA - yep, real guy) - Neighborhood Dominican in the Heights who walked into the beis at YU by mistake one day and just never left. Learns much better than you now.
Jonah Bayliss (KC) - One day you'll get the courage to tell him that it's all well and good that he's so religious now, but everybody knows about the Russian prostitute when he was in Ner Jake.
Kevin Mench (TEX) - I threw him in there for the benefit of the one person out there who hasn't realized the joke about his last name. Got it now?
Adam Stern (BOS) - I personally don't know any Adam Sterns. I'm probably the only religious Jew in the world who fits that description.
Jeremy Bonderman (DET) - One of those guys who knows everybody in the world in very random ways. If this guy didn't go to Flatbush and Columbia, I'm stunned.

I've hit a new low, haven't I?