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Thursday, May 31, 2007

An Interesting Intersection of Real and Fantasy

So I was doing a little research the other day and came to a surprising and interesting realization. There are 14 players in the AL that have the majority of their games played at DH. In the fantasy context, that means that in most leagues, including the AL-only league I'm in, these players will be eligible to be drafted ONLY at DH. Last year there were eight such players, and they are all on pace again.

Here's the list:

F. Thomas, TOR
D. Ortiz, BOS
J. Vidro, SEA
T. Hafner, CLE
G. Sheffield, DET
J. Giambi, NYY
M. Sweeney, KC
S. Hillenbrand, ANA
S. Sosa, TEX
J. Thome, CWS
M. Piazza, OAK
J. Cust, OAK
M. Cirillo, MIN
J. Gomes, TB

Some of these names are an interesting study in themselves. Sosa has 13 games in the OF, he almost certainly will get enough time in the OF. Will Gomes or Cirillo even matter enough to be drafted next year? When Piazza comes back and Cust is still hitting, does Piazza catch enough games to qualify there, or does Cust have to stumble around in the OF for the A's? Time will tell. One thing we do know is that everyone else on the list will only play on the field during interleague play, if then.

So on to the two points I want to make out of all this.

1) Isn't it time to make DH a position to be voted on for AL All-Star? These guys don't play in the field. Five of the 14 haven't put a glove on yet. Seven have played less than five games in the field. These guys ARE DHs. That's their position. Put them on the permanent ballot. It's ludacris (intentional) that Ortiz is listed at 1B for BOS on the ballot and Youkilis is no where to be found. Youkilis could be hitting .400 and not be voted as an all-star. Who cares that you'd vote for 9 positions in the AL and 8 in the NL?

2) There in one team in the AL that does not have a "permanent" DH. That's right, your Baltimore Orioles. Millar/Huff/Gibbons all have plenty of DH appearances, but only Millar has more games at DH than in the field, and that's only by 4 games. He'll make that up. He is, unfortunately, the O's best defensive 1B-not counting Chris Gomez, which makes me even with Sam Perlozzo. So if every other team is doing it, does that make what the O's are doing wrong? Looking at the numbers, the O's DHs rank 12th in average, 12th in on-base pct, 9th in slugging, 6th in homers, 11th in RBIs and 11th in runs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Police Kick Off Tour

I know this has nothing to do with baseball, but I did make the caveat when I started that I would throw in other things as I saw fit, and I see fit on this. I can't freaking wait to see The Police. Here's the set list from last night's show in Vancouver:

Message In A Bottle
Synchronicity II
Spirits in the Material World
Voices Inside My Head
When The World Is Running Down
Don't Stand So Close To Me
Driven To Tears
Walking On the Moon
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Murder By Numbers
De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You

King Of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take
Next To You

Are you kidding me!?!

Friday, May 18, 2007

What's Happened to Miguel Tejada?

Miguel Tejada said in the paper this week that he "isn't a power hitter". That may be true, and the recent stats certainly back him up on it. But it wasn't always true. In fact, for several years he was a classic power hitter. Let's take a look:

1999: .251/.325/.427, 21 HR, 84 RBI
2000: .275/.349/.479, 30 HR, 102 RBI
2001: .267/.326/.476, 31 HR, 113 RBI
2002: .308/.354/.508, 34 HR, 131 RBI
2003: .278/.336/.472, 27 HR, 106 RBI
2004: .311/.360/.534, 34 HR, 150 RBI
2005: .304/.349/.515, 26 HR, 98 RBI
2006: .330/.379/.498, 24 HR, 100 RBI
2007: .309/.365/.383, 2 HR, 18 RBI

High home run totals? Check. High RBI totals? Check. Decent average, middling on base percentage? Check. All these things, combined with the fact he plays shortstop? That's a really valuable player.

But his power has dropped precipitously since mid-2005, the summer of his 29th birthday. So I don't think we can account for the loss of power due to age yet. By all reasonable estimations he should be in the prime of his career, especially considering the outstanding numbers he put up in ages 23-29.

In the first half of 2005, Tejada was putting up some great numbers. Through June 18 he'd hit .320/.366/.636 with 19 HR and 55 RBI in 292 plate appearances, clearly on his way to a career year, even better than his MVP year of 2002. Since becoming a regular player Tejada has averaged roughly 700 plate appearances per season. As of June 18, 2005 he was on pace for 45 HR and 132 RBI. So what happened? In 412 plate appearances the rest of the way, he hit 7 HR and 43 RBI. And I posted the numbers for 2006 and so far this year above.

So the questions stands, "What's happened to Miguel Tejada" from June 19, 2005 to present that makes him a completely different player than the previous six and a half seasons?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Speaking Worlds About Where the O's Belong on Baseball's Food Chain

Here's the quote that tells the story about yesterday's debacle for the O's from

"Me and Tim Wakefield looked at each other on the bench in the ninth inning when they took Guthrie out, and we said, 'We're going to win this game,'" said Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, who allowed two runs in four innings before leaving with irritation to the skin of his right middle finger. "We both believed it."

There's much to be disheartened about here. First, if it's true as the story implies that Perlozzo told Guthrie that if a runner reached against him in the ninth--despite having given up only two hits and two walks all game--he'd be lifted, well, Sam, that's just unacceptable. Basically you've already made a decision based upon no factual evidence. It was a dropped pop-up. The only difference between that and an out is execution. It shows no confidence in ANY of your players to lift Guthrie at that point. Even if the next batter were to homer against him, he still pitched a HELL of a game for a guy making his third start, and you still have a three-run lead. You then have permission to go get the closer to save the game, Sam, with no runners on and no bad feelings and without inviting blame against yourself.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Shawn Hill must go...on the DL, that is

We attended the game last night, sitting in our actual seats behind home plate in the upper deck, section 422, row 3. First off, what did the aliens do with the real Cristian Guzman? He actually looked replacement level last night! That will be it for my attempt at comedy this morning.

Shawn Hill looked great again, of course until halting his warm-ups for the sixth inning. We waited around after the game and got some autographs, and Hill was one of the last players out. After saying good night and hugging all 30 or so family members he had in for the game, he actually came of the the half-dozen of us left and signed and talked with us. He said he was sore, but not alarmingly. During that last warm-up he said he felt a twinge that ran from his elbow up his forearm a little and decided that he shouldn't continue. He said the tests (he didn't say MRI) showed nothing structural, just inflammation and that he should be ready after the 15 DL stint. We got it straight from the horses mouth.

Big thanks to Hill coming over to talk with us, stand up guy after leaving the game hurt. Hopefully last night's diagnosis is correct and he'll be back on the "hill" in two weeks. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Oh No!!!

I'm imagining this, right? Right?!?

Monday, May 7, 2007

I'm Just Sayin'

The Nats tonight have four players on their bench with an average less than .138.

Power Failure

It's beginning to look like the O's "braintrust" was wrong. Again. The now-famous $42M they spent overhauling their embattled bullpen from last year is simply an exercise in throwing more bad money out the window. This isn't a chicken-and-egg thing here. You have to have a lead to protect it. The O's simply don't have enough hitting to justify having a roughly $45M bullpen.

Today's game notwithstanding, Baez, Walker, Bradford and Williamson have pitched fairly effectively. But that's not the point. The trouble with the Orioles right now is a jarring lack of offensive firepower. The O's as a team have 24 home runs, fourth worst in the AL, but they have 63 doubles, good for 4th in the league. They have scored 136 runs, tied for 6th worst. But they are right in the middle of the pack in batting average and on-base percentage. What does all this tell us? Simply, the O's have a bunch of guys with medium power, playing station-to-station baseball, unable to sustain big innings and knock starters out of games early enough to do damage to shaky bullpens.

It's this simple: it's better to hit a three-run homer than to string together enough singles and doubles to score those same three runs. And the O's just don't have that guy. They really, really lack that scary bat in the middle of the line-up that opposing pitchers have to fear when they step up to the plate. Let's break 'em down:

Tejada: The team's "superstar", clearly the O's best player. Hitting .344/.396/.434 coming into today's game. I'm not going to discredit that at all. But he has only 5 doubles and two homers among his 42 hits this year, combined with his power outage post all-star break last year (17 HRs pre, 7 post), and you have the makings of a lead-off hitter that can't run.

Mora: .252/.343/.471 5 homers, 18 rbis to lead the club. Tampa's LEADOFF hitter has only one less rbi. Here's a guy whose average, on-base and slugging have all dropped each of the last three years. For this, he's rewarded with a 4 year-$25M contract.

Markakis: .250/.312/.403 3 homers, 18 rbis to share with Melvin. Until the past three days this was your 3-hole hitter. He may exceed expectations, but Baseball Prospectus says he's a .280-18-80 type of hitter. More suited for the 6-hole than number 3?

Gibbons: .188/.225/.282 Here's where it gets real ugly. Poor Jay. Great teammate, hard worker, community guy. Lousy hitter, lost all power, can't field, injury prone. Someone more cynical that I may note his downward spiral since his "career" year of 2003, his ever changing physique and his penchant for injury and make an unfounded allegation. I won't do that. Again, rewarded with 4 year, $21M contact last January.

Millar: .244/.375/.385 Don't get me started. Classic Millar last week, from "It is what it is right now. I am an employee here. If this is the direction that [manager] Sam Perlozzo wants to go right now, this is the direction that he is going to go. Numbers are numbers, computers are computers, and matchups are matchups. He is the manager. He makes the decisions. I got to live with them."

Huff: .246/.268./390 Slow-startin' Aubrey Huff. compares to Bobby Higginson. He's gonna give you .280-23-80. Just don't expect much of it in April or May. Like before it becomes irrelevant.

So in summation, I'd like to reiterate my point that in order to protect a lead and justify spending $42M on bullpen adjustments, a team must have said lead first. And this team just ain't built for it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Sheer Lunacy

That they would even consider making this change is irresponsible and irrational. Belliard is the team's LEADING FREAKING HITTER!!!

SAN DIEGO -- Cristian Guzman, on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, is scheduled to rejoin the Nationals in Milwaukee on Monday and start at shortstop that night.
Guzman has been playing extended Spring Training games since last week and hasn't had any problems on the field.

The move means that second baseman Ronnie Belliard will go back to the bench and Felipe Lopez will switch from shortstop to second base.

Belliard has done a very good job, leading the Nationals in hits with 31 and hitting .307 entering Tuesday's action. But manager Manny Acta pointed out that Guzman has two years left on his contract with the Nationals, and the skipper wants to see if Guzman can be the player that helped the Twins win three consecutive American League Central titles.

Guzman has struggled since signing a four-year, $16.8 million contract with Washington. He hit .219 in 142 games in 2005 and missed all of last season because of a right shoulder injury.

"Guzman is ours. We need to fix him," Acta said. "We need to see the player that was in Minnesota a couple of years ago, and I think he earned that right with the he kind of Spring Training that he had. We owe it to him to put him out there."

Besides being a backup second baseman, third baseman and shortstop, Belliard is expected to take ground balls at first base and back up Dmitri Young and Robert Fick.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

How To Fix Major League Baseball

MLB has problems. Some are fixable, others not so much. From where I sit, the steroids issue is working itself out, thanks to the U.S. Government. It might be a slow go, and too late to do anything about Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron, but I truly believe that we will know much more about who was doing what pretty soon.

What I'm more concerned about is competitive balance. It seems patently unfair that there are 16 teams in one league and 14 teams in the other, each competing for the same number of spots in the playoffs. It also seems patently unfair that the Red Sox and Yankees get to play 19 games each against the Orioles and the Rays. It also seems patently unfair that 53% of MLB plays under one set of rules and the other 47% a different set. Here are my suggestions, free of charge. You may consider some of this radical, but allow the logic to creep in.

What to Do:

1) Eliminate the two leagues. It's a sham anymore. With free agency, unbalanced schedules and interleague play there's almost no uniqueness (save for one, which I'll address later) to having two leagues, and it's absolutely impossible to judge teams against each other when nobody is playing a similar schedule.

2) Standardize the schedule. Arrange it so that teams that are competing for the same playoff spots are playing the same schedule. That seems fair, doesn't it?

3) Standardize the rules. Pick one: DH or No DH. It doesn't really matter. I would imagine standardizing would eliminate the DH, maybe the time has come. We don't need anymore scoring to make games interesting. The home run champ has come out of the NL eight out of the last ten years, so it looks like the DL has outlived its usefulness. But I really don't care. Pick one and stick with it.

How To Do It:

Set up the 30 MLB teams regionally into divisions of ten teams: East, Central and West as shown below:


Schedule eight games (two four-game series) against seven division teams for a total of 56 games, schedule nine games (three three-game series) against the remaining two division "rivals" for a total of 18 games, and schedule four games (two two-game series) against every other team in MLB, for a total of 80 games.

That totals 154 games, which used to be the standard schedule anyway, so it gives the purists something to hang their hats on. That spreads the mechandise (MLB talent) to every market in the game every year and provides for an almost balanced schedule. Those "rivals" games can be showcase games in your division, such as Yankees-Red Sox and Yankees-Mets. Cards-Cubs, Cards-Royals, Dodgers-Angels, Dodgers-Giants; you know, all those fun match-ups you just can't get enough of

Then, to make up for the missing week of regular season games, take each division winner and the next 13 best records and seed them all by record and have an sixteen-team playoff. Blasphemy, you say?!? P'shaw. What could be more exciting? But schedule the first two rounds just like the regular season, with no extra travel days. Start the series the Monday night right after the regular season, and play 2-2-3. Now that's home field advantage in the playoffs.