Monday, January 31, 2005

Chicago Says Sayonara to Sosa

Doesn't Sammy Sosa's name just lend itself to quasi-clever wordplay? It just doesn't seem like one can start an article about Sosa without the title having some sort of tie-in with the name, a la Barry Bonds.

In that same vein, it is very difficult to seperate a name like Sosa from the team he played for, the Chicago Cubs. It's not as if Sosa has played his entire career with the Cubs, but just about anything he's done worthy of the household name he now carries was done while wearing a Cubs uniform. Sure, Sammy was slammin' just a bit for the Chicago White Sox before the Cubs, but a lot of people either don't remember that, or don't feel like trying. Again, similar to Bonds. Sure, he played for the Pirates, but so what? Think Barry, you think San Francisco Giants. You think Sammy, you think Chicago Cubs.

So forgive me for being shocked that this will no longer be the case for Sosa. I mean, I knew the Cubs wanted to get rid of Sosa worse than a booger on their top lip, but knowing it and knowing it are two different things.

It's even less tangible when you think of what Sosa was traded for.

Jerry Hairston Jr., and two prospects.

Let that sink in for a minute. Yes, there are two prospects, too, but the names moving -- concentrate on those. Sammy Sosa for Jerry Hairston Jr., Sammy Sosa for Jerry Hairston Jr., Sammy Sosa for...who?

Yeah. Doesn't seem right, does it?

Don't get me wrong. This trade needed to be made, and apparently the Orioles were the only ones willing to give up more than the proverbial bag of baseballs for Sosa, and weren't demanding that the Cubs pay all of Sosa's 2005 salary plus give them a backrub. The Orioles, meantime, had lost out on every big-time free agent they set their sights on, and in addition to the yearly overshadowing that the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees provide, they are going to have to deal with the media press in yonder District of Columbia, where the Nationals will grab tons of extra attention just for playing there. Acquiring Sosa is a good bandage for those kinds of wounds. He won't stop the bleeding, but he'll staunch it some, that's for sure.

The Cubs now have an outfield that's hardly better than the Kansas City Royals, and the Orioles now have another potent offensive weapon, although just how much potentcy remains in Sosa's bat is another topic of discussion in and of itself.


Other weirdness:

  • The Yankees have signed Doug Glanville to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, and another one of their non-roster invitees is former Royals pitcher Brad Voyles. The Yankees will still field a competitive team this year, and still stand a good chance at postseason play, but...Doug Glanville? Brad Voyles? A centerfielder who never really was good enough to start (a total lack of hitting ability contributed to this), and a pitcher who wasn't even good enough for the Royals? These two aren't on the team by any means, but the mere fact that the Yankees are picking up players like these is an indication of how things stand with them. In a word, precariously.
  • The Astros finally re-signed OF Lance Berkman to a one year, 10.5 million dollar contract. This, to me, spells even more potential bad news for the 'Stros. Clemens will fleece them for 18 million this year, Bagwell and Biggio will have another birthday this year, and Berkman will be free to sign wherever he likes after posting another 1.000 OPS after this year. I would assume that for 2006 and beyond Berkman would be looking for a contract in the 5 to 7 year range, and be looking for an annual payout around the neighborhood of what Carlos Delgado got from the Marlins, but I could be wrong, of course. Not about this, but about other things. I'm right about this. I think.
  • Hideous Nomo has finally found a team willing to give him money to pitch. That team? The Tampa Bay Devil Rays (insert joke here). Truthfully, the Tampa only signed him to a minor league contract with the obligatory invite to spring training, so this really isn't a bad move. No risk for a potential small reward, in the form of a couple of extra wins, and perhaps a few more butts in the seats just because of the name. I am, however, expecting to hear by next season that Nomo has gone back to Japan, where he will find out that he can't pitch there, either, prompting him to go out on all-night saki binges for the rest of his days...

Updates to the sidebar, by the way. A Citizen's Blog is a well-written blog on the Philadelphia Phillies, and it's written by Mike Berquist. Mike somehow finds time to do his Phillies blog, an Eagles blog, and be an attorney-at-law, which is something I find difficult to believe. I mean, where does he fit in the attorney thing while running both blogs? I think he's got to give up that little law hobby if he wants to be a serious blogger, but that's just my opinion.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Entry About Nothing

I'm off work, and I'm off to play some more Texas Hold 'Em (wish me luck). So, no time for anything real, however, I'll make up for it with something over the weekend, likely tomorrow.

As long as I don't get beat up on River cards like I normally do, I'll be fine. %#$@*$*^$ River Cards!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Breaking News! Well, at least to me...

One thing I had forgotten to mention that could make the Doug Mientkiewicz (I've frickin' memorized how to spell his name by now) trade even more suspicious.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed Tony Clark to a one year, 750K deal.

Perhaps Clark left a bad taste in the Mets' mouth after 2003, and I do realize Mientkiewicz is better than Clark with the glove. But...

Mientkiewicz, 2004 (career): .676 OPS (.767)
Clark, 2004 (career): .755 OPS (.821)

One would have to assume that Omar Minaya simply felt that 2004 was an off-season for Mientkiewicz and that he'll bounce back, because his glove cannot make up for that anemic offensive production, especially for a 1st baseman. While Clark has been a disappointment every since he left the Detroit Tigers after 2001, he's only 32, so it's not out of the question that he could bounce back. His last two season have been strikeout-laden and bereft of a full season of at-bats, but he still walks at a high rate and hits for power...

Well, it won't really matter to me in either case, since I hold no affection for either the Mets or Diamondbacks. I just think that Minaya had to have had a couple of better options to play 1st base than Doug Mientkiewicz. Heck, he could've gotten Ken Harvey or Calvin Pickering from the Kansas City Royals, and may have been better off offensively, and definitely better off in the payroll department.


From the looks of things, this blog will be going over 1,000 hits sometime today. Having re-started the blog on December 19th, then having started promoting the site just after Christmas, and finally getting a counter on December 30th...from someone who had no idea what to expect when I began this, I'll throw in a hearty "thank you" to those who've visited me in this early going. I still haven't any real clue as to what I'm doing, but I figure part of your entertainment will be to see me screw up a bunch of times before I get it right.

Since the Giants and Brian Sabean still seem to be quiet -- quiet, in this instance, being a synonym for "finished" -- I have no choice but to throw out thoughts and opinions on what the other ML teams have been doing. No choice, I tell you! None whatsoever!

  • The Mets got a first baseman! Uh, but not the one they wanted. Doug Mientkiewicz will bring his good defensive skills, suddenly questionable hitting prowess, and asinine PR abilities to New York. After seeing his numbers take a huge dip in the beginning of 2004 with the Minnesota Twins, Mientkiewicz saw his offensive contribution all but disappear in his brief stint with the BoSox. In a funky twist of fate, however, he found himself with a World Series ring and catching the last out of the Series -- and keeping the ball that went along with that out. After being with the team for two months. After doing a credible Neifi impression at the plate. After Boston waited over 80 years to win the Series. Sure, Doug, keep the ball. Let there be no question that you've earned it. You know, maybe Andres Galarragga doesn't have such a bad shot to make the team after all. If Big Cat can still hit like he did for the Giants in 2003, and Mientkiewicz still looks capable of posting a .676 OPS over a full season, the Mets may actually have a decision on their hands. Go get 'em, Big Cat!
  • So where did Carlos Delgado end up? Well, in South Florida, of course! Where else would a big name free agent want to sign? It wouldn't be so bad for the Mets if Delgado had signed outside of the division, but he didn't, and so now the Marlins look to have just as good of a shot as the Mets do. And now, the Marlins have the potent duo of Dos Delgados, what with the key acquisition of Wilson Delgado having Marlins fans dreaming of a 3rd World Series title in 2005. Okay, perhaps not. I do get perverse satisfaction in seeing my 12 million dollar plus per year figure for Carlos Delgado was pretty close. I'll celebrate with a glass of milk, spiked with Nesquik.
  • Tops in I-wish-I-hadn't-read-this news, Lee Sinins from the Hardball Times has an article here that lists the bottom 12 in Runs Created Above Average among active players in the majors. For those who don't know, Runs Created is a metric created by Bill James to measure a players overall offensive contribution to his team. Higher numbers are better. Runs Created Above Average measures a player's contribution against the average player from that season. Of the 12 players from this list(remember, these are the BOTTOM 12 among active players), the Giants have had 8, with 3 players currently on the roster (Deivi Cruz, Omar Vizquel, and Mike Matheny), and 2 other players (Neifi Perez and Benito Santiago) having been on the team as recently as 2003. Ouch. 'Course, my beloved Royals come in 2nd with 4 players from that list of offensive ugliness. Ouch again. I'm thinking Brian Sabean doesn't put much stock in the Runs Created statistic.
  • I neglected to mention the player the Mets traded to acquire Doug Mientkiewicz (spelling this dude's name multiple times just isn't the way to avoid headaches, trust me). Ahem. Ian Bladergroen. Let me repeat that. Ian Bladergroen. Is it just me, or does his name sound like Swedish for, "My bladder hurts!"? I can just see it on ESPN now -- Craig Kilborn, making his ESPN comeback, runs down the highlights of the Red Sox game where Ian...Bladergroen hits his first ML homerun. Upon making contact with the pitch, Kilborn will yell out, "Farfegnugen!"
  • Brad Penny signed a one year, 5.1 million dollar deal to avoid arbitration with the Los Angeles Dodgers. No -- no wisecracks, no jokes. He'll pitch for the Dodgers in 2005, and I hope he sucks. That is all.
  • The Chicago White Sox signed Japanese infielder Tadahito Iguchi to a two year, 4.95 million contract to play 2nd base in 2005 (why didn't they just make it 5 million even?). Iguchi will be the White Sox' 2nd Japanese player, joining Shingo Tahatsu in forming Dos Japanesos...oh, just forget it. Being 1/4th Japanese myself, my heart swells with pride seeing...alright, so it doesn't "swell with pride", but it IS nice to see a few more Japanese players in the bigs. If this keeps up, however, we'll start getting to the point where 3 islands (Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Japan) have more players in the majors than the U.S. itself does, which would be just a little silly, considering what a huge freaking landmass our country possesses.

Okay, I think I've run my course for the day. Being that it's my day off, I need to get busy doing absolutely nothing, otherwise the day will be wasted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Using my Powers for Good (yes, I use the term "powers" loosely)

I never thought I could be in a situation to really help someone out, but from the looks of my increased traffic (thanks to a few links and write-ups from But It's a DRY Heat, The Los Angeles Blues of Westwood, and a totally unexpected-but-appreciated one from McCovey Chronicles), I might be able to do just that.

A very good blogger by the name of Larry Mahnken, who runs a site called Replacement Level Yankees Weblog (ignore the fact that he's a Yankee fan for now, alright?), just had a fire burn down his apartment building and everything in it. Larry himself escaped unharmed -- at least, physically. Some of you may have had something similar happen to you, for myself, I can only imagine.

In any case, this situation has left Larry in a bit of a bind. However, besides just feeling bad for Larry, all of us can actually help. By clicking on the link to his site either in the paragraph above or on the sidebar, it'll lead you to Larry's excellent site. After bathing yourself in the glow of what a good writer can do (yes, read the articles, too), you can look near the top left of the site, and see a little box that says "Paypal" on it. Now, in ordinary circumstances, this would be a way to give Larry money just because you are well-to-do, like Larry or his writing, or because you've just mugged several well-to-do people, and want to give something back.

Now, however, this is a way to give Larry money because you're a nice person, and he can use a little help right now.

So, click on that Paypal link and donate -- if you have a Paypal account already, it'll be as easy as pie. If not, it'll take a bit longer. I donated 10 bucks. Many of you, I'm sure, can part with 10 bucks, too (just don't Super Size your value meals for a week or two).

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Closing the deal

Alright, after waaay too long of a wait for something many of you won't even need, here's the Armando Benitez/Robb Nen/Dustin Hermanson comparison.

As I said before, I'm sure most of you (especially Giants fans) have a crystal clear understanding of why I'm not going to include Matt Herges (1.70 WHIP) in this comparison despite the fact that he...led...the Giants with 24 saves in 2004. Herges (5.23 ERA) wasn't a bad choice to begin with, as his numbers from 2003 were nice, but staying with Herges (5.4 k's per 9) after he began to tank wasn't one of Felipe Alou's better moves last season.

Hermanson's going to have a small sample size, because I'd rather focus on his numbers from the time he began to close last season, rather than throwing in his starter's statistics. No, I don't totally buy in to the "closer's mentality" argument, therefore I do believe that Hermanson's stats as a starter have great bearing on what he's capable of. However, it's well documented that Hermanson changed his style of pitching after being chosen to be the closer, therefore I think certain numbers (like k's per 9) will reflect a different pitcher.

Hermanson (2004): 4.33 ERA/1.2 WHIP/9.3 k's per 9/3.7 bb's per 9/.224 BAA (batting average against)

Hermanson's number were very...closer-like in the couple of months he had the role. The ERA can be attributed to one nasty (and unfortunate) outing at the end of the season where he gave up four earned runs in all of 2/3rd's of an inning against the Dodgers -- a loss that ended the Giants quest for an NL West pennant. His WHIP is low, his k's per 9 is high, and his batting average against is stingy.

Now, on to Benitez...

Benitez (2004): 1.29 ERA/0.83 WHIP/8.2 k's per 9/2.8 bb's per 9/.152 BAA

Okay, so while Hermanson had some good closer numbers, they sure weren't on par with Benitez, who did it over a full season. Benitez' OPS against was .477, which basically means it was like he faced Neifi Perez in a hitting slump all season (yes, I know, Neifi in a hitting slump is a redundant term, but I'll use it anyway). The only advantage Hermanson has is in k's per 9, but of course we can't really count on that because El Diablo only did it over a 2 month span.

Now we'll do Nen, but we'll have to use Nen's 2002 numbers to compare, since the only thing Nen's closed in the last two seasons has been doors.

Nen (2002): 2.20 ERA/1.14 WHIP/9.9 k's per 9/2.4 bb's per 9

So as you can see, Benitez' 2004 is easily comparable to Nen's 2002. Nen has the better k's per 9 and lower walk rate, but Benitez has that miniscule WHIP.

Where does all that crap leave the Giants for 2005?

Heh, well Nen's 9 million bucks will finally be off the books, and barring a near-miracle, he won't be returning to Elite Closer status for the rest of his career. Hermanson has signed with the Chicago White Sox, where he'll likely be a set-up man, rendering my musings on whether or not he could be a closer a moot point. It's obvious that Benitez is a huge upgrade over what the Giants had, and that he's comparable with Nen, but whether he'll be enough to stabilize a Giants 'pen that was the Achilles heel of the team last year remains to be seen.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Arbitration Nation

I must apologize -- my Armando Benitez analysis has hit a snag, and will have to wait until next week. What snag, you ask? Well, it's a bit difficult to finish something when you have yet to begin. Blame my funky work schedule and...Texas Hold 'Em. Have I ever mentioned my intense hatred of River cards?

So, until I get my act together, I decided to throw in some tidbits on arbitration -- with Clemens and the Houston Astros avoiding arbitration and agreeing on a one year, 18 million dollar contract, it seemed like a good time.

  • With Pedro Feliz' recent contract, I had neglected to mention Yorvit Torrealba. He and the Giants agreed to a one year, 700K deal, so arbitration won't be necessary. I have the feeling that this will be Torrealba's last season with the Giants, for better or worse. This offseason was the 2nd time the Giants had a chance to take a chance on Yorvit, and they passed on him again. I'm sure he may want to test the market next offseason, and see if he can find a team that will either give him a starting job, or at least the chance to compete for one.
  • Once again, Clemens, one year, 18 million. Clemens' arbitration request of 22 million broke an all-time record (Derek Jeter asked the Yankees for 18.5 mil one year), and now the new contract breaks the single season record for a pitcher's salary. Houston is now crossing their fingers, toes, legs, arms, and eyes that the Rocket can duplicate last season. Because if his 2005 looks more like his 2003 and 2002 (3.91 and 4.35 ERA's, respectively)...well, you know.
  • Lance Berkman and the 'Stros still have a little work to do, seeing as how they're still one million bucks apart -- Berkman asked for 11 million, Houston offered 10 million. Not a very big gap, and I'd assume they'll work it out soon.
  • The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have the...uh, lead...with six players still up for arbitration. I really don't know what this means, but why would Tampa, of all teams, have the most players remaining? Would any of these players make any difference in the fate of the Devil Rays? Just get it over with, already -- 2005 and last place are beckoning.
  • The strangest potential arbitration case, at least to me, seems to be Johan Santana and the Twins. Santana wants 6.8 million, the Twins have offered 5 million. Two words, Minnesota: pay him. He won the AL Cy Young last season, and he made all of 1.6 million. If the Twins get stubborn, these are the kinds of things that make players want to sign short contracts and leave as soon as the contract is up. The Twins should be looking to lock Santana up for at least 4 or 5 years.
  • The largest gap money-wise between a player and a team is Aramis Ramirez and the Chicago Cubs, who have a 2.25 million dollar gap between what Ramirez has asked for and what the Cubs have offered. With a line of .318/.373/.578 and 36 homers last season (with only 62 strikeouts!), and with his road splits proving he can hit well in any park (unlike Moises), my guess would be that Ramirez would win if it goes to arbitration. Another player that should be locked up long term, at least, if the Cubs feeling like having the best offensive 3rd baseman in the game outside of Scott Rolen and A-Rod, that is.

Well, that certainly seems like enough useless information. As today is Saturday (for another 12 minutes), it looks like my Streak of posting is now dun-duh-dun-dun-done. Cal Ripken can now sleep soundly. And I can celebrate my non-record with some coffee Haagen-Dasz. Mmmmm, Haagen-Dasz...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pedro Feliz better be Pedro Happy...

Hm, Pedro Feliz is the recipient of a 2 year, 6.1 million dollar contract.

I'd dearly like to say Feliz is overpaid at this point, but when you look at what other Giants are being paid right now, I guess it doesn't seem that out of line...

Unless you believe that many other Giants are overpaid...but I'll name no names. I'll let you all do the MATH-ENY, because to just come out and say it would be tO MAR my good name. I'll just ed-guard-o my tongue for now.

Besides some versatility (which was pretty much forced on him), Feliz just isn't worth an average of 3 million a year. He's a utility player. Yes, a utility player with some power, but also a utility player who doesn't walk. Can anyone think of any utility players around the league who make about 3 million a year?

Folks, even the Yankees don't pay utility players 3 million a year. Miguel Cairo, 2004, $900K.

I really like Feliz, even though if my life depended on Feliz seeing five pitches in a particular at-bat, I'd count myself a dead man. I like him despite his uncanny knack to avoid drawing walks. He plays acceptable defense wherever he's put for a utility player (though his time at shortstop was really pushing it), and he's got some pop. He's a good utility player to have, and I'm muy feliz that he'll be here next year. Heck, make him the highest paid utility player in baseball.

But would it have taken 3 million a year to accomplish that?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Your last name doesn't match your salary...

Let's compare three pitchers' statistics from last season:

Pitcher A: 13 W/5 L, 170 innings pitched, WHIP of 1.25, 5 K's per 9 innings, 1.8 BB's per 9 innings, 1.8 HR's per 9 innings, 4.07 ERA

Pitcher B: 15 W/8 L, 202 innings pitched, WHIP of 1.62, 5.2 K's per 9 innings, 4.7 BB's per 9 innings, 1.3 HR's per 9 innings, 5.84 ERA

Pitcher C: 14 W/12 L, 182 innings pitched, WHIP of 1.62, 5.2 K's per 9 innings, 3.5 BB's per 9 innings, .75 HR's per 9 innings, 5.42 ERA

All had decent/good records, and all had fairly unimpressive strikeout rates.

Pitcher A has the advantage over the other two in his low walk rate, low WHIP, and much better ERA. He did, however, give up the long ball at an alarming rate. He also pitched in a pitcher's park last season.

Pitcher B doesn't really have any advantages over the other two (though he gives up homers at a lesser rate than pitcher A), but he pitched in an extreme hitter's park, so we should give him some leeway.

Pitcher C has the advantage in his low home run rate, and he pitched in a hitter's park, too, but not nearly as extreme as pitcher B.

So looking at the stats, Pitcher A is the best, but his ballpark helped him to some degree. Pitcher B is the worst, but his ballpark hurt him to a large degree. Pitcher C is kind of in the middle of the two.

Would you blame me if I called them even? All of pitcher A's advantages can be countered by the ballparks they pitched in, so I see them as fairly even pitchers (disagree if you'd like). However, one of those three is not like the others in a very significant way: salary.

Pitcher A is Jose Lima, who just signed a one year contract for 2.5 million. Pitcher B is Shawn Estes, who just signed a one year contract for 2.5 million. Pitcher C is Derek Lowe, who just signed a 4 year, 36 million dollar contract.

Uh, what?

Many people have spoken many times about how Carlos Beltran increased his value by catching fire offensively at the right time: the postseason, when everyone's watching. However, he didn't increase his value nearly as much as Derek Lowe did by having a great postseason pitching for the Boston Red Sox last year. If you look at Lowe's stats from 1998 to 2002, you can easily see there's some good pitcher there (though only in 2002 did he start), and Lowe's 31 years indicates he could easily have some good years left, but...I'm thinking that if Lowe's postseason was as crappy as his regular season, he could well have been sitting in the same positions as Lima and Estes right now. One year, 2.5 million.

Derek, there's nothing Lowe about your salary, dude.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

In-Clemens Weather

I tried, for some few minutes, to figure out a way to eloquently state the current state of the Houston Astros organization after reading a report here that Roger Clemens is reportedly asking for 22 million dollars in arbitration to pitch again for the Houston Astros in 2005. After those moments of deep reflection, the following is what I came up with:

The Astros are sooooooo screwed.

Here they were worried for so long about paying Beltran around 15 million bucks a season, and now they find out that was only the tip of the iceberg.

I really hope this isn't true, because I'd like to see Clemens pitch again next season, if only to see if his skills finally start to decline at 42 years of age. If it is true, well, the Astros are indeed screwed -- screwed if they do pay him that much, and screwed if they don't sign Clemens somehow. It's already looking grim enough for the 'Stros, what with Bagwell and Biggio both running afoul of another birthday, and losing Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran. However, if Clemens doesn't come back, Houston will likely struggle just to get to .500.

However, my musings also lead me to wonder why Clemens, if the report is true, thinks that he's worth 22 million. Hall of Famer? Oh, yes, first ballot inductee. Great year last year? Oh, yes, it was definitely a Cy Young caliber season for the Rocket in 2004. Twenty-two meeelyon worth of good?


Perhaps it's just Clemens' way of saying, "Let me retire," or perhaps he really does think that's the amount of money he should be paid for pitching for the Astros for one more season, but in either case...

Don't pay him, Houston. You've got so many other things you can try with 22 million dollars, and some of them may even work. I know the Astros don't want to face rebuilding, but with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio facing the end of their careers and Houston not having a bevy of prospects in the wings waiting to contribute at the major league level, well, maybe it's time to capitulate.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Are You Ready For This?


Yep, nothing again for today. However, I will say that within the next day or two I will finally break down the acquisition that I should've broken down weeks ago: Armando Benitez.

Now obviously, we could compare Benitez to say, Matt Herges -- but why? We know there's no way, short of underhand tossing his pitches while blindfolded and his other arm tied behind his back, that Benitez could be any worse than Herges was last season. However, Brian Sabean did have the option of retaining Dustin Hermanson as his closer for 2005, and didn't do it. So, a comparison of Benitez and Hermanson isn't out of place, and just for grins and giggles, I'm going to throw in Robb Nen, too. No, not the Robb Nen of the last two seasons (comparing a fastball hurling Benitez with Mr. Uber-Rehab wouldn't be smart, right?), but the Robb Nen of Old.

Can Benitez be better than Nen was? Heck, can he even equal Nen? Would Sabean have been better served to go with the cheaper option, Hermanson, and use that cash someplace else? Well, I'll try and answer that question as vaguely as I possibly can.

This I'll throw out there just for fun. If Sabean had made the following moves...or, non-moves, if you will: 1) not signed Omar Vizquel, not signed Mike Matheny, not signed Benitez, and thus 2) crossed his fingers, prayed to God, and stayed with Deivi Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba, and Dustin Hermanson...and on top of all that, found a team that wanted to trade for Marquis Grissom...

Would Sabean have had enough dough to sign Carlos Beltran? Like I said, just a thought. But just on an average salary per year basis, those four things would equal around 21 million bucks per year. He could have met the Mets 17 mil per year offer, and had 4 mil to spend elsewhere. Again, just shooting from the hip...

Friday, January 14, 2005

This is a Giants Blog, right?

A fellow blogger, Jim McLennan (who, by the way, runs a ridiculously excellent Diamondbacks blog called "But It's a DRY Heat") graciously pointed out to me the amount of non-Giants content on the site recently -- just pointing out something he happened to notice. I responded with equal grace, of course, and here is my response in full:

Daniel's reponse: "Well...yeah,, what are you tryin' to say?"

Yes, yes, all my recent posts have been pretty much non-Giants directly, but Giants-related. I'll do my best to stay on the Giants, but I also let the latest MLB news lead me by the nose a bit -- hey, the D-Backs and Dodgers are division rivals, so they're fair game, and they've been the teams wheelin' and dealin' lately. Besides...

(cue music) It's my blog and I'll...write-about-other-stuff if I want to, write-about-other-stuff if I want to...

Yeah, that oughta cut my readership in half (can you divide three people in half?).

That, by the way, was my long-winded method of saying that there wasn't anything good I could piece together for a real article, but an effective way to make sure I kept up with my everyday-post-streak. Watch out, Cal Ripken, a new Streak is starting...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Uber Division Rivals

Well, it looks like the Shawn Estes to Arizona rumor wasn't just a rumor after all -- it's now stark-raving mad reality. One year, 2.5 million. Not terribly expensive, but for a team with what seems to be delusions of contention, this just ain't the right guy to get. It's hilarious -- they acquire Estes for 2.5 million, then trade Shea Hillenbrand to Toronto in an effort to cut costs. Hillenbrand, according to ESPN, would have likely received about 4 million in arbitration. Hillenbrand doesn't walk much and all, but Arizona, are you trying to get better or not? Unless they run out and sign Carlos Delgado, the D-Backs just made themselves a worse team in two different ways today.

So now when the D-Backs and Giants face off, 2/5ths of the Arizona rotation will be former Giants. Will both Russ Ortiz and Shawn Estes use their knowledge of Giants hitters to afford their team a huge advantage over their division rivals?

Um, no.

At least when those two walk Bonds, it won't be some strange occurence. They issue more walks than an inner-city intersection. Here's to the Giants hitters planting their bats on their shoulders when facing Estes and Ortiz, and forcing them to pitch something over the plate. They can't get their breaking balls over for strikes consistently, fellas, don't fall for it.

But one thing remains the same: the NL West just loves to exchange players with each other. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I don't think any other division has players go back and forth within the division more than the NL West. I'm sure Jeff Kent just can't wait to try and stick it to Barry...I mean, stick it to his former team.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Good Stuff...

As it seems there are actually some few people interested in this blog, I feel it's a good time to point out that there are Other Blogs out there, and a few of them are pretty darned good. Allow me to point a few out specifically...

Kevin's Royals Blog is a darned good site, although Kevin's fascination with Ashlee Simpson is a bit disturbing (besides, Jessica Alba is cuter and has a much nicer butt). I even write with him occasionally, as I happen to be a huge Royals fan as well as a Giants fan (don't ask how that came about). Kevin has also just been linked to Aaron Gleeman's site (who writes for the Hardball Times), so there is obviously quite a bit of writing talent that Kevin possesses.

Knuckleball Sandwich is a Cleveland Indians blog written by David Haller, and written well by David Haller. His only flaw, besides being an Indians fan, of course, is the use of exlamation points in reference to the signing of Juan Gonzalez to a minor league contract recently (all references to Gonzo should end in question marks, since that's what good ol' Igor really is). But despite that, I like his style.

Against the Grain is a Milwaukee Brewers blog, written by Bryan Johnson. He's good enough to actually make me somewhat interested in the Brewers, which should be reason enough to stop by and take a peek. Also, he realizes what a jerk Randy Moss is, which is a sure sign of intelligence.

Unbiased Yankee Fan is...well, what team do you think Matt Morea follows, hm? Hard as it might be to believe, he actually is an unbiased Yankee fan, which earns him extra credit in my book. No blind Yankee worship here -- he's short, sweet, and to the point. Unlike myself, who's long-winded and beats around the bush, but it'd be boring if I were perfect, right?

So there you go. If you've got a Baseball Jones as bad as I do, then these sites ought to help ease the cravings. And hey, you can surprise friends and radio talk show hosts with your knowledge of other teams to boot! Definitely a win/win situation if you ask me, and it's a win/win even if you don't ask me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

And now, the news...

According to reports, the Shawn Green trade is reportedly done, a reporter reports.

I don't think any teams are going to want to do any mid-season deals with the Diamondbacks this year, because by the time any mid-season deal would be done, it'd actually end up being an off-season deal. You probably have to give Arizona a three month cushion. If you want to trade player A for player B, and you want player B to help with your pennant chase in 2005, you'd better start the deal with the D-Backs sometime in April, so you can complete the trade by the trade deadline in July. Can anyone remember two deals involving the same team that took so long to finish?

The extension that was holding the trade up before seems to be done -- 3 years, 30 million dollars. Another question for you all. Can anyone remember a team that lost over 100 games coming back the very next season and spending this much money? Sure, Randy Johnson's 16 million is going to be off the books, and the Yankees sent over some cash, but Green's making 16 million, too...

I do admire the guts of the D-Backs, screaming in the face of the R word (rebuilding) like they are, but 111 losses are very hard to overcome, and when any possible turnaround is built on players who are either injured, aging, of questionable ability, overpaid, or coming off subpar seasons, well, permit me to doubt that Arizona will be anywhere near contention. Perhaps Luis Gonzalez, Troy Glaus, and Shawn Green will all have 50 home runs seasons and prove me wrong, but I'm just a wee bit skeptical.

And in other news...

The Dodgers seem close to a deal with Derek Lowe, lately of the Boston Red Sox. According to ESPN, the deal on the table is a 4 year, 36 million dollar contract.

As I've said before, DePodesta is scaring me. No, Lowe wasn't that good last year, and the Dodgers are overpaying for him, but still...he's competitive, and he's capable. It doesn't put the Dodgers over any imaginary humps, but it makes them a bit tougher.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Let's all point and laugh at the Diamondbacks, children...

Move over Russ Ortiz, the Arizona Diamondbacks have found someone who is better at walking batters for no reason than even you are.

A rumor has the D-Backs setting their sights on Shawn Estes (can you really go out and get Shawn Estes at this point, or rather do you simply end up with Shawn Estes?). Admittedly, Estes did pitch in the career-path-changer a.k.a. Coors Field much of the time last season, but this is one instance where the Coors Factor can be ignored. We'll quickly list Estes' WHIP from the last 4 seasons:

2004 (Colorado): 1.62
2003 (Chi Cubs): 1.74
2002 (NY Mets, mostly): 1.59
2001 (SF Giants): 1.43

So somehow, Estes actually controlled his hits and walks allowed better in 2004 with the Rockies than his previous year, which goes to show just how bad he was with the Cubs. While it's easy to say that Estes' numbers will get better outside of Coors Field, it isn't necessarily accurate.Estes was much worse in 2003 with the Cubs, and though Wrigley is a hitter's park, it ain't nearly the hitter's park that Coors is. Estes' WHIP in 2002 is pretty much the same as 2004, but he played a lot of games at Shea Stadium, which plays as a slight pitcher's park. The D-Backs may reportedly pay around 3 million dollars to find out if Estes can get it done at the BOB in 2005. And yes, that is the sound of a toilet flushing that you just heard.

Perhaps this rumor isn't true, so perhaps this round of laughter is undeserved. But with the pattern they've been showing this offseason, this rumor just fits the D-Backs too well...

Friday, January 07, 2005

Waiting to Exhale

I'm really trying to push this blog to an everyday thing, but boy, is it tough to do in the offseason...especially after just about everybody any of us would care about is already signed.

A.J. Pierzynski was signed by the White Sox for 2.25 million. It's a one year contract, which goes to show that Chicago isn't all that confident in A.J's abilities, either. A.J's got one really good shot at getting his offensive numbers back to where they were two years ago -- he's now back in the American League, and back in the AL Central to boot. Unfortunately, I'm also a Kansas City Royals fan, and I never really liked "Double Play" A.J., so I'm going to wish him the best of bad luck.

I'm wanting to point and laugh at the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it'll take a bit to gather all the punchlines into one, cohesive stand-up routine, so give me another day or two...I'll try and figure out how to make you laugh with me, too.

Actually,'s pretty easy.

Troy Glaus - about 11 million per year for a guy who's played about half his games over the last two years (tee-hee!)
Russ Ortiz - about 6 million per year for a guy who had a WHIP of 1.51 last season (giggle)
Craig Counsell - 3 million? I mean, he's a gutsy little guy, and that's an interesting batting stance and all, but 3 million? (guffaw)
Royce Clayton - had a .735 OPS last year...while playing half his games at Coors Field. What's that translate to at the BOB? Oh, I'm guessing sub .700 (chuckle)
Shawn Green - ...oh, wait, this deal STILL ain't done. (ROFLMAO!)

It looks like Shawn Green and the D-Back couldn't come to an amicable contract extension by the deadline set by the Dodgers, which means the deal is comatose. Not dead yet, but comatose.

What do the Dodgers say to Green if he has to return? We tried to trade you two times, but no hard feelings? Furthermore, what happens to the Dodgers after Green's 16 million goes thud! right back on their payroll?

The D-Backs, if they are unable to acquire Green, will likely re-fire up talks with Jeremy Burnitz, who was told right before a meeting with Arizona that he no longer had a meeting with Arizona. Maybe the Arizona's GP, Ken Kendrick, used the Jedi mind trick on Burnitz...

Burnitz: "So, our meeting is tomorrow, right?"

Kendrick: (making hand gesture) "We do not have a meeting tomorrow."

Burnitz: "Yeah, we do! What are you talking about?"

Kendrick: (again making hand gesture) "We do not have a meeting tomorrow."

Burnitz: "What is this crap, and why do you keep waving your hand at me?"

Kendrick: (gesturing wildly) "We do not....Republican credits are fine!"

Burnitz: "Who do you think you are, some kind of Jedi? Mind tricks don't work on me, only money!"

Kendrick: (sighing) "Here's 100 bucks."

Burnitz: "Gee, thanks! And by the way, my OPS was 100 points higher than Green's last year."

Kendrick: "Yes, but Green's easily superior. He hit in a pitcher's park while you hit in an extreme hitter's park. Plus, he made 15 million more than you did last year!"

Thursday, January 06, 2005

More freaking Dodger news

You know, I don't think I like this whole DePodesta being smart thing...

He went out and got J.D. Drew, who really was the hitter the Giants should have gotten (yes, Drew is a jerk and isn't Felipe Alou's son, but he's also not 39, didn't have horrible road splits last season, and would play a good RF at SBC).

Then, he unloaded the contract-disguised-as-the-Hindenburg, also known as Shawn Green. And he unloaded him onto a division rival to boot!

He didn't re-sign Jose Lima or Hideo-us Nomo.

Plus, it looks like Odalis Perez will rejoin the Dodgers at a modest-ish 8 million per year over 3 seasons (modest-ish compared to Eric Milton, that is). I was really, really, really hoping that Perez would sign elsewhere, because the Dodgers rotation was looking mighty un-scary before, now they look competitve.

And to top it all off, he re-signed Milton Bradley...oh, wait. Nevermind. DePodesta can't be that smart.

The Dodgers have a really good Jerk Factor going right now, what with Bradley, Drew, and Jeff Weaver all being on the club at the same time. All they need now is to fish John Rocker and Albert Belle out of retirement...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fights I'd like to see

It looks like the Dodgers haven't had enough of Milton Bradley yet, seeing as they signed him for another year, and he's going to make about 750K more than he did last year.

Paul DePodesta, Dodger's GM: "Yeah, Milton, you're an idiot and a jerk, and most other teams wouldn't even sign you for peanuts, but we'll give you a raise because we'd rather not put this in the hands of an arbitrator."

Bradley: "F--- you, punk. I don't need you. I'm outta here."

DePodesta: "What did you say? That kind of behavior won't be tolerated! How would you like it if I gave you another 500K, young man!?"

In other Dodger news, it seems they may also be taking a look at signing Pacers forward Ron Artest...

Really, wouldn't it be great to see Bradley and Artest pound each other into unconsciousness? And the winner, after he regains consciousness, earns an immediate match against Sydney Ponson?

Some people call Barry a jerk, but look at the stats:

Bonds: .281 JA (jerk average)/ .350 COBP(comments off-base percentage) for an APS (always pissed at somebody) of .531

Bradley: .390 JA/ .550 COBP for an APS of .940

Offensively, it's no contest -- Bradley is much more offensive than Bonds ever was.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Random, Chaotic Stuff

Couple of things I noticed and realized that I had an opinion on...

  • This one flew under my radar. Andres Galaragga, he of the 399 career home runs, has signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets, with an invitation to spring training. I really like Galaragga, and I really hope he gets his 400th homer and all, but can somebody let Andres know that he cannot run anymore? At all? For all you 42 year old baseball players just one home run shy of a milestone you don't really need, let me offer up a bit of advice: the DH is your friend. I know you were only in the American League for 253 of your 8,096 career at-bats, Andres, but don't you think the Mets will be a little leary at the prospect of you playing any defense? At all? Maybe interleague could be where Andres gets that magical number 400...too bad 400 really isn't that magical.
  • The Dodgers, apparently, are screwing around with Dodger's Stadium
  • in an attempt to add more seating. While this isn't a new idea, the effect of these new seats will introduce something new to Chavez Ravine -- less foul territory. While I'm sure that to many Giants fans everywhere inside Dodgers Stadium is "foul territory", I beg leave to point out that lessening the foul territory will increase the number of second, third, etc. chances that hitters get to say, get a base hit as opposed to say, fouling out behind the bag at 3rd base. We'll have to wait and see if these changes in the dimensions will affect Dodger's Stadium's "pitcher's park-i-ness" or not. Did I just say pitcher's park-i-ness?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Who should hit in front of Bonds?

Albert Pujols. Boy, that was easy!

If we are limiting the answer to current San Fransisco Giants, however, it isn't quite as easy. Each year debates arise as to the Giants batting order. In many cases, batting order doesn't matter quite as much as most people would like to believe, but in the case of the Giants, it actually does matter -- at least, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th spots in the order matter (I like to refer to those spots as the appetizer, main course, and leftovers, respectively).

I will make a few assumptions on two spots in the Giants batting order for 2005: 1) that Barry will again bat cleanup in the 4th position, and 2) that Moises Alou will be the one behind Bonds. Nevermind the fact that having Barry bat 3rd in the order will get him a chunk more plate appearances on the year and ensure that he will always hit in the 1st inning, and nevermind that it matters not one whit who bats behind Bonds to the opposing team -- they'll still be giving out just as many 4-finger salutes whenever 1st base is open, or whenever Barry represents the tying or winning run later in games. Barry bats cleanup, and M. Alou was brought in specifically for another big bat in the lineup to "protect" Bonds.

So, what does that leave us with? The 3rd spot, and a lot of candidates. It is pretty important to the Giants run production to have the right player hitting before Bonds -- with men on base, the 3rd hitter has three reponsibilities, especially with less than two outs: 1) don't blow it for Barry by hitting into a double play, 2) get on base for Barry, but don't blow it by getting picked off, and 3) drive the runners in if you can...but don't blow it for Barry. With nobody on base, the 3rd hitter is almost like a leadoff man -- he's essentially a tablesetter.

With that in mind, let's compare five candidates and their suitability to hit in the 3rd spot. These five have either hit in that spot before, or have been seriously suggested to hit there: Ray Durham, J.T. Snow, Pedro Feliz, Marquis Grissom, and Edgardo Alfonzo.

The criteria I'll use to judge the candidates are the following: walks per plate appearance, slugging percentage (SLG), and ground ball to fly ball ratio (g/f ratio). Why these stats, you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked that question!

  • Walks per plate appearance is very important. The higher the number of walks per plate appearance, the better. Walks are necessary in front of Bonds. A walk occupies 1st base, eliminating the opposing team's cop-out of walking Bonds whenever 1st base is open. If men are on base, a walk will also clog the bases more, meaning it less likely the opposing manager will want to either walk the bases loaded, or walk a runner in to score (with the notable exception of Buck Showalter, of course).
  • Slugging percentage (SLG) is pretty important as well. Assuming that on occasion, the hitter in the 3rd hole will try to actually get a hit himself instead of leaving it up to Barry (oh, blasphemy!), we'll obviously want a guy with some pop so they can drive in runners from anywhere, thus taking some of the onus off of Bonds.
  • Ground ball to flyball ratio (g/f ratio) is also critical. The lower the number, the better chance Barry will get to hit if the 3rd batter hits with less than two outs and there's runners on base. If there's a runner on first with the 3rd hitter up and one out, would you rather he hit a ground ball or fly ball with Bonds on deck? Personally, I became quite tired of watching A.J. Pierzynski both set the team record for and lead the league in double plays, so I'll go with a flyball, thank you very much.

So, without further ado (not that I was adoing anything in the first place), let's take a look at our probables. The first number will be their career stats, and the number in parentheses will be the same statistic, but only for 2004:

Ray Durham: 1 walk per 10.3 plate appearances (9.5), .435 SLG (.484), and a 1.32 g/f ratio (1.05)

J.T. Snow: 1 walk per 8.5 plate appearances (7.2), .433 SLG(.529), and a .93 g/f ratio (.92)

Edgardo Alfonzo: 1 walk per 10 plate appearances (12.5), .436 SLG (.407), and a .85 g/f ratio (.89)

Pedro Feliz: 1 walk per 24 plate appearances (23), .448 SLG (.485), and a 1.21 g/f ratio (1.26)

Marquis Grissom: 1 walk per 16.1 plate appearances (16.4), .417 SLG (.450), and a 1.40 g/f ratio (1.34)

So, what the heck does all that mean? First off, Marquis Grissom and Pedro Feliz are easily out of the equation. Too few walks, and too many ground balls. Alfonzo's walk rate and slugging were well below his career levels in 2004, taking him out of the running. Which leaves Ray Durham and J.T. Snow.

Ray Durham's name was bounced around for hitting in front of Bonds for much of last year (likely due to a small spike in his power numbers in 2004), and would not be a bad choice at all. However, I'll go with J.T. Snow.

Snow's beats out Durham in his walk rate for both his career and last season by a sizable amount, and generally has a greater tendency to hit flyballs than Durham (though Durham has done well making himself into a line drive hitter in recent years). The higher walk rate will help set the table for Barry, and Snow's better g/f ratio can help cut down on the inning-ending double plays that Marquis Grissom was so good at in the 3rd spot. Both Durham and Snow were well above their career SLG in 2004, but my observations lead me to believe Snow's resurgence last year (.958 OPS) was largely due to his placement in the 3rd spot after the All-Star Break. Snow later hit 2nd as well and did equally as well, but I don't think it's mere coincidence that Snow's season took off after being placed in front of Bonds in the order.

Snow does have one drawback, and that is a complete and utter lack of anything resembling footspeed (Snow and Andres Galaragga would be an entertaining, but lengthy footrace). However, when related to the game-changing offensive presence of Barry Bonds, this is actually not a bad thing. First off, Bonds is only average speed at best nowadays, so he won't exactly be running up Snow's back, and secondly, I don't really know if a fast guy in front of Bonds is always a good thing -- stretching a single into a double with Barry on-deck is a sure way to draw the boo-birds at SBC park.