Friday, February 14, 2003
Oh PhilAnd there could be no other way, 'cause your so, your so lame
Your tired words are all, they're all the same
Yeah I would walk and I'd surely walk away
If I wasn't such a sucker for you
I see your world with rosey colored glasses on
Wanna right what I see wrong
I could never have that power over you
Someday, I'm gonna pack up and leave this town
I'm gonna get my own things goin on
And when i do, I'll forget
I'll forget about how, how your so, your so lame
Your tired words are all, your tired words are all the same
And I would walk you know I'd, I'd walk away
If I wasn't such a sucker for you
I wasn't such a sucker for you
I wasn't such a sucker for you
--- John Mayer, "Sucker"
In his latest ESPN.com column, Phil Rogers goes on a Fred McGriff-bashing spree like no other.
I've been trying my hardest lately to just ignore Rogers' weekly idiocy, but sometimes I just can't stop myself.
I don't know what else to say, other than I am a sucker for his crap and "I always wanna right what I see wrong."
I am not even a big fan of Fred McGriff's.
I think he has been a good player for a long time, but he's never been one of my favorites and I have no attachment to him whatsoever.
However, sometimes even people you don't like that much need defending.
Where shall we start?
"Dan Evans is the kind of upbeat young executive who finds positives in every situation. An open mind is a valuable thing to have. Evans proved that a year ago by declining to acquire a proven closer, which left an important job open for Eric Gagne, who was squeezed out of the starting rotation.
But Evans has gone too far this time."
Uh oh, what has he done?
Has he traded Shawn Green for Greg Vaughn?
Has he decided to swap Eric Gagne for Pat Mahomes?
Surely it must be something very bad.
Let's find out...
"Needing to improve a flawed lineup that kept Los Angeles from making the 2002 playoffs, the Dodgers general manager turned to a most unlikely source for talent -- the supporting cast that had failed Sammy Sosa.
Evans, who was hooked on baseball watching the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the 1970s, imported first baseman Fred McGriff and catcher Todd Hundley in his most notable offseason moves. The odd thing is Evans spent a little time working for Andy MacPhail in 2001 yet is entrusting his new team to two guys who badly failed his old boss."
Wait, let me get this straight...
Part of Dan Evans' big sin is that he needed to improve his offense and went out and acquired Fred McGriff?
You have got to be kidding me!
Fortunately, Evans was able to shed some light (and sanity) on the situation:
"'McGriff's slugging percentage last year was 100 points higher than our first basemen,' Evans said from the Dodgers' camp in Vero Beach, Fla. "He outhomered them, 30-14. We're not looking for him to do anything more than he's done the last few years ... An average season from Fred McGriff will be a big difference for us."
"One thing we wanted to do was improve our bench,'' Evans said. 'We think with Ward and Hundley, we have. Hundley outhomered Eric Karros (16-13) in (258) fewer at-bats.'"
Let's not kid ourselves regarding Todd Hundley. He was acquired because that was the only way Evans was going to be able to shed Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek from the payroll.
The fact that Rogers makes the Dodgers' trading for Hundley into such a big deal is very strange.
It's not as if they focused their entire off-season around signing Hundley, he was simply the junk they got in exchange for some other junk.
As far as McGriff goes, what Evans said is exactly right.
Fred McGriff is getting up there in age and he is no longer a great hitter, but he is still pretty good and certainly a whole hell of a lot better than the assortment of dreck the Dodgers played at first base last season.
As Evans said, "An average season from McGriff will be a big difference" for the Dodgers.
"Evans decided he wouldn't hold his old favorite team against McGriff and Hundley. He ignored what happened to the Cubs after McGriff arrived in a July 31 deadline trade in 2001.
Sosa's best-ever performance and a run of overpowering pitching had Don Baylor's team in first place in the National League Central. The Cubs had scuffled for runs all season, however, with black holes at first base, catcher and center field.
It seemed an ideal situation to add a proven run-producer like McGriff, who came to Chicago on July 29, with the Cubs 3½ games ahead of Houston and 7½ ahead of St. Louis. But it turned out to be a zero-sum move.
McGriff put up numbers, but the Cubs sunk to third in the Central, going 28-31 after the deal. That formula was followed again in '02."
It appears as though Rogers is trying to say that, because the Cubs went 28-31 after acquiring McGriff in 2001, McGriff should no longer be allowed to play professional baseball. Or something like that.
While it is true that the Cubs performed poorly after acquiring McGriff, the fact is that McGriff did very well in 2001 with the Cubs, hitting .282/.383/.559 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in only 49 games.
Additionally, the Cubs' offense, the thing McGriff was acquired to help improve, was actually better in August and September of 2001 than it was during the rest of the year.
April = .246/.325/.400 (.725 OPS)
May = .257/.332/.409 (.741 OPS)
June = .255/.335/.437 (.772 OPS)
July = .265/.331/.430 (.761 OPS)
August = .261/.342/.421 (.763 OPS)
September = .272/.346/.468 (813 OPS)
McGriff was on the team for 2 of their best 3 offensive months and the Cubs were actually 2nd in the entire National League (behind only Coors-inflated Colorado) in OPS in the month of September (a month in which McGriff slugged .656).
So, as you can clearly see, not only did Chicago's offense not fall apart after they acquired McGriff, they actually were quite good, better than they had been all season prior to that.
No, the reason the Cubs went 28-31 after acquiring McGriff was not the offense, it was the pitching:
April = 3.46 ERA
May = 4.08
June = 3.90
July = 3.42
August = 4.33 ERA
September = 5.22 ERA
In McGriff's 2 months with the Cubs, they posted their 2 worst ERAs of the season, including a 5.22 ERA in September, which was the 2nd worst in the NL (behind Milwaukee's 5.98!).
Now, say what you want about McGriff's defense at first base - I don't claim it is even mediocre anymore - but there is no way he is that responsible for those August and September ERAs.
In short, McGriff was brought to Chicago to help boost their offense for the final 2 months of the year and he did exactly that.
He did well personally and the team's offense improved.
The Cubs failed as a team in those 2 months because their pitching fell apart, particularly in September.
The "ace" of their 2001 staff, Jon Lieber, had a 5.46 September ERA.
Jason Bere checked in at 5.32 and Kevin Tapani posted a 9.28 ERA in what would be the final month of his career.
They also got some horrendous outings from the bullpen, including Courtney Duncan, who surrendered 10 runs (all earned) in only 7 September innings.
Okay, let's see what else Rogers has to say...
"McGriff, who will be 39 when he reports to Dodgertown, hit 42 home runs and drove in 144 runs in his 195 games with the Cubs. Yet the team that had a .583 winning percentage when he arrived played .430 baseball with him on the roster.
This follows four seasons when he was The Man for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, willing them to a 235-354 record. That's a personal .407 winning percentage for the last five years. This is a one-man tribute to the Cleveland Spiders. And he's the guy Evans is adding to the middle of his lineup?"
Okay, we already discussed how McGriff was certainly not to blame for the Cubs' struggles in August and September of 2001. And, we've looked at what a nice job he did at the plate last season for them.
Now, I'd like to talk about Rogers' next statement, which involves McGriff's time with the D-Rays and how poor their record was during that stretch.
First of all, Babe Ruth himself (or even better, Barry Bonds) couldn't have turned those Tampa Bay teams into contenders, they were simply awful, as many expansion teams are.
To blame that on Fred McGriff is crazy.
McGriff hit .295/.384/.491 in his 550 games with the D-Rays.
Not superstar numbers, but very solid production.
But, maybe Rogers is on to something, maybe Fred McGriff just simply negatively influenced Tampa Bay's performance while he was there, despite his good hitting.
As Phil points out, Tampa Bay was 235-354 while McGriff was there, a winning percentage of .399, which is, of course, horrible.
And, since they were able to rid themselves of the team cancer that Phil Rogers claims is Fred McGriff?
Tampa Bay is 84-136 since McGriff was traded to the Cubs, which works out to a .381 winning %.
So, guess what?
Tampa Bay has actually been worse since they got rid of McGriff.
So much for that theory.
When Rogers sarcastically says that McGriff "willed" the D-Rays to a .399 winning percentage...well, he just may not know how right he actually was.
Once again, Dodgers' GM Dan Evans speaks intelligently about McGriff's situation in Tampa and in Chicago:
"I don't think you can blame Tampa Bay or the Cubs' situation on Fred McGriff,'' Evans said. "He's been a part of some great teams, part of a club (Atlanta) that won the world championship.''
Evans brings up a very interesting point that just may contradict Phil Rogers' whole McGriff-causes-teams-to-lose-simply-by-being-on-the-roster theory.
Prior to joining the Devil Rays, Fred McGriff was a very good player on a lot of very good teams.
Here are the year-by-year win totals for McGriff's teams, before 1998:
Year Team W L
1993 San Diego 36 57
1994 Atlanta 68 46
1987-1997 TOTAL 966 750 (.562 Winning %)Um...Phil?
It sort of seems as though the "loser bug" stayed away from McGriff's teams for the first 11 or so years of his career.
Coincidently, he seemed to become a "losing player" right around the time he joined a 1st year expansion team with a front office full of idiots.
Funny how that works, isn't it?
In fact, during the first 11 seasons of McGriff's career, he was on a losing team 1 time, 1993 with San Diego, and that only lasted until he was traded to Atlanta at mid-season, at which point the Braves proceeded to go 51-18(!) with McGriff on the roster.
By the way, in case you're interested in applying Rogers' "personal winning %" thing to the 1993 season where McGriff was traded (sort of like what Rogers did with his 2001 season where he joined the Cubs mid-year):
Atlanta in 1993 without Fred: .569 winning %
Atlanta in 1993 with Fred: .739 winning %
San Diego in 1993 with Fred: .387 winning %
San Diego in 1993 without Fred: .352 winning %
As I said earlier, I am no big fan of Fred McGriff's and I am not here to suggest he is still a great hitter or will be in 2003 for Los Angeles.
I simply wanted to point out how idiotic Rogers' claims about McGriff in this article were and how lacking in simple logic his thoughts are.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention this quote:
"This is a one-man tribute to the Cleveland Spiders. And he's the guy Evans is adding to the middle of his lineup?"
Well, if McGriff has been a "one-man tribue to the Cleveland Spiders" (perhaps the worst team in baseball history) he only started that tribute when HE JOINED AN EXPANSION TEAM! Before that, what was his .562 winning percentage a tribute to? The New York Yankees?
The fact the Rogers questions adding McGriff to the lineup because of what the Devil Rays and Cubs have done recently is just insane.
Would you turn down having Brian Giles in your lineup because the Pirates stink? What about Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney? The last time I checked, the Royals stunk.
On the other hand, Keith Lockhart has shown himself to be a consistent "winner" while with the Braves, so I'm sure Mr. Rogers would approve of the Dodgers adding him to the team.
Okay, so what have we learned?
1) While the Cubs went only 28-31 after McGriff joined the team in 2001, their offense actually improved, which was the whole point of brining McGriff aboard. But, the pitching fell apart and the team went with it.
Additionally, McGriff was actually quite good again in 2002, but the Cubs' offense, beyond McGriff, Sammy Sosa and Mark Bellhorn, was flat out putrid.
It included extended playing time from guys like Joe Girardi (.226/.275/.291), Corey Patterson (.253/.284/.392), Delino DeShields (.192/.292/.308), Chris Stynes (.241/.314/.374) and Rosie Brown (.211/.299/.324).
Heck, even if you found it absolutely necessary to blame the Chicago's 2002 season on an "old hitter," Fred McGriff isn't even the best option on the team for that limited pool of candidates!
Moises Alou hit .275/.337/.419, over 100 points of OPS less than McGriff.
2) McGriff's time with the Devil Rays resulted in a lot of losses, but that should have been expected from an expansion team, particularly one with as bad a front office as Tampa Bay had/has. McGriff performed very well while with the D-Rays and was certainly the furthest thing from the reason they stunk.
3) Despite Rogers' insistance that losing follows McGriff wherever he goes and that no teams should sign him because of that:
a) Tampa Bay actually got worse after he left.
b) McGriff's teams won at a .562 clip during the first 11 years of his career, which is an extraordinary percentage.
4) Fred McGriff is a perfectly good first baseman for the Dodgers and certainly an upgrade over what they had there in 2002.
LA's various first basemen (primarily Eric Karros) were awful in 2002, hitting a combined .278/.334/.405 for a .740 OPS, which ranked 13th in the NL.
Meanwhile, McGriff hit .273/.353/.505 for a 858 OPS and the Cubs' first basemen (primarily McGriff) finished 7th in the NL in OPS.
In addition to that, despite his getting up there in age, McGriff has been a very productive and remarkably consistent hitter for his entire career and has been quite good for the last couple seasons:
2001 = .306/.386/.544 (142 OPS+)
2002 = .273/.353/.505 (125 OPS+)
Finally and perhaps most importantly...
5) We learned that:
[Phil Rogers'] tired words are all, they're all the same
Yeah I would walk and I'd surely walk away
If I wasn't such a sucker for you
What can I say? I just can't help it.
Phil Rogers, I am a sucker for you.
I'm gonna get my own things goin on
And when i do, I'll forget
I'll forget about how, how your so, your so lame
Your tired words are all, your tired words are all the same
And I would walk you know I'd, I'd walk away
If I wasn't such a sucker for you
I wasn't such a sucker for you
I wasn't such a sucker for you
C'mon, everybody sing...
If I wasn't such a sucker for you...
I wasn't such a sucker for you...
I wasn't such a sucker for you...PHIL!
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Brush with greatnessAs mentioned in this space yesterday, I had lunch with a celebrity yesterday...
Yep, that's right, none other than the Twins Geek, aka John Bonnes.
What'd you expect? Heidi Klum? (Yes, mentioning her name is just an excuse to post this picture...)
John and I talked websites, the Twins, the Timberwolves and all sorts of good stuff, over burgers and milkshakes.
It was a lot of fun and hopefully John enjoyed it as much as I did (although I am the only one of the two of us that got a free meal out of it).
John told me all about the "First Annual Twins Geek Ballpark Tour" that he has planned for July.
Basically, John and a whole bunch of baseball fans will be going to 3 games at 3 different ballparks in 3 days.
The trip may or may not also include a whole bunch of tailgating, drinking, partying and even some possible arrests - although John wouldn't promise anything regarding that last part.
Most of the spots are already taken, but, as of yesterday, there were still a few remaining.
To learn more about it, check out this link:
The 1st Annual TwinsGeek Ballpark Tour
John and I may be joining forces on an "event" sometime in the near future, so stay tuned!
Speaking of the Twins Geek...
In today's guest column, Dan Landherr takes a look at the differences between how Tom Kelly managed the Twins in 2001 and how Ron Gardenhire managed them last season.
I am not talking about personal opinions here, I'm talking cold, hard facts.
A couple I found interesting:
Under Kelly, the Twins attempted 213 steals in 2001 and were successful 68.5% of the time.
Under Gardenhire, the Twins attempted 141 steals in 2002 and were successful 56% of the time.
As Dan points out in the article, somewhere abound 66% is usually considered the "break even" point for stealing bases - meaning that is the point where it is neither hurting or helping a team.
Managing the running game was, by far, my biggest complaint about Gardenhire last season. It just seemed like he took them out of a ton of possible big innings by trying to steal a base.
Only 1 Twin, Torii Hunter, was truly an effective base-stealer last season (he was 23/31).
Guzman (12/25), Koskie (10/21) and Jacque Jones (6/13) each got thrown out more times than they were successful, which is just horrendous.
And even Luis Rivas, for whom speed was supposed to be a major strength, was just mediocre, at best (9/13).
The horrible success rates in 2002 were particularly depressing because a lot of guys had been very good on the bases in 2001.
Koskie was 27/33, Guzman was 25/33 and Rivas was 31/42.
Obviously, all the struggles can't be blamed on the manager, just as the good success rates can't be attributed solely to Kelly in 2001.
That said, picking good spots to run and, perhaps more importantly avoiding bad spots to run, is definitely a skill and Gardenhire simply did not show that he had it last year.
In fact, after finishing 4th in AL in steals in 2001 and doing so with a very good success rate, the Twins dropped to 8th in the AL last year and were at the bottom of the league in SB%.
Personally, I am a fan of the Billy Beane-style of basestealing, which basically lives by the motto: "Why run when you can just let the next guy hit and then stroll around the bases with him?"
But, if you are going to run, it is absolutely essential that you do not waste outs and you must avoid making stealing bases a negative instead of a positive.
It was a huge negative for Minnesota in 2002.
Another interesting thing I learned from Dan Landherr's column was just how much more TK liked to "hit and run" than Gardy.
In 2001, TK did 136 hit-and-runs, while Gardy executed it only 91 times last year, a difference of over 50%.
Not only did Kelly do it a lot more often, he was much more successful with it, succeeding 38.2% of the time to Gardy's 24.2%.
I am not a big fan of the hit and run either, but I did see a noticeable difference in that area during the season and it's good to see actual numbers support my observations.
Looking at the numbers and the comparison, it is quite obvious that Gardenhire struggled with all phases of managing the running game last season. I am not sure how much of the blame should be put on him, but I am sure that, in the end, he is responsible for a lot of it. That said, it was his first year as a manager and I would expect the Twins to be much improved in 2003, particularly in regard to their stolen base %.
For more on the TK/Gardy comparison, go check out TwinsGeek.com.
I was reading the Minneapolis Star Tribune online yesterday and I came across an article about the Timberwolves that had a Kevin Garnett stat that shocked me:
With Garnett on the court, the team has outscored its opponents by 215 points this season. When he sits out, the other teams have outscored the Wolves by 157.
Even more stunning is the pace at which the bottom drops out when Garnett gets a breather. Because he has sat out only 380 minutes in the Wolves' 50 games, that 157-point backslide translates to 4.13 points for every 10 minutes Garnett doesn't play. On a 48-minute basis, that's like getting outscored by 20 points every game.
When Garnett is in the game, the Wolves average an extra 1.06 points every 10 minutes. Oh, and in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in Atlanta -- in which Garnett was named Most Valuable Player -- the West squad outscored the East by 15 points with the Wolves forward on the court, while getting outscored by five when he sat.
There are a lot of different factors involved in a stat like that, so it isn't exactly 100% trustworthy, but it's still pretty amazing.
While Garnett is on the bench, which isn't very often, the Wolves are getting outscored by .413 points per minute.
While he's on the court, which is about 85% of the minutes in a game, they outscore their opponents by .106 points per minute.
I don't know about you, but I found those numbers pretty staggering.
Basically, in the 40 minutes Garnett plays, the Wolves go up about 4 and a half points.
And then in the 8 minutes he doesn't play, they lose about 3 and a half points.
Like I said, amazing.
Since I am officially in Garnett-butt-kissing mode, I might as well show you his season stats:
Min/G Pts/G Reb/G Ast/G Blk/G Stl/G FG% FT% 3PT%That is what I would call an all-around game!
Garnett ranks 14th in the NBA in scoring and 2nd in rebounding.
He is also 15th in assists. Oh, did I mention he is 7-feet tall?
KG is 1st in the NBA with 41 double-doubles (in 51 games) and even has 3 triple-doubles, which ranks 2nd in the league.
And he is the only player in the NBA that leads his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks.
Wow, look at that, an entire column devoted to sports in the state of Minnesota!
Tune in tomorrow when I continue my look at "Professional Sports in the Midwest" by examing North Dakota.
That's looking like it's gonna be a very short column...
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
RickeyI saw the following headline on ESPN.com yesterday: "Athletics to Rickey: Please lose our number"
Aside from how awful ESPN.com's headline writers are, it was an interesting story.
Basically, Rickey Henderson still wants to play baseball and he is interested in signing a minor league contract with the A's.
Here are a few quotes:
"I just want the opportunity to play baseball," Henderson, a free agent after playing in Boston last year, said in response to a fan's question. "I can give (the A's) anything they're looking for. They've got their starting lineup, but I can come off the bench. I can play the outfield if someone goes down. I can pinch hit. I can steal a base. I can score a run. There's a lot I could give. I'm educated in the game, and I could help them win."
"I don't see where he'd fit with us," general manager Billy Beane told the San Francisco Chronicle. "At this point, I don't think it's something we'd be interested in," Beane said.
I certainly can't blame Billy Beane for not being interested in Henderson. After all, Rickey is well past the point of being anything more than a role player.
That said, I really hope Henderson gets a chance to play this year.
He is one of my all-time favorite baseball players, a very "unique" human being and one of the greatest players in the history of baseball.
Plus, he can definitely still contribute positively to a team.
The article got me thinking about whether or not I would be interested in signing Rickey, if I were a GM.
I immediately decided that for it to even be a possibility, my team would have to be a contender. If I was running a rebuilding team, I wouldn't want to mess around with a 44 year old outfielder, it just isn't worth it.
Okay, so the real question is this: If I were running a good Major League team, would I have interest in signing Rickey Henderson to play for my team in 2003?
Here are his most recent numbers:
Year AB AVG OBP SLG HR 2B BB SB CSAs you can see, at this point in his career, Rickey Henderson is pretty much a walker, not a hitter.
He has hit .233, .227 and .224 during the last 3 years and has slugged only .305, .351 and .352.
Even his speed on the basepaths has gradually declined to the point that he stole less than 20 bases in a season for the first time in his entire career in 2002. Obviously some of that lack of SBs has to do with playing time, but Henderson is nowhere near the basestealer he once was.
His lone remaining outstanding skill is drawing walks and getting on base. Luckily for him, that is a very important and valuable skill to have.
I am convinced that Rickey Henderson could get on base 35% of the time until he's eligible for Social Security. He may never see a .250 batting average or a .400 slugging % again, but he can certainly avoid making outs.
So, if he were on a team I was running, what would his role be?
Certainly not an everyday player. Most likely, Henderson would be a 5th outfielder, asked to pinch-hit and pinch-run and occasionally fill in for a starter that is injured or taking a day off.
That is basically the role he had last season with the Red Sox.
They had Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon as their starting outfielders and also acquired Cliff Floyd late in the year.
Henderson struggled to find much playing time in Boston and only managed to get 222 plate appearances, the lowest total of his career - by far.
What did he do in those 222 plate appearances?
Well, like I showed earlier, he hit .224/.369/.352.
Breaking that down a little further:
versus righties = .245/.374/.383 (114 PAs)
versus lefties = .200/.364/.318 (108 PAs)
Those are very small amounts of PAs to make any sort of judgments on, but it does show that Henderson was able to get on base at about the same clip against either handed pitcher, but did struggle to hit for average and power more against lefties.
Let's break down his 3 year (2000-2002) stats:
versus righties = .240/.364/.349 (815 PAs)
versus lefties = .204/.374/.291 (381 PAs)
Well, that pretty much shows the same thing his 2002 numbers did; he gets on base against everyone, but his average and SLG drop significantly against southpaws.
Okay, so he hits righties better than lefties, but the difference isn't gigantic, mostly because he can get on base against either.
In other words, he could pinch-hit and occasionally start, no matter which pitcher was on the mound.
So, now that we know that, what kind of pinch-hitter/spot-starter would he make?
Well, his .369 OBP last year and his .367 OBP from 2000-2002 is pretty good.
In fact, (splitting that in the middle) a .368 OBP would have ranked 19th in the American League last season, tied with Robin Ventura and Corey Koskie and right ahead of Eric Hinske, Johnny Damon, Miguel Tejada, Ellis Burks and tons of other good hitters.
Now, obviously, Rickey's only real strength is OBP, so that comparision isn't very fair to the other players, but it does show that his main source of value is a good one.
Overall, his performance at the plate has resulted in a .277 EqA last season and a .276 EqA in 2001.
Those are some pretty solid numbers.
The Major League average EqA for left fielders and right fielders in 2002 was .283.
The average EqA for center fielders was .270.
So, Henderson has been slightly below average for a corner outfielder the past 2 seasons.
Like I said, if you are going to have only 1 remaining skill as a hitter, drawing walks is the one to have.
You can probably tell where I am going with all of this.
I would absolutely be interested in Rickey Henderson for a baseball team I was running, assuming 3 key stipulations:
1) He didn't want a lot of money.
2) The team was a contender.
3) The team did not have an abundance of good and/or young corner outfield/DH-types that needed playing time.
Point #1 is moot in regard to Henderson, because he is seeking only a minor league contract and a minimum salary.
Also, I already discussed why I would only want him on a contending team.
As for #3...
For a team like the Twins, Henderson would be a very bad addition, not because of his performance, but because he would be keeping other, younger players from playing time.
When you have a Bobby Kielty or a Matthew LeCroy looking for at bats, you don't want to give them to a 44 year old, even if he gets on base at a great clip.
But let's go back to the A's for a moment.
Do they have quality outfielders/DHs that Henderson would be taking playing time away from?
Yes and no.
The A's starting outfield is likely going to be Terrence Long, Chris Singleton and Jermaine Dye.
Even if Dye bounces back in 2003, that is a pretty horrible offensively outfield.
The potential reserve outfielders are Eric Byrnes, Adam Piatt, Rontrez Johnson and Jason Grabowski.
While the A's could stand to improve their starting outfielders, Henderson is not going to help in that area.
And, as you would expect from a Billy Beane team, that is an interesting group of players for possible backup roles.
All of them are fairly young and they all have potential to be good players.
Looking at the A's outfield possibilities, I think Beane made a wise decision by not being interested in Rickey.
As much as I'd love to see him play one more time for Oakland, they simply have better, younger options as backup outfielders.
It doesn't look like Henderson will be back with the A's in 2003, but I am holding out hope that there is a team out there that can use an outfielder that can get on base 37% of the time and steal a few bases too.
Plus, simply having Rickey in the clubhouse has got to be worth at least 10 runs a season just because of team moral and the overall laugh factor involved in his day-to-day activities.
And, you know the newspaper reporters in whichever city he ends up in will be thanking their lucky stars, because there isn't a better quote in the game (Rickey not only likes to say "interesting" things, he tends to do it while speaking in the third person).
In other news...
I've stumbled across some interesting things popping up at various blogs around the internet:
Jay Jaffe, aka "The Futility Infielder," has calculated and posted all of the 2003 DIPS ("Defense Idependent Pitching Stats") totals.
As far as I know, Jay's site is the only place that has the stats for last season and I have been busy studying them.
I've talked about DIPS a few times and needless to say it is one of the more intriguing developmens in baseball statistics that I've come across recently.
If you want to see the 2003 stats or if you want to learn more about what exactly DIPS is, head over to Jay's site and get ready to be intrigued.
By the way, one tidbit before you head over there: A certain left-handed Minnesota Twins pitcher that I have been salivating over and babbling about ranked 4th in all of baseball in DIPS ERA, behind only Randy, Curt and Pedro.
Alex Belth over at "Bronx Banter" recently conducted an interview with documentary film maker Ken Burns. Burns is the guy responsible for "Baseball" and "Civil War," among other well-known documentaries.
It is an interesting interview and anytime a fellow blogger can get to talk with a real, live celebrity...well that's definitely worth checking out.
As long as I'm giving out plugs...
I said this a few days ago, but I want to make sure everyone gets a chance to hear it; go check out "The Dump's Sportsblog."
It is a new blog and quickly becoming one of my favorites.
Another blog that I have been checking out a ton lately is the "Batter's Box."
Basically, it is a site run by a bunch of Canadians (try not to hold that against them, they can't help it!) and they talk about the Blue Jays and pretty much anything baseball related.
I think there are officially 9 different contributors, so they produce a ton of good content.
Plus, they have a discussion section where you can post comments about the articles and you'll often see me rambling on (as if I didn't do that on this site enough!) over there.
This afternoon, perhaps as you are reading this very sentence, I am scheduled to have lunch with a very well known celebrity.
Okay, he isn't really a celebrity in the sense that millions of people know who he is, but I am pretty sure most of the people that come to this website are familar with him.
Anyway, I will leave you in suspense until tomorrow, when hopefully I'll be able to tell you how much fun we had at lunch.
He said he's paying, so you know I'll have a good time!
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Introducing your Minnesota Gophers...First of all, I sincerely applogize to any of you extremely opposed to hearing about my Diamond-Mind keeper league team(s). If that is you, this column is definitely not for you.
However, I did get a ton of responses each of the times I have discussed my teams and, since yesterday was the final day to "re-sign" keepers for next year in one of my leagues, I thought it would be a good time to tell everyone how my team, the Minnesota Gophers, is shaping up.
The last time I talked about my team, I had a lot of decisions to make.
Basically, I had acquired a lot of young "prospects" the year before and pretty much none of them panned out in 2002.
So, I could either stick with the prospects and let them eat up huge portions of my team payroll or try to rebuild on the fly, to keep compete this year.
As you may have guessed, I chose to rebuild on the fly, because I can't stand not competing, even for one season.
In the last 45 days or so (since I originally wrote about my team) I have made more trades than I thought humanly possible.
And, that is coming from someone that once, while playing in an ESPN.com fantasy league, ended the season with not a single player among the 28 I originally drafted.
Here is a quick recap of a few of the trades...
(Keep in mind, the league has player salaries and team salary caps, so not every trade is simply talent for talent, a lot of it is dumping big contracts, working the cap and so on)
Traded away Carlos Pena ($23), Mike Fetters ($3) and Olmedo Saenz ($3) for Johnny Damon ($27).
Traded away John Valentin ($3) for Rick Helling ($12).
Traded away Jose Vizcaino ($3) for Mark McLemore ($7).
Traded away Tom Goodwin ($3), Rick White ($5), Felix Heredia ($4) and Chad Paronto ($3) for Ken Huckaby ($3) and Greg Myers ($5).
Traded away Ken Huckaby ($3) for Gabe White ($5).
Traded away Gabe White ($5) for Andy Ashby ($10), Placido Polanco ($9) and Mark DeRosa ($5).
Traded away Gary Bennett ($5) and Eric Owens ($3) for Randy Johnson ($98) and Ellis Burks ($23).
Traded away Quinton McCracken ($3) for Andruw Jones ($34).
Traded away Michael Tucker ($9) for Mike Fetters ($3) (yes, the same Fetters that I traded away earlier).
Traded away Freddy Garcia ($38) for Johan Santana ($5).
Along with all this trading, I also flat out released a bunch of players:
Juan Uribe ($22)
Lee Stevens ($13)
Luis Alicea ($3)
Nick Neugebauer ($18)
Nate Cornejo ($13)
Kurt Ainsworth ($17)
Shawn Estes ($15)
Josh Beckett ($37)
Adam Dunn ($58)
Tim Redding ($13)
Travis Harper ($3)
Keith Lockart ($3)
Travis Fryman ($4)
Nick Johnson ($29)
Some of those guys just plain sucked (Lockhart, Stevens, Alicea) but most of them were simply way too expensive for me to justify keeping them after how they played in 2002 (Beckett, Dunn, Johnson, Neugebauer). I was able to trade a few of the guys I was going to cut, but the guys on that list were pretty much untradeable with their salaries.
As I said, yesterday was the final day to "re-sign" players for next year, which means every team now has their roster set and the league will be heading toward the draft/auction.
For my team, there is bad news and good news.
First, the good news...
I have 25 players on my roster and every "normal" position is filled.
I have 5 starting pitchers, a full-bullpen, a backup catcher, 2 backup infielders and 2 backup outfielders and a full, every-day lineup.
Now, the bad news...
The team salary cap is $400 and I am currently at $385, meaning I have a grand total of $15 to spend in the draft.
To put that in some context, I had over $200 to spend in the draft last off-season and, this year, the majority of the other 23 teams have at least $100.
In fact, 9 teams have over $200 and 4 teams have over $280 to spend!
I was really fond of the draft last year, it is a lot of fun bidding on players and all that.
But, I saw an opportunity to build my team prior to the draft, while other teams tried to clear cap room.
I won't be able to bid on Mark Prior or Austin Kearns or Hank Blalock or any of the other 2002 rookies that are available.
But, what I do have is a full roster that is ready to play right now, without having to worry about filling holes in the draft.
So, without further adieu, I present to you the 2002 Minnesota Gophers of the TRHL:
SP Randy Johnson
SP A.J. Burnett
SP Andy Ashby
SP Rick Helling
SP Johan Santana / Ryan Rupe
RP Tony Fiore
RP Scott Eyre
RP Mike Koplove
RP Mike Fetters
RP Joey Eischen
C Ramon Hernandez
1B Jim Thome
2B Mark McLemore
SS Andy Fox
3B Mark Bellhorn
LF Johnny Damon
CF Andruw Jones
RF Gary Matthews Jr.
DH Ellis Burks
C Greg Myers
IF Placido Polanco
IF Mark DeRosa
OF Moises Alou
OF Michael Cuddyer
As far as star-studded fantasy baseball teams go, this isn't one of them.
My only real stars are probably Randy Johnson, Andruw Jones and Jim Thome.
But, I think I have a whole bunch of productive players and, overall, a good team.
Much of my offensive attack is based on platooning players.
Mark McLemore hit .283/.384/.408 against righties last year, but only .152/.348/.273 in a very limited numbers of ABs against lefties.
So, he is my starting 2B against righties, while Mark DeRosa starts there against lefties, against whom he hit .293/.369/.448.
Andy Fox is my starting shortstop against righties and he hit .277/.369/.369 against them.
However, he hit a putrid .148/.208/.193 against lefties, so Placido Polanco gets the start at SS against them (he hit .338/.390/.490 vs lefties in 2002).
In the outfield, Gary Matthews Jr. hit .292/.376/.462 against righties, so he gets the start in RF against them, while Moises Alou starts in his place against lefties, against whom he hit .322/.402/.470.
The other guys will all play pretty much everyday.
Thome crushes righties (.333/.485/.766) and was respectable enough against lefties (.245/.358/.497) to stay in the lineup.
On the other hand, Bellhorn destroys lefties (.303/.397/.672) and does alright against righties too (.241/.365/.452).
Johnny Damon does well against lefties and righties.
Ramon Hernandez can't really hit anyone, but he's there for his defense, so he plays pretty much everyday, with Greg Myers playing some of the time against right handed pitching (he hit .227/.357/.412 against them).
Andruw Jones surprisingly stunk against lefties last year, hitting only .228/.370/.367 against them, but he's so good defensively that he stays in my lineup against them.
He's a no-brainer against righties, against whom he hit .270/.365/.536.
Speaking of Andruw, my trade for him a few days ago created a very strange situation in my outfield.
You see, Diamond-Mind assigns each player defensive ratings at each position they played in 2002.
The ratings are Excellent, Very Good, Average, Fair and Poor.
For example, Jim Thome got a "Fair" rating at 1B, while Moises Alou was "Average" in both LF and RF.
Anyway, I already had Johnny Damon as my center fielder, where he got a "Very Good" rating in 2002.
Then, I traded for Andruw, who also had a "Very Good" CF rating.
Neither of them was rated in LF or RF, so one of them is going to have to play out of position for me this season.
I am leaning toward putting Damon in LF and not Andruw, because Andruw's throwing arm was rated higher.
Either way, I am planning on having the best defensive outfield in the league, with 2 gold glove caliber center fielders manning LF and CF, while Gary Matthews Jr. patrols RF, where he received a "Very Good" rating.
Okay, so that covers my hitting and defense.
My pitching is, in my opinion, the strength of my team.
I think my top 2 starters, Randy Johnson and A.J. Burnett, are as good as any team's.
Everyone knows about The Big Unit and, if you want to learn some more, go check out my Johnson/Koufax discussion from last week.
A.J. Burnett is a lesser known star.
Check out his numbers from 2002:
IP ERA K BB HR OAVGThose are some very good numbers.
Burnett struck out almost exactly 1 batter per inning and, while walked quite a few, he did very well keeping home runs to a minimum.
Overall, batters hit .209/.299/.309 against him, which is just phenomenal.
Actually, to be exact, the .608 OPS against was #2 in the entire National League, behind only Odalis Perez (.605).
Yep, Odalis Perez led the NL in OPS against and A.J. Burnett was 2nd!
I have been following Burnett a lot on this site, particularly during last season.
I devoted a couple of entries entirely to him.
Actually, the first entry in the history of Aaron's Baseball Blog was entitled, "A.J. Burnett and Jeff Torborg."
Yeah, I wasn't such a snappy headline writer back then.
At the time (August 1st) Burnett was pitching brilliantly, but was worrying me because of the huge pitch counts his manager, Jeff Torborg, was allowing him to rack up.
Here is what I said back in that first ever post:
Burnett has been one of baseball's top pitchers throughout the season and he was awesome tonight, but the way his manager, Jeff Torborg, is using him has me worried about his future.
There is just no way that a 25 year old pitcher in his 2nd full season in the majors should be allowed to consistently throw that many pitches, start after start after start.
Burnett has been great this year and he looks like he will be a stud for years to come. But the way he is being treated makes me think he is in line for some arm troubles.
I hope I am wrong.
Sadly, I was extremely right.
Amazingly, the first ever thing I wrote on this site was a correct prediction!
That has been overshadowed by the fact that I have yet to make another even remotely correct prediction, but that's beside the point.
In fact, within only 2 weeks from the time I wrote that, Burnett was on the DL with arm problems.
I made sure to let everyone know how brilliant my prediction was (just as I am doing now) and wrote an entry entitled: "I hate to say I told you so" in which I said:
Since that post, Burnett has started 3 games.
93 pitches on August 7th
123 pitches on August 12
117 pitches yesterday
And today, just as I predicted, A.J. Burnett was placed on the disabled list after complaining about a sore elbow.
According to what I have read, he is likely done for the entire season.
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!
I was so immature back then.
Oh, by the way, Torborg is still a f@!%ing moron.
Burnett actually did not miss the remainder of the entire season, just most of it.
He came back on September 14th, about a month after he went on the DL, and pitched 1 inning in relief against the Braves, walking 3 batters and allowing 3 runs.
He pitched again in relief a few days later against Montreal and gave up another 2 runs in only 1 and 2/3 innings.
Burnett finished up the year back in rotation for 2 final starts, both good ones (10 2/3 IP and 1 ER).
My point in all of this?
1) Burnett had a great year.
2) He is a key to my Diamond-Mind team.
3) Jeff Torborg is an idiot.
4) I actually have made at least 1 good prediction on this website.
After my top 1-2 punch of Johnson and Burnett, my rotation gets a little less reliable.
Andy Ashby and Rick Helling are in the #3 and #4 slots, basically to eat up innings and not be completely awful.
Ashby pitched 182 innings for the Dodgers last year and posted a 3.91 ERA.
That isn't a great number for someone pitching in Dodger Stadium, but I like the innings and he should be an "average" starter for me, which is what I need.
Helling pitched 176 innings for the Diamondbacks and had a 4.51 ERA.
Bank One Ballpark was actually quite a good place for hitters last year (and the last few years) so a 4.51 ERA there isn't horrible.
Not great, but not horrible.
The #5 spot in my rotation will be split between Johan Santana and Ryan Rupe.
I can't just have one starter because Santana only pitched 108 innings last year, while Rupe pitched only 90.
So, they'll split the duties and combine to pitch about 195 innings, which is what a normal rotation spot would be counted on for.
Rupe had an awful ERA last year, but his performance outside of that was actually pretty decent.
He held batters to a .243 batting average, which is very good.
He also struck out 67 batters in only 90 innings and walked only 25.
His one weakness was giving up homers (he served up 11) and that is why his ERA was so poor.
But, for about 15 starts, he should be decent for me.
And Johan Santana is someone I have talked about on this website about a million times.
To make a long story short, I think he is going to be one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball very soon.
The main thing holding him back is the fact that he doesn't even have a spot in the Twins' rotation this year, something that I think will eventually change, whether because of injuries to other pitchers or Santana just being to good to keep in the bullpen.
If you read this blog often, you know that I believe strike outs to be the #1 key for a pitcher's long-term success.
And Santana racks up strike outs with the best of them, literally.
Johan struck out 137 batters in only 108 innings last year, which works out to 11.38 per 9 innings.
If Santana had pitched enough innings to qualify for the league ERA title, that figure of 11.38/9 IP would have ranked #2 in all of MLB, behind only Randy Johnson.
For some comparison:
Johnson = 11.56
Santana = 11.38
Schilling = 10.97 K/9
Pedro = 10.79 K/9
Clemens = 9.60 K/9
By the way, A.J. Burnett ranked 9th in baseball at 8.94 K/9.
Trading Freddy Garcia for Santana was a bit of a risk, but I think it will turn out to be an excellent trade for me.
Garcia is good, but I think Johan will be great.
Plus, I saved $33 on the deal for this year and Garcia will soon be getting too expensive to retain anyway.
Okay, so that covers my starting rotation.
What about the bullpen?
I'm glad you asked.
My bullpen is made up of 5 guys that are pretty much no-names.
Believe it or not, each of them was picked up during last season was $1.
During the off-season, $1 players see their salaries increase to $3, which means my 5-man pen will combine to cost me $15 this year.
That's a hell of a bargain.
My closer is Joey Eischen.
I actually talked about him a little bit last week in an entry, so rather than come up with stuff to say about Joey Eischen for the second time in a single week...
As for Joey Eischen, I realize a lot of you probably have never even heard of him before and you guys are the upper percentile of baseball freaks.
Joey Eischen is a very important person in my life because he will serve as the "closer" on my Diamond-Mind team next season.
"Joey Eischen is going to be your closer next year?"
Yes, he is.
Remember, DMB uses last year's stats in the current season, so Eischen will be serving as closer and pitching like he did in 2002.
Check out the stats:
Player IP ERA SO BB H HR OAVGIf you didn't know who those numbers belonged to, you would have no problem believing he was a big time closer, right?
The late-inning fate of the Minnesota Gophers of the Three Run Homer League rests upon the left arm of one Joey Eischen.
I hope it doesn't end up turning out as bad as it sounds!
I am expecting big things from Eischen.
He held lefties to an amazing .173/.244/.247 and was pretty good against righties too, holding them to .261/.323/.306.
Setting up Eischen from the right side of the pen will be Mike Fetters, Mike Koplove and Tony Fiore.
Fiore will also be used as a long-reliever because he has good stamina and is able to pitch a lot of innings.
He pitched 91 innings for the Twins last year with a 3.17, holding opponents to .224/.317/.360.
Fetters will be asked to simply get out right handed hitters.
If he sees 1 lefty this entire year, that will be 1 more than I'd like.
You see, he held righties to .230/.329/.311, but somehow managed to allow lefties to hit .306/.451/.435.
Like I said, he won't be seeing many left handed hitters.
Mike Koplove is my true setup man and will be asked to pitch the 8th inning of close games most of the time.
He pitched 62 innings for Arizona last year, holding opponents to .213/.281/.276, which is just awesome.
He is an extreme ground ball pitcher and gave up only 2 homers in those 62 IPs.
From the left side of the pen, I have Scott Eyre as my official LOOGY ("Lefty One Out GuY")
Eyre is pretty much the opposite of Fetters in that he'll be asked to face as many lefties and as few righties as possible.
He limited lefties to .233/.307/.322, but righties did well against him, batting .317/.389/.441.
So, there you have it.
My platoon filled lineup with Thome, Burks and Andruw Jones in the middle.
My "1-2 punch and a bunch of [mediocre]" rotation.
And my $15 bullpen, which is really the biggest strength on my whole team.
With only $15 bucks to spend in the auction, I am not counting on getting much useful, so I'll spare you the details of that.
But, you can count on frequent in-season updates as Thome, Johnson and the rest of the Minnesota Gophers continue their journey to the 2002 TRHL Championship!
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, February 10, 2003
Monday morningNot too much went on in the baseball world this weekend, so I thought I would devote this column to some random thoughts I had while wondering why Mariah Carey looked better wearing "Wizards 23" last night than Michael Jordan ever has...
While watching the various NBA All-Star weekend festivities, I had what I think is a very good idea.
The luster of the dunk contest and 3-point contest are sort of gone, so I was thinking about a new event that would liven things up a bit.
How about a 1-on-1 contest?
Can you imagine Tracy McGrady going 1-on-1 against Kobe Bryant?
How about Kevin Garnett against Tim Duncan?
Shaq versus Yao?
Jason Kidd and Gary Payton?
Allen Iverson against Steve Francis?
The possibilities are endless.
They might have some trouble getting the true star players to participate, just as they do with the dunk contest, but what if they put up a $1 million dollar first prize?
I bet you a few of the great players would be interested in that and it would definitely get the competitive juices flowing once the competition started.
By the way, congratulations to Kevin Garnett for winning the MVP award.
He had a great game and he is a class-act and the best all-around basketball player in the world.
Plus, I met him one time and he was really nice to me.
37 points and 9 rebounds doesn't hurt either.
Speaking of basketball...
My beloved Minnesota Gophers basketball team defeated Big Ten leading Purdue on Saturday, with me in attendance.
The Gophers are the absolute worst team to be a fan of, because they are just good enough to get your hopes up and just bad enough to always end up disappointing you.
They've been that way for a few years now.
Want a few examples?
I knew you would...
They opened the season with 4 straight wins, including wins over Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Then they went to Nebraska and lost by 20 to a Nebraska team that currently boasts a 9-12 record, including 1-7 in Big Twelve conference play.
After losing at Illinois and at Wisconsin to start Big Ten conference action, they bounced back and won 4 out of the next 5, including wins over Michigan State (a game I also attended) and Michigan.
Then they went to Ohio State and laid an egg, losing a game they led throughout, to an OSU team that currently sits with an 11-10 record.
And Saturday, with me in attendance and my confidence in the team at a low-point, they absolutely crushed Purdue, who came into the game at 15-4 and 7-1 in the Big Ten.
The Gophers are now 13-7, including 5-4 in conference.
Their next 3 games are at home against Iowa, on the road against Northwestern and at home against Penn State.
3 extremely winnable games.
Of course, knowing them, they'll go to Northwestern and lose to the Wildcats (9-11, 1-8 in Big Ten), just like they did last season.
Heck, even if they win those 3 games they are still going to end up disappointing me, simply because their last 4 games of the year are @Michigan State, Wisconsin, @Indiana and @Illinois.
Whoever put that schedule together is not a real big fan of Goldy Gopher.
Switching to baseball...
Remember my "Top 50 Prospects of 2003" article that was posted on BaseballPrimer.com a couple of weeks ago?
I was recently informed by the higher ups at Baseball Primer that over 10,000 people have already read it since it was published on January 27th.
That's a lot of people!
Thanks to everyone that has already read it and, if you haven't yet, go do it already!
Since I am doing random thoughts today, I wanted to "introduce" everyone to a relatively new blog that I have really started to enjoy.
It's called "The Dump's Sportsblog" and it can be found over there in my "links" section on the left side of this page.
The Dump is one of my favorite new sites and it is one that I check out everyday.
It's run by 3 guys, Matt, Dan and Pete, and they do an excellent job writing about various baseball subjects.
Here's an example of why I make sure to visit their site everyday:
Charles" Bronson Arroyo claimed by the Red Sox
Going to a high school in New York with many kids of foreign descent, I noticed the very odd trend that many of them had typical American last names as their first name. For instance, a good friend of my brother's is named Johnson. That's his first name. I had classes with a kid named Williams. Not William...Williams. You see this a little bit in the baseball realm as well, with young guys like Jackson Melian banging around the minor leagues. My assumption has always been that people moving to the United States (or who just dream of being able to do so at some point) want their children to be able to fit in with American society, and they figure that if they give their kids what they think of as an "American" name, that'd help. Of course, because they're in fact last names, it sounds kind of stupid, at least to me. I could be totally wrong about the motivation here...I just can't think of any other explanation for it.
Of course, there are American-born, American-bred people with last names for first names too though. Every so often you'll hear about someone named Lennon or something like that. Generally, this is done to honor someone who the parents admire a great deal, just as you might name a child after a relative to pay respect to them. I like to think that this is the case for Bronson Arroyo, who hopefully is named after cinematic legend Charles Bronson, most notably the star of the Death Wish series of films (one of my all-time favorites).
You've got to love a website that can not only devote several hundred words to the Red Sox signing a pitcher the quality of Bronson Arroyo, but can do so without really talking that much about Bronson Arroyo.
Plus, Matt and Dan just joined one of my Diamond-Mind leagues, so I figured I should be nice to them before my team starts kicking their butts!
Speaking of the links section on the left side of this page, I added a whole bunch of new ones over the weekend.
This site now boasts over 50 links, which seems like it is a good thing.
If you haven't already, go check out some of the links, there is a lot of good baseball stuff listed there.
And, if you know of any good websites that you think I should check out or link to, feel free to send me an email and let me know about it/them.
The Devil Rays signed Travis Lee over the weekend.
Twins fans may remember Travis Lee as the guy that the Twins drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the 1996 draft and then lost because he and his agent found some type of contractual loophole to make Lee a free agent.
At the time, I remember everyone was extremely upset about it because Lee looked like he would be a future star.
Lee hit .363/.473/.690 at Single-A and .300/.387/.573 at Triple-A in 1997 and it was looking like the Twinkies had lost out on a great player.
Karma came back and bit Travis on the butt though and he has never really been anything more than mediocre in the Major Leagues.
He is a career .255/.339/.402 hitter that has never slugged over .434 in any season.
The lesson to be had from his situation?
Don't f@$% with the Minnesota Twins.
You heard me!
Speaking of the Twins...
They made a signing of their own last week, locking up Jacque Jones to a 2 year contract extension, worth $7.1 million.
I probably should have written about this earlier, but I really couldn't think of anything particularly interesting to say.
I still don't have any earth-shattering revelations about it, but I couldn't just ignore it.
Anyway, the signing doesn't change much.
Jacque Jones was still going to be arbitration eligible for the next 2 years anyway, which means he would have been a Twin no matter what.
What it does do for the Twins is allow them to avoid going to arbitration with Jones, which is something that is worth doing whenever possible.
Additionally, it gives them a little bit of cost certainty, which is always good for a low-budget team.
The Twins and Jones had each submitted proposals to the arbitrator, Jones asking for $3.2 million, while the Twins suggested $2.75.
Basically, Jacque was going to make around $3 mill this year.
So, in essence, the deal is a 1 year deal that buys out Jones' final year of arbitration for $4 million dollars.
Players generally receive more money in arbitration the more years into the process they go.
What I mean by that is if a player hits .275/.350/.500 heading into his first year of arbitration, he can expect to be awarded a lot less than if he had hit .275/.350/.500 going into his 3rd year of arbitration.
The point being that if Jones was set to receive about $3 mill in arbitration this year, he was almost certainly going to make more than $4 million during the process next year, unless he completely stunk in 2003.
So, the Twins avoid arbitration and gain a little cost certainty and some potential savings next year.
And Jacque gets a little financial security and some protection in case he turns into Greg ".163/.286/.315" Vaughn next year or something.
That is all the off-field stuff.
On the field, I am not thrilled with the fact that the Twins seem to be set on Jones being their left fielder for the near future.
I have said many times, both on this site and on other sites, that I would like to see the Twins trade Jacque Jones.
It is not that I think he is a bad player or anything like that, I just think that the Twins have a logjam of corner outfield candidates and could help themselves an awful lot by ridding themselves of a few of them in order to strengthen their team in other areas.
This is even more of an issue now that Torii Hunter is locked in for 4 seasons in CF.
What the Twins have now is 2 corner outfield spots and the DH position to work Michael Cuddyer, Jacque Jones, Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr, Michael Restovich, Lew Ford and Matthew LeCroy in to.
When you have Luis Rivas as your second baseman, you can always look to improve your middle infield.
Plus, there is plenty of room for improvement at first base, until Justin Morneau is ready in a couple of years.
Basically, Jones is a very nice player to have, but when you have other, cheaper nice players at the same position and have some weaknesses at other positions, it might be a good idea to explore some other options.
That said, maybe Terry Ryan is shopping Michael Restovich or Lew Ford or Dustan Mohr, I don't know.
Jacque Jones at $3.5 mill a year is a nice deal, no matter what.
I wanted to share with you a couple of things that happened during one of my classes on Friday.
The class is a foreign language, so the teacher was explaining to us why the verb goes after the noun or the noun goes after the verb or something like that.
Anyway, she kept yelling at the class that "You can't change the language!"
Meaning even if we think it should go a different way, that is the way it is and you can't change it around to the way you like it.
Okay, that all makes sense to me.
About 10 seconds later she gave us an incorrect version of a sentence and then asked (and I quote):
"What it should be?"
"What it should be?!"
"WHAT IT SHOULD BE?!?!"
I didn't feel right (or safe) pointing out the fact that a) you can't change the English language either and that b) it's "What should it be?"
Then, a little later in the class we were reading something about a wedding and the sentence said something like, "I talked to the bride."
The teacher was telling us how "the bride" is not a "definite direct object."
Someone asked why not and she replied, "Because the bride is not receiving any action."
To which I, being a complete smartass and a sucker for attention, said, "Maybe not at the wedding, but wait 'til the honeymoon."
Thank you, I'll be here all week.
Make sure to tip your waitesses and try the veal.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****