Monday, June 28, 2004
If you missed it, the ball was hit off the end of the bat and was hit on a couple of hops about six feet to Aurilia's right. Aurilia fielded the ball on an awkward-looking short hop facing left field for some reason, then jumped about four inches off the ground, spun and "fired" a "laser" on a short hop to Jolbert Cabrera at first. David at Your Thoughts Exactly posted a similar observation after attending Saturday's game:
(regarding Aurilia's fielding)Yeah, I know, it's not exactly breaking news, but I really, REALLY miss Carlos Guillen right about now.
...in the 8th he fielded a hard-hit grounder right at him like a high-schooler without a cup.
But the ball's on by
The Freddy Garcia trade yesterday could be Bavasi's greatest coup as a GM if he does what he should and re-signs Garcia this winter. Are there any other free agent pitchers on the market that will, with any certainty, outperform Freddy over the next three or four years? The competition boils down to Russ Ortiz of the Braves and Kevin Millwood of the Phillies. Garcia's younger than both and clearly better than Ortiz. I wouldn't have said so a couple of years ago, but Garcia's probably better than Millwood right now too.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a first baseman who scared the pants off opposing pitchers? We could next year if Bavasi decides to make a run at the Blue Jays' Carlos Delgado. How many times a year would he put one off the Hit It Here Cafe plexiglass? Ten? Fifteen?
At third base, L.A.'s Adrian Beltre is available. Seems like he's about 30 or so, doesn't it? He's been with the Dodgers since 1998, but just had his 25th birthday in April of this year. It looks like he's finally approaching the amazing potential scouts noted early in his career. So far in 2004, he's got 19 HR, is hitting .323, and has driven in 52 runs. The biggest risk with Beltre is that the M's overpay him based on his 2004 numbers and disregard his unspectacular numbers prior to this year. With Justin Leone doing well in Tacoma, I would hesitate to sign Beltre for more than six or seven million dollars a year.
The M's could really use some help behind the dish. The best catcher available via free agency this winter looks to be Boston's Jason Varitek. I wouldn't offer Varitek a contract, which means Bavasi will. Varitek is 32 years old, and his offensive numbers, while mildly impressive over the years, can be expected to decline with a move from Fenway Park to Safeco Field. If I ran things, Miguel Olivo, fresh from Chicago via the Freddy Garcia trade, would be the man in 2005. Olivo will only be 26 at the start of next season, and could be re-signed on the cheap.
As for the remainder of the 2004 season, I would shop all the veterans, especially Boone, Spiezio, Randy Winn, and, dare I say, Jamie Moyer. Boone especially could command a significant prospect or two in return, and would open up a few million dollars of additional free agent funds for the winter.
What are the Cubs to do? It seems that they've got to make a deal, but there's honestly very little they can change. The rotation is already overstocked, and there are only two positions (outside the bullpen, and every bullpen could use help) they can realistically hope to improve through a trade: Shortstop and Center. The options at Short are strictly limited, both by what's available (um...nobody) and by finances (Jim Hendry has been going around signing every washed-up shortstop available, from Rey Ordonez to Ricky Guitierrez, making additional spending on the position seem unlikely). Okay, so what about Center?
Previously, I'd really hoped that the Cubs would jump into the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes in earnest. I've never believed in Corey Patterson--I think he's a Terrance Long (except he strikes out a lot more) who had one very hot first half. I didn't like the fact that Beltran wasn't going to sign an extension, but I wanted Patterson out of town.
Well, Beltran's a moot point now. If only there were some other center fielder, every bit as good as Beltran, ideally signed to a long-term deal already. Wait a minute! There is!
Let me be the first (that I know of) to say this: The Cubs must trade Corey Patterson and a prospect or two for Andruw Jones!
It makes so much sense. The Braves want out from under Jones' contract. The Cubs want out from under Corey's crappiness. As if that weren't enough, Corey's a native Atlantan! This is a deal that Jim Hendry must talk to the Braves about. It would trump the Beltran deal and give the Cubs the most power-packed lineup in the NL.
The only question is money. Is the Trib company willing to pay Jones' $13 million salary through 2007? I doubt it, so how much will the Braves put in? The going rate on those unfortunate 2001 contracts seems to be somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the remaining cost. If the Braves will throw $9 million bucks our way, we need to do this now.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Here's what they said about Reed:
Sometimes, a prospect comes along that puts up such ridiculous numbers, with no history of more pedestrian numbers to help us keep perspective, that it becomes difficult to fairly evaluate him. Jeremy Reed is such a prospect. Since he was drafted out of Long Beach State, he has done nothing but hit--and at a level that would seem unsustainable for as long as he has... His translated numbers...suggest that he's the most promising hitter in the game, even more so than Mauer.
Picking up a prospect of that caliber, who is ready for Major League action now, for a guy who the Mariners could have back in six months anyway, is a wonderful thing. I didn't think Bavasi was going to get us a Brian Giles or Jeff Bagwell, but he very well may have.
Reed plays right field now, and the scouts say he won't ever be a center fielder. But, then again, neither will Randy Wynn.
And a special thanks to David at Your Thoughts Exactly for getting me the Baseball Prospectus book. I love that thing, man.
No, that's not a headline from The Onion. That one comes from the good people at MSNBC.
Friday, June 25, 2004
A couple of picks each round, you feel smart enough to be a pro GM. Like when the Blazers picked up Sebastian Telfair, the NYC high school point guard, with the 13th pick instead of College Player of the Year Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Telfair's best move, based on the video I've seen, is the "Look Right At The Guy You're Passing To Then After You Release The Ball Look Away" no-look pass. I think Hot Sauce from the And 1 Streetball Tour would just laugh in his face at that one.
Then the Sonics went Branch Rickey on us and drafted, for the first time in NBA history since the lottery was established, a white high school kid in the first round. I refuse to acknowledge the kid's real name and will forever call him "Rich King Junior." Best of luck, kid. Best of luck.
Every few years, based on its draft, I pick up a new team to pull for. This year, it's the Bulls. They got Connecticut's Ben Gordon with pick number three, then traded for the rights to Duke's Luol Deng. Two players I am very high on.
I was hopeful that Luke Jackson of Oregon would last long enough for the Sonics to nab him, but Cleveland took him with the 10th pick. Cue "LeBron and Luke" ad campaign.
If you want to read a real professional's take on the NBA draft, go to one of my favorite sports columns every year, the Bill Simmons draft diary on ESPN.com. It's always both hilarious and insightful, and this year is no exception.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Add to this unfavorable situation the stewardship of an abnormally inept general manager, and you've got a recipe for disaster. Frankly, it's anybody's guess what he'll actually end up doing. Eesh. But that doesn't mean that we can't sit around thinking about what a rational human being might do, given the chance!
Here are my suggestions. Some of them may seem blasphemous (or worse), but sometimes you've got to throw out throw out the idols, as it were. And there's nothing blasphemous about that.
1) Send Moyer to the Yankees.
Oh horrible! But unavoidable. We know the Yanks are desperate for a left-handed starter, and we can be pretty sure that Randy will ultimately refuse to go to New York. We also know that Moyer is telling people that he would waive his no-trade "in a heartbeat" for a deal to the Yankees. Also, he's really, really old and can't honestly be seen as part of the M's future. It stinks, but all the pieces fit.
So what can the Yakees give us for Jamie? Not a whole lot. There's a guy named Andy Phillips, a third-baseman / utility guy who's killing the ball in triple-A this year. He's a bit old to be considered a prospect (I think he missed most of last year with an injury, too), but I'd rather see the M's take a chance on a Mark Belhorn-like prospect than one of the Yankees under-performing youngters, like Dioner Navarro or Eric Duncan.
2) Try to tempt the Dodgers into taking Boone, packaged with one or two other good but overpriced bats.
Teams with one glaring weakness will do crazy things trying to fix it. What a coup it would be if the M's could spin Boone's hefty salary and heftier swing for a prime pitching prospect (like Edwin Jackson) or a solid reliever (they've got plenty of those)! With Boone alone, that's unlikely. But let's say the M's offered the Dodgers Boone + Randy Winn + Scott Spezio package. They might just say, "Three guys who can actually make contact with Major League pitching? Halleluja!"
Now, that would hurt some people's feelings, no doubt about it. But honestly, those three guys just aren't worth what they're being paid right now. Not to the Mariners. Freddy, on the other hand, is.
3) Give the Cubs Guardado, dammit.
We could really use him, and we'll give you something nice. Francis Beltran, possibly. Or Todd Wellmeyer.
I'll add more later.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
What in the world are the Cubs doing with this guy? Michael Barrett is playing as well as any catcher in baseball! He's young, and dammit he can play a hundred forty games this year. But NOOOOO, we have to trot Paul Crapping Bako out there every third game.
Granted, Bako wasn't supposed to play at all today. Barrett, whose attitude problems are well known, was tossed in the seventh for standing between the umpire and Kent Mercker.
I swear, every time Bako comes up in an important situation, I always think, "Well, maybe this is it. Maybe it's Bako's time to shine!" Never again. Bako comes up, I leave the room. I'm in the garage burning an effigy.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Junior got number 500 today.
Additional Griffey 500 links:
Tim Kurkjian's story
Fox Sports.com story
But Ronnie Belliard at second? Melvin Mora over A-Rod? Obviously, there are many schools of thought on the subject of "what really makes an All-Star." In my book, there are some cases when you happen to know that the player with slightly better stats at the break will not have an All-Star season, when all is said and done. Mora is a fine player, but he's no A-Rod. Belliard... Well he just stinks, doesn't he? I dare you, Chris, to defend these picks at the end of the year.
Now for my National League ballot:
Leading vote-getter: Mike Piazza, New York.
My vote: Michael Barrett.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Mike Piazza; Paul Lo Duca, Los Angeles; Johnny Estrada, Braves.
Here's my reasoning. Piazza, obviously, is having a better year at the plate than any other catcher, but he's not a catcher anymore. All I know about Johnny Estrada is that he's a Brave, and he's never done anything like this before. So, as far as I'm concerned, it's between Barrett and Lo Duca. Theyre having similar seasons. Barrett is hitting at an outstanding .313, .361, .518 clip. Lo Duca, despite a ridiculous .341 batting average (which I can't imagine surviving the season), has similar overall numbers (.381 OBP, .487 SLG). In all honesty, I'd guess that by the end of the year, Lo Duca will probaby have better numbers. But Barrett's been one of my favorite Cubs this year, so there's your tie-breaker.
Leading vote-getter: Albert Pujols, St Louis.
My vote: Pujols.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Jim Thome, Philadelphia; Todd Helton, Colorado; Sean Casey, Cincinatti.
The National League first basemen are going crazy this year. There are really about seven guys who are having outstanding years. I go with Pujols, because he's so freaking good, but as long as you don't vote Bagwell (the second leading vote-getter at the moment, laughably), you really can't go wrong.
Leading vote-getter: Jeff Kent, Houston.
My vote: Mark Loretta, San Diego.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Kent; Todd Walker, Chicago.
It's tought to pass up a perfectly deserving Cub (Todd Walker is leading NL second basemen in OPS.), but I'm going to go with the guy I hoped the Cubs would sign to play second this year, the long-under-rated Mark Loretta. He doesn't make a lot of fuss, but the results are always there. Of course, Jeff Kent is winning by about a million votes. Apparently, there's nothing better to do in Houston than fill out All-Star ballots all day.
Leading vote-getter: Scott Rolen, St Louis.
My vote: Aramis Ramirez, Chicago.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: ...that Rolen guy.
What? You don't like Ramirez?
Leading vote-getter: Adam Everett? Come on!
My vote: Jack Wilson, Pittsburgh.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Your favorite little glovesmith.
The National League remains the circuit of pitchers who hit and shortstops who don't, especially with Renteria crapping it up. Jack Wilson, always a fine defensive shortstop, seems to think he can crank the ball this year! It almost certainly won't last (He'll probably end up hitting .269 with 12 homers--though color-men will always remember him as a good hitter, because of these first three months.), but it's good enough for a spot in the starting linup this year. Come on, voters, don't let the fattest city in the nation do this!
Leading vote-getters: Bonds; Griffey Jr.; Sosa.
My votes: Bonds; Lance Berkman, Houston; Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Griffey; Adam Dunn, Cincinatti; Craig Wilson, Pittsburgh.
Hey, I won't be complaining if we get the all-nostalgia outfield. Sosa certainly shouldn't be on the team this year, and Griffey probably doesn't deserve to start, but this is our day, right? I do have to wonder what those Houston fatties are thinking, though. Berkman really deserves to be on the team. He's hitting better than Pujols! Oh well. I guess he's tough to get excited about.
That's my ballot! I really hope those Houston fans don't get Everett on the team. That really wouldn't do. We need to start a Jack Wilson GOTV here!
Saturday, June 19, 2004
I live for this.
Friday, June 18, 2004
"Manny Ramirez steps up to the plate and he hits the ball very far and it goes over a fence. This counts as a homerun, which means the team that Ramirez plays on gets one run, unless there were men on base...there were no men on base, so the Red Sox get one run. Now they are leading 5 to 4. The Red Sox appear to be happy and the Blue Jays not so much."
Thursday, June 17, 2004
"That goes back a few years to when I wouldn't autograph a ball for him," Griffey said. "He rips me all the time, so why would I sign a ball for him? He's ripped me ever since. He needs to grow up.And now for the knockout punch:
"It wasn't me who threw a ball into the center-field seats after blowing a save that hit a woman," Griffey added. "It wasn't me fighting my manager (Lou Piniella, when he managed the Reds and Dibble was in the bullpen). It wasn't me ripping off my uniform on the field when he blew a game (after giving up a winning home run in New York to Bobby Bonilla).
"He's just mad and bitter because he was never more than a 100-miles-an-hour set-up guy."
Good for you, Junior.
THE GANG (in surprise): Jeff Cirillo!!!!
CIRILLO: And I would have got away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids!
VELMA: Looks like we can close the book on that mystery, gang!
SCOOBY: Reah, Raggy!
It has been observed many times before that similarities exist between Rich Aurilia and Jeff Cirillo. With both players, you get the sense that if they just relaxed and stopped trying too hard they might both be decent hitters at the big league level, just like they were before joining the Mariners. Back in December, I observed that Cirillo had a huge mechanical flaw in his swing; he would consistently cut his follow-through short and ground weakly to the left side. The few times that Cirillo blasted one into the gaps or the seats, he kept his weight back and completed his swings. I'm seeing the same thing in Rich Aurilia. When he hits a ball hard, his weight is back and he throws his hips fully. When he weakly grounds out, it seems like he is already running to first halfway through the swing. Hustle is good, but not at the expense of mechanics.
Looking for statistics to back my observation, I looked at slugging average on balls put in play, the idea being to see which players hit the ball hardest on average. The formula is simple: total bases divided by (at-bats minus strikeouts). The top ten in baseball, among batting title qualifiers, are:
Adam Dunn, .947
Jim Thome, .928
Barry Bonds, .913
Craig Wilson, .854
Manny Ramirez, .825
Frank Thomas, .803
Lance Berkman, .802
Jim Edmonds, .788
Scott Rolen, .787
Jeromy Burnitz, .766
This list is a good sampling of the big-name players you'd expect to be on it, and it passes the Barry Test (any stat that measures hitting success should place Bonds near the top). As a further check, we'd expect the bottom ten to contain many of the notoriously weak hitters in baseball:
Neifi Perez, .342
Orlando Cabrera, .350 (sorry, Jolbert, your bro stinks this year)
Tike Redman, .357
Rich Aurilia, .377
Tony Batista, .378
Brad Ausmus, .379
Morgan Ensberg, .383
Marlon Byrd, .383
David Eckstein, .387
Mark Derosa, .388
As you can see, the bottom ten list is peppered with weaklings like Neifi Perez and David Eckstein. Not at all surpisingly, we find Rich Aurilia as the fourth weakest-hitting player in baseball among regulars.
Now the question is: what kind of conclusions should we draw from this information? One thing we can say is that when Rich Aurilia makes contact, he's putting a lot of balls in play that are either just singles or are weakly hit and easily turned into outs by the defense. Another conclusion we can draw is that Aurilia could be better off focusing on hitting the ball hard, rather than just making contact. When all he does is make contact, he's not adding value to the offense, so he might as well take some strong hacks. He's performing so poorly that the additional strikeouts would be worth the increase in extra-base hits in Aurilia's case.
Aurilia's mechanics and approach at the plate are in need of major overhaul. It might be worth considering a move to Tacoma to work things out. He's been an above-average hitter the last few years, and he might return to that level with a little work.
Here's one of my own:
Bob #1: Here we have... Mike Myers?
Myers: Uh, yeah.
Bob #1: Any relation to the actor?
Myers: No, it's just a coincidence.
Bob #1: Oh.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Leading vote-getter: Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit.
My vote: Rodriguez.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Victor Martinez, Cleveland; Jorge Posada, New York.
Offensively, all three of the catchers mentioned above are very close. Rodriguez is hitting .361, getting on base at a .396 clip, and slugging .532 with nine homers and 47 RBI. Posada measures at .272/.412/.538 with nine home runs and 30 RBI, while Martinez is hitting .312/.382/.563 with 10 HR's and 47 RBI. The difference is that Posada's a defensive liability, Martinez I've never seen play, and Pudge Rodriguez is one of my all-time favorite players. This one simply comes down to which man I'd rather see catch one game.
Leading vote-getter: Jason Giambi, New York.
My vote: Frank Thomas, Chicago.
You're an absolute idiot if you vote/voted for:Jason Giambi, New York.
First base is by far the easiest position to pick in the American League in 2004. Thomas is having the best offensive season in the league so far, putting up some serious numbers: .298/.462/.639, 17 HR, 43 RBI. Thomas, one of the best offensive players of the last decade, is having another Hall Of Fame season. Giambi, on the other hand, may not even be alive this year, having only appeared in 45 games due to injury and batting a weak .244.
Leading vote-getter: Alfonso Soriano, Texas.
My vote: Ron Belliard, Cleveland.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Willie Harris, Chicago; Soriano.
Second base was the toughest position to choose in '04. In the past few seasons, either Soriano or Bret Boone has been having a monster season at the break, making the second base vote a no-brainer. Not so this year. Soriano, Harris, and Belliard are close in On Base plus Slugging (OPS), coming in at .787, .733, and .809 respectively. Soriano's bad defensive reputation and Harris's lack of power (zero homers) give the edge to Belliard, barely.
Leading vote-getter: Alex Rodriguez, New York.
My vote: Melvin Mora, Baltimore.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Rodriguez; Hank Blalock, Texas.
A-Rod and Blalock are having fine seasons, but Melvin Mora has been incredible. All he's doing is hitting .357/.446/.567 with 11 homers and 41 RBI. Mora's a great athlete to boot, playing several different positions well. Mora, the man with the quintuplets, needs to bee the American League's starting third baseman.
Leading vote-getter: Derek Jeter, New York.
My vote: Carlos Guillen, Detroit.
You're an absolute idiot if you vote/voted for: Jeter.
Carlos Guillen, playing in the hitters' graveyard known as Comerica Park in Detroit, is in the American League's top ten in runs scored (4th), triples (2nd), RBI (9th), total bases (3rd), batting average (9th), on-base average (10th), slugging average (4th), and OPS (6th). Oh, and he's one of the league's best shortstops defensively. Jeter, on the other hand, sucks. He's been one of the worst offensive players in the entire AL so far in 2004, and he's probably the worst defensive starting shortstop in the majors. Please make the right choice, ladies and gentlemen.
Leading vote-getters: Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles California Anaheim; Manny Ramirez, Boston; Gary Sheffield, New York.
My votes: Guerrero; Ramirez; Ichiro, Seattle.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Gary Sheffield, New York; Matt Lawton, Cleveland; Hideki Matsui, New York.
Guerrero, batting .348/.395/.597, and Ramirez, at .343/.446/.652, shouldn't be left off anyone's ballot this year, and are deservedly the top two outfield vote-getters so far. I using my third vote for Ichiro even though his numbers (.330/.375/.446) don't quite match those of Sheffield (.307/.404/.494), Lawton (.331/.402/.492), or Matsui (.282/.388/.489). Ichiro gets my third pick because:
a) he's one of my favorite players.
b) Sheffield, Lawton, and Matsui aren't.
c) I want to see some NL baserunner get thrown out at the plate, and Ichiro presents the best chance of this happening.
And so goes my list of deserving All-Stars. You may notice that Thomas and Ramirez were selected despite their "Most Hated" status. In Thomas's case, I really don't hate him much anymore, and Ramirez is having too good of a season to ignore.
Remember to vote online at mlb.com, and to vote often.
Monday, June 14, 2004
WSU's 2004 MLB draft list includes:
Bryce Chamberlin, RHP, Baltimore, 8th player taken in the 6th round, 169th overall pick;
Grant Richardson, 1B, Milwaukee, 5th player taken in the 14th round, 406th overall;
Brandon Reddinger, C, Pittsburgh, 11th player taken in the 20th round, 592nd overall pick;
Aaron Trolia, RHP, Seattle, 22nd player taken in the 27th round, 813th overall pick.
From the games I've attended, I'm surprised to see Chamberlain taken that early. He was the Cougs' best pitcher this year, but never seemed to overpower anyone. Hitters seemed to get good hacks against him.
Richardson has ridiculous power, even considering the use of an aluminum bat. If you've been to Pullman, you'll appreciate this: I saw Richardson put a ball into the Beasley Coliseum parking lot on the fly, several rows of parked cars deep. For the non-Coug readers, suffice to say that that's about like a ball going more than halfway into the left field bleachers at Safeco. The best thing about that particular shot was that it came at the expense of the Fusskies. Richardson hit .315 or so (OK but not really notable at the college level) and struck out a lot without drawing a lot of walks, so he's got work to do to reach the bigs.
Reddinger was an average hitter at the college level, and has a terrific arm.
I missed Trolia this year, so I've never seen him pitch.
Here's what [the] people [who author the blog] are
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So do check out Your Thoughts Exactly the next time you get a chance, perhaps during the next Bret Boone strikeout.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Oh, and to top it all off, Boca made a sick diving catch on a sinking liner in front of him in center field. It was the kind of center field play we've been spoiled with since 1989 and been lacking all season.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Don't look now, but the Mariners are on a roll, going 9-8 (a .521 winning percentage) in the last seventeen games!
And Rich Aurilia has a .891 OPS the last seven days!
And Rafael Soriano can't throw a ball for another three weeks!
Monday, June 07, 2004
Friday, June 04, 2004
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Pete, at a recent Cubs-Cards game at Wrigley:
"You're not as good as Ted Williams!"
In the last couple of weeks, the Boston Red Sox have been on TV four or five times on ESPN, and with the recent M's-Sox series in Boston, I've seen a lot of them lately. That team is fun to watch. The fans seem to have confidence in every one of their hitters, even the Mark Bellhorns and David McCarthies of their lineup. There's none of this bunting-so-our-best-guy-gets-walked B.S. going on in New England this year. And every one of their players brings something to the table both with his play and with his personality. They've got a zillion different personas, including a big lovable Hispanic guy, a misunderstood superstar, a CAVEMAN!, the Greek God of Walks, two of the best pitchers of this generation, Mia Hamm's husband, and Kevin Millar. They're a lot like the 1997 Mariners, and hopefully they'll be on TV this often all season long.