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Baseball Told the Right Way



In-Depth Baseball views with various topics regarding the sport we all love!



Updated: 2012-04-15T20:00:26.343-05:00

 



RIP

2010-08-09T17:35:18.203-05:00

(image)

You will be forever missed.



2009 Season almost here

2009-01-26T14:51:55.314-06:00

Well another year is upon us and there have been a ton of changes. What I have learned once again is:
  1. Yanks are trying to buy a championship
  2. Red Sox seem to always have the next big thing as far as rookies are concerned
  3. AL champs are still pretty strong and flying under the radar
  4. The AL Central is not talked about enough at all
  5. The Cubs managed to get the ownership right
  6. The Giants are trying to win a terrible NL West
  7. Texas will be bad again
This season is going to be a head turner and new players will emerge as stars. Many big name guys are still out there to be had and they may be forced to retire.

I guess we will see what the next few weeks brings us.


John



The Little Things Count Too

2008-06-02T17:17:22.744-05:00

Great article by Eric Neel (one of the few bright spots of ESPN) about the art of the pickoff move. An excerpt:

It's one of the real under-appreciated dramas in baseball. Each guy is lying about himself and trying to read the other, and the conclusion, whether it's a pickoff or a steal, comes with a sweet, stinging "gotcha" punch right in the gut. Think about the successful pickoffs you've seen at the ballpark; they're not just outs, they're exercises in shame and humiliation. Guys head back to the dugout with their heads down and taunts from the crowd ringing in their ears. Hits are common, strikeouts are cheap, but a pickoff is something to see.

I couldn't agree more. There is probablly nothing more embarrassing in sport. Its right up there with letting a ground ball through your legs or airballing a free thow. Considering the frequency with which the other two occur, I'd say getting picked off is as embarrassing as doing any of the others without any pants on.

Its also a lost art in Major League Baseball. The article mentions only Brian Anderson, Terry Mulholland, Kenny Rogers, Mark Buehrle, and Andy Pettitte (all lefties). There isn't really anybody else that can pick people off, and mostly these guys get by on reputation alone. I'm sure if someone (not me thank you very much) could find the average number of steal attempts off a pitcher, the numbers for these guys would be a tiny fraction of that. Even if one found the average number of steal attempts only off of lefties, these guys wouldn't even be close. You'd have to separate out the catchers effect (a lefty with Mike Piazza catching has no chance), but there is real, tangible value in not allowing baserunners to even think about stealing.

And besides the measurable effect of nobody stealing bases with a certain pitcher on the mound, think about the unmeasurable effect of having guys start with a two foot lead. And think about how many times when a good lefty is on the mound, the runner at first takes a step back to first instead of getting a secondary lead as the pitch is thrown. Do you think that runner is going first to third on a single?

There are so many little things in baseball, so many underapreciated nuances that so many big name players ignore. Baserunning, defensive positioning, duking baserunners on balls in the gap, trash talk, the lost art of stealing signs. In these days, with the rise of statistical analysis, where more and more baseball is measurable, it sure seems that the small unmeasurable things are getting forgoteen more and more often.

Go ahead and Email Curt to tell him that Jose Canseco letting a ball bounce off his head for a home run was WAY more embarrassing.
Curt



So Its Been Awhile!

2008-01-07T15:20:35.242-06:00

Well a ton has happened in the baseball world since I last posted. The Cubs landed Fukudome...Clemans took roids...Rockies made the Series...So whats next...

Well tomorrow is the hall of fame voting and I want to take a second and plug Andre Dawson for playing the game the right way. He had more knee surgeries than I have ever seen and was always productive. Heres to you Hawk!

The Cubs are going to be sold and I hope that Mark Cuban gets a chance to but that team. He would be perfect for what the cubs are. I wanna hear the cubs up there with the Yankees and Red Sox when every free agent is available.

Lets see what happens

John




Check out this guy on the radio...

2006-12-15T22:00:27.160-06:00

http://www.pirateradio.com

goto sports...

Ed Bosco is the man with the plan!!!



John




Why not Pie?

2006-12-11T16:02:30.863-06:00

The Cubs are in search of a true centerfielder. Why not a home-grown talent? Felix Pie has been their most prized prospect since Mark Prior. He is a great five-tool talent who excelled at every level. If the Cubs fail to sign Kenny Lofton, a chicago favorite, Pie should be the answer.

Lofton is said to be close to signing with the Rangers to replace Gary Matthews Jr., another former Cub. Lofton sparked the 03' varsion of the Cubs to a second half surge and a well-storied trip to the playoffs.


John



The Bleachers

2006-02-09T12:38:11.280-06:00

So I am watching the news and a big topic is the Cubs expanding 1,800 seats in the bleachers. That really isn't a problem with me. The problem that I came across is the $60 dollar ticket price for premium bleacher seats. Part of the fun of getting bleacher seats is it is first come first serve. It sounds like the front few rows are now off limits. Either way, limiting your choices in the bleachers at Wrigley is a step in the wrong direction. Also, The Cubs are $30 million under their so-called "budget" and only one player is out there worth signing, Jeff Weaver. Problem is they went the cheap route in hopes that Wade Miller and Kerry Wood can equal 17 wins or so. I am sorry to say but Jim Hendery has totally taken a backseat to Kenny Williams. The latest rumor is Bobby Abreau for Jermaine Dye. If that happens, The White Sox are gonna be harder to beat than ever. I guess we'll just have to see what happens.


John



Things I thought were interesting...

2006-02-06T15:30:42.990-06:00

Rick Ankiel has a good shot at making the Cards opening day roster as a hitter. He belted 21 homers in the minors last season.

Kevin Appier is competing for a spot with the Mariners.

Andy Marte has been traded two times in seven weeks.

The Padres only have one player under 30 in their everyday lineup (Kahlil Greene).

Felix Diaz, formally a big White Sox prospect, is going to play in Japan.

Bobby Abreau may be traded to the south siders for Jermaine Dye.

David Kelton was not offered a contract by the Cubs and has caught on with another club.

The Devil Rays are still hoping that Josh Hamilton, former first overall draft-pick, will conquer his drug addiction.

More to come...

John



New Writers Wanted

2006-02-06T15:20:21.983-06:00

I am looking for new writers to contribue to the site. Let me know if you are intersted and shoot me an e-mail. hujman@aol.com
Thanks,
John



Juan Pierre....YESSSSSSSSSS!

2005-12-10T15:35:58.420-06:00

It'a about time that the loser Cubs decided to step into the mix and pick up a legitimate player. I have sat back quietly and witnessed the Cubs attepmt to land Rafel Furcal and be unsuccessful. Everyone in Chicago (except Sox fans) took a deep breath and fell back to reality. Just a few days later our beloved Jim Hendery fixed that situation and our best leadoff hitter ever fell in to our laps. Ill have more when I hear more.



John



What I've heard so far

2005-11-29T21:59:36.890-06:00

Ok here is a rundown on some hotsove talk:
Furcal is deciding between the Braves, Cubs, And Dodgers

Konerko is mulling offers from the O's, Angels, and White Sox

The Marlins are still looking to deal Juan Pierre...many suitors including the Cubs and Yankees

Nomar possibly to the A's as well as Frank Thomas

Damon to the Yankees...Bernie Williams to possibly retire

Giles offered big contract from the Jays

More to come

John



Im Baackkkkkkkk!!!

2005-11-29T21:47:22.410-06:00

OK let me start off with how I believe that the Whitesox made the correct decision in acquiring Peoria Jim Thome. First, I think Konerko is going to the Angels to be with his family out west. That's a huge power hole to fill which they already did. Second, Rowand reached his max potential. He has a slow bat. He is a great fielder who was robbed of a Gold-Glove to Torii Hunter, a guy that played half a season. Third, Thome has something to prove. He is older and is looking for a ring. He has dominated the Central before and will do so again. Just too bad he couldn't do it as a Cub. He offered to take a paycut three years ago but they said no. Now he will dominate the South side. Well, that's it for now. Ill be writing more often now.

And as for Curt...Where are you man?

John



BUY/SELL

2005-04-20T15:07:31.520-05:00

Fantasy Focus

With the season about two weeks old there have been many surprises. Here is some advice to go by…


Sell Now

Brian Roberts 2B Orioles – This guy is on pace for 70 homers. He only had four all of last season and has six as of today. There might be a guy who is desperate in your league for help at a weak second base position so try to get as much as you can.

Dontrelle Willis SP Marlins – He may yield great value and may get a superstar in return. I would look to trade him as soon as you can.

Pat Burrell Phillies OF – He is on a hot streak but that’s all it will be. I have had him the last two years and expect him to come back down to earth soon.

Buy Now

Kerry Wood Cubs SP – He has had a rough go of it lately with an ERA over six. People are pulling the trigger on him and aren’t asking for much in return. This could give you a huge boost as soon as Wood zones in.

Steve Finley Angels OF – He is notorious for slow starts. His career numbers in April are that of a .240 hitter. Last year he was released in our league and ended up a top 20 OF.

Lance Berkman Astros OF – Get him while he is cheap. This guy is a great fantasy player hitting in a fantasy hitters dream.

With that said there are quite a few guys out there on the waiver wire that should be considered.

Cesar Izturis Dodgers SS – He is hitting the ball all over the place and stealing bases, what more could you ask for.

Omar Visquel Giants SS – (See Izturis)

Ryan Franklin Mariners SP – Last outing had a complete game loss against the White Sox. I was at the game and if Paul Konerko didn’t hit two homeruns it would have been a shutout.

Dustin Hermanson White Sox RP – I predict a change in the closer role soon for the White Sox. Hermanson is the most consistant out of that bullpen so I look for him to take over soon.
This should be an interesting year!!!


John



I'll trade my trash for your trash.

2005-03-21T18:10:38.120-06:00

Dodgers trade Kaz Ishii and cash to the Mets for Jason Phillips.

The Mets needed a fifth starter (which they already had) and the Dodgers needed a catcher (which they didn't get). What's not to like about this trade.

Phillips had a great rookie year, hitting .298/.373/.442 in 403 ABs filling in at 1st in 2003. That was a great season, but anybody with a brain (and internet access) would have known that Phillips overacheived in David Newham-like proportions. In over 2000 minor league at bats, Phillips only hit .279/.347/.427. So it shouldn't have suprised the Mets when Phillips stunk up the place in 2004. The easy road would be to split the difference between 03 and 04 and say that Phillips is probablly about a .250/.320/.400 hitter in Shea Stadium. Not too bad for a catcher, and its much better than anything the Dodgers were expecting out of the Paul Bako/Cody Ross combo. Only Phillips isn't really a catcher. Or he is, in the same way Scott Hatteberg is a catcher.

So its a pretty low risk move for the Dodgers, as long as they aren't planning on having a decent glove behind the plate. They also lose Ishii's $3.2M salary in 2005, and they'll now avoid having to buy out his 2006 salary for $2.2M. They didn't need Ishii, and thats largely because Ishii isn't really any good.

It's true, the Mets have no need for Jason Phillips, so you can't blame them for dumping him when people still remember 2003. The problem is the Mets weren't dumping salary here, the Dodgers were. Phillips was practically free, and Ishii is not. Considering what the Mets will be paying Ishii over the next 1-2 years, they are getting negative value from this trade.

Not to mention Rick Peterson now has the task of fixing three pitchers this season. Glavine and Pedro will pretty much pitch themselves, but Peterson has already said he will fix Victor "The Wrong" Zambrano and Kris "Remember when I was the #1 Pick" Benson. Now he must take on the ominous task of fixing the only pitcher in Major League baseball who walks as many batters as he strikes out (98 BBs vs. 99 Ks in 2004). I mean at least Victor Zambrano strikes out some of the batters he doesn't walk.

The other problem I have, and the biggest one really, is the Mets have several replacements for Steve Traschel (out at least three months) that are probablly already better than Ishii. The Mets could run out Aaron Heilman, Matt Ginter, or Jae Seo (in that order) and most likely find 200 league average innings among them. With Ishii, they wont. They're guarranteed to find 200 nail biting innings. Nope, forget that, they wont get 200 innings from Ishii, because he'll be out of the rotation by the All-Star break.
Curt



But they are old.

2005-03-16T17:57:18.336-06:00

Good news. The Giants plan more action on the bases. As in stealing bases. Overly peeved at being dead last in MLB with only 44 team steals, manager Felipe Alou has vowed that the Giants will be running a lot more this year.

Only two problems:
1.) Nobody on the Giants can steal bases.
2.) Barry Bonds

Check out the Giants lineup and how many steals they each had last season. (Yes Felipe Alou has said Snow will bat third. I know, I know. He sucks.)
1. Ray Durham, 2B      10
2. Omar Vizquel, SS 19
3. J.T. Snow, 1B 4
4. Barry Bonds, LF 6
5. Moises Alou, RF 3
6. Edgardo Alfonzo, 3B 1
7. Marquis Grissom, CF 3
8. Mike Matheny, C 0
Durham and Grissom used to run, but are old and battle worn, and ought to do everything they can to avoid further injuries. Vizquel stole 19 bases, but he'll be lucky to replicate that at age 38. The Giants are just not a fast team. Why try to be something you're not? Shouldn't the Giants just come out and say they're going to try and play more bingo this year, or eat dinner really really early every night?

And the larger problem is, of course, Barry Bonds. If you run in front of Barry Bonds you are effectively taking the bat out of your best hitters hands. Even if one of the geriatric Giants makes it to second, the opposing pitcher will just walk Bonds. What a waste.

Let's look at this simply. Assume even in their late 30's Durham and Vizquel can still swipe a bag at a 75% success rate. Bonds moves them up to 2nd 60% of the time anyways, and 12% of the time he moves them past second with an extra-base hit. Even ignoring the times one of those 'speedy' top of the order types will be able to take third on a single, theres not much difference between the frequency Bonds will do the job at no risk to the oft injured hamstrings of Ray Durham. It's certainly not worth the invitation for the other team to walk Bonds.

Stealing second by a team like the Giants is idiotic. It makes no sense. Teams should play to their strengths. The Giants are an old, slow, mediocre offense with one superstar in the middle of the lineup. Running into outs at second and taking the bat out of Bonds' hands is like a really really smart, but ugly as sin girl (hair on her back and everything) deciding to quit school and marry into money. You have to undertand your limitations.

Why would people laugh if Luis Castillo (he of the career .354 slugging %) came out to say he was going hit more home runs this year? Or maybe its different, a home run is 400 feet away, while second base is only 90. It looks a lot more attainable, anyone can do it. Right?
Curt



Red Sox, Yankees...Red Sox, Yankees....

2005-03-15T18:08:09.590-06:00

I was reading the March 14th issue of Sports Illustrated on the plane ride home from Vegas yesterday (I practically own that town). In SI, theres some crazy bootleg article about a SI writer participating in a day of Blue Jays spring training. The article was pretty dumb, but it contained this lil nugget from Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi.
Red Sox, Yankees....Red Sox, Yankees....I don't care about the Red Sox and Yankees. We have to take care of ourselves. This is the most important year in the four years I've been here. This is your chance, from right now, to decide what kind of team you want to be.
I've always wondered what the leaders of teams tell their players when both players, management, and the fans know a team has absolutely no chance of playing baseball in October. Now I know, they try and cover their own asses.

I'll translate Ricciardi's statement for you:
Yeah, the Red Sox and Yankees will finish 1-2, making our chance of picking up even the Wild Card a negative number, but I don't care. I'm not here to win the division, I'm just trying to make this team respectable so they don't fire my sorry ass.
But as fans, we all know, just like Ricciardi knows, just like the Blue Jays players know: they don't have a chance.

The Blue Jays lost 90 games last year. The Blue Jays also lost their best player, Carlos Delgado, to free agency. The Blue Jays will attempt to replace Delgado's production with Shea Hillenbrand and Corey Koskie. The Blue Jays don't have a chance.

Other than Hillenbrand and Koskie, the Blue Jays won't be much different this season. I don't blame Ricciardi for going out and spending millions on free agents when he has to look up every day at the insurmountable obstacle the Red Sox and Yankees have become in the AL East. Ricciardi would get a pass. Would. If. Only.

Ricciardi would get a pass if only this were his first year at the helm. But Ricciardi has done nothing to improve the big league club since he being hired after the 2001 season. The minors? Too early to pass judgement, but their best (and most major league ready) prospects were drafted before he arrived.

And what good do the minor leagues do for a team when the General Manager displays absolutely no talent for finding contributing talent (whether it be cheap or expensive) at the major league level.

And to think, the Red Sox had an opening for a GM right around the time the Worcester native Riccairdi took the "challenge" up in Toronto. Red Sox, Yankees.....Red Sox, Yankees......
Curt



Over-hype, under-appreciation, and the perils of not thinking for yourself.

2005-03-06T15:35:33.323-06:00

On the eve of my first pilgrammage to the holy land I thought I'd take a look at the upcoming season through the eyes of a bettor. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on point of reference, those eyes are my own.The first thing to remember about sports betting is that its illegal and you should never do it. The second thing you should remember about sports betting is that the lines have nothing to do with who is going to win the games. That's not entirely true, but its a good rule of thumb to go by. The lines set by Vegas, or anywhere else, are more a direct result of where people are betting. A bookie wants the same amount of money bet on the dog as has been bet on the favorite. That way they make their cut, and no one group of bettors outweighs the other. So the line is set (and adjusted) based on the popular opinion among the betting community.Now some people may ask why its a good idea to go against the popular opinion. If everyone thinks the Yankees are the best team in the AL East, then isn't there a pretty good chance that they actually are?Nope. If you ask me, popular opinion is almost never right. If you were to ask a more rational person, and one who makes good money betting on sports, they would tell you that it might be right a good portion of the time, but the discrepancy between public opinion and the truth is where the money is to be made.To make a path in this world you have to be able to see truth, even when its clouded in a veil of ESPN hype and sports talk radio misinformation. And when I look at the Vegas line and see the New York Yankees futures odds to win the World Series set at 8/5, I have to shiver in my seat over all the millions of people who are so certain the Yankees will win the World Series that they don't even want to double their money with a bet.I mean do people really think the Yankees have a better than 2 to 1 chance of winning the World Series? Do people realize how long 162 games is? Do they realize how easy it would be for 41 year old Randy Johnson to break down like he did in 2003, Carl Pavano to get hurt like he has been every year except 2004, and Jaret Wright to just plain old suck like he did in every year except 2004? I'm not saying it will happen, but if it did, or even if some of them happened, the Yankees will have a difficult road ahead of them to even make the playoffs. Is that a sure thing? When a bet isn't even going to double my money if I make it, I better be sure that the odds of winning that bet are better than 50%. I wouldn't even give the Yankees a 30% chance of winning the World Series when I look at all the other very very good teams out there. On that note, the Red Sox are at 6 to 1 odds. Fair enough, I'm not even sure I like them at that since they play in the same division as the Yankees and have a legitimate shot of missing the playoffs even while being the second best team in baseball. But think about the difference in odds between the Red Sox and Yankees. And then consider the Mets, with the addition of Pedro and Beltran, and the development of David Wright into a legitimate superstar, but still a team full of question marks: tagged at 7 to 1.At least we know how many New York fans are betting.I'd like to have a site like ESPN.com or something, with millions of readers, whereby mentioning the atrociousness of betting on the Yankees I could influence people to the point where the lines would sneak back up to 3 or 4 to 1 (which is still a wretched bet). Think about it, there are probablly 7 or 8 teams that have a legitimate shot to win the World Series in any given year. Some of them we don't know about [...]



A graveyard is also a garden.

2005-02-28T22:41:05.180-06:00

And every spring........

What better way to start off March than a post about baseball. This space has been conspicuously vacant for the past month or so. No excuses needed, its the dead of winter, and college basketball is much too exciting. Thanks to the couple of people who wrote in to ask what was up. Basically to check to see if I was still alive. Which I am. Much to the chagrin of A-Rod, my elderly neighbors, and the U.S. Government

Back when John convinced me to start doing this, I didn't really expect this
site to be alive a full year later. But even during the offseason when there wasn't anything new here, the number of people stopping by tells me that its at least worth it for me to keep writing down my semi-sober rants. This confuses me somewhat, but I like it, thanks to everyone. The writing is sure to pick up in the next few weeks with spring training starting, and we might witness the re-birth of John, so keep checking in.

This will be our second season, and during the first, the Red Sox won the World Series.

Coincidence?

I don't care if it is, I'm not going to take the chance and stop now. And so, to get the second season started, here are a couple of fearless predictions I dare anyone to bet against,
  • The Milwaukee Brewers will not win the World Series.
  • Pedro Martinez will rip both the fans and media in Boston.
  • Neifi Perez will lose the batting title race.
  • Shawn Estes will not win a Cy Young.
  • Red Sox fans will be disappointed in 2005.
  • I will not pay face value for any tickets to Fenway this year.
  • For that matter, neither will you.
  • I will threaten to kill ESPN executives after the two weeks of over-hype leading up to the Cubs-Red Sox series in Wrigley.
  • The steroid scandal will not go away.
  • Neither will Barry Bonds
  • Neither will the Yankees.
I'd be willing to bet my life savings on any of those (and now that I've got a real job, that savings is almost in four-figures).

Here's a couple others that I wont bet it all on, but I feel pretty confident on my large stable limb,
  • The AL East will be a two team race by May.
  • Pedro Martinez will finish in the top 3 for NL Cy Young.
  • So will Tim Hudson.
  • Randy Johnson will have a lower ERA that Curt Schilling.
  • Curt Schilling will have more wins.
  • My east coast bias will only grow larger.
  • The Padres and Indians will be in the playoff race the entire year.
  • The Tigers will not.
  • Scott Kazmir will be more valuable than Victor "The Wrong" Zambrano.
  • Mets fans everywhere will be heard whining about their misfortune.
  • The Nationals will suck, change their name to the Grays, Jim Bowden will move the team to Cuba and lead a revolution from the mountains, bringing the tenets of OBP to the Cuban National team.
Okay, I lost you on that last one. Enjoy March Madness, remember its only good because baseball is in the back of your mind, and go Illini.
Curt



What to expect from the Cubs this season...

2005-02-23T14:25:23.673-06:00

So here comes another great season of Chicago Cubs baseball and following that are the expectations of a Word Series in Chicago. Is it realistic? Well, former Cub Broadcaster Steve Stone believes so. On the Score radio station in Chicago, Stone said he believes that the Cubs will walk away with the National League title this year. He says that the subtraction of Alou and Sosa are going to pay dividends when it comes to scoring more runs.

What do I think? Well Sosa has always been one of my favorite players but he has shown little or no interest to become a team player. Alou was also a fan favorite. I, personally, have never seen him smile before which cant be good in the clubhouse. Maybe it was all the chewing tobacco he had in his mouth. Another thing I like is that these two would play the worst defense out of any outfield combination that I have seen in recent memory. I am not sure but I think the total was like 12 errors from them combined. Alou was terrible on the base path, which is not characteristic for a 10-12 year veteran.

The bar has been set too high on Corey Patterson. He is a strike out machine that can’t realize he has to use his speed much more than hitting a homerun. If he decides to cut down on that hard swing his average and stolen bases should go up and the strikeouts and homeruns will decrease. That’s what they need with the lead off guy. Hairston may or may not play in left. If they try to put him in at 2nd I would not be happy if I was Todd Walker. He needs to have the security of knowing he will be in the lineup everyday.

Hollandsworth may have a great start but he probably will get hurt. I say they should make an offer for Aubrey Huff. He only struck out 74 times last season which means he should be a great RBI guy as shown by his 104 RBI last season. He also played in 157 games at multiple positions, which could prove great value. They need a prominent lefty on top of Walker and Burnitz. He fits the bill.

In addition to the offense, Pitching should be a plus. The Cubs only got 43 combined starts from Wood and Prior. That should increase to about 64, which would give the Cubs about 32 wins at least between the two. Wood has always been a .500 pitcher but Prior has the ability to win over 20. Maddux had another 16 win season along with Zambrano, but Maddux also had his worst ERA since his rookie season.

The bullpen is another question mark. Joe Borowski has said that he regained his velocity of a couple years ago. I'll believe it when he is getting people out. I am actually looking forward to Ryan Dempster as the closer. He reminds me of a Joe Nathan type that will not get rattled like LaTroy Hawkins visibly did last year. Then Hawkins will return to the Set-Up role which he is great at. They still might make a move for Urbina or someone else. Urbina is the more likely choice given the amount of arms in that Detroit bullpen. So will they win? Probably not. Something will happen to continue the worst case of losing in professional sports. Boston did end their drought last year...ahh, nevermind with the cliche's. John



Jealousy, owners, and a styrofoam cup.

2005-02-12T14:24:18.936-06:00

Boy is it painful being a baseball fan this time of the year. Thank god for College Basketball. Spring training just wont come quick enough.

Very little baseball news these days, unless you count all the "Outside the Lines" B.S., and I don't. But here's a pretty good (if relatively tame) interview with Anaheim's owner Arte Moreno.

Q&A with Angels owner Moreno.

If you could buy shares of baseball teams on the stock market--and maybe you should be able to--I would own as much of the Angels as I could afford. Some owners just get it. Some owners sit back and whine about not being able to compete, but don't actually do anything to improve their lot.
How are we going to be able to take the franchise to the next step? By trying to bust out of the small- to mid-market team mold and move into a large market.
Arte Moreno knows exactly what it takes to increase the value of his franchise. To make money, all you really have to do is put a somewhat competitive team on the field. To make a lot of money, you have to go further. There is a reason the Yankees can spend so much money. They have the largest, and most loyal fanbase, that provide them with an obscene amount of revenue.

The Angels are in a similar situation. They play in a large market, but have always taken the back seat to the Dodgers. Moreno is trying to change that, and with everything he has acccomplished so far, I believe he will succeed.

After all, his first move as an owner was to lower the price of beer. What else does anyone need to know? He's also marketing his team incredibly well. I didn't know Moreno's business history, but it didn't suprise me to learn it was in marketing. As the only minority owner in baseball, Moreno has made a strong effort to market the Angels to the large Hispanic population in LA. He's spent money on players, he's invested in the stadium, he's got a great team on the field and one of the best farm systems in baseball.

All Moreno needs to do is secure a lucrative TV deal like the one Steinbrenner got with the YES Network, and the Angels will officially be Yankees-West. Then he just needs 100 years of loyalty building excellence on the field and he'll be on a par with the New York Yankees.
Curt



Now I know how Yankee fans feel.

2005-02-07T16:16:07.010-06:00

(image)

Okay, baseball season can start now.
Curt



How far (and how quickly) can one man fall?

2005-02-04T17:27:28.803-06:00

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It's amazing to think that just a few years ago Sammy Sosa was the most popular person in Chicago not named Michael Jordan. Look at where he is now. An entire city's feelings towards that man can be summed up by the word 'bitter'.

Not that Sammy has anyone else to blame, though he can try to shift the blame elsewhere. Sammy brought it on himself. A gigantic ego is tolerable only when you deliver on your promises. Just like people put up with Tom Brady's cockiness so long as he keeps winning football games, people put up with Sosa's ego only so long as he was belting 60 homers year after year.

But even with all Sammy has done to piss off the once loyal fans, his prescence remains. The best evidence of the pockets of Sammy-resistance in Chicago is the simple fact that all the Baltimore series at U.S. Cellular Field Sox have already been sold out. It's not White Sox fans buying up those seats.

But how good will Sammy be in Baltimore? What will the tail end of a Hall of Fame career look like? Sammy Sosa will never regain his glory days, I think that ought to be clear to just about everybody. I don't think he even has a chance at being the best hitter on the Orioles next year. In fact, I would bet he might not even be an above average hitter next year.

League averages for a right fielder in the AL: .276/.344/.440. Sammy Sosa hit .253/.332/.517. I think he's probablly a lock to hit 30 home runs if he plays a full season, and he might hit 40, but I doubt Sammy will ever hit higher than .270, and he'll never even come close to that 100 walk plateau he was sitting at when pitchers were actually afraid of him.

Much has been made of Sammy's development. Some call it steroids, some call it developing some plate discipline. I don't care which, but Sammy's plate discipline was a direct result of him crushing the ball with any kind of regularity. Now that he's not, his usefulness as a player has plummeted.

Think of how many walks Sammy earned just by standing there and being Sammy. Pitchers were afraid of Sammy and worked with extra caution. Last season (and in 2003) nobody was scared of Sammy anymore, and everybody came after him. As a result, his walks and average plummeted, and his strikeout rate rose (21% in 2001 & 2002, 24% in 2003, 25% in 2004).

And its not just the intentional walks that bear this out. The intentional unintentional walks are what really boosted Sammy's numbers. Nobody is scared of Sosa anymore, and without the fear that made him one of the best hitters in the history of the game, Sosa will be a slightly above average right fielder.

It's too bad, the slow decline of a ballplayer can be a painful thing to watch. The sudden plummet of Sammy Sosa is even more painful.
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Curt



The little things count too.

2005-01-30T08:16:19.896-06:00

Great article by Eric Neel (one of the few bright spots of ESPN) about the art of the pickoff move. An excerpt:
It's one of the real under-appreciated dramas in baseball. Each guy is lying about himself and trying to read the other, and the conclusion, whether it's a pickoff or a steal, comes with a sweet, stinging "gotcha" punch right in the gut. Think about the successful pickoffs you've seen at the ballpark; they're not just outs, they're exercises in shame and humiliation. Guys head back to the dugout with their heads down and taunts from the crowd ringing in their ears. Hits are common, strikeouts are cheap, but a pickoff is something to see.
I couldn't agree more. There is probablly nothing more embarrassing in sport. Its right up there with letting a ground ball through your legs or airballing a free thow. Considering the frequency with which the other two occur, I'd say getting picked off is as embarrassing as doing any of the others without any pants on.

Its also a lost art in Major League Baseball. The article mentions only Brian Anderson, Terry Mulholland, Kenny Rogers, Mark Buehrle, and Andy Pettitte (all lefties). There isn't really anybody else that can pick people off, and mostly these guys get by on reputation alone. I'm sure if someone (not me thank you very much) could find the average number of steal attempts off a pitcher, the numbers for these guys would be a tiny fraction of that. Even if one found the average number of steal attempts only off of lefties, these guys wouldn't even be close. You'd have to separate out the catchers effect (a lefty with Mike Piazza catching has no chance), but there is real, tangible value in not allowing baserunners to even think about stealing.

And besides the measurable effect of nobody stealing bases with a certain pitcher on the mound, think about the unmeasurable effect of having guys start with a two foot lead. And think about how many times when a good lefty is on the mound, the runner at first takes a step back to first instead of getting a secondary lead as the pitch is thrown. Do you think that runner is going first to third on a single?

There are so many little things in baseball, so many underapreciated nuances that so many big name players ignore. Baserunning, defensive positioning, duking baserunners on balls in the gap, trash talk, the lost art of stealing signs. In these days, with the rise of statistical analysis, where more and more baseball is measurable, it sure seems that the small unmeasurable things are getting forgoteen more and more often.

Go ahead and Email Curt to tell him that Jose Canseco letting a ball bounce off his head for a home run was WAY more embarrassing.



The best pitcher in baseball?

2005-01-25T17:57:31.620-06:00

I already claimed Clemens is the best pitcher of his generation. I stick by that. But one year contracts are not rewards. Despite being a legitimate freak of nature, Clemens is still 43 years old.

This 43 year old legend just received $18M to pitch one season. Eighteen million is a lot for any pitcher, and it makes Clemens the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball.

Did I mention he is 43?

Lets forget about his age for a moment. Lets just pretend Clemens is ageless, because he sure seems to be one of the rare breed of pitchers who can ignore the inevitable. With that said, before last season, Clemens looked like a pitcher who was a pretty good lock to give you 30 starts with an ERA a little under four.

Then Clemens went out and won his seventh (SEVENTH!) Cy Young award, posting a 2.88 ERA and 18 wins. Pretty good season, but it wasn't even the best in baseball. There were probablly at least five or six (maybe as many as eight) pitchers who had better seasons in 2004.

I don't want to spend any time arguing about the relative values of every pitchers' season, but lets not ignore the fact that despite all the press, the awards, and the hype, Clemens wasn't even the best pitcher in baseball. Yet, now he is being paid as such.

Why would Houston throw all this money at Clemens? Why did Houston, as many people claim, give Clemens the exact opposite of a hometown discount?

Courtesy of ESPN, in Clemens' home starts, the Astros averaged 39,524 fans. In home games when Clemens did not start, the Astros averaged 37,014. For a moment lets ignore that most of those seats were cheaper upper deck seats and assume that they were all sold at the average price at the Juicebox for $28.88. In that case, Roger Clemens himself could claim to have increased the Houston Astros revenue by $24M.

Twenty-four million. Sounds an awful lot like the $22M that Clemens agent originally asked for. When you look at it that way, Clemens is probablly worth a few of those pennies.

Maybe Clemens didn't personally account for $24M in extra ticket sales. Maybe it was only fifteen, or ten, or maybe it was only five. But, how many Roger Clemens jerseys do you think they sold?

All I know is that Astros owner Drayton McLane has always been very stingy with his money. He has never spent beyond his means, always kept a payroll hovering at a competitive but fiscally responsible level. He refused to give Carlos Beltran an inordinate amount of money to keep him, and now he drops a seemingly ridiculous contract on a 43 year old pitcher.

All I really want to say is that based on his track record, I have to believe McLane knows exactly what he is doing. I'm going to go on a limb and say Roger Clemens will increase McLane's revenue by AT LEAST eighteen million, and I'll even go so far as to say that Drayton McLane just made a profit by giving a 43 year old pitcher eighteen million to play a kids game.

You have to spend money to make money.
Curt



If only he knew how little I'm sorry.

2005-01-20T18:17:06.740-06:00

It looks like Dean Palmer is attempting a comeback. Wow. I know the Tigers need a third baseman after giving up on Eric Munson, but wow.

Dean Palmer was an all-or-nothing hitter, striking out a lot, not getting on very often, and hitting the occasional home run. Why does it seem like guys like this always spend half their careers in Texas and Detroit?

For Palmer, interestingly, it was both. He benefitted from having a great hitters park his entire career, in Texas, Kansas City, and Detroit (back when it was Tiger Stadium they called home). I'm not saying that inflated his stats or anything.

The problem is, even when Palmer was in his prime, he wasn't all that great. He was a pretty good ballplayer, but even in his last semi-healthy season, Palmer was only slightly above the league average for a third baseman. And his defense was at times embarrassing.

What would convince him that he could still make it at age 36, a full five years and several surgeries later?

Its actually really sad. Sad as in it makes me feel sorry for the guy. It reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption when that old buck finally gets out of prison and ends up hanging himself after realizing he's been "institutionalized". Sports are an institution too.

Think about it. Just like the lifetime prisoner, a baseball player has never known anything else. And how could we expect him to? For most ballplayers, life has centered around a sport since they could walk, and they've likely been paid to play since they were 18. When you are a superstar athelete, there is no time for anything else. No job. No school. Nothing but baseball.

And in reality, Dean Palmer's third attempt is not even a blip on the radar screen of ill-fated comebacks and drawn out retirements. The sports world is filled with them. Does anybody remember Robert Parish still playing basketball even after his knees would hardly get him past half court? Has Bill Parcels been able to stay away after retiring three times? Will Phil Jackson really stay retired? Is it really worth it for Mo Vaughn to try again? Does anybody remember how painful it was to watch Bruce Smith pursue the sack record?

In reality, every situation is unique, and I have no idea the rationale behind staying in a game well past your welcome. I do know that sometimes you need to step outside yourself and view yourself in the eyes of others.

I wish him luck, but I hope there is something else waiting for him come April. Because Dean Palmer sure as hell won't be playing baseball.
Curt