Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Will Blog for FoodI complained about my computer problems yesterday and three of you were kind enough to donate money to me, completely unsolicited. I don't want to sound sappy, but stuff like that always makes me feel great.
It also got me thinking that perhaps, if I begged just a little bit, a few more of you might be willing to donate a little of your hard-earned money to help me get a new computer. I figure it won't take much. For instance, if every person who visited this blog yesterday donated just $1, I'd have a new computer sitting here by next week.
Now, I realize a huge percentage of you are appalled by the idea of giving me your money, and I can't say that I blame you. That said, I know from past experiences that there are many of you who aren't against donating a little cash in exchange for all the free baseball articles you've been reading here for the past couple years.
A blogger who shall remain nameless suggested to me yesterday afternoon that I should "hold my blog for ransom" and tell you that "I won't write anything else until you donate enough for a new laptop." I would, of course, never do that. Still, pumping out quality material here and at The Hardball Times on a regular basis is going to be tough in my current situation, and it'll get even harder when I have to head back to school.
So, here's what I am proposing ... If you've been stopping by here on a regular basis for a long time and you feel like you wouldn't mind donating some money, you can click on the following PayPal link and send some funds my way within seconds.Like I said, if everyone donated one dollar, I'd be in good shape, so don't feel like I'm asking for millions here. If you've been reading this site for a year and you think it's worth 10% as much as a newspaper subscription, then send me $10. If you think you get a dollar's worth of enjoyment from this blog every month and you've been reading for 15, send $15 my way. If you've been stopping here since the blog's inception (August of 2002) and you think each day is worth about a penny, put yourself down for $6.
If you want to really get charitable and donate by the word, you should know that I've written 820,659 words prior to today. At one cent per word, that works out to $8,206.59, assuming of course you've read every single word. If you have, then perhaps I should be the one paying you. If you think every 1,000 words are worth a nickel, that works out to about $40.
Finally, I know there are those among you who are completely insulted that I would ever ask for money in exchange for what I provide here. The only thing I can say to those of you is sorry. Like I said, I don't blame you, although I sometimes don't understand why you'd get so upset about it. After all, there are plenty of blogs out there asking for and receiving donations all the time, so my begging isn't unique. For other examples, feel free to click here or here or here (just to link a few).
If you think giving a little cash to help fund a new computer is a good idea, do it. If not, don't. I'll say this ... If you guys come up with enough money to help me get a new computer, you won't be hearing me beg for money again any time soon.
So, please, give until it hurts. Or not. Your call.See ya Monday ...
New article at The Hardball Times: Fighting the Mendoza Line
San Diego (Eaton) -115 over Colorado (Jennings)
Toronto (Hentgen) +130 over Anaheim (Colon)
Oakland (Redman) +140 over Boston (Lowe)
New York (Mussina) -130 over Baltimore (Lopez)
Cleveland (Sabathia) -120 over Seattle (Moyer)
Tampa Bay (Bell) +110 over Minnesota (Greisinger)
Detroit (Knotts) +130 over Kansas City (May)
Florida (Penny) -120 over Cincinnati (Harang)
Detroit (Robertson) -100 over Kansas City (Anderson)
Toronto (Halladay) -120 over Anaheim (Washburn)
Seattle (Meche) +115 over Cleveland (Westbrook)
San Diego (Lawrence) +110 over Milwaukee (Davis)
Arizona (Johnson) -130 over Los Angeles (Alvarez)
Seattle (Piniero) +225 over Boston (Martinez)
Cleveland (Lee) +125 over Oakland (Zito)
Chicago (Garland) -120 over Anaheim (Escobar)
Arizona (Webb) -105 over Los Angeles (Lima)
Minnesota (Santana) -110 over Kansas City (Reyes)
Chicago (Rauch) +105 over Anaheim (Sele)
Detroit (Bonderman) -100 over Baltimore (Cabrera)
Montreal (Ohka) -110 over Cincinnati (Valentine)
San Diego (Valdes) +110 over Milwaukee (Santos)
Atlanta (Ramirez) +120 over Philadelphia (Milton)
Anaheim (Lackey) +140 over Chicago (Schoeneweis)
Seattle (Franklin) +260 over Boston (Schilling)
Total to date: -$1,125
W/L record: 57-75 (2-4 yesterday for -190. Whatever I had last year, I've officially lost it.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Double UghAs long-time readers of this blog know, I have had plenty of computer-related problems in the past. They crash, they break, they won't plug in, they won't hold a charge, they won't connect to the internet. You name it, I've had it.
But everything was going smoothly yesterday. I was on my laptop that I've had for several years and there hadn't been any problems in months. Then, wouldn't you know it, the screen blew out. Now, I don't know enough about computers and laptop screens to know exactly what happened, but I do know that anytime something is wrong with the screen, you're basically screwed.
I had a problem with the screen on a laptop I had about four years ago and was told, basically, that it would be cheaper just to buy a new computer than to try to fix it. I remembered this as I stared at the blank screen in front of me.
With this most recent screen catastrophe, I didn't really have the option of just buying a new one since ... well, that takes a lot of money. So like any enterprising, poor laptop owner, I found a screen from a PC and just plugged it in.
It works, of course, the same as batting Jose Offerman in the cleanup spot works. The actual spot is filled and someone with a bat in his hand will come to the plate after the #3 guy hits, but it's not a situation that can go on for very long.
But okay, I was dealing with it. Then, just a few hours later, the connection to the internet stopped working. Just stopped, out of nowhere. Actually, I was in the middle of typing up an article for later this week.
I tried all sorts of dumb things to "fix" it and then finally called Road Runner. They told me "the modem is broken" and that "someone can probably be out there later in the week."
Keep in mind now that this is a fairly new modem, since we had to replace it within the last year as a result of the last one dying a similar, mysterious death.
So, as I type this sad tale to you, I am working on a laptop with a completely black screen, plugged into a PC monitor that sits atop a TV table in my room (thus ruining the entire point of a "laptop"). My connection to the internet is dialup AOL, which is just as awful as I had remembered it. As I told my mom last night, "It's like 1996 all over again."
I'm not quite sure how I am going to fix this problem. The Road Runner person showing up at some point in the next year would be nice, but I won't count on that. How I will go about getting a new computer is even less certain. I looked online for prices and they went from "Man, that's a lot" to "I want to kill myself."
Anyone feel like getting me a new computer?
Florida (Beckett) -120 over Cincinnati (Wilson)
Los Angeles (Ishii) -110 over Milwaukee (Santos)
Arizona (Fossum) +195 over San Francisco (Schmidt)
Oakland (Hudson) +140 over Boston (Schilling)
Texas (Rogers) +130 over Chicago (Schoeneweis)
Detroit (Maroth) +115 over Kansas City (Gobble)
Total to date: -$935
W/L record: 55-71 (1-2 yesterday for -100.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, May 24, 2004
Twins NotesSince this blog has sort of turned into the home of my thoughts on the Twins and anything unrelated to baseball since the launch of The Hardball Times, here are a whole bunch of semi-random thoughts on everyone's favorite AL Central leaders ...
Justin Morneau is back up, thanks in large part to Shannon Stewart's various foot injuries. The news on Stewart is not sounding particularly promising (first he had one injury, now he has that injury and another injury), so it looks like Morneau should be here for quite a while.
Lew Ford will take over for Stewart in left field and Morneau will (hopefully) be the regular designated hitter. I believe Morneau has the potential to be the best hitter the Twins have had in a very long time. At the very least, he has a good shot at being their best power hitter since Harmon Killebrew.
Now, a frequent topic of discussion here and other places regarding the Twins has always been their vast amount of quality LF/RF/1B/DH types. Before Stewart went down, they had him and Jacque Jones starting, with Lew Ford and Michael Ryan on the bench. Doug Mientkiewicz was at first base and Matthew LeCroy was catching and DHing. Michael Cuddyer was playing all over the field and, of late, was subbing for Corey Koskie at third base. And then of course they had Michael Restovich and Justin Morneau down in Triple-A, and in the last year or so they got rid of Bobby Kielty and Dustan Mohr.
Some might say that bringing Morneau up right now, in the middle of the year, is simply creating even more of a logjam. After all, if Stewart somehow makes it back in just a few weeks, then where do you play Lew Ford if Morneau is at DH? When Joe Mauer comes back next month, where does Matthew LeCroy get any at-bats? Where does Cuddyer fit in when Koskie is back at third base? It is, as they say, "a great problem to have," but it is still a problem.
Here's my feeling ... holding back Justin Morneau because you have too many other options without him is silly. He is the option. When he is ready -- and I would assume the Twins have decided that time is right now -- there is no one on the roster or in the entire organization who should hold him back.
Think of it this way ... say you're going out with five different women. You like them all, they all have good qualities and they are all attractive and nice. You've been trying to juggle them as best you can. Some you see on the weekends, some you see during your lunchbreak from work, some you go out to dinner with on weeknights.
Then Jessica Alba comes along and hits on you one night. She comes on very strong and makes it obvious that she is interested in something serious with you (sort of like Morneau was doing at Triple-A). Do you say no to Ms. Alba, because she will only further complicate things with these other women? Hell no.
You put Jessica into the top spot in the rotation. Any time, day or night, that she wants to see you, you make it happen. If this means you don't see some of those other women as often -- or maybe not at all -- then that's just the way it has to be.
Matthew LeCroy, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Restovich, Michael Ryan and even Lew Ford (and Kielty and Mohr before them) are these other women. Justin Morneau is Jessica Alba.
Don't you see the resemblance?
Now, I do have one way to ease the logjam and create some additional at-bats for the other women. Quite simply, put an end to Jose Offerman's career with the Twins.
Offerman was brought on as a "veteran bat off the bench" but has turned into quite a bit more than that, thanks in part to injuries and in part to Ron Gardenhire strange-but-predictable infatuation with him.
While Offerman has not been horrible, he has not been anything special either. He started very fast, which is the best way to earn undeserved playing time for the rest of the year, and has faded of late. On the year, he is hitting .235/.363/.412. Like I said, not horrible numbers by any means, and if Offerman could handle second base on a regular basis, I'd be ready to elect him president. He can't though.
Instead, he is taking at-bats at first base and DH. With Stewart, Mauer and Koskie out, that's not much of a problem. However, all indications are that at least Koskie and Mauer will be back relatively soon. Let's assume for a moment that Stewart also returns by the end of next month, at which point the everyday lineup might look something like this:
C Joe MauerOf course Luis Rivas is also hurting right now (sore groin) and you never know when the Twins might sour on him (never, is my guess, but I'm a pessimist). Still, I'll pencil him in at second. Personally, I would stick Michael Cuddyer there and just forget about his defense for a while.
With those guys playing everyday, it leaves the following players without regular jobs:
Lew FordAs soon as I was comfortable with Mauer's ability to play 4-5 times per week, I would let Blanco go, but I really doubt that will ever happen. The fact that he's hitting .116 this month won't sway the Twins as long as he continues to be old and good at throwing out baserunners. I think Matthew LeCroy has shown that he is quite capable behind the plate, particularly if we are talking just a start or two per week.
But okay, assuming Blanco stays, then you need to get LeCroy some at-bats by playing him as the third catcher, letting him get some time against tough lefties in place of Morneau at DH, and making him your primary pinch-hitter. He deserves more time than that, but I'm not going to cry bloody murder on this one.
The next guy with a spot on the bench is Lew Ford. Now, Ford has done absolutely nothing but hit the snot out of the ball every chance he has gotten with the Twins. He's at .338/.400/.535 in 73 career games, including .338/.393/.503 this season. He's not a .335 hitter, but the man can hit, and he's also a good defensive outfielder at all three spots.
He is, of course, a great fourth outfielder, just as any number of starting outfielders in the major leagues would be great fourth outfielders. He also deserves a chance to play every day. As long as Stewart is hobbled, that will happen, but once he returns there's just nowhere to play regularly. I would put Ford and Jacque Jones in a strict platoon out in right field, with Jones playing against righties and Ford against lefties.
Before everyone jumps on me about how Jones is hitting lefties this year, let me just remind you that he was hitting lefties well early last year and still ended up stinking against them for the season. It takes more than 50 decent at-bats to wash away years and years of suckitude, at least in my mind.
So now you've got LeCroy scrambling for playing time at C, 1B and DH, and Ford looking for work in all three OF spots. That still leaves Cuddyer, who would normally get some action in the OF, but will have to scrap for time at 2B and 3B in this situation.
That makes three guys, all relatively young, all ready to play every day, and all trying to find two days a week where they can get into the lineup.
I'm fine with Michael Ryan only serving as a pinch-hitter and I'm fine with Nick Punto being the utility man (although I'd play him over Rivas at second base, just like I would with anyone else in the Minneapolis phone book). Still, all of this leaves Offerman to further complicate things.
He'll take away at-bats from LeCroy at 1B and DH, he'll take away at-bats from all three (LeCroy, Ford, Cuddyer) as a pinch-hitter, and he may take away time from Cuddyer at 2B and 3B. And there's just no reason for him to do so. As long as Offerman can't handle a middle infield position on a regular basis defensively, there is no reason to have him on the team.
When Morneau was in Triple-A and a bunch of guys were hurt, it was fine. I didn't like it, but it was fine. Now that Morneau has claimed 1/9 of the everyday time and guys are starting to come back from the DL, Offerman is just taking up space. And that space would be better off being given to more deserving, more qualified, younger players like Ford, Cuddyer and LeCroy.
Assuming there is no chance of displacing Rivas at 2B, here is how I would construct the bench, once everyone is healthy:
C Matthew LeCroyNo Blanco, no Offerman. The funny thing is, if you finally bit the bullet and got rid of Rivas, putting Cuddyer at second base (with Punto as his defensive replacement/spot starter), it would actually create a spot on the bench for Offerman. As you all know, once Rivas is gone, everything else is just gravy, including keeping Offerman.
You can't tell me you wouldn't be excited to see this lineup on a regular basis:
C Joe Mauer (LeCroy vs. LHP)That is an offense with only one weak link, at shortstop. That group is strong from top to bottom and it could score an awful lot of runs.
And finally ...
What can I say about Johan Santana? I've been his biggest backer for quite a while now and I've been talking him up as the next great starting pitcher. Quite simply, he has not been good this year. He has mixed in some very nice performances, just enough to keep getting my hopes up, but the overall numbers are just awful.
I'm not sure what to say. I'm inclined to think that he is injured, but who knows. It's still early, but a 5.60 ERA is plenty to get worried about from someone who was dominant as a starting pitcher in each of the past two years (18-6 with a 2.97 ERA in 31 starts, to be exact). Plus, he had offseason surgery to clear bone chips out of his elbow.
If you'd have told me Santana was going to be disappointing this year, I would have believed it. His being great was no sure thing. But what he's done so far is beyond disappointing, it's troubling.
Nothing to do but wait it out, I guess. I'll say right now that I won't be shocked if we find out in a few weeks that something is wrong with him physically.
New article at The Hardball Times: How Long is a Fluke a Fluke?
Arizona (Webb) +140 over Florida (Pavano)
Atlanta (Thomson) -100 over Montreal (Day)
Anaheim (Lackey) +110 over Toronto (Miller)
Total to date: -$835
W/L record: 54-69 (1-4 on Friday for -405 with one rainout. I stink.)
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****