Friday, April 01, 2005

 

Why isn't it Sunday yet?!?

These last few days before the season starts are nothing but agony, especially since I've been writing and you have all been reading for the past few months with the previews and the spring training notes...I think I'm going to explode. But on a good note, today is the day for the John Sickels interview! If you have any questions, please post them and I will send in the questions this afternoon (probably after 2 when my class is out). Please, please please get some questions in, as John is a master of his craft and will share what he knows.

I already had a slight panic attack this morning, when I went to Sickels Minor League Ball site and saw the April Fool's joke with David Wright getting traded to Tampa Bay. I believed it for a second thanks to last year's debacle with Scott Kazmir. Now I'm waiting for the Mets to do it thinking its a good idea.

My mind is a mess waiting for Sunday and the first taste of real baseball that counts. One thing on ESPN did catch my eye though...I saw the Sportsnation Poll at the bottom of the page asking "Which of these teams has the best chance of making the playoffs?" with the choices of the Athletics, the Indians, the Rangers, and the White Sox. What upset me is that the Rangers, after almost 52,000 votes, have a higher percentage of the vote than the Oakland A's. I find it interesting that the Indians have the highest percentage, considering I believe their chances of overturning the Twins are less than the Athletics beating out the Angels. This means that more people think the Rangers can either A) Win the Wild Card or B) Beat out the Angels and A's for the AL West. Did anyone pay attention this offseason? The Athletics improved, and the Angels sort of did. The Rangers did what? Sign a guy who might hit .220 with 4 homers or .287 with 22? That is reassuring. One of their primary offseason goals was to resign David Delluci, with all his minor injuries adding up and affecting his playing ability. They did not fix the pitching at all (sorry Pedro Astacio, but no). They still are the owners of Chan Ho Park. The offense might get a little better with more growth from Michael Young and Mark Teixera and others, but it is still a lineup devoid of on-base consistency. This team's problem last year actually wasn't pitching, as Hershisher did a good job of keeping the pitching staff effective throughout the year. The offense stagnated in the second half, and the team cannot hit on the road. It is like Coors Lite Park in Arlington, and the Rangers are making the same mistake as the Rox; build a lineup with a few serious stars, and surround them with no names who will hit well enough at home to disguise their shortcomings. The pitching is obviously never going to be dominant with the home park the way it is, but they could have tried to add an arm rather than sit around and try to sign Carlos Delgado to play a position he didn't want to play for less money than he wanted to sign for. Maybe if Alex Rodriguez had been a free agent we would have seen some money thrown around in Texas this offseason. Luckily, to soothe my anger at this situation, the White Sox only got 17.7% of the vote, which means Sportsnation isn't falling for this Podsednik shit that Kenny Williams is trying to pull. But seriously folks, you think the Rangers are going to make it over the Athletics? I put the Rangers and Mariners chances at roughly the same spot, with a slight edge to the Rangers based on their ability to score runs at home.

Don't forget to post a question for John Sickels in the comment section of this post! We'll have it up for your sometime soon I'm guessing. If you haven't read the Will Carroll article yet, the link is on the sidebar on the left, as it has fallen off of the main page.

By the way, I added a link the Athletics Nation on the left, as well as one for Heads/Tails. Check out both of those sites, and make sure to comment on Heads/Tails when Mike Hurtya and I begin posting. We are planning on doing something related to teams counted out of the playoff picture and their chances this upcoming season. Should be a good argument. See you there I hope.

 

Congratulations

Congratulations to Billy Beane, new minority owner of the Oakland Athletics. Beane also received a contract extension through 2012, thanks to new A's principle owner Lewis Wolff, whose purchase of the team was finalized today. It'll be interesting to see Beane's moves if he has a little extra revenue to work with, since we know what he can do with one of the lower payrolls in baseball. Maybe it will allow him to keep a Miguel Tejada next time around (although I still feel he made the right decision in keeping Eric Chavez around instead). Bobby Crosby and Nick Swisher could be capable of spending their careers (or atleast the important years) with the A's thanks to this ownership change, even though Steve Schott will remain a minority owner. Beane as general manager and owner will probably make for an interesting transaction, where he is capable of putting some money forward for a trade if other owners won't. That'd be great to see. No matter your feelings on Beane's tactics, you have to admit he gets the job done considering his resources.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

 

Tying Up Loose Ends

Bunch of little stuff to get to today. I added a link to the sidebar for Baseball Rants Interviews, which will number more than 1 total this weekend, and hopefully will have many more after that. So if you ever want to read the Will Carroll interview after it falls off the main page, and don't feel like searching through the archives, there it is.

Byung Hyun Kim's trade was finalized, with the Sox and Rox swapping mostly bad contracts. Byung Yung Kim's contract was sent to Colorado, and Charles Johnson's was sent to Boston, where he was promptly released. BK should serve a valuable role in the Colorado pen if he can get some of his fastball back, as they have plenty of issues over there (like setting the major league record for bullpen losses last year, of course, Shawn Chacon didn't help.) Chris Narveson was the prospect involved in the deal, going to the Red Sox. There isn't much to say about him, besides John Sickels gave him a good grade in his latest book, with a B-. If I remember correctly, Baseball Prospectus wasn't as kind when evaluating the trade for Larry Walker with the Cardinals last year (Narveson was a part of that deal.) I could be wrong though. Basically, the Sox are paying a lot of money to clear up that spot on the 25 man and 40 man roster. Whatever works I guess.

Heads/Tails at the Most Valuable Network is finally up and running with my name and contact information on it, and I posted an introduction today. I know most of you know who I am, you know, since your here and all, but I'd love for you to check that site out daily as well. Michael Hurta is my writing partner, and he is a knowledgeable fellow. His site (Home Plate in Space)can be found on the links on the left side of the page. I really enjoy reading these Most Valuable Network sites, so if you feel the need to cruise the internet and read, definitely spend some time there (obligatory plug completed...just kidding, I read a bunch of those sites daily.) And just incase no one ventures into the comments section, I'm going to post my award predictions for 2005 here as well:

AL MVP: Eric Chavez. When Oakland wins the West, MVP voters will decide Chavez is the reason. That doesn't mean he won't be deserving, cause Chavez is capable of MVP seasons.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols will finally get one, only because Bonds misses a month plus.

AL Cy Young: I'm going to go with Johan Santana as repeat winner, and it isn't a copout. Let me explain myself...I looked at the rosters, and noticed that the only frontline starters in the AL right now (serious out of the gate Cy Young contenders) would be Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Johan Santana. Schilling is going to miss some time (not much, but he will have to adjust when he returns) and I'm not so sure Johnson is going to duplicate last year exactly, which would probably net him a Cy Young. Santana on the other hand, had an awful April and May, so even if he comes down from last years historical stretch of pitching, he should be able to come close to his Cy Young Campaign.

NL Cy Young: This one is going to come down between Pedro Martinez and Jake Peavy...at that point whichever team has a better record should have the Cy Young pitcher, and I'll go with the Pads for now.

AL ROY: Nick Swisher

NL ROY: If the Braves get Andy Marte to the majors early enough, it could be him.

Here are the Least Valuable Players, for free agents signed to big deals on new teams.
AL LVP: Richie Sexson (For Delgado's salary, he's not going to be valuable.)

NL LVP: Russ Ortiz. Just thinking about this makes me laugh. Thank you Diamondbacks management, for giving me something to chuckle about for the next few seasons. I'm probably piling on at this point, but its deserved.

And here are some rebound players for you:

AL Rebound: The Royals. I don't see them being a force or anything, but the year 2004 is over for them, so that is something.

NL Rebound: Austin Kearns. A healthy year will finally come...I hope.

 

I love the..err, 2005 awards, Part Deux!

Much on the same sentiments of Marc, I bring unto you the awards, as predicted by well, err, me?

AL MVP- I'm running on the same premise as Marc here. The guy who leads his team to victory in the AL West picks up the MVP. I've got the Angels winning the west, and Vlad repeating as the MVP.

NL MVP- No Bonds opens the floodgates, but either way, I saw Albert Pujols finally stepping up, and taking his first MVP. He's not going to run away with it though, look for Miguel Cabrera to totally break out (like he didn't last year, but with Delgado now..), and give Pujols a run for his money.

AL Cy Young- Johan Santana. Do you want to pick against him? He's going to rack up the wins again, keep his ERA and WHIP low, and lead the Twins to the AL Central crown (along with Mauer, Morneau, and Ford).

NL Cy Young- I'm going out on a limb here, and picking Tim Hudson. I think a trip to Dagobah (alrite, I know it's a lot of Star Wars references lately, but not only does Mazzone look like Yoda, he makes people like Jaret Wright good. Can you say that has nothing to do with the force?) to train with Yoda is just what Hudson needs. He should have solid fielding and bats behind him, in an easier league (to pitch to at least). I see Jake Peavy, Pedro Martinez, AJ Burnett, and Jason Schmidt rounding out the top 5.

AL RoY- It's a huge coinflip here, probably the toughest to call. I'm going out on a limb and saying Jeremy Reed, despite SAFECO, but I have a feeling Nick Swisher is going to make me eat my words with his bat and glove.

NL RoY- If the Braves free Andy Marte, this will be a no brainer by June.

AL LVP- I wanted with all my heart to pick a different least valuable player (based on big name free agent signings) than Marc, but I can't pick against Richie Sexson. He's ailing, in a tougher league, and in a pitcher's ballpark. Sorry Richie, it's not happening.

NL LVP- Can I just say the Dbacks? Probably not, so I'll say Troy Glaus, because I don't see him staying remotely healthy, and even if he does, he's not going to put up numbers to merit his contract.

AL Rebound of the Year- Eric Chavez. He's going to be healthy, and he's going to have a monster year. Look for him to put up MVP caliber numbers, and keep Oakland in contention (and maybe farther than that, if the new arms don't fail him).

NL Rebound of the Year- I'm gonna say AJ Burnett here. I think he may finally have that healthy year, go back to blowing balls by hitters, and showing us why we all thought he was a Cy Young contender last time he was healthy.

That's all for now. 3 more days!

 

Preason picks from the other guy

Since I didn't spend the better part of a month analyzing teams and giving my picks, I'm going to take a few minutes (mostly because I'm sick of doing homework) to offer my picks, predictions, awards, and totally unsubstantiated analysis (the best kind)!

AL EAST
1) Red Sox (to hell with Steinbrenner)
2) Yankees (With a payroll of x, where x is a really big freaking number)
3) Orioles (Proof that you don't need pitching to be a third place team, just a lot of guys who hit between 250-280 and knock in 100+ runs).
4) Blue Jays (Never going to contend in a division featuring the two big boys of baseball)
5) Devil Rays (Lou Pinella hates managing young talent. Tampa Bay is all young talent. Free BJ UPTON!)

AL CENTRAL
1) Twins (A point of disagreement with Marc. With Santana signed and happy, a strong bullpen, strong prospects emerging (Morneau, Mauer, and you can even still refer to Lew Ford as a youngin), I just think it's the Twins race to lose).
2) Indians (Another year away from contention. I'm skeptical of Millwood, dear god why is Juan Gone in the outfield. Indians are a bona fied ace away from dominating the AL Central for years to come.)
3) Tigers (Agreement with Marc here; this is a weak third place. Look for improvement from Bonderman, and Maroth. If Percival can stay healthy, they might be able to actually close out some games).
4) White Sox (A shot at third place, but I have a feeling, somehow, Kenny Williams will screw it up. Can anyone else foresee Rowand EXPLODING before the all star break, and then getting traded for Randy Winn? He'll do it!)
5) Royals (At least Calvin Pickering is free?)

AL WEST
1) Angels (Solid starters, solid bullpen, big bats in the lineup. DID I MENTION MVP CHONE FIGGINS?! MVP!)
2) A's (I want to wait another year to see Billy Beane prove to me again why he's Jesus with a baseball team. This time next year, if his new crop of pitchers evolves, the division is the A's again for the taking).
3) Rangers (Remember what I posted about the Orioles? About how you can hit lots of home runs, and score lots of rbis, but it doesn't matter if your pitching staff gives up just as many, and usually more? Ya, same thing here, but I like Teixeira to break out this year (and he better, I spent a third round pick on him!)).
4) Mariners (Because signing a possible one year wonder in Adrian Beltre, an elder Richie Sexson, and not addressing the problems of your pitching is a winning formula!)

NL EAST (by far, the toughest to call).
1) Braves (With all my heart I want to pick against them, but as long as Leo Mazzone is alive, and teaching pitchers the ways of the force, i'm signing with the Braves. Point of contention on Dan Kolb as a risk though (as well as Smoltz starting again)).
2) Marlins (The team I wanted to pick first, but didn't have the heart. Love the addition of Delgado. I'm looking at AJ Burnett to remind us why everyone was predicting he'd be a CY Young contender someday. Mota is a real sleeper at closer, and with all the speed and pure hitting talent in the lineup, it's too much to sleep on).
3) Phillies (Well, you aren't the Mets, that's gotta count right? This year we should finally see them begin to transition their big prospects into the lineup fulltime, and did I mention, they aren't the Mets?)
4) Mets (Saying I want to take Omar Minaya out back, string him up from a tree, and yell at him for uncorrecting the baseball market (and by yell I mean beat with a spiked club) is an understatement. They failed to address their bullpen issues, and while I expect Pedro to perform, Traschel is decaying, Glavine is a control pitcher losing his control, and did I mention they have no bullpen?)
5) Nationals (Worst. GM. Ever. Impact signings like Vinny Castilla and Jose Guillen, as well as playing in one of the toughest divisions in baseball (arguably one of, if not the most competitive) will keep them from contention to years to come, o ya, and so will Jim Bowden.
2-4 Is truly anyone's guess, and could be decided by 1-2 games.

NL CENTRAL
1) Cardinals (Did their lineup get any worse? No, I didn't think so, and Pujols is claiming perfect health now. So they addressed their biggest need, not having an ace, and they picked up Mark Mulder. Pretty good formula to get back to the WS).
2) Cubs (Ok, this pick rests on a lot of suppositions, and had the Astros not lost their 2 big bats, this would be a no brainer at number 3. Zambrano should be phenomenal, and if Kerry Wood's arm doesn't fall off, and if Mark Prior's arm stops thinking it's 40 (DUSTY'S HEAD ON A PIKE!!!), this could be a great team. Did I mention Greg Maddux? Only problem is the loss of Sosa, and the suspect closer.
3) Astros (Could have easily been number 2, but they lost their 2 big bats (in Beltran and Kent). Clemens will put up CY Young numbers, Oswalt should perform well, and they have one of the top 3 closers in baseball. Should be more than enough to keep them in contention, especially if they let some of their rookie bats like Burke and Lane get in there).
4) Brewers (Go Ben Sheets and Carlos Lee? Seriously, kudos to their gm for getting a top 15 outfielder, for Scott Podsednik. I'll take Carlos Lee over 70 steals anyday, because that 244 avg and 313 obp just gets me moist thinking about it.)
5) Reds (Look for them to do uhh, nothing special? Hopefully, for one of the better guys in baseball, it's another great year for Sean Casey. Look for lightning to strike Ken Griffey Jr. while he's in CF, fork, strike him again, lift him into the air, and sever his head, because that's the kind of luck he's had as of late.
6) Pirates (No more Giles, no more Kendall. Oliver Perez can't win 60 games).

NL WEST
1) Padres (I'm going on a limb here, and maybe it's just because I love their team, but with Bonds hurt, and the Giants lining up for Social Security, I think this could be the Padres year. Peavy is poised for a Cy Young run, the lineup is solid, and I'm expecting Giles to turn around bigtime this year. Not to mention a helahty Trevor Hoffman is still a great closer).
2) Dodgers (Couldn't bring myself to pick them to win it. A decent rotation and a great closer will keep them in contention. Who knows, maybe Jeff Kent won't suck? Not expecting anything special from them, they're just the best of the rest).
3) Giants (No Bonds, no division title. Schmidt should have another great year though.)
4) Dbacks (Shawn Green will solidify his legacy as the greatest modern Jewish baseball player. Dbacks will also commit ritualistic suicide after Troy Glaus's shoulder falls off, and they realize Russ Ortiz, is in actuality, Russ Ortiz.)
5) Rockies (I wish I didn't have to put them here, but I do. A lot like the pirates pick, except Todd Helton can't win 60 games by himself.)

AL Wild Card: Yankees
NL Wild Card: Cubs (because Dusty Baker will torment me for all of eternity, and then a few days after).

First round matchups:
Red Sox v Angels
Twins v Yankees
Cardinals v Padres
Braves v Cubs

It's 3 am, so I'll put up my ROY, Cy Young, MVP, and all the other picks tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

 

Preseason Standings Prediction: Updated

I made predictions for the regular season standings of all the teams in the team preview, but with the end of spring training creeping up on us (of course, not nearly fast enough) and some roster changes/injuries and the like occuring, I want to put all of the predictions in one, neat and tidy post so I can look back on it and pretend it never happened come October.

AL East
1) Red Sox
2) Yankees
3) Orioles
4) Blue Jays
5) Devil Rays

AL Central
1) Indians (why is Juan "Should be Gone" Gonzalez starting in RF over Grady Sizemore?)
2) Twins
3) Tigers (not a very strong third place though)
4) White Sox (might take third place, but that isn't the point of the makeover they went under)
5) Royals

AL West
1) Athletics
2) Angels
3) Rangers
4) Mariners

NL East
1) Braves (I'd rather look dumb for picking them than not picking them at this point)
2) Phillies
3) Marlins
4) Mets
5) Nationals
Those 2-4 spots are all going to be reaaaaaally close I think.

NL Central
1) Cardinals
2) Cubs
3) Brewers
4) Astros
5) Reds
6) Pirates

NL West
1) Dodgers
2) Padres
3) Giants
4) D'Backs
5) Rockies
Rockies and D'Backs could go either way, but the bigger disapointment lies with Arizona, who fancies themselves at present to be a contender.

AL Wild Card: Yankees
NL Wild Card: Cubs (that NL East might beat itself up to the point of losing out, and the Pads have to beat the Dodgers to gain a playoff berth)

I assume the first round matchups, which are regular season record based, would go like so:

Red Sox vs. Indians
Yankees vs. Athletics
Cubs vs. Braves
Cardinals vs. Dodgers

I do not want to start going around saying who will win what in the playoffs, because then I'll do something insane like say Oakland comes out in the World Series facing the Cubs, and Red Sox fans will yell at me and then I'll just realize I'm being hopeful for Billy Beane's sake. Also, its too early to tell (ya think?) what condition these teams will be in injury wise at that point (Entire Cubs rotation except Greg Maddux goes down in September?). So that is where I draw the line...but let me just say that if Boston can't win it, I'm rooting for Oakland. Is that any different than normal though? Wouldn't an Athletics/Dodgers World Series make some people just vomit? You know, like anti-performance analysis people? Maybe its worth it to make the Sox wait another year to win just to see that.

 

MLB Roundup

Sorry for the later post today, but Blogger was having some...issues.

I want to start out by saying I hope everyone took some time to read the Will Carroll interview, and I am going to have the John Sickels one on Friday, posted this weekend or sometime early next week. If you have any questions for John, please (for the love of everything) post a comment or e-mail me. I had people sending me questions for the Carroll interview after it was already done...that was helpful. Just to remind everyone, post questions before Friday, or at the least Friday morning and I'll accomodate you.

JOY! CALVING PICKERING IS FREE! But the left handed platoon partner Ken Harvey is now captured in Omaha. I hate to nitpick (I'm lying) but Harvey should have been kept on the roster as the platoon partner for Pickering when left handers pitched. I guess Pickering getting out against lefties and mashing righties still beats no Pickering at all. This also means the Royals are probably carrying an extra pitcher, and have 13 total. Why can't anyone have 11? I know 10 is asking a lot of a team, even though it is entirely possible, but why not 11?

Byung Hyun Kim is going to Colorado for a minor leaguer, and the Sox are picking up the tab. Who cares that the Sox are paying for it? No more roster spot wasted on BK. I want to thank him for stabilizing the bullpen and rotation in 2003 when he did, but keeping around something that isn't working goes against every cold hearted baseball move I desire for victory. Also, if BK succeeds in Colorado, I'll feel smart. Why? All-Star break last year I wrote this:

"One last idea before I close off this section. The Rockies believe that sinkerball pitchers are going to be the ones who are most effective in the high altitude. I gave it some thought and started wondering if sidearm and submarine pitchers might have even more of an impact. The way they throw all of their pitchers have that natural sinking motion to them, and many induce ground-ball outs as well. I only have a few examples for this, but luckily one of them is the best pitcher they have ever had, and “a better candidate to pitch forever than Jesse Orosco” says Baseball Prospectus. Steve Reed has a career ERA somewhere in the low to mid 3.00’s for Colorado, and succeeds year in and year out for them. He is a sidearm pitcher, so one point for Marc’s theory. This could just be a coincidence, but apparently Dan O’Dowd hasn’t read Moneyball, or he did not take anything away from it. I got to thinking about the section on Chad Bradford, and how in the Canadian Rocky mountains he dropped his arm angle even lower and the ball sank even more. It was not just because of the arm drop, it also had to do with the fact that the air was being used to his advantage. The sinking motion of the balls he threw kept hitters from putting any real sky power on his pitches. Here are Bradford’s numbers from that park, as shown in Moneyball: “In a ballpark built for sluggers, he pitched fifty-one innings with an earned run average of 1.94, and gave up only three home runs.” It also states that, “As miserable as the Canadian Rockies were for most pitchers, they might as well have been created for Chad Bradford to pitch in.” So this is obviously not my idea, I am just stating that I cannot believe the Rockies have not tried to get more pitchers like this and show them that the air will actually help their career numbers. How about trying to steal Byung Hyun Kim from the Red Sox? They obviously are not using him, and since his performance has been down you can probably force them to swallow the price tag whole. If BK busts, you didn't pay for it. If he doesn't, not only did you not pay for it, but damnit, your on to something good." (Whole text found here)

I'd like to add this, so as not to let people think I have anything against O'Dowd. He has apologized for what he said was the ego driven way he ran the Rockies the past few years, and I believe him when he says it, but we'll see how Gen-R in Colorado does and how the front office goes about supporting it or fixing it when the time comes.

Who are the Sox going to replace BK Kim with? Well, Mike Myers. I like Myers, but at the same time I want a different LOOGY. At least he isn't BK. I honestly forgot the names of the people traded to St. Louis for Myers, so go to Friendly Fenway if you want to know, cause I know it is there.

The Nationals demoted centerfielder Endy Chavez, which was a good move. Chavez is a deceiving player; he's fast but can't really hit or play defense too well, but puts up some steals. Sending him back to the minors opens up an outfield spot for Termel Sledge, with Brad Wilkerson moving to centerfield I'm guessing.

Bobby Higginson might get traded to the Marlins soon, and I'm kind of saddened by this. If they use him, and keep Juan Encarnacion, I think that the Marlins are purposely trying to negate the addition of Carlos Delgado to the lineup. I don't know what is going on there.

Charles Johnson might end up in Tampa Bay soon, but we've been hearing that rumor for oh...8 months now, at least.

Juan Gonzalez won the RF job in Cleveland, and I'm kind of confused, considering he will most likely get hurt and Grady Sizemore should be the starter. Whatever though, Shapiro usually knows what he is doing and must be on to something. Or not.

Andres Galaragga retired with 399 career homeruns, obviously one short of 400. It would have been nice to see him hit it, considering his career didn't take off until he was already 32, making him one of a handful of guys with extremely late and extended peaks. Somewhere Melvin Mora and Mark Loretta are crossing their fingers with hope of a similar fate.

Brooks Kieschnick was released from the Brewers, and if you want the full theory behind it, go to http://brewers.mostvaluablenetwork.com

To finish things up, I want to laugh and cry at the same time when Jacque Jones says that he puts up enough numbers to do well on the free agent market this offseason. I laugh because he really has not put up much for great numbers, but cry when I realize someone will in fact dish out money to him based solely on the fact that people know who Jacque Jones is. Too bad he can't hit lefties at all and never, ever walks. I hope beyond hope that the Twins trade him, get something much more useful than him out of it, and then laugh all the way to Jason Kubel in 2006.



Tuesday, March 29, 2005

 

Drumroll please...

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus fame, and author of "Saving the Pitcher" and the upcoming "The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems" agreed to an interview on this website, and I am quite pleased with the results and what I learned from it. Here is the interview for your viewing pleasure, and may I recommend Carroll's work to anyone with an interest in baseball, and especially with injuries and health. His Under the Knife columns and Team Health Reports at Baseball Prospectus are great reads. On to the interview...

Marc Normandin: What are the effects of steroids, as far as performance is concerned, on pitchers, and could that have a counterproductive effect towards hitters who are also users?

Will Carroll: The fairest answer is, we don't know. What we do know is extrapolated from studies on things like female-to-male transexuals, on associated drugs like birth control (yes, they're alkylated steroids) and hair restoration treatments, and on the unlucky East Germans of the 60s. Pitchers aren't assisted by strength so what most people think of about steroids doesn't help. It's the anti-catabolic effect - keeping muscles from breaking down - that is where pitchers could see gains.

I guess if an enhanced pitcher took on an enhanced hitter, it woulddepend on factors like genetics and uptake rather than the assumedlevel playing field. Steroids don't have one steady effect on alltakers.

MN: What is with the lack of public (and government) outcry towards amphetamines? I only seem to hear about amphetamines from baseball minds like yourself and others at Baseball Prospectus. For those who do not really know what they can help a player with, would you care to elaborate on them?

WC: Amphetamines have been a part of the game so long and are so accepted due to the lack of percieved effects. This isn't the case. We don't know long term effects, we don't know if the up-down cycle is harming performance, and we don't know how it might "unbalance" the game between users and non-users. The pervasiveness of amphetamines and the absolute ignorance of the problem is appalling.

MN: From the chapter you gave me I was able to see that there are many health problems that steroids can be associated with, such as the> weakening of the heart or the slow destruction of the liver. If the steroid use is/was as rampant as it has been said to be, can we expect to see a number of players getting sick or dying from health problems in their 50’s, like the drugged up rock stars of the 70’s? Or is that something that may slip under the radar long enough for the public to never know for sure how bad it was?

WC: Certainly. We've already seen that in East German athletes from the 70s (Note: That did say East Germans of the 60s before, sorry for the typo) and football players from the 70s. It's always a tradeoff - get the effect you want, you'll get an effect you don't. I doubt there will be some public outcry that someone was a millionaire and died young. The Quad-A players that used won't even be noticed, even if it reaches epidemiological proportions.

MN: Baseball’s new steroid testing policy is stricter than last time, and MLB’s commissioner’s office agreed to take the “or fines” language out of the agreement, in order to make suspensions the only punishment for steroid usage. Even with this, how far ahead of the testing are the masking agents that you hear about? Do you think baseball’s testing policy truly stacks up against the NFL’s and other sports?

WC: "Good chemists are always one step behind bad chemists," according to Elliott Perlman, baseball's science advisior. I think the baseball policy is working and that's what we should care about, not whether it's Olympic (and the Olympic policy, let's face it, isn't working if it can't catch Marion Jones and others that Conte has pointed his finger at) or NFL. It's about results - or should be - not PR.

MN: How did you go about putting this book together research wise?

WC: I tried to find the best people I could on as many sides of the issue as possible. Players, coaches, testers, advocates, kids, officials, chemists, you name it - all the way to a man that I think is one of the creators of THG. I had a lawyer do the legal section, a geneticist do the genetics section, one of the top stats guys I know look at stats, and my father, a sports medicine educator helped with the technical portions. It's because I couldn't find these people in the mainstream press that I ended up writing this book. I thought if I couldn't find it, no one else could either.

MN: What kind of injury warning signs might we see out of steroid users, besides the extreme case of Jason Giambi last season?

WC: Remember, we don't know that Giambi's problems were steroid related. Isn't it odd that his career went downhill after his admitted use? I'd look for tendon and ligament problems, extreme body changes - and I don't mean weight loss or gain, but things like sloping forehead or bodybuilder type lean muscle, and injuries of strength like muscle tears.

MN: How is Major League Baseball going to be able to test for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) if they cannot take blood tests of the players? Is this something that will be solved in the future, or do you think that baseball will try to turn a blind eye to it?

WC: There's no valid, scientifically accepted hGH test, period. WADAbluffed at the Olympics in '04. The NFL, the NBA, even the NCAA don'ttake blood. I think there will be a test, but by that point, we mayhave genetic issues to deal with. That's a lot closer than many think.

MN: What sub-topics are covered in The Juice? Just a few teasing thoughts> for those waiting to get their hands on a copy.

WC: Everything. Seriously, its as holistic a look at the problem as I could do in the time allotted. If you're looking for names, this isn't your book. I'm not pointing fingers, I'm not writing "Juiced." This is a book for the people that really want to understand the problem, not be a part of the problem.

MN: This is a non-steroid question, but one I want to ask because of your Cubs fandom. I wrote an article a week or so ago regarding the Cubs’ closer spot, and wondered if maybe sliding Kerry Wood into that role as a 2-3 inning 70’s style closer would be a great idea for the team, rather than settling for Chad Fox or moving Hawkins into another> role. How would that go for Wood health-wise, and do you think it is worth consideration by the Cubs, especially with the abuse of Wood’s arm in the rotation?

WC: Maybe someday. I don't think Kerry or the Cubs are ready to say he won't be a great starter. Power pitchers often bloom late.

MN: Another non-steroids question, but what kinds of health differences are there for players in Colorado; not just the pitchers but position players as well?

WC: Doesn't seem to be any that we can tell.

MN: Thanks for your time Will, I appreciate it greatly.

"The Juice" comes out in stores around April 15th, so make sure to go out and buy a copy and learn from the research Will Carroll has done on steroids and their effects. As Will said, this information is not readily available without some digging, so he has presented it for you in the book. I know I'll be reading it soon.

Link
 

A few things to wrap up the day...

Tim Redding was traded from the Houston Astros to the San Diego Padres for catcher Humberto Quintero. Redding was somewhat of a disapointment last year, sporting a 5.72 ERA and a bullpen demotion midseason after a successful past. He had been competing for the 5th spot in the rotation, along with Carlos Hernandez, Ezequiel Astacio, Dave Burba, and the recently released Peter Munro. Humberto Quintero is a "C" prospect at catcher according to John Sickels' 2005 prospect book.

Tony Armas is making his annual trip to the DL a little early this year. He is going on the 15-day DL with a pulled groin, and at this point I'm sure his arm is just going to fall off, but stay on just enough that people are still waiting for him to fulfill potential. Sadly, never healthy enough to fully contribute, Tony "One" Armas will live out his days as "that guy who was traded for Pedro Martinez and somehow had more injury problems".

I have some sad low average/homerun hitter news to announce, as Eric Munson was released from the Minnesota Twins. I was very excited about him playing there, and thought it would be a steal for Minnesota if he could play like he did back in 2003 for the Tigers, considering the little they paid for him. Of course, for all your Twins news, you want to visit Andy Wink here.

I forgot to mention this change in the links, but Evan has moved his Firebrand of the American League site over to all-baseball.com, so that site is now listed under those links on the left. Speaking of Most Valuable Network, Evan was nice enough to give me a spot writing for http://headstails.mostvaluablenetwork.com

The site should have my name and contact information and all of that happy stuff within a day or two, and my writing partner Mike Hurtya is a good guy (being an Astros fan and all). The site is a point/counterpoint site on whatever sports topics Mike and I decide on. I'd appreciate it if my readers here would visit that site, and of course I'll say the same to the Heads/Tails crowd about visiting here. This is just one more step towards me gaining enough credibility to depose Jim Bowden, the tyrannical dictator of Washington D.C. Someone is going to do a google search, see tyrannical dictator of Washington D.C., and the FBI is going to pull up outside my house. Viva la Baseball Rants, Senor Bowden!

By the way, Queens of the Stone Age rocked my socks off multiple times. I kept putting them back on, and Josh Homme and Lanegan just kept knocking them right back off. One of my favorite concerts definitely, and I'm not just saying that because it was yesterday. They played every song I wanted to hear except Walkin' on the Sidewalks. 99% of what you want is pretty damn good. If Josh Homme was a baseball player, he would so be Bobby Abreu. Underrated but excellent quality performance, and a future Hall of Famer.

Monday, March 28, 2005

 

Happy Birthday to Me

Something cool for all of you out there...Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus fame, and author of Saving the Pitcher and the upcoming book The Juice, has agreed to a Q&A/interview for this site, so if anyone has any ideas for questions then please comment on this post. The John Sickels interview should be coming up sometime in April as well, so any questions for that should also be sent here.

It is kind of a quiet day in baseball, and the weekend was uneventful. Maybe today is the day I can show you something quite silly, since I am too giddy to think straight considering its my birthday and tonight I get to see Queens of the Stone Age and be in the same room as Mark Lanegan and Josh Homme...I'm like a friccin' schoolgirl when it comes to my favorite musicians.

What do you think of the name Todd? My friend Andrew and I created the Team of Todd's a few years back after seeing a standup comedian denounce the name Todd as...well odd. Oddly enough, there were just enough Todd's to create a team in the history of baseball. The first edition required us to use people whose last name was Todd, but this time around when I revised it on a boring day (don't judge my life, it beat writing my paper for school) I actually had extra Todd's. Some serious Todd influx the last few years. I'm just going to shut up now, and hope my interviewees don't cancel their sessions based on my rambling today.

Field
C- Todd Pratt
1B- Todd Helton
2B- Todd Walker
SS- Todd Haney
3B- Todd Zeile
LF- Todd Hundley
CF- Todd Steverson
RF- Todd Hollandsworth
DH- Todd Greene


Bench
Todd Benzinger
Todd Sears
Todd Dunn
Todd Dunwoody
Todd Linden


4-man rotation (Rany Jazayerli would love me if he knew who I was)
#1 SP- Todd Stottlemyre
#2 SP- Todd Ritchie
#3 SP- Todd Burns
#4 SP- Todd Frohwirth


Bullpen
SP/RP- Todd Van Poppel
RP- Todd Worrell
RP- Todd Erdos
RP- Todd Fischer
RP- Todd Williams
RP- Todd Wellemeyer
CL- Todd Jones


Lineup
1) Todd Walker
2) Todd Pratt
3) Todd Helton
4) Todd Zeile
5) Todd Hundley
6) Todd Hollandsworth
7) Todd Steverson
8) Todd Greene
9) Todd Haney


The lineup isn't actually that bad if you look at 162 game averages for their careers or something to that effect. Really, Haney and Steverson are the only two who haven't had a real career, but with Helton, Zeile, Hundley, Hollandsworth, Pratt, and Walker, the lineup is actually pretty capable of scoring runs. Now what GM would be crazy enough to make a team entirely out of people named Todd? I don't even think Jim Bowden would do it. Maybe Bill Veeck, but sadly, his time is past. Get his son out of the minors and into a major league front office now. I realize I'm slightly out of my mind for spending time with this, but I bet Jayson Stark would appreciate the randomness of a post like this. By the way, for all your future Todd needs, visit here. I wonder what the best team you can devise out of one single first name is? I don't want to do it myself, please don't make me do it. I'll do my best to post something normal if news comes along later in the day.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

 

Free Agent Team Building

I built a team out of 2004-2005 free agents, using their actual salaries for the 2005 season (which would seem like a serious hindrance, unless you buy smart). I think it came out pretty decent, considering the cost:

C: Doug Mirabelli 2/$3 = $1.5 million per year
1B: Carlos Delgado 5/$52= $10.4 million per year
2B: Todd Walker 1/$2.5 million
3B: Eric Munson 1/$250,000
SS: Placido Polanco 1/$4.6
LF: Dustan Mohr 1/$950,000
CF: J.D. Drew 5/$55 = $11 million per year
RF: Mark Sweeney 1/$575,000
DH: Josh Phelps 1/$400,000

Bench
OF: Ray Lankford 1/$550,000
MI: Craig Counsell 2/$3.1 = $1.55 million per year
CI: Jose Hernandez 1/$1.8 million
C: Gregg Zaun 1/$1 million
OF/CI: John Mabry 1/$725,000

SP: Matt Clement 3/$25.5 = $8.5 million per year
SP: Wade Miller 1/$1.5 million
SP: Glendon Rusch 2/$4 = $2 million per year
SP: Paul Wilson 2/$8.2 = $4.1 million per year
SP: Cory Lidle 2/$6.3 = $3.15 million per year
SP: Dennys Reyes 1/$550,000

RP: Lenny Dinardo 1/$250,000
RP: Chris Hammond 1/$750,000
RP: Jim Mecir 1/$1.1 million
RP: Rudy Seanez 1/$550,000
CL: Steve Reed 1/$1.05 million

Total Cost = $61,300,000

PECOTA Projected Lineup
1) Polanco .287/.343/.430
2) Mohr .277/.365/.475
3) Drew .282/.393/.516
4) Delgado.270/.392/.518
5) Phelps .267/.339/.495
6) Walker .274/.340/.423
7) Sweeney .256/.352/.454
8) Munson .245/.330/.458
9) Mirabelli .249/.331/.439

Lankford .250/.347/.411
Counsell .249/.328/.337
Hernandez .257/.327/.427
Zaun .250/.335/.371
Mabry .279/.362/.491

1) Clement 3.97 ERA, 2.17 K/BB
2) Rusch 4.14 ERA, 2.35 K/BB
3) Wilson 4.85 ERA, 1.91 K/BB
4) Cory Lidle 4.52 ERA, 2.0 K/BB
5) Dennys Reyes 4.30 ERA, 1.74 K/BB
6) Wade Miller 3.99 ERA, 2.02 K/BB (half season)

Lenny DiNardo 4.23 ERA, 1.75 K/BB
Chris Hammond 3.35 ERA, 2.13 K/BB
Jim Mecir 4.22 ERA, 1.94 K/BB
Rudy Seanez 3.97 ERA, 2.1 K/BB
Steve Reed 3.56 ERA, 2.37 K/BB

I don't know how many games this team would actually win, but isn't it funny how you can find deals all over the place to supplement big signings (Drew, Delgado, Clement) and still come out with a pretty good team? The rotation might be in desperate need of Miller's service, since it is basically made up of Clement, Rusch, and innings eaters, but its better than a lot of rotations in baseball (the lineups pretty good too) and only cost $61,300,000. I want some opinons on how well you think this team would do, wins wise. The projections were taken from PECOTA cards, but I chose the percentiles based on feeling if I thought the weighted mean was unfair, but only in 2 or 3 cases. I just might pay attention to this team after this year, and replace the "free agents" with new ones. I could probably do the team over with a few other projection systems, but I think for now this will do. This was a fun exercise to do, and something I might do more of in the future.

 

Ph34r t3h R3|) S0x |)r34|\/| T34|\/|

I read Marc's team, and was immediately prompted from my posting slumber (also known as binge drinking and Diablo 2 playing), into research and response.

First team
C- Jason Varitek - Nothing cements your spot like making Gay-Rod your ragdoll bitch in a brawl. Honestly, I would have given him 11 million if he'd promised once a year to incite a riot and level a Yankee. What ticket price could be too high for that?
1b- This was insanely close, but I'm giving the nod to Mo Vaughn. I can remember in the mid to late 90s wathching the Red Sox play, and giggling with delight every time he put a ball over 3 counties, or even better, when the Hit Dog morphed into the Speed Dog and stole a base. Nothing says your catcher can't throw like Mo Vaughn stealing second.
2b- Jeff Frye- It's hard to describe why I love Jeff Frye. Maybe he was just the second basemen all those years on the Red Sox team I grew up with. Maybe he had a haircut like I did when I was in gradeschool. Maybe it was just because he was clutch, and played a great second base. Ok, I'll be honest. He makes me think of french fries.
3b- The easiest pick on the list. Tim Naehring. To sum up my love for Tim Naehring would take a whole article. I met him once at the Burlington Mall for an autograph session. I was about 10 years old at the time, and I can remember asking how his injury was doing, and he was shocked I knew anything about it. He was more shocked I had a version of a card of him he'd never seen. Of course, he may have been even more shocked when I knew his career stats off the top of my head, and thanked him for playing a great hot corner. To this day, my Tim Naehring signed baseball is one of my favorite baseball possessions. Thanks Tim Naehring, wherever you are, for playing the game it was meant to be played.
SS- John Valentin. Triple. Play. Sideburns. Enough said.
LF- Mike Greenwell. The Gator! Because he was a guy who you knew played for the purity of the game, steroid free, alcohol induced. Not to mention he had one heck of an arm.
CF- Otis Nixon. For he was speedy, old, and I could scream O T I S years before the Patriots made it fashionable.
RF- Trot Nixon. Hands down the second easiest pick. I saw him in Portland at a sea dogs game when he was playing with the Trenton Thunder. I went up and asked him for an autograph, and he said he didn't have time to sign, so he threw me a ball. Now this alone would have been cool, because he didn't have to do anything and did, but what he did next rocked. I asked Donnie Sadler for an autograph, and he said he'd get me between innings. By the 7th inning he hasn't come, so I scream to Trot, "Tell Donnie Sadler he's never going to make it if he's not cooler like you". After the game, we're waiting for the players to walk out, and Sadler and Nixon walks by. Trot Nixon to Donnie Sadler after I again ask for his autograph "Quit being a dick and sign the kids ball". I freaking heart you Trot.
DH- David Ortiz- Big Papi. The whole, being a huge part of the World Championship thing is cool, not to mention I can call him Dav-id.

Second Team
C- Sorry Scott Hatteberg, his name is Doug Mirabelli, and he hits bombs, and catches knuckle balls.
1b- Kevin Millar - Because Jack Daniels is good, no matter who you are. Not to mention he's a giant goofball.
2b- Mark Bellhorn - It's close between he and todd walker, but i'm going Bellhorn, for A) Raping the yankees in ways that would land him in prison during this offseason. And B) I want a mullet like haircut too.
3b- Scott Cooper - For being the only Red Sox to make the all star team the year I first collected the Upper Deck SP cards (93). I could be wrong about the only one, but he's the only one I remember.
SS- Can I say Hanley?
LF- Manny Ramirez - Would have been first team if I didn't love the gator. Consistency, a mop for hair, and the WS MVP.
CF- Johnny Damon. Because I can walk around, and say I love Unfrozen caveman Jesus, and people know I'm a Red Sox man, and not a sacreligious archaeologist.
RF- Carl Everett- 9 games in RF for the Sox in 2001. Maybe it was his insanity. Maybe it was the way he beat a ball like I'm sure he would beat me in a back alley if I looked at him sideways. I just <3>

 

Something different today...

I'm going to post a team (or two) comprised of my favorite Red Sox players, and then throw a few honorable mention before my time players in there (I don't mean Ted Williams and Yaz, I mean guys two or three years before I paid attention, you know, when I was eating mud). No judging me either! Well go ahead, but I won't be swayed here. Remember, I said favorites, not best.

First Ballot Favorites
C: Jason Varitek
1B: Mike Stanley
2B: Jeff Frye
3B: Tim Naehring
SS: John Valentin
LF: Troy O'Leary
CF: Otis Nixon
RF: Trot Nixon
DH: David Ortiz

Second Ballot Favorites
C: Scott Hatteberg
1B: Mo Vaughn
2B: Mark Bellhorn/Todd Walker (I can't choose ok?!?)
3B: Am I allowed to say Kevin Youkilis?
SS: Nomar Garciaparra
LF: Manny Ramirez
CF: Carl Everett (don't judge me).
RF: Darren Bragg
DH: Reggie Jefferson

Pitchers
1) Tim Wakefield
2) Pedro Martinez
3) Bret Saberhagen
4) Roger Clemens
5) Curt Schilling (only a year, but we uh, won the World Series kinda with his help...slightly...a little)

I can see Bronson Arroyo sneaking onto this list someday.

Favorite closer: Tom Gordon. Not even close. Sorry Keith Foulke, and Jeff Russell, and Derek Lowe, and everyone else not named Ugueth Urbina (sorry). Tom Gordon was and is the man in my mind. Oh, that sweet, sweet curveball.

A few players the Sox had who I really liked after the fact, or on other teams:

Danny Darwin
Frank Viola
Tom Brunansky
Ellis Burks
Andre Dawson
Rob Deer
Mike Greenwell (I missed his best years in Boston, though I saw his last).

Feel free to comment on some of your own favorite players over the years, or ridicule me for leaving guys like Johnny Damon off the list. Hey, at least I didn't include Kevin Mitchell.

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