It is sort of a meaningless story, mostly because the Yankees were playing the Rangers when he said it.
I am sure the Texas media was in his office and they asked him about ARod and he said...well, you can read the article.
Nevertheless, it is nice to see anyone, especially the manager of the Yankees, jumping on the ARod for MVP bandwagon.
I am really starting to get the feeling that this is ARod's year to finally win it.
I say finally because he deserved to win it last season, in 1999 and in 1996.
As of right now, ARod is on pace to hit .317/.402/.642 with 57 homers, 143 RBI and 129 Runs.
So he is 1st in HRs, 1st in RBI and 2nd to Jim Thome (who has missed quite a few games because of injuries) in On-base+Slugging (OPS).
Normally a first baseman who is doing that will win the MVP Award.
When a shortstop does it, it shouldn't even be a question.
Plus, his defense at shortstop is likely the best in the American League.
He leads the AL in Zone Rating with a .922. There is no one else who has one over .900.
He is 2nd in Range Factor.
And he is 1st in (the semi-meaningless stat of) errors with only 5 all season.
As I write this, I am watching the Twins/Royals game, which Jacque Jones started with his 9th leadoff homer of the year.
Jacque probably deserves his own blog entry at some point, just because of the way he frustrates me with his lack of plate discipline/inability to hit lefties and his ability to flat out crush right handers.
But right now, the thing that interests me most from this game is the starting pitcher for the good guys, Johan Santana.
I suspect that many of you are not very familiar with Mr. Santana, but with the way he has pitched this season, that might change very quickly.
The quick report:
He was born in March of 1979 (which makes him 23) in Venezuela.
He is a lefty.
And he was acquired by the Twins during the 1999 Rule V draft (he was originally signed, in 1995, by Houston).
As a Rule V pick, Santana had to spend the entire 2000 season with the Twins.
He pitched in 30 games in 2000, 25 as a long reliever/mop up man and 5 as a starter.
He didn't pitch very well (6.49 ERA in 86 IP), but of course, he was only 21 and was making the HUGE jump from A-ball to the Major Leagues.
Last season, Santana spent the majority of the year in the majors with the Twins, although he missed almost half the season with a left elbow injury.
When he pitched, he did okay, appearing in 15 games (including 4 starts) with a 4.74 ERA in 44 IP.
And this season?
Well, this season has been a whole different story for Santana.
Santana did not make the club out of spring training and was instead sent to AAA Edmonton.
While in Edmonton Santana was absolutely dominating:
I obviously need to point out that Johan has only pitched 77 innings so far this year, but still...
That is pretty damn impressive.
Bill James, the boys over at BaseballProspectus and many other "stat heads" will tell you, and have shown, that a pitcher's strikeout rate is probably the most important thing in determining long term success.
(Just in case you were wondering, the guy I raved about a few days ago, Mark Prior, is averaging about 11.5 Ks/9 innings)
So, if Santana had pitched enough innings, he would be leading the league in strikeouts per 9 innings.
He would also be 5th in opponent batting average (.211) and 4th in opponents slugging % (.314).
Did I mention he is only 23?
Twins GM Terry Ryan took a lot of heat here (in Minnesota) for quite a few years in the mid-late 90s and maybe deservedly so, but what he has done with this team lately is pretty incredible.
They are winning with one of the lowest payrolls in the league, they have good, young players and a stacked farm system to help fill in the gaps if some players get too expensive.
And it is looking like acquiring Johan Santana during the Rule V draft is going to be one of his better moves, right up there with the Knoblauch for Milton/Guzman/Buchanan/Ca$h trade.
It is VERY early in Santana's career, but it looks like he might be one of the better Rule V picks of all-time.
Off of the top of my head, I can only think of George Bell and another Twin, Shane Mack, although I am sure there are a few good ones I am missing.
By the way, it looks like I semi-jinxed Santana.
In the time it took me to write this entry, he gave up 3 runs.
But, he still has 4 strikeouts through 4 innings and the offense has picked him up, scoring 4 themselves.
I am gonna stop writing now, as to stop any further jinxing from occuring....
American League West
Anaheim 75 50 .600 -
Oakland 76 51 .598 -
Seattle 76 51 .598 -
And I agree, nothing beats that.
Well, almost nothing.
For this to truly be a compelling race, like say the 1993 NL West, the team or teams that did not finish in 1st place would have to actually not make the playoffs.
As it is now, with the Wild Card, the loser of this division race will likely end up getting into post season play as the Wild Card.
So, instead of 3 teams fighting for 1 spot in the playoffs, we have 3 teams fighting for 2 spots in the playoffs.
Kinda takes a little bit of the drama out of it doesn't it?
Which brings me to the Wild Card.
First of all, I am 20 years old, so I don't think I could be considered "old school" or a "purist."
That said, I do not like the Wild Card.
I realize that, as this point, it is here to stay.
I could actually see Budzilla adding even more teams to the post season in the future.
But, I still don't like it.
And this year?
Well, it will likely take away what would have been a pretty great 3 way race to the AL West division crown.
Instead one team will win it, and another will get in the playoffs by finishing 2nd.
Instead of Seattle having to battle to finish ahead of Oakland andAnaheim in order to make the playoffs, the just need to manage to beat one of them.
I understand wanting to allow more than 2 teams from each league into the post season, but don't do it at the expense of one of baseball's greatest things, the true Pennant Race.
Maybe expand to 32 teams (see, I told you I'm not an "old school" "purist") and make 8 4-team divisions, 4 in each league.
The 8 division winners would be the teams in the playoffs.
That might not be the best solution, but I know it is better than waking up in the morning and seeing:
American League West
Anaheim 75 50 .600 -
Oakland 76 51 .598 -
Seattle 76 51 .598 -
American League Wild Card
Anaheim 75 50 .600 -
Oakland 76 51 .598 -
Seattle 76 51 .598 -
Boston 71 53 .573 3.5
I was (and still am) watching the Yankees/Angels game on the YES Network this afternoon (as I write this, the score is 1-1 in the 6th).
The announcers for the game are Michael Kay (play-by-play) and Jim Kaat (color).
Something Jim Kaat (whom I really like as an announcer) said really got my attention.
While making small talk, Kay asked Kaat if he ever "hung out with" any hitters when he played.
Kaat quickly said that, yes, he often hung out with the catchers.
Kay then asked Kaat if he ever hung with any hitters that were not catchers.
Kaat's response? "Hmmm...let me think about that..."
And he literally did. The 3rd out of the inning was made and they went to commercial as Kay said, "and Jim will get the next half inning to think..."
When they came back from commercial Kaat was ready with his answer...
"The hitter I hung out with the most was probably Dick Allen. . .great teammate, great player. . .we shared an interest in horses. . .when we were in Cincinnati we went to see Secretariat. . .he was a delight to play with because he learned under Gene Mauch and he loved to play the game the right way. . .he was great to be around. . .his nickname was "Mose" because he was the Moses that led the White Sox out of the wilderness."
I am too young to have seen Dick Allen play (in fact he retired 7 years before I was born) so all I know about him is what I have read.
"Dick Allen is the only player being kept out of the Hall due to something people think he did. In Dick's case, that would more accurately be phrased "something people think he is.""
"Such an occurrence is definitely a form of discrimination, but it's still something that can be rectified. Everyone knows that Dick Allen was a great hitter; there's just all that other baggage that they're afraid to open. One gets the impression that everyone is worried that if he were to be up on the dais at Cooperstown, he'd expose himself or something. The whole thing would be funny if it weren't so sad."
So, having not been alive when Allen was playing and having read such things about him as James' book and Malcolm's piece, you can see where I could be a little surprised at what I heard Jim Kaat say about him this afternoon.
James also said this about Allen:
"As time passes, the evaluation of a player comes to rest more and more on his statistics. There is a simple reason for this, which is that everything else tends to be forgotten. His statistics remain the exactly the same, and eventuall the statistics become the central part of the player's image."
That quote basically sums up my feelings about Dick Allen and his Hall of Fame credentials.
I never saw him play and, although I have read things about his personality, the thing I look at the most are his stats.
And let me you, if you didn't know already, Dick Allen could flat out hit.
Random thoughts while wondering if my beloved 2002 Twins will turn into the 1994 Expos...
My uncle had a really good friend that pitched for the Univerity of Minnesota (the school that I now attend) years ago and spent some time in the Expos' minor league system in the late 70s, before blowing his arm out.
When I was a kid, probably like 11 or 12, I was playing catch with him one day (it was really fun, he thew sub-marine style and really fast) and I asked him who the best player he ever played with was.
He immediately said Rock Raines.
I didn't know who Rock Raines was (I was just a kid and not yet the total baseball geek that I am today).
He explained to me that Tim Raines' nickname was "Rock."
I asked why and he said, basically, that Tim Raines had a head filled with rocks.
Since then, I have seen Raines play on TV and have heard him refererred to, many times, by Expos or Marlins announcers as Rock Raines.
A couple of times the announcers went so far as to explain the nickname.
They said, basically, that Tim Raines has always been in great shape, his body is like a rock.
I, of course, know the real reason for the nickname.
I suspect the announcers do to, but you aren't likely to hear this on a Marlins' telecast:
"Tim "Rock" Raines steps to the plate...he is hitting .257 on the year...you know, they call Tim "Rock" because he is a complete idiot...Raines takes the first pitch for a strike..."
As for Rock as a player?
Well, he was pretty great.
In fact, I believe Tim Raines is one of the most under-rated players of the last 20-30 years.
He played for the Expos, which didn't help him get noticed and his game was getting on base and scoring runs, not hitting homers and driving in runs, which usually gets someone noticed.
Also, he was only the 2nd best guy at doing the things he did, because there was a guy named Henderson who got on base a little bit and stole some bases.
Tim Raines broke into the majors in 1979, at the age of 19, playing in 6 games, stealing 2 bases and not batting a single time.
In 1980 Raines got another small taste of the bigs, playing 15 games, stealing 5 bases and actually getting to the plate 27 times.
In 1981 Raines, 21, was up for good.
He had 313 at bats and hit .304/.391/.438 with 71 steals.
A 21 year old, in his first season in the majors, hitting .300 with good plate discipline (45 walks in 313 ABs) and stealing almost a base per game (71 SB in 88 G).
Wow. That is what I would call a star in the making.
And he was.
Starting in 1981 and lasting for 18 straight seasons, Tim Raines had an on-base % over .350.
And, most of the time, it was way over .350.
Included in the streak were on-base percentages of: .391, .393, .393, .405, .413, .429, .395, .379, .380, .401, .374, .383, .403 and .395.
The 18 year streak was ended in 1999 when he had an OBP of only .337.
Raines retired after that season because he was suffering from lupus.
He took a year off and then came back last season with the Expos, hitting .303/.413/.449 at the age of 41.
This year, Raines has struggled and he announced that this will be his final season.
Although he is still getting on base a lot (.360 OBP), he is hitting only .179 and slugging just .269.
He has only started 2 games all season and has only 67 at bats.
I still think, given some at bats for a veteran team in need of a 4th outfielder, Raines could be having a productive season, sort of like that Henderson guy I mentioned earlier.
In 5 years when the time comes to vote, I hope Tim Raines is elected to the Hall of Fame.
I think it might be a struggle, especially on the first try, but he absolutely deserves it.
There are some obvious similarities between the two situations.
The Phillies, like the Angels, have a mid-size payroll (17th this season).
And the contract, like Erstad's is for about $8 million a season.
So, you might asking, "Why do you think one signing is good and the other is bad if they are so similar?"
Well, I am glad you asked...
The Angels signed a player who played in 157 games in 2000 and 157 games in 2001, to a 4 year contract that covers his age 29, 30, 31 and 32 seasons.
The Phillies signed a player who played in 108 games in 2000 and 34 games in 2001, to a 3 year contract that covers his age 31, 32 and 33 seasons.
The kicker is, and I haven't mentioned it yet mostly for dramatic effect, Mike Lieberthal is a catcher.
So, as bad I think signing any player who has played in 108 games in 2000 and 34 games in 2001 to a contract that pays him until he is 33 is, it is exponentially worse to do so with a catcher.
All that said, Mike Lieberthal is having a nice (and pretty healthy) year and when he isn't injured, he is a good hitter.
But, he has shown the ability to not stay healthy and he is already on the wrong side of 30, which is bad for any player, but even worse for an oft-injured catcher.
"We would never do anything to hurt him. With the future the guy's got? No way." - Marlins' "manager" Jeff Torborg.
I already touched on this quote yesterday, in great detail, but basically, they did almost everything to hurt him.
Specifically huge pitch counts and unnecessary complete games, which add up to him being, at only 25 years old, one of the most abused pitchers in baseball.
And then this one...
"We didn't see this coming. He has been a workhorse all year. He has been terrific." - Marlins' GM Larry Beinfest.
This quote just made me angrier.
It is almost as if the Marlins' think that the very things that likely caused Burnett to become injured (pitching long into games and being a "workhorse") are things that should have prevented him from getting hurt.
Which is like saying, "We didn't see this coming. Joe got drunk and drove home every night and never had a problem. He is a great drunk driver."
A.J. Burnett constantly throwing tons of pitches and being a "workhorse" are what caused his injury, not what should have prevented it.
Just like a guy getting drunk every night and driving are what caused the car crash, not what should have prevented it.
In addition to what this does to my Diamond-Mind keeper league team (I was counting on A.J. to be the ace of my staff next year) this really pisses me off.
One quote by Marlins' "manager" Jeff Torborg really got to me.
When asked if Burnett would be rushed back into the rotation, Torborg said:
"We would never do anything to hurt him. With the future this guy's got, no way."
What a F@!%ing moron!
This kid is 25 years old and he is averaging 112 pitcher per start!
He is second only to Randy Johnson in pitcher abuse!
He has 7 complete games!
This year he has games of 124, 125, 125, 121, 128, 127, 128, 132, 128 and 123 pitches!
All while pitching for a team that is over 20 games back in their division!
What Jeff Torberg and the rest of the entire Marlins' "organization" has done to this kid is criminal.
I only hope that the rest of this season is all that they have taken away from Burnett.
I suspect it will probably end up being more than that.
They may end up taking away some velocity or some command or the majority of his career.
But hey, as Torberg says, "We would never to anything to hurt him."
I have found something new to spend what very little money I have on.
Over at Baseball-Reference.com (which happens to be the best baseball site ever) you can now "sponsor" the various player and/or team pages.
Depending on how popular a player is, the prices range from $5 to hundreds of dollars.
If you wanna check out what a "sponsored" player page looks like, check out Adam Dunn.
I think it is a pretty cool way for a great site to get funding and it is extremely addictive.
And, hopefully, it will be a good way to get people to check out this blog.
If I actually had any money, it could really get out of hand.
I have seen this on other small (free) sites and I am not sure if there would be any interest in it on this one, but if anyone was interested in possibly "sponsoring" a player in my name (or the name of this website) I would really appreciate it.
You can get some pretty good players for $5 or $10.
It would be a nice way of showing you enjoy my site and it would also help get others to discover the site.
If you want to do it, just drop me an email and we can decide on a good player to sponsor.
Soriano's "projected" stats might be even more fun to look at than ARods:
If Soriano was a pitcher, that would be a heck of a K/BB ratio. Probably second only to Schilling...
Soriano has slumped as of late however, hitting .284/.310/.531 since the all-star break.
That, of course, is still pretty good, just not as good as his first half of .315/.342/.576.
Fonz is having one of the most amazing seasons in a long time.
Some stats to chew on:
Soriano on the first pitch = .481/.482/.886
Soriano on a 1-0 count = .375/.364/.800
Soriano on 2-0 count = .500/.500/1.125
Soriano on 2-1 count = .444/.444/.944
So, basically, Soriano appears to be a Billy Beane dream (minus all the walks).
When he gets a pitch to hit, he crushes it.
The problem (if there is a problem at all) is that he doesn't often get ahead in the count.
And why anyone would throw him something even resembling a strike on the first pitch is completely beyond me.
On the other end of the spectrum:
Soriano on a 0-2 count = .210/.210/.371
Soriano on a 1-2 count = .167/.174/.306
Soriano on a 2-2 count = .219/.216/.356
Soriano after a 0-1 count = .246/.264/.434
So basically, when the pitcher is giving him something to hit (for some reason on the first pitch or when Soriano is ahead in the count) Soriano absolutely kills it.
And when the pitcher can throw a "pitcher's pitch" and try to get Soriano to chase something, he is hitting about .200.
I guess it is sort of a catch-22.
When you throw him a strike, he kills it. When you get ahead of him, he starts hitting .200.
Of course, to get ahead of him, you might have to throw some strikes. Although, with Soriano and his hacktastic ways, you don't always.
There should be a memo sent out to the other 29 teams with these stats on it.
For God's sake guys, stop throwing him strikes!