The Mariners 2007 payroll amounts to $107 million. That’s the 6th highest in the league. That’s incredible. Now, before you start spouting about how the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and they don’t win the World Series, understand this – I’m not saying that the Mariners should win the World Series. However, it would be nice if they could at least smell contention in one of the weakest divisions in the league. It would be nice if $107 million bought you, I don’t know, a .500 record? One could say that it’s early in the season. You can still turn things around, right? Well… we will get to that in a minute. Next comes the argument that your payroll is your investment. You have to wait for your investment to mature… unless it already is very, (33+ years) mature. I don’t see any of these working out, but for the sake of the previous two points, let’s look at last year. The Mariners had a payroll of $88 million, which was 11th in MLB, (but a mere $11 million from the 6-spot,) and finished 78-84, 15 games back of first place. In fact, the last time the Mariners finished closer than 15 games back was in 2003, when they won 93 games and finished only 3 games back of the A’s. So, with this information in hand, you would expect that the additional $19 million spent by GM Bill Bavasi would be spent on some pretty significant improvements to the club. You should be expecting some pretty good things from this team this year, right? Now let’s dig a little deeper.
For the sake of reference, let’s take a broader look at the 2007 Payroll Standings.
New York Yankees – $195 mil – Good bet to win their division.
Boston Red Sox – $143 mil – Should finish 2nd in a very difficult division.
NY Mets – $116 mil – Should win the division. If not, will win a lot of games finishing 2nd.
LA Angels – $109 mil – If they don’t win, they come close. Colon is making $16 mil.
LA Dodgers – $108 mil – Should take the weak NL West.
Seattle Mariners – $107 mil – Once again, a lock to finish last place in the weak AL West.
Does that $107 million now seem a bit more suspicious? Where, you may ask yourself, is this $107 million going?
Richie Sexson – $15.5 Million
This was a pretty bad waste of jack. Not crazy, but a little messed up. Sexson, who is 32 years old, has never finished with a batting average higher than .279 while playing in more than 60 games. The Mariners signed him after his 2004 season, in which he played 23 games and finished with a .233 average. In 2005, he batted .263, but hit 39 HR and knocked in 121 runs. Not bad. However, the most similar batter to Sexson that year was Paul Konerko, who made just $8.75 million. Even after he carried the White Sox to a World Series title, he was signed in 2006 for $12 million. He is also two years younger than Sexson. Alright, so now you can make the argument that it takes more money to bring a good player into a bad team. Kind of like reverse economies of scale. Maybe so. But still – in the good world, Sexson is signed for $11 million, tops. Make it an incentive-laden contract if you have to, but he simply isn’t worth that much.
Adrian Beltre – $12.9 Million
Wow. If Sexson snuck his hand into the cookie jar, then Beltre robbed the bank. Except, Beltre was coming off a good year in 2004. Well, we looked at why this was a bad decision (halfway down,) a year back. But basically, the Dodgers had been sitting on Beltre, waiting for him to develop for years and years. Finally, he goes nuts and hits 48 HR – nearly three times his previous average. Stats went berserk all across the board for this dude. Then, mysteriously enough, the Dodgers make no attempts to resign him when he demands big jack. Not taking the hint, the Mariners give the guy millions… and he falls back into his typical, .250 average, .300 OBP, 20 homer self. Wonderful. Way to blow the bank, Bavasi. In his defense, Beltre was coming off a huge year. One he has no chance of ever, ever repeating, but big nonetheless.
Ichiro Suzuki – $12.5 Million
No argument here. This team is nothing without Ichiro.
Jarrod Washburn – $9.9 Million
Another Beltre situation. Jarrod had an ERA of 4.43 in 2003, and 4.64 in 2004… but managed a 3.20 in 2005, after which he was promptly picked up by the Mariners. So there are two ways to look at this. Either he had two off years in ’03, and ’04, (and pretty much every year of his career besides 2002,) and the 2005 performance is the real Jarrod Washburn. Or, he had a weird year in 2005, and the other nine years are the real Jarrod. I would go with the second choice. Bavasi, needless to say, went with the first. Last year, Jarrod won 8 games and finished with an ERA of 4.67 for the Mariners.
Jeff Weaver – $8.3 Million
Has anybody, ever, in the history of the world, ever done less to earn more? Weaver had one good year in 2002, where he finished with an ERA under 4. He has been cashing in on that year, and on his supposed upside, or something, ever since. I’m pretty sure he has been making about $9 million everywhere he goes. And he keeps turning in these 4.20+ ERA years. Good going, Jeff.
Jose Vidro – $7.5 Million
$7.5 Million for a DH who has only hit more than 20 HR once, six years ago? A guy who’s only knocked in more than 65 runs twice? Who is also 32 years old? According to baseball-reference.com, the most statistically similar batter to Vidro is this guy, Todd Walker. Todd just got called up from the AAA club to the big league Athletics on April 1st, and is making $450,000 this year. So you over payed by $7 million. No big deal, right? Actually. that’s 7 million dollars. Take Travis Hafner. He’s a great guy to build a team around. Young, good guy, seems like a tough worker, puts up great numbers. He’s making $4.5 million. Of course, when his contract runs out he’ll cash in for at least $12 mill. But if you’re looking for value…
Miguel Batista – $6.0 Million
Yeah. That Miguel Batista. The one with the career 4.54 ERA.
Felix Hernandez – $420,000
Felix is 2-1. He has 18 K’s in 17.1 IP. He has an ERA of 1.56 and a WHIP of .69. However, after pitching just .1 Innings against the Twins and giving up 3 runs, he was yanked… straight onto the DL. Understand that this man was responsible for two of your five wins. So, what happens now?
Now Felix should be back by May 4th. But still… You’ve got J.J. Putz, ($2.7 million,) who has yet to get a save. And by the way, is Putz really the best name for a closer? In fact, he has yet to pitch in a save situation. Furthermore, the Mariners are now on a six game losing streak. They’ve been losing games all week!
Now, how about your boy Igawa? He gave up a monster blast to Baldelli that, "landed 20 rows deep," according to CBS’s Sergio Gonzalez. He gave up 7 runs to an awful Devil Rays team. See guys, this is what I meant when I said that this rotation wouldn’t work out. Seven runs to the D Rays? If there’s a team in the AL that you can just sit back and mail it in against, it’s the Devil Rays and the Royals. When you play these guys, you take your day off. Or you drop your appeal on your two-game suspension. Or you play around with your lineup. But you don’t send out your scheduled starter and get 7 runs dropped on you. Bright side? A-Rod had two more home runs. Good because that gives him 14 HR and 1,300 RBI in 18 games. Bad because, well, it’s not really bad at all, except that we don’t want him to use himself up. He’s got more HR than quite a few teams do right now. Do you understand, seriously, how insane this guy is right now? It’s like he’s playing a video game. He’s on god mode. And, he is trying to steal Jeter’s boyfriends. Honestly, I could hit maybe 90 HR with A-Rod when I played a full season of MVP 2004 for X-Box. I could also win 30 games with Roy Halladay and a .32 ERA. I was very good, and it was very easy. Alex is on pace to beat those numbers. Now, on pace really means, "isn’t going to happen," in April. But still… I believe he has now broken the record for HR and RBI in April. And there are still six days left! Yes and, regarding the picture… got A-Rod to sign that in 2005. And the lower right is a Woody Williams one. And of course, The Kid (when he was with the Mariners, how fitting) in the left. And in back is a picture of Jeter making a very Jeterian dive into the stands during that Sox game back in July of ’04. I don’t know if I would call it a shrine, but…
We all know the Nationals have a new owner now. What we didn’t know is that this makes them a better baseball team. Well, at least ESPN’s Tim Kurkijan thinks so. Actually, don’t read that article. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m serious. I’ve never read anything so BS in my life. Here are some quality excerpts:
Our long Nationals nightmare is over…now the team can start moving forward… The Nationals can begin to operate like a realmajor league team… The team has struggled this year, and attendance is down slightly, mainly because it was a rudderless team that
hasn’t gotten the support it needs from MLB, or the city… The first year and one month of existence for the Nationals was just practice. Now, the franchise officially begins… All the Nats needed was an owner. And now, finally, they have one.
No. The Nationals nightmare is not ever, and the team still isn’t going anywhere. The reason they’ve been so bad this season is not because they didn’t have an owner, it’s because they’re a flat-out bad team. The players don’t put up good enough numbers to win games. Don’t try to tell me that they went out there last year under the impression that they were playing 162 exhibition games. This team stinks, no two ways about it. If having an owner makes you a championship-caliber team, there would be (theoretically) 30 teams with .500 records at the end of the year. Tim also cites RFK stadium as being a "significant disadvantage" for the Nationals. Why is that? When the Nationals come up to bat, do they push the fences back 20 feet, only to move them back in when the opposing team steps up to the plate? Do you really think the Nationals are gonna go and set the world on fire now that they’ve got an owner? Heck no. Sure, firing Jim Bowden will make your team better, no doubt. But again, too little too late. Remember, call your shot in the Jim Bowden firing pool – so far, Jason has dibs on June 19th.
The Royals are still bad, and now they’re "your team"
The Nationals still have a shot at saving this season, but the Royals do not. By the way, they lost again last night. They’re now 5-20. As I said before, but how can you be that bad? Imagine taking the field five times and walking away with one win. The Royals also have a new slogan – "Your team. Your town." Of all the bad baseball slogans, that’s probably the worst. First off, that doesn’t tell me anything. Second – if I lived in Kansas City, that’s exactly the kind of thing that would make me want to move to, say, St. Louis. I’m guessing the average K.C. citizen had these thoughts upon seeing that slogan:
Just because I live in K.C., I have to be associated with the Royals? What will my friends think of me? Will I still be able to get a job? Will I be able to take out a loan? Rent a car? Vote?
Hearing that the Kansas City Royals are "your team" has got to feel a lot like getting hit in the forehead with a ton of bricks; pain so severe and hideous that you just black out. And of course, whenever I mention the Royals I need to mention PFC Mark Grudzielanek. Whatever General is heading up Mark’s War needs to develop a new battle plan. The current strategy isn’t working. Reports from the front indicate that the army is retreating, blowing up every bridge behind them, and that soldiers are deserting en masse. Doesn’t look good. If you don’t know why I continue to refer to the Royal’s season as a military campaign, wait until the "What you missed" post, coming up tonight or tomorrow. Or hunt the reference down here.
Everyday Eddie out of the closing role; Mariners still bad
Well, you didn’t need a crystal ball to see this coming. The Mariners have finally put Eddie out his misery, removing him from the closer role. Who’s the new closer? The best arm in the game, closer-by-committee. If you don’t know what this is, see Dusty Baker’s explanation. I’ll say the same thing here as I did when someone drafted Eddie as the #86 pick in my pay league draft this year – two picks in front of Thome, no less: "You can’t go wrong with Everyday Eddie. Wait… that was 2002." His career stats are misleading as well. For example, in 2004 he had just a 2.78 ERA. However, he blew 7 saves out of 25 total opportunities. If you’re the Mariners and you’re struggling to stay one step ahead of the Royals, you really can’t afford those kinds of losses. Then again, if you’re going to run an organization based on sound logic like that, you wouldn’t give a guy like Adrian Beltre $64 million for 5 years. Beltre’s 2004 fluke with the Dodgers was probably the most standout anomaly in the world. Of course, 2004 was Adrian’s contract year, so after he went wild he jumped ship and signed with Seattle. For the following statistical analysis, we’re going to look at Beltre’s stats for 2004 compared to his average stats from 1999-2003 and 2005, when he played full-time. I present the following visual aid:
Note that the difference between the slugging and batting averages is diluted because of the scale; they are .443/.629 and .265/.334. As shown, Seattle is probably very angry with Adrian. Now, Adrian didn’t just fall from the sky in 2004. LA had been waiting for him to develop for some time. But after he went wild in 2004, did they try to re-sign him? I’ll give you a hint – the Dodgers are in the NL West. Remember the old 7-man batting order trick? Anyway, you’re probably asking – how can I jump on Seattle for signing him, yet jump on LA for not trying to sign him? Well, that’s a good point. But if you’re the Dodgers and you think you’ve got the sell-high candidate of the century and you’re convinced that he had a fluke of a year, so you don’t want to give him the money that you know he doesn’t deserve, you don’t just let him walk away. You test out the market and see if you can move him. If you think you can, you resign him and flip him away. If you didn’t think he had a fluke of a year, you shell out the cash to better your team. Beltre is currently hitting .202 in Seattle, with 1 HR and 6 RBI in 104 AB’s.
Tigers lose; Leyland’s clothing at fault
Remember when I talked about superstitions? I said that although Steve Finley’s magic bag doesn’t make him a better hitter, he thinks it does, so it does. Looks like Jim Leyland just developed a real good superstition. One that’s gonna make him a really popular guy whenever the Tigers are winning. Leyland had been wearing the same clothes since the Tigers began their 6-game winning streak. However, when the Tigers played the Angels today at home, Leyland had to change because he "looked like a hobo," and the team is about to go on a road trip. Well, the Tigers lost this afternoon, 7-2. Good job, skip. The team is now 19-10. So we’re still above .500, which is Detroit’s benchmark for success. If the Tigers had won today, it would have been their first 7-game winning streak since 1993. I was in elementary school then.
Jose Contreras has won 13 straight… I have nothing. San Diego is currently on a four-game win streak, dating back to last Sunday’s miracle win over the Dodgers. I suggest you read that, because it’s unbelievable. Let’s just say the World’s Worst Offense came back from being down 5-0 in the bottom of the 9th. On a related note, of the six division leaders, the two worst records belong to – guess – the AL and NL West. No way. Texas and Colorado both have 16 wins and 12 losses. If another 82-80 team goes to the playoffs, it’s Game Over. BPS agrees, as we’ll see soon. Check out the solution to this problem that I wrote a few days ago. By the way, that’s probably the 80th time I’ve made a post saying that the Padres and NL West are bad.
Comments and Notes
BHGM got some serious run on BPS today. Thanks Geoff.
I sauntered over to our boy Reid’s blog a few days back
and read one of his many posts bashing the Padres and the NL West [found here]. The BPS had consistently come down
pretty hard on the Pads and their whole miserable, rotting, wasteland
division. And you have to understand, Reid is the type of dude who asks
for his readers to throw him some questions, and then he proceeds to
hammer out an elaborate discourse on whatever it is they come back
with. Why? Because, as I commented on his blog a few days ago, he is
the Original Dedicated Baseball Monster. The ODBM. My question to him
(just to see what he would do with it) was what MLB can do about
wretched, barely-.500 teams like the Pads from ever making the playoffs again. Take a look
at what the kid wrote.
Great stuff. I have no idea how long it took him, but I know these
things don’t take fifteen minutes. The ODBM, a dedicated monster.
I would have paraphrased that (and I did take out a few words), but then you wouldn’t be getting the full effect. It took me about an hour and a half. But that’s really not that bad, because I spent the rest of the day – no joke – in class, from 8a-3.30p. Made that post at 5.45p. See how it goes? As for the next 5 days at BHGM, leading up to May 10th, when I go home – we’ll either be seeing a lot of posts or a little. I’m not sure how hard I’ll be studying for finals, (one on Saturday, Monday, and two on Wednesday.) However, the "What you missed" post is on it’s way. BHGM has picked up a lot of new readers in the past couple weeks, and they’re probably pretty confused when they read things like the account of Mark’s War found above. I’ve already made the list and I’m currently writing it out. It might even get out tonight. It should be good for a lot of laughs. As for the comments – your June 19th bid has been recorded, Jason. Thanks for the submission. If anyone else wants to enter the BHGM "Call Jim Bowden’s Shot in the Unemployment Line" Contest, drop me an email or leave a comment anywhere. There will be a prize. I haven’t decided what yet. See you guys later tonight.
Yankees v. Orioles and the Redneck
Looks like Randy Johnson is back in typical mad, red-*ss form. He just went 8 innings, giving up only 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run while striking out 5. C’mon, 5 strikeouts, that’s it? And all of those 3 hits were off Tejada. There were "whispers" that Randy’s back was in trouble, despite the fact that neither the Yankees nor the Horse himself had revealed as much. So either Johnson is even crazier than any of us thought, or his back is fine. And I have to bring this up because I still think it’s one of the funniest things of all time. Recall that, in 2004, Randy Johnson was still pitching for the AA Arizona Diamondbacks who went 51-111 that year. Here are Randy’s stats for that year:
245 IP (35 starts), 2.60 ERA, 290 K’s, 44 walks, and 4 complete games, including one perfect game.
If you look at that line, you’re thinking, I dunno, 24, 25 wins at least. He averaged 7 innings a game, so there probably weren’t a lot of no-decisions in there. So you’re thinking that he probably went say, 24-6 or something wild like that. Here’s the thing – that would mean he won half of the Diamondbacks’ games, and while that would be cool, it’s also highly unlikely. See, Randy was only able to pull 16 wins. And 14 losses. Despite the fact that he had the 2nd best ERA in the league, he had the 9th most losses. At the end of the season, Johnson had the following game log:
8IP, 15K’s, 1 ER, and a no decision. This was directly on the heels of him going 8IP, 11K’s, allowing 2ER, and getting a loss. That, in turn, was on the heels of going 7.2IP, 14K’s, 1ER, and getting a loss. So lets recap those three games: Johnson went 23.2 innings, racked up 40K’s, 4ER, and walked just 5 guys. His record? 0-2. Imagine if he had been on a good team – he might’ve recorded one of the best pitching years since the 60’s.
The Yankees just beat the Orioles. I was only able to watch the last inning, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t funny. See, Gary Sheffield was chasing down a foul when he ran straight into the foul wall. I mean, he didn’t slow down, and he didn’t rotate his body or anything, (not that it would’ve been a good move, with his bum shoulder and all.) In any case, he acted like he didn’t even know the wall was there. I’ve never played Right Field in Yankee Stadium, and I know right where that wall is. So quite frankly, that was a dumb thing to do. It became about 7 times dumber when he walked away with a, "Uh, I think I just kicked a toe" limp. He was hopping all around, and the crowd was pissed, and it was generally a bad scene. What made it even worse was that it looked clear – to me at least – that Sheff wasn’t in any actual pain. I can’t explain that, but he just looked like he wasn’t hurting – yet he wouldn’t give up the jig, and kept limping around. Strange because Sheff is obviously one of the craziest and baddest guys in the game. He has a gunshot wound in his left shoulder that came from thwarting an attempted carjacking when he was 26, and he also produced one of my favorite quotes of all time. When he was hitting only .265 with just 3 HR’s in the first 44 games of the 2004 season, he had something of a pep talk behind closed doors with Joe Torre. When he came out of the office he said, "They ain’t seen me hit yet, but I’m about to get started. It’s time to put all the women and children to bed." Put all the women and children to bed? Priceless. So anyway, the trainer heads out to right, and you know he’s pissed. ‘C’mon Gary, man up. You’re making me run about 300 feet for no good reason.’ Just livid, straight-up pissed. Then Bernie Williams comes out of the dugout, apparently to replace the now-wimpy Sheffield. But wait! Now Sheff is fine. He waves Bernie off, and the trainer heads back. Bernie smiles, aborts, and heads back to the dugout. He even got a standing ovation. Good job Bernie, you played a good game today. Also, note that the picture to your above-left is of Derek Jeter and has nothing to do with anything previously discussed – but how sweet is it? Look at those hops!
"Roy Halladay is fine; will not make next scheduled start" …???
And I mentioned previously that the Jays are gonna have to come up with a good reason for why Roy Halladay pitched only 5 innings and 80-some pitches Saturday against the Red Sox. Well, I was half right. Turns out Halladay is fine. So he’ll make his next scheduled start, right? Wrong. They’re gonna give him an additional day off. Yet, he’s fine. See, that’s just not right. That’s Larry Rothschild-esque. He’s obviously not fine if he got pulled early from an otherwise successful start and is being given an extra day of rest, despite the fact that he missed his last start entirely. Halladay can throw 130 pitches a game, week after week after week when he’s healthy. So if he’s making 80 pitches in two and a half weeks, he’s not "fine." Thanks for the lies, Gibbons.
Tigers v. Mariners
I’m currently watching the Tigers v. Mariners. And it’s Verlander v. Hernandez. Now, the Tigers have won 4 straight going into this game. That’s a big deal for this team. A 5-game and 4-game-in-progress winning streak just 3 weeks into the season? We were lucky to put together that lengthy of a streak all season in the last few years. I like Verlander, and I like Hernandez. They’re both young and they both need to learn how to pitch instead of just throwing. Cliche and overused, but I’m saying it anyway. That said, Verlander will light you up at 101mph. I said before that the fastball alone is an easy pitch to hit, but the difficulty increases exponentially as the speed increases. Once Verlander learns how to pitch and integrate his other pitches, he’ll be an amazing pitcher. Also, why is there an FSN Detroit commercial that has Ben Wallace (of the Pistons) asking me who my Tiger is? Isn’t that a weird little juxtaposition? Ben has
nothing in common with anyone on the Detroit Tigers. …Hernandez just tried a leaping barehand catch with his right hand. He’s walking around the mound ******* on his finger and waving the trainers away. Yesterday, Halladay almost tried a kick-save on a comebacker before thinking better of it. Hernandez is back, and Shelton is up to bat and took a huge swing at the first pitch. I mean, huge. He was so off balance that he tumbled 6 or 7 feet out of the box – forward. So weird. Anyway, now we’re in the top of the fifth and Vance Wilson just got a hit. Wilson – the backup catcher – now has exactly two more hits on the year than I do. Anyway, the Tigers are up 3-0 in the middle of the 5th, but I have to close this post out sometime. I’ll update with a final or in-game progress. One thing I did not realize until now was that Verlander just (2 outs, bottom of the 5th,) allowed his first hit. Good job, guys in the booth. Keep me in the dark about the no-hitter, because that’s what I want.
Update, end of 5th, 3-1.
Lopez just hit one down the Left field line, knocking in one run. Ichiro decided he’d turn on the wheels and head home from first as well. Well, apparently Craig Monroe is not only adept at stealing belts, he’s also got a cannon. Who knew? He guns the ball to Vance Wilson, and Ichiro just tumbles into him. Out! Good job, Vance.
Update, top of 8th, 6-1.
Craig Monroe just hit a 3-run home run to bust the game open, 6-1 in the top of the 8th. The booth went wild. I thought there was a no cheering rule in the press box? "Huge! That’s huge! Sometimes you just gotta throw that batting average out the window! Gimme someone who’s in scoring position when they step up to the plate, any day!" There’s no way you just said that, not if you’ve ever really seen a Tigers game. And the feed was from the Tiger’s team as well. Let’s get something straight. Monroe is one of the worst clutch hitters on the team. He’s the definition of a rally-kiler. It’s possible that he leaves more men on base than anyone else in the league, at least thats how it seems. On top of that, Monroe is the anti-"scoring position when he steps up to the plate." He’s not as bad as Vance Wilson, who is less likely to make contact than he is to blast off on a trip to the moon right out of the box. But he’s bad. Last year Monroe had 20 homers, a .277 average, a .446 slugging percentage, and 95 K’s. Yet he somehow managed to knock in 89 runs, which is insane, because it’s good for 39th overall in MLB.
As for the comments – I mean, comment. I know it’s the weekend, and that’s why I’m giving you guys those days off. Anyway, Steven Peters noted that I filed in the entire US on my Visitors List map – but have I actually gotten hits from each state? Of the 4,000-some stateside hits, I can only hope that each of the 50 states of the Union managed a shot. However, my hit counter code just stopped working. The hits are being recorded but the details are not – does anyone using the statcounter.com have the same problem? It started around 9am today.
Today was a busy day. I was at class and labs from 8a-8p so I didn’t get to watch any games. Now I’m back but I don’t really have the energy for a game. But, thought I would still chime in with some thoughts:
I saw the headline on MLB.com today saying that Griffey was happy with his health. If I could, I would’ve written a post right then saying, "yeah, but it won’t last long." I’m serious about this – I really was. As it happened, Griffey beat me to it – shock of all shocks. Now he’s out with a stiff knee. Same thing every year – injured, back for a few AB’s, back to the DL, etc. Still, nothing beats Juan Gonzalez. Juan came back last year after an extended stint on the DL, only to blow out a tire running to first after his first at bat back in the majors.
Thanks for the comments guys. Bobby – the website http://www.baseballradioshow.com is owned by Kevin and I. The radio show won’t be starting until about late-May. I don’t finish with school until the 10th, and then we still have to buy a little more equipment and the like. However, the website itself should be up and running a little sooner – maybe a few days earlier. The radio show will likely be a lot more interesting than the blog as it will include the two of us basically discussing our views on baseball. We hope to have some ‘big’ guests that we’re working on. We’ve already looked at equipment that will provide high-quality audio and allow us to incorporate phone calls into the show – this is how we plan on hosting guests. Also, we’re looking for anyone willing to contribute material to the site – something like these blogs, but more of an article format. Anyone interested in contributing can fire me an e-mail or just leave a comment.
Had an interesting experience at dinner tonight. I was grabbing a drink when I ran into "TJ." I was wearing my YES Network shirt tonight, and the conversation went something like this:
TJ: Man, you like the Yankees?
Reid: What, you don’t?
It was good. We ended up talking about ball for quite a long time.
Hopefully I’ll be able to watch some games tomorrow. So far, all I’ve got on the table tomorrow is an hour of psych, about an hour of lifting, taxes, studying for a bio exam, calc quiz, and a psych paper. After this, I’ll be heading home Friday afternoon so I may not be able to post much during the weekend. Meanwhile, a couple quick hits:
Cleveland v. Seattle (4-11-06)
Watched the whole Cleveland v. Seattle game last night. This was another mismatch, a la Yankees v. Royals. Lee was on fire. He gave up 4 hits and 1 walk in 6 IP, but struck out 8. He only spent 96 bullets, but you can bet he would’ve gone deeper into the game had he not struck out so many Mariners – they were dying up there. Lee walked the first guy up, then went on to retire the next 14 until Mariner’s catcher Kenji Johjima bounced one off the wall in center. And if you think I watched the whole first 4.2 innings without doing anything else because there was a no-hitter in progress – you’re exactly correct.
Detroit v. Chicago (4-12-06)
Obviously didn’t have a chance to watch this one, but I have some thoughts anyway. First off, check out the raindrops to your right. Here’s another story from my day. It goes something like this, as Greg and I were walking to Bio at 8am this morning:
Reid: Why are you wearing a Jacket today?
Greg: I dunno man, just felt like wearing one today.
[We step out into the pouring rain you see on your right]
Reid: You knew this was gonna happen, didn’t you!
First off, the Sox haven’t blown out the Tigers once. 3-5, 3-5, 3-4. All close games. I haven’t been able to watch any, and I know the Sox have been cold – but I’m happy with that performance, I guess. It could’ve been a lot worse, anyway. We’ll be hitting them up again tomorrow at 1.05 and I’d like to see a win this time – there’s no better way to lose a bunch of good run than by losing 4 games straight to the defending World Champs at home. Not saying the Sox are as good as advertised, because they’re not, but I’m just saying how it looks. Bad. Especially to the Idiots on Baseball Tonight.
That’s all for now. Keep up the good comments guys. See you tomorrow.
AL v. NL
Why is the AL so much stronger than the NL? I think I’ve got it. When a dominant player rises through an organization, he still has to be able to field. If he can’t field, or there is nowhere for him to field, he can’t hit. At least not in the NL. Take Ryan Howard. Rookie of the Year last year. But he played first base, so the Phillies traded away Thome. Lyle Overbay, (who was actually just an average 1st basemen, despite all the run he gets from his doubles and OBP,) was traded away by the Brewers to make room for Prince Fielder. Within the NL, this makes no difference, as all the teams are handicapped equally. But when they play the AL, the teams that have traded away some of their valuable players because their positions forced them to are matched up against teams that have one overflow spot when it comes to hitting talent. Whenever you’re forced to trade away a player, you’re probably not gonna get the best value for him. NL teams are continuously put in this position because they don’t have the DH rule; AL teams can always DH someone. Yes, I understand that some teams have entrenched DH’s as well – Cleveland’s Travis Hafner, Oakland’s Frank Thomas, etc – but at least Oakland didn’t have to give up the rising Dan Johnson to acquire Thomas. See the point? It’s a little tough to wrap your arms around at first, because it has nothing to do with the lineup. But the bottom line is that the National League will always be trading away a hitter that is at least the 9th best hitter on the team, (likely higher, as 1B is probably a better hitter than the 2B you’re forced to bat because he has to field.) Additionally, did you know that while the DH usually hits for the pitcher, he doesn’t have to? During interleague/postseason play, I want to see St. Louis employ that little known fact with Jason Marquis, just for fun. I’m serious. Put a DH in for Junior Spivey, and have Jason Marquis bat. Has anyone ever actually done this?
In SI’s Baseball Preview ’06, Tom Verducci compares Felix Hernandez to the Hope Diamond. This is alluding to the fact that the Mariners want to show off Hernandez, but must be careful – he can’t be stolen, sold, or borrowed. However, if he just sticks around in the Smithsonian forever, he’ll be of no good to anyone. So, the Mariners have to find some sort of competitive equilibrium. He then notes that if Hernandez makes 32 starts this season, at 7 innings per start (which wont happen,) he’ll pitch 244 innings, including Spring Training. Verducci notes,
Jobe’s Law [a pitcher’s innings should max out at his age times 10] would confine Hernandez to about 180 regular-season innings this year, which for the desperate Mariners may be as difficult as counting calories in an ice-cream parlor. The team has lost more than 90 games for two straight years, and average attendance has dropped by more than half a million fans over that time… So, where do the Mariners cut out 40-plus innings? Do they pull him from games after six innings even if he is pitching well? Do they skip six of his starts at assorted times over the season? Do they shut him down for the year in August? And how difficult will that be if the Mariners are in contention? How hard will it be for a manager with somewhat shaky job security and a general manager on a year-to-year contract to intentionally not use their best pitcher?
Is this an April Fool’s Joke? The Mariners in contention in August? As I said in a previous post,
I saw on MLB.com that Ichiro
returned to the Mariners with ‘Classic-like’ intensity. Hold it right
there. Ichiro can hit .900, get 400 infield singles, and never make a
single error. Heck, he can be in the batting order three times for all
I care. The Mariners still aren’t gonna mean anything this year, and
that’s that. Welcome to West Coast Baseball,
(minus the Angels.) And yes, I know the Mariner’s aren’t in the NL
West. I’m trying to show a pattern, people. (Get it, NL West… AL
Have the Mariners done a single thing this offseason? Here’s your Seattle Mariners 2006 Team Overview:
The Mariners acquired lefty Jarrod Washburn, now their 3rd starter. They also acquired DH Carl "Fan is short for fanatic – he’s crazy about something he doesn’t know about. And it’s proven that 99 percent of baseball fans have no idea what they’re watching" Everett. Centerfielder Joe Borchard and his .263 average – from AAA – replaces Randy Winn. They also acquired catcher Kenji Johjima, who will become best buddies with Ichiro but not do much in the batter’s box. In short, the Mariners are still a very bad team. End of overview.
I’m watching the Nationals v. Orioles game, and Nationals SS Royce Clayton just bobbled a "tailor-made double play ball," and then went to toss it to Soriano Enemy Number One – Jose Vidro. Even though Royce just made the toss to avoid looking like a 3rd grader, it was a bad toss and Vidro missed the catch. Whichever Orioles prospect who was running to 2nd had already been safe for about 4 minutes, so the play was over. Anyway, the ball rolled a third of the way to 3rd base while Vidro – literally – sulked after it. For awhile it looked like the ball might out ‘run’ Vidro, but he eventually caught up with it. And did you know that Clayton has played for 8 teams in his career? And that the Nationals have made 48 errors in Spring Training so far? The team is already depressed and downtrodden. Looks like we need to send them to another city already, because the scenery change that lit up the whole team in the first two-thirds of last season seems to have dried up. That, or the entire clubhouse – including Frank Robinson – is so furious with GM Jim Bowden that they can’t breathe. What was Jim Bowden thinking? The National’s 2006 Overview? The entire team will land in psychotherapy before the close of the season. Jim Bowden will pull a Jimmy Hoffa, and Frank Robinson will announce that he can no longer deal with the stress of managing, and will become a 3rd base coach for a few years before another team offers him a gig.
More on SI’s Baseball Preview
Also, I know SI wants to be original and exciting, but when predicting the division winners, remember, this isn’t March Madness. In fact, a 162-game baseball season can’t be any further from a 65-team, single-elimination Battle Royale. The Oakland A’s probably aren’t the 2nd best team in Major League Baseball. Likewise, the Devil Rays are not likely to hop over the Orioles in the AL East, although this isn’t a total impossibility. And how can you try to sneak in the A’s as the 2nd best team in the game, yet rate the Tiger’s as the 18th best? You can’t make the bold prediction for the A’s and completely ignore the Tigers. By the same token, the Red’s may be bad, but they aren’t the 3rd worst team in Baseball. I’m the first guy to kick a bad team when it’s down, but the Red’s simply are not that bad. They haven’t really done anything bad to the team since they finished 73-89 last year. They’ve lost Sean Casey and Willy Mo Pena and placed Rich Aurilia into hiding. Casey was an average 1B, Aurilia is going the way of Frosty Bret Boone in more ways than one, and Pena didn’t really fit into the team’s lineup, (back to why the AL is better than the NL.) Then again, any guy who hits a HR every 16 times he steps up the plate should find a way into your lineup… whatever. Meanwhile, they acquired Tony Womack, Scott Hatteberg, Chris Hammond, Bronson Arroyo, and Dave Williams. And if Eric Milton pulls it together, they’ll be… a little better than last year.
Other than the above, there don’t seem to be too many weird ideas. I’m not gonna tell you all the predictions, but basically they’re the same any commoner would make, with the exception of the NL Central going Cards, Brewers, Cubs, Astros, Pirates, Reds. I would say Cards, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Reds, Pirates. Big diff. Neither of those predictions will be correct, because as I’ve said before, preseason predictions are a crapshoot. And then they have White Sox over Cards in the World Series, which won’t happen. White Sox, maybe. Cardinals, no. You don’t get farther in the postseason by using ‘addition through subtraction’. And yes, losing Reggie Sanders, Larry Walker (basically worthless last season, but still,) and Mark Grudzielanek is subtraction.
Opening night is less than 24 hours away. Exciting!
First and foremost, Former Minnesota Twin Kirby Puckett recently suffered a stroke. Thoughts and prayers.
I have a few short notes on Spring Training, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Radio Show. I haven’t been able to watch as many games as I would have liked; despite the fact that I already have my MLB.TV subscription, I have no more time than I did a week ago. In any case, a few lessons.
I find Spring Training to be most useful, from a fan’s standpoint (and probably a coach and GM’s as well,) for scouting the minor leagues. Case in point: last year, I was watching a spring training game between Seattle and another team. Anyway, the Mariners sent up this 18-year-old kid to pitch, one Felix Hernandez. At the time no one knew who he was. Many of you know where I’m going with this. Anyway, this was Hernandez’s first spring training appearance. And I think he broke 100mph. The announcers were mentioning how the Mariners recently signed this kid (two years ago, it turns out, and they’d been scouting him since 14) and they were expecting big things out of him. Well, when I heard he was getting called up in August I picked him up on my fantasy team immediately. He proceeded to go 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA and 77 Ks in 84.1 IP.
Does anyone not think Toronto is gonna do something big this year? Here’s a quick look at the changes the organization made during the offseason:
They’ve added B.J. Ryan, Troy Glaus, Lyle Overbay, A.J. Burnett, Bengie Molina, and Brian Tallet (totally insignificant, but he carried my AAA team in MVP Baseball ’04 for about four years, so I had to include him.)
They’ve lost Miguel Batista, Orlando Hudson, Dave Bush, and Corey Koskie.
There’s a good chance I left someone major out, but we’ll continue anyway. The Toronto organization showed some fire last year, but they were the team that would win five games, only to give up another five. A lot like the Tigers. One difference, the Blue Jays, had they been placed in the NL West, would have finished only two games behind the Padres. This is mostly another chance for me to build my case for revoking the NL West’s right to a playoff spot next year. In any case, 80-82 is not that bad for a team that was ‘rebuilding’ last year. Remember that this year, they’ll have a healthy Roy Halladay (who I believe is easily the best pitcher in the AL,) and a Vernon Wells who is protected in the 3 hole by Troy Glaus in cleanup – a career .250 hitter – and followed by Overbay – a career .300 hitter – in the 5 spot. Now is also a good time to mention that "leadoff" and "cleanup" are the only two spots with popular nicknames in a traditional lineup. This excludes the ‘2nd pitchers spot’ that the Dodgers have popularized in recent years. How much longer are they gonna countinue this experiment of trying to win games with 7 hitters? I digress. Wells may finally show the talent this year that had people expecting huge things out of him after his 2003 season. The Jays will also have a closer in B.J. Ryan that will give Roy Halladay a chance at a victory without pitching 10 innings, which happened a lot last year. So they could be good to make a run at the playoffs… wait, that’s right, they’re in the AL East, so they’re screwed.
Barring a total collapse from the Red Sox, combined with the lack of any quality second place finishers in the AL West and Central, Toronto has no freaking shot. Toronto will also have to face The Yankees and Red Sox more than any other playoff contender, with the exception of the Orioles… who have less of a chance than Toronto, even with the defecting Leo Mazzone. So, until MLB comes to their senses and starts rotating teams through the AL East, Toronto is pretty much hopeless, although I can’t rule out them overtaking the Red Sox this year. Of course, I know my bias is probably making that judgment inaccurate. Outside of Manny Ramirez, I really don’t follow the Red Sox, so I don’t really know their chances.
Finally, the Radio Show. Bob of the Marlin’s ‘Deep Fried Fish Blog‘ suggested, in response to my previous Radio Show post, that I make a podcast. I’ve spent some time looking into this option. I can get a website for about the same price as a pay for this MLBlog, and I can get the equipment to make podcasts for about $200. My hope – and this is a real ambition – is to start a podcasting show that would be a lot like Under The Lights or the similar shows MLB Radio airs. I recognize that since such shows require huge time commitments, it would be impossible for Kevin and I to do a 3hr show every day. More likely, we would see a half hour show every 3 to 4 days. Additionally, such a project would probably be limited to the summer. In any case, the prices now are dropping to the point where it’s no longer a big financial venture to start a website. If anyone is interesting in collaborating on a baseball website, or has any other suggestions or ideas, feel free to email me at reid at yankeesmvp dot com.