Monday, December 11, 2006
It seems like every year Yankee fans are convinced their team will pick up every big name free agent and make deals to bring all the best players to New York (I'm surprised I haven't heard a Giambi for Santana rumour yet such is the extent of the hyperbole). So far they were convinced they would get Matsuzaka and they lost out (to Boston no less in a ridiculous move), soon they'll be convinced Roger Clemens is coming back to town and they might even think that Josh Phelps will finally start slugging 40 HR after arriving in the Rule 5. However, they have made one genuinely great signing and no one really made much noise about it before it happened.
Signing Andy Pettitte is probably the best free agent pick up they could have really made when all this off-season shake up began. Not only is he a known commodity (unlike over priced Japanese enigmas), he has also shown he can do it in the meat grinder that is New York and do it in the big games. Of course he's also a lefty starter and they tend to revel in Yankee Stadium and New York needed genuine quality starters (as opposed to a dearth of average to good pitching from rotation to the pen...except Mo of course). How many other members of this years free agent class tick that many boxes?
Of course now they've made the sensible signing the rumour mill will likely switch back to cloud cuckoo land and who knows, they may very well make a move for Barry Zito and save Texas from making a huge mistake (fly balls may lan in Oakland but they don't in Arlington) and revert back to the same plan that has kept them from post-season success in recent years. Who knows? The Yankee rumour mill ploughs on.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Here's my basic run-down of the folk on the ballot and my opinions on whether they'll make it now or in the future.
Who's the greatest hitter of all time, Cobb or Gwynn? Or, to put it another way, who else in the history of the game can seriously be compared to Cobb as a hitter?
Quite frankly I see Gwynn as the greatest player of my lifetime and only a fixation with the long ball stops people agreeing with me. Only Cobb is in his league when it comes to consecutive batting crowns and batting titles full stop. His .338 career average is 20th all time and only Ruth, Williams and Gehrig can top it in the live ball era.
A perrenial Gold Glover, All Star, Silver Slugger and MVP candidate and could have had a .400 season if not for the strike. On top of that he scored runs, drove them in and stole bases and was a worthy Roberto Clemente Award winner (one of the great characters any sport has ever had).
If I could vote for these things I'd vote for Gwynn at least five times on the one ballot. He's definately in and deserves to test Tom Seavers' record for percentage of votes cast.
Personally I think he was always over-rated due to the streak (which should have ended way before he went past Gehrig) but you can't deny he had a great career.
A two time MVP who changed people perceptions of what to expect from a shortstop (some would say revolutionise but I wouldn't). The new wave of offence first shortstops with just enough D to get by were all inspired by this guy.
His popularity with the press will see he gets a huge number of votes.
The numbers say he should be a lock. The effect he had on the game after the strike says he should be a 90% vote getter as few players could be considered to have had as huge an impact as McGwire, but the steroids issue will cloud the perspectives of many people and its not even certain if he'll get enough votes to get on next years ballot (he likely will).
Personally, I feel he deserves to be in as no matter what substances he took, he still had a massively positive impact on baseball at a very rough time and you can always argue that the stuff he was taking wasn't strictly speaking illegal back then.
I doubt he'll get in this time round, and he might have to wait a few years but by hook or by crook he'll get in, even if it takes the veterans commitee to do it.
Now here's a tricky one, Harold Baines is #1 in most of the stat categories for DH's and has had a very good career but is it a HoF career?
His career average of .289 took a massive hit in his later years as he became an old man trying to hang with the kids. In his prime he was a true professional hitter who would hit .300 with discipline and power and got himself the odd vote on MVP ballots.
So will he get in? I doubt it this time. It'll even be tough for him to be voted in during the coming years but I'd like to think he'll get in one day as maybe a pioneer of the full time DH. He's one of those guys who you feel deserves something for his career but you're not quite sure what.
This guy will never make it. You can say McGwire cheated but Canseco cheated and really tried to take the game down with him.
As entertaining as it was to watch him patrol the outfield and as outstanding a feat it was to become the first 40/40 player, the guy was a scumbag.
Bret Saberhagen and Paul O'Neill
I would love these guys to get in as both had great careers whose contributions outweighed their numbers but as beloved as these two were, can we really say they were HoF'ers?
These two will be immortalised by enough fans memories that the Hall of Fame doesn't really need to.
Devon White, Tony Fernandez, Jay Buhner
All three of these guys would make a Spurious Hall of Fame (I'll have to think about putting that together).
I remember I was incredibly annoyed when Devo left the Jays (although not as annoyed as when Alomar left soon after). He was a phenomenal outfielder who was only robbed of starting a World Series triple play by a napping umpire who blew the call. He had a a bit of power, a bit more speed and was just a very cool player.
Tony Fernandez was the best turf shortstop not called Ozzie Smith and still had time to be a great situational hitter and a key component of some great teams.
Who else remembers Jay Buhner day at The Kingdome? Men, women and children all going to the ballpark with shaven heads and goatees (some more convincing than others). Few players have ever been as loved by the fans as he was and it was very sad the way his career ended so abruptly.
Buhner was a key component on one of the very best offensive line-ups ever assembled.
Eric Davis and Bobby Witt
Both these guys looked like potential HoF'ers early on in their careers but were side tracked by injuries. I doubt either will stay on the ballot long.
Bobby Bonilla, Dante Bichette, Wally Joyner, Scott Brosius
Brosius will keep his legacy thanks to some clutch performances in the World Series for one of the great teams in history but these guys will likely not get much attention...unless you count Bonilla's bowling average which is allegedly very good.
...returning once again to the ballot
Face it people, he's just not good enough. You don't get in for being a great defensive first baseman.
Hurt himself by playing too long and ending his career with some duff years but for the majority of his career he was a true five tool player who was always amongst the leaders in every stat that counts. In my mind he should have been in the HoF years ago.
He should be putting in maybe the greatest performance by any pitcher ever in one of the greatest games ever (if you don't know what game I'm referring to then shame on you). For the rest of his career he was the ace of some great teams and was generally up there with everyone in most catergories for most of his career and 254 career wins is good enough for him to be a marginal guy who just gets in.
Truly baffling why this guy isn't in. I can sort of understand Morris and Dawson not having been voted in but a guy with 287 wins and 3701 K's (5th all time)? It beggars belief. Just vote him in and lets be done with it, he makes the voters look stupid.
I thought this guy would be easy to make a case for but I've just looked at his numbers and 204 wins isn't that impressive. Of course, in his prime with the Dodgers he was as good as it got and his consecutive scoreless innings streak was amazing but it's tough looking at his whole career to say he had the longevity to be in the Hall. He certainly had the class but is that enough?
Albert might have been one of the biggest tossers ever to take the field but he was an outstanding player. For a career he average 40 HR every 162 games and 381 career longballs and 1239 RBI is exceptional for a 12 year career.
1995 might have seen Belle put together one of the truly great seasons any individual has ever had. In a strike shortened season of 143 games, he still hit 50 homeruns and had 52 doubles to go with it. Add to that 121 runs, 126 RBI and a .317 average. If he had even the slightest amount of pleasantness in him people would be considering him.
Jim Rice, Rich Gossage, Lee Smith, Tommy John, Steve Garvey, Alan Trammell, Dave Parker, Dave Concepcion, Dale Murphy
I could go into greater detail but I've been writing too long now. Suffice to say these guys aren't getting in. They are just not quite good enough. You could make a case for Gossage and Smith if people are going to cut closers a little slack but I don't think either will really stand up against the new generation of full time closers that have emerged since Eckersley's days.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Pop over and join up if you feel the urge!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Nah, let's just say that Chris C got the most right, including the world series champs, and the rest of us just sucked! The rest of us will now be drinking copious amounts of alcohol to see if they can bring their prediction skills up to match those of Chris C for 2007!!!
The predictions will remain on that page until the new 2007 season, as will Pete's Previews ....... Pete, you'd better make a start on the 2007 ones now, mate!!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
1B Albert Pujols, St Louis Cardinals - .331, 49 hr, 137 rbi, 119 r
Even though Ryan Howard had his monster season, you still can't deny that Phat Albert is the man. Even with time spent on the DL (at the time he was setting a pace for something stupid like 80 hr and 200 rbi) he still managed to post better numbers than almost anyone.
He even picked up his first Gold Glove (not that we can put much stock in them as a measure of ability) and is certainly becoming an excellent defensive player. Quite simply the best player in baseball.
Good but not Albert : Ryan Howard, Carlos Delgado, Justin Morneau
2B Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies - .309, 32 hr, 102 rbi, 131 r, 15 sb
I still think he's the MVP of the Phils team but many would dispute it (and by many I mean practically everyone). Philadelphia were going nowhere and then he went on his hitting streak (might not have been Dimaggio but 35 is still bloody good) and the whole team woke around him.
Thankfully Gillick dealt Abreu (a bit late in doing so but anyway) and seems to be building around 3/4 of that infield which should see them in good stead.
Briefly thought about but ultimately nah : Mark Ellis, Placido Polanco, Brandon Phillips, Josh Barfield
3B Joe Crede, Chicago White Sox - .283, 30 hr, 94 rbi, 76 r
This was going to go to Ryan Zimmerman but once again Crede has been overlooked for the GG and someone should give him some love.
I've said for a few years now that he's the best defensive 3b in the AL but I always accepted his mediocre offensive numbers stopped him getting attention but this year he put it together and had a solid offensive year to boot and still gets ignored...except here.
Would have won if GG voters weren't dinks : Ryan Zimmerman
SS Jose Reyes, New York Mets - .300, 19 hr, 81 rbi, 122 r, 64 sb
I've had disputes about whether he's the buisness defensively or not but there is no getting around the fact that he is an exciting ball player. He's the sort of speed player we used to have in the 80's and the way he moves in the field makes me reminisce about Ozzie Smith and anyone who makes me think of The Wizard deserves a nod.
They don't make 'em like they used but these are alright : Adam Everett, Omar Vizquel, Edgar Renteria
C Russ Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers - .282, 10 hr, 65 rbi, 65 r, 10 sb
What do I do when Mike Matheny misses most of the year through injury? I'll tell you what I do, I point to the future and my soon to be favourite catcher in the Bigs (Matheny still holds stock with me), Russ Martin.
LA were a ponderous bunch for a long time and then they made the call to the Farm and they started to win...a lot.
He's a gamer, a general on the field. He may never be the best hitter in the league or win any GG's but wherever he plays he will win, that much I am sure about.
God bless catchers, they're crazy : Victor Martinez (comedy value counts here), Joe Mauer, Pudge Rodriguez
LF Alfonso Soriano, Washington Nationals - .277, 46 hr, 95 rbi, 119 r, 41 sb
You may not have been paying attention to the Nats in a dreadful year, but Soriano might have been the best offensive player in baseball.
So much was made before the year about the change of position but he did ok out thereand in between time he crushed the ball, ran all over and was the first 40/40 man to get almost no attention for his exploits. He was a man on a mission or, to put it another way, a free agent year.
Is it wrong to mock the left fielder? : Jason Bay, Craig Monroe, Adam Dunn
CF Carlos Beltran, New York Mets - .275, 41 hr, 116 rbi, 127 r, 18 sb
To the folk who questioned the deal Minaya gave him, I think Carlos Beltran showed this year what he can do when he's fully healthy. Great D, great power and some of the best base running around. He can really do everything. Encore please.
Bit of a so-so year for cf's : Vernon Wells, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, Mark Kotsay
RF Jermaine Dye, Chicago White Sox - .315, 44 hr, 120 rbi, 103 r
After years of freakish injury after freakish injury, Dye put together a career year at the heart of a monster line-up. Carrying on from his World Series MVP the year before, he more than did his bit to put Chicago back atop the pile, shame the pitchers couldn't follow his lead.
Put the fat bloke in right : Lance Berkman, Ichiro, Alexis Rios
DH David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox - .287, 54 hr, 137 rbi, 115 r
These days DH is a genuine position on the roster so we better throw Big Papi in. He continues to amaze with the lumber and only gets started when its late and the game is on the line. It's no surprise that when he went down with an injury the Sox plummeted down the standings.
Practicing bubble blowing when their team takes the field : Travis Hafner, Marcus Thames
Utility IF Bill Hall, Milwaukee Brewers - .270, 35 hr, 85 rbi, 101 r
I feel a little bad but whilst he may not have won a batting title Bill Hall stepped up when injuries hit the Brew Crew he emerged as the teams best player and even though the Brewers were a disappointment, they still did better than Pittsburgh.
Reluctant to ride pine : Freddy Sanchez
Utility OF Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees - .280, 7 hr, 50 rbi, 75 r, 12 sb
MVP of the Yankees anyone? When injuries crippled the All Star Yankee outfield, the one time pariah stepped back onto the field where he was once goaded by 'Da Bums' and solidified a troubled line-up. It almost seems like he should have better numbers than he did, such was his stature this year but it wasn't his numbers that defined him but his ability to do the job at hand.
Best of the nobodies on the roster : Ryan Freel, Reed Johnson
SP 1 Johan Sanatan, Minnesota Twins - 19-6, 2.77 era, 245 k / 47 bb
Won the pitching triple crown with more wins, k's and a better ERA than anyone in either league. He is without question the top hurler around, it's that simple.
SP 2 Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays - 16-5, 3.19 era, 132 k / 34 bb
The only thing not quite right about Roy Halladay is the fact he has that ginger beard. For ages he was neck and neck with Santana which takes some doing but there is no shame being second to him.
SP 3 Jason Jennings, Colorado Rockies - 9-13, 3.78 era, 142 k / 85 bb
Pitching in Colorado with that ERA and only 9 wins to your name? This guy deserved better but then there were a few guys in that rotation who did better than you would think. Give medals to them all I say.
What a year for the hurlers : Francisco Liriano, Brandon Webb, Chris Carpenter, Carlos Zambrano, Aaron Harang, Roy Oswalt, Justin Verlander
Closer Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins - 7-0, 1.58 era, 95 k / 16 bb, 36 sv
Papelbon blew 6. Hoffman 5, Ryan 4 and Rivera 3. Joe Nathan blew just 2 and due to the slow start he managed to win seven games without losing any as Grudenhire struggled to get him worthwhile innings.
He was truly dominant.
Hells bells : Trevor Hoffman, BJ Ryan, Jon Papelbon
Lefty Reliever Dennys Reyes, Minnesota Twins - 5-0, 0.89 era, 49 k / 15 bb
You'd think being a situational lefty would be a dossy job and Reyes made it look that this year with a truly silly year. A WHIP below one and almost a K per inning.
They're an odd breed : Pedro Feliciano, Rheal Cormier, Jaime Walker
Righty Reliever Cla Meredith, San Diego Padres - 5-1, 1.07 era, 37 k / 6 bb
He may have a first name that looks like its short a good few letters but how can you argue with a 0.711 WHIP?
Stick 'em on the fire for kindling : Takashi Saito, Chad Bradford, Jonathan Broxton, Rafael Soriano
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
When i became involved with this website at the start of the baseball season, i thought it was a great idea ... and i still do! There really aren't many decent places on the internet for people to chat baseball from a UK perspective, and the blog is a nice way to link everything together
However, i have to say that it once again seems to me that lethargy rules ... baseball fans out there in the UK just don't seem to wish to get involved when anyone makes an effort ... this site was a great idea by Pete, something a little bit different from the mainstay forums out there, it's a place that isn't too formal, doesn't always take itself serious, etc, etc.
Sure, you could try posting on the five forums, that's if you can be bothered spending half an hour to log in! The place is dead and no one seems to bother even moderating it anymore ... on my last visit i noticed a rather disgusting post about Cory Lidle's death, and the poster who made the comment came back on 5 DAYS (!!!!) later to say he was amazed at getting away with the comment. Hardly the way a forum should be run. Alternatively you have the Baseballfan site ... it seems to be well run forum, but i just can't take to it, and having to scroll through big signature after big signature just to read the posts rapidly switched me off.
Therefore, when i got involved here, i tried to set up a nice looking and easy to use forum .... nothing overly fancy, but just something that was good to look at and easier to use than 5's forums and a place for relaxed posting that mimicked the Blog's philosophy ... and once again, no interest whatsoever! It was this lack of interest that made me basically exile myself from this very site, a site that i was involved in running!! Until now, that is ...
Maybe my expectations are too high, maybe i just have to face facts that Baseball in the UK doesn't really have a good enough following to give us the amount of enthusiastic fans we need to keep good websites going ... but if anyone out there is reading this and thinking 'i can do that', then i challenge you to get in touch and get involved with this site, and help spread the baseball word, rather than hoping someone else will do it for us!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The playoffs have been no different. In the usual playoff sweepstake on the Five boards, the going has been tough to say the least. Of a possible four points all but one person are tied on one and the other guy has zero. Not good.
I pegged LA and Minnesota to make it at the beginning of the playoffs so naturally that folded like the proverbial Superman on laundry day. However, my prognosticating skills haven't been all bad. At the beginning of the season I said the Yankees would coast through the regular season and then die in the playoffs and I also predicted that St Louis would win the NL and lose the Series...sorry Cards fans but rest assured my year of jinxing surely can't end this soon.
I've said all year that Detroit would fade because of their reliance on a young staff and now I'm thinking this long lay off after dumping Oakland will definately help them so naturally they'll be blown out 15-0 in the first game.
When you look at the two teams you have to say the depth of pitching favours the Tiggers and thats usually a good measure for how a series will go but St Louis has had good showings from the likes of Suppan and Weaver that have carried the side even though Chris Carpenter can't seem to get going. Their pen has come around too of late.
Offensively the Cards have Phat Albert which is a good security blanket to suck your thumb with. The Tigers have a line-up so laden with righties that La Russa likely won't get the opportunity to tinker with his pitching as much as he usually likes to. I can easily see Pujols being the difference maker in a tight series.
The Cards of course have a lot of WS experience in recent years and they know how to lose these big games with the best of them.
This has all the makings of a great series with two storied franchises going head to head in two big sports towns with two flawed teams and plenty of pitchers with great stuff and one of the most dominant hitters of recent years. In this year of surprises there could still be a few more lurking around the corner and it all opens up tonight with two high end young pitchers with plenty of potential to be pitching in games like this for a number of years and their best years ahead of them. Justin Verlander and Anthony Reyes have it in them to spark off a 1-0 eleven inning game (oh imagine how great that would be) or the enormity of the occasion could overwhelm one or both of these young progenies and it could be a five hour blowout (hope not, I've softball to play tomorrow!) but either way the intrigue ahead of game one is palpable.
In the sweeps I've gone for Detroit in five but, lets face it, I've been terrible at this all year. Either team could sweep this series but then again it could go seven. This is the most open World Series I can remember for a long time which, if my predictive skills are anything to go by, will mean it will be rubbish. Hopefully it really will be the classic it looks destined to be.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
This is a man who never complained about the inequities of his situation and never bore a grudge because of it. This is a man who rose above all the ignorant bigotry and chose to simply embrace what he had.
In this age of college kids holding out for lucrative deals and players jumping from one team to another looking for the next contract it lends great poignancy to the lives of those who played simply because they just loved to do so. Buck O'Neil loved baseball and, while during his life it may not have loved him back so much, I'm sure in death baseball should love him equally as much in return and I just hope wherever he is, he's on some diamond shagging flies to Babe Ruth and rubbing shoulders with John McGraw because he deserves no less than to be amongst legends.
I wish I could better express just how special a man has passed from this world but I just don't know how my words could fully express it. The world is a poorer place without him in it.
My prayers go out to his family and friends for this is a truly sad day.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
If there is one award that is totally sewn up and beyond refute it's this one. Johan Santananananaman is just the best pitcher in baseball today and leads the entire Majors in strikeouts, wins and ERA (the so called Triple Crown of pitching). The only thing that surprises me is that his WHIP is 1.000 which just seems high for him!
NL Cy Young
If there is one award that is totally up in the air it's this one. I reckon there are at least six starters in with a shout and one reliever.
You can't ignore that its been a great year for Hoffman. Despite his advancing years he has been the best closer in the NL and has finally usurped Lee Smith atop the all time saves list. I'm always reluctant to name relievers as Cy winners but it really would be a great way to top this season.
The thing that helps Hoffman's cause is that any one of Harang, Webb, Lowe, Zambrano, Carpenter or Oswalt could easily be considered the top starter in the NL as no one has really had a great season but all have had very good seasons.
Webb still gets the nod from me with his league leading ERA and I can't help but feel that his win total would be around the 20 mark this year if not for his team hitting the skids down the stretch. Ever since he started the year with his 8 game win streak, the rest of the league has always been playing catch up.
I would love to see Aaron Harang get a lot of votes. A lot of attention was thrust upon Bronson Arroyo in the Reds rotation this year but Harang has been an absolute workhorse for that team for the past two seasons. This year he's in the logjam atop the win column and presently leads the league in strikeouts and innings pitched and while his 3.76 ERA might not look as impressive as his rivals, we do need to bare in mind that he plays in one of the most hitter friendly parks in all of baseball.
Honary mention to Carlos Zambrano who is laboured with the truly awful Cubs team but has still won 16 games and has almost a K per IP. He really has done a great job at making people aware that he is the big guy on that rotation and not either of the injured pair people usually talk about.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Jon Grudenhire has done a great job rallying the Twins after last seasons disappointments and a rough start to the year. Since the All Star break there have been few teams better than
Minnesota and they should be confident running into the post-season.
Few will recognise how good a job Joe Torre has done in New York as he has been forced to shuffle his deck countless times due to injuries to some of his key personnel. Of course it helps when your coffers are as deep as the Yankees but any team that loses the likes of Cano, Sheffield and Matsui for long stretches is going to feel it and even through all that, New York has walked the East.
Ultimately there is only one name that needs to be brought up when deciding the top gaffer in the AL and it’s the guy who has sculpted a group of youngsters and cast offs into a pennant winner. Jim Leyland has done wonders for Detroit after spending a few years in the broadcast booth and for most of the year his team had the best record in baseball in the best division in baseball.
NL Manager of the Year
I know I picked Cincinnati to finish dead last in the central but somehow Jerry Narron has made them into a winner. Of course it has helped that GM Wayne Krivsky has scrounged some rough diamonds from here, there and everywhere but this is still a team that really should not have done as well as it has and Narron deserves a lot of credit.
The Marlins, however, were a team picked by many (not me I might say) to finish dead last with his AAA all stars and he has taken them into the last fortnight of the season still with a slight sniff at the playoffs.
The most remarkable thing is how they’ve managed to get so many good performances from so many first year players. It was obvious that the guys they had available had potential and the tools to be good ballplayers eventually and if a couple of the guys had good seasons, a couple more showed flashes and a few showed they needed a little more time on the farm then the organisation would have been moderately happy, its just a shame that they can’t seem to revel in Girardi’s achievements due to a clash of personalities between him and owner Jeffrey Loria (just another person who doesn’t like Loria).
Joe Girardi should definitely be manager of the year and when he’s eventually relieved of his responsibilities by Florida in the off season, you know every team with a managerial vacancy will be beating down his door.
AL Rookie of the Year
What a year for rookie pitching. We’ll start with mini-Johan, Francisco Liriano, who was simply untouchable throughout the middle third of the season. He and Santana really look like they could be the dominant force in the AL for years to come and if not for injuries shortening his season he would definitely have been the guy to get the nod.
Then there’s Boston closer Jon Papelbon who just about qualifies for rookie status after a cup of coffee last year. Failed as a starter and an absolute success as a closer. It took forever for the league to get a run off him and it was tough enough to get a hit.
Really the thing that will determine this years AL RoY will be whether you feel a reliever is as valuable as a starter because Justin Verlander in Detroit has been superb for Detroit. It is always inevitable that rookie pitchers will wear down even more than players in other roles because the demands of the Majors are just so much higher than any other level and Verlander has been a victim of his own success down the stretch. He was just so good in the first half that he rung up a tonne of innings but even with his end of season swoon, he’ll still be amongst the leaders in wins and will have an ERA below 4.00 and few pitchers have been so valuable to their team. If anyone could be an MVP on the Tigers line-up this year its him.
NL Rookie of the Year
We’ll start this with the guy I picked before the season started and that’s Ryan Zimmerman who will win a lot of Gold Gloves in his career, and if not for Scott Rolen he’d be a shoo in this year, and has coupled stellar D with excellent hitting and base-running and will likely finish the year leading all rookies in a fair few offensive categories…I’d give him the award for his defensive contribution alone.
LA blooded a lot of their blue ribbon prospects this year and while Billingsley and Russ Martin (he’s a great player) probably haven’t logged enough time to get serious consideration, Andre Ethier was the guy who stepped up when injuries hit the Dodgers. He has slumped down the stretch (drastic understatement) which will hurt his chances.
How can you talk about rookies and not mention the Marlins? Dan Uggla has come from nowhere, Josh Willingham has shown some great pop, Hanley Ramirez has been igniter supreme at the top of the order but ultimately the rotation has seen Anibal Sanchez and Scott Olsen look superb and then there’s your rookie of the year, Josh Johnson, who is still vying for the ERA crown. Johnson has really made a lot of people forget that Dontrelle Willis has had a sub-par season and if he was on a better side he would likely have won enough games to be in the congested Cy Young race in the NL this year.
What a great year for rookie pitching.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The favourite in this category seems to be Derek Jeter but then the favourite always seems to come from Boston or New York. Now I’m not saying that Jeter hasn’t had a great season, but he’s basically just been Derek Jeter this year.
Most of the problems for the Yanks this year has been with an endless stream of injuries to their big RBI men and the guy who has picked up the slack in that department has been Jason Giambi and he’s even had to pick up the slack from a slightly sub-par A-Rod.
For me its hard to pick an MVP out of a line-up that was always expected to score a tonne of runs before the season and if the Yankees got any kind of half-decent pitching they were always going to be a playoff team. For me the MVP should come from someone who does something to lift a line-up from being an alright one to a championship one. Few expected the Twins to score enough runs to make the playoffs but the guy who has anchored the heart of that team and made them genuine contenders is Justin Morneau.
You can say all you want about Joe Mauer and his potential batting crown as a catcher but he wouldn’t have been able to do that without the big guy behind him and Mauer still hasn’t established himself as a serious power bat.
Oh, and by the way I don’t want to hear anything from anyone about Ortiz and how well he has hit for the free falling Red Sox. No one can be seriously considered an MVP when his team collapses that badly, that quickly.
The favourite for the NL gong is probably Ryan Howard and that’s probably the way it should be. About a month ago I toyed with the idea of Carlos Beltran getting the nod, and he has had a great year, but in the most mediocre of Wild Card races, Howard has just gone postal on NL pitchers and dragged the Phils to the very cusp of post-season play.
Of course we should say a word about Phat Albert who was on pace to hit 80 homeruns and drive in 200 runs and also, incidentally, find a cure for cancer but sadly injury curtailed that effort and really Howard has out Albert-ed Albert.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I know it’s a little early to be writing some kind of memorandum on the year but I have been really slack on my entries of late so I feel like I owe some kind of explanation to the one or two people who still read this blog.
Its been a funny time. My first year playing in Richmond has been a real mixed bag with steady glove work (at least I think so) except for one foray at short on one of the many days when the side has been let down by guys not showing up. Its generally been a nightmare at the plate and I’m sure going into the season having mysteriously lost a stone didn’t help.
Thank God I’m still running the bases well and my Ty Cobb homerun (a single and then three steals) against Bournemouth was probably the highlight of my year but a gruelling schedule has taken its toll. All our home games were in the first half of the season and all our road games were in the second with only nine or ten players and me carrying my usual plethora of injuries (right knee won‘t bend, right ankle is the size of a softball, the left knee is always sore, the left shoulder has just died). All in all my usual enthusiastic psyche has taken a hit and I barely said a word to the oppositions third base coach last weekend (believe me, that’s a rarity as I talk to everyone down there).
I suppose I should have seen this coming. Life as a baseball fan in Britain has really gone downhill for me since the heady days of a few years back. In fact its never been the same since ‘The Ghetto’ closed (MSN’s baseball chat room). Back then there were endless barnies and general irreverence to be had with baseball fans of all nationalities and ages. Things could get irrational, violent and sometimes just silly and from time to time it would be truly enlightening and fascinating like the time someone came up with the truly original answer to the question of the second best first baseman of all time as Stan Musial).
Thanks to changes of job and a life of odd hours and general running around, I’ve managed to lose track of the Hatr’s (AKA Soxy) and Metzy’s of this world but at least I had the Five forums and, subsequently, the Baseballfan site. Alas, the more and more people have gotten involved in that, the more the opportunity for the masses to brainwash the few. Now the forums are full of likeminded people who agree on everything and the only time an argument or loosely based debate, is allowed to take place is when the Yankee and BoSox fans take over and do the whole ‘my team is better than yours’ type frivolities. At least the Five forums.
I used to love the endless debates and rhetoric of baseball banter but we are descending into a world of white noise furore about nothing.
Even the fantasy leagues are becoming a chore including the league that I’m the commish of. I tried to do something a tad different and it all ended up with people bitching about how it wasn’t the same old thing (I’m paraphrasing of course). I set up this site and called it ‘Spurious Baseball’ which tells you all you need to know about my feelings on toeing the line and maintaining status quo.
Scott Podsednik should have been AL MVP last year but no one would seriously contend my point of view because it was so obvious it should have been A-Rod or Ortiz because that’s what everyone else said it should be…oh and it also lands ourselves back into the comfy world of BoSox and Yankees which of course is what’s really important.
So I write this as a bit of a fed up baseball fan (I still consider myself a baseball nut) but I’m forced to ask why I bother nowadays? I’ve been involved in practically every attempt anyone’s ever had to start a British baseball fanzine and have willingly put up with the megalomaniacs who start them up. I always wrote things I believed in and I always conceded that I wasn’t always rational and certainly wasn’t always right and whenever possible I tried to be contentious, not take things for granted and try to have fun with it (I am most proud of my piece about Rick Ankiel for Strike UK, even if the guy whose site it was wrote a condescending and unnecessary intro to it).
So what is there in this environment for me? I’m the sort of person who will wear a black hat if everyone else is wearing white and I’m dismissed because I try to do things differently and no one seems willing to fight as a true fan of the game rather than just a fan of team.
We exist in a world that wants to know it’s right rather than looking away from black and white and seeing the multi-tonal grey area in between where it has nothing to do with right and wrong. Perception and interpretation are wonderful things to mess around with and if no one wants to challenge what most people take for granted then irrational nutcases like myself can’t help to find new truths or determine that the old ones were right all along. At least all angles would be covered and we might have some fun along the way and above all else this is supposed to be fun. That’s why they call it a game. Can’t we play again? It could be fun. It could be interesting. It could be grey. It could be just about anything.
Monday, August 21, 2006
New York Mets
Well, I doubt anyone thinks they won't make the playoffs or win the East. The line-up has been superb with Jose Reyes looking the business at the top of the order, David Wright coming of age and my pick for NL MVP, Carlos Beltran, just looking like the most complete player in the game, but then we knew that anyway.
The problem for the Mets have almost come out of nowhere and its the rotation where Pedro has suddenly taken his customary sabatical to the DL and Tom Glavine's season (and career) looking under threat with a possible blood clot in his pitching arm.
The pen looks solid but would you be happy going into the playoffs with Steve Trachsel as your ace? If Pedro and Glavine are good for the playoffs then this lot are a good bet to go to the Series but without them they could get consumed by the likes of LA and St Lou.
The line-up is still great, even without Abreu, and you can be sure Ryan Howard will get the odd vote on MVP ballots but the pitching is still Brett 'the wife beater' Myers and a bunch of guys held together by old chewing gum and damp twigs. It says a lot about the depth of the NL this year that this team is playing to the form of a .500 team but could still make the playoffs.
Even the great John Schuerholtz and Bobby Cox have been able to keep the Braves in the race this year. The pen has been awful most of the year but has improved with Wickman and Baez coming in but even they can't help the rotation which has been Smoltz and a bunch of so-so guys. Chuck James has been ok in his rookie year but how disappointed am I in Tim Hudson? A 4.77 ERA is not good enough for a player of his ability.
Joe Girardi should easily be the NL manager of the year after his efforts with the best AAA club in the country. Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez look like being a very productive middle infield for years to come and both will be in voters minds for Rookie of the Year and what does it say about Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson that they've been able to keep the Fish close to .500 in their rookie seasons with Dontrelle Willis having a down year?
Poor Frank Robinson has had a tough year in Washington with almost all his set-up guys in the pen injured most of the year. With even a few of the likes of Ayala and Eischen available things might have been different and lets not even talk about John Patterson and how his absense has effected the rotation.
Alfonso Soriano has had an amazing year and if he were A-Rod he might have a chance at winning the MVP this year (wink wink) but Ryan Zimmerman was my pick for the RoY before the year started and he still gets my nod now. He's up there in most offensive catergories amongst rookies and there are few players who can compare to him defensively at third base. If it weren't for Scott Rolen, Zimmerman would be a lock to win Gold Gloves for the next decade.
St Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols was on pace to shatter every record in the book until he got injured and while he was on the DL no one could claw the Cards back so its hard to see anyone doing that now. There are still issues with regards to the rotation with only Carpenter really showing anything. Anthony Reyes is doing well but they need their veterans to start producing.
Trust me, the pen is getting better after a horrible start to the year for Izzy.
Props to rookie GM Wayne Krivsky who has found himself inexplicably at the front of the Wild Card race and has made a whole bunch of great pick ups to boost the bullpen and hasn't really given up much (lets face it, they didn't have much to give away anyway). And as for picking up Brandon Phillips...
Even with Bronson Arroyo coming back down to Earth, he and Harang look a very good one-two punch in the rotation and you know exactly what you're going to get with Junior and Dunn in your line-up. This team could well have more surprises in them.
Yes, I am writing off Houston. Yes, even with Jason Hirsh joining an already great rotation and the addition of Aubrey Huff and the red hot Luke Scott and the incredible mediocrity in the Wild Card race. I just don't see who is going to step up and be the guy who takes them to the next level.
The Brewers still seem to have the guys to actually make the push and finally being able to call on Ben Sheets every fifth day should help (once he gets into the swing of things) but with Weeks done for the year and J.J. Hardy on the DL it takes much of the dynamic of the line-up and they probably have too much to do.
Hey everyone, guess what? Thats right Kerry Wood and Mark Prior have been injured most of the year and Juan Pierre has been a disappointment and the Cubs are nowhere me once again!! Who'd have seen that coming?
The Pirates pitching hasn't been that bad this year with Zach Duke and Ian Snell doing well and Paul Maholm rebounding from a truly wretched start to the year and its a shame that the D has been very bad and even Jason Bay hasn't been able to kick start an anaemic offence.
Los Angeles Dodgers
I thought this team were a year away but right now they are my favourites to go all the way to the Series in the NL.
The depth is incredible with the vast array of strong veterans and talented youngsters throughout and even Nomar and J.D. Drew actually healthy. Andre Ethier is a good shout as RoY and I've said for a couple of years that Russell Martin is the future of this organisation.
What a pick up Greg Maddux is looking too. You know he'll be of tremendous benefit to Chad Billingsley.
The only possible weakness could be the bullpen which has suffered some injuries to key guys but thats not to say they aren't a solid group.
There is no more compelling team in baseball right now for me than Arizona as they have set loose a whole bunch of their blue chippers. Carlos Quentin has FINALLY got the call up and along with Stephen Drew and Alberto Callapso who could be THE double play combo in the NL for a while (I apologise for liberal use of capital letters).
Alas I don't think they will make the playoffs with Brandon Webb a good bet right now for the NL Cy and he's all alone, more or less, in that pitching staff. Livan Hernandez seems to be looking more like himself of late but the bullpen is less than inspiring.
San Diego Padres
What has happened to Jake Peavy this year? He and his chums in the rotation have looked very average this year, even with the Petco effect in place. Of course Linebrink and Hoffman continue to nail it down in the pen but you'd expect more from the front end of that staff.
Offence? We no need no stinking offence. Of course Mike Piazza has had a bit of a renaisance offensively and Josh Barfield has really added a spark but they are never going to light it up with half the games in that cavernous park of theirs.
At the beginning of the year I said there was a lot of pitching talent on this team but because of the Coors effect it would all come to nought. Right now Colorado has given up fewer earned runs than any team in the NL and even with sub-.500 records, both Jeff Francis and Jason Jennings deserve Cy Young considerations for what they've done in that uniform as they both have ERA's easily under 4.00. Now if only they could get some consistent offence...
San Francisco Giants
The defence and pitching has been solid but the only reason you can really say they are still in contention is because you never can tell if Barry Bonds will explode or not. Admittedly he looks a shadow of his former self this year and has a whole lotta stuff hanging over him off the field but he's still one of the few guys who can win games by himself. Right now there are plenty better teams than San Francisco.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
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Saturday, August 12, 2006
Boston Red Sox
Boston didn’t really make any big moves at the deadline but sit in pole position in the east.
The duo of Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett have stayed healthy and allows the team to avoid big losing streaks and coupled with the great infield D and another MVP type season from Big Papi the Sox have to feel good about their chances.
New York Yankees
They got Abreu at the deadline which should make their already potent offence even better whether he regains his power stroke or not. Elsewhere the pitching remains unconvincing with Randy Johnson still not clicking and Mike Mussina doing well but not great. Chin Ming Wang has been the most consistent of the starters but he’s far from being a guy you fear facing.
The Yankees probably have more latent talent than any club in the Majors right now and you can’t help but be impressed by how well they’ve done with all the injuries to key personnel. They could easily bring it all together and win it all but they could also play .500 ball and see the other contenders get away from them in a tough AL.
The injury to Alex Rios couldn’t have come at a worse time for Toronto and the apparent unrest in the club house also doesn’t bode well. They’ve had a strong year and Halladay and BJ Ryan will likely both get attention on the Cy Young ballot but its tough keeping up with Boston and New York.
Baltimore are blooding some young pitchers and should be an interesting team to watch but they are way out of it…where has Nick Markakis’ power gone?
E6 Upton is up in Tampa and playing third now so that‘ll be an adventure. As per usual it’ll be interesting to see who gets called up for a cup of coffee (Delmon is restless). It also wouldn’t surprise me to see Evan Longoria get some time with the way he’s ploughing through the system.
I still think Detroit will hit a wall soon as their young guys run out of steam but they have just played so well and their pitching staff has been so awesome that if they do hit the skids they’ll be so far ahead they’ll make the playoffs anyway.
You have to feel sorry for Justin Verlander as the season he is having would usually see him as a shoo in as the Rookie of the Year in the AL but Papelbon and Liriano are going to make the competition tough.
Chicago White Sox
As with the Yankees all the parts are here to win it all but whereas the Yankees have been hit by injuries, the ChiSox, particularly the rotation, have just looked hung over from last year. Mark Buerhle in particular has been well under par and right now doesn’t look like one of the best pitchers in the game…which he actually is (no, really he is).
The line-up still is plenty potent enough to see them through to the playoffs with Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye as good a 3-4-5 combo as anywhere in baseball and Joe Crede is also hitting the ball well which might see him get the Gold Glove he has deserved the last couple of years (hitting shouldn’t count for that but it does).
Up until recently I was really liking the Twins chances of winning the Wild Card and getting to the World Series but with Liriano going on the DL with elbow problems things don’t look quite so rosy.
Of course they still have Johan Santana who is still as dominant as ever and they are also getting steady performances from the back end with Carlos Silva and Brad Radke. Then they have Justin Morneau having a breakout year and providing the club with the big bopper they’ve been missing the last couple of years. Then you bring in Joe Mauer who is looking for a batting title and Luis Castillo setting the table and you know they are still in the hunt…although having Liriano back would definitely help.
Cleveland have been a huge disappointment (I’m so understated) as they have missed a lot of the guys who made their pen so good last year and have generally been sloppy in their play. It is good to see Kelly Shoppach, Andy Marte, Jeremy Sowers and newly acquired Shin-Soo Choo getting playing time as they could all fill big holes on that line-up for next season.
I know this sounds weird but I would say that things have gone quite well for the Royals. Of course they are in last place and we all knew that would happen but Billy Butler has looked excellent in Wichita, Zack Greinke seems to be getting his head back in gear in Omaha, they’ve shed some high priced drift wood and they managed to sign #1 draft pick Luke Hochevar so what more could they really have asked for?
Even without Rich Harden the pitching has been superb all year for Oakland but it’s the age old problem of scoring runs that has stopped them leaving everyone out west eating their dust. You just have to look at the corners where Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher are the only barely passable bats for their positions and Bobby Crosby just hasn’t produced either. In summary, they score fewer runs than the Royals.
Their pitching will definitely keep them in the race but they need their hitters to step up or the Angels to implode to win the division because the Wild Card isn’t coming from this division.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of The United States of America of the Earth in the Solar System
Hey everyone, its John Lackey and he’s wondering if it would be OK if people voted for him for the Cy?
Bartolo Colon, Jered Weaver (for now) and the rest of the rotation are finally chipping in and the bullpen is looking solid but the Angels have just been so sloppy this year. In the field they are making easy plays look difficult and are just making terrible decisions and that’s also evident in their base running (even though they lead the league in stolen bases I don't want to know how many times they've made stupid outs trying to advance) and those are not typical characteristics of a Mike Scioscia team. If they can start playing smart ball then the division is theirs.
They needed pitching at the deadline so they went out and got Carlos Lee…it’s a plan I guess. What that move does is give the Rangers a great offence (well maybe I should say more great or greater), even with Mark Teixeira not quite showing the thunder we know he has.
The bullpen had problems early on but have come around with Akinori Otsuka closing but questions are still there with the rotation and picking up Kip Wells is either going to be an insane work of genius or just insane. He has shown promise in his young career…just not in the last two years. Maybe it’s a sign of the confidence they have in the first of the DVD boys to be promoted (Edinson Volquez)?
The Rest (well that’s Seattle then)
Seattle aren’t far out but they just have too many good teams already ahead of them.
Ichiro has been his usual superb self and Felix Hernandez has had a fine rookie campaign (can you believe I heard someone go off on one about how much of a let down Felix has been? HE’S ONLY 20!!).
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
New York foolishly believed they had a shot at a World Championship so in a logic defying moment proceeded to trade one Scott Kazmir to the Devil Rays for pitcher Victor Zambrano and young relief pitcher Bartolome Fortunato.
The baseball world scratched its head and looked on perplexed.
What were they doing?
First of all the Mets had no chance of a World Series in 2004, and it was so clear that they were being robbed by Tampa that I am surprised Met fans didn't actually file a police report.
Salt was poured into the wound when Zambrano actually arrived in New York injured and made just three starts before he went to the DL for the rest of the season.
Fast forward two years and what do you have?
The Rays sit dead last in the Al east and the Mets seem to be heading to the post season - and how they could do with their young prospect back.
Kazmir is in his most dominating season yet. The young Rays pitcher has silenced his critics and lived up to his expectations already notching 139 strikeouts and 10 wins.
Zambrano is still a fussy pitcher with good stuff but little control and Bartolome Fortunato has faded into obscurity.
I'm sure New York would be willing to offer some nice players to Tampa to re-attain Kazmir's services but it's not going to happen.
Kazmir's year has been so successful that the Rays have put him on the "untouchable" list and have told everyone to keep their greasy mitts off of him.
I wonder that if that horrible trade in 2004 will come back to haunt the Mets this season.
I think they are going to the World Series and if Kazmir was in their rotation they would certainly have three solid starters with Pedro and Glavine.
Without him, or another pitcher of his calibre, I fear they could be dominated by any of the contenders who take the American League.
The Mets certainly seem to have paid a big price Zambrano and Fortunato but they may end up paying an even bigger price come October.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Wickman may be at the end of his career but he has a proven track record closing out games and that goes right into this season and with the depth of young catching talent in the system (McCann was an All Star this year and Saltalamacchia looks like being better) they were able to let go of Maximiliano Ramirez who has some good upside but a long way to go.
Time can only tell if the Atlanta brain trust has pulled it out of the fire again.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Just recently Yankee fans have taken to booing Rodriguez and I ask the question, why? Any fan of a team wants their boys to succeed and A-Rod was the MVP of the league last year so you can’t say he’s deadwood and even though I don’t like the guy I can’t deny that he is one of the very best players in the game so why boo the guy? Its ridiculous, he may have the personality of the fluff I find in my belly button but he’s always a good bet to finish amongst the leaders in every offensive category that matters and while no one is worth the money he gets paid, few get as close to that as he does.
What do people really want from him? Does he have to be a mixture of Rickey, The Wizard and The Babe? Newsflash people, no one will EVER be that. Is he the next Mike Schmidt? Is it fair to really expect that from someone? Can’t people just look at the things he does rather than constantly try to fit him into some kind of predetermined notion of what they think he should be? As much as my friend Neil wants to believe A-Rod is a Gold Glove calibre fielder, he really isn’t but then again he’s not awful and he doesn’t really need to be that good because he’s there to be an offensive juggernaut and players should be used to their strengths.
I could understand if it were road fans who were booing him or if A-Rod had gone out and said how much the Yankees suck (if he said that I think his overall popularity might sky rocket) but for his own fans to boo him is ludicrous. I don’t see Twins fans getting on Santana’s back or Braves fans getting on Smoltz. Besides, there are too many big profile players on that roster that the performance of one guy shouldn’t be the be all and end all for that team.
Yankee fans, show some class because I don’t want to be defending Yankee players, especially ones I really don’t like.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The AL selection is a lot tougher. The idea that we have to select one of Francisco Liriano, Travis Hafner and Justin Verlander because none of them are in the team already is crazy, especially when Mark Redman is there just because we need a Royal. Even Ramon Hernandez probably feels bad because he’s having a career year and a Pudge Rodriguez on the wane gets voted in ahead of Joe Mauer.
I really want Justin Verlander to be there mainly because I had him pegged as the Rookie of the Year before the season started and it’d be nice to massage my ego a bit. What you can’t deny is that 10 wins by the All Star break for a rookie is just outstanding and The Tigers wouldn’t be where they are without him. Having said all that, as good as Verlander has been Liriano has been better and right now he might be the best pitcher in baseball. A sub-2.00 ERA, a WHIP below 1.00, almost five times as many strikeouts as walks and well over a K an inning and you have mini-Santana and the guy who must be voted in.
It would be wrong to talk about the nominees and not wax lyrical about Travis Hafner who has once again been prodigious in the heart of the Indians line-up but I guess he’s destined to be the rough diamond waiting to be cut and dazzle the baseball world in many a pennant race during his career. It is the plague of playing in middle-America rather than in the big cities that someone with this much ability fails to be plugged in automatically. At least we don’t have the Russian roulette of hoping the worthy get in ahead of a Yankee or BoSox player this year.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Gammons is one of the few truly great baseball writers of the modern era and really hearkens back to the glorious writers of years past like Shirley Povich and Hugh Fullerton. The warmth of his words might not be so apparent in his tv appearances for ESPN but few writers seem to truly 'get it' like he does. He treats it like a game rather than a business, a friend instead of just a simple subject matter.
Unsurprisingly there is has been an overwhelming wave of support from all corners of baseball wishing him a speedy recovery and we at Spurious Baseball certainly would like to add our voices to that cause. There has been so much lore written about this great sport and that lore has turned into poetry in the hands of the great sports writers and in this turbulent time we need more poetry from Peter Gammons.
Get well soon.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
The Dodgers drafted Hochevar last year with the 40th overall pick and threw a lot in his direction but they never quite managed to get him to ink the contract and you have to think KC will have a similar battle on their hands.
If KC are willing to break the bank then its not too hard to think that they intend to go into a three to five year plan as they hope to build a rotation around Greinke and Hochevar and seak to complement Alex Gordon in the line-up. It might not be much but it's a start.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Some foolhardy folks seemed to think he might end up in New York or Boston but this really was the only move he was likely to make. With his ‘arrangement’ that he doesn’t have to turn up to the ballpark every day like any other player and the advantage of being close to home and family, it was unlikely to really work anywhere else.
The Rocket will continue his Hall of Fame career at first in A ball where he will briefly be united on the field with his son and then is scheduled to move up a level each start, assuming everything goes well. In fact the only concern in bringing back Clemens this far into the season is how quickly he regains his sharpness because we all know how vigilant he is with regards to his conditioning. I don’t know what he’s been up to since pitching in the WBC but it will be hard to really come in and be the pitcher Clemens is expected to be (and the pitcher he’s being paid substantially to be) without having that Spring Training-esque opportunity to get back in sync with his team mates and dust off the cobwebs.
Of course the ultimate litmus test down the line will be if Houston manage to get to the playoffs (why else would you make such an investment?) and even if Clemens pitches well (a repeat of last year is a bit much to ask) and, as predicted, Pettitte and other players up their game, I still find it hard to see them going back but, as much as I dislike Clemens, having him on board certainly won’t hurt their chances.
Moore won’t take over the full time job until after the upcoming draft but many will be looking very closely at what The Royals do with the #1 overall pick. That will give everyone an indication as to whether he will emulate what The Braves have done in recent years and build from the bottom up, or will they look to try and pick someone who can make an impact within the next three years?
He certainly doesn’t have a lot to work with as the farm system lacks more than maybe a couple of guys who could eventually make an impact and the big league roster has the recent acquisitions of overpaid guys who are way passed their prime (Baird’s final legacy) and the most promising pitcher in terms of ability and up side is out indefinitely with what can only be described as psychological problems he might never come back from.
Basically, the club is a mess and a long, long, long, long, long way from where they were maybe fifteen to twenty years ago and they really need to look at practically every other team in their division and how they’ve developed their talent from within if they are to scrape themselves off the very bottom of the MLB ladder. Dayton Moore has a reputation as being a very savvy character and he’ll need to be to meet this ‘challenge’.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Second of all I would like to instruct the world's media and any baseball fans who have a problem with Bonds to wake up and smell the Vino.
Seriously, I'm fed up with hearing "he's so arrogant", "he is a bad role model", "he is a drug user" etc etc etc. What if he is all these things? He has just hit number 715 and there is nothing you can do about it.
Do you know what I think? I think you are all scared.
I think you're scared that because this man has surpassed the Babe with his home run record that it will somehow endanger the legacy of Mr Ruth.
I think you're scared that Bonds has somehow cheapened Ruth's career and nothing could be further from the truth. The media, the fans, and indeed Barry himself has made sure that he will never be remembered as the enigmatic and revolutionary player that Ruth was.
Bonds' manner with the media and subsequently the way those behind the cameras portray him means that he has become the symbol for everything that is wrong with the game.
If you hate Bonds, then fine, go ahead and hate him, but reiterating the same points over and over again will not take away the fact that he has hit more home runs than the biggest player to ever play the game.
It's futile and petty to keep preaching to the converted.
One hundred years from now it may well be the case that every statistic that the Babe ever achieved could be completely destroyed by better players but we all know that it won't really mean a thing.
No one could ever take away what the Babe means to the game and what he did for the sport. His legacy will live on and will remain one of the biggest chapters in the book of baseball.
So please all you Bonds haters, shut up, you've made your point and the vast majority of us agree with you.
If you really don't like Bonds stop giving him all the publicity and attention that he wants.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
What is the point of interleague play exactly? In most games its a two game swing as you not only win but cause someone else in your league to lose, thus doubling your advantage. When teams like New York and Boston play this becomes even more significant but when you have The Yanks playing The Mets all you get is a win, you don't press home any advantage against a rival.
Basically, interleague play is just a gimmick. It doesn't actually add to MLB, all it does is boost PR with the handful of big local matchups, but for every Bay Area or I-90 match up there are a dozen Colorado/Toronto or Boston/Philadelphia games that no one really cares about but are merely there for the sake of interleague play. Also, so much is made of the ChiSox v Cubs but do you really think the Sox would rather beat the Cubs or do over the Twins, Indians or Tigers?
Another thing we lose out on are the non-divisional rivalries. Because of the added fixtures involving teams in the other league, sides with old rivalries based on decades of competition either in the old two division scheme or post-season play, don't see each other as much as they maybe would if interleague play didn't exist. Being a Toronto fan its bad enough the Leafs don't play the Wings too often anymore but the Jays don't face the Royals that much and those games always used to be interesting (well, when the Royals weren't the worst team in baseball at least).
I know that people will talk about how attendances are always high during interleague but is there a practical benefit to it? Does anyone else miss the lack of a track record to look back on when teams match up in the World Series? I know free agency means that a lot of players have spent time in both leagues and there is a level of familiarity anyway but its not the same as two teams being familiar with each other. Also, the World Series used to be the best team in the AL playing the best team in the NL but now that is slightly sullied because you are not just going to face teams from your league but a selection of teams from the other and who knows how good or bad your luck will be in terms of who you get to play? You think the likes of St Louis and Houston aren't grateful for games against KC? Similarly, you know Washington and Florida aren't best pleased with seeing the Yankees and BoSox. Its all a crap shoot. If we're going to have teams play interleague then why not just go the whole hog and have everyone play everyone at least once? Its the only way we can make this fair as right now the schedule is always going to benefit some teams more than others and do we want Wild Cards decided by virtue of one team having to play Florida and one getting San Francisco? I'd rather the playing field be level.
So whats so good about interleague play? It messes up the schedule, skews the standings, cheapens the World Series, takes away from more traditional rivalries and generally ruins the balance of play but I guess so long as there are bums on seats and the people of New York are happy then its OK.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I have long been a fan of Mr Young and have been going on and on for a few years now as to just how good he could be (I did the same thing with Rick Ankiel so a jinx may be in action) but even I can't believe he wasn't done for the year. Not only has he thrown a bat at an umpire but he also has a history of bad conduct towards the officials and he needs someone to really give him an attitude check before he blows his career away before its even started.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The group will likely take full control of the team after the owners have their quaterly meetings on the 17th and 18th of May.
Maybe now the team can actually look to build upon the young nucleus they have and put the infrastructure back together so they can get back to being the organisation that produced the likes of Randy Johnson and Moises Alou amongst many others.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
In a game in Pawtucket, Delmon was rung up on a called third strike which he wasn’t happy with and glared at the blue refusing to leave the batters box. After taking a couple of backward steps back to the dugout he was tossed from the game but took it in his stride and flipped the bat at the ump catching him in the chest.
Unsurprisingly the uber-prospect has been suspended indefinitely and after bumping another ump (pretty sure it was a different guy) last May you have to wonder how hard the league will come down on him?
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Not one for a walk but he knows how to hit and has been a big part of a strong start to the season for the Salt Lake Bees. Kendrick is hitting .386 after a truly torrid start that had him comfortably above .400 for much of the season so far so he might be moving up whilst on a slight downward turn.
It's unlikely he'll get many starts at second and as soon as Izturis returns a return to the PCL is likely but anyone who has had his approach to hitting compared to Tony Gwynn (I don't think anyone would actually say he's actually the next Gwynn) certainly warrants some attention and you just never know what might happen.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Perhaps the most surprising thing is that so far there have been no real surprises. The Yanks, BoSox, ChiSox and Cards have all started solidly and the Marlins and Royals have started badly. Anyone could have seen that coming.
Detroit got off to a hot start behind the work of Chris Shelton but of course that seems to be cooling off now the champs have come to town. Similarly Milwaukee have lost the three after winning the first five but what was most surprising about that was how they seem to be doing ok without staff ace Ben Sheets.
Colorado have done well against their division rivals with a lot of input coming from Garrett Atkins who won the player of the week honours and is obviously feeling the pressure of Ian Stewart being on his coat tails. Stewart was simply inhuman during ST and is merely polishing off the rough edges down in Tulsa right now. He has cooled off considerably and is merely batting .308 with a .419 OBP and .692 slugging.
The thing I always look for at the beginning are the rookies and especially with so many vaunted prospects busting through this year.
My picks for rookie of the year in both leagues have had mixed results with Ryan Zimmerman getting his first career homerun off Billy Wagner to tie the game in the clutch but has yet to really find a rhythm and Justin Verlander pitched a stellar seven innings in the first start and then gave up seven against Chicago. I still hold high hopes for both.
Conor Jackson has continued where he left off in the minors posting a less than impressive slugging percentage for a first baseman but a freaky high OBP. Kenji Johjima has looked more Ichiro than Kaz Matsui thus far but so far the pick of the rookies has been Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez has been dynamic at the top of the young Marlins line-up and it's always impressive when a guy can post a .697 slugging percentage without hitting any homeruns. With the way the Marlins are set up this season there will be plenty of opportunity for guys like Ramirez, Josh Willingham and Jeremy Hermida to show what they can do.
Of course all this statistical analysis (if this even qualifies as that) is a bit redundant so early in the year but it is always fun to see how silly some peoples numbers are. Right now I'm getting a lot of laughs at how Howie Kendrick seems to go 2/5 every night but his average is going down (.452 at present)!! I still find it amusing that a AAA club can have an infield sporting guys of the claibre of Kendrick, Kendry Morales, Dallas McPherson and Erick Aybar but then thats life at Salt Lake. They might have to make room for Brandon Wood soon (by the way his OPS is a mere 1.319 at the moment).
Of course the one thing we can say about the season so far is that it can all change very quickly (come on, how long do you think Pujols' average will be below .320?) but I leave you for now with my pick for the top performance of the young season. On Wednesday the Frederick Keys had four guys combine on a no-no down in Salem against the Avalanche with Russell Petrick, Jeff Montani and Casey Cahill sharing four innings in relief of Radhames Liz who went five innings striking out 13. Not a bad way to start your season, eh?
Every time I sit down to watch a game I have reporters screaming how Barry Bonds ALLEGEDLY took a cocktail of drugs to beef him up even though he did so WHEN THERE WERE NO RULES AGAINST IT.
Mr Selig and his cronies are determined to have a thorough investigation into drugs in baseball and want the punishment to fit the crime.
With that in mind I've taken to suggesting a few alternative punishments that would make players think twice before popping pills and get the topic off my television screen.
1. Players who use drugs should not have an asterisk next to his records. Instead the records should be printed in hieroglyphics so no-one can understand them.
2. All players who have been proven to have taken drugs should have to wear the number 666 on their Jersey.
3. Cheering, sound effects, fireworks and any other such celebrations are banned whenever a drug using player hits a homerun. Instead complete silence from the crowd and tumbleweed should be employed.
4. Once a player has been proven to have been taking drugs they should not be allowed to stop. Instead make the taking of more drugs mandatory so the player becomes a dribbling mess.
5. One strike for a strike-out against any batter who has taken drugs - they have an unfair advantage so why shouldn't the pitcher? It would also make them unemployable.
6. Drug user's bats should be designed to replicate a giant syringe.
7. Pitchers who take drugs have to throw underarm. Their gloves should also be removed so everybody knows what pitch they are going to throw.
8. Drug users should have to work as bat boys and serve refreshments to both the home and away team.
9. Catchers who abuse steroids should be shoulder tackled every time a runner comes home.
10. Extremely over weight players should be used to run for every drug using player that gets on base.
Let's see some action Selig!!!
Thursday, April 06, 2006
10 Roger Clemens is a devil worshipper and made a Faustian pact in 1997 to resurrect his career and on those days when he can’t be bothered to go to the game its nothing to do with spending time with the family but about affording himself the opportunity to gorge on human flesh.
9 Robinson Cano is the resurrection of Charlie Chaplin and his antics in the field are just his way of proving to everyone that he can still kick his hat away in the same comedic fashion as he did in the early days of cinema.
8 Tony Womack’s eyebrows aren’t real eyebrows but prosthetics designed to hide the scars from when aliens abducted him and removed his hitting gene. The only reason he hasn’t mentioned it before is because the aliens said they would return John Rocker if he did.
7 The real reason Billy Beane doesn’t want his A’s to steal bases is because he fears that too much running will wear down their shoes and he doesn’t want to have to be burdened with additional expenses for new footwear as its tough enough for mid-market teams to survive in the present fiscal make-up of the modern game.
6 Bud Selig wishes he was an Oscar Meyer Weiner. That is what he’d truly love to be.
5 The reason Cincinnati went from turf to grass is because they needed something to wrap Marge Schott in when they dumped her in the river (that might be in poor taste but she was a racist bigot).
4 Alex Rodriguez is a robot and if you open up his head you will find that he is powered by two hamsters working in tandem on a wheel. Scientists are working round the clock to find a more efficient power source in hopes that they can find the energy to power the personality sub-routines but as of yet no progress has been made as of yet.
3 The reason Hank Blalock is so slow is because he is weighed down with rubble that he must gradually disperse in the field. The rubble is from a tunnel that he is digging to Kansas City in a hope that he can rescue some of those poor guys from that horrible asylum. Other members of this movement include Sean Casey, Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza.
2 Pedro Martinez runs an underground network of male only clubs where men bond through the act of bare knuckle fighting and antiestablishment vigilantism but the first rule is he can’t talk about it.
1 Pete Rose didn’t do anything wrong …actually that last one is just too silly. I mean, who will believe that?
If you've got any rumours you'd like to start let us know. We'll always find space for them here.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Come tomorrow it will be time to sit down, flick over the tv to Channel Five, and sit back and watch the action unfold once more.
What more can be said, than ....
Bring it on!!!
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Fantasy baseball is fun and while this is just my second year of playing, I am already hooked but I do worry about the dark underbelly of the fantasy game. The insidious and hidden beasty under the bed or in the closet just waiting to attack as soon as mummy has left the room and turned off the lights.
The thing that concerns me is when people don’t seem to be able to see the difference between fantasy and reality and all the obsessive stat crunching and forecasting starts to erode and warp the mind into making people think that fantasy rankings represent the breakdown of actual talent in the league. The guys who take the field and sweat in the sun get transformed from flesh and blood athletes into little more than numbers and countless people end up watching the game and seeing something akin to the code in The Matrix.
Can you believe there are actually think that Jeff Kent is the greatest 2-bagger of the last decade? Or that Mike Piazza is a great catcher who should not be confused, when in the field, with some sort of novelty garden gnome? Yes, this is the dark shadow of fantasy baseball. The big downer after the sugar rush.
A case in point is that of Victor Martinez. Now, I have joined two fantasy leagues and in both I made it a priority to draft Martinez and he was a second rounder for me in both. Martinez is a great hitter and should be streets ahead of any other catcher in baseball in terms of offensive production (hence the high fantasy value I place upon him) but if this were real life would I draft him so high? Not likely. In the real world give me a Molina (any of the three really) or a Mike Matheny any day of the week. I’m not saying Martinez isn’t a great player and he would easily be in my top 10 catchers (maybe even top 5) but a good catcher isn’t all about the bat.
Of course the likes of Albert Pujols and Johan Santana are great fantasy players as well as being great players in general so don’t think I feel there is no correlation between the real world and that of fantasy leagues but if you look at someone like Mo Rivera it might become clearer. Rivera is arguably the best closer in baseball but will he record the most saves this year? Again, not likely because his team will be such an offensive juggernaut that he won’t get as many save opportunities as someone like Joe Nathan or Brad Lidge. This all ends up being linked to the whole lies and statistics debate.
As much as I dislike all of Bill James statistical shenanigans I do understand what he is hoping to achieve as all his permutations are based on the fact that its not one or two stats that dictate a good player from bad but a combination of several variables and some are more important than others but all need to be weighed into the equation. Its like a physicists quest to discover dark matter, you try to find that hidden variable that brings all the other parts together to form something palpable that makes everything more complete, decisive and conclusive and you do your best to express those findings.
Of course we must also take account for the scoring system which is possibly the biggest factor in sculpting how we measure the value of players in the fantasy world. In standard 5x5 leagues our offensive players are generally ranked in terms of runs, homeruns, RBI, stolen bases and batting average. Now a good leadoff man might rack up a good average (although the greatest of all time only had a lifetime average of about .279 but the second most walks ever always helps pad your OBP), swipe a few bags and score runs and in doing so will be as valuable to his team in the real world as any of the guys batting behind him but those sluggers will be looking to hit homeruns (not the job of the guys ahead of them), drive in runs (those runs our table setters will be scoring), will also be looking to hit for average and will score runs by driving themselves in (homerun hitters will do that). So even though good leadoff men are rarer creatures in the modern game and are the sparkplugs that power hitters feed off, they will only likely be scoring in two or three categories whereas those big, greedy power hitters will be looking to rack up stats in four of the five statistical groups. In fact the homerun itself will boost your numbers in the runs scored and runs batted in so in essence it counts triple so how is that really fair?
Lets face it, fantasy baseball loves the long ball. In fact in standard 5x5 the triple doesn’t count at all and triples are harder to come by so that’s another dig at the fast guys and not just the fast guys. Remember the year Albert Belle had 50 HR and 52 doubles in just 143 games? Well as incredible a year as that was for Albert, those 50 doubles mean jack to a lot of fantasy owners. Shouldn’t this be a matter of judging offensive output? Isn’t that how fantasy baseball is supposed to work?
We could also go on about how its more impressive for a catcher to hit 30 homers than for a first baseman and how that really doesn’t factor into an extrapolations but that might be seen as being picky but imagine if there was a way to place value on defensive ability and you could have each position with different statistical weightings based on the position a player played. That would be a tough league!
But as much as fantasy ball loves the long ball, it is absolutely enamoured with the K. With the standard 5x5 categories of wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP a good pitcher of any type will do well in most of those but only a power pitcher will get the strikeouts. So even though one guy can record three outs on three pitches which carries the same relative results as someone striking out three straight guys, the power guy will be of more use to a fantasy owner. So it becomes less about results or performance and more about stat accumulation.
The really funny thing is that you don’t even need to be a good pitcher to put up a fair few strikeouts. 153 K’s is not a bad total but Daniel Cabrera matched that with an ERA of 4.52 which isn’t so great. Similar story with Javier Vasquez (192, 4.42) and more relievers than you can shake a stick at. In fact every pitcher will strike out some guys over a year.
Of course the capital crime of fantasy baseball lies in the inherit inability to formulate a fair statistic to judge defensive ability and as a result it gets ignored. I get so fed up with people who just don’t seem to realise that baseball is really a team sport and if you carry a bat then you carry a glove. Then you realise that someone like Andruw Jones will take away as many runs as he will score but people don’t realise that not every outfielder can make the grabs he does but then those people have probably never seen Roger Cedeno in the field. Strong defence wins games in the real world but not in fantasy baseball.
Championship teams are built up the middle but fantasy teams are scrambled together from here there and everywhere. You don’t even need to mix up lefties and righties or put together platoons or play match-ups so if you don’t come on top of your league and your friend tries to convince you that he’s the man just remind them that if this were the real world your boys would have had the right blend of team chemistry and timely hits to carry you to the promised land and that fantasy baseball is just a bit of fun and nothing much else…at least that’ll be my excuse…not that I need one because my teams kick donkey. Always good to have an alibi though.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
As per usual last year Roy Halladay was one of the best pitchers in the AL and then injury hit. He truly is one of the very, very best and if he was playing for a higher profile team he might get more credit for it.
So much was made of AJ Burnett all the way through the off-season as Toronto won the race to sign him but he has never fully realised his potential thus far in his career. He possesses one of the very best fastballs in the game but he just doesn’t challenge hitters enough and walks far too many batters. I hope Jays fans don’t expect too much out of him. I also hope Jays fans don’t expect too much out of sophomore pitcher Gustavo Chacin who had a tremendous start to his rookie campaign but the ERA gradually climbed the longer the season wore on.
Competition for the spots in the rotation should be hot with Josh Towers coming off a solid season, Ted Lilly looking to reassert himself and Dustin McGowan lurking in the wings.
You don’t see too many hard throwing lefties and Toronto picked up one of the best to nail down the ninth for them. BJ Ryan struck out 100 in 70 1/3 innings whilst picking up 36 saves in Baltimore last year and there should be little doubt he can repeat that showing. The rest of the pen is an interesting bunch with a pair of solid veteran lefties in Scott Schoeneweis and Scott Downs and righty Justin Speier joined by youngsters Brandon League and Jason Fraser.
Between Greg Zaun, Guillermo Quiroz and Bengie Molina the Jays are as strong as anyone at catcher and Molina in particular is probably the best in the AL once he dons the armour.
The outfield also has one of the best in the business with Vernon Wells looking for his third straight Gold Glove in centre. Having him out there certainly helps out the left field platoon of Frank Catalanotto and Reed Johnson who are both unspectacular to say the least. Alexis Rios is blooming nicely in right.
The infield is the clubs biggest question mark after a major reshaping which sees Russ Adams as the only guy returning to the same position. There has long been a question of how the Jays would handle Adams and Aaron Hill and with Hill moving to second to replace Orlando Hudson we shall soon see if the club made the right decision. Both are athletic but have average range.
Troy Glaus has been slowed by injuries but still plays a good third base when he’s healthy.
The key to how successful this team is this year is the health of Glaus who is as fearsome a slugger as you will find. If he lasts a whole year he has enough power to register close to 50 HR. With him on board the likes of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay should be more effective as pitchers will be more inclined to pitch to them to avoid the big bruiser.
Russ Adams had a hit and miss season but looked far more comfortable once inserted into the leadoff spot towards the end of the year. He will need to carry that over to this season.
Alexis Rios gets better and better but he still hasn’t discovered that power the club are convinced he has and at age 25 this is the time when he should be reaching his physical prime.
Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske, John-Ford Griffin and Catalanotto give the team depth but if Glaus goes down there really isn’t another out and out power threat to replace him.
Its not been a smooth journey for Dustin McGowan but as soon as his elbow got healthy he started looking like a pitcher capable of dominating hitters. He’ll return to the minors to start the year with all the depth in starting pitching the Jays have, but should be first in line for a call up. He has a good assortment of power pitches including a nasty slider he can clock up to 88 mph.
Brandon League is reminiscent of former Jays prospect Billy Koch in that he has an incredible raw power arm capable of triple digits on the gun but somehow remains far too hittable. The club are hopeful that he can refine his mechanics and get a more consistent release point so that his location will improve and his electric stuff can become more effective.
JP Ricciardi took a sledgehammer to this team when he first came to the club and after knocking it down he has started to build shiny new things. He may have overspent to bring in guys like Burnett and Ryan but they are far from being bad pick ups and the Jays farm system is fast becoming one of the best in baseball.
John Gibbons has had good success throughout the years as a minor league coach in the Mets system and did quite well guiding the Jays to an 80-82 record in his first full year. In fact if not for injuries to key players (most notably Halladay) it could have been better.
The core of this team is still very young but all the pieces are there. Conceivably there aren’t any glaring holes in this unit and they will be especially confident with their pitching and if Glaus can provide the power all year then don’t be surprised to see the Jays in the post-season for the first time since they won it all in ‘93.