For those of you who read my Mock Draft, you’ll see that I drafted David Wright as my starting 3rd baseman. Wright has only been in the Majors for a year and half, but I’m already very excited about him. He just turned 23, and he’s already putting up exceptional numbers. Last year he played 160 games – amazing for a guy in his first full season, (in 2004 he appeared in 69 games.) Let me point out the important stuff. In 575 AB’s – the same number as White Sox 1B Paul Konerko – Wright had 99 R, 102 RBI, and .388 OBP, with a .306 BA. Konerko’s numbers? 98 R, 100 RBI, and a .375 OBP. Wright’s average is also 23 points higher than Konerko’s. The difference? Wright has 27 HR, Konerko has 40. Yet they’ve driven in the same amount of runs. And I can’t stress this enough – David Wright is only 23! Right now we’re looking at a guy who is putting up stats better than Hank Blalock – who’s 25, surrounded by a more potent lineup, and in a hitters park, as opposed to Shea, which tends to favor pitchers. Wright is on his way to being a superstar, no doubt. I always worry about young players and guys that have only played one good year. Could it be a fluke? Could they break down next year? I’m still a little weary of Wright for these reasons, but less so than the typical young player because his stats were so solid. A .306 average is one of the reason’s I’m not as worried. You can’t just go out and do that without skill. On top of that, Wright was playing in New York on a team with a ton of new guys. Not only is he a good player, but it looks like he’s a solid guy too. Such traits aren’t always easy to find in a young kid, and I think Wright will have a great future with the Mets or wherever else he plays. But, it’s possible his last year will be his only exceptionally good year – like Rick Ankiel, with complications. In that case, I’ve got Aramis Ramirez to back him up if he does anything weird.
Aramis Ramirez is an underrated player, flat out. Every year people seem to start to notice him again, but then he’s forgotten by draft day the next year. The guy turns 28 in June, which is always a good age. He had 27 HR in 2003, 36 in 2004, and 31 in 2005. Last year, he played 123 games before straining his quad and sitting out the rest of the year. His stats are otherwise comparable to Wright’s. I still can’t understand why no one seems to have any knowledge of his existence. I drafted Ramirez with the 105th overall pick in my draft – other players who went in that round included Jermaine Dye, Pat Burrell, Matt Holliday, Ryan Howard… it just seems crazy. Evidence shows that age 27 is the ‘average’ breakout age. Therefore, Ramirez being 27 and already a proven great performer, I simply don’t understand why he’s not getting more run – in Fantasy circles or elsewhere. Maybe it’s just because he’s on the Cubs, and no one likes to be around the ornery people. Maybe one day I’ll talk about why I always say the Cubs are ornery, wimps, crying, etc. Not today.
Yankees – Red Sox
The Yankees played the Red Sox in Spring Training last night.
And of course, what would a
Yankees-Sox game be if it wasn’t… more
than baseball. This time, Mike Myers – formerly with the Red Sox, now
with us – drilled J.T. Snow – formerly with the Giants, now with the
Sox. After that, David Riske hits Jeter with a splitter. Splitters tend
to sail away from pitchers at times, because they’re that kind of
pitch. That being said, there’s a good chance Jeter wasn’t the victim
of a retaliation strike. However, with the first pitch of the next
inning, Tanyon Sturtze drilled Mike Lowell. This looks bad, because it
looks like Sturtze gunned down Lowell for no good reason. First off,
Jeter was probably an accident. And even if he wasn’t, then it was just
in response to us nailing Lowell. We nail them, they nail us. Continue
playing the game. You don’t escalate it, because that’s how wars get
started. So, if Sturtze hit J.T. on purpose, he was wrong to do so, not
just because Jeter was probably an accident, but because we got them
first. However, Sturtze was not gonna lie down. After the game he said,
I don’t care if they get upset. They can get upset at
whatever they want. I was trying to go fastball in and I got it in too
deep. I don’t care who gets upset. I’m still trying to work on my
command. I’ve been struggling this whole spring.
I have no picture, but you can imagine he was probably popping a vein
while he said that. Basically, he’s gonna screw up however he wants and
he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Hold on, Tanyon. You’ve pitched 5
innings so far this spring, and you’ve given up 5 runs. You’ve nailed 3
guys, walked another, and given up 7 hits while striking out 2. In
short, you’ve been getting jerked around the yard. I know it’s spring,
but you’re 35 and there are 3 people you should worry about upsetting:
Joe Torre, Brian Cashman, and George Steinbrenner. Any one of those
guys gets pissed at you, and you’re done. This reminds me of last years
Devil Rays – Red Sox pitching scandal. That was pretty hilarious.
In all seriousness, sometimes pitchers need to put
themselves ahead of drilling guys, if only because their team would benefit more from them going deep into games then earning an early exit.
Last year, Mark Buehrle had a streak
of consecutive starts in which he went at least 6 innings, which is why
I always liked him. He’s consistent. This streak was a big deal – at
least once, Guillen left Buehrle out there without his best stuff just
so he could keep his streak going. However, one game some White Sox
batter got hit. Buehrle was on a roll and it was about the 4th inning
or so, and he went out and drilled the next batter to get tossed. He
knew it was gonna happen and he said as much after the game. He already
had the record at something like 50 consecutive games, but I would’ve
liked to see him keep it up. I know it’s big to stand up for your team,
but I don’t think anyone in the Sox clubhouse would fault Buehrle if he
hadn’t done that. Knowing that, let me say that Buehrle is one of my favorite pitchers, up there with Halladay. Both of them are on my fantasy team this year, which I love.
That’s about all for now. Baseball has been kind of slow these last couple days, so we’ll just grit our teeth and wait for the season opener. It’ll be here soon, don’t worry.
Big Guy Sidney Ponson is gonna be starting at #5 for the Cardinals this year. How wild is that? Ponson is currently 29 years old. To recap the last few years of his career: Baltimore: 4.09 ERA in 2002, 3.77 in part of 2003. San Fran: 3.71 for 10 remaining games of 2003. Now, follow me here because this is where it gets tricky. Back to Baltimore, 5.30 ERA in 2004. Then we really hit the ceiling with a 6.21 ERA in 2005. Why? How does this happen? I’ve always believed that off-field problems contribute significantly to performance on-field, which is why I talk about off-field problems so much.
Last year, Ponson had some trouble acquiring a visa to get back into the States. This was likely because he spent 11 days in jail after starting a fight on an Arubian beach – meaning, he punched a Judge. Back to the states, and this is where it (again) gets confusing. On Jan. 21 of 2005, he was pulled over for a DUI. However, he never told the team, who actually found out from the media in March. As it happened, news of the DUI broke the day after Ponson reported to camp with a swollen hand. Apparently he was dining with a friend when a random dude started, basically, heckling him. "Words never hurt," Ponson said, "but he touched me and then I had to draw the line." Ponson then ‘defended himself’ from the guy and that was that. Ponson said he did nothing wrong, but that when he does he’s the first to admit it. However, the next day the DUI story breaks, the club is upset because he never told them, and his response is:
I got [the DUI] because I didn’t blow in the thing. I
wasn’t drunk. The thing is going to go to court and my lawyer said to
be quiet. You have one beer and you can be over the limit. That doesn’t
mean I’m drunk. You guys are making such a big deal out of everything.
First, lets get the facts straight. Ponson is 255 lbs. The next time a 255-pounder blows .08 after one beer will be the first time. Other than that, I’m not even sure what Ponson is trying to say. Did he just have one beer? Was he not drunk? Was he drunk, but can’t say it because of pending legal action? In any case, two public altercations and one DUI got Ponson sent from #2 to #4 in the rotation, and it was a good thing too, as Ponson’s ERA was almost as big as he was. Cheap shot.
Back to the baseball. What does this mean for the Cards? Basically, it depends on whether Ponson can overcome whatever has been ailing him the last two years. Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder are obviously gonna be the workhorses this year. Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis will pitch in with their circa-4.00 ERA’s. Marquis scared the (heck) out of me last year with his string of terrible starts, but for the most part he’s reliable. Ponson in the 5 spot? He’s got a 3.60 ERA over 15 IP this Spring, which basically tells you nothing. But it does tell you that he’s not collapsing on the mound, and La Russa must have seen something he liked; I haven’t had the chance to personally see Ponson this year. If he does what he did prior to 2004, he’ll work out great as a #5. Plus, if the pen ever needs a rest coming off of a Suppan-Marquis roll, he can do it. The thing with big guys is that they eat up innings, and Ponson is no exception. And then after Ponson you have Carpenter and Mulder, so the pen should be fine.
I would like to briefly note that Carpenter has pitched 16 innings so far this Spring. 8 hits
(all singles) allowed, 1 walk, 13 K’s, no runs allowed, earned or otherwise. Talk about lights out. Either this guy has been facing all AA-er’s, or he’s pumped for another amazing season. Obviously, the Cards are going to be taking the NL Central again. The Cubs are gonna cry about it, the Red’s don’t know they’re in the Central, the Pirates don’t know they’re in MLB, and the Brewer’s aren’t quite there yet. The Astro’s… eh. They keep getting older. This is why everyone is proclaiming the demise of the NL – the Central is a collection of predictable and slow-moving teams and the East is too fiery for it’s own good, (minus the sellout Marlins.) If you’re asking about the NL West, I’ll direct you to carefully read this. Turns out, the NL West is no longer a part of Major League Baseball.
That’s all for now. I woke up at 7 this morning, got back from class at 11.30, wrote this, and now I’m off for more labs. I’ll be done at 8, I have a draft at 8.30, and then I’ll be back. Like I said earlier, school means class, work, and baseball. What a shame…
I had some formatting problems. Namely, all proper nouns received a return in front and behind them. This may have been a problem that resulted from the HTML in converting the post from a copied word document to the interface. Who knows, it’s working for now. Anyway, our neighbors to the North are Canadia, we’re the States, etc. For some reason, the formatting error does not apply to Barry Bonds’ name, but it did care about Jason*Bay.
First off, I try to stay out of all the mainstream blogging topics, thinking that we have all heard enough of them. Such a belief would preclude me from talking about Barry Bonds, and Canadia over the States. I have some thoughts on both, however, plus a special piece. I’m sorry I haven’t been posting lately, but tomorrow is the last day of classes before spring break. Then I’ll have more than enough time to watch baseball and write. Besides, it still tires me to simply walk from bed to computer.
I’m assuming everyone here has heard about the book. I have the SI article in front of me. Anyway, first off, is it true?
Apparently, the book is based on two years of research that includes hundreds of interviews, court documents and affidavits, and confidential memos from federal agents. The authors, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, are investigative reporters – not a former MLB Player with a grudge named Jose Conseco. Besides… does the fact the Bonds has been pumped full of dope really come as a surprise? I will now precede, assuming that the allegations in Game of Shadows are true. Frankly, Bonds doesn’t have a lot of credibility on the issue anyway.
Why did he do it? The authors allege that Bonds was jealous at the attention Mark McGwire was getting. "They’re just letting him do it because he’s a white boy," he said about McGwire’s 1998 Home Run Race. According to Kimberly Bell, Bond’s mistress – despite the fact that he had just gotten remarried – Bonds also claimed Sammy Sosa was destined to fail because, as a matter of policy, "they’ll never let him win." Great. Is there any part of Barry-Land that this doesn’t fit into? Recall his claim that there are no statues honoring Blacks, despite the fact that his own godfather, Willie Mays, is enshrined directly in front of his ‘office,’ which due to a formatting error I can’t actually name. But get this, that year, Bonds hit .303, 37 HR, and made the All-Star Team. It was the fact that no one seemed to notice that apparently pushed him into roiding up. In 1993, Bonds had signed what was then the largest contract to date. Ready for this? $43.75 million over six years. He was on the way to the Hall, his legacy was intact, and he had a solid reputation. So, it seems that McGwire just set Bonds off – he had to be better, because he believed he was better. Was he gonna hit the weights really hard in the off-season? Watch hours of tape before game time? Work on his swing? Play winter ball? Heck no. Bonds wasn’t willing to put in the time to get ahead legitimately, and so he made the decision to pump himself full of drugs.
This is what matters. Had Bonds chosen to legally get ahead and smash The Babe’s record, people would worship him just as they worshiped McGwire. We would’ve put up with his delusions of racism and persecution, because he would be the best player of all time. Then again, without roids, does Bonds ever hit more than 40HR in a season, regardless of how hard he works? Impossible to tell, but consider this. Much has been said of the Jim Thome’s and Frank Thomas’ who, as they near the twilight of their careers, begin to hit more and more HR per at bat. I once heard a possible explanation for this; perhaps, as their legs age, these players simply don’t want to run out the double. This (unconsciously) translates into more HR, possible through the development of more of a "Home Run" Swing. In addition, experience makes it easier to sit on balls and rake the fastballs down the heart right out of the yard, as the hitter’s ‘eye’ sharpens. So, maybe Bond’s Home Run total continues to increase… but not double. Bonds doesn’t come anywhere near his present total, but he does it legally and he stays in the Hall, legacy intact.
Lastly, what’s Bond’s defense to this? He’s out of tricks. He can’t parade his little kid around, he can’t tell the media that they forced him to jump off the bridge, he can’t play the race card, he can’t say the IRS is after him, and he can’t blame it all on the mistress. So, he says, "I won’t even look at the book. There’s no reason to."
Are you freaking kidding me? Put yourself in this situation. You’re about to break Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record, and someone just wrote a book saying that you’re a cheater, an arrogant racist, and you don’t care about a single thing besides the record. Are you gonna, A) Tell your PR man to take care of it, B) Defer all questions to your team, C) Call your lawyer, tell him to sue everybody involved, and talk to every single reporter you can and tell them that these allegations are false and defamatory, or D) Let it slide. I’m going with C. Bonds chose D. Either he is so tired of it that he just doesn’t care – because he’s guilty – or he’s guilty. Not that anyone thought for half a second that Bonds isn’t chock full of Roids, but look at the guy’s comeback! I’m sick of Barry Bonds and his antics. This will probably be the last you hear of Bonds and his roids from me, but I will still make fun of what comes out of the dude’s mouth from time to time.
Canadia over The States
If anyone hasn’t read Mike Bauman’s article yet, they should do it now. It’s great. For example, "Much of the rest of American society underestimates Canad[i]a, viewing it as a vast, frequently frozen wilderness… Canad[i]a is a civilized, democratic nation."
I’m surprised the troops haven’t crossed the border yet. If Canadia going over the States at their own game isn’t enough to start a skirmish, nothing is. What Bauman said is correct – Canadia isn’t a real country anyway, so who cares? Take it over. I’m sick of their disrespect. Does anyone remember the Home Run Derby last year, when Jason*Bay represented Canadia? If I recall correctly, dude went 0 for 10. How does this happen?
Simple. I mean, this is what I think. Canadia has been getting ready for months now. The States have been in Spring Training, while the majority of the Canadian team has been on their own schedule. Actually, that’s probably 10% of the problem. 90% of the problem is Dontrelle Willis and Al Leiter. I’m not sure if this bandwagon has formed yet, but I’ve never liked Willis. It’s not because his knee is on a collision course with his chin every time he releases, although that does bother me. I just don’t like his numbers, for some reason. He’s that guy, and you all know what I mean.
Second, Al Leiter. I haven’t liked this guy for two years. He’s abusing the game. Dude is nearly 41 years old. He’s been playing in the Majors almost as long as I’ve been alive. You’re not Rickey Henderson, so stop stealing teams’ money. Leiter’s ERA in 2004, with the Mets: 3.21. Last year? 6.13. That’s about double. So, if your contract runs out, you’re 40 years old, you got taken apart last year on the mound – wearing two different uniforms, mind you! – it’s time to hang up the cleats. I know it’s a tough choice, but you gotta make it. Your career ERA is at 3.80 right now, and if you play it right you can keep it under 4. Back on topic, my point is this – Willis gave up 3 runs and then Leiter came in and lit the mound on fire. He gave up 2 more of Willis’ runs, and then 2 more of his own. Canadia’s up, 7-0. Thanks for nothing.
Before I start, let me say that Rick and I share the same birthday, so it’s really tough for me to talk bad about him. That being said, Ankiel used to tear it up on the mound. I’ve done a little research, and my reconstruction of his career goes a little something like this:
Struck out 19.7 batters /9IP in his Senior Year of High School. Attended UofMiami and was the "Best Pitching Prospect" in 1999, when he made his MLB Debut. In 2000, as a 20-year-old Rookie, he pitched 175 innings, struck out 194, and had an ERA of 3.50. Then the train broke down. He suffered control problems in the postseason and the following year, did his thing somewhere in the minors for a few years, and got a Tommy John on July 16th, 2003 – three days before our birthday. Had a .76 ERA in six rehab starts in August of 2004. Now, here’s where it gets tricky. He makes three relief appearances for (The city with the big Arch – which due to formatting errors I am unable to name) in September of 2004, and everything is sunny. Then he goes to Coors, gives up five runs in 2.0IP, and basically decides to start playing Right Field instead. He said it was because, after 2004, he just couldn’t nail down his pitches. As in, he went 3 for 23 in batting practice during 2005 Spring Training. Thats a strikes out of total attempts ratio. So, instead of starting a Spring Training game, he went into La Russa’s office and told him he’d had enough of pitching. GM Walt Jocketty said, at the time, that he was "disappointed." Well, yeah. Your future Cy Young award winner just stepped off the rubber for good.
So, where does this leave us? Ankiel had 21 HR in 324 Minor League at bats last year, which is nuts. Apparently the dude is making real progress, and the Card’s "would hate to lose him." I find this hilarious, I really do. Guy comes up to the Majors in 2000 and has an insane year. Cards wouldn’t have wont the NL Central that year without him, (La Russa’s words, not mine.) Imagine if he shows up six, seven years later and starts burning through as an Outfielder… wouldn’t that be insane?
I have no idea if Rocket will be back this year, which is pretty wild. He knows, but he’s not telling anyone. Maybe after Son of Rocket took him deep, he decided he was off his game; then again, his last season was as close to inhuman as it gets. If he doesn’t come back, it’s because he want’s to spend more time with the family, not because he’s old and washed up. Or maybe it’s because he wants to go out on top. In any case, if Roger retires and Leiter doesn’t, something is wrong.
Thanks for reading. Make comments so I know you’re all still there. I’ll start covering more in-depth baseball issues throughout the next week, when I’m done with school.