Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tom Not-So-Terrific

So, Tom Glavine bombed again Wednesday, to the surprise of no one, and he hasn’t been good all season. His two good performances were against the Anemic Astros and the Free Singing Nationals both at Shea. He’s no longer a viable number 2, and I don’t think he’s a viable anything but number 5. The problem is that he’s being paid approximately $9.63 million dollars this year with a triggering option for the same amount for next year.

The Mets no longer need him and don’t want him, but almost no team would be willing to take him with that option. He needs 140 innings more this season to trigger it. Unless he’s a fifth starter, it’s likely that Glavine will get 29 or 30 more starts this year, which would mean he would need to average only 4 2/3 innings per start. If he goes on the DL and misses three starts, he would need about 5 1/3 innings per start. That also seems unlikely. Over the past year and a month, Glavine has averaged 6 1/3 innings per start. To fail to meet the goal of his contract he would have to make 22 or fewer more starts this season. That’s possible, but would require about 40 days of DL time or a reduced role in an expanded rotation later in the season.

If we assume Glavine is signed for two years and 18.5 million, he is almost untradeable. The Yankees might be willing to take him on if Brown implodes, which looks like a real possibility, but other than that, the Mets would have to probably pay over 10 million. Then there’s the problem that not many teams would have interest in Glavine at all. He’s an aging, former star, who lost it when umpires were instructed to keep a tighter strike zone. Even if someone would take him, the Mets wouldn’t get a prospect in return. Maybe they’d get someone for their bullpen, but no one better than the in house options. Still, getting out from under any amount of the contract should be the goal. The Mets don’t need him at all.

Expecting Pedro to be healthy and good, or else thinking about this year is ridiculous, here’s how the other Mets rotation candidates stack up.

PECOTA eqERA

Kris Benson

4.86

Tom Glavine

4.99

Jae Seo

5.22

Aaron Heilman

5.06

Kaz Ishii

5.56

Steve Trachsel

5.12

Yusmeiro Petit

3.72

Bob Keppel

5.21

The difference between Ishii and Glavine is ten runs over 150 innings, between anyone else and Glavine less than five runs. Also, both Seo and Heilman have a chance to better that mark, while no one would be surprised to see Glavine miss his. As soon as Ishii comes back there’s no reason to hold on to Glavine anymore.

Part II: Hall Of Fame

Everyone, especially the Braves announcers, loves Tom Glavine’s HOF chances. I think he’ll get in, but I also think he’s a borderline candidate at best. He’s always had poor K/9 and K/BB rates and that’s with a lot of gift strikeouts from the umpires.

His ERA+ is 121, good, but lower than Smoltz, Mussina, Saberhagen, and far below the four sure fire Hall of Famers who are his contemporaries. David Cone and Kevin Appier are the players with the closest ERA+ to Glavine, recently and no one wants them in the Hall.

His top ten similar pitchers include three easy Hall choices (Feller, Gibson and Palmer), Burleigh Grimes who’s in, but doesn’t look like he should be, and six guys who aren’t good enough. (Vida Blue, Jerry Koosman, Dennis Martinez, Jack Morris, Jerry Reuss and Luis Tiant)

His HOF standards score is 45.0, which is below the 50 that’s supposed to be the average.

He also doesn’t have the high peak to compensate for his lack of career stats. His best two seasons were 7 years apart in 1991 and 1998. Although, he was a solid contributor for over ten years, that shouldn’t be enough.

It’s hard to gauge how many pitchers with 1980s debuts will get into the hall. There’s only one with a 70s debut, 11 who debut in the 60s and 7 who debut in the 50s. I would put Glavine behind definitely behind Johnson, Maddux, Clemens, Schilling, Smoltz, and Mussina and in a class with Saberhagen, Appier, Cone, Jimmy Key and David Wells.

EqERA comes from Baseball Prospectus

HOF Monitor and Similarity Scores are from Baseball-Reference.Com

Baseball Musings’ Day to Day Database was used to find the average innings per start for Glavine

Dugout Dollars was used for contract information

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Rookies hit Eighth

The Mets loss tonight, not because Pedro gave up four runs, but because Willie Randolph is an idiot and an asshole. He insists on hitting the second hottest hitter in the league, behind Derek Lee, eighth and hits David Wright below Doug Mientkiewicz. Combined with the fact that the top two guys aren't getting it done, this leads to a very impotent lineup. Floyd had two hits and a walk tonight and Wright had two hits and a walk, but with Mientkiewicz between them they accounted for only one run. Diaz had the bat taken out of his hands when he came up with men on in the second because he's hitting in front of one of the worst hitting pitchers in the league. You don't want Ramon Castro coming up in critical situations, it's ridiculous. The lineup should probably go like this on regular nights.

2B Matsui
3B Wright
CF Beltran
C Piazza
LF Floyd
RF Diaz
1B Mientkiewicz
SS Reyes

When Piazza's out they should bump everyone behind him up one spot and put Castro at the bottom. Thatwould concentrate the good hitters in the middle, move Diaz up, eliminate the holes in the middle and maybe allow Reyes to draw a walk, even if it's intentional.

4/26 Ballot

MLB.com opens All Star ballots about two weeks after the season the starts. They also have someone on their website cast a ballot every two or so weeks and it’s an interesting read even if it means nothing. So, here’s my three week ballot along with my preseason all star picks


Starting Pitchers

Jake "7 K/BB ratio"" Peavy and Mark "2 hr" Buehrle. Clemens has a good case too as well as Harden, but these two have been the most dominant starters in the early going and they aren't flukes like Dontrelle and Buehrle's teammate Garland should be.

National League Catcher

Preseason: Mike Piazza

4/26: Jason Phillips

Paul Lo Duca has the best numbers, but that has to be combined with the fact that he’ll likely offer no production post July so he only gets half credit. The only star in the league is Mike Piazza unless you count Lieberthal. Ramon Hernandez, Damian Miller and Phillips are all close in production. The other two are better defenders, but Phillips gets tiebreaker points for playing on a division leading team.

National League First Baseman

Preseason: Albert Pujols

4/26: Derek Lee

His OBP is close to .500 and his SLG is close to .700. If he was Chad Tracy, I’d still give the vote to Pujols, but Derek Lee’s a reasonable bet to be the second or third best first baseman in the league.

National League Second Baseman

Preseason: Marcus Giles

4/26: Jeff Kent

Kent’s both the best second baseman in the league and the only one who can reasonably be described as a superstar anymore. I still expect Giles to have a better season, but for now he hasn’t yet passed Kent. Craig Biggio, a former superstar, has had a surprising little twenty day revival.

National League Third Base

Preseason: Scott Rolen

4/26: Larry Wayne Jones

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jones is actually the active NL third baseman with the most past production. He’s declined to the bottom of the first tier, but it’s very possible that he has himself a nice rebound season.

National League Shortstop

Preseason: Rafael Furcal

4/26: Clint Barmes

Well, it won’t be Nomar and though he has the numbers there’s no way I was going to vote for Neifi. Barmes is the runaway statistical winner and the best at the position, Rollins and Furcal, maybe Jack Wilson, are all slumping.

National League Left Fielder

Preseason: Barry Bonds

4/26: Adam Dunn

Dunn’s the third best hitter in the league and with Bonds down a runaway favorite. He’s got the best numbers too, ahead of Pat Burrell and the resurgent Cliff Floyd.

National League Center Fielder

Preseason: Carlos Beltran

4/26: Milton Bradley

Milton might be the third best center fielder in the league behind Beltran and Edmonds and he’s putting up the best numbers so far and leading the Dodgers. Brad Wilkerson who preseason was a left fielder is also putting up good numbers and this is probably the closest race in the league.

National League Right Fielder

Preseason: Bobby Abreu

4/26: Victor Diaz

Diaz gets the vote for three reasons. He’s having the best season statistically, Abreu isn’t producing and he’s a Met. He’s fourth in the league in EQA and outranks the next right fielder by over seventy-five points.

American League Catcher

Preseason: Victor Martinez

4/26: Joey Mauer

Gregg Zaun has the best numbers, but he’s Gregg Zaun. Mauer, Javy Lopez, Jason Varitek and Ivan Rodriguez all have similar numbers. Mauer gets the vote because he’s the youngest, which is opposite from the usual system but the other three are all veterans with no distinguishing features, and because he’s the centerpiece of his team’s offense.

American League First Baseman

Preseason: Mark Teixeira

4/26: Paul Konerko

Teixeira’s been awful and my number two preseason guy, Justin Morneau, has been hurt. Paul was number three and his leading the league in home runs doesn’t hurt. 1B in the AL is an incredibly weak position, especially compared to the senior circuit.

American League Second Baseman

Preseason: Alfonso Soriano

4/26: Brian Roberts

He’s the best player in baseball so far, down to the 9 for 10 on the basepaths. At a position where I considered making Mark Bellhorn the preseason favorite, he’s a more obvious choice than anyone else. It’s also probably not a fluke, he hit fifty doubles last year, plus the statistical possibility of him hitting 7 already is miniscule unless he projects to about 25 over the whole year.

American League Third Baseman

Preseason: Alex Rodriguez

4/26: Melvin Mora

The four stars out west are all disappointing. Among Chavez, Beltre, McPherson and Blalock only the Ranger has a positive VORP. Brandon Inge has by far the best numbers, but the choice is between Mora and Rodriguez and the MM comes out slightly ahead using every advanced metric.

American League Shortstop

Preseason: Miguel Tejada

4/26: Derek Jeter

Again an Oriole and a Yankee vie for position supremacy, but Jeter’s numbers, especially his walks, are so overwhelming that I have to take him. He’s at .478. Carlos Guillen’s also on top, but he doesn’t have the history of the other two.

American League Left Fielder

Preseason: Manny Ramirez

4/26: Manny Ramirez

Hideki’s right behind him, but Ramirez is the only preseason pick who’s actually at the top statistically. He’s still the best hitter in the league, but his defense has never been worse. Dave Dellucci’s been great in limited time, but he’s as likely to maintain his pace as Clint Barmes is.

American League Center Fielder

Preseason: Vernon Wells

4/26: Luis Matos

Matos is the only center fielder with an OBP over .350 and a SLG over .450. David DeJesus a point away in SLG at the time of this writing, but Matos has stolen five more bases while only being caught once. Wells has completely bombed while Damon and Kotsay aren’t hitting the ball very far. Torii Hunter was this close to being the pick, he leads the position in slugging and has stolen on his first ten attempts, but he gets on base less than a third of the time.

American League Right Fielder

Preseason: Vlad Guerrero

4/26: Vlad Guerrerro

Jacque Jones is very close, under ten total points off from a .400/.500/.700 line, but he’s got less playing time, less history and no chance to keep that up. Vladimir done exactly what’s expected from him, he’s about the only position player in his division who has.

American League Designated Hitter

Preseason: Travis Hafner

4/26: David Ortiz

Dellucci’s on the ballot here and Dmitri Young’s been even better, but neither of them is a very good player and Ortiz isn’t far behind them. Hafner, on the other hand, has a slugging percentage under .400, and one has to wonder if we’ve just seen not only his best season, but his only good season.

Monday, April 25, 2005

It's Been Three Weeks

AL East

A two team race is suddenly a three, maybe four, team race with two favorites. Both Boston and New York have serious problems at the back of their rotations. Both are getting bad performances from one veteran possible Hall of Famer and one of their new guys. Wells, Wright and Brown might all be done, but Schilling should rebound. The Yankees have called up “Tiger” Wang to take Wright’s spot and he won’t be any worse than Wright was. The Red Sox are getting great performances from their fourth and fifth starters, both Clement and Arroyo look like aces.

Both teams have lost part of their advantages and Baltimore is coming on strong. Lopez might be an actual ace and Chen and Bedard are steady. The normal variance over the course of the season might allow them to pass the Yankees if their only ten or so games worse. The Blue Jays could be a better team than the Orioles, but they need Chacin to keep it up and the rest of their starters not to collapse.

The interesting news in Tampa is Nomar’s injury and the possibility of flipping know quantity Alex S. Gonzalez to the Cubs for a prospect. The team could then slot Huff at third and get another good bat, Gomes is up, into the lineup.

AL Central

The White Sox keep winning. There 9-1 in one run games, but it won’t hold up. The Twins troubles might continue and there’s still no way this team wins the division without a major injury or a trade. The Indians are the only other team that might compete here and if they’re not hitting, and they aren’t, they aren’t winning. There only 2.5 back of Minnesota for now, though, so if they put it together they haven’t buried themselves yet.

The Tigers that several people pumped up as contenders despite the fact that they suck, have lost Magglio and are in the process of trying to sue him to get out of his contract. Inge looks to have put it altogether, but he’s still below average for an AL first baseman. “Pudge” Rodriguez is their only hitter who has been good for more than the last one year and he’s declining due to his weight loss.

Also, the Calvin Pickering experiment is over. Matt Diaz is a similar underrated minor league guy who is a little bit more than a one-dimensional player. He’d be an equally good find. Some team, Baltimore and San Diego would be good candidates, should flip another failed prospect for Pickering and see if his luck improves.

AL West

Every team in this division has been a disappointment to one degree or another. The Angels don’t have a good enough lineup to let their second best hitter play in AAA. The A’s have a worse lineup with three lefties in the middle who aren’t hitting and their best righty out with an injury. The Mariners best pitcher can’t throw 80 and is 40 years old. The Rangers have a bottom of a lineup that wouldn’t inspire fear in a rookie league pitcher. The A’s are the team most likely to improve, but the 2 games they’ve given up to the Angels already make the Halos favorites.

NL East

Some people have written off the Phillies already, but that’s ridiculous. Sure they’ve been playing badly, but their two games behind division favorite Atlanta and that’s two bad bounces over the course of a season. Florida has an obscene run differential, but they haven’t built up the leads the White Sox or Dodgers have and it’s likely that we’ve seen the best from Willis. The Mets offense is clicking and so is the Braves pitching but both clubs are one-sided. For the Nationals it’s likely all downhill from here.

NL Central

As other preseason favorites, Boston, NYY, Philly, Minnesota, Anaheim and Oakland, all haven’t yet shown us that they are the front runners, St. Louis has busted out of the gate strongly and with Nomar’s injury and the all around suckiness of the other four teams, this should again be the first division clinched this season. There are a few adequate replacement’s out there for the Cubs, namely Lugo and Cora, but knowing Dusty Baker it’s much more likely that he sticks with Neifi or bring back AG.

NL West

The Dodgers are very mortal. Their starting pitching has been hit or miss with more hits than misses the past week, although they were in Colorado over the weekend. Still, the only other club over .500 in the division is the Diamondbacks so there’s no need to panic.

As for the other clubs, extra-division play needs to start in earnest soon. These teams have played each other a lot and they would all benefit from a change of scenery. The Padres especially are a team that’s record isn’t as good as its players. The first three weeks of a season don’t reveal much, and the Dodgers are again now the slight favorites they were at the beginning of the season.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

KKK

With the Nationals trailing the Mets 4-0, Joe Horgan came in in the fifth and struck out the first three batters he faced. The problem was that he struck all of them out the second time he faced them after the first nine Mets reached base.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pedro, Again

It’s tough to measure a player on an all time scale when that player’s still in the middle of his career. Case in point would be trying to measure how great Pedro Martinez is. Using career sum’s he doesn’t yet have the number of seasons to rank as one of the top pitchers of all time, but using any rate stat, he is far and away the most dominant starter ever.

I considered two approaches to at least getting a temporary measure on his greatness. The first was to measure the first X innings or seasons of a pitcher’s career and look at the average and sum values of that. The other was to measure all pitchers through their age 32 seasons. The second option was much easier to do given the data that I had, so I used that method for this study.

Using my own statistic, Wins Added, basically a measure similar to WARP3, calculated using a variation on DIPS Era, which measures wins and limiting the study to post-1899 seasons I came up with the following.

Pedro is ranked 60th all time using the sum of Wins Added. The top 10 are as follows:

Player

Wins Added

Walter Johnson

227.9

Pete Alexander

182.6

Christy Mathewson

173.6

Warren Spahn

155.5

Greg Maddux

155.4

Don Sutton

154.8

Roger Clemens

154.6

Gaylord Perry

150.9

Tom Seaver

146.3

Lefty Grove

146.0

Clemens and Maddux will probably finish fourth and fifth in that order. Cy Young ranks 13th despite not having all of his seasons included. Bert Blyleven is 12th. Pedro has 93.5 career Wins Added.

Everything changes if we use per inning figures though. Pedro is number one in this measure and it isn’t even close. He rates not only above the other great starting pitchers, but above the modern closers who dot the list, Mariano Rivera is second all time, Wagner, Foulke and Hoffman all rate extremely highly. The list of the top ten starters is:

Player

Wins Added per 200 Innings

Pedro Martinez

8.15

Cy Young

7.78

Walter Johnson

7.71

Deacon Phillippe

7.68

Ed Walsh

7.49

Greg Maddux

7.43

Addie Joss

7.43

Lefty Grove

7.41

Mordecai Brown

7.37

Christy Mathewson

7.26

Deacon Phillippe was a turn of the century Pirate with a pretty good career. The rest of the list is either Hall of Famer or future Hall of Famers.

Obviously neither of these lists gives a very good story, so now I’m going to run the numbers with the age 32 season limit.

Player

Wins Added

Walter Johnson

173.2

Christy Mathewson

160.5

Ed Walsh

109.8

Greg Maddux

107.7

Robin Roberts

106.2

Bob Feller

104.7

Don Drysdale

104.4

Tom Seaver

102.8

Pete Alexander

101.8

Bert Blyleven

97.6

Pedro ranks a surprisingly low 13th and his average falls to 4th. Both Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson would rank 3rd all time with just their seasons through age 33.

Player

Wins Added per 200 Innings

Mordecai Brown

8.43

Deacon Philippe

8.27

Walter Johnson

8.18

Pedro Martinez

8.14

Lefty Grove

7.91

Carl Hubbell

7.68

Ed Walsh

7.65

Christy Mathewson

7.63

Greg Maddux

7.56

Babe Adams

7.43

8 of the same names as the career table, so I think that we can expect Pedro to stick in the top ten all time rate wise even after his decline. I still don’t think we’ve quite gotten our answer yet. A lot of these pitchers threw many more innings then Pedro did per season, so the career totals through 33 even aren’t that good. This last table is probably the best I would fell confident in saying that Pedro was one of the best 4 pitchers in the game through age 33. I would also feel content saying one other thing.

Player

Career Wins Added Rank

Mordecai Brown

23

Deacon Philippe

72

Walter Johnson

1

Pedro Martinez

(60)

Lefty Grove

10

Carl Hubbell

17

Ed Walsh

29

Christy Mathewson

3

Greg Maddux

(5)

Babe Adams

33

Four of these pitchers are among the top 10 of all time. 6 are among the top 25 and 8 among the top 35. Using very simple mathematics, Pedro has a 44% chance of being one of the top 10 pitchers of all time (Post-1899) and with today’s conditioning and eye of safety, I’d say his odds are better than that. A combination of a top ten career figure and a top ten rate figure would put Pedro in company with only Greg Maddux, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Lefty Grove. Actually, Grove would be out, since he’s currently tenth career wise. That’s fine company and while Pedro gets a lot fo credit, he’s still underrated.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

2007

There’s a post at the Metsgeek blog today about the upcoming draft and although I think Jered Weaver’s the obvious choice, it got me to thinking about the Mets needs in the future. I really don’t think they’ll contend this year and although they’ll shed Piazza during the offseason, it’s really 2007 when Cameron, Floyd, Glavine, and Trachsel come off the books and the young pitchers will be ready. So, analyzing the current Mets roster and farm system, here’s what they will have and need for the 2007 season.

Lineup

SS/2B Leadoff Man

3B David Wright (24)

CF Carlos Beltran (30)

LF Victor Diaz (25)

1B LH Power Hitter

RF Lastings Milledge (22)

C Aaron Hathaway (24)/Jesus Flores (22)

SS Jose Reyes (24)/2B Aaron Baldiris (24)

I have serious doubts that Reyes will pan out as a hitter or at least as a leadoff man. If he does than Baldiris will be fine in the 8 spot, otherwise, Reyes will have to hit eighth, or seventh, and the Mets will need a leadoff man. The 2-4 hitters all should be good, especially since Diaz looks great early this season and Milledge is one of the best hitting prospects in the minors. If he doesn’t pan out, I could see the Mets either keeping Cameron, who will be 34, or signing a free agent, Carlos Lee will be 31 and the best target. One of the Mets younger catchers should be able to stick there and hitting will be a bonus.

The big problems are 1B and Leadoff. I doubt that there is any First Baseman who the Mets could draft who would be ready by 2007, Alex Gordon would be great but not on the board, so that leaves a trade or a free agent signing. Paul Konerko will be free, but he’s right handed and declining. Erubiel Durazo’s already past his expiration date. Derek Lee’s an interesting free agent in two years, but the lineup would be awfully one sided with another righty. That leaves the possibility of a trade. Ryan Howard is probably out although if the Mets drop off this year maybe he’s a possibility. Adrian Gonzalez is a more reasonable choice and one can always hope that Casey Kotchman’s on the block. If the Mets could get Helton, I’d say to go for it and pay him whatever, his salary is less than Glavine and Piazza make combined and should be easily handled. I wouldn’t mind sending Reyes, Cameron and a second tier pitching prospect to the Rockies for him and that would probably be enough to get a deal done if the Mets took on all of the money.

As for leadoff man, there are a few interesting choices out there. Rafael Furcal will be free this year and if the Mets give up on Reyes he’d be a good choice. Brian Roberts is probably not available especially after his start, but Orlando Hudson probably is, he’s expendable in Florida, and I’d like to see him play for the Mets. A very interesting choice is Ray Durham, who will be 35, but unless Helton’s in Flushing, and there are long odds against that, no one will be over thirty and a team can do with having a few veterans. The Mets own second baseman, Baldiris, Garcia, Keppinger and Matsui probably don’t have a good leadoff man among them, although Baldiris would make a nice bench weapon in the future and someone might trade for Matsui.

Rotation

Pedro Martinez

# 2 Starter

Yusmeiro Petit (22)

Philip Humber (24)

Victor Zambrano (31)/Kris Benson (32)/Gaby Hernandez (21)/ Brian Bannister (26)

Hopefully Benson will be gone and Zambrano will be fixed or gone, but this is a staff with a good looking future. Either Petit or Humber should make it as at least a number 3 and the Mets have enough bodies to fill the back of the rotation. The obvious problem is the lack of a left-handed starter, but it’s unproductive to think about why that is. Mark Buehrle’s an interesting free agent after 2006, but he might be unnecessary. The important thing here is getting Jered Weaver. He’ll be major league ready probably by September 2006 at least and he’ll be ready to take some of the burden off of the declining Pedro. He’s as much of a sure thing as a pitching prospect can be.

Bullpen

Heath Bell (29)

2 of Bartolome Fortunato (32)/Orber Moreno (30)/Scott Strickland (31)

Royce Ring (26)

Blake McGinley (28)

Bob Keppel (25)/Aaron Heilman (28)/Brian Bannister (26)

These are just the guys currently in the system. They would likely make a good bullpen, but there are always minor league free agents available to fill up the back end of a bullpen.

Bench

C Aaron Hathaway (24)/ Jesus Flores (22)

2B/3B Aarom Baldiris (24)

OF/1B Eric Valent (28)

1B Luis Garcia (28))

OF Ambiorix Concepcion (23)

SS Anderson Hernandez (24)

This is a young bench with a pair of bats and people to cover every defensive position. I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing the Mets bring in some more power, but if they only had these six, that would be nothing to scoff at.

Recap

So, what the Mets need to do is pretty simple. Draft Jered Weaver, develop some of their young pitchers and Milledge, have a catcher reach the major leagues and get a first baseman and a second baseman. If they give up on the current season, they have a lot of trading chips. I just thought of this, but I’m sure Mike Cameron could net the team Dan Johnson. Something could net Orlando Hudson, even if it’s Bannister after his hot start. Looper and Glavine should be traded if possible. If they can’t trade for a second baseman, Durham’s not a bad alternative. The future looks bright for the Mets, if they can just avoid making a dumb mistake like giving away Petit or Victor Diaz.

P.S. I know that Hudson really hasn't yet put it all togehter as a hitter. I think he's got more and I'm really down on Reyes' bat. Plus it would be a beautiful sight to see him and Reyes turning double plays.

Monday, April 18, 2005

14 Days After

Arizona Diamondbacks

They swept the Rockies and then got swept by the Nationals. Troy Glaus has been good, Webb looks back on track and Halsey through a good game. This is a team that won’t contend and is playing a bunch of veterans who will be gone in two years. Still, they have a swimming pool so that’s nice.

Atlanta Braves

Five of their six losses are attributed to either former closer John Smoltz or current closer Dan Kolb and while Smoltz looks good, Kolb looks awful and really has blown two games for his team. The rest of the bullpen hasn’t been much better and Tom Martin already got axed. Still, Cox and Mazzone should be able to come up with some able bodies and they have to be at least co-favorites in the division.

Baltimore Orioles

The high point of the Orioles season is over. They’re currently 5-1 against the Yankees and looking competitive, but it’s all downhill from here. Their starting pictures are a mixture of bad and over their head. Then there’s Sidney Ponson, who might be the worst pitcher in baseball.

Boston Red Sox

Back on top after five straight wins. The Yankees slide makes them the favorite to win the division since the teams were so close to begin with. Schilling doesn’t look good, but they’ve got the depth to give him time to round into form and I don’t think that he won’t eventually.

Chicago Cubs

.500 on the week; they’ve so far played three of the five or six worst teams in the league and lost two of three to the Padres. Kerry Wood looked bad, but the idea sweeping ESPN that he’s a fourth starter is ridiculous. He’d be one of the ten best starters in the American League and is one of the most exciting pitchers in baseball.


Chicago White Sox

The deal they made with Satan lasted another week. So far they’re 2-1 in every series. This team has the schedule to maintain their hot start, but they’ll fade down the stretch. Looking way ahead, they have a brutal 15 game stretch in August, 6 with the Yankees, 3 with the Red Sox and 6 with division favorite Minnesota.


Cincinnati Reds

They only played 5 games and all of their 3 wins were by one run. Their schedule, which I last week commented on, gets worse in May when they start with four series with four of the best five teams in the league.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians can’t get on their feet and they also got the bad news this week that Carlos Silva won’t be out for very long after all. This is a better team then they’ve shown so far, but they lack a stopper in the rotation and the bullpen looks like it’s going to be a problem again.


Colorado Rockies

They beat Jason Schmidt, so they’ve got that going for them. That’s it. The Trade Todd Helton rumblings have already started. Chad Billingsley and Willy Aybar would look good in purple. The only other place Helton might end up is Queens barring some unforeseen injury to a contender’s starting first baseman.

Detroit Tigers

Bonderman returned to form in a victory, that was the good news. The bad news was that Magglio Ordonez is our for a significant period of time. That surprised no one. Dave Dombrowski’s supposed to be a smart baseball man, but his handling of the Tigers past two offseason’s hasn’t been pretty.


Florida Marlins

The complete game crew has the best run differential in baseball. They’re the third best team in their division, but it’s close enough that should Willis, Burnett and Beckett make about 34 starts each, they could easily be the best team in the division and maybe in the league.

Houston Astros

Ouch! That was ugly. Their bullpen was tagged with four losses in one week and they were swept by the Mets completing a triangle with the Reds who they swept last week. Then they went and lost two to the Reds. I think this team going to get no hit sometime before Berkman comes back. That’s how bad things have gotten.

Kansas City Royals

An ugly week. Three of their starters imploded and one of their starters is Jose Lima. It’s still a joy to watch Greinke pitch, but that’s all they’re offering. Mark Teahan went down with an injury, so now fans get to watch Super Joe McEwing start on a semi-regular basis.


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

.500 after two nail biting losses to Oakland. The more I think about it, the worse I like this team’s chances. They’re just not that good, running out average players at most positions, Erstad at first and the Molina’s behind the plate. This is the team most likely to suffer a surprise collapse.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The best team in baseball without one of their better starters and their closer, who happens to be the best in the league. And JD Drew has about two hits on the season. Steve Phillips thinks they’re a fourth place team, though. If any team’s going to win a hundred games in the majors this season, LA is the best bet now to do so.

Milwaukee Brewers

They scored 11 runs last week, fewer than some teams did in one game. They also put a struggling Cardinals team back on track. The big news, though, was the four year deal they signed Ben Sheets too. Considering his age and the salary people like Carl Pavano make, this is the best big contract in some time, probably since the Chavez deal.

Minnesota Twins

Carlos Silva will be back soon and the team was one run away from a perfect week. It’s looking less and less like they will be challenged all year. This team would be wise to deal for a fourth starter, though or actually a third starter. Someone might want Jacque Jones, although they could get better value by dealing one of their other overrated outfielders.


New York Mets

That turnaround was fast. It was also fairly hollow as they won a lot of close games. The big news was Aaron Heilman who gives hope that that wasn’t a fluke by having changed his arm angle. Also, Mike Piazza might be on the block. There’s no reason to trade him while his value’s so low, unless it’s to offset Helton’s salary.

New York Yankees

George Stenbrenner’s a fucking asshole. Seriously, what’s the point of calling out the team after twelve games? They’re still one of the best two teams in the American League and almost a guarantee to make the playoffs. Also, anyone who bashes A-Rod’s skills is an idiot, seriously, he’s one of the best players of all time.

Oakland Athletics

Their offense is laboring, but it came alive a bit on Sunday. They have 13 more divisional games in their next 16, then twelve against the two giants of the east, so they really need to stay on. Kirk Saarloos showed that he’s stretched as a starter, so Dan Meyer should be up soon.

Philadelphia Phillies

3-3 again and they looked suspect going 3-3. This is still the best team in the league on paper and their two weeks tells us almost nothing except maybe that Burrell and Brett Myers are stars. It’s more likely that Brett Myers isn’t, but this team has the best rotation depth in the game.

Pittsburgh Pirates

They can take solace in the fact that they aren’t the Rockies, but they’re not much better. In a division that will likely be a toss up as early as next year, this team isn’t positioning itself to do anything. Zach Duke’s good, though, but Pirates prospects have a way of not turning out.

San Diego Padres

They scored 3 runs this weekend. Against everyone but Scott Erickson they scored one in twenty-one innings. This might be partly due to the fact that Jesse Garcia saw significant playing time after Khalil Greene’s temporary injury. The team misses Ramon Vazquez now. This is a good team, but they’ve been overrated by a media that wants the Dodgers to fail.

San Francisco Giants

If Bonds comes back after 37 games, on May 17th, and the team is five hundred, say 19-18, then, they’d need to go .568 to win 90, .608 to win 95. The first is possible, the second probably isn’t and with the way the Dodgers are looking, that’s about what the Giants will need to do.


Seattle Mariners

If they win 81 games on the season, that would be a success. The team has a decent mix of veterans and young guys and if they bring in a number two starter during the offseason, they’ll be primed to contend. This year they’re stuck in the middle with about six other AL teams. Their goal is to beat Texas out for third place and maybe to flip Spiezio, Ibanez, Winn or even Boone for younger talent.

St. Louis Cardinals

Back on top quickly, but this team has holes including “steady starting pitcher.” Yadier’s also proving to be a Molina and nothing more. Still, unless the Cubs put everything together, they’ll go unchallenged. Albert hasn’t turned it on yet, so watch out.


Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The Red Sox passed them, but they managed to make me correct by winning one and keeping pace with the Yankees. In a league where every other team, except maybe the Royals and Tigers, is clearly better than they are, the Rays could easily lose 100 games this year.

Texas Rangers

I have nothing to say about this team. Nothing.

Toronto Blue Jays

It isn’t going to happen, but it would be great for baseball if the Jays competed with the Yankees and Sox all year long. They’re already fading, but Chacin looks like a decent pitcher and that’s something that they needed.

Washington Nationals

They kicked off their new beginning by sweeping the Diamondbacks on their first home stand. In the central, this time might be a sleeper, but in the East they’re clearly the fifth team out of five.

Monday, April 11, 2005

One Week Evalutations

Arizona Diamondbacks

They took 2 out of 3 against the Cubs and played the Dodgers tough in every game. This is still a fourth place team and nothing that happened so far has made any impact on their outlook. Their hitters will be above average if they can stay healthy, but the starting staff led by a poor looking Javy Vazquez and Russ Ortiz makes the team the National League version of the Orioles.

Atlanta Braves

They've looked very strong in every game John Smoltz didn't start and we'll forgive him the opener after his fifteen strikeout performance. If they hadn't run into Pedro they'd be a five win team and the NL East definitely looks like the strongest division in the game.

Baltimore Orioles

Rodrigo Lopez has great numbers even if he hasn't looked great and that will be nice if it plays out over the whole season, but I don't understand this team. They're built for the now with old players but they're clearly not good enough to get past the Yankees and Sox. They'll play a lot of fun high scoring games though.

Boston Red Sox

Their 2-4 but that doesn't matter. They ran into a maybe-better-than-expected team in the Blue Jays and loss a close one to the Yankees. In two weeks after beating up on the Devil Rays a lot they'll be right back on top.

Chicago Cubs

Dusty Baker needs to be fired, now. Starting Ryan Dempster over Glendon Rusch because Rusch is left-handed is something that will come back to haunt the team if they lose by a few at the end of the season. Of course, if Prior and Wood don't start about 55 at full strength they'll lose by a little more than that.

Chicago White Sox

They're 4-2 but Carl Everett hit third and Pablo Ozuna hit leadoff for them in Sunday nights game. Combine with unreliable pitchers who were good the first time around, this is more likely to go 1-5 this week than to repeat 4-2.

Cincinnati Reds

Swept the floundering Mets an then were swept by the resurgent Astros. This is a fourth place team now and if Griffey or Kearns goes down a fifth place team. They've also got a tough schedule in the upcoming weeks with 13 of their next fifteeen games against teams either projected to be playoff contenders or who just swept them.

Cleveland Indians

The future is next year for this team. They lost two to the White Sox and won two from the Tigers and .500 is about where they'll be all season. They should still finish second in a division that has been overrated by the media.

Colorado Rockies

They did nothing to convince me that they aren't the worst team in baseball. One particularly bad note was Jeff Francis getting blasted for six runs in four innings in SBC. They have that whole runs mean less in a higher run scoring envrionment thing that should keep them from losign a hundred, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

Detroit Tigers

Even Jeremy Bonderman got bombed on Sunday although he's still maybe already one of the five best starters in the league. After Santana, Johnson, Halladay and Schilling there are a whole bunch of younger guys, Greinke, Bonderman, Harden, Haren and Arroyo are the class, and Bonderman's is a good bet to be one of the two best this year. Without him this team is worse than the Pirates and I don't see why anyone outside of Michigan would think that they're a contender.

Florida Marlins

As long as Beckett and Burnett stay healthy they're contenders, but both of their rivals looked better than they did so far. I'm probably more down on this team than I should be because I hate both the media love for their speed and Carlos Deglado, but I don't see them making the playoffs as is and Beinfest isn't someone I'd trust to improve my team.

Houston Astros

In a league where all of the best teams have mediocre starting staffs that are depth heavy rather than ace heavy, the Astros will always be a team that is close to contention. Clemens and Oswalt are still the best one two punch in baseball and if Phil Garner gets the right guys on the field this is a team that can contend and has the resources to improve midseason.

Kansas City Royals

Their 3-3 after their best pitcher only pitched two innings. Aside from Jose Lima the rest of their starters all looked great and their offense managed to score. I don't understand why Pickering is sitting for Stairs or Marrero when the team needs offesne, but I still see this team finishing third.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

They haven't really looked good, but that's because they aren't that great of a team. Their rotation's week and their second and third best hitters aren't with the big league club. Their depth will keep them in the race, but expect Oakland to handily win the division.

Los Angeles Dodgers

They were one run away from finishing 5-1 and this was one of the two best teams in baseball in the first week. Their offense is clicking, their rotation's keeping them in it and Jim Tracy is showing that he has a feel for getting at bats for everybody. The one thing that worries me is Choi's demotion in the lineup after critics spoke out, but until he shows otherwise, DePodesta isn't likely to pull a Theo Epstein and throw an All-Star away.

Milwaukee Brewers

3-2, but 2-0 against the Pirates. The worst thing that could happen for this team would be for them to pull a 2004 Mets and hang around long enough to jettison prospects. Hopefully they'll fade quickly and be primed to claim the division title next year.

Minnesota Twins

Carlos Silva is out and the rotation is already starting two stiffs. Silva's injury is probably the most important development in baseball over the first week. Thankfully for the Twins, their division rivals aren't that good and they have good minor league depth. I'd see them as prime candidates for a crash, though, if anyone behind them could catch them.

New York Mets

In Glavine, Zambrano, Ishii and Heilman they might have the worst 2-5 starters in baseball. They're bullpen blew one game, but the rotation was a much bigger problem. Thankfully, Pedro looks like a major stopper and they have the balanced type of offense that is liable to be streaky.

New York Yankees

So, Mo had one really bad game and all the writers go crazy. He's still one of the top 5 closers in the game, but even if he isn't at the top of his game they're the best team in baseball. I can see a scenario where the Red Sox miss the playoffs, but this team is certainly going.

Oakland Athletics

They lost one close game and two Barry Zito started, but the important thing was how good all of their young pitchers are. With the Angels not looking up to the task and Blanton, Harden, Haren and even Saarloos looking great, even if Zito doesn't return to form this is the best team in the division.

Philadelphia Phillies

They're 3-3, but they looked great going 3-3. Special mention needs to go to Gavin Floyd who dominated in his start and Pat Burrell who is carrying the offense. I still think the Braves are in a better position, but this is a team that has to be favored to go to the playoffs now.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Oliver Perez is probably the least likely pitcher in baseball to match last season's performance and so far that's been the case. The team's 2-4, but, although it doesn't mean anything now, they have the worst run differential in baseball. Last place sure is looking like it's fitted especially for a team that brought in Benito Santiago to start for them.

San Diego Padres

If Klesko and Nevin go off, then this is the best team in the league, but I don't see that happening. It's more likely that they're the fifth best team in the league and don't make the playoffs. They faced the two worst teams in the league and only managed to go 3-3.

San Francisco Giants

Edgardo Alfonzo is one of the best players in the league through one week and Jason Schmidt is the best pitcher in the game of baseball. If this team can hang around until Bonds comes back, they'll contend and they have the soft scheule to do so. They don't face an out of division team predicted to finish over .500 until interleague play starts on May 20 and they only have two more against L.A. before then.

Seattle Mariners

They have the exact same run differential as Texas after one week and I wouidn't be surprised if both teams finished with the same record. If King Felix comes up and dominates this is a team that could sneak into second place behind Oakland.

St. Louis Cardinals

They looked bad last week and this is a team that could fall off due to injuries and the rotation's rturn to their established levels. They won't stay in fifth place, but it also looks much less certain after only five games that they'll finish in first.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Kazmir looked good and they beat the A's in two out of three. The upcoming week is probably the last one where they won't finish behind both the Yankees and the Red Sox and only because those teams are playing each other. The future looks bright here, though, which is something that can't be said for any of their division rivals.

Texas Rangers

I don't care about this team. It's nice to see Blalock and Teixeira, but they aren't on a contender. The most interesting thing to happen to them is the bizarre rearranging at the top of their lineup. It should be Young, Blalock, Teixieria, Soriano, but this kind of thing doesn't really matter.

Toronto Blue Jays

This is the team that improved their outlook the most during the first week. They beat Boston twice and looked good in doing so. Of course their schedule is about to throw them to the wolves as they play 9 of their next 13 against the best teams in the league. Of course, some things that no one predicted are going to happen during the season and Toronto hanging around could well be one of them.

Washington Nationals

They don't look good at all and but for Brad Wilkerson they'd be lucky to be 1-5. They were shut out twice over the weekend. It's likely that they won't win another series until they face the Pirates in June.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Buster Olney Is An Asshole

The conventional wisdom is often wrong. The Cardinals didn't have enough last year, most of us thought before they won 105 games. Just about all of us in the writing business said the Houston Astros were dead and buried at the trade deadline – just before they climbed out of the grave and won a playoff spot.

But the conventional wisdom turns out to be right quite a bit, too. It would be hard to find someone in baseball who understood the changes made by Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest during the pat two years. Los Angeles was a great pitching and defensive team in 2004 and during there World Series run in 2003, with Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate and Carl Pavano fronting the rotation. The conventional wisdom was that this pitching and defense was the backbone of the team that just recently had won the World Series.

Then Pavano signed with the Yankees, after feeling as if he barely got a serious whiff from the Marlins one year after Rodriguez was let go to Detroit. The Marlins have brought in Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado, two players who are average defensive players on their best days and very capable of sabotaging their teams on their worst defensive days.

To add to the confusion, Beinfest brought in Al Leiter to replace Pavano for $8 million or only $2 Million less than Pavano will get this season. Al Leiter doesn’t strike out many batters and needs help from his defense.

Downgrade the defense in a significant way. Then build your staff around pitchers who need defensive help. Something's wrong with this picture.

The conventional wisdom is that the Marlins are a mess, and nobody was surprised that last night they lost a pitchers duel in 13 innings to Atlanta. If the Marlins return to the playoffs, Beinfest deserves all the credit, because he's made a lot of moves that are way outside of the box.

And, by the way, the conventional wisdom within baseball has many wondering how long he'll stick with Luis Castillo as his second baseman. Castillo went 1 for 5 last night and hit into a crucial double play. The scouts apparently tell us he's an effective player. The numbers tell us that he has no power, grounds into two many double plays and gets caught stealing at a horrible percentage.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

4/5 Recap

Marlins 9, Braves 0

If Smoltz can't start then the Braves are going to be in trouble, but I don't think that this game was indicative of anything. As a Mets fan I hate the Marlins more than the Braves for now and I was especially distressed to see Carlos Delgado do well.

Twins 8, Mariners 4

Much as Pedro did yesterday, Santana had a rocky first and then settled in. Since it was against the Mariners the Twins just had to wait to score runs and the Twins dominating bullpen didn't allow a run in four innings. Mauer and Morneau both looked good.

Angels 3, Rangers 2

Two mediocre pitchers going against two good offenses and we get a pitchers' duel. Neither Colon or Drese was very good, but they kept runs from scoring and that's all that counts in the end. Something I don't understand, down 3-2 in the ninth, Rod Barajas was allowed to lead of the inning when the bench was full.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 4

This was the Luis Gonzalez show and the old veteran hit two home runs. We also saw Greg Maddux continue his decline that has left him as clearly only the second best pitcher of his generation. Russ Ortiz wasn't good either, but he was better than Javier Vazquez.

Cardinals 7, Astros 3

Oswalt got rocked and the Cardinals big picked up where they left off against Houston, not where they left off in the World Series.

Giants 4, Dodgers 2

Jason Schmidt is now the best pitcher in the NL and while he gave up a leadoff home run to Cesar Izturis, he settled down after that. Derek Lowe kept up with Schmidt, but his defense and bullpen let him down.

Blue Jays 6, Devil Rays 3

Both Gustavo Chacin and Scott Kazmir looked good here, but the Blue Jays jumped all over Seth McClung. They have a pretty solid lineup that will punish bad pitchers. Their downfall on offense is a lack of stars.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 3

The best game of the day matched two offseason additions in Carl Pavano and Matt Clement. While analysts assume that Clement will be better, It's more likely that they'll be about equal and Pavano will post better numbers because of his park. Today they were both good, first Rivera and then Foulke couldn't hold the other team down.