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Sunday, February 29, 2004

But Who Sucked the Most Ass? 

I just realized that, in my previous post, I only gave a list of the people with the BEST CSPAN, the hitters who sucked the least. Of course, what we really want to know is who sucked the most ass? Last years ten worst ass-suckers, as measured by CSPAN:

Brandon Phillips (.763)
Damien Miller (.691)
Shane Halter (.658)
Royce Clayton (.649)
Pat Burrell (.619)
Jason Larue (.604)
Josh Phelps (.579)
Xavier Nady (.570)
Alex S. Gonzalez (.569)
Wes Helms (.562)

I think you've got to admit, this is a pretty good list of 2003's crappiest, most useless hitters. The amazing thing is that the Cubs contended with two of the ten worst hitters in the league in their everyday lineup!

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How About a Beefed-Up Suck Ass Percent? 

I like Suck Ass. It definitely stands on its own as a good stat, but I propose another version, which I call Controlled Suckass as a Percent, Aggression Normalized. Or, simply, CSPAN.

It sounds to me like the most common complaint about Suckass is that good power hitters are penalized for trying to hit the ball hard. Because trying to hit the ball hard causes you to do things like strike out and hit into double plays. CSPAN, therefore, divides SA by a number that I call "Pete's Total Bases" or PTB.

PTB is basically Total Bases + Walks + HBP + SB + 1/2*(SF + SH).

Basically, it's exactly how much a hitter accomplished in a season, measured in bases. How many bases was this player responsible for, all by himself? PTB.

So, if we divide SA by PTB, we get a ratio that describes how much ass a player sucked per accomplishment. This is CSPAN.

Here are last year's top ten in CSPAN (Minimum of 350 at bats.)

Barry Bonds (.157)
Albert Pujols (.188)
Juan Pierre (.191)
Alex Cintron (.195)
Gary Sheffield (.196)
Jason Kendall (.198)
Nomar Garciaparra (.207)
Ichiro Suzuki (.208)
Brian Giles (.222)

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The Difference Maker 

The Mariners' new big bopper, Raul Ibanez, is already paying huge dividends.



Here he can be seen trying to move a runner into scoring position for the formidable Dan Wilson.

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Friday, February 27, 2004

Credit Where Credit Is Due 

I've been receiving plently of suggestions regarding improvement of the Suck Ass statistic. David at S & B's has even proposed his own "End-All Suckass Factor Calculation". Before this turns into a Flaming Homer - Flaming Moe situation, I think it best if I reveal now, to all sixteen readers of our humble blog, the inspiration of the Suck Ass.

My brother Matt graduated from WSU last May, and in his four years at this fine institution of higher learning, he came to realize that the WSU Cougar men's basketball team did a lot of things over the course of a game that, well, sucked, and weren't reflected to his satisfaction in the stat sheet. So he created the "Suck," which he defined as any play that most scrubs playing ball at the Rec Center would be ashamed to make in front of an audience. Not every negative play was a Suck. A turnover, for example, is not always a Suck. Dribbling into a trap, picking up the ball, then weakly handing it over to the defense and watching them pack it on the other end is at least one Suck, probably two. Missing a dunk doesn't have to be a Suck. Missing a dunk on a breakaway, where it's just you and the rim, and then having the opposition rebound the miss and bust a three at the other end is a Suck. Getting crossed over so bad that you fall down is a Suck.

For a while Matt kept track of all the Cougs' Sucks (which was a LOT). Before too long, having a definitive record of Cougar Suckiness got to be too much for his fragile Coug psyche to handle, and he gave up his record-keeping. The Suck was lost, but not forgotten.

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Kevin Jarvis Throws Right Handed 

Thanks for the heads up everybody!

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Jason Kendall to be a Cub Already? 

According to a very unreliable source (a friend of mine who listens to Pittsburgh sports radio at work all day), Jason Kendall may be the Cubs' new catcher much sooner than anticipated--maybe by this weekend. Supposedly, this is basically a done deal!

The Cubs would get Kendall and cash to cover some (possibly HALF) of his insane contract.

The Pirates would get Michael Barrett and some combination of the following young pitchers: Juan Cruz, Sergio Mitre, and Francis Beltran.

I have scoured the internet looking for confirmation of this tantalizing possibility, but there doesn't seem to be anything out there.

I, for one, think this would be a great trade for the Cubs, and not just because I predicted it. If you look at their team right now, they don't have a lot of weaknesses. Their two biggest problems are that they don't have a good catcher and they don't have guys who can hit at the top of the order. Kendall would solve both of these problems. Just look at this freaking lineup:

1. Grudzielanek, 2B
2. Kendall, C
3. Sosa, RF
4. Lee, 1B
5. Ramirez, 3B
6. Alou, LF
7. Patterson, CF
8. Gonzalez, SS

Then, of course, there's the dream scenario. Alex Gonzalez leaves to pursue a film career, forcing Mark Grudzielanek to move back to Shorstop! Then, we could do THIS!

1. Kendall, C
2. Walker, 2B
3. Sosa, RF
4. Lee, 1B
5. Ramirez, 3B
6. Alou, LF
7. Patterson, CF
8. Grudzielanek, SS

Oh, man! It just might be worth watching all those dribblers go up the middle for base hits.

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More On The SA 

Given the feedback on my creation, the SA (see yesterday's post), it seems I should clarify: the SA is not a measure of the average abilities of an offensive player over the course of a season; rather, it simply counts the number of times a hitter has sucked. It was pointed out to me, rightly, that in 1997 Jay Buhner certainly did not Suck Ass, as he hit 40 homers with over 100 walks. Excellent numbers by any measure. It just so happens, though, that the number of times in 1997 that he, according to my definition, "Sucked Ass," puts him among baseball's all time leaders for a single season.

Sammy Sosa has posted three of the top ten SA seasons. Sammy does not suck any ass whatsoever.

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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Introducing: The "Suck Ass," or SA 

Today, amidst the boredom that rears its ugly head every Thursday morning, I created a new baseball statistic, the Suck Ass, or SA. In creating the SA, I am attempting to quantify the number of times over the course of a season that a given player Sucks Ass. I have identified three offensive outcomes that Suck Ass, and are readily available on your favorite baseball statistics website: strikeouts, times grounded into double plays, and times caught stealing. A player's Suck Ass total is defined as follows:

SA = K + CS + 2*GIDP

(The GIDP term is doubled because a GIDP creates two outs)

In creating the Suck Ass, I had in mind a particular type of player that I figured would dominate the all-time highest Suck Ass seasons. He'd be really slow and strike out a lot (specifically, I was thinking of Pete Incaviglia). Here's the 10 seasons that Sucked the most Ass:

1. Jose Hernandez, 2002 Brewers: 231 SA
2. Preston Wilson, 2000 Marlins: 223 SA
3. Richie Sexson, 2001 Brewers: 222 SA
4. Jay Buhner, 1997 Mariners: 221 SA
5. Sammy Sosa, 1998 Cubs: 220 SA
6. Sammy Sosa, 1997 Cubs: 218 SA
7. Sammy Sosa, 1999 Cubs: 213 SA
7. Cecil Fielder, 1990 Tigers: 213 SA
9. Jim Presley, 1986 Mariners: 212 SA
10. Bobby Bonds, 1970 Giants: 211 SA

As you can see, while there are a couple of slow sluggers on the list (Buhner, Fielder), there are a lot of pretty fast players also (Bonds, Wilson, Sosa), a testament to the relative importance of being caught stealing to Sucking Ass.

As the season progresses, check for SA league leaders, and for Mariner team SA leaders.

Note: Incaviglia's 1986 season with the Rangers was good enough for 16th place, with 205 SA

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The Jarvis Solution 

After I wrote that crazy post in which I claim that Seattle ought to be considered the team to beat in the AL West this year, I actually got a couple of emails telling me why I was probably wrong. I found this kind of awesome, since up till then I'd sort of assumed that nobody really read this stuff. Just goes to show you, all it takes is one tasteless rape-joke to get the people interested!

Among other things, I was told:

1. The Mariners are an old team that just keeps getting older.
2. The bullpen just ain't what it used to be (especially if Jarvis somehow survives the spring).

I'm not too worried about that first reason. In the starting lineup, there are only two guys (Edgar and Olerud) whose age seems to be a concern. Edgar's been held together with duct tape and superglue for a long time now, but he can still put the bat on the ball and jog to second. And that's all he has to do. Should duct tape and superglue stop working, there are plenty of designated hitters out there. As for Olerud, his performance last year was pretty scary, but they say it was his hamstring, and he's still young enough to heal. Anyway, there are almost as many first basemen as DHs.

As for the rest of the lineup, I can't see the number of 31-year-olds as a problem. I mean, young guys get hurt too. Experience is a good thing, right?

The worry about the bullpen is much more serious. I never really thought of Jarvis-in-the-pen as a strong possibility until it became clear just how sure Melvin was that Guardado was the closer. As David Sund wrote me,

"If the Mariners do not upgrade their bench, and Kevin Jarvis is still a Mariner on opening day, it's likely that we are going to see a repeat of Giovanni Carrara. The difference? Bavasi is going to be very reluctant to release a guy making over $4 million. If it took Gillick a month and a half to get rid of Carrara, how long will it take Bavasi to dispose of Jarvis?"

It's a fair question, especially since Jarvis is left-handed. If Guardado is the closer, that means the only lefties available for spot-work in the Mariner pen will be Kevin Jarvis, Ron Villone, and some guy named Matt Thornton. We all know how obsessive major league managers are about the lefty-lefty matchup. So now the question becomes, how can we possibly stop Bob Melvin from even having the option of bringing in Villone or Jarvis when Garret Anderson comes up with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning?

There's only one way! Sign Ugueth Urbina NOW. It'll cost less than half of the Sasaki money, and it will squeeze Guardado from the closer spot that he doesn't belong in anyway. Then, Kevin Jarvis becomes the odd man out, and we don't have to worry about him anymore.

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"...because it's YOUR dog, get it?" 

Check out Ichiro's photo in today's P-I, taken as he auditions for the role of "Kyle" in the Japanese remake of the 2000 film classic, "Road Trip."

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At Least The Red Sox Have 1918 Hall Of Fame: Andy Van Slyke 

If every team always had just one guy like Andy Van Slyke, Baseball would still be the national sport. Maybe I only think this because he was my favorite player growing up, but in my opinion, he will always be the epitome of what a ballplayer ought to be: a goofy guy playing an absurd game and giving it absolutely everything he had, while obviously having a great time. And, win or lose, he usually had something funny to say after the game.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI grew up the world’s biggest Pirates fan. To me, there were only two baseball players worth talking about: Van Slyke and Bonds. At the time, I didn’t realize what perfect polar opposites they were. Bonds, obviously, was the best baseball player in the world, but he did nothing at all to endear himself to the fans, other than gracing us with his godlike presence for a monumental fee. Van Slyke was probably a worse hitter than Bonds’ shadow, but he made watching a baseball game a God damn fun thing to do. He made you feel like you had a buddy on the team, and that definitely counts for something.

Don’t get me wrong, he was a very good hitter. He won two silver sluggers (came close to a batting title once), made three all-star teams, had a career OBP of .350 and slugging percentage of .450, drove in a hundred runs once and scored a hundred twice. For some reason, in that nasty Pirates lineup of the early nineties, he always batted third.


He was as solid as you get on the base paths, topping twenty steals each of his fist six seasons in the big leagues while rarely getting caught. And he was always looking for a chance to turn a single into a double or a double into a triple. On close plays, his slides were some of the most creative I ever saw. This was an outfielder who somehow managed to get his uniform dirty almost every game.

Defensively, he was a star. Though his speed was well below average for a center fielder, he won five consecutive gold gloves in the middle of his career. One of those guys whose defense wasn’t widely noted until he’d made his thousandth diving catch, he probably deserved even more.


But, of course, it’s his humor that most of us remember best. Hopefully, somebody will write a book about this guy someday, because it seemed like he was always saying something funny and self-depreicating. Here are some of the nice Andy Van Slyke quotes Chris and I were able to find:


"Every season has its peaks and valleys. What you have to try to do is eliminate the Grand Canyon."

"I have an Alka Seltzer bat. You know, plop plop fizz fizz. When the pitcher sees me walking up there they say, 'Oh what a relief it is.'"

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us"If everyone were like him (Mitch Williams) I wouldn't play. I'd find a safer way to make a living."

"It seems like Satan has thrown the DH into our game."

"I've never even hit batting practice before a crowd (1,519 on 4-18-88) that small at Busch."

"Last year we had so many people coming in and out they didn't bother to sew their names on the backs of the uniforms. They just put them there with Velcro."

"My biggest problem in the big leagues is that I can't figure out how to spend forty-three dollars in meal money."

"They wanted me to play third like Brooks (Robinson) so I did play like Brooks - Mel Brooks."

"With the Cardinals everybody would be reading the business section to see what their stocks were doing. You get to this locker room (Pirates) in the morning and everybody is looking at the sports page to see if Hulk Hogan won."

Describing the difference between playing at home and on the road: "On the road, when you go downstairs for coffee in your underwear, they throw you out of the kitchen."

After a particularly tough day at the plate: "I couldn't have driven Miss Daisy home today."

On failing to hit the ball out of the infield during a prolonged slump: "They're writing a movie about me. It's called The Summer of 4-3."

On why the Pirates didn't catch the Mets: "You can't expect Mr. Ed to keep up with Secretariat."

On who he would be, if he could be someone else for one day: "My wife, just to see how wonderful it is to spend the day with me."


In all honesty, if he hadn’t been a funny guy, he’d have likely been forgotten by now. But he was! And so here he is, our second official inductee to the At Least the Red Sox Have 1918 Hall of Fame! Congratulations, Andy Van Slyke!

PS: Two more mediocre seasons, and Doug Glanville is a LOCK.

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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words... 

...so I'll let this one speak for itself:





Yes, that's Red Sox outfielder Johhny Damon.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The New Kid In Town 

There's a new M's blog out there, Olympia Mariner. They take a decidedly anti-stat stance, and, frankly, it's a refreshing new perspective. Well written, too. Give it a look.

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Monday, February 23, 2004

Why I Think Seattle Should be the Best Team in the West in 2004 

Maybe I've completely lost it, but I'm starting to think the Mariners really are the team to beat in the AL West this year. Yes, I have noticed the convoy of All Stars headed toward Anaheim this offseason, and yes, I know you're never supposed to underestimate Billy Beane's Baseball Machine. But let's keep a few things in mind here.

1. The Angels finished four games below .500 in 2003.
2. The players they signed are hardly sure-things.
3. Oakland has gotten SERIOUSLY worse this time around.
4. Seattle should have won the division by five games last year.

Now, I have no idea why Anaheim was so bad last year, just as I had no idea why they were so good the year before. They are a crazy team, full of players who can be the best or the worst on any given week. And they haven't done much to change that by signing two of the flightiest, most inconsistent players in the game, Jose Guillen and Bartolo Colon.

Granted, they got Guerrero, and that hurts. Now they have TWO hitters who you know will be good, if they stay healthy (the other being Garrett Anderson, obviously). Then there's Glaus and Salmon. They're both capable of being very good, but Glaus has been in serious decline since his great 2000 season, and Salmon is getting older and less worthy of the DH slot. Everyone else in the lineup--the other FIVE GUYS--have all had multiple full seasons with OPSes below .700. That's not just bad. That's terrible. As Gary Barnett would say, that's rape-worthy.

As for this supposedly great rotation they've assembled, give me a break! They have one starting pitcher (Colon) who posted an ERA below 4.29 last year. And Colon's was an unspectacular 3.87. Which is about what you should expect from him next year. Don't get me wrong, he's good. But that's all he is. He's had exactly one really good season and a whole bunch of pretty good ones. But he gets a lot of attention and money for throwing 100 mph.

So while it's definitely possible that the Angels will just tear it up this year, it's also possible that they'll be such a disappointment by July that they'll have to pare some of that bloated payroll.

As for Oakland, their time in the sun just MUST be over now. Right? I mean, for God's sake! They lost Tejada, replacing him with a rookie who's batting .000 in 12 major league at bats. They lost Kieth Foulke and Replaced him with Arthur Rhodes, who's never been a closer and struggled badly in the second half last year. They lost Ramon Hernandez and replaced him with another golden oldie, Damien Miller. I mean, where is the offense supposed to come from? I just don't see it.

Then there's Seattle. They haven't really gotten any better, but they haven't gotten worse either. Their pitching isn't as good as Oakland's, but it's not that much worse. Their lineup isn't as good as Anaheim's COULD be, but it's still very good.

I don't know. Maybe I've completely lost it.

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Pete's Inappropriately Specific Pre-preseason AL Picks 

AL East

New York Stupid Pieces of Crap (121-41)
Boston Red Sox (102-60)
Toronto Bluejays (83-79)
Baltimore Orioles (78-84)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (39-123)

AL Central

Kansas City Royals (84-78)
Minnesota Twins (82-80)
Chicago White Sox (80-82)
Cleveland Indians (70-92)
Detroit Tigers (64-98)--Oh wait, they signed Pudge!--(66-96)

AL West

Seattle Mariners (94-68)--No, seriously! See my post above this one.
Anaheim Angels (90-62)
Oakland Athletics (87-75)
Texas Rangers (55-107)--Don't really think they're that bad, but the numbers must add up.

Yankees vs. Red Sox in the ALCS, Sox take it in 5.

AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero

AL Cy Young: Tim Hudson

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The Gambling Community Weighs In 

I just checked out the 2004 MLB lines on Betonsports.com. No surprise, the Yankees are favored to win the World Series, but right on their heels are the Red Sox and Cubs. Worst odds to win? Tigers, you say? Wrong. Milwaukee. Followed by Pittsburgh, then the Tigers. And you thought signing Pudge wouldn't make a difference. In fact, they give the Tigers better odds to win their division than the Rangers theirs.

Here's my completely unthoroughly researched prediction:

AL WEST:
Oakland
Seattle (with 75 wins)
Anaheim
Texas

AL CENTRAL:
Chicago
Minnesota
Kansas City
Cleveland
Detroit

AL EAST:
Boston
New York
Toronto
Baltimore
Tampa Bay

NL WEST:
San Francisco
Arizona
Los Angeles
San Diego
Colorado

NL CENTRAL:
Chicago
St. Louis
Houston
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Milwaukee (110 losses)

NL EAST:
Philadelphia
Florida
Atlanta
New York
Montreal

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Sunday, February 22, 2004

Now, Hear Me Out 

Jose Canseco is available to anybody that wants him. He says he'll play for the minimum. He says he can play first (I know, he says a lot of things). Even as just a pinch hitter, it makes sense to pay Canseco the minimum. And he's old as dirt, and a Proven Veteran. Qualities the M's find irresistable. Of course, the M's would offer him a $2 million deal, because that's the kind of tight ship they run.

Make this happen, Goat Boy. Trust me. It will work.

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Saturday, February 21, 2004

He must have meant "pimp"... Right?

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Friday, February 20, 2004

Ain't He A Dream... 

There's an article today on ESPN.com about how baseball does a crappy job marketing itself compared with other major sports. Well, duhhhhh!

One line got me though:
Jim Thome is a genuine pinup.
Uhhh, yeah.

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Good Luck Rob Ramsay 

Former Mariner (and Washington State Cougar) Rob Ramsay is in Orioles camp this spring, attempting a comeback from two brain surgeries (Washington Post article, registration required). Ramsay last pitched at the Major League-level in the 2000 ALCS against the Yankees. He had a "baseball-sized" tumor removed from his brain in 2001, and a blood clot removed from his brain in 2002. Things are stacked against him making the big club, as the O's have about as many "crafty lefties" as our M's trying out for the roster, but he certainly will be competitive for the job. Best of luck to him.

If you follow the link, and look at the picture, you'll notice Ramsay pitching with a John Olerud-style fielder's helmet. Baseball needs more men with helmets.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Fat Guy On A Little Bike 

I love Pullman. I just saw a Ron Jeremy look-alike speed down my hill on a little BMX bike. Thought I'd share.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Imagine There's No Yankees 

A seven-game series vs. the Cubs would have a team facing:

Game 1: Mark Prior
Game 2: Kerry Wood
Game 3: Greg Maddux
Game 4: Carlos Zambrano
Game 5: Prior
Game 6: Wood
Game 7: Maddux, with MARK PRIOR IN THE BULLPEN!

Money can buy a lot of things, but it can't buy the World Series.

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With Rosters Set, it's Time to Look Into the Future! 

Alright! I'm feelin' good, and I think it's time to make some pre-preseason picks! I love these things. It's like a competition to see who can be the most unrealistic.

Pete's Inappropriately Specific Pre-preseason National League Picks for 2004

NL East

1. Philiadelphia Phillies (97-65)
2. Atlanta Braves (86-76)
3. Florida Marlins (85-77)
4. New York Mets (78-84)
5. Montreal Expos (77-85)

NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs! (103-59)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (95-67) WILDCARD
3. Houston Astros (91-71)
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (79-83)
5. Cincinatti Reds (72-90)
6. Milwaukee Whatevers (59-103)

NL West

1. Arizona Diamondbacks (89-74)
2. San Francisco Giants (88-75)--That's right! I'm callin' a playoff game!
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (83-79)
4. San Diego Padres (79-83)
5. Colorado Rockies (70-92)

Cubs vs. Cards in the NLCS, Cubs take it in 7

NL MVP: Albert Pujols

NL Cy Young: Mark Prior

Rookie of the Year: some guy I never heard of

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That Pain in my Chest Just Got a Lot Less Severe 

Oh, thank God! You were right, Chris, you bastard. Now we've got an interesting season on our hands. I think it's time to make some predictions again.

First of all, I think you've got to admit that nobody has a better chance than the Cubs of being the class of the National league. Obviously, it could all go horribly wrong, but that rotation is absolutely sick. Prior, Wood, Maddux, Zambrano, Clement. I can now say that without sighing wistfully.

Mark Prior is the best young pitcher I've ever seen, hands down. He has all the talent and brains a ballplayer can have, and he ain't scared of nothin'. If he hadn't tried to put an Albert Belle on Marcus Giles halfway through the year, he would have had a great shot at the Cy Young. Hell, he almost won it anyway.

Kerry Wood has always put up exceptional numbers without winning that many games, but he's always had an excuse. The Cubs just never scored him enough runs. He should not have that excuse this year. In 2003, Wood seemed to thrive the more it became clear that Prior was the true ace of the staff. Well, now there's even less pressure on Kid K, so watch out!

Greg Maddux, obviously, is one of the three elite pitchers of his generation. Right up there with Clemens and Johnson. But that's the past, and the question is, how good will be be in 2004? Well, first of all, he's only 37. When Barry Bonds was 37, he'd never even hit 50 home runs in a season. If Maddux's next three seasons go as well as the ones Clemens and Johnson had between the ages of 37 and 40, nobody on the North Side will be complaining! I think that's a possibility, too. He absolutely tore up the second half last year, after the umpires were given a little more wriggle room from the universally despised QuesTec system (which, I might add, has not been installed in Wrigley and never will be).

Carlos Zambrano is the X-Factor. No one has any idea how good this guy might turn out to be. Dusty said last year that he was the most talented of the bunch. I never really saw that, but when he can find the area just below the strike zone with his splitter he is a sight to see.

Matt Clement...is now officially the best #5 starter in baseball. Congrats, Matt!

Pete's next Cubs roster-change prediction: Unless Michael Barrett has a great first half, which is not likely, Jason Kendall will be the Cubs catcher by the trading deadline.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I Am Vindicated! 

Maddux is goin' to the Cubs!

Jim Hendry (knocks on the outside window of Baskin-Robbins): Do you like apples?

George Steinbrenner (looks in disbelief at his party, then): Uhh, yeah, sure.

Hendry (slams a contract against the window so Steinbrenner can see): Well I got Maddux! How you like them apples?

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I...Am...So...Pissed...Off...Right...Now... 

I'm not going to make any more predictions until Maddux signs SOMEwhere. I'm just going to focus all my energies on not crapping my pants. This business has me so befuddled, I don't think my opinions are worth a speck of turd right now.

God, I hate the Yankees. They really are doing their best to become the cartoonish supervillains of Baseball. How could anyone not hate them? How could anyone like EVIL?

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Good Cubs News (Yes, It Exists From Time To Time) 

Pete, you ever heard of Francis Beltran?

Thanks to the 2/15 post on Ball Talk, which points to this "Jared" Rosenthal article. An excerpt:
Cubs Class AAA RHP Francis Beltran was a revelation pitching for Licey in his native Dominican Republic, going from unreliable middle reliever to closer...

"He's come up with a split-fingered fastball from hell," one scout says. "From what I saw, I don't know how you can keep him off their team." Beltran, 24, was shut down at Class AAA last July because of biceps tendinitis, but he is expected to compete for a spot in the bullpen -- there will be one or two openings, depending on whether the Cubs sign free-agent RHP Greg Maddux. Beltran throws 95 to 98 mph, and the Cubs project him as a closer in the future. . .

Sounds like the Northside version of Robocop to me.

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Top 50 Prospects 

He's not a scout, or an executive, so his opinion doesn't hold a lot of weight with the Goat Boys of the world, but Bryan Smith at Wait Til Next Year, in today's post, ranks baseball's 50 best prospects.

The M's made a respectable showing, with pitchers Clint Nageotte (#23) and Travis Blackley (#37) making the cut.

Oakland's got shortstop Bobby Crosby (#18) and pitcher Joe Blanton (#32).

As for Texas:

INT. DEAN WERMER'S OFFICE - DAY

DEAN WERMER

The Texas Rangers... have no prospects.


That's right. No Ranger in the top 50. Condolences to baseball fans in the Metroplex.

Anaheim is scarry now, and for the future. Five guys. Catcher Jeff Mathis (#12), first baseman Casey Kotchman (#19), pitchers Ervin Santana (#21) and Bobby Jenks (#31), and third baseman Dallas McPherson (#33).

Of note: Giants prospect, pitcher Merkin Valdez (#44). In a couple of years, when Felipe Alou goes to the mound to relieve Valdez, I hope to God that Jon Miller says, "It looks like Alou's jerkin' Merkin."

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Too Many Hall-Of-Famers! 

2004 Yankees that are locks for the Hall of Fame:

Derek Jeter
Greg Maddux (still in the rumor phase)
Mariano Rivera
Alex Rodriguez

2004 Yankees that have a shot at Cooperstown:

Gary Sheffield
Jason Giambi
Jorge Posada
Mike Mussina
Kevin Brown
Bernie Williams

...and they can be defeated. Their starting pitching, with the exception of Vasquez, is OLD, and I wouldn't be surprised to see any member of their rotation have a terrible season. Remember, the Sox are stacked too. Schilling and Pedro didn't just disintegrate into thin air when Alex was traded.

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Monday, February 16, 2004

Well, Duhhhh! 

According to Ken "Jared From Subway" Rosenthal, A-Rod is going to push for the shortstop position on the Yankees. If this "race" is even remotely close I'll be shocked. I wonder how many times new Yankee pitchers allowed a ket base hit that squeaked through their sieve of an infield and noticed that their old infield would of had the out.

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I'm Sorry, Pete 

This is just terrible. I have nothing to say for myself.

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How Much Better Does A-Rod Make the Yankees? 

Frankly, I don't think that much. Especially if they make him a third baseman. Soriano is one of the two best second basemen in baseball. In Texas, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts he puts up numbers almost as sick as A-Rod did. Now the Yankees have nobody at second.

Don't get me wrong: A-Rod is better. But how much better? Let's try to be scientific about this. Last year, he led the AL in Win Shares with 32. Soriano was essentially tied for fourth with 27. The previous year, it was A-Rod 35, Soriano 30. So it seems that A-Rod is about five Win Shares better than Soriano. But wait a minute! That's as a shortstop.

In 2002, seven of A-Rod's Win Shares came from the defensive side. In 2003, 6.5 did. As a general rule, shortstops get more opportunities to help win games defensively than third basemen do. So, generally, shortstops get more defensive Win Shares. Now, in order for A-Rod the third baseman to continue to amass the same number of defensive Win Shares as he has the last two years, he would have to instantly be the best defensive third baseman in the world. Even Scott Rolen only had 4 defensive win shares last year. Eric Chavez, a bona-fide wizzard at the hot corner, had the most at the position with 6.4.

Now, who knows? Maybe he will be better than Rolen. He's certainly a better athlete, but I'd say it's unlikely this year. Let's be very charitable and say that A-Rod's unusual athletic ability will make up for some of his lack of 3B experience, and he's almost as good a third baseman next year as Rolen was in 2003. That still means we have to hack off about three Win Shares from his total.

Now the expected difference between A-Rod and Soriano is only TWO Win Shares, and that's a difference of less than one win for the team. Plus, whoever they put at second will be worth significantly less than Aaron Boone was at third. So, by my count, the Yankees are STILL a worse team than they were the day before Boone tried that 360 dunk.

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Chriiiiiiiiiiis! 

No!!! No jinxing the Maddux deal! Oh, man. I can't believe you actually wrote that "Maddux will be a Cub." That's just...I mean...gah! As if my Maddux-related heart condition weren't already bad enough! You'd better hope the deal actually goes through now, which it won't. I was GOing to blame Scott Boras for that little eventuality, but I see you'd prefer it if I blame you! Well, have it your way!

I HAVE NO CALDWELLLLLL!!!!!

Okay, maybe I overreacted a bit there. It does look like Maddux is leaning this way. That's what scares the crap out of me. It makes too much sense not to have already happened. What's the freaking holdup? Huh? There's something going on that ESPN doesn't know about. So far this crazy offseason, every major signing and trade has been sudden and unexpected. Except the Sheffield one, I guess.

I have no idea where Maddux will end up, but THIS Cubs fan is still ready to collapse into a puddle of sorrow and self-pity.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

What Bill Bavasi Is Trying To Do Without Really Understanding All The Subtleties 

It looks like Maddux will be a Cub after all. This is a great move by the Jim Hendry and the Cubs, and while they are paying more than what they originally wanted to, they're getting a great veteran pitcher who can teach a thing or two to Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Zambrano. Goat Boy's trying to make this type of move, but instead of bringing back veterans capable of contributing to a championship team (Raul Ibanez is definitely NOT a championship-caliber outfielder), or who can impart valuable knowledge to the youngsters (there are no young players on the Mariners, nor do they have openings likely to be filled by AAA players), he's giving us Ron Villone and Terry Mulholland.

Three very important words for Goat Boy to familiarize himself with:

REPLACEMENT LEVEL PLAYERS

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Holy @#$@# #@%^$^%$@! 

A-Rod is a Yankee! For now, it's said that Jeter will remain at short, with Alex playing third. One untimely error on Jeter's part, and you know that won't last too long. You just don't move 28-year-old, Gold Glove shortstops. It's simply not done!

This makes the Yankees really, really scarry.

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A-Rod's Darth-Vader-Like Transformation is Complete 

Unless something very strange happens, the Yankees will have one of the most mind-bogglingly awesome teams of all time next year. But you know what? In a seven game series, a plucky team tends to do just as well as an awesome team. This will just make it all the sweeter when the Yankees lose it again.

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Saturday, February 14, 2004

I... Am... Number 1
What-Does-It-Take-To-Be... Number 1 

Here's a good post about the 2004 Mariner uniform #'s from Bavasi Stinks. Wiki Gonzalez is no #1, certainly. But Scott Spiezio as #23? Ryne Sandbeg's number? I know Ryno played for a different team, but Spiezio is a disgrace to everything that defined Ryno. This puts Spiezio oh so close to surpassing the infamous Paul O'Neill as my Most Hated Player Ever. I'm sure watching Spazzio play third about 120 times or so this season will put him over.

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Thursday, February 12, 2004

Hey, that make me think: Raul Ibanez's nickname should be Dead or Alive.

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Remember The 80's? 

Remember when, a few years ago, it was hip to listen to 80's pop songs for a while? Eighties radio stations starting popping up across the nation, and all of a sudden it was a feather in your cap to know all the words to "Come On Eileen." Then people starting catching on. We all remembered why no one had heard Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" in ten years: that music blew then, and it blows now.

Fast forward to 2004. The Mariners sign Raul Ibanez, Ron Villone, and Terry Mullholland (Bill Bavasi is looking up Mike Kingery's digits as we speak). People start reminiscing. "I remeber Raul Ibanez! I always liked him!" and so on. Reality will set in, and when he's hitting .260 with five home runs at the All-Star break, we'll all be reminded why he was let go in the first place. As history takes its course, Raul Ibanez will be the "You Spin Me (Like a Record)" of Mariners baseball.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bill Bavasi's Got A Bad Case Of The Closing Time Blues 

It's 1:45. The bouncer's kicking everyone out of the bar. Bill Bavasi's been working his game all night, but none of the good players are buying his sales pitch. But wait! Who's that, standing alone in the corner? I think it's Terry Mullholland! Hey, at least he went home with somebody.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

More On (no pun intended) Scott Spiezio 

I was a little harsh (but only a little) in my criticism of Scott Spiezio's ability to field the hot corner. I compared Spiezio's lifetime 3B fielding stats to Russ Davis's as a Mariner, and found that Davis was actually quite a bit better, statistically. What I didn't consider, however, was the likely improvement Spiezio will show as a third baseman. Spiezio's lifetime 3B stats consist of the sum of all his spot appearances at the position. As the regular 3B this year, he will be (and hopefully already is) undoubtedly working very hard to learn the nuances of the position. Will Spiezio be as bad as his 1.66 range factor at 3B? Probably not. Will he be as "good" as Russ Davis? Only time will tell.

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Imagine The Possibilities 

After the 2001 season, I thought the Seattle Mariners had exactly one advantage over the other 29 Major League baseball clubs: the ability to sign Japanese players. I was starting to expect a steady stream of All-Stars from the Land of the Rising Sun, but that's turning out to not be the case after all.

After Sasaki starting mowing 'em down during his rookie 2000 season, I looked in to the Japan League to see what scouts were saying about other stars there, and I came away with three predictable names: Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Kazuo Matsui. Then we signed Ichiro. The Matsuis must be right around the corner, I thought. I was, of course, wrong, and Gillick was unable to obtain either player, but in a moment of pure conjecture, let's look at what our lineup might look like today:

Ichiro, RF
Kazuo Matsui, SS
Edgar, DH
Boone, 2B
Hideki Matsui, LF
Olerud, 1B
Spiezio, 3B
Winn, CF
Wilson, C

The M's had a golden opportunity to corner a potentially valuable market, and blew it. Just like it's worth overpaying Ichiro in his contract extension, it would have been worth overpaying for the Matsuis.

As it stands today, the Mariners have no advantages at all over the other clubs, and with Goat Boy and Gump (sounds like a 70's detective action-drama, picture Bob Melvin sliding across the expansive hood of a '78 Crown Victoria) at the controls, don't expect too much from this group.

Of course, all that is just a bunch of wouldda, shouldda, couldda. Who cares? Play some baseball already.

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Monday, February 09, 2004

I Think We're Villone Now 

Ron Villone is officially part of YOUR 2004 SEATTLE MARINERS! Fie! Several things bother me about this, most of which have already been covered by my esteemed M's blogland neighbors.

Villone's contract brings one question I haven't seen elsewhere: Why is a lefty in the pen a necessity? Soriano and Hasegawa are going to mow down righties, and do just fine against the lefties they're called to face.

To me, this signing means that Everyday Eddie is a lock as the closer (nothing wrong with that if it stood by itself), with Soriano in short relief. This must mean that a lefty in the pen is unimportant, because if it had any importance at all, Soriano would be the closer and Everyday Eddie would be that lefty. But then we sign Villone, whose only strength is that he can't use normal scissors, and I don't know what to think anymore! I'm as confused by this as you.

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At Least The Red Sox Have 1918 Hall Of Fame: Ryne Sandberg 

Ryne Sandberg interviewd by legendary broadcaster Harry CarayWhitey Herzog called Ryne Sandberg the best player he'd ever seen in 1984. In a People Magazine article that same year, Ralph Novak speculated, "If Theodore Roosevelt were alive, he'd probably be a Sandberg booster too, admiring as he did people who speak softly as well as carry a big stick." Evidently, thirty-nine percent of the ten-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America see something that Herzog missed, and, presumably, Teddy Roosevelt would have overlooked. As early as 1991, writers in such respected sporting publications as Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News hailed Ryno as a sure-fire, first-ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame. Cooperstown's loss, however, is Sox-1918's gain, and I am proud to introduce Ryne Sandberg as the first member of the At Least The Red Sox Have 1918 Hall Of Fame.

Sandberg's road to Sox-1918 immortality began in the 1978 Amateur Draft, when he was chosen in the 20th round by the Philadelphia Phillies. A star quarterback at Spokane's North Central High School (the baseball field there has been named after him for years now), Sandberg's draft position was without a doubt effected by the numerous Division I football scholarships being presented to him at the time, including offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma, and eight of the ten Pac-10 universities. Sandberg showed that he could hit for average at the minor league level in subsequent seasons, but his lack of power and high strikeout totals had the Phillies' management convinced he would be no more than a utility infielder in the big leagues. After only six at-bats in thirteen games for the Phillies during his September call-up of 1981, the team decided Sandberg was expendable, and on January 27, 1982, he was traded to the Cubs, a mere throw-in to go with shortstop Larry Bowa, for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. DeJesus wasn't terrible (he led the NL in runs in 1978 for the Northsiders, although he didn't do too much for the Phillies), but Sandberg became a legend as a result of one of baseball history's most one-sided trades.

New York Times newsbrief on the Sandberg-Bowa tradeSandberg will surely be remembered as one of the best-fielding second basemen of all time, winning the National League Gold Glove award at the position nine times (Nine times? Niiiiiiiiiine tiiiiiiiiiiiiiimes). Although his approach in the field was far from textbook, Sandberg compensated with a strong arm for his position and remarkable hands. Despite his unorthodox last-second stabs at ground balls with his glove, Sandberg broke the consecutive errorless games record at second base twice. Don "Gerbil" Zimmer once said of Sandberg, "For him to field like that he must have outstanding hands, outstanding hands." An entire generation of kids growing up with me in Ketchikan, Alaska (and certainly in other locales as well), with the only regular baseball broadcast being the Cubs on WGN, mimicked Sandberg's glovework, much to the chagrin of our Little League coaches.

As amazing as Sandberg was as a fielder, how he will always be remembered will be as a great hitter, one of the best in the National League in the 1980's. From his 1984 National League Most Valuable Player season, when he hit nineteen triples to go with nineteen home runs, to his 25-homer comeback season of 1996, Ryne Sandberg put up numbers comparable to just about any middle infielder Cooperstown has honored.

Ryne Sandberg will always be remembered by fans of my generation as not only a great ballplayer, but as a model citizen as well. He has touched Cubs fans, Spokanites, and casual baseball fans alike in ways no one has quite duplicated. For these reasons, Sandberg leads the list of Sox-1918 Hall Of Famers. Stay tuned until opening day, as we will be inducting several other members of the inaugural class of the At Least The Red Sox Have 1918 Hall Of Fame.

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Jose, Can You See 

The Pirates have signed Jose Mess-Up to a minor league deal. The best line of the article:
Mesa, who doesn't speak to the media...
Mesa, along with Quinton McCracken, make up that select group of ballplayers whose production on the field could likely be duplicated by the Tuba Guy. Every time McCracken grounds weakly to second, I'll be thinking, "It could be worse. Jose Mesa could be warming up..."

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Sunday, February 08, 2004

A Brief Cougar Basketball Interlude 

The Cougs swept the LA schools in LA this week. Those of you that do not follow Cougar Basketball my not fully appreciate just how monumetal this turn of events is. The Cougs had never, ever, EVER won at Pauley Pavillion (UCLA's home gym). Did I mention never, ever, ever? They won on Thursday. At Pauley. Against UCLA. Holy freakin' crap.

Stanford-Arizona was about as amazing a finish as I'll ever see. Wow.

That's all the basketball talk for now. Back to baseball...

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Introducing The At Least The Red Sox Have 1918 Hall Of Fame 

Over the next few weeks, Pete and I will be inducting the inaugural class of the At Least The Red Sox Have 1918 Hall Of Fame, or "ALTRSH1918HOF" for short. For consideration, players must be:

-retired from baseball
-not a lock for the real Hall Of Fame
-active in the Major Leagues during Pete's and my time as baseball fans (from about 1985 on)

Hopefully the first few players we induct will suffice to establish what we're looking for. Comments about our selections are welcome and encouraged. Or if you think we're overlooking someone, let us know.

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Mike Cameron = Baseball's Most Valuable Defensive Player (but you already knew that) 

I would like to recommend to any readers out there who are not already doing so to check out Baseball Primer's Clutch Hits. It's a great summary of the day's baseball news, from a bunch of different sources, from sports sites like ESPN.com and The Sporting News to local newspaper coverage.

In today's edition of Clutch Hits, there's a link to a good article from the New York Post about Mike Cameron, one of those "hype up the new player" bits.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: letting Cameron go was a HUGE mistake. It'll be interesting to see if fewer people hang out on the landing in center field at The Safe this year.

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

A Whole Lot Of Hits 

Jasyson Stark has an article on ESPN.com outlining the leaders in many statistical categories for the first four years of this decade. He spends most of the article explaining how Todd "Highway To" Helton has a reasonable chance to be the third player ever to average over 200 hits over an entire decade (Ty Cobb and Pete Rose are the only two so far). Certainly an impressive feat if Helton is lucky enough to make it. Incidentally, Ichiro is only about 50 hits from the top ten, despite playing the 2000 season in Japan.

The really impressive stat, however, is that Alex Rodriguez has a real shot to average 50 home runs over the decade. 50! No one has even come close to that. Maybe if he averaged 75, the Rangers could finally contend.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Aaron Boone at 3B in 2005? 

The YES Network's web site is running an opinion piece about how the Yankees should release Aaron Boone because of his participation in the basketball game that cost him his ACL the other day. Two things come to mind in reaction to the article. One, there are a lot of stiffs worse than Aaron Boone that could be the Mariners' 2005 third baseman. Two, if the Yankees cable network is publishing an "opinion" that Boone should be released, it's probably right around the corner.

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Here's One For 'Ya 

John at Sodo Oh No got a good jab in on Goat Boy in his post the other day:
M's should be concentrating on Maglio Ordonez and/or Carlos Beltran but I have a sinking feeling that Bavasi is all tied up reading the manual for his new electric pencil sharpener.

"Bill, it's a pencil sharpener. Pens don't need to be sharpened." said Bill's exasperated administrative assistant.

Signing Beltran, by the way, would make my year; go get him, Goat.

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Lost In Translation 

Here's a fun little toy: Alta Vista's Babel Fish Translation Service. Just because, I entered the title of this blog, "At Least The Red Sox Have 1918," which though a series of translations into Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Portugese, Japanese, Korean, and Italian, came back as:
To the little red o of sulfuration that it is become fullfilled in 1918
Here's another: "Sodo Mojo" comes back as:
Under inside desiring anxiously the origin of spremuta 1
Looks like we can close the book on that one!

Here's some of the titles of the other M's blogs run through the translations:

U.S.S. Mariner - "Great sheep of U.S.S."
Mariner Musings - "It disappears the inactive fancy of the group"
Sports And Bremertonians - "Sports And Bremertonians"
Mariners Wheelhouse - "House of the civil official of the great sheep"
Mariner Optimist - "Opportunist of the great sheep"
Cracking The Safe - "It apprehends the crack of the box"
Trident Fever - "Inside of ten 3 of the defect"
Fire Bavasi - "Suddenness Bavasi"
The Safest Blog On The Web - "The majority is pure in the Blog that is safe"
From Basketball To Baseball... - "In baseball that it cultivates the tool..."
Just Another Mariners Blog - "Almost different great ambition of Blog"

I could spend hours doing this. It's funny, the translations at least convey some of the original meaning until you run them through Korean; for some reason "Mariner," "Sailor," or "Marine" seems to end up as "Great Sheep" at that step. I'll leave that one alone for now.

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Sunday, February 01, 2004

John Kasay's SNAFU 

Bill Simmons and Sal Kimmel played a hand in John Kasay's miscue that helped cost the Panthers the Super Bowl. Or maybe it was just the socks.

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Now That That Formality Is Behind Us 

Pitchers and catchers:
REPORT!

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The 'Hawks In The Super Bowl Would Be Great, But It's Still No World Series 

If you live in the Milky Way Galaxy, you know that today the NFL crowns its champion in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Every year on Super Bowl Sunday (or, as I like to call it, The Most Anticlimactic Event In Modern Western Society), I cap off a week of watching the excruciatingly detailed Super Bowl Week reports, which I view with intense dispassion, by sitting through four-and-a-half hours of a sloppy football game about which I care even less.

I've always figured my apathy is because neither team is "my team." If I was forced to declare an No Fun League team, it would be the 'Hawks, in a by-default sort of way; the Cougs have always been and will always be "my team," as far as football goes. If the Seahawks had a miracle run and made the Super Bowl, I'd be excited, for sure. But as I tried to kill time between getting up this morning and this afternoon's kickoff, I had an epiphany of sorts: Even if the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, my reaction wouldn't be "Yes! Super Bowl champs!" Rather, I'd probably be thinking, "Too bad the Mariners can't do that."

The World Series has always captured my interest, from the time I was eight years old and I watched Bill Buckner let one go right through the wickets to keep the Mets alive in '86. There's 100 years of history behind the World Series, from Cy Young and the 1903 Boston Pilgrims to Josh Beckett and the 2003 Florida Marlins, that the NFL simply can't approach, let alone rival. The Series has thrived through war, depression, racial conflict, and countless other hard times in this country, and will continue to do so. The Super Bowl is, and always will be, a made-for-TV drama that we all pretend to care about just to have something to talk about when the weather sucks and we have nothing to do.

The Super Bowl calls its winner the "World Champions." In what other country is football played? Isn't this like the Inuits calling their best igloo builder the World Champion? Baseball is truly an international game, and the World Series showcases its best two teams, made up of players from North and South America, Asia, and Australia. The "World" in "World Series" is both relevant and appropriate.

If the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, I'll be happy for a day. When the Mariners win a World Series, I'll be happy for years.

That's it, gotta go. The pre-pregame show's about to start. I'll take New England and give up the points.

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