Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Colorado: Be Wary of Tulo's New Deal

Reports are indicating that Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has signed a contract extension for 7 years, $134 million dollars.  He is already under contract with the Rockies through 2013, so the 7 year extension will keep him in Denver until 2020.  Over the next ten years, Tulo will make $157.75 million. That's Derek Jeter money for a shortstop (who Tulo has, in fact, been compared to).  Tulowitzki has been one of, if not the best, shortstop in baseball over the last couple years.  In 2009 and 2010, Tulo has a .305 average, a .379 on-base percentage, 59 homers and 187 RBI.  This past season, he led all shortstops in OBP (.381), homers (27) and RBI (95), while finishing second in average at .315.  He also won a Gold Glove in 2010.

So how is this a questionable deal for the Rockies?  They just signed one of the best in the game and the cornerstone of their franchise.  However, look at the two past megadeals that the Rockies have handed out.  Mike Hampton signed an 8 year, $121 million deal before the 2001 season. Backfired.  Todd Helton signed a 9 year, $141.5 million deal in 2001. Backfired (yes, Helton had some good seaons, but injuries have derailed his career and the Rockies were barely ever competitive during that contract except for 2007).  According to cbssports.com the Rockies 2010 payroll was the 16th highest in baseball at $84.2 million.  When Tulo's extension kicks in for the 2014 season, he will be payed $16 million just for that season and $20 million a season from 2015 to 2019 before making a base salary of $14 million in the final year of the contract.  $20 million is roughly 25% of the Rockies yearly payroll.  With how high baseball salaries are, it will be hard for the Rockies to put 24 quality players around Tulo in order to field a winning team.  Just as Hampton's deal and Helton's deal handicapped the Rockies, they may have just done the same thing by signing their franchise player to a hefty extension.  They may have a great player, but you shouldn't expect great teams in Denver during the next decade.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Best Catcher of All Time: Berra Over Bench

Yogi Berra is the best catcher of all-time, however Johnny Bench is a very, very close second.  Sometimes known better for his funny appearance or comical sayings, such as "baseball is 90 percent mental, the other half is physical."  Standing 5'8", Berra played 18 seasons for the New York Yankees from 1946 to 1963 and a very small part of one season for the New York Mets in 1965.  He won a record 10 World Series rings and was named an AL all-star 14 times.  He started off as a poor defensive catcher but developed into a great signal caller and handler of the pitching staff.  Bench, who played 17 seasons for the Reds, was probably a bit better defensive catcher.  However, their offensive stats were similar.  Here they are...

Berra's Stats

Bench's Stats

stats found at http://www.thebaseballpage.com/

Bench does have more homers and both he and Berra have similar on-base percentages and slugging percentages.  However, in roughly one hundred fewer at-bats, Berra has a batting average that is 18 points higher.  He also managed to record more RBI, more hits, and he scored more runs.  Overall, Bench and Berra have roughly the same offensive stats.

Berra wins because of his offensive prowess and his higher average than Bench.  Bench was better defensively, but Berra was no slouch behind the plate.  They both played well in the playoffs.  Berra won 10 rings as the leader of many great New York Teams, compared to Bench's two rings with the Big Red Machine Reds of the 1970s.  A lot of people would put Bench ahead of Berra, but in my opinion the best catcher is Berra, all the way.

Stay tuned as I'll eventually get to the best players at every position.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Marlins Could Benefit from Signing Vazquez

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that Javier Vazquez has reached a one year deal with the Florida Marlins for a reported $7 million dollars.  Vazquez was 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA for the Yankees this past
season, and towards the end of the season was actually pulled out of the team's starting rotation.  However, this still could be a good deal for the Marlins.  The last time Vazquez pitched in the NL, for the Braves in 2009, he was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 219.1 innings (he was also fourth in Cy Young voting).  The first time Vazquez pitched in New York in 2004, he couldn't perform under intense pressure.  The same happened this season with the Yankees and I think the move back to the NL is going to help big time.  Vazquez will be closer to his home in Puerto Rico, meaning less travel for his family (this was one reason he wanted a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005).  Florida offers much less pressure than NYC, and Vazquez should be comfortable enough to have a much better season than in 2010.  Also, for Florida, $7 million dollars won't break the bank, so if the Vazquez doesn't work out the Marlins won't be wasting much.  If Vazquez pitches well, however, the Marlins may have made one of the best pick-ups of the offseason.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Top 10 Free Agents Left on the Market

While a few good free agents have already been signed (Victor Martinez by the Tigers, Hiroki Kuroda was resigned by the Dodgers, Joaquin Benoit by the Tigers) there is plenty of great free agent talent left out on the market.  I'm not including Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera on this list because I'm going to go out on a limb and assume they are signing with the Yankees.  Here are the top 10 still available...

1. Cliff Lee- This spot on the list was pretty obvious.  Whoever signs Cliff Lee gets the best pitcher on the market and one of the best postseason pitchers in the last generation.  From 2008 to 2010 he went 48-25 with a 2.98 ERA with a WHIP of 1.12.  In the postseason he is 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA.  He will probably get at least $125 million from the team that signs him.

2. Carl Crawford- Not many people would disagree that Crawford is the best position player on the market.  Just look at his stats from last year and they tell you why.  He hit .307, with 19 homers, 90 RBI, 110 runs and 47 stolen bases, not to mention that he's great defensively.  Who wouldn't want him?

3. Adam Dunn- You aren't going to get a high average or good defense, but you will get a guy who consistenly mashes the ball.  Dunn's 162 game avg. for homers is 40 per season and he averages 98 RBI per season.  With those stats, who cares that he can't really play any position well or that he averages 183 strikeouts over 162 games.

4. Jayson Werth- He is behind Dunn only because Dunn has been a consistent producer for a lot longer than Werth.  Over the last 3 years though, Werth has produced at a high level.  He has averaged 150 games, 29 homers, 84 RBI, and 29 doubles.  He is also fast and above average defensively.  The question is, as a late bloomer, is a big contract warranted?

5. Adrian Beltre- He had a huge bounce back season in 2010, hitting .321 with 28 homers, 102 RBI and 49 doubles.  Fenway park was the perfect place for Beltre to play in order to have a big season, but will that season lead to a team overpaying him?

6. Rafael Soriano- As the closer for the Rays last season, Soriano recorded 45 saves in 48 chances.  He also had a spectacular 1.73 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP (walks/hits per inning pitched).  Teams be wary: Soriano's agent Scott Boras seems to think a 4 year contract is a good starting point.

7. Paul Konerko- Yes, he is in his mid-thirties and the bat speed may begin to slow down pretty soon, but he did hit .312 with 39 big flies and 111 RBI last year.  I wouldn't sign him to a long-term deal, but a one or two year contract would be worth it.

8. Derrek Lee- His average did drop from .306 in 2009 to .260 in 2010, but Lee did end the season well, hitting .287 after his trade to the Braves.  Still has the power to be a good option at first base.

9. Carlos Pena- People scoff at the .196 average from last year, and yes, his average has declined in each of the last 4 years.  However, he's a good clubhouse influence, he still managed a .325 on-base percentage and he still hits bombs.

10. Carl Pavano- We all remember his horrendous stay in the Big Apple a few years ago, but Pavano had a good 2010, going 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA.  He also was an innings-eater, throwing 221 innings for the Twins in 2010.

Sleepers: Watch out for these guys
Manny Ramirez- Can't defend and costs a lot, but there are teams that may be desperate enough to sign him.
Kerry Wood- Long injury history, but pitched well with in NY after he was traded to the Yankees.
Jim Thome- Yeah, he's forty.  He also hit 25 jacks last season.
Magglio Ordonez- Hitting over .300 before injury ended his season.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving: Time for Great Food and Great Deals

I hope everyone out there is having a great Thanksgiving.  It's currently halftime between the Pats and the Lions, so I thought this would be a good time to post, before I'm in a food coma later.  While baseball season may be over, every team's front office is working overtime to make sure they can get the best players for the upcoming 2011 season.  Thanksgiving often has offered a great opportunity for teams to make some deals.

The most famous Thanksgiving incident probably occured in 2003.  Theo Epstein, the GM of the Red Sox, and Larry Lucchino, the CEO, visited Curt Schilling in Phoenix in order to convince him to waive his no-trade clause from his contract.  We all know what happened next.  Curt waived the no-trade clause and went to Boston.  The Diamondbacks got Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and minor leaguers Jorge de la Rosa and Michael Goss.  Winner... Red Sox.  Schilling went on to go 21-6 in 2004 for the Sox and after the bloody sock ordeal in the playoffs, Boston was the World Series champion for the first time since 1986.

In 2005, the Sox made another great Thanksgiving decision.  In a deal with the Florida Marlins, the Sox picked up pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell.  Yes, they did have to give up eventual superstar Hanley Ramirez, but in 2007 the Sox won another World Series and Lowell was the World Series MVP.

What will happen this Turkey Day?  Who knows.  Maybe a GM has something up his sleeve.  We'll just have to wait and find out.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jeter Getting Shafted by Yankees?

Anyone who knows me understands that I absolutely hate the New York Yankees.  It's a level of hatred that I reserve for few things, but the Yanks reach that level.  I hate A-Fraud, Texeira, Posada, etc., but I can't say that about Derek Jeter.  Jeter has proven to be a class act, and anyone who truly hates Jeter just says that because he his is the face of the Yankees.  He hasn't done anything except excel on the field and represent the Yankees with class, which is why the way the Yankees are handling Jeter's current contract negotiation is extremely questionable.  GM Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com that "we understand his contributions to the franchise and our offer has taken them into account.  We've encouraged him to test the market and see if there's something he would prefer other than this.  If he can, fine.  That's the way it works."  Uhm, HELLO.  We're talking about the modern day Joe DiMaggio.  Jeter has a .317 career batting average, almost 3,000 career hits (he is the Yankees record holder for hits and has the most hits by any shortstop, ever), has been selected to 11 all-star games, won 5 gold gloves, 5 world series and is the Yankee captain.  Yes, his average did drop from .334 in 2009 to .270 last year.  He also had 8 fewer homers and an on-base percentage that was 66 points lower than the previous year.  Yes, baseball is a business, and the Yankees don't want to pay a player who is probably starting to decline (Jeter is 36).  However, sometimes all that needs to get thrown out the window.  Jeter is one of the best Yankees ever, and probably still has a lot to offer the Yankees, both on the field and off the field.  Letting him go would be a major mistake by the Yankees.  Plus, Jeter in another uniform would just look weird.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Victor Martinez Becomes a Tiger

Earlier today Victor Martinez agreed to a 4 year, $50 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, leaving the Red Sox after a season and a half in Boston.  He will most likely platoon at catcher with 23 year-old Alex Avila and serve as the DH when he isn't behind the plate.  Last season for Boston Martinez played 127 games, hitting .302 with 20 homers, 32 doubles and 79 RBI.  Throughout his career, he has been one of the best offensive backstops in the game.  However, any team with Martinez behind the plate loses a lot defensively, as he barely throws out any runners on the basepaths.

So are the Red Sox missing out, or did GM Theo Epstein make a good decision by letting Victor walk?  4 years, $50 million dollars is a lot for a 32 year-old catcher who isn't very good defensively.  However, losing Victor's offense could do some damage to the Red Sox lineup.  Right now, the catcher that would be penciled into the Sox Opening Day lineup is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who in four seasons has just over 800 at-bats and a career average of .248.  Not exactly up to Victor Martinez standards.  However, if Theo can resign Adrian Beltre to play third base (2010: .321 avg., 28 HR, 49 2B, .553 SLG) and can sign someone like Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford, fans might not have as many questions about letting Victor walk.  Also, because Martinez is a Type A free agent, the Red Sox receive the Tigers 19th overall pick in next year's draft.  This could end up being a very good development for the Red Sox, but they need to sign someone to take Martinez's place in the middle of the lineup.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bryce Harper is an Absolute Stud

It was inevitable that I would write about Bryce Harper at somepoint, and today is the day.  Harper, if he follows projections, should be a star in the majors.  He's only 18 and should be a senior in high school, but he left high school after his sophmore year and got his GED.  In his one season at the College of Southern Nevada (juco), he hit 31 home runs and had 98 RBI in 66 games.  He had a .443 batting average, a .526 on-base percentage, and a .987 slugging percentage.  He was drafted number one overall in this year's MLB draft and signed a 5 year deal worth $9.9 million with the Nationals.

Harper recently finished his season in the Arizona Fall League, where many of baseball's top prospects play every fall.  In his first taste of professional baseball (as the second youngest player ever to participate in the AFL) he hit .343 with 1 homer, 3 doubles, and 2 triples in only 35 at-bats.  He was only allowed to play in two games a week, but he did a lot of damage in such a small amount of time.  With an on-base percentage over .400 and a slugging percentage of .629 against competition that good, Harper showed why he is so highly touted.  Scouts believe that if he keeps playing like this, he could end next season as high as Double A.  He would only be 19.  Are you kidding me?  Here is a link to his first pro homer in the AFL.  It's a bomb and the right fielder doesn't even move.  Can't wait to see Harper in the bigs.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two Free Agents to Ponder

The end of today’s Baseball Notes section in the Boston Globe included updates on nine players, two of which are current and intriguing free agents.  Number one is Mark Prior, who tore his labrum (definitely not his first setback) three years ago and is still trying to get back to the bigs.  He was the second overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Cubs (behind the best catcher and possibly the nicest guy in the game, Joe Mauer) and last pitched in the majors for Chicago in 2006.  When he was only 22 in 2003 he went 18-6 and helped lead the Cubs to the NLCS.  He was anointed as the next Cubs great, only to have is career ruined by injuries and also probably by overuse from former Chicago manager Dusty Baker.  This would be a spectacular comeback.  Prior pitched 11 innings without giving up an earned run for the Ocean County Flyers of the independent Golden League this past season, striking out 22 and giving up only 5 hits along the way.  Three teams are said to be awaiting a decision from the former ace.  Hopefully everyone still has their #22 Prior shirts tucked away in their closets, I still rock mine on a regular basis.
The second intriguing free agent is the man formerly known as Jesus, Johnny Damon.  Formerly beloved by Red Sox Nation, Damon then left the Red Sox for the Evil Empire in New York.  The Globe reported, however, that Damon said “Boston would now be a good spot” when asked about his future.  Last season, Damon nixed a chance to return to the Sox at the trade deadline, so Boston fans probably wouldn’t jump back on the Damon bandwagon too quickly.  Last season, in 145 games for Detroit, Damon hit .271 with 8 homers and 51 RBI.  He just recently turned 37 and is probably only good enough now to be a glorified fourth outfielder.  Sox GM Theo Epstein should pass on Damon, and focus his efforts on filling outfield holes with younger and better talent such as Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth.  Damon is too much of a liability, especially for the money they would most likely be paying him.

Great News for the Indians (No, That isn't a Joke)

The Cleveland Indians don't get a lot of good news these days, but South Korea's baseball gold medal at the Asian Games on Friday is just that.  Why?  The win gives all the players on the South Korean roster a waiver from the required two years of military service in their home country, including Indians star Shin-Soo Choo.  The 28 year-old outfielder would have been required to leave the team to start his military service this upcoming year, as the requirement stipulates that the two year stint must be completed by the age of 30.  Choo was a big reason that the South Korean team won the gold, as he went 8-14 with three homers, 11 RBI and eight runs scored during the Asian Games.

Choo is one of the more underrated players in Major League Baseball.  Last season, in only his second full season in the majors, Choo hit .300 with 22 homers, 22 stolen bases, a .401 OBP and 90 RBI.  He has a career .297 average.  Besides Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, Choo may be the best Asian position player in baseball.  The Indians are currently working on long-term deal for Choo.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Wrigleyville Classic

I've only been watching the Northwestern vs. Illinois football game (battle for the Land of Lincoln Trophy) for about five minutes and it is already one of the coolest college sporting events I've ever watched.  Yeah being born in Illinois makes the match-up of the in-state rivals more compelling, but the fact that the game is being played at Wrigley Field makes the game a must watch.  Wrigley is my favorite stadium and a landmark of baseball and American sports.  This is the first football game at Wrigley since the Bears last played there in 1970.  The last college football game at Wrigley was played 72 years ago in 1938, between DePaul and St. Louis (neither school even has a football team anymore).  Northwestern vs. Illinois last took place at Wrigley in 1923.

Whoever proposed this idea needs a promotion.  The game has gotten tremendous buzz in Chicago and I'm thanking God that Trinity College has ESPN-U in its cable package.  Also, props to ESPN for sending College Gameday to Chicago for this week's show.  The only problem?  The famous Wrigley marquee was painted over from red to Northwestern purple.  I understand that the Ricketts family (the Cubs owners) wanted to promote the game, but come onnnnnnn.  The marquee... purple?  That's just sacrilegious.

If you want to check out another game at a baseball stadium tune into NBC at 7 pm tonight for Notre Dame vs. Army at Yankee Stadium.  Should be another great one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Expanded Playoffs Equals Terrible Idea

Yeah, so I'm a complete idiot.  You got a problem with that?

Commissioner Bud Selig wants to expand the playoffs for the 2012 season and apparently his idea was met with almost no opposition at this past weeks GM meetings.  Instead of one wildcard team from each league, there would be two.  They would meet in the playoffs to see which team would move on to the division series.  I guess Selig wants to make sure a good team doesn't get robbed of a playoff spot by being in a good division (and more revenue for the MLB wouldn't hurt, would it?), but this is utterly stupid.  Baseball already has problems with postseason TV ratings because the playoffs take so long and this is no remedy to that problem.

Here's a radical idea.  If Selig wants to make sure that the four best teams in each league make the playoffs, then baseball should get rid of divisions all together.  Keep the AL and the NL, but instead of three division winners and one wildcard, the teams with the four best records would make the playoffs from each league.  This allows for a more even schedule, instead of having teams play the other teams in their respective division more than anybody else.  Yes, this would ruin some interdivisional rivalries, but Yankees-Red Sox, Cubs-Cardinals, Dodgers-Giants and others would still survive.

There is probably only about a .5% chance that this will ever happen, as divisions and division races have become a staple of Major League Baseball.  I doubt many owners would agree to back a proposal like this, which means I might as well keep dreaming.  However, if Selig truly cared about making the playoffs better (and revenue wasn't always an issue), he would make sure we could count on always seeing the best teams, instead of expanding the playoffs to make them last longer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Best Baseball Movies

Being a huge baseball fan, I’m also a huge fan of baseball movies.  Here are some great flicks.  Angels in the Outfield, The Rookie, The Sandlot, A League of Their Own, Eight Men Out, Pride of the Yankees (I hate the Yankees, so this is saying something. Gehrig was just that awesome).  Those don’t even crack my top five.
5. The Natural

Starring Robert Redford, The Natural is considered a classic by many.  Redford plays Roy Hobbs, a player with a hazy past who, when he starts playing for the New York Knights, becomes an immediate star.  Mystery surrounds him and his bat Wonder Boy, which he made himself from a tree that was struck by lightning.  People try to uncover the truth behind Hobbs while waiting for him to finally fail.  The end is classic, as Hobbs beats the odds after his lucky bat breaks and still manages to hit a game winning bomb that shatters the lights. Maybe that’s a little too cliché, but who the hell doesn't want to see a massive tater knock out power to the entire stadium?
4. Major League

Absolutely hilarious. Period.  An ex-exotic dancer takes over as the owner of the Indians, and if they do badly enough she can move them to Florida (which is clearly warmer and a better location than Cleveland, OH).  She tries to make the Indians into the worst team possible by holding open tryouts and inviting baseball misfits.  Most of the players have problems of some sort.  Their third basemen cares more about money than playing, their catcher probably should be retired, their center fielder can’t hit (but he can run), and the pitcher with the best arm on the team has anger issues and can’t really see until the manager realizes that he needs glasses.  They eventually start to play well with the goal of making their owners plan blow up in her face and that leads them to a great season.  Definitely check out the Wild Thing theme song, it gives a hint of how bizarre (and AWESOME) the movie can get.
The Top Three: The Costner Classics
 3. Field of Dreams

If you don’t like this movie you can’t be considered a real baseball fan.  The classic line “If you build it, he will come,” leads to baseball players (specifically the 1919 Black Sox) materializing out of a cornfield and Costner’s character driving across the country in order to “kidnap” a famous writer from the 1960s and to find a doctor who didn’t quite get his chance in the Big Leagues.  Every time you watch Field of Dreams, there is the possibility that you’ll catch something new that you didn’t notice before.  Total classic.  If you don’t like it, you should keep your opinion to yourself.
2. For Love of the Game

This isn’t as well known as many other baseball movies, but for avid baseball fans, Costner strikes more gold.  He plays Billy Chapel, an aging pitcher for the Tigers who gets one last chance to pitch at Yankee Stadium.  He has to decide whether he wants to retire, as he finds out before the game that the current owner is selling the team and the new owners would trade him from the team for which he has played his whole career.  His on-again, off-again girlfriend is leaving for London, and throughout the movie, which spans the length of that last game, he reminisces about his life and the choices he’s made.  Great movie about life and the dedication to baseball.  oh and I almost forgot, the last game is a perfect game.  Not bad.  In the words of the announcer at the end of the game… “this cathedral belongs to a chapel.” Definitely check it out.
1. Bull Durham

Last but not least, the best Costner Classic of all, Bull Durham.  Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon make this movie easily the best baseball movie of all time.  Costner plays Crash Davis, a minor league veteran who is picked up by the Durham Bulls in order to teach Tim Robbin’s character “Nuke” LaLoosh the ropes of pro ball.  Saradon plays the woman interest for both men, and makes life for both of them much more complicated.  This is another absolutely hilarious baseball comedy and one that I can watch over and over again and still find enjoyable.
So there you have it.  Let’s just say that Kevin Costner is hands down the king of baseball movies.  Tip of the cap to you, Kev.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On This Day In Baseball... and Other Current Baseball News

November 17th, 1971: 22 year-old Vida Blue of the A's wins the MVP award, becoming the youngest player to do so.  He also wins the Cy Young award that year.  At the time, the lefty was only the fourth pitcher ever to win both in the same season.  Here are his stats from the 1971 season...

24 8 .750 39 39 24 8 0 312 88 301 1.82 0.952
stats from baseball-reference.com

Six American League pitchers have won both the Cy Young and MVP Awards in the same year:
Denny McClain in 1968
Vida Blue in 1971
Rollie Fingers in 1981
Willie Hernandez in 1984
Roger Clemens in 1986
Dennis Eckersly in 1992

Speaking of Cy Young Awards, Congrats to Roy Halladay for his selection as the winner of the National League Cy Young Award.  It was a unanimous decision and he became only the fifth pitcher to win the award in both the AL and the NL.  He went 21-10 on the season, leading the NL in wins.  He also recorded a 2.44 ERA, 219 strikeouts and led the league in innings pitched with 250, complete games with 9, and shutouts with 4.  Absolutely nuts.  Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals finished second and Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies was third.  That is right where they deserved to be.  Halladay anchored the pitching staff of the team with the best record in baseball and became only the 20th pitcher ever to throw a perfect game.  If this hadn't been a unanimous decision, there would have needed to be an investigation into who didn't give Halladay a first place vote, and they would have needed to have their voting rights revoked.


Lastly, Congrats to Padres manager Bud Black and and Twins Manager Rod Gardenhire for winning the Manager of the Year awards in the NL and AL, respectively.  Too bad the two managers of the teams in the World Series, Bruce Bochy of the Giants and Ron Washington of the Rangers, GOT ROBBED. Excuse me, but Bochy's Giants won the NL West over Black's Padres (who sucked down the home stretch) and Washington's Rangers were never have been considered playoff contenders at the beginning of the season, unlike Gardenhire's Twins.  Bochy finished a distant third in the NL voting, Washington finished second in the AL.  Total travesty.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On This Day In Baseball...

On November 16th, 1961 Ray Gatto unveiled his design for the Mets logo.  The colors represent the Dodgers and Giants, who had both recently left New York for Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The design is also supposed to represent all five boroughs of the city.  Beginning play as an expansion team in the 1962 season, the Mets posted a 40-120 record, one of the worst in the history of the game.  However, they only took 7 seasons to win their first World Series as the Tom Seaver and the Miracle Mets won the 1969 World Series against the favored Baltimore Orioles

Rookie of the Year Votes are in... and the Voters Messed Up the National League

The winners of the Rookie of the Year awards were announced yesterday and both winners, Buster Posey of the Giants in the NL and Neftali Feliz of the Rangers in the AL, won easily over their first-year counterparts.  Great job by the voters in the AL, seeing as Feliz really had no competition for the award.  Granted, Austin Jackson of the Tigers (not exactly a great ballclub) hit .293 with 27 stolen bases and an OBP of .345, but Feliz recorded 40 saves for the first place Rangers (blowing only 3), struck out 71 in 69.1 innings, and had an ERA of 2.73.  Oh yeah, opponents only hit .176 off him and his WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) was a spectacular 0.88. Nuts.  Feliz received 20 first place votes on 28 ballots.  Can’t really say anything bad about this choice, except why the hell did 8 voters not give Feliz their place votes.  I’m assuming they all live in the Detroit metro area.
I do have a problem with the NL voting.  They got the wrong guy, and by a wide margin.  Yes, Posey had a spectacular season, and he managed to hit the same number of homeruns (18), record only five fewer RBI (67 to Jason Heyward’s 72), and hit .305 (compared to Heyward’s .277) in 114 fewer at-bats than Atlanta Brave rookie Jason Heyward.  Both the Braves and Giants made the playoffs, with the Giants winning the World Series, of course.
However, some important statistics separate Heyward and Posey.  First off, Heyward was the Braves Opening Day right fielder (he also happened to crush a 463 foot bomb in his first career at-bat off Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano), while Posey was not called up until late May.  Playing 34 more games than Posey, Heyward was able to record the 4th highest on base percentage in the entire national league at .393.  That fell behind only Joey Votto, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, respectively.  Heyward also drew 91 walks, which was tied with potential MVP Votto for 4th in the NL behind Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez.  Those 91 walks were also the third most ever for a player in his 20-age season (Heyward did not turn 21 until August).  The players with more at the same age?  Hall of Famers Mel Ott and Ted Williams.  Not bad company.  While there is definitely a case for Posey, the younger Heyward would have gotten my vote.
We should expect Heyward to have a ridiculously good career. Let’s compare Heyward’s fist year stats to another rookie of the same age…
134 G, 623 PA, 520 AB, 83 R, 18 HR, 72 RBI, 91 BB, 128 K, .277 BA/.393 OBP/.456 SLG, 131 OPS+  
Rookie X:
122 G, 509 PA, 468 AB, 58 R, 13 HR, 69 RBIs, 28 BB, 39 K, .280 BA/.322 OBP/.447 SLG, 104 OPS+
Whose rookie X, you ask?  It happens to be Hank Aaron and his stats from his rookie year in 1954.  Heyward can easily be compared to the best Brave of all time, who is also one of the best players of all time and the rightful Homerun King.  Not bad for one year in the Bigs.  Hopefully Heyward can stay healthy and continue to follow the same trajectory that Hammerin’ Hank did.  Big shoes to fill, but Heyward definitely has a shot.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Day in Baseball- Yaz

This is the second post of the day, but definitely worthy of your attention.  On November 15th, 1967 Carl Yastrzemski was named the AL MVP.  He is still the last person to hit for the Triple Crown, finishing the year with a .326 batting average, 44 homers, and 121 RBI.  Considered one of the best Red Sox of all time, in 23 seasons he finished his career with a .285 batting average, 452 homers, and 3419 hits.  The case could be made that he is one of the best outfielders of all time.  Maybe he isn't quite in the class of Ruth, Mays and Aaron, but not many outfielders are.  Its saying something that no one has been able to accomplish what Yaz did, a Triple Crown, in the last 43 years.  Here's a video of Yaz highlights.  Definitely mute the music unless you like Evanescence.  Personally, I'd rather listen to nails on a chalkboard.


Sandberg to the Iron Pigs?

So seeing as this is my first post, I might as well let everyone know that I'm a phanatical Chicago Cubs fan.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  This is typically when I'd hear "oh, I'm sorry to hear that" or "ha, wonder when they'll finally win a world series" or even "Cubs suck, but Wrigley sure is nice isn't it?"  Such is life as a Cubs fan.  Your team has one of the biggest following in the big leagues and you get to watch games in the possibly the nicest stadium in all of baseball, yet every year ownership spends a ridiculous amount of money to field a loser.  Again, Wrigley sure is nice isn't it?

A few weeks ago, the Ricketts family made their first big move of their ownership regime, naming former third base coach and interim manager Mike Quade as their new manager for the 2011 season.  Left in the dust was Cubs great Ryne Sandberg, who was considered a strong candidate for the job.  Today, Sandberg was hired as the new manager for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. WAIT... instead of managing in Wrigley Field next year, Sandberg gets to manage at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania?  This is an absolute joke.  Sandberg did everything he was asked to do by the Cubs.  The Ricketts family and Quade should have done everything possible to keep Sandberg in the organization.  Yeah, Quade turned the Cubs around enough in the second half to warrant his promotion, but its RYNO! The guy knows the Cubs in and out and he needs to be around.  Here's to hoping that somehow Ryno finds his way back to the Friendly Confines.  If he doesn't, its the Ricketts family's fault and we better not be missing out on something great.