Friday, March 05, 2004
The Fons, Secrets, Prospects and Steroids
Smokey: Why you not goin' to work?
--- FridayIt was a pretty good week. Why? Well, it was significantly above-zero here every day and there was real, live baseball on TV! That's really all a Minnesota boy can ask for during the first week of March.
Before the weekend hits, I want to touch on a few leftover subjects from the past week, so let's dive right in...
Soriano in Shea?
In my running diary of the Mets/Dodgers spring training game, I made the following comment about the Mets potentially trading someone like Scott Kazmir for Alfonso Soriano:
With Reyes and Matsui, there is no way I would make that deal if I were New York. As an outfielder, Soriano is suddenly barely above league-average and soon to be making $10 mill a year.I could almost feel the emails being sent from you guys as I wrote those words. Sure enough, a few of you took issue with the statement. Here's an email from a reader named Jonny:
I think you're getting seriously hyperbolic on this one. Sure he's more valuable as a second baseman, but Soriano had 20.71 hitting Win Shares last year, which would have ranked him 12th in MLB had he been an outfielder (4 AL and 7 NL outfielders had more than Soriano). Incidentally, he's hit 35+ homers each of the past two seasons.I think there is a fairly simple way of looking at this. Using raw Win Shares isn't the best method, in my opinion, because Soriano racked up an incredible amount of plate appearances batting at the top of a lineup that scored a ton of runs. If he were to join the Mets, he would no longer be batting at the top of the lineup and he would be joining a team that scored a lot fewer runs.
Through no fault of his own, he could suddenly get 50-100 fewer plate appearances by joining the Mets and moving down in the lineup, which would bring his cumulative numbers way down. Instead, we need a measure that looks at his performance on a per plate appearance basis.
Let's start out with what Soriano did last year as a second baseman. He hit .290/.338/.525 with 38 homers, 36 doubles and 35 stolen bases in 734 plate appearances. His offense was good for a .283 GPA, which ranked 5th among major league second basemen who had 350+ plate appearances.
The thing to remember here is that major league second basemen as a whole had a .251 GPA last season, while major league corner outfielders (where Soriano would play in New York) had a .275 GPA. That is a huge difference.
Whereas Soriano ranked 5th among major league second basemen in GPA, he would have ranked 15th among left fielders and 15th among right fielders.
Using Equivalent Average, which adjusts numbers for offensive environments, Soriano checks in at .296. That ranked 3rd among all major league second basemen. Meanwhile, it would have ranked 12th among major league left fielders and 13th among major league right fielders.
So, any way you slice it, Soriano ranks somewhere around 12-15 among left fielders and 12-15 among right fielders, which, in a 30-team league, seems "barely above league-average" to me.
Soriano is an excellent baseball player, but much of that comes from the fact that he can hit like he does while playing acceptable defense at second base. If he is moved to right or left field, he immediately loses a lot of his value.
His .283 GPA/.296 EqA offense goes from being among the top 2-3 at his position to being 12th or 15th. That's not worth a great pitching prospect and $10 million a season.
Secret, secret...I've got a secret
Lots of you noticed the FOXSports.com link under "My Paying Gigs" on the left-hand sidebar and emailed me yesterday wondering if that was the mysterious third secret I've been hinting at for a while now. It's not. In fact, it wasn't a secret at all.
The first two secrets (both of which I announced a while ago) were that I am writing for Rotoworld.com and InsiderBaseball.com. The FOXSports.com thing is simply an offshoot of my Rotoworld work. FOXSports.com syndicates content from Rotoworld, which means my articles are published at both sites. That's it, nothing too exciting other than you might see my name a little more often while you're surfing the web.
The third secret is still forthcoming and you'll know all about it within the next two weeks. I think it's worth waiting for.
The prospects are coming, the prospects are coming
Last week, I reviewed my Top 50 Prospects list from last year in a 3-part series.
--- Part One: 31-50
--- Part Two: 11-30
--- Part Three: 1-10
Since I actually released last year's Top 50 at the end of January and it's the beginning of March now, a lot of you guys are naturally wondering where the heck this year's list is. Well, it's coming.
I'm in the middle of working on it right now, actually. In thinking about it, I realized January is probably too early to publish something like that and the middle of spring training seems like a much better time. So be patient. It'll probably be on this site at some point next week.
I am going to make two comments on this entire steroids issue today - my first and last.
In case you haven't noticed, I have yet to comment on any of this stuff. In fact, in the entire 19-month, Gleeman-length history of this blog, I have written the word "steroid" exactly one time prior to today.
Basically, I have a supreme lack of interest in this and I'm not 100% sure why. I recognize that it is a large story that is potentially quite important. Yet I just can't get motivated to care.
I go to ESPN.com about 50 times a day and some steroids-related story is almost always on the front page, but I think I've clicked on one of them maybe three times.
Deep down, I suspect some of my lack of interest is actually me not wanting to deal with the reality of players "cheating." For instance, if Barry Bonds has, in fact, taken steroids in the past, there is something within me that just doesn't want to know about it.
I think it is probably like a marriage (bear with me on this, I'm the king of ridiculous analogies). You know your spouse has probably "been with" other people before they met you, but do you really want to know about it? You hear rumors and stories and all sorts of stuff, but you don't really feel like sitting down and getting involved with the issue.
That's how I feel about steroids in baseball. Even if you told me right now that Player X, Player Y and Player Z have taken steroids and there was proof of it, I don't know that I would care. Would I rather players not take steroids? Absolutely. But for whatever reason I just cannot get worked up over the issue at all.
So that is my entire thought on the steroids issue. Don't expect to come here for future coverage of it either. If I can't get motivated to care about it myself, I'm certainly not going to write about it for an audience. Plus, there are far better sources of steroids discussion than this website...
...one of which is not Andy Van Slyke
FOXSports.com's Rick Ballou interviewed former Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke, who played with Barry Bonds from 1987-1992, about this whole steroids issue.
The headline for the interview was in massive bold letters and said:
Van Slyke: Bonds 'unequivocally' took steroids
And then when I actually read the interview, I saw this:
Ballou: Are you telling us, in your opinion, that it looks like Barry Bonds has taken steroids?File that under reason #1,536,694 why I don't read this stuff.
And on that note...have a great weekend!
If you missed any of this week's previous entries, please check them out:
Monday: Notes from the Weekend
Tuesday: Fixing What Ain't Broken
Wednesday: Bad Writing and Good Riddance
Thursday: Five Innings of Heaven
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Five Innings of HeavenAt noon yesterday, when most college students are in class, I had big plans. I turned on my TV, flipped the channel to ESPN, and heard Gary Thorne say the sweetest 15 words I think I've ever heard.
Believe it or not, the day has come. It is time for Major League Baseball.To quote the great Jim Young from Boiler Room: "Look at the f---in' smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby!"
This running diary of the Mets/Dodgers spring training game on ESPN is coming to you LIVE from a broom closet/elevator shaft/dorm room on the University of Minnesota campus! I am pleased to be joined by two Einstein Brothers bagels, a half-gallon of milk and a bag of Gardetto's trail mix. Let's get right to the action...
Our announcers this afternoon are Gary Thorne and ... oy! ... Jeff Brantley. I'm sure he'll be in mid-season form.
Shawn Green is shown taking throws at first base and will apparently be making the start there today. This should be interesting because a) he has one appearance at first base in his entire career and b) he hasn't sounded very excited about the possibility of switching positions.
Thorne begins talking about the Mets and says, "That's what they're looking for this year...that defense up the middle."
I have to agree. If Kazuo Matsui is as good defensively as his reputation says he is, the Mets will have one of the best, if not the best, up-the-middle defenses in all of baseball (and no, I'm not counting catcher in that equation).
Here is the Mets' starting lineup:
RF Roger CedenoMike Piazza is apparently out with "a groin injury." Plus, he probably doesn't want to begin playing first base on national TV. Kaz Matsui is also out, nursing a finger injury from a few days ago.
Hideo Nomo is starting for the Dodgers. Roger Cedeno, not wanting to change what he did in 2003, grounds out weakly to second base to start the game.
Jose Reyes ropes a single up the middle on a high fastball out over the plate. WOW...he just kept running on it and turned it into a sliding double. That's some serious speed and a lot of hustle, considering that was his first SPRING TRAINING at bat. Mets fans are really going to love this guy.
I might be alone here, but I like New York's bright orange uniforms. Seriously.
Cliff Floyd drills one to center field that rolls past Dave Roberts for a double. Reyes scores. 1-0 Mets.
I don't like New York's pitching-staff much at all, but in looking at their lineup, I really think their offense can be pretty good this year. Matsui and Reyes at the top, setting the table for Piazza, Floyd, Phillips and Cameron? Not bad at all.
The Official Most Underrated Player of Aaron's Baseball Blog, Mike Cameron, steps to the plate and crushes a high fastball over the fence in left-center for a 2-run homer. 3-0 Mets.
I'll tell everyone one more time: Mike Cameron is going to have a big year.
Watching Cameron stroll around the bases, it strikes me that he must have the largest legs/torso ratio in all of baseball. Incidentally, Jeff Brantley has the highest cliche/word ratio in all of announcing.
ESPN just showed new Dodgers owner Frank McCourt throwing out the first pitch of the game and it wasn't a bad pitch. For some reason it always impresses me when some middle-aged guy in a yellow polo shirt and khaki pants can throw it in the general direction of the plate.
Here's LA's lineup:
CF Dave RobertsUnlike with the Mets, I'm not optimistic about this being a good lineup, to say the least.
Aaron Heilman on the hill for the Mets. Heilman barely missed out on my "Top 50 Prospects" list last year, and then did well in Triple-A before getting destroyed in the majors. I still like him as a middle-of-the-rotation starter down the road.
According to ESPN, Heilman is battling Jeremy Griffiths, Grant Roberts, James Baldwin, Scott Erickson and Tyler Yates for the fifth-starter job. I think Heilman's chances have to be pretty good with that group.
Cesar Izturis is batting second in the lineup and Thorne says the Dodgers are considering batting him there when the season actually starts. The way he's hit in the majors, I don't see any reason why Izturis should ever bat any higher than absolutely necessary. That means #9 in the AL and #8 in the NL. Hell, if Darren Dreifort ever starts a game in 2004, I might bat Izturis 9th.
Here's how Brantley explains Adrian Beltre's struggles: "I have yet to see this guy come to the ballpark everyday and strap it on." This goes beyond cliche and into the realm of sexual innuendo, which is always nice.
Beltre straps it on and walks, and then Shawn Green grounds a single up the middle, past a diving Reyes. Reyes didn't get a great jump on the ball (they showed the "defensive view" in a replay), but he still almost made the play. I would guess he's not totally used to going that far to his right yet.
As ESPN goes to commercial, the camera shows Peter Gammons and Mets GM Jim Duquette chatting it up in the food concourse. This is one of the keys to Gammons' greatness, of course. His ability to hang around and chat with guys like Duquette. They looked like old golfing buddies in that shot.
ESPN returns from commercial and Kyle Peterson, a former star pitcher at Stanford who was a prospect with the Brewers until a few years ago, is interviewing Jim Duquette. Duquette looks about 1,000 times less comfortable than he was with Gammons just a couple minutes ago.
Duquette sounds like a guy who is going to be making a large prospects-for-veteran trade at some point very soon. "We have the resources, both money and prospects, to make a move." Scott Kazmir for Alfonso Soriano perhaps?
With Reyes and Matsui, there is no way I would make that deal if I were New York. As an outfielder, Soriano is suddenly barely above league-average and soon to be making $10 mill a year.
Incidentally, I thought Kyle Peterson was fantastic during the College World Series last year and I'm really glad to see he's moving up in the world. I generally can't stand any sort of "sideline reporting" during any sporting event, but Peterson is one of the rare guys I enjoy hearing from.
On the other hand...Brantley: "I've always believed spring training is the best time for young kids to get close to players, to get autographs." This is one of Brantley's long-standing beliefs? He's really thinking outside the box.
I wonder if Brantley is this cliche-ridden in real life? Like when his wife asks him if he liked a movie, does he go "well, the actors obviously gave 110%, but they simply didn't strap it on as far as I could see."
Shawn Green makes a nice play at first base to rob Reyes of a hit down the line to end the inning and Gary Thorne gushes over it for like 20 seconds.
Juan Encarnacion singles to left field and then gets thrown out trying to steal second. Yay little ball! LA gets a guy on base (a rare occurrence last year) and they quickly remedy that problem.
Jose Lima replaces Nomo. Thorne talks about how Lima started out really well last year for the Royals (7-0, 2.17 ERA) and then injured his groin. He adds that when Lima returned from the injury, he wasn't very good (1-3, 10.66 ERA).
Brantley chimes in to say that he respects the fact that "Lima went out there and pitched hurt last year. It hurt his numbers, but he did it because the Royals needed it." Yes, certainly Kansas City was in need of some awful, injury-wrecked pitching down the stretch.
Thorne describes Green as "less than enthusiastic" about playing first base. Brantley goes on and on about how a player with a good attitude would have no problem changing positions, citing Robin Yount like 14 times in 30 seconds. I wonder who Brantley thinks should be playing shortstop for the Yankees.
After the third out of the inning, ESPN does not go to commercial, instead treating us to Jeff Brantley's thoughts on steroids. He says about 1,000 things, none of which make any sense or add anything to the discussion. Stuff like, "Let's get this out in the open, so it's not a problem" and "No one wants to be known as a steroid user." Jeff is apparently a big fan of simple solutions to complex problems.
Jeremy Griffiths replaces Heilman and proceeds to walk Jose Lima. That'll impress Art Howe. Griffiths apparently led the International League in ERA last year, but can't find the plate against a pitcher who is a career .119/.140/.136 hitter.
The good news is that all he needs is more of that and he can try for back-to-back ERA titles.
Kyle Peterson interviews Heilman, who definitely needs a little work on his interview giving/cliche spouting. He gave a 3-word answer to a 20-second question and Peterson did a double-take when he realized Heilman wasn't going to say anything else. He should talk to Brantley if he wants to learn how to spew forth plenty of useless babble.
Griffiths continues to have a hard time finding the strike zone, so Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson (not related to Kyle Peterson as far as I know) goes out to talk to him. Griffiths responds by throwing the next few pitches with an exaggerated follow-thru. He still can't throw anything over the plate though.
How Rick Peterson impacts the Mets' pitching-staff this year will be very interesting. I happen to think he is a great pitching coach and one of the brightest minds in all of baseball, but it's a whole lot different working with Heilman, Griffiths and Yates than Zito, Hudson and Mulder.
Bases loaded and one out, with Shawn Green up. Green slices a ground-rule double down the left field line, scoring Lima and Izturis. 3-2 Mets. LA pinch-runs for Green, who ends his day with a single, a double and a nice play at first base.
Griffiths nails Lo Duca with a fastball in the shoulder. Not a real good first outing for Jeremy. James Loney is the guy who pinch-ran for Green. Loney is one of LA's best prospects and is in serious consideration for this year's Top 50 (which will be posted sometime next week).
Encarnacion bloops another double down the right field line, scoring two more. 4-3 Dodgers. Art Howe goes to the mound to end the misery.
Jason Anderson replaces Griffiths and immediately throws a wild pitch to the backstop. 5-3 Dodgers.
Jolbert Cabrera takes Anderson deep to left field for a 2-run homer. 7-3 Dodgers.
Anderson goes 3-0 to Lima and then walks him! Jose Lima just walked two times in the same inning. Excuse me, I need a moment to collect my thoughts.
I think I just saw Rick Peterson making a noose in the dugout. Dave Roberts doubles down the right field line, but Lima holds up at third base. Another one goes to the backstop and Lima scores. 8-3 Dodgers.
Izturis lines a sure double to deep center, but Mike Cameron chases it down and makes the catch right up against the wall. Thank god for Cammy.
Lima whiffs Ty Wigginton. The guy is like a modern-day Babe Ruth. He pitches. He hits. He does it all.
Gary Thorne says an interview with new Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta is coming up after the commercial. Perhaps they will ask him about his Clearasil and he'll speak to them in megabyte.
Peterson (a Stanford guy) is interviewing DePodesta (a Harvard guy), so they should at least sound intelligent.
Regarding going from a small-market team to a large-market team, DePodesta says, "The whole player population is now available to us." This is interesting to me, because almost the entire premise of Moneyball is based on the fact that the A's had to limit themselves to a specific, undervalued pool of players.
Asked if pitching might be used to get more offense, DePodesta says, "It might have to be." He then goes out of his way to praise LA's scouts and player development people, providing evidence of where he went to school.
Other than that, not much interesting from the interview. DePodesta didn't sounds too enthusiastic about Lima's chances of making the team. Apparently he's not looking for the next Babe Ruth. Oh, and the Dodgers scored once while he was talking and again right when the interview finished. 10-3 Dodgers.
We just learned that Jeff Brantley cannot pronounce "Paul DePodesta." He's 0-3 so far and I think he may have just given up.
Brantley on Bubba Trammell: "When you play left field, they expect you to hit 35-40 home runs and I don't think Trammell is the guy to do that."
Number of major league left fielders who hit 35+ home runs in 2003: 3
Number of 35+ home run seasons by a left fielder in Dodger history: 2
Uh oh, Thorne just brought up Moneyball...
Thorne asks Brantley about the theory that a team's best reliever should be used in the most important situations, whether that is in the 7th inning, the 8th inning or the 9th inning. Brantley pauses noticeably and then says, "Well...that would be fine and good if that's what they paid you for!"
Ah yes, very brilliant. Who would have predicted an ex-closer would say that?
Incidentally, it sounded like Thorne may have actually read Moneyball before commenting on, which separates him from a certain other ESPN announcer.
Masao Kida comes on for the Dodgers. Franklin Gutierrez (another LA prospect being considered for my Top 50) makes a great diving catch on a sinking liner in right field. The Dodgers have a whole lot of guys wearing numbers in the 70s on the field right now...
Wilkin Ruan makes another diving catch in center field to end the inning. The difference between the two catches is that Ruan got a really bad jump on the ball, which forced him to have to dive for it, while Gutierrez played it very well and the only way he could have made the play was to dive. Of course, they'd both look the same on Baseball Tonight.
John Franco comes on for the Mets. Does everyone realize Franco has the 2nd-most saves in baseball history? Not sure if that says more about Franco or the save as a stat.
Brantley does a whole speech about the "people" who are questioning why Franco is taking a roster spot from a younger guy. "Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, Johnny is here because he has earned this spot and as long as he can get people out..."
He can't finish his thought, because Jolbert Cabrera launches a homer to deep left-center off Franco. 11-3 Dodgers. That is about as good as timing can possibly get. The next hitter, Joe Thurston hits a single over Jason Phillips and into right field.
Brantley says he can't imagine Lima pitching for the Dodgers because when he was on the Giants, the Dodgers "always put crisp uniforms on." Yes, certainly.
Jose Hernandez pinch-hits. Brantley and Thorne predictably rail about his strikeouts. Thorne says, "He really needs to learn some patience if he wants to stick around." Brantley says, "180 strikeouts from a middle infielder? My gosh, I can't have that."
I wonder how they'd feel about Hernandez if he'd have had 50 strikeouts and 130 pop-outs, instead of 180 strikeouts? By the way, Hernandez was awful last season, but he hit .288/.356/.478 with 24 homers in 2002.
James Loney comes to the plate against Franco with men on first and second. Brantley: "This may be a little different for Loney, facing a left-hander like Franco." Loney lines a run-scoring single to right field. 12-3 Dodgers. John Franco may want to ask Brantley to stop sticking up for him.
Franco strikes out Koyie Hill to end the inning.
We're an hour and 55 minutes into the game and it's 12-3. Not quite a 10-run rule situation, but I think I'm going to call it a game...
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Bad Writing and Good RiddanceThose of you who have been daily readers of this blog since the end of last season may remember an Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer by the name of Terence Moore.
Last August, Moore penned an article in which he began by saying:
Andruw Jones already is the greatest center fielder of all-time, and I don't give a Willie Mays what anybody else thinks.He went on talk about his reasoning for that statement, which started and essentially ended with the amount of putouts Andruw Jones has recorded. It included some of the sloppiest and most illogical manipulating of statistics I have ever seen, and also included Moore proclaiming that Greg Maddux was the "owner of four Cy Young Awards, and most of them have Jones' fingerprints all over them."
The fun part about that statement being, of course, that Greg Maddux does have four Cy Young Awards...none of which were won while Andruw Jones was even in the major leagues.
I spent about 2,000 words tearing Moore's article apart, piece by piece. I won't repeat it all here, but if you missed it, you'd probably enjoy checking it out (when you're done reading the rest of this entry, of course).
Here's how I concluded my take on Moore's piece:
Terence Moore may be right, maybe Andruw Jones is the greatest center fielder of all-time. I personally don't think so, but he is an excellent center fielder and the idea is certainly within the realm of possibility. If he is the greatest center fielder of all-time however, it certainly isn't going to be because he made 400 putouts in a season. And it definitely isn't going to be because some "journalist" in Atlanta who butchers the use of statistics while intentionally misleading his audience says so.Guess what? Another Terence Moore column caught my eye yesterday. Yay!
This new column is entitled "Braves can beat Yanks to Griffey."
I'm not going to spend another 2,000 words on this piece, but I do have a few hundred I think I can spare.
Here is how it starts:
The Braves are better than you think, but they aren't special. That's the problem. Still, if they follow my humble advice, they'll rise to a higher level of competitiveness and attractiveness by the end of spring training.Let's all soak that in for a moment.
Terence Moore has just suggested that the Braves move Andruw Jones to right field so that Ken Griffey Jr. can play center field. Seriously. I mean, you read it too right? I'm not making it up.
Andruw Jones is 26-year-old center fielder who has won six consecutive NL Gold Glove Awards. He is almost universally praised by both scout-types and statistical fielding metrics as one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. Terence Moore himself, in that article I ripped apart just six months ago, proclaimed Andruw Jones "the greatest center fielder of all-time."
Now he wants to move him. And why, exactly? So that Ken Griffey Jr., 34-year-old who has missed 51, 92 and 109 games over the last three seasons, can play center field. Add on to this insanity the fact that Griffey has missed most of that time because of leg injuries and it becomes an even stranger proposition.
You take a guy who Moore says is the best center fielder ever and you move him so you can replace him with a 34-year-old who isn't considered by anyone to be as good defensively and who has missed 252 games over the last three years with leg injuries? Brilliant.
I must give Moore some credit. It is one thing to make the statement that Andruw Jones is the greatest defensive centerfielder of all-time and then "back it up" with a horrible article full of statistics manipulated to fit your argument. It is even more impressive to then suggest, just six months later, that "the greatest centerfielder of all-time" should be moved to right field, so that Ken Griffey Jr. can limp out to center field and rip his hamstring chasing down a fly ball 30 games into the season.
A little later in the piece, Moore makes another brilliant statement:
Steinbrenner knows that Griffey's injury situation is a fluke.That's one hell of a fluke.
Let's see...a player enters his 30s and suddenly starts to have some leg problems. One year he misses 17 games. Then he misses 51 games the next year. Then he misses 92 games. Then 109 games. It's not only a fluke, it's a fluke that lasts for multiple years and actually has a numerical pattern!
Ken Griffey Jr.'s injury is a "fluke" in the same way Neifi Perez's lack of offense is a fluke. Now, if you show me a good column with Terence Moore's byline on it, then I'll show you a fluke.
Former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, perhaps most famous for her racist remarks and praise of Adolph Hitler, died yesterday at the age of 75.
As is the case when almost any well-known person dies, the stories about Schott include positive quotes from people who knew her.
For instance, Rob Dibble, a Reds pitcher from 1988-1993 who now works for ESPN, said the following about her:
Beneath a tough exterior, Marge Schott had a heart of gold. Mind you, I wouldn't want to get on her bad side, but if she loved and cared about you, she did so for life.Dibble goes on to say that she "was a shrewd businesswoman" who "dedicated countless hours to numerous charities" and "didn't care about perception." He also adds that "you had to look beyond her frankness and edgy delivery, because there was a lot of goodness at the root of her intentions."
Current Reds owner Carl Lindner issued a statement yesterday that read:
She will be remembered for her love of baseball and for her passion for the Cincinnati Reds.An MLB.com story about Schott's death said she will be remembered as:
A woman who loved Cincinnati, children and animals and as a devoted baseball fan who would do whatever she could to help her beloved Reds.Barry Larkin, a black player who has been with the Reds since 1986, said the following about Schott:
I think people are remembered for the good things they do when they're gone. Now that she's gone they will remember the parties she had to raise money for kids, her involvement with the zoo, her giving to minority programs. She gave to minority programs before her racist comments came out.Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I'm not so quick to say nice things about someone just because they died.
It makes little difference to me whether a person is dead or alive when it comes to the things they have done in life. If Marge Schott were still alive today, would the things she said and did in the past have been any different? Of course not.
A person should be remembered in death for the way they were in life, not just for the good parts. While you're reading the various stories about Schott and seeing all the nice things people she knew have to say about her, don't forget what she did in life.
When you see Rob Dibble say that the things Schott said were simply examples of "frankness" and an "edgy delivery," don't just take his word for it. When you read about the money she gave to charity, think about if you really believe that somehow "cancels out" the other things she did.
Marge Schott used various racial slurs on multiple occasions, the most famous incident likely being when she allegedly referred to two of her players, Eric Davis and Dave Parker, as her "million-dollar niggers."
She later said that her use of that word was "in jest" and "not meant to offend," and that she couldn't understand why the word "Jap," which she also used, was offensive.
Schott owned a Nazi swastika arm band and praised Adolph Hitler, saying he was "good at the beginning'' but then "went too far."
After serving a 9-month suspension from baseball for her remarks, Schott returned to the Reds. A year later, she said she didn't want her players wearing earrings, because "only fruits wear earrings."
Years after her initial Hitler statements, Schott was asked about it again and repeated essentially the same words. Two years later, Schott was again stripped of her control of the team as a result of offensive remarks.
I'm sure there are probably several other incidents I am missing and countless others that weren't made public.
As for my comments on the woman, my mother always said that if I didn't have anything nice to say about someone, I shouldn't say anything at all. So...
See ya tomorrow.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Fixing What Ain't Broken
Gentlemen, we can rebuild him.a nice feature on The Official Pitcher of Aaron's Baseball Blog, Johan Santana, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune over the weekend. In it, he discusses how Santana pitched through elbow problems last year, on his way to going 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA.
Here's how the article starts:
Johan Santana held his hands out, palms down. He rotated his right wrist 180 degrees, until his palm faced up. He rotated his left wrist 70 degrees, then stopped.If Santana truly pitched most of last season with an elbow injury, he did one hell of a job hiding it and an even better job pitching through it.
Here's what Santana had to say about the elbow, which he had bone chips removed from this off-season:
"There was a bone chip in my elbow," Santana said. "It started bothering me about July. I decided to keep pitching with it.Since I know you're curious, here are Santana's numbers from July until the end of the season:
G GS IP ERA W L SO BBThose numbers include Santana going 8-0 with a 2.51 ERA in 11 starts during the final two months of the year.
Last week, I talked about how much I liked the Star-Tribune's two baseball writers, LaVelle E. Neal and Jim Souhan. After I said that, I was surprised by the amount of emails I got from Minnesota residents wondering why exactly I like Souhan.
It's often difficult to say exactly why you like a writer, but here's something Souhan wrote in the Santana article that I think sheds some light on my reasoning:
Santana joined the Twins' rotation July 11. He went 0-2 with two no-decisions in his first four starts.A little thing like that is what makes me like a newspaper writer. Souhan is far from perfect and I've criticized his work in the past, but instead of getting caught up in all the Shannon Stewart hype from last year like some sort of mindless zombie, Souhan makes a statement that shows he is able to form an opinion on something rationally and logically, without being influenced by others.
As for what we can look forward to out of a healthy Johan Santana in 2004, Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson has some ideas:
"He's got a chance to be very special," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "Last year, he conditioned himself to be a one-inning guy. That caught up to him in late September and October.As I've said here in the past, I often wonder if the bone spurs were behind Santana's poor showing against the Yankees in the post-season. Anderson seems to think it had more to do with Santana simply being fatigued.
Of course, the "FREE JOHAN SANTANA!" activist in me wonders why the Twins would have allowed someone like Santana to "condition himself to be a one-inning guy" in the first place.
"I've seen improvement already, just throwing in the bullpen," Anderson said. "Extension is a big part of pitching -- finishing pitches out in front of the body, with the arm fully extended. He couldn't do that last year.If Santana was actually hurting for almost the entire time he was in the starting rotation and he's now completely healthy, I can only imagine how good he can be in 2004.
Almost as if he sensed my optimism rising, Souhan includes the following quote from Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire near the end of the piece:
The Twins hope this season will be the culmination in a long journey for Santana, from unknown Venezuelan prospect to Astros' signee to Twins' Rule V draftee to reliever to starter to . . . staff ace?Leave it to good old Gardy to make me want to pound my head into the wall.
Speaking of Bionic Men...
From The Associated Press:
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Mark Prior will miss five-to-10 days of spring training because of an inflamed right Achilles' tendon.This is absolutely shocking to me. I know Mark Prior missed some time last year, but that was because he literally ran into another player.
(How great is Rafael Furcal's reaction at second base in that picture?)
Aside from that incident, I was under the impression that Prior was indestructible. Like baseball's answer to Robocop and The Terminator.
For those of you who haven't been reading this blog for a long time, I will once again restate my position on Mark Prior: He will be the greatest pitcher of his era and one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. Yeah, you heard me.
By the way, has everyone noticed what Prior did after coming back from the disabled list last year?
GS IP ERA W L SO BB HRThe plan required something that felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Something unstoppable. They created "MARK PRIOR."
Part man. Part machine. All pitcher. The future of baseball.
Scout for a Day
Tangotiger of Baseball Primer has started up a really interesting project which allows everyone to fulfill their fantasies of being a major league scout. I'll let him explain:
There is an enormous amount of untapped knowledge here. There are 70 million fans at MLB parks every year, and a whole lot more watching the games on television.To read more about this, check out "The Scouting Report by the Fans for the Fans," which includes some more information about the project, some specific instructions, and the scouting report forms for each team.
For instance, you can fill out a report on everyone's favorite sub par second baseman, Luis Rivas.
When he's throwing the ball, how is Rivas' "Release/Footwork"? How about his "Throwing Strength"? Or what about his "Throwing Accuracy"? When the ball is in play, how is his "Acceleration/First Few Steps"?
It's fun for the whole family and I think the final results could be very interesting.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, March 01, 2004
Notes from the WeekendIt's almost enough to make me like the Yankees. Almost.
For the few who don't already read Alex Belth's wonderful Bronx Banter blog on a regular basis, let me try to convince you to start.
In preparation for what looks like a mildly entertaining year for Yankee fans, Alex's site is featuring a series of articles previewing the 2004 season. Not just your run-of-the-mill preview stuff either, this is quality and quantity from some of the best writers around.
Alex has called on the amazing assortment of writers who cover the Yankees to each contribute something, including...
- Ben Jacobs of the Universal Baseball Blog Inc. on Mike Mussina.
- Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus and the YES Network with a piece "In Defense of Jason Giambi".
- The host of the festivities, Alex Belth, and Rich Lederer of Rich's Weekend Baseball Beat, on New York's Odd Couple, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter.
- Cliff Corcoran of Clifford's Big Red Blog on the best shortstop in New York, Alex Rodriguez.
- The Futility Infielder himself, Jay Jaffe, on one of the most underrated players in baseball, Jorge Posada.
- Chris DeRosa on Mariano "Exit light, enter night" Rivera.
And as if all of that weren't enough, Alex has put together an amazing roundtable of baseball writers to discuss some of the most interesting questions facing the Yankees in 2004. Don't believe me? Check out the names he got to contribute to the first part of the discussion (there's a whole new set of guys coming for round two!):
- Larry Mahnken of the The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog, who is a buddy of mine, one of my favorite bloggers, and perhaps the most pessimistic Yankee fan of all-time.
- Tim Marchman of The New York Sun, who is doing some of the best work you'll find from a baseball writer at any newspaper in the country.
- Alan Schwarz of Baseball America and ESPN.com, who has worked himself into my inner-circle of guys I "must read" over the past year or so.
- Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus, who is simply one of the best baseball writers around, period.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post, one of the few local New York writers whom I think "gets it."
- Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- Glenn Stout, long-time baseball author and historian.
If that's not a Murderer's Row of Yankee experts, I don't know what is. Head on over there if you have a day or two to kill, because the writing and discussion is fabulous and plentiful.
Coincidence? Uh, yeah...
Baseball Prospectus had an "interesting" interview with new Seattle GM Bill Bavasi posted this weekend. The interview is part of their "premium" content, so it's off-limits for non-subscribers. However, here's a little piece that caught my eye...
When asked, "What was the thought process and how much do you think you'll lose defensively, moving from Mike Cameron to Randy Winn in center?" Bavasi responds, in part:
We took that left fielder, moved him to center field, and we think we had a real firm upgrade offensively in center. We think people will be real surprised when they see Randy play center field every day. It was the same kind of thing with Darin Erstad in Anaheim. Sometimes you don't really a player's true ability when he's just filling in at a position defensively here and there, the way Darin was doing in the beginning, spelling Jim Edmonds.First of all, this is about the 100th time so far this off-season someone in Seattle has chosen to say something negative about Mike Cameron. I have to say, I just don't understand it.
Sure, the guy is no longer on your team, but he was a Gold Glove center fielder in Seattle who, despite his faults offensively, was still a very valuable hitter every year. His overall game made him one of the best 5-10 center fielders in all of baseball while with the Mariners.
Meanwhile, Bavasi is under the impression that Randy Winn is somehow going to be a "real firm upgrade offensively in center."
Randy Winn has a career Equivalent Average of .265 and he had a .278 EqA last season. Mike Cameron has a career Equivalent Average of .276 and he had a .276 EqA last season. If there's a clear upgrade offensively there (or any upgrade), I'm not seeing it.
I'd be willing to bet just about all the money in the world that Mike Cameron will be a more valuable offensive player than Randy Winn in 2004. Of course, he'll also almost certainly strikeout a lot more than Winn, which brings me to the funniest part about Bavasi's response.
"If [Winn] swings through a lot less pitches than Mike, the way we expect, you like that too."
Why is that funny? Well, on the same day Baseball Prospectus ran that interview with Bavasi, they also ran an article entitled "Just Another Out," which looks at whether or not a strikeout is any worse than other kinds of outs.
That article is not part of their premium content, so you can read it for yourself and find out exactly what their findings on strikeouts are. Suffice it to say Bavasi's thoughts and the actual numbers aren't exactly in agreement.
Speaking of Alex Belth (and are we talking Willie Mays 1955 or Willie Mays 1973?)
I came across an article over the weekend in The New York Journal News entitled "A growing sports voice."
It is about baseball bloggers writing about the Yankees and Mets, including guys like Alex Belth, Jay Jaffe, Cliff Corcoran, Doug Pappas, Larry Mahnken and several others.
I started reading the article and thought it was a really good piece. Then I got to the 9th paragraph and saw this:
Belth and many other bloggers were first inspired by Aaron Gleeman, Jay Jaffe and David Pinto, the Willie, Mickey and the Duke of this fledgling genre. They were among the first and are now three of the best-read bloggers.As you can probably imagine, that's the first time I've been called "the Willie Mays" of anything and I'm quite honored. Now, if I can just get some Minnesota-based newspapers to pay attention to the work I'm doing, my ego-trip will be complete. Anyone know if the University of Minnesota has a student newspaper? Wait...nevermind...
Here is one of my favorite parts of the article (aside from the part that mentioned me, of course):
If Stephen Keane goes a few days without adding to his Mets blog, "The Eddie Kranepool Society," he gets e-mails asking if he feels well.I know what Stephen means. It's not often that I skip a day on this blog, but when I do, I feel compelled to explain myself beforehand.
I am often asked if it is difficult to write something new every single day. It definitely is, but one of the main things that keeps me motivated is the knowledge that there will be a couple thousand people wondering why they don't have something new to read if I slack off. As Stephen said, that's the greatest feeling in the world.
One in four, February has one more
I would like to admit to an addiction. No, nothing serious (although I did have quite a few Vodka and Sprites this weekend). I am addicted to checking the number of visitors this site gets.
I check the numbers constantly. From my room, from class, from other peoples' computers. I check the numbers so often that I have figured out what "good" totals are for each hour of the day. For instance, I know that if there have been more than 200 visitors by 2 a.m. the day is off to a good start. If there aren't 1,200 by noon it's probably not going to be a very good day. And on and on.
What's my point? Well, nothing really, although they do say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
I do want to thank everyone who stopped by to read what I had to say in February. It was the 18th month in a row that the traffic for this blog has risen. Despite having just 29 days, February had the most traffic in the 19-month history of this blog, checking in at just shy of 55,000 visitors.
An additional thanks to everyone who has kept coming here every day throughout the long off-season. We've got real, live baseball coming very soon, which is always good news for the content of a baseball blog. In other words, if you're relatively new here and you've been enjoying it, just wait until there is actually some baseball for me to write about!
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****