Monthly archives: January 2003
"We Few, We Happy Few,
"We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Stiffs"
"Your Milwaukee Brewers. It's coming together."
My friend Mike sent me this Milwaukee Journal article on the Brewers new ad campaign, which uses this motto as its unifying theme. It seems that the Brewers are no longer striving for excellence or even mediocrity, they just hope to be entertaining to the fanbase. Given the car wreck that the 2003 Brewers promise to be, there should be a fair share in attendance, slowing down to check out the carnage.
No clarification is made during the ad as to what the "it" is that is coming together. Though first Brewer president Ulice Payne weighs in:
I know how the people of this city stand behind their teams. I know how they cheer for every win and cry for every loss. But you can't build a winner overnight.
Evidently, building a loser can be done in a Milwaukee minute. He continues:
I also know that it's been way too long since you've had a parade on Wisconsin Ave. And it's about time we started building a team that deserves a parade.
OK, agreed. So start already. This is a team that lost its best position player in Jose Hernandez to free agency and has answered by signing the likes of Royce Clayton, Todd Ritchie, and John Vander Wal, all on Ulice "I Can't Pronounce It Either" Payne's watch.
Next up is Ned "I'm a Manager Because I Was a Worse Catcher Than Donnie Scott" Yost, who aw-goshes his way through the second commercial.
In his ad, Yost talks of his love of the game, and the challenge of molding a team. He says his team won't win all of its games, "but I can promise you this entire team will do everything we can to win you back."
Look, I'm sure these players will try their best, but they just aren't very good. It's not their fault. Blame God, blame it on Cane, but don't blame it on me. The Brewers management knows this. They chose to people this team with replacement-level players at replacement-level prices. That's why the Brewers suck. It's all about money, not even baseball decisions. The baseball decisions are already made. They are incidental. Just field a team and wait for the great big Yankee welfare checks to arrive. Pay your catcher with food stamps. Who cares? And then tell your constituency that all you need is heart. Hypocrites! The Indians in the Major League never won a championship and the Fish never saved Pittsburgh. They were pretend, but so are the 2003 Brewers, so maybe they're reading the same script and expect to win the same way.
In the printed ad, the Brewers add insult to injury pointing out that Milwaukee was na´ve enough to have built these shmendriks their own stadium two years ago:
"You will see players that will play hard, or they won't play at all," the ad copy reads. "After all, Miller Park is your stadium, the Brewers are your team, and you deserve to get your money's worth. . . ."
Of course, the players will be gone if they don't play hard. They are fungible, replacement-level, dime-a-dozen scrubs. They "don't cost nuttin', " in the words of John Blutarsky, to begin with. But at least we get an explanation as to Hernandez's disappearance: he didn't play hard enough. When last year's manager, Jerry Royster, benched him at the end of the year to avoid the final embarrassment of his breaking the strikeout record, they were actually sending a message to the team. Don't play well, or else. Wasn't that it? Don't try to win because this team isn't trying, inspirational music written by local musician Kevin Sucher and arranged by Warren Wiegratz. Isn't that the message that they are still sending out? Well, the message I'm sure got through, and the Brew Crew will happily comply in 2003 and for years to come.
As Long As He Doesn't
As Long As He Doesn't Get Back Together with Jane Fonda
My friend Murray sent me this link that purports to have evdience that Ted Turner is trying to reclaim control of the Braves as well as CNN. Apparently, the failing AOL/Time Warner/The Kitchen Sink is willing to part ways with the be-chopping team, probably citing lack of synergies.
The Drudge Report further quotes an unidentified source:
"It is safe to say he will get his baseball team back; CNN is another issue, entirely," a top AOL source said early Thursday from New York.
Meanwhile the Braves are prepared to start the season with little-leaguers at first, second, and third and may have lost their best pitcher to the division-rival Phillies. This is the routine that has been established for a yearly affirmation of Bobby Cox's genius, at least until playoff time.
Downsize the Umpire! Ideally, the
Downsize the Umpire!
Ideally, the umpire should combine the integrity of a Supreme Court justice, the physical agility of an acrobat, the endurance of Job and the imperturbability of Buddha.
That sure shows you how times have changed.
As you probably have heard venerable, sexagenarian umpire Bruce Froemming was recorded in a phone conversation referring to fellow MLB employee Cathy Davis in a racist and misogynistic manner. It seems Froemming assessment of Davis was meant as an explanation as to why he booked his own arrangements for the season opener in Japan. The result for Froemming was a 10-game suspension and another visit to orbitz.com to cancel those plans-he ain't going. No turning Japanese for Mr. Froemming, I really think not.
There was a time when calls of "Kill the umpire!" were actually shouted in earnest. Attacks on umpire in the 19th century were not rare. The majors did what they could to support the umps and eventually fans learned to respect these men's integrity and wellbeing if not their decisions. As late as 1940, however, major-league umpires were still attacked-confrontational ump George Magerkurth was attacked by a fan at Ebbetts Field (allegedly so that the man's partner, a pickpocket, could have free reign over the diverted crowd).
Things have changed so dramatically that umpires are on the offensive lately. Confrontational umpires are the norm. In 1999 Richie Phillips led a mass-strike by seppuku that resulted in a new umpires' union and 22 unintentionally resigned umpires. The umpires have to be forced to actually call balls and strikes for goodness' sake.
Froemming himself had been reprimanded for pursuing Mike Piazza for an autograph into the clubhouse, not that there's anything wrond with that. Other than that Froemming's claim to fame may have been being the home plate ump for Milt Pappas perfect game-cum-no-hitter. Pappas blamed losing the perfect game on his ball call on a close pitch to the 27th batter, who had a full count at the time. Now Froemming will be remembered as the umpiral version of Marge Schott, a John Rocker in blue.
Given Time's criteria above Froemming is an apt umpire though. He is as rotund as Buddha and has the integrity of Justice Clarence Thomas. Maybe times haven't changed that much.
As far as acrobatic skills, he seems to have dodged a bullet more easily than the stolid Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. To get off with a 10-day suspension is very lucky on Froemming's part. I have heard of people getting fired from their jobs for less, such as forwarding or just not deleting, emails with off-color jokes.
But how effective can he be as an umpire? Let's see what the reaction is the next time he is behind the plate and makes a call against, say, Shawn Green. Will people question whether he made the call because he is anti-Semitic? How does he feel about blacks, Latins, foreign-born players? I guess we'll just have to wait for his next phone message to find out.
Doesn't just the possibility of impropriety enough to undermine him when we're talking someone whose job it is to make judgement calls, calls that form the backbone of MLB's integrity. If his calls can be questioned due to his personal views, then isn't he undermining the integrity of the game and abnegating the advancements that his fellow umpires have made in the last 150 years. It took many years to put the umpire beyond reproach. He may have been blind, but like the blindfolded justice depicted in the statue, he was fair.
Even without delving into the moral integrity requisite for being an umpire, given the realities of the world in which we live, it is incumbent on MLB to relieve Froemming of his duties at once. Call it retirement. Call it downsizing. Call it rightsizing. Just get him off the field. Meanwhile, Pete Rose's reinstatement appears stalled because of tax problems and his legal visits to casinos. How can a business exist with such divergent moral standards?
Koch-Eyed? If further proof was
If further proof was needed that Billy Beane is a genius, it came last night. Arbitration-eligible closer Billy Koch, who was traded by Beane's A's this offseason, was signed by the White Sox for two years and $10.625 M ($4.25M in 2003 and $6.375M in 2004).
Don't get me wrong. Koch is only 28 and is a fine closer who had a very good year in 2002. My first reaction was just that the current market does not warrant the salary or the length of the contract.
The Sox think otherwise:
"As we talked about at the time we traded for Billy, part of the appeal of doing the deal was the fact that we would be able to keep him around beyond 2003," White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn said.
Maybe I'm wrong. Let's take a look at a few things. First, here are the relievers (10+ relief appearances in 2002) who made over $4M in 2002 with their salaries for 2003.
First Last 2002 salary 2003 salary Tot Sv 2002 SV Mariano Rivera $9,450,000 $8,500,000 243 28 Robb Nen $8,300,000 $8,600,000 314 43 Billy Wagner $8,000,000 $8,000,000 181 35 Wilson Alvarez $8,000,000 $750,000 2 1 John Smoltz $7,666,667 $10,000,000 65 55 Ugueth Urbina $6,700,000 $4,500,000 174 40 Trevor Hoffman $6,600,000 $9,000,000 352 38 Roberto Hernandez $6,000,000 $600,000 320 26 Dustin Hermanson $5,833,333 $900,000 4 0 Armando Benitez $5,812,500 $6,750,000 176 33 Brian Anderson $5,375,000 N/A 1 0 Mike Timlin $5,250,000 $1,850,000 114 0 Troy Percival $5,250,000 $7,500,000 250 40 Kazuhiro Sasaki $5,070,000 $8,000,000 119 37 Omar Daal $5,000,000 $3,000,000 1 0 Sterling Hitchcock $4,936,719 $6,750,000 3 0 Matt Mantei $4,333,333 $2,000,000 60 0 Dave Veres $4,250,000 $6,000,000 94 4 Jose Mesa $4,200,000 $4,500,000 225 45 Danys Baez $4,125,000 $4,125,000 6 6 Albie Lopez $4,000,000 $1,500,000 4 0 Keith Foulke $4,000,000 $6,000,000 100 11 Steve Karsay $4,000,000 $4,000,000 41 12
Well, there are some swingmen and non-closers in that mix. Of the closers, the ones that signed new contracts this offseason took their lumps (i.e., Urbina and Hernandez, who also lost his closer's role) though Antonio Alfonseca joined the $4M-per-anum ranks with his new contract with the Cubbies.
Well, let's look at the career closers and what their salaries were in 2002. maybe that's a better fit for Koch:
First Last 2002 salary Tot Sv Trevor Hoffman $6,600,000 352 Roberto Hernandez $6,000,000 320 Robb Nen $8,300,000 314 Troy Percival $5,250,000 250 Mariano Rivera $9,450,000 243 Jose Mesa $4,200,000 225 Todd Jones $1,000,000 184 Billy Wagner $8,000,000 181 Armando Benitez $5,812,500 176 Ugueth Urbina $6,700,000 174 Bob Wickman $3,400,000 156 Dan Plesac $2,200,000 156 Billy Koch $2,433,333 144 Mike Jackson $500,000 142 Danny Graves $3,525,000 129 Antonio Alfonseca $3,550,000 121 Kazuhiro Sasaki $5,070,000 119 Mark Wohlers $600,000 119 Mike Williams $2,000,000 116 Mike Timlin $5,250,000 114 Ricky Bottalico $1,500,000 114 Jason Isringhausen $2,750,000 108 Keith Foulke $4,000,000 100
You'll note that a good number of these closers no longer close and some may not even have jobs in 2003. It does appear that Koch was due a raise compared to the other active closers at his level. Maybe that's why the A's got rid of him. Koch is among the top 10 active closers in career saves, but is that enough?
How good is Koch behind the 144 saves? Here are Koch's career numbers:
Year G IP W L SV ERA K/9IP K:BB WHIP HR/9IP Adj ERA SV% 1999 56 63.2 0 5 31 3.39 8.06 1.90 1.34 0.71 145 88.57% 2000 68 78.2 9 3 33 2.63 6.86 3.33 1.22 0.69 189 86.84% 2001 69 69.1 2 5 36 4.80 7.14 1.67 1.47 0.91 99 81.82% 2002 84 93.2 11 4 44 3.27 8.94 2.02 1.27 0.67 142 88.00% Tot 277 305.1 22 17 144 3.48 7.81 2.09 1.32 0.74 138 86.23%
His 2002 year was very good, but not because of the quality of his performance, which was good, as much as because of the quantity. He threw 93.2 innings in 84 games. That's a tremendous amount of pitching for a closer. That's what allowed him to break the 30-save threshold for the first time and allowed him to win 11 games. He was used 34 times last year when their was no save opportunity. He also averaged almost a strikeout per inning, much higher than his previous level.
But can he keep it up in 2003? It's doubtful. He will probably return to a 60-appearance, 70-inning workload typical of a closer with the Sox. Aside from the attendant reduction in saves and wins, will his performance be affected by the change in workload? Here is his performance in 2002 based on days rest prior to the appearance:
Rest ERA W L SV SVO G IP AVG K/9IP K:BB HR/9IP WHIP SV% 0 3.21 3 1 21 21 28 28 .220 7.71 1.60 0.96 1.32 100.00% 1 3.79 5 2 12 17 30 38 .245 9.00 2.38 0.95 1.34 70.59% 2 3.21 1 1 5 5 14 14 .106 10.93 1.89 0.00 1.00 100.00% 3-5 1.42 1 0 6 6 11 12.2 .196 8.53 2.40 0.00 1.11 100.00% 6+ 9.00 1 0 0 1 1 1 .400 18.00 2.00 0.00 3.00 0.00%
It seems that he pitches best with more rest. Two days seems optimal. He also pitched alright with no rest, but pitching on one-day rest was his downfall. Maybe saving him to pitch longer every couple of days would be best. Here is his 2002 performances broken down by pitch count:
Pitches AB AVG OBP SLG OPS 1-15 217 .207 .283 .281 .565 16-30 101 .208 .344 .297 .641 31-45 22 .318 .400 .636 1.036 46-60 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
It seems that Koch falls apart after 30 pitchers. That should be enough for two innings on a good day.
So it seems that using him almost daily with gaps for rest as the A's did last year got the most out of Koch. It also inflated his numbers so that he would command a much larger salary this season. So the A's moved on and traded his inflated numbers for a superior closer. Given that the Sox are sort of trapped in the situation that they created, I guess that they go full-bore with Koch and sign him to the inflated contract. It's not a great move: he'll probably pitch well but it's doubtful that he'll be worth the money.
But maybe there's an ulterior motive. Perhaps with the players possibly filing a collusion grievance against the owners, it was time for Reinsdorf to take one for the team, i.e., his fellow owners. It's either that or the entire city of Chicago is totally infatuated with the save statistic. Alfonseca and Koch may help them get over that case of bad love however.
Red Sox Fence-Sitting? O, beware,
Red Sox Fence-Sitting?
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
How much would you pay for a 3 and one-half hour view of Manny Ramirez's derriere? The Red Sox are banking on the average fan feverishly forking over fifty, ten fins, in filial faithfulness. Fie, you offer?
Well, the NY Times has an article on the 280 new seats being added to Fenway, perched atop of the Green Monster like Horton the Elephant a-sitting on that egg. The Red Sox, and I guess the Times who are part owners, expect to snare $1M in selling out the new section. I guess that will make carrying an extra starting third baseman on the roster easier on John Henry's wallet.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino offers another rationale:
"I think there's also the feeling that these seats could be very cool," Lucchino said. "There's something very special about seeing a game at Fenway from that perspective."
Gnarly, dude. Whatever.
The team president, meanwhile, has apparently been watching too many Kevin Costner movies:
"Nobody likes watching a ball go into a net," said Tom Werner, chairman of the Red Sox. "The thrill of not only accommodating a few hundred people with a great seat but actually having a ball go into the crowd is a much more exciting experience."
One thing's for sure from the designer's rendering. The Yankee fans are correct-the Red Sox are empty-headed automatons:
The Times quotes the manager of the bar behind Fenway, who says, "The general feeling of the fans is that touching the Green Monster at all, putting seats on top of it, is not going to give it the same atmosphere as it had before. But we'll have to wait and see. I don't know how high they're going, but maybe it'll prevent the balls from hitting my car every day." Cute, but isn't this The Times not The Post?
No mention is made as to how this will affect the on-field product that the additional fans will see. The Sox played with the walls in the Eighties and helped make a hitter's park into a pitcher's park. If Fenway turns into a throwback Astrodome, then the fans may not turn out as frequently as they currently do.
That also reminds me, John Henry, the welfare principal owner of the Sox, channeled the smarmy evil that is Michael Eisner to add:
"There are things you can do to increase revenue and make the ballpark come alive, make it more fan-friendly," Henry said. "This is in that spirit."
(By the way, if Michael Eisner or, more importantly, Michael Esiner's attorney is reading this, I am, of course, only joking about America's favorite sweater-wearer being evil.)
New Red Sox Motto: "Fenway Park is Fan-Tabulous"
The Red Sox were fourth in AL attendance in 2002, the article further point out. Their 32,717
Well, the answer is Joe Willy Shakespeare's green-ey'd monster and the Sox' hatred of the "Evil Empire" that's just down the road a piece. Just take the Mass Pike, turn left at that Dunkin' Donuts at Sturbridge Village, and you'll wind up at Yankees Stadium. The place where right now George Steinbrenner is sitting by the phone, awaiting the next Red Sox' attempt to acquire a player, which he will of course thwart, while counting up his wads of dinero. Of course, this is all conjecture on my part-I have not been following George Steinbrenner's movements ever since that restraining order bugaboo-, but you get the point.
Le Not-So-Grand Orange Give not
Le Not-So-Grand Orange
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
The Mets are preparing to sport orange batting practice jerseys for the 2003 season to honor the 1977 Orioles, recently elected Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray's rookie team.
Check out Pedro Astacio wearing his before his mommy and daddy put him to bed:
Steve Phillips likes 'em. He likes anything as long as he gets to keep his job while running through more talent than a Soderbergh film:
"I like them," general manager Steve Phillips said. "It's a bright fresh look for a bright fresh start for the future of the Mets. We have a fresh start and a fresh direction with the singular ownership and [new manager] Art [Howe] and his coaching staff and the motivated group from last year joined with the winners we brought in this year, I think it's going to make for a great season. I think it's going to be a fresher environment for the players to thrive in."
Yeah, the only thing that's stale is the GM. Oh, and that corny apple that pops out of the hat whenever (if ever) a Met hits a home run.
At least Mike Piazza had a good sense of humor about it:
"[I] think they are interesting," Mike Piazza said. "The best part about them is that once the season is over, you can go hunting and you won't have to change your clothes."
He can't wait to tell that one to Alf at the next 10-10-220 shooting.
Major-League Machinations? This odd offseason
This odd offseason has been peppered by theories of owner collusion ever since they en masse decided not to tendor contracts to a large numebr of arbitration-eligible players. Agents then started to question the methodology behind free agent signing. And now it seems that the players are preparing to file a grievance according to an ESPN report.
The players took the first step by requesting team negotiation information with free agents. It seems that the agents are complaining that everyone is offering the same thing wherever they go. Of course, it may just be a means for said agents to justify their percentages (if everyone offers about the same thing, why do the players need agents?). It may also be just a result of the near salary cap instituted in the last Collecting Bargaining Agreement. However, there are a number of signs (the non-tendors, the proliferation of one-year contracts, the universally low offers to free agents, etc.) that indicate that an investigation is warranted. We'll just have to see how it plays out.
The owners, on the other hand, are happier than an Angel fan beating his Thindersticks (pardon the expression) to the beat of the Rally Monkey. Witness the following two articles:
First, KC owner David Glass gets to run his team into the ground under the premise that building teams on young players with a low payroll was the basis of the Angels, A's and Twins' championship years in 2002. These teams did it slowly around good young talent. There is some talent in KC (Mike Sweeney, Carlos Beltran, and Raul Ibanez), but there are also a whole lot of Triple-A players masquerading as big-leaguers. Their staff alone is peopled by a number of underachieving prospects that earned their jobs more from the management's unwillingness to pay Paul Byrd and Jeff Suppan-type salaries rather than their performance on the field in 2002. As Elvis, Costello that is, said, "All little sisters like to try on big sister's clothes."
Meanwhile, Mike Berardino has a morally represhensible little piece of , er, rather on the Marlins' new policy excluding multi-year salaries.
Marlins decision-makers, however, make no apologies for this approach. Nor should they. Rather, if this year goes as they hope, they might launch a countertrend that has been long overdue in professional sports.
Again the trendy Yankee bashing. No one bashes Tom Hicks for signing players to unwieldy salaries and then sucking. Anyway, the Marlins have returned to the days of jive, as Mr. Joel would say, and try to sell it as if they found something new. Back in the 19th century players were signed to one-year contracts. Then teams decided that continuity was best--at least for their wallets when they had to compete with other teams to retain their talent--and slowly instituted the reserve clause. Rival leagues appearred from time to time and players jumped their contracts to sign with teams from those leagues until MLB either subsumed the league or crushed it out of existence. Actually if this engenders universal free agency every year, it will drive down salaries. This is something that Marvin Miller discusses having dreaded in his autobiography and something that only one owner (Bill Veeck, of course) understood in the nascent days of free agency.
One thing that would be interesting if all teams went to one-year contracts eventually: A rival league could start up over night and recruit the available talent without worrying about MLB suing over broken contracts. Anyone for the Continental League Mach II?
Dream Weaver Apparently, Joe Torre
Apparently, Joe Torre is sticking by his promise and Jeff Weaver will get a spot in the rotation. Jose Contreras and his $32 M contract will languish in long relief according to a NY Post source.
A) This is the Post after all.
B) Spring training has not even started so who know's what their rotation will look like come opening day.
C) Given the Noachian Yankee rotation, who is in the rotation on day one may have little to do with who is there on October 1.
Hammerin' Aaron Aaron Gleeman has
Cruz Missive The Giants have
The Giants have signed free agent Jose Cruz Jr. to replace the likewise non-tendored Reggie Sanders in right field. The contract is for $2.5 M for 2003 with a potential $4 M option for 2004. Sanders made $1.75 M while the Blue Jays paid Cruz almost $4 M in 2002.
For my money, if I were signing one for a year, it would be the 35-year-old Sanders. He has been better over his career and in 2002. He also is a professional right fielder with a good range and a decent arm. Cruz's right field experience came in 40-odd 2002 games, and he didn't impress there, though as a center fielder by trade, he should have the wheels for right. He also may come in handy if regular center fielder Marquis Grissom returns to earth in 2003.
I guess overall the Giants did the best under the circumstances, circumstances that were largely their own making.
Web Video to Kill the
Web Video to Kill the Radio Star?
Baseball, that sport that cannot figure out how to ensure that there is an All-Star Game winner nor where to place its Expos--and we all know how painful that can be--, is banking on leading edge technology to sell itself over the Web according to the New York Times. It's like your grandfather getting a DVD player.
"With 16 or 18 million homes on broadband, and nearly everyone at work, that is a big enough sandbox for us to play in," said Bob Bowman, the chief executive of Major League Baseball Advanced Media.
Sandlot, not sandbox, Bob. Anyway, Bobby continues:
"There are hundreds of thousands of displaced baseball fans around the world," Mr. Bowman said. "I'm sure they will pay $6 or $10 a month to watch their teams."
Not everyone agrees with the Bob-meister:
AOL Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting division initially Webcast some programs of its CNNfn financial network when it was starting up and was not on many cable systems. But it quickly dropped that practice.
As always, the challenge will not be to overcome technical issues, but to find a market and then have MLB destroy it. Why did baseball go all draconian on fan sites 6-8 months ago if it intended to woo the tech-head market? Again, one of MLB's hands doesn't know what the other is doing or who they are ticking off.
Sierra? Madre! ESPN reports that
ESPN reports that the Texas Rangers have signed Ruben Sierra to a minor-league deal after his one year excursion to Seattle ("Attle? Who's Attle?" Thank you, Brady Bunch). He is only guaranteed $90K but would make between $600K and $800K.
Sierra is 37 and was just an average hitter last year (OPS was 1% better than average) in the second full year of his mini-Renaissance. He also appears to have been a poor left fielder and only appeared in 60 games there for a team (Seattle) that was desperate for a decent left fielder in 2002.
Th Rangers now appear to have six players for the three outfield spots and the DH: Sierra, Juan Gonzalez, Carl Everett, Doug Glanville Rusty Greer, and Kevin Mench. Funny that they didn't make ESPN's top-10 outfields list. Mench wasn't great last year but is only 25 and is the only one with a prospect to improve. Gonzalez may have one good year left in him but at 33 he may also be done. Greer is expected to miss the entire year recovering from rotator and elbow surgeries (though he is still damn plucky, he has excised running into walls from his rehab plans).
If it were me, I would hand the corner jobs to Mench and 25-year-old Jason Hart. Let them go the entire season to see if they will be major-leaguers. I would let switch-hitter Carl Everett (.170 advantage in OPS as a left-handed bat) and right-hander Doug Glanville platoon in center, unless a better option becomes available. I would do the same with Sierra and Gonzalez in the DH slot, going with the hot bat trying to resurrect one of their careers. Of course, Hart won't make the team, Mench will struggle and be benched, their outfield will be Gonzalez, Glanville, and Sierra by August, and the Rangers will continue to finish last in 2003.
Daubach-ery The White Sox signed
The White Sox signed Brian Daubach to a minor-league deal yesterday. Daubach was non-tendored by the Red Sox even though it meant that they would be thin as Calista Flockhart on Yom Kippur at first base, corner outfield, and DH. The Pale Hose already have Paul Konerko at first and Frank Thomas to DH. Apparently, Daubach will be used as a Jeff Liefer replacement.
That's kind of a shame given the dearth of quality first baseman around. Daubach isn't the next coming of Gehrig, but he has hit 20 home runs a season for the past four and has had an OPS at least 16% better than the adjusted league average in three of those seasons. His .812 OPS last year beat out a lot of other first basemen: former MVP Mo Vaughn, Angel and Tim McCarver hero Scott Spiezio, super-rookie Carlos Pena, playoff-bound Tino Martinez, Scott Hatteberg, Doug Mientkiewicz, Julio Franco, Mark Grace, J.T. Snow, and Nick Johnson (DH-1B), and teammate Tony Clark, among others.
This is a guy that could be a useful part of a contender or a useful starter on a pretender. Now, he will have to be a bench player on a team that now has three first basemen better than the starter on its main competitor, the Twins. Though I hate to endorse any Jerry Reinsdorf team, the ChiSox could be the closest thing to a lock in MLB. I fully expect the world to be shocked if or when they win their division.
Juan a Job? ESPN reports
Juan a Job?
ESPN reports that the Yankees signed Juan Acevedo to a minor-league contract today. He gets $150K guaranteed and $900K if hr makes the major-league team. The Tigers had him for $850K last year, but refused to go to arbitration after he recorded 28 saves. The White Sox were talking to him but inexplicably passed him by and instead signed Rick White.
Acevedo is a good pickup for the Yankees. He has been consistently good in different organizations. Last year was probably a career year, but the Yankees aren't paying him for it. He is also good insurance if Karsay's injured back does not respond.
The Yankees now have three right-handers (Acevedo, Karsay, and Osuna) and one left-hander (Hammond) to set up the closer Rivera. Add, part-time lefty reliever Randy Choate and probably two starters, and that's the Yankees probable pen. Choate, who the article says improved in September--he pitched one inning in the month--, is only there because of his left-handedness. Hitchcock may replace him as the second left-hander in the pen (or if The Boss has his way, Paulie Walnuts may pay him a visit).
After dumping three-fifths of last year's bullpen, the Yankees have been building a nice little bullpen. On paper, the additions look pretty good (though Hammond worries me). Whether they will perform better than the 2001 version and whether they will be as overworked as last year's group remains to be seen. They may have changed the players but unless they give Torre a viable second lefty option and stop yanking, excuse the pun, pen-mates to appear in the rotation--which may be difficult with an aging rotation--, then the 2002 pen seems as ill-fated as the 2001 one.
Rarefied Error Today in baseball
Today in baseball there was a rarity, two teams made a trade that doesn't seem as if it could help either one. Houston sent disappointing, 27-year-old left fielder Daryle Ward to the Dodgers for minor-league pitching Ruddy Lugo, who happens to be Astro shortstop Julio Lugo's brother. Why either one of these teams made the trade I have no idea. It looks like a trade made by bored fantasy leaguers.
ESPN reports that Ward's departure opens the center field job for displaced second baseman Craig Biggio. There's only one problem with that logic: Ward was a left fielder. He's never played center field in his major-league career. Franchise player Lance Berkman was the Astros starting center fielder last year. If ESPN is correct, then the Astros intend to play Biggio in center and Berkman in left. Berkman has played left before. In fact he was the Astros' starter in left in 2001. Berkman may not have been much more than acceptable as a defensive center fielder; as an offensive one, however he led in slugging and OPS. He is potentially the best center fielder in baseball. As a left fielder, he would have ranked fifth in OPS behind Bonds, of course, Ramirez (if we consider him a left fielder), Giles, and Pujols and right before Chipper Jones. That's not bad company, but it does drop him a peg or two.
On the other hand, Biggio, though his superannuated bat may be easier to hide in center, has only played 39 games in center field. His last appearance in center field came in 1991, a year before he moved from catcher to second base. Actually, they tried him in left and center two years before his first second base appearance in the majors. Possibly they found something that indicated that he would make a better second baseman than outfielder--at least they say enough to try him at second. Since 1991, he has only made seven appearances in the outfield, solely as a leftfielder, so it's impossible to say whether he is capable. Why not keep Ward, who had never been a starter for a complete season before 2002, on the bench just in case?
I think it basically hurts them in a few ways. First and foremost, the go from having arguably the best center fielder in baseball to probably a sub-par defensive and offensive center fielder in Biggio. Second, their young superstar is no longer as special or as impactive a player in left field as in center field. Third, without Ward, they will have only Orlando Merced and switch-hitters Jose Vizcaino and Gregg Zaun to bat from the left side. Also, if Biggio falls flat on his face, which is a good possibility, they will have no one to replace him except bench players Orlando Merced, Brian Hunter, or Jason Lane. Remember when the 'Stros had too many outfielders?
They get what looks to be a decent pitching prospect, who is probably a year away from the majors. Also, it appears that the acquired him because he is their shortstop's brother. That's admirable, but considering that Julio is a below-average-hitting shortstop, he may no longer be with the team when his brother is ready to help them.
The only reason that does make sense in this surreal offseason is payroll. From ESPN:
Hunsicker said the trade was made primarily to reduce payroll and ease the ``logjam'' in the outfield. He said the team is looking to make some more payroll trims before spring training.
So they sign a better second baseman than they already had and instead of trading the second-fiddle second-sacker. The shift him to the outfield and then get rid of a player who just broke $1 M this year even though they still think he has potential. He may never match his pre-2002 numbers over a full season, but he would be a useful bench player, something the Astros would need if they want to be a playoff contender, and he is not that expensive.
The Dodgers meanwhile pick up a guy they can't use. He is stuck behind Shawn Green in right field, Fred McGriff at firs, and Brian Jordan in left--actually Jordan is stuck behind Green in right and that's why he moved to left. The same argument for a reasonable backup outfielder applies to the Dodgers as well, but the Dodgers already had nine outfielders with major-league experience. Also, with the glaring holes at second base and shortstop on the Dodgers, it seems silly for them to consider acquiring another backup outfielder.
Going into the season, it appears that the Dodgers will have a double-play combo of Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora. Ouch! Izturis at the plate make Rey Ordonez look like A-Rod. Cora, though he produced at the plate last year, never did before in his 5-year career. Also, he has only played 56 games at second in the majors. Add in the disappointingly average Adrian Beltre and even with Fred McGriff at first, the Dodgers have one of the weakest all-around infields among the playoff contenders. Also, with an aging pitching staff, they may need a young arm next year more than a backup outfielder.
Well, there you go. It's not too often that you see an error on both teams, but the Astros and Dodgers did it today.
Pete Never Promised Bud a
Pete Never Promised Bud a Rose Garden
It seems that recidivist gambler Pete Rose owes the federal government $151,689 in taxes dating from 1998. How unusual that Rose, a convicted tax evader, would owe back taxes. A couple of signed bats on QVC will get that debt paid off in a jiffy.
But now MLB according to an ESPN article might change its collective mind regarding his reinstatement.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig's position on the talks -- and Rose's eligibility for the Hall of Fame -- could be affected by the tax revelations, a high-ranking baseball official said Friday on condition of anonymity. Selig refused to comment.
Selig will have a tough time defending his position if this turns out to be the excuse used to continue barring him from the Hall. First, Selig himself has been embroiled in many peccadilloes in the last few years, financial and otherwise. He claims not to be running the Milwaukee Brewers while being commissioner, but everything he has enacted has benefited that moribund franchise greatly. He has his coterie of owners swap franchises below the market value and proffer personal loans surreptitiously. With the Montreal Expos still own by MLB, every move is called into question, especially the recent public Bartolo Colon pilfering. And he who is without sin, yuddah yuddah.
Second, the specious argument for Rose's induction, that is that there are a number of unseemly characters in the Hall so what's one more, will now apply. Rose has not been affiliated with organized ball for 13 years. So how does his off-field conduct have anything to do with his reinstatement, especially when that conduct may boil down to an accounting error and may be quickly taken care of?
Besides 1998 was five years ago and one has to wonder if this is coming to light because it just hit some 5-year threshold that escalated its importance. Why else had we not heard anything about it for five years? Who knows what sorts of things may be brewing in his financial and personal life that may come to light in the future? For instance, if he didn't pay his 1998 taxes, what 1999, 2000, etc?
Rose is a scumbag. Didn't we already know this? But his actions off the field should have nothing to do with his reinstatement. His case's the thing wherein Bud will catch the conscience of the "Hit King". MLB is playing an odd game with Rose, holding him to a higher ethical standard to somehow mitigate his actions from more than 13 years ago. If Selig believes that Rose bet on the Reds while he was the manager--that is the only offense that would ban him for life, not just the misdemeanor of betting on baseball in general which carries a one-year ban--then by all means, do not reinstate him. If he feels the evidence is strong enough, then his path is clear. I would disagree with the strength of the evidence--especially since then-commissioner Bart Giamatti signed a document that said no finding could be made on this exact issue--, but I would respect the decision. But to continue to conduct a vivisection of Rose's personal life to plumb the depths of his soul, or lack thereof, before deigning to allow him back in is misdirected and hypocritical. Recently admitted Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett was recently enmeshed in a sexual assault lawsuit apparently causing his wife to file for divorce. Is Selig set to examine Puckett's personal life and to determine if he should lose his plaque in Cooperstown if he is found wanting? Of course not because it has nothing to do with his performance on the field. So what do Rose's morally reprehensible actions have to do with his reinstatement? Nothing. Bud's cold feet in re-uniting with the puckish Rose are understandable, but he needs to understand that asking Rose to have been squeaky clean for the past 13 Elba-esque years is unrealistic. His goal should be to put this ugly chapter in baseball's rearview mirror while he and his fellow owners prepare to plunder the baseball landscape.
His plight is not unlike that of Alex and his droogies in A Clockwork Orange whose escapades and life were nearly ended after revisiting the site of a former bit of the old ultra-violence. Bud should remember that he is above all other things the baseball commissioner. Therefore, his number one goal is to line the owners' pockets and that extending the shelf life of this Rose imbroglio is ultimately bad for business.
Here's a Real Throwback, As
Here's a Real Throwback, As In Throw Him Back
The Detroit Tigers signed Steve Avery to a minor-league contract yesterday and invited him to spring training. Yes, the same Steve Avery that hasn't been good since the first Bush administration.
I feel bad for Avery, I do. For all the press that Leo Mazzone and Bobby Cox get for resurrecting careers, his is the one that they scuttled. In his three full major-league seasons before turning 24, Avery threw 667.1 innings in 105 games. He never threw more than 173.1 innings in a year after that. People seem to forget that when the Braves were a young-and-coming team in the early '90s, Avery got as much, if not more, press as Glavine or Smoltz. He looked like he would be better than both of them with his playoff heroics. Fans seem to forget it but not GMs--this is the third organization since he left the Braves that has tried to resurrect his career.
Remember we are not talking about a player who left the game at his prime like a Koufax. Yes, the papers are right that Avery hasn't pitched since 1999, and you think, there are a plethora (Jose, what is a plethora?) of pitchers who have been able to make it back to the majors after similar layoffs. But you cannot ignore the fact that not only has he not pitched in the majors since 1999, he hasn't pitched as well as an average major-leaguer since 1996 and he has not been a truly good pitcher since 1994.
I remember when Jim Palmer tried to come back in 1991 after being retired for seven years and after having already been elected to the Hall of Fame. I thought that Palmer's comeback was ridiculous and not just because of the long layoff. I thought the fact that he hadn't pitch well when he left indicated that he had lost the ability to pitch at the major league level 7-8 years before the so-called comeback. Avery has had a similar if not lnger layoff where productivity is concerned and has had injuries over the years that supposedly limited the velocity on his fastball to under 80 MPH and required him to alter his delivery.
Even if he can come back, how can he help a bunch of lollygaggers like the Tigers? If they ever do get good again, he'll be too old to help. I think it basically is another instance this offseason of teams trying to get by on the cheap. If the Tigers can make a serviceable major-leaguer out of him, they can pay him just over league minimum and cut a $600-$800K salary in the bullpen. That's what teams are all about this winter, robbing Peter to pay Paul or Steve.
Setting Your Seitz on the
Setting Your Seitz on the Arbitration Abattoir
My blog buddy, the Cub Reporter, has put an arbitration scorecard up on his site. You can find all of the winners and losers there during the festive arbitration season. It will be a great reference for me when I post something regarding how the players got further screwed during arbitration round this offseason as I inevitably will.
"Welcome to the Hall's of
"Welcome to the Hall's of Relief", VI
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time-and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened...
In the 1960s the baseball cognoscenti started to experiment more with relief pitching. After the 1950s finally established the bullpen as a key element on the pitching staff, they started to push the envelope. Barriers like 30 saves and 90 relief appearances in a year were crossed. Career relievers like Hoyt Wilhelm, Roy Face, and Lindy McDaniel relieved in more games than anyone who came before them.
The role of the reliever was still being defined, especially that of the closer. The closer came in when his team was ahead, behind, or tied. Since scoring was so low, games were close and relievers were used often. It was not unusual for the closer to make 60 appearances, pitch 120 innings, save 25 games, and win a dozen, numbers quite unlike those of today's closers.
The evolution started in the Fifties and hit a statistical apogee in the Seventies, and the trend started to roll back a bit (though not as dramatically as in the Thompson quote). The demands that managers were placing on the closer role became too arduous. The role started to be defined as the "stopper", the man who holds a lead, though this would take nearly a decade to become established.
The evolution of the "modern" relief pitcher was delayed by, of all things, the development of the five-man rotation in the early 1970s. According to Bill James, the 1972 Dodgers were one of the first teams to fully embrace the five-man rotation. Apparently, though the trend had been developing since the early Sixties.
If you look at complete game percentages over time, the number of complete games was failing, either slowly or rapidly, from the dawn of major-league baseball until the mid-'60s. Then suddenly in 1967 they started to go back up and remained about 5% higher than the 1966 percentage for about ten years. Meanwhile the 40-game starter, something that seemed a distant memory in 1960, enjoyed a comeback starting in 1962, with a high of 12 pitchers starting 40 games (and one 45) in 1973 (a note on the DH later). The 300- and 350-inning starting pitcher also returned in 1962 and would remain with us until 1980.
Also, if you look at the number of 20- and 25-game starters per team, starting in 1961-'62 there is an increase in their numbers that although it wavers on a yearly basis, continues until today. As a matter of fact, if you look at the number of starting pitchers, however you define that, per team in the mid-'60s and compare it with today, you would see very little change. See tables below (forgive me, I love tables):
Number of pitchers-in total and per team (PT)-who reached certain games started plateaus (1, 10, 15, etc.):
Year 1 PT 10 PT 15 PT 20 PT 25 PT 30 PT 35 PT 40 PT 45 PT 1871 14 1.56 9 1.00 9 1.00 8 0.89 7 0.78 3 0.33 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1872 22 2.00 10 0.91 7 0.64 6 0.55 5 0.45 5 0.45 5 0.45 4 0.36 4 0.36 1873 24 2.67 9 1.00 8 0.89 7 0.78 7 0.78 7 0.78 6 0.67 6 0.67 5 0.56 1874 14 1.75 10 1.25 10 1.25 9 1.13 8 1.00 7 0.88 7 0.88 6 0.75 6 0.75 1875 38 2.92 21 1.62 15 1.15 12 0.92 9 0.69 9 0.69 7 0.54 6 0.46 5 0.38 1876 23 2.88 13 1.63 13 1.63 13 1.63 8 1.00 7 0.88 5 0.63 5 0.63 5 0.63 1877 18 3.00 10 1.67 8 1.33 6 1.00 5 0.83 5 0.83 5 0.83 4 0.67 3 0.50 1878 19 3.17 10 1.67 7 1.17 6 1.00 6 1.00 6 1.00 6 1.00 4 0.67 3 0.50 1879 25 3.13 15 1.88 13 1.63 11 1.38 10 1.25 8 1.00 8 1.00 8 1.00 8 1.00 1880 26 3.25 15 1.88 13 1.63 12 1.50 9 1.13 8 1.00 8 1.00 8 1.00 8 1.00 1881 29 3.63 17 2.13 15 1.88 13 1.63 11 1.38 11 1.38 11 1.38 8 1.00 6 0.75 1882 64 4.57 33 2.36 24 1.71 23 1.64 21 1.50 19 1.36 16 1.14 12 0.86 10 0.71 1883 71 4.44 42 2.63 37 2.31 27 1.69 24 1.50 21 1.31 21 1.31 21 1.31 15 0.94 1884 205 6.21 87 2.64 69 2.09 58 1.76 45 1.36 41 1.24 35 1.06 28 0.85 21 0.64 1885 101 6.31 53 3.31 38 2.38 33 2.06 27 1.69 25 1.56 21 1.31 17 1.06 16 1.00 1886 112 7.00 52 3.25 45 2.81 40 2.50 34 2.13 31 1.94 29 1.81 28 1.75 17 1.06 1887 109 6.81 57 3.56 48 3.00 44 2.75 37 2.31 34 2.13 31 1.94 21 1.31 15 0.94 1888 106 6.63 64 4.00 53 3.31 48 3.00 37 2.31 33 2.06 29 1.81 22 1.38 15 0.94 1889 111 6.94 62 3.88 56 3.50 50 3.13 41 2.56 35 2.19 27 1.69 19 1.19 13 0.81 1890 186 7.44 109 4.36 79 3.16 67 2.68 56 2.24 46 1.84 35 1.40 26 1.04 17 0.68 1891 131 7.71 67 3.94 51 3.00 47 2.76 38 2.24 35 2.06 23 1.35 21 1.24 14 0.82 1892 100 8.33 56 4.67 46 3.83 39 3.25 31 2.58 26 2.17 23 1.92 19 1.58 14 1.17 1893 98 8.17 51 4.25 44 3.67 33 2.75 28 2.33 24 2.00 16 1.33 10 0.83 4 0.33 1894 108 9.00 52 4.33 39 3.25 35 2.92 28 2.33 23 1.92 13 1.08 9 0.75 5 0.42 1895 104 8.67 53 4.42 44 3.67 36 3.00 33 2.75 21 1.75 12 1.00 8 0.67 3 0.25 1896 98 8.17 54 4.50 44 3.67 37 3.08 27 2.25 22 1.83 17 1.42 11 0.92 3 0.25 1897 97 8.08 54 4.50 47 3.92 36 3.00 31 2.58 25 2.08 16 1.33 5 0.42 0 0.00 1898 111 9.25 56 4.67 49 4.08 46 3.83 40 3.33 31 2.58 21 1.75 8 0.67 1 0.08 1899 116 9.67 60 5.00 50 4.17 41 3.42 35 2.92 29 2.42 17 1.42 4 0.33 0 0.00 1900 61 7.63 39 4.88 33 4.13 32 4.00 26 3.25 15 1.88 10 1.25 1 0.13 0 0.00 1901 137 8.56 75 4.69 66 4.13 57 3.56 49 3.06 34 2.13 15 0.94 4 0.25 0 0.00 1902 165 10.31 81 5.06 67 4.19 52 3.25 42 2.63 30 1.88 9 0.56 4 0.25 1 0.06 1903 141 8.81 78 4.88 65 4.06 54 3.38 45 2.81 32 2.00 12 0.75 3 0.19 1 0.06 1904 129 8.06 86 5.38 75 4.69 61 3.81 45 2.81 40 2.50 24 1.50 10 0.63 4 0.25 1905 134 8.38 83 5.19 78 4.88 67 4.19 53 3.31 35 2.19 18 1.13 4 0.25 0 0.00 1906 156 9.75 87 5.44 77 4.81 64 4.00 52 3.25 35 2.19 16 1.00 3 0.19 0 0.00 1907 154 9.63 88 5.50 77 4.81 62 3.88 48 3.00 32 2.00 12 0.75 3 0.19 1 0.06 1908 158 9.88 92 5.75 79 4.94 60 3.75 46 2.88 31 1.94 14 0.88 3 0.19 1 0.06 1909 190 11.88 92 5.75 75 4.69 55 3.44 45 2.81 24 1.50 4 0.25 1 0.06 0 0.00 1910 176 11.00 92 5.75 78 4.88 59 3.69 46 2.88 27 1.69 9 0.56 1 0.06 0 0.00 1911 196 12.25 91 5.69 76 4.75 58 3.63 42 2.63 21 1.31 9 0.56 2 0.13 0 0.00 1912 193 12.06 87 5.44 76 4.75 56 3.50 43 2.69 29 1.81 11 0.69 2 0.13 0 0.00 1913 185 11.56 89 5.56 78 4.88 62 3.88 41 2.56 27 1.69 12 0.75 0 0.00 0 0.00 1914 238 9.92 138 5.75 115 4.79 91 3.79 68 2.83 48 2.00 24 1.00 5 0.21 0 0.00 1915 265 11.04 135 5.63 112 4.67 94 3.92 65 2.71 45 1.88 16 0.67 3 0.13 1 0.04 1916 159 9.94 98 6.13 78 4.88 59 3.69 39 2.44 24 1.50 12 0.75 2 0.13 1 0.06 1917 150 9.38 96 6.00 77 4.81 62 3.88 45 2.81 28 1.75 14 0.88 3 0.19 0 0.00 1918 169 10.56 81 5.06 62 3.88 43 2.69 27 1.69 15 0.94 1 0.06 0 0.00 0 0.00 1919 188 11.75 89 5.56 69 4.31 46 2.88 35 2.19 18 1.13 4 0.25 1 0.06 0 0.00 1920 164 10.25 87 5.44 71 4.44 65 4.06 52 3.25 39 2.44 15 0.94 1 0.06 0 0.00 1921 169 10.56 87 5.44 69 4.31 60 3.75 48 3.00 32 2.00 14 0.88 1 0.06 0 0.00 1922 164 10.25 93 5.81 72 4.50 61 3.81 50 3.13 33 2.06 8 0.50 1 0.06 0 0.00 1923 162 10.13 87 5.44 78 4.88 61 3.81 47 2.94 28 1.75 17 1.06 1 0.06 0 0.00 1924 180 11.25 99 6.19 76 4.75 61 3.81 43 2.69 24 1.50 5 0.31 0 0.00 0 0.00 1925 169 10.56 94 5.88 81 5.06 68 4.25 44 2.75 24 1.50 4 0.25 0 0.00 0 0.00 1926 164 10.25 101 6.31 80 5.00 63 3.94 40 2.50 19 1.19 2 0.13 0 0.00 0 0.00 1927 178 11.13 96 6.00 78 4.88 62 3.88 47 2.94 21 1.31 4 0.25 0 0.00 0 0.00 1928 174 10.88 95 5.94 75 4.69 60 3.75 44 2.75 24 1.50 4 0.25 0 0.00 0 0.00 1929 170 10.63 97 6.06 76 4.75 65 4.06 44 2.75 23 1.44 4 0.25 0 0.00 0 0.00 1930 175 10.94 91 5.69 78 4.88 62 3.88 40 2.50 26 1.63 6 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1931 163 10.19 100 6.25 78 4.88 58 3.63 46 2.88 28 1.75 5 0.31 0 0.00 0 0.00 1932 163 10.19 95 5.94 80 5.00 63 3.94 41 2.56 27 1.69 3 0.19 0 0.00 0 0.00 1933 168 10.50 86 5.38 75 4.69 63 3.94 46 2.88 27 1.69 7 0.44 0 0.00 0 0.00 1934 182 11.38 91 5.69 76 4.75 60 3.75 40 2.50 29 1.81 6 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1935 182 11.38 97 6.06 84 5.25 60 3.75 34 2.13 19 1.19 4 0.25 0 0.00 0 0.00 1936 181 11.31 88 5.50 71 4.44 59 3.69 44 2.75 28 1.75 6 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1937 179 11.19 95 5.94 81 5.06 65 4.06 42 2.63 21 1.31 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1938 176 11.00 100 6.25 72 4.50 56 3.50 37 2.31 19 1.19 5 0.31 2 0.13 0 0.00 1939 193 12.06 106 6.63 80 5.00 58 3.63 35 2.19 13 0.81 5 0.31 0 0.00 0 0.00 1940 181 11.31 96 6.00 78 4.88 60 3.75 36 2.25 25 1.56 7 0.44 0 0.00 0 0.00 1941 195 12.19 94 5.88 78 4.88 62 3.88 34 2.13 17 1.06 5 0.31 1 0.06 0 0.00 1942 173 10.81 103 6.44 78 4.88 55 3.44 36 2.25 18 1.13 3 0.19 0 0.00 0 0.00 1943 185 11.56 101 6.31 76 4.75 62 3.88 43 2.69 19 1.19 2 0.13 0 0.00 0 0.00 1944 171 10.69 94 5.88 77 4.81 65 4.06 42 2.63 22 1.38 4 0.25 2 0.13 0 0.00 1945 194 12.13 102 6.38 74 4.63 53 3.31 32 2.00 16 1.00 2 0.13 0 0.00 0 0.00 1946 219 13.69 99 6.19 71 4.44 55 3.44 34 2.13 14 0.88 4 0.25 1 0.06 0 0.00 1947 188 11.75 97 6.06 82 5.13 58 3.63 37 2.31 19 1.19 6 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1948 175 10.94 96 6.00 81 5.06 64 4.00 39 2.44 21 1.31 6 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1949 164 10.25 96 6.00 74 4.63 64 4.00 51 3.19 25 1.56 7 0.44 0 0.00 0 0.00 1950 182 11.38 94 5.88 79 4.94 60 3.75 38 2.38 24 1.50 8 0.50 0 0.00 0 0.00 1951 192 12.00 97 6.06 77 4.81 54 3.38 34 2.13 22 1.38 5 0.31 0 0.00 0 0.00 1952 203 12.69 95 5.94 72 4.50 55 3.44 40 2.50 24 1.50 4 0.25 0 0.00 0 0.00 1953 187 11.69 104 6.50 79 4.94 56 3.50 38 2.38 19 1.19 4 0.25 1 0.06 0 0.00 1954 181 11.31 97 6.06 81 5.06 61 3.81 41 2.56 22 1.38 6 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1955 194 12.13 102 6.38 73 4.56 56 3.50 36 2.25 23 1.44 2 0.13 0 0.00 0 0.00 1956 196 12.25 86 5.38 70 4.38 57 3.56 43 2.69 31 1.94 10 0.63 1 0.06 0 0.00 1957 183 11.44 96 6.00 77 4.81 57 3.56 45 2.81 23 1.44 5 0.31 0 0.00 0 0.00 1958 192 12.00 94 5.88 72 4.50 58 3.63 43 2.69 24 1.50 5 0.31 0 0.00 0 0.00 1959 177 11.06 90 5.63 74 4.63 61 3.81 47 2.94 27 1.69 13 0.81 0 0.00 0 0.00 1960 162 10.13 93 5.81 76 4.75 61 3.81 42 2.63 28 1.75 11 0.69 0 0.00 0 0.00 1961 191 10.61 112 6.22 84 4.67 69 3.83 54 3.00 31 1.72 14 0.78 0 0.00 0 0.00 1962 220 11.00 117 5.85 97 4.85 84 4.20 61 3.05 38 1.90 18 0.90 2 0.10 0 0.00 1963 216 10.80 119 5.95 97 4.85 84 4.20 59 2.95 43 2.15 16 0.80 4 0.20 0 0.00 1964 220 11.00 115 5.75 92 4.60 79 3.95 61 3.05 41 2.05 21 1.05 1 0.05 0 0.00 1965 205 10.25 113 5.65 99 4.95 79 3.95 68 3.40 46 2.30 22 1.10 5 0.25 0 0.00 1966 218 10.90 124 6.20 88 4.40 70 3.50 56 2.80 40 2.00 19 0.95 4 0.20 0 0.00 1967 233 11.65 118 5.90 91 4.55 74 3.70 59 2.95 38 1.90 19 0.95 1 0.05 0 0.00 1968 187 9.35 118 5.90 99 4.95 83 4.15 71 3.55 54 2.70 18 0.90 2 0.10 0 0.00 1969 244 10.17 142 5.92 116 4.83 92 3.83 75 3.13 59 2.46 36 1.50 7 0.29 0 0.00 1970 233 9.71 138 5.75 122 5.08 91 3.79 76 3.17 55 2.29 27 1.13 6 0.25 0 0.00 1971 223 9.29 135 5.63 112 4.67 98 4.08 79 3.29 65 2.71 40 1.67 2 0.08 1 0.04 1972 224 9.33 131 5.46 114 4.75 92 3.83 74 3.08 52 2.17 27 1.13 6 0.25 1 0.04 1973 236 9.83 134 5.58 112 4.67 90 3.75 76 3.17 61 2.54 33 1.38 12 0.50 1 0.04 1974 233 9.71 132 5.50 113 4.71 97 4.04 78 3.25 59 2.46 45 1.88 9 0.38 0 0.00 1975 245 10.21 139 5.79 114 4.75 94 3.92 75 3.13 57 2.38 28 1.17 3 0.13 0 0.00 1976 232 9.67 146 6.08 116 4.83 95 3.96 80 3.33 55 2.29 21 0.88 2 0.08 0 0.00 1977 274 10.54 150 5.77 121 4.65 102 3.92 80 3.08 58 2.23 20 0.77 2 0.08 0 0.00 1978 255 9.81 153 5.88 127 4.88 112 4.31 86 3.31 60 2.31 23 0.88 3 0.12 0 0.00 1979 266 10.23 159 6.12 128 4.92 97 3.73 80 3.08 57 2.19 20 0.77 1 0.04 0 0.00 1980 256 9.85 155 5.96 123 4.73 104 4.00 86 3.31 60 2.31 17 0.65 0 0.00 0 0.00 1981 227 8.73 128 4.92 93 3.58 71 2.73 7 0.27 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1982 264 10.15 151 5.81 125 4.81 110 4.23 84 3.23 58 2.23 21 0.81 1 0.04 0 0.00 1983 261 10.04 153 5.88 134 5.15 103 3.96 84 3.23 55 2.12 16 0.62 0 0.00 0 0.00 1984 261 10.04 155 5.96 129 4.96 108 4.15 86 3.31 64 2.46 13 0.50 0 0.00 0 0.00 1985 266 10.23 145 5.58 125 4.81 103 3.96 84 3.23 60 2.31 24 0.92 0 0.00 0 0.00 1986 268 10.31 158 6.08 128 4.92 100 3.85 86 3.31 63 2.42 15 0.58 0 0.00 0 0.00 1987 276 10.62 154 5.92 123 4.73 100 3.85 80 3.08 56 2.15 20 0.77 1 0.04 0 0.00 1988 259 9.96 162 6.23 128 4.92 109 4.19 81 3.12 63 2.42 11 0.42 0 0.00 0 0.00 1989 283 10.88 160 6.15 133 5.12 95 3.65 77 2.96 59 2.27 10 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1990 286 11.00 154 5.92 125 4.81 107 4.12 84 3.23 54 2.08 7 0.27 0 0.00 0 0.00 1991 271 10.42 158 6.08 122 4.69 99 3.81 77 2.96 54 2.08 14 0.54 0 0.00 0 0.00 1992 281 10.81 152 5.85 119 4.58 98 3.77 85 3.27 60 2.31 9 0.35 0 0.00 0 0.00 1993 281 10.04 161 5.75 134 4.79 105 3.75 91 3.25 60 2.14 10 0.36 0 0.00 0 0.00 1994 249 8.89 142 5.07 106 3.79 81 2.89 16 0.57 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1995 294 10.50 169 6.04 122 4.36 83 2.96 65 2.32 28 1.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1996 298 10.64 170 6.07 132 4.71 105 3.75 86 3.07 63 2.25 18 0.64 0 0.00 0 0.00 1997 302 10.79 163 5.82 133 4.75 108 3.86 86 3.07 60 2.14 6 0.21 0 0.00 0 0.00 1998 304 10.13 185 6.17 147 4.90 123 4.10 95 3.17 66 2.20 5 0.17 0 0.00 0 0.00 1999 299 9.97 182 6.07 155 5.17 124 4.13 96 3.20 65 2.17 6 0.20 0 0.00 0 0.00 2000 322 10.73 196 6.53 153 5.10 113 3.77 82 2.73 60 2.00 7 0.23 0 0.00 0 0.00 2001 316 10.53 191 6.37 150 5.00 110 3.67 86 2.87 60 2.00 5 0.17 0 0.00 0 0.00 2002 323 10.77 185 6.17 146 4.87 115 3.83 87 2.90 62 2.07 4 0.13 0 0.00 0 0.00 Avg 9.51 5.21 4.24 3.41 2.56 1.73 0.71 0.25 0.14
Year 100 PT 150 PT 200 PT 250 PT 300 PT 350 PT 1871 9 1.00 9 1.00 8 0.89 3 0.33 0 0.00 0 0.00 1872 9 0.82 7 0.64 5 0.45 5 0.45 5 0.45 4 0.36 1873 9 1.00 8 0.89 7 0.78 7 0.78 6 0.67 6 0.67 1874 10 1.25 10 1.25 8 1.00 7 0.88 7 0.88 6 0.75 1875 21 1.62 12 0.92 11 0.85 9 0.69 7 0.54 7 0.54 1876 13 1.63 13 1.63 11 1.38 7 0.88 5 0.63 5 0.63 1877 9 1.50 7 1.17 5 0.83 5 0.83 5 0.83 5 0.83 1878 8 1.33 7 1.17 6 1.00 6 1.00 6 1.00 4 0.67 1879 14 1.75 13 1.63 9 1.13 8 1.00 8 1.00 8 1.00 1880 15 1.88 12 1.50 10 1.25 8 1.00 8 1.00 8 1.00 1881 17 2.13 14 1.75 11 1.38 11 1.38 11 1.38 8 1.00 1882 31 2.21 23 1.64 22 1.57 20 1.43 16 1.14 14 1.00 1883 41 2.56 29 1.81 27 1.69 23 1.44 21 1.31 18 1.13 1884 82 2.48 61 1.85 47 1.42 42 1.27 35 1.06 26 0.79 1885 46 2.88 36 2.25 30 1.88 25 1.56 20 1.25 18 1.13 1886 49 3.06 45 2.81 36 2.25 32 2.00 29 1.81 24 1.50 1887 55 3.44 45 2.81 38 2.38 34 2.13 31 1.94 17 1.06 1888 59 3.69 52 3.25 42 2.63 35 2.19 28 1.75 19 1.19 1889 59 3.69 53 3.31 46 2.88 35 2.19 28 1.75 17 1.06 1890 94 3.76 73 2.92 59 2.36 46 1.84 34 1.36 25 1.00 1891 60 3.53 49 2.88 43 2.53 33 1.94 22 1.29 19 1.12 1892 50 4.17 42 3.50 33 2.75 28 2.33 22 1.83 19 1.58 1893 47 3.92 40 3.33 29 2.42 23 1.92 17 1.42 7 0.58 1894 49 4.08 36 3.00 31 2.58 22 1.83 14 1.17 8 0.67 1895 50 4.17 38 3.17 33 2.75 22 1.83 12 1.00 7 0.58 1896 48 4.00 41 3.42 29 2.42 22 1.83 17 1.42 8 0.67 1897 49 4.08 40 3.33 32 2.67 24 2.00 16 1.33 1 0.08 1898 57 4.75 46 3.83 42 3.50 32 2.67 21 1.75 7 0.58 1899 52 4.33 45 3.75 36 3.00 30 2.50 16 1.33 6 0.50 1900 39 4.88 32 4.00 30 3.75 14 1.75 7 0.88 0 0.00 1901 69 4.31 63 3.94 49 3.06 40 2.50 19 1.19 5 0.31 1902 76 4.75 60 3.75 46 2.88 32 2.00 11 0.69 4 0.25 1903 77 4.81 57 3.56 47 2.94 33 2.06 15 0.94 3 0.19 1904 84 5.25 67 4.19 57 3.56 39 2.44 23 1.44 12 0.75 1905 82 5.13 72 4.50 60 3.75 41 2.56 21 1.31 1 0.06 1906 84 5.25 71 4.44 61 3.81 36 2.25 12 0.75 1 0.06 1907 84 5.25 67 4.19 54 3.38 35 2.19 13 0.81 3 0.19 1908 89 5.56 69 4.31 51 3.19 33 2.06 13 0.81 3 0.19 1909 87 5.44 64 4.00 48 3.00 26 1.63 5 0.31 1 0.06 1910 91 5.69 68 4.25 49 3.06 27 1.69 7 0.44 3 0.19 1911 86 5.38 68 4.25 45 2.81 22 1.38 9 0.56 2 0.13 1912 82 5.13 72 4.50 41 2.56 30 1.88 9 0.56 2 0.13 1913 88 5.50 69 4.31 47 2.94 24 1.50 8 0.50 0 0.00 1914 138 5.75 104 4.33 70 2.92 49 2.04 19 0.79 4 0.17 1915 133 5.54 102 4.25 74 3.08 42 1.75 12 0.50 2 0.08 1916 98 6.13 75 4.69 43 2.69 25 1.56 9 0.56 2 0.13 1917 96 6.00 74 4.63 54 3.38 25 1.56 7 0.44 1 0.06 1918 78 4.88 54 3.38 32 2.00 13 0.81 3 0.19 0 0.00 1919 84 5.25 58 3.63 37 2.31 16 1.00 3 0.19 0 0.00 1920 85 5.31 69 4.31 54 3.38 35 2.19 10 0.63 1 0.06 1921 89 5.56 67 4.19 46 2.88 24 1.50 9 0.56 0 0.00 1922 90 5.63 70 4.38 44 2.75 25 1.56 3 0.19 1 0.06 1923 90 5.63 72 4.50 45 2.81 22 1.38 9 0.56 1 0.06 1924 96 6.00 70 4.38 41 2.56 12 0.75 3 0.19 0 0.00 1925 94 5.88 73 4.56 45 2.81 12 0.75 1 0.06 0 0.00 1926 101 6.31 73 4.56 36 2.25 13 0.81 1 0.06 0 0.00 1927 88 5.50 75 4.69 42 2.63 15 0.94 4 0.25 0 0.00 1928 93 5.81 68 4.25 45 2.81 14 0.88 3 0.19 0 0.00 1929 96 6.00 71 4.44 42 2.63 15 0.94 1 0.06 0 0.00 1930 97 6.06 72 4.50 36 2.25 13 0.81 0 0.00 0 0.00 1931 95 5.94 66 4.13 45 2.81 16 1.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1932 95 5.94 69 4.31 44 2.75 17 1.06 1 0.06 0 0.00 1933 94 5.88 65 4.06 45 2.81 17 1.06 2 0.13 0 0.00 1934 93 5.81 68 4.25 42 2.63 18 1.13 3 0.19 0 0.00 1935 98 6.13 68 4.25 35 2.19 14 0.88 3 0.19 0 0.00 1936 92 5.75 62 3.88 40 2.50 15 0.94 4 0.25 0 0.00 1937 96 6.00 68 4.25 38 2.38 11 0.69 0 0.00 0 0.00 1938 95 5.94 66 4.13 30 1.88 8 0.50 2 0.13 0 0.00 1939 105 6.56 68 4.25 25 1.56 6 0.38 2 0.13 0 0.00 1940 98 6.13 63 3.94 31 1.94 12 0.75 2 0.13 0 0.00 1941 98 6.13 66 4.13 29 1.81 8 0.50 3 0.19 0 0.00 1942 100 6.25 66 4.13 33 2.06 9 0.56 0 0.00 0 0.00 1943 97 6.06 66 4.13 33 2.06 13 0.81 1 0.06 0 0.00 1944 96 6.00 72 4.50 39 2.44 14 0.88 3 0.19 1 0.06 1945 97 6.06 57 3.56 26 1.63 8 0.50 1 0.06 0 0.00 1946 92 5.75 56 3.50 26 1.63 9 0.56 1 0.06 1 0.06 1947 96 6.00 57 3.56 25 1.56 9 0.56 0.00 0 0.00 1948 95 5.94 58 3.63 31 1.94 7 0.44 1 0.06 0 0.00 1949 90 5.63 64 4.00 41 2.56 10 0.63 1 0.06 0 0.00 1950 95 5.94 65 4.06 38 2.38 13 0.81 2 0.13 0 0.00 1951 98 6.13 52 3.25 29 1.81 11 0.69 2 0.13 0 0.00 1952 88 5.50 60 3.75 32 2.00 9 0.56 2 0.13 0 0.00 1953 103 6.44 63 3.94 22 1.38 8 0.50 1 0.06 0 0.00 1954 95 5.94 60 3.75 29 1.81 11 0.69 1 0.06 0 0.00 1955 89 5.56 53 3.31 29 1.81 4 0.25 1 0.06 0 0.00 1956 91 5.69 57 3.56 30 1.88 13 0.81 1 0.06 0 0.00 1957 99 6.19 56 3.50 34 2.13 7 0.44 0 0.00 0 0.00 1958 88 5.50 53 3.31 31 1.94 8 0.50 0 0.00 0 0.00 1959 89 5.56 62 3.88 37 2.31 9 0.56 0 0.00 0 0.00 1960 98 6.13 60 3.75 31 1.94 14 0.88 0 0.00 0 0.00 1961 106 5.89 69 3.83 36 2.00 11 0.61 0 0.00 0 0.00 1962 119 5.95 76 3.80 40 2.00 18 0.90 1 0.05 0 0.00 1963 118 5.90 78 3.90 46 2.30 17 0.85 3 0.15 0 0.00 1964 118 5.90 80 4.00 43 2.15 14 0.70 1 0.05 0 0.00 1965 117 5.85 76 3.80 41 2.05 18 0.90 2 0.10 0 0.00 1966 116 5.80 70 3.50 41 2.05 15 0.75 4 0.20 0 0.00 1967 107 5.35 72 3.60 44 2.20 17 0.85 1 0.05 0 0.00 1968 111 5.55 80 4.00 56 2.80 21 1.05 4 0.20 0 0.00 1969 139 5.79 83 3.46 58 2.42 24 1.00 9 0.38 0 0.00 1970 135 5.63 84 3.50 56 2.33 27 1.13 4 0.17 0 0.00 1971 130 5.42 89 3.71 64 2.67 33 1.38 4 0.17 1 0.04 1972 133 5.54 89 3.71 51 2.13 27 1.13 4 0.17 1 0.04 1973 129 5.38 93 3.88 61 2.54 32 1.33 7 0.29 1 0.04 1974 141 5.88 90 3.75 64 2.67 34 1.42 8 0.33 0 0.00 1975 137 5.71 87 3.63 55 2.29 25 1.04 4 0.17 0 0.00 1976 141 5.88 90 3.75 57 2.38 23 0.96 2 0.08 0 0.00 1977 163 6.27 88 3.38 57 2.19 14 0.54 4 0.15 0 0.00 1978 152 5.85 95 3.65 57 2.19 22 0.85 1 0.04 0 0.00 1979 148 5.69 96 3.69 54 2.08 14 0.54 1 0.04 0 0.00 1980 158 6.08 101 3.88 55 2.12 17 0.65 1 0.04 0 0.00 1981 97 3.73 29 1.12 1 0.04 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1982 166 6.38 96 3.69 48 1.85 13 0.50 0 0.00 0 0.00 1983 152 5.85 95 3.65 49 1.88 12 0.46 0 0.00 0 0.00 1984 153 5.88 97 3.73 50 1.92 9 0.35 0 0.00 0 0.00 1985 137 5.27 87 3.35 56 2.15 16 0.62 0 0.00 0 0.00 1986 143 5.50 87 3.35 51 1.96 11 0.42 0 0.00 0 0.00 1987 144 5.54 87 3.35 44 1.69 13 0.50 0 0.00 0 0.00 1988 141 5.42 93 3.58 52 2.00 10 0.38 0 0.00 0 0.00 1989 141 5.42 80 3.08 48 1.85 5 0.19 0 0.00 0 0.00 1990 137 5.27 85 3.27 40 1.54 1 0.04 0 0.00 0 0.00 1991 133 5.12 85 3.27 48 1.85 3 0.12 0 0.00 0 0.00 1992 131 5.04 85 3.27 52 2.00 6 0.23 0 0.00 0 0.00 1993 141 5.04 94 3.36 49 1.75 8 0.29 0 0.00 0 0.00 1994 106 3.79 43 1.54 1 0.04 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1995 117 4.18 63 2.25 18 0.64 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 1996 128 4.57 88 3.14 45 1.61 4 0.14 0 0.00 0 0.00 1997 131 4.68 86 3.07 40 1.43 5 0.18 0 0.00 0 0.00 1998 145 4.83 97 3.23 52 1.73 4 0.13 0 0.00 0 0.00 1999 148 4.93 90 3.00 41 1.37 2 0.07 0 0.00 0 0.00 2000 142 4.73 88 2.93 34 1.13 1 0.03 0 0.00 0 0.00 2001 145 4.83 86 2.87 42 1.40 1 0.03 0 0.00 0 0.00 2002 141 4.70 87 2.90 40 1.33 2 0.07 0 0.00 0 0.00 Avg 4.96 3.46 2.17 1.04 0.43 0.20
One thing you would notice are the heavy-start pitchers in the Sixties and Seventies. Apparently, when the idea of a five-man rotation was developing, the idea was to give the pitcher an extra day's rest but also to add to his burden on the day he was pitching. A higher percentage of complete games was expected. The number-one pitcher assumed more of the burden never missing a start every fifth day, which translated into 40-start years. This would fade in the 1980s, but this development affected the relief pitcher's role immensely.
Just a passing comment or two on rotations over history from the data above: Staffs went from basically one man possibly without a backup to 5-man rotations very slowly even though the move to four-man rotations was rather quick. By the early 1880s most teams employed two pitchers regularly. By the mid-1880s three-man "rotations" were employed-I'm not sure if the term "rotation" fits exactly, but three men were employed regularly. Somewhere in the 1890s, 4-man rotations became the norm. Staffs grew very quickly and by 1902, using 10 different starters per team (5 of which started at least 10 games) was the norm.
As staffs grew, the bulk of the work was transferred from the one main pitcher to the staff, but that had fits and starts as well. By the mid-1890s, 45-game starters were rare. By World War I, 40-game starters had almost disappeared (both were resurrected in the 1960s, however). Also, note that high innings pitchers still remained as the number-one starter pulled double duty as the number one reliever. They had almost died out by the turn of the Twentieth Century, until John McGrw latched onto the idea of using them in the swingman role. However, by World War I the 350-inning pitcher was just about dead and the 300-inning pitcher was becoming rare (again until the Sixties).
Five-man rotations were extremely long in coming. From the data above, it's difficult to determine when the change occurred. As I mentioned the data from the Sixties onward (ignoring the 40-game started revival from 1964-'78) do not waver. The average team employs 10 starting pitchers over the year. About 6 pitchers per staff start 10 or more games. About five start 15 games. About four start 20; about 3 start 25, and about 2 start 30. Actually aside from the 30-game starters, these numbers have held pretty steady since around 1905 (30-game starters were rarer in the Forties and Fifties as swingmen prevailed). From this data, it is even difficult to say that 5-man rotations are in actuality employed today, or at least that the workload of the average starting pitcher has changed tremendously in the past 100 years. Of course, there have been changes, like having an extra day of rest, that have made an impact, but they have had more to do with how the starting pitcher's work is allotted than the amount of workload (i.e., starts not innings) each pitcher has.
Lastly, the resurgence of the high-start, high-innings pitcher in the Sixties helps explain why there is a gap in the Forties and Fifties in 300- and 250-game winners. This is something that I noted about six months ago, and a fellow blogger posted a response opining that it was just an aberration. Clearly, it was not.
One final note on the DH as promised: Some of you may be skeptical of any numbers related to the mid-'70s because the DH changed everything in the AL starting in 1973. Well, since I love tables, here's one that shows that the DH may have prolonged the comeback of the complete game (and buoyed AL CG totals for about 15 years), but it certainly didn't start it:
Year AL CG% NL CG% Overall AL-NL 1960 25.28% 28.59% 26.94% -3.31% 1961 25.71% 26.49% 26.05% -0.79% 1962 23.86% 28.20% 26.03% -4.35% 1963 25.12% 28.30% 26.71% -3.17% 1964 21.44% 27.59% 24.51% -6.15% 1965 19.94% 25.58% 22.77% -5.65% 1966 20.72% 24.85% 22.79% -4.13% 1967 22.53% 25.74% 24.14% -3.21% 1968 26.23% 28.97% 27.60% -2.74% 1969 23.18% 27.29% 25.23% -4.11% 1970 19.63% 24.20% 21.91% -4.57% 1971 27.80% 28.09% 27.94% -0.29% 1972 27.02% 27.26% 27.14% -0.24% 1973 31.58% 23.02% 27.30% 8.57% 1974 33.40% 22.58% 27.99% 10.82% 1975 32.45% 21.99% 27.20% 10.46% 1976 30.51% 23.10% 26.79% 7.41% 1977 25.91% 16.51% 21.56% 9.39% 1978 28.51% 20.03% 24.60% 8.48% 1979 24.45% 18.64% 21.76% 5.80% 1980 24.25% 15.78% 20.33% 8.47% 1981 22.27% 13.66% 18.29% 8.60% 1982 19.60% 14.87% 17.42% 4.74% 1983 20.66% 14.17% 17.66% 6.49% 1984 17.55% 12.05% 15.01% 5.50% 1985 15.90% 13.75% 14.91% 2.15% 1986 15.65% 11.56% 13.77% 4.09% 1987 16.40% 9.73% 13.33% 6.67% 1988 15.56% 13.93% 14.81% 1.63% 1989 11.69% 11.20% 11.47% 0.49% 1990 10.11% 10.29% 10.19% -0.18% 1991 9.52% 7.73% 8.70% 1.79% 1992 10.67% 9.10% 9.95% 1.57% 1993 9.22% 7.14% 8.18% 2.08% 1994 9.60% 6.35% 7.97% 3.25% 1995 7.48% 6.16% 6.82% 1.32% 1996 7.19% 5.60% 6.40% 1.59% 1997 5.43% 6.31% 5.87% -0.87% 1998 6.22% 6.20% 6.21% 0.02% 1999 4.77% 4.94% 4.86% -0.17% 2000 4.72% 4.90% 4.82% -0.17% 2001 4.55% 3.70% 4.10% 0.84% 2002 5.08% 3.83% 4.41% 1.25%
Now, back to our story. When we had last left our hero, the relief pitcher, he had just survived the experimentation of the Sixties and entered an era of reflection and retrenchment in the Seventies. Now, tell me that life does not reflect baseball.
Although the Seventies were the decade in which most of our relief pitching archetypes were established (Fingers, Gossage, Sutter, Lyle, etc.), it was not necessarily the greatest decade for relievers. First, the DH and five-man rotation put the experimentation in the bullpen on the back burner. Then, realizations were made regarding relief pitching, were forgotten for a few years, and then re-discovered. There was change even though in the end the statistics for relievers looked very similar to those at the end of the Sixties since it was anything but a linear progression.
So what happened in the Seventies anyway? Well, the 100-appearance reliever (Mike Marshall) was born. The saves record changed hands three times by 1973, but remained unchanged at 38 for the rest of the decade. A number of the old career relievers retired (Hoyt Wilhelm, Ron Perranoski, and Lindy McDaniel) to be replaced by a new group of career relievers.
One of the revelations that was discovered, lost, and re-discovered was that a career reliever was now the way to go. Swingmen fell to 51% of all pitchers in 1970, but their number fluctuated throughout the decade. By 1979, however, the swingmen comprised fewer than 50% of all pitchers (for the first time since 1888). Their numbers have been dwindling since.
The pure relief pitcher swelled to 38% of all pitchers to start the decade (the highest percentage up until that point), but their numbers fell for the rest of the decade. They rose back to 34% by 1979, but wouldn't top their 1970 numbers in a full season until 1986. They have been steadily climbing since the Seventies.
Starting pitchers were the winners of the mid-'70s as 5-man rotations opened up more jobs. Their numbers grew by about 80% between 1970 and 1977, and then fell off a bit. They too have been climbing steadily as swingmen are cannibalized into pure starters.
Relievers became better quality pitchers. Teams learned from the career relievers in the Sixties. They developed relievers from a higher quality of pitcher than in the past and that resulted in better performance on the field. It's a simple concept but it took them decades to learn it or it took them decades to unlearn the idea of getting by on the cheap in the bullpen.
For the first time, relievers eclipsed 600 appearances in a decade (by Mike Marshall, Rollie Fingers, and Sparky Lyle). The number of 500-appearance relievers increased from 5 in the Sixties to 7 in the Seventies, 400-appearance relievers from 11 to 17, 300-appearances relievers from 28 to 31, and 200-appearance relievers from 60 to 72. It's a subtle change but an important one.
By the end of the decade, relief pitchers had better ERAs than starters for the first time. They also struck out more men per nine innings and gave up fewer home runs. They did tend to be a little wilder though, with a higher WHIP and a lower strikeouts-to-walk ratio. By the end if the decade, swingmen had the worst numbers of three and they have been getting progressively worse ever since, as the specialists ruled the day.
As far as the development of the reliever, the decade could be seen to have three distinct periods (1970-72, 1973-76, and 1977-79). The first was from 1970 to '72. Relief pitchers were starting to evolve into today's paradigm: fewer appearances, fewer innings, and more saves. The closer was being used to hold leads. The maximum number of appearances fell from 90 in 1969 to in the 80s 1970-71 to 66 in 1972. The maximum number of innings pitched fell as well from 140s at the end of the Sixties to 116 by 1972.
John Hiller sets the save record in 1973 with 38 in 65 relief appearances (and 125.1 innings), as the culmination of this first wave of relief pitching evolution. But it proved to be short-lived.
By the way here is a table of the maximum relief appearances and maximum relief innings pitched (by a pure reliever) for the Sixties and Seventies:
Year Max IP Max RA 1960 127.0 70 1961 122.0 65 1962 124.7 70 1963 132.3 71 1964 157.0 81 1965 165.3 84 1966 126.0 71 1967 124.7 77 1968 134.7 86 1969 144.7 90 1970 135.3 80 1971 136.3 83 1972 116.0 66 1973 179.0 92 1974 208.3 106 1975 141.7 75 1976 167.7 81 1977 146.7 78 1978 135.0 91 1979 143.0 94
Then the DH arrives and throws a spanner in the works. In 1973, the Montreal Expos who had been using closer Mike Marshall in 60-odd games a year to pitch 110-120 innings for a couple of years, decide that they want to use him basically everyday. In 1973 Marshall throws 179 innings in 92 games. In 1974, now as a Los Angeles Dodger, he throws over 208 innings in 106 appearances. He is 15-12 with 21 saves that year.
The idea of using a closer to save games seemingly evaporates as Terry Forster leads the majors in saves with 24, the lowest major-league leader total since 1959. There are only two other pitchers over 20 that year (Hiller and Tom Murphy). Here are the leaders in relief appearances for the year. Note the low number of saves among the group and these include almost all of the closers of the day. Also note that almost all of these men are relievers 100% of the time:
Pitcher RA Saves GP Mike Marshall 106 21 106 Rollie Fingers 76 18 76 Larry Hardy 75 2 76 Pedro Borbon 73 14 73 Ken Forsch 70 10 70 Tom Murphy 70 20 70 Steve Foucault 69 12 69 Elias Sosa 68 6 68 Sparky Lyle 66 15 66 Al Hrabosky 65 9 65 Mike Garman 64 6 64 Bill Campbell 63 19 63 Dave Giusti 62 12 64 Chuck Taylor 61 11 61 Randy Moffitt 60 15 61 John Hiller 59 13 59 Mac Scarce 58 5 58 Ramon Hernandez 58 2 58 Terry Forster 58 24 59 Bob Miller 58 2 58 Diego Segui 58 10 58 Tom House 56 11 56 Oscar Zamora 56 10 56 Rich Folkers 55 2 55 Tom Buskey 55 18 55 Clay Carroll 54 6 57 Doug Bird 54 10 55 Bob Reynolds 54 7 54 Fred Scherman 53 4 53 Vicente Romo 53 9 54 Gene Garber 51 5 51 Tom Burgmeier 50 4 50
Over the next few years, closers started to re-assumed their "modern" role. They were used in fewer games and they recorded more saves.
Rollie Fingers re-crossed the Rubicon of 30 saves in a season with 35 in 1977. Since then no major-league leader has recorded less than 30 in a full season. Also in 1977, closers were being surpassed by setup men as far as the leaders in relief appearances, though Fingers did lead the majors.
Then Kent Tekulve and Mike Marshall arrived in 1979 and everything seemed to go caflooey again. Most teams continued to limit their closers and use their setup men more. But as the decade closed here were the league leaders in relief appearances:
Pitcher RA Saves GP Kent Tekulve 94 31 94 Mike Marshall 89 32 90 Enrique Romo 84 5 84 Dick Tidrow 77 6 77 Sid Monge 76 19 76 Grant Jackson 72 14 72 Jim Kern 71 29 71 Gary Lavelle 70 20 70 Gene Garber 68 25 68 Dale Murray 67 5 67 Sparky Lyle 67 13 67 Doug Bair 65 16 65 Tug McGraw 64 16 65 Joe Sambito 63 22 63 Mark Littell 63 13 63 Bruce Sutter 62 37 62
But Bruce Sutter's Cy Young winning year galvanizes baseball. His final numbers don't look all that different from his 1977-'78 numbers, but instead of accumulating them mostly in the first half of the season and injuring his arm, as he had done the two previous seasons, he staggers those appearances throughout the year.
What isn't apparent about Bruce Sutter from a cursory perusal of the statistics is how overwhelming he was his first four years and how he became the blueprint for all future closers until today. That's why he finishes ahead of Goose Gossage in the Hall-of-Fame voting (266 to 209 votes this year), even though the statheads cannot understand it. The ensuing debate has established that Gossage was a better pitcher for his career and that his peak wasn't far behind Sutter's. Both valid points, but the impression that Sutter left on the game has been more important. Maybe he should get extra points like a Candy Cummings as a modern-day pioneer of the closer role. However, given the foundation of quicksand on which the relief pitcher role is built, basing Sutter's enshrinement on his imprimatur on the closer role may be as spurious an argument as using the claim that Cummings invented the curveball as cause for his plaque in Cooperstown.
So what exactly did Sutter do that doesn't show up in the stats? He played for a .500 team, and though his stats were impressive, were they that revelatory? Let's take a look at the first four years of his career, 1976-'79.
Sutter joined the Cubs on May 9, 1976. Chicago, though they started the year 5-1, were 11-15 on May 8 and had just lost 4 straight. Herman Franks, the Cubs manager, was having a devil of a time trying to find a reliable closer. He tried Buddy Schultz, Darold Knowles, Mike Garman, Tom Dettore (who gave up three runs to the Mets in the ninth and lost 10-8 in his one chance on April 15), Garman again, Oscar Zamora, Schultz again, and Garman again. I don't believe it was a bullpen by committee since Franks would go to the same guy until he had blown two or three save opportunities in a row and then he would try someone else. There were some real gems in there, too. On April 17, the Cubs lost to the Phils 18-16 in ten innings. The game is best remembered as Mike Schmidt's four-homer game (by the way Schmidt batted 6th in that game). It was considered so remarkably high-scoring at the time, that the Phils rebroadcast it a week later, something unheard of at the time. The Cub bullpen (Garman, Knowles, Paul Reuschel, and Schultz) had the following linescore: 3 innings pitched, 10 hits, 3 home runs (2 to Schmidt), 11 runs all earned, 2 walks, and 1 K. The final straw came in a 14-4 home loss to the Reds on May 8. The bullpen (Zamora, Ken Crosby, and Garman) allowed 7 runs, all earned, on 10 hits, four walks and one strikeout in 5.2 innings. That was the end of Mike Garman's trial as the closer-he gave up 4 of those runs in 2 innings. Franks then turned to the 23-year-old rookie Sutter.
Sutter pitched very well, but showed a pattern that would plague him the next three years:
Month G GS CG SHO GF SV IP H BFP HR R ER BB IBB K WP HBP BK GDP W L ERA May 7 0 0 0 5 2 9.1 6 37 0 2 2 5 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 1.93 June 12 0 0 0 4 0 16.2 14 68 0 4 4 4 2 13 2 0 0 0 0 0 2.16 July 9 0 0 0 5 2 18 13 70 2 6 6 6 1 16 0 0 0 1 2 1 3.00 August 13 0 0 0 9 4 19 13 69 1 2 2 3 1 21 0 0 0 2 1 1 0.95 September 10 0 0 0 4 1 19.2 17 86 1 13 11 8 4 20 0 0 0 1 3 0 5.03 October 1 0 0 0 1 1 0.2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Sutter was regularly used for two to four innings. He would also be used in consecutive games often. He pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in three consecutive games in two days, May 22-23 (and then was not used for over a week). Between June 19 and June 27, he was used in eight consecutive Cub games and on four of those days pitched 2 or more innings. These weren't save opportunities-he only finished two games in the span- but he didn't allow a run and recorded 10 strikeouts and only 6 hits in 9.2 innings through the first 7 games. On June 26, his ERA stood at a Bob Gibson-like 1.12. Then on June 27 he was used for two innings in a 13-3 blowout at the hands of the Mets at Wrigley, and he finally broke down, allowing 3 runs and 4 hits. His ERA almost doubled. He was then ignored for five games until the Cubs had a doubleheader. He pitched three no-hit innings against the Padres to complete a July 6th shutout by Steve Stone. Sutter also collected 5 Ks and 1 walk in the three innings and recorded his first save since May 31.
But in August Sutter was used in 13 of the Cubs' 30 games and the team had its first winning month of the year (17-13). Sutter had a 2.00 ERA by the end of August and would be the team's closer for the rest of the year. Sutter's September (5.03 ERA) would be far from spectacular, but it was due mostly to a few poor performances following overuse earlier in the year. For example, on July 9 Sutter tallied his first major-league win hurling four scoreless innings with five K's against the Giants. Then Franks' overuse of Sutter led to three consecutive poor performances (7/11-7/21: 4 innings and 5 runs allowed with only two strikeouts). Between August 3 and 12, he was used on 8 of nine Cub game days. He threw 10 scoreless innings (with 11 K's) in nine days. On August 12, he allowed two runs and recorded no outs in the eighth inning to give the Reds the lead in an eventual 8-3 loss. Franks then started using Sutter for 2-3 innings at a time one or two times a week. During the first week of September he broke down again, allowing 6 runs (and 8 K's) in 8.1 innings.
After the season, did Franks evaluate how he used the budding star and make adjustments? Of course not. Sutter started 1977 with an ERA under 1.00 until basically the All-Star break. However, Franks continued his abusive pattern. Sutter was used for 3.1 innings each of two consecutive appearances (5/1 and 5/4). Surprise! He gave up two runs in the second appearance. He was used in 7 of 9 games May 20-29, including two 3-inning and two 2+ inning games. He had a couple of small breakdowns during that period but was on too good a roll. Not coincidentally, at the beginning of July the Cubs were in first place 7.5 games ahead. On July 12, The Mets' Steve Henderson hit a game-winning, two-run home run off of Sutter. From Baseball-library.com: "After the game the Cubs relief ace admits his arm is bothering him, and asks to be excused from the All-Star game. Bleeding will be found in Sutter's arm and he will get the week off after the All-Star break to rest it." He returns to pitch two games (one for 3 innings!) but then goes onto the disabled list on August 3rd, at which time the Cubs still lead the Phillies in the NL East by 1.5 games. When he returns on August 23, the Cubs are tied for second, 7.5 games back. He finishes the year pitching well, but the Cubs finish 81-81, in fourth place and 20 games back. Sutter does have one amazing outing September 8, in which he ties the NL record for consecutive strikeouts for a reliever with 6 after whiffing the first 6 Expos he faces on just nine pitches. This is including Hall-of-Famers Tony Perez and Gary Carter as well as Andre Dawson, Larry Parrish, Ellis Valentine, and Warren Cromartie-not too shabby.
So of course, Franks now realizes that overworking his star has been leading to injury and ineffectiveness, right? Not yet. After a rough start, Sutter has his ERA well under 2.00 at the All-Star break and the Cubs are doggedly chasing the Phils in the NL East. Franks' pattern of abuse continues. After missing the last week in July, Sutter is used in a string of games, saving 5 in 7 days (8/1-8/7). On August 19, the Cubs trail the Phillies by 2 games, and Sutter has a 1.91 ERA with 22 saves. That day against the Reds, Sutter is brought in with two out in the seventh and the Cubs leading 5-3 and two men on. He strikes out Ken Griffey to end the inning and strikes out two in a scoreless eighth (though he allows Johnny Bench to steal a base). The Cubs leave him in to pitch the ninth, and he gives up a two-out single to Joe Morgan and then a three-run home run to Griffey, to allow the Reds to tie the game. In the 10th-yes, Sutter is still pitching-he gives up three singles on one out and the Reds capture the lead. From that point forward, Sutter would pitch 16 games and was 1-7 with a 7.33 ERA in 23.1 innings with 28 hits, 4 wild pitches, 4 home runs, 4 unerned runs (in addition to 19 earned), 24 strikeouts, 11 walks, a 1.67 WHIP, 5 saves, and only 12 games finished. Even Franks could see that there was a problem. The Cubs were 17-25 from August 19 on and finished in third place, 11 games behind the Phillies.
In 1979, Franks used Sutter in key situations and he recorded 37 saves in the Cubs' 80 wins. Franks goes back to his abusing ways in August and Sutter's September suffers, but he still wins the NL Cy Young:
Month G GS CG SHO GF SV IP H BFP HR R ER BB IBB K WP HBP BK GDP W L ERA April 5 0 0 0 5 5 7.2 5 29 0 0 0 2 0 6 2 0 0 1 0 0 0.00 May 10 0 0 0 9 4 19.1 14 80 2 6 5 7 2 20 0 0 0 1 1 2 2.33 June 10 0 0 0 9 8 17 6 62 0 2 2 5 0 21 1 0 0 0 1 0 1.06 July 10 0 0 0 10 6 16 3 60 0 3 2 7 2 19 3 0 0 1 2 1 1.12 August 15 0 0 0 14 12 21 19 83 0 5 3 3 0 24 2 0 0 1 0 0 1.29 September 12 0 0 0 9 2 20.1 20 89 1 13 13 8 1 20 1 0 0 1 2 3 5.75
When Herman Franks finally decided to try to limit Sutter to get the most out of him over a season, it paid off big. This proves to be a success even though Franks does not survive the season. It is also sufficient impetus to managers to extinguish the 80- to 90-appearance closer once and for all. Sutter was a living litmus test for closers. Everyone knew that he was a tremendous pitcher, but he broke down over the course of a season when asked to provide Mike Marshall-like innings. When Franks finally solved the problem by using him mostly in save situations and limiting his appearances and innings (only three appearances of three or more innings in 1979),-Q.E.D., the path was discovered. Eureka!
I think that during this period managers were convinced that the old abusing ways were not the way to use closers. But they just couldn't be convinced to use them any other way. Given any excuse (the DH, Mike Marshall, etc.), they would fall back on old habits. Franks went out on the thin ice and survived, so now other managers could be more adventurous.
Also, given Bill James' analysis in The New Historical Baseball Abstract, the most appropriate times to use closers is when the score is tied or your club is ahead by a one-run margin. James also recommends using your closer when your team is behind by a run and he is well rested. The save statistic was not developed with this value system in mind. First, three-inning relief appearances were common then, so that was an automatic save when the reliever finishes the game in the first place and his team wins. Helping your team win tie ballgames was left to the win-loss figures. And the situation that the relief creates through ineffectiveness, at least initially, is just as important as the situation when he entered the game as far as the save stat is concerned. That is why other unofficial stats like blown saves and holds have cropped up ever since. I also believe that managers in the '70s were not sold on the modern-day closer role as defined via the save. Once there was empirical proof using Sutter as a guinea pig, they could no longer argue against the modern closer. One last note regarding Sutter, however: his team did not improve once he was used effectively as a closer. His numbers improved and he enjoyed more success over the course of the season, but that did not translate into team success. So maybe the managers of the day shouldn't have been so convinced.
So ends the topsy-turvy Seventies.
Here are the leaders in relief appearances and saves for the decade. These names should be much more familiar to the average fan than the ones from the previous decades:
First Last RA Saves GP Mike Marshall 618 177 628 Rollie Fingers 611 209 640 Sparky Lyle 600 190 600 Pedro Borbon 557 79 561 Dave LaRoche 538 122 543 Darold Knowles 537 99 543 Tug McGraw 533 132 542 Dave Giusti 467 140 470 Tom Burgmeier 457 59 458 Paul Lindblad 453 46 460 Al Hrabosky 444 90 445 Gene Garber 436 110 444 Clay Carroll 436 106 447 Randy Moffitt 435 83 436 Elias Sosa 421 66 423 John Hiller 409 115 426 Grant Jackson 407 63 443 Steve Mingori 383 42 385 Dale Murray 371 48 372 Charlie Hough 367 59 382 Dave Tomlin 367 12 368 Kent Tekulve 363 83 363 Gary Lavelle 350 74 350 Bill Campbell 346 95 355 Fred Scherman 331 39 342 Wayne Granger 327 77 327 Rich Gossage 322 101 359 Terry Forster 321 100 360 Ken Sanders 318 82 318 Danny Frisella 313 55 315 Jerry Johnson 309 40 316 Jim Brewer 299 92 299 Mike Garman 295 42 301 Tom Murphy 291 59 388 Dave Heaverlo 290 22 290 Skip Lockwood 288 66 390 Ramon Hernandez 283 41 283 Rawly Eastwick 281 67 282 Doug Bird 280 58 324 Joe Hoerner 279 39 279 Tom Hall 278 32 319 Steve Foucault 277 52 277 Horacio Pina 271 35 271 Chuck Taylor 270 31 278 Will McEnaney 269 29 269 Ken Forsch 268 50 389 Tom House 268 33 289 Jim Todd 262 24 270 Lindy McDaniel 260 45 268 Diego Segui 258 46 309 Bob Locker 254 41 254 Jim Kern 244 75 256 Ron Reed 244 52 412 Bruce Sutter 240 105 240 Dick Drago 240 49 396 Mark Littell 240 52 258 Charlie Williams 235 4 268 Frank Linzy 227 34 228 Eduardo Rodriguez 225 32 264 Tom Buskey 225 34 225 Dave Hamilton 224 31 280 Jack Aker 222 51 222 Dick Tidrow 222 27 359 Jim Ray 220 24 223 Lerrin LaGrow 217 51 284 Bob Miller 213 19 228 Jim Willoughby 210 34 238 Vicente Romo 210 28 224 Ron Schueler 205 11 291 Eddie Watt 204 41 204 Cecil Upshaw 203 38 203 Dan Spillner 200 11 277 First Last RA Saves GP Rollie Fingers 611 209 640 Sparky Lyle 600 190 600 Mike Marshall 618 177 628 Dave Giusti 467 140 470 Tug McGraw 533 132 542 Dave LaRoche 538 122 543 John Hiller 409 115 426 Gene Garber 436 110 444 Clay Carroll 436 106 447 Bruce Sutter 240 105 240 Rich Gossage 322 101 359 Terry Forster 321 100 360 Darold Knowles 537 99 543 Bill Campbell 346 95 355 Jim Brewer 299 92 299 Al Hrabosky 444 90 445 Randy Moffitt 435 83 436 Kent Tekulve 363 83 363 Ken Sanders 318 82 318 Pedro Borbon 557 79 561 Wayne Granger 327 77 327 Jim Kern 244 75 256 Gary Lavelle 350 74 350 Rawly Eastwick 281 67 282 Elias Sosa 421 66 423 Skip Lockwood 288 66 390 Grant Jackson 407 63 443 Tom Burgmeier 457 59 458 Charlie Hough 367 59 382 Tom Murphy 291 59 388 Doug Bird 280 58 324 Don Stanhouse 190 57 256 Danny Frisella 313 55 315 Steve Foucault 277 52 277 Ron Reed 244 52 412 Mark Littell 240 52 258 Doug Bair 184 52 184 Jack Aker 222 51 222 Lerrin LaGrow 217 51 284 Ken Forsch 268 50 389
Here are the totals per role for the decade:
Year GP GS SV CG CG% RA P/G #P SP SP% RP RP% SP/RP Swing% 1970 10356 3888 878 852 21.91% 6468 2.664 363 37 10.19% 140 38.57% 186 51.24% 1971 9661 3876 689 1083 27.94% 5785 2.493 343 37 10.79% 121 35.28% 185 53.94% 1972 9127 3718 733 1009 27.14% 5409 2.455 339 43 12.68% 122 35.99% 174 51.33% 1973 9209 3886 819 1061 27.30% 5323 2.370 330 41 12.42% 106 32.12% 183 55.45% 1974 9330 3890 517 1089 27.99% 5440 2.398 344 48 13.95% 120 34.88% 176 51.16% 1975 9270 3868 669 1052 27.20% 5402 2.397 339 44 12.98% 108 31.86% 187 55.16% 1976 9364 3878 683 1039 26.79% 5486 2.415 325 50 15.38% 104 32.00% 171 52.62% 1977 10621 4206 845 907 21.56% 6415 2.525 371 69 18.60% 115 31.00% 187 50.40% 1978 10095 4204 804 1034 24.60% 5891 2.401 369 58 15.72% 122 33.06% 189 51.22% 1979 10573 4196 840 913 21.76% 6377 2.520 390 64 16.41% 134 34.36% 192 49.23%
Pernicious Pen Name, Batman-The PETCO
Pernicious Pen Name, Batman-The PETCO Padres!
The Padres, with one year left to play at "Qualcom" Park, already have an appalling appellation for their yet-unfinished new stadium, PETCO Park. The corporate sponsor is PETCO, the pet store chain. No, not the one with that annoying hand puppet dog.
Get this for classy:
The announcement was made in the new park by Padres chairman John Moores and PETCO chairman, president and CEO Brian Devine along with Eddie, the dog from the TV show "Frazier."
There was no word as to the extent of Eddie's participation in the announcement. Well, what do you expect for a sport run by a used car dealer? Why, Bud has class he's never even used yet. Yes, they've really gone to the dogs. Yuck Yuck.
Ivan the Marlin Pudge Rodriguez
Ivan the Marlin
Pudge Rodriguez courtship with the Baltimore Orioles was quick and not so sweet. The Marlins apparently topped the Os' offer and have landed Ivan Rodriguez for one year at $10 M. Pudge made about $9.6 M last year in Texas, so after all the hand wringing he ends up getting a raise.
Of course today it's never that easy (from ESPN):
Florida will pay Rodriguez $3 million this year, with the remainder deferred without interest. The Marlins will pay him $3 million on June 1, 2004, and $2 million each on June 1 in the following two years.
Rodriguez should play well for Florida if he can avoid injury, which he has not been able to do since his MVP year. The Marlins might have cause for concern in other areas as well, i.e., their young staff. Pudge does not have a great track record in developing young pitching talent. Add the fact that they had a decent catcher, offensively and defensively, in Mike Redmond already on the roster and the move seems less than a necessity (as opposed to, say, a Cleveland or Milwaukee team that does not have anything better than an average backup catcher on the roster). He is by no means an all-star but seems a serviceable catcher.
It seems a lot of money for a team that paid its top player (Cliff Floyd) "only" $6.5 M last year. I guess with Floyd and other high-priced players (Johnson, Wilson, Taveras, Lloyd, Dempster, and Owens-in fact the Marlins kept only 4 of 11 players making $2 M or more in 2002), they could afford him. The Marlins seem committed to developing their young staff. They paid Charles Johnson $10 M over the last two years to do it, and now they will pay Pudge that much to do it in 2003. The staff was below average at best under Johnson's tutelage (4.59 and 4.71 ERAs). They may fair better under Rodriguez, but $10 M seems a steep price to pay for it.
Phillips Headed Screw-Ups The NY
Phillips Headed Screw-Ups
The NY Times reports that the Mets now consider third base their top priority. Well, that's nice. It's about time. GM Steve Phillips is still selling the "we can go with Ty Wigginton (and his orchestra) at third" party line. I don't know if anyone is buying except for maybe Phillips himself:
"I think we're in a pretty good position with a young player that can play offense and defense," Phillips said yesterday by telephone. "If we had a situation, we would've acted differently in the free-agent market."
He can now say this because they tried and failed to sign free agents Tyler Houston and Jose Hernandez (who signed for more than I reported at the time though still incredibly low, $1 M plus $300K in incentives). Cognitive dissonance is a funny thing. It was just a month ago when the Mets had all but signed Japanese free agent Norihiro Nakamura. For whatever reason, Nakamura demurred and re-signed instead in Japan. Phillips has compounded that mistake, with this ludicrous stance backing Wigginton, who played 14 games poorly at third last year (though he did play there this winter) and who even though he redeemed himself at the plate has only 116 major-league at-bats under his belt. Besides he clearly was going in another direction a month ago.
They could have afforded Hernandez. They have $1.5 M available for a third baseman (although Nakamura was reportedly offered $7 M over two years plus a $6 M option for a third). The explanation for passing on the bargain-basement Hernandez?
Phillips would only say that Hernandez was not a fit. With Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz under contract, the Mets probably did not want to add another strikeout-prone hitter like Hernandez.
Leave it to the Mets to look at the best shortstop in the NL in 2002 and see K's. They suffered through years of Rey Ordonez at short. Now, there was a player with a hole in his offensive. Actually, the hole was his offense.
The Mets are now focusing on Boston's Shea Hillenbrand and Baltimore's Tony Batista. Somehow they got Baltimore interested in Jeromy Burnitz and his $11.5 M salary. But in addition to Batista's $6 M salary, the Os want the Mets to take the comatose Scotty Erickson and his $6.6 M salary off their hands. Somehow Phillips knows enough not to bite at that one.
Apparently the Mets are unwilling to acquire players who strike out but don't mind collecting ones like Hillenbrand and Batista that can't take a walk to save their lives.
Remember last year when everyone was picking this team to knock off the Braves and met the Yankees in the Series again. Their best option right now may be to sign Yankee bench player and castoff Ron Coomer as a stopgap at the hot corner. This is a team that has had Edgardo Alfonzo, Jeff Kent, and Robin Ventura playing third since the '94-'95 players' strike. By the way, the Yankees have third base patrolled by former Mets Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile. Zeile had to play first for the Mets because they had too many third sackers: Zeile, Alfonzo, and Vetura all played and started for the Mets in the halcyon days of 2000 and 2001. Compare that to Ty Wigginton and a stiff to be named later.
"I lieb you, baby. I
"I lieb you, baby. I lieb you. Now lieb me alone."
[By the way, that's a line from The Producers]
In an effort to ensure that Larry Lucchino and the Red Sox cannot acquire a single player this offseason, the Yankees signed John Lieber to a two-year contract for $4M (plus an $8 M option for 2005). Since Lieber is expected to miss this entire season recuperating his elbow after offseason surgery, it's basically a $4M contract for 2004.
It's not as if the Yankees want or even need Lieber, but the Red Sox were readying to sign the free agent, so the Yankees had to snatch him up. The Red Sox could start using this against the Yankees. They could start chatting up inferior players in hopes that the Yankees sign them to exorbitant contracts. Knowing the Sox, they'd probably just screw that up, too. They'd end up with guys like Jose Offerman and John Burkett. Oh, never mind.
Crazy Like a Fox There
Crazy Like a Fox
There is an AP report today that "Former New York sports executive David Checketts has made a $650 million offer to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the deal must include one of News Corp.'s moneymaking cable channels."
The Dodgers were bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought the Dodgers for a then-record $311 M on March 19, 1998. The deal was awaiting MLB approval from at least may 12, 1997.
Lest anyone believe the owners cries of poverty, consider that the Dodgers have increased in value at least 100% in five seasons. Here is what they have done on the field since 1997:
The Dodgers are 12th in Winning Percentage and have not made a playoff appearance although 19 other teams have:
Team W% WS Win LCS Win Div Title Wild Card New York Yankees .613 3 4 5 1 Atlanta Braves .612 1 6 San Francisco Giants .563 1 2 1 Seattle Mariners .561 2 1 Houston Astros .547 4 Arizona Diamondbacks .543 1 1 3 Cleveland Indians .543 1 4 Boston Red Sox .540 2 New York Mets .539 1 2 Oakland Athletics .538 2 1 St. Louis Cardinals .531 2 1 Los Angeles Dodgers .527 Chicago White Sox .509 1 Anaheim Angels .509 1 1 1 Toronto Blue Jays .503 Cincinnati Reds .491 Texas Rangers .490 2 San Diego Padres .483 1 1 Colorado Rockies .473 Baltimore Orioles .473 1 Philadelphia Phillies .464 Minnesota Twins .463 1 Chicago Cubs .457 1 Florida Marlins .457 1 1 1 Pittsburgh Pirates .442 Montreal Expos .441 Milwaukee Brewers .436 Detroit Tigers .426 Kansas City Royals .420 Tampa Bay Devil Rays .394
They are ninth in attendance:
Team Att/G Colorado Rockies 41,897.10 Baltimore Orioles 41,037.61 Cleveland Indians 40,390.20 Atlanta Braves 38,624.62 New York Yankees 38,619.09 Seattle Mariners 38,528.77 Arizona Diamondbacks 38,290.43 Los Angeles Dodgers 38,133.15 St. Louis Cardinals 38,014.10 Texas Rangers 33,777.60 Chicago Cubs 32,829.40 Houston Astros 32,215.65 San Francisco Giants 32,054.72 New York Mets 31,187.35 Boston Red Sox 30,553.69 San Diego Padres 29,053.33 Anaheim Angels 26,515.77 Toronto Blue Jays 25,597.77 Cincinnati Reds 24,545.33 Milwaukee Brewers 23,370.31 Pittsburgh Pirates 22,473.63 Detroit Tigers 21,988.73 Philadelphia Phillies 20,754.11 Chicago White Sox 20,546.63 Oakland Athletics 20,242.80 Tampa Bay Devil Rays 19,512.13 Kansas City Royals 18,669.80 Florida Marlins 18,092.69 Minnesota Twins 17,465.08 Montreal Expos 11,454.44
And yet they have averaged the second highest team payroll over that period:
Team Avg Payroll New York Yankees $91,056,126.17 Los Angeles Dodgers $77,823,991.50 Boston Red Sox $76,692,579.33 Atlanta Braves $75,991,478.17 Texas Rangers $75,281,067.83 Arizona Diamondbacks $73,996,366.00 Cleveland Indians $73,087,218.17 New York Mets $70,714,714.67 Baltimore Orioles $70,169,726.50 St. Louis Cardinals $60,760,075.67 Seattle Mariners $60,611,867.00 Chicago Cubs $59,380,388.67 Colorado Rockies $57,580,619.83 Toronto Blue Jays $57,083,138.33 San Francisco Giants $53,345,182.83 Houston Astros $51,235,949.17 Anaheim Angels $48,087,606.50 Chicago White Sox $45,922,500.00 San Diego Padres $44,853,697.33 Tampa Bay Devil Rays $44,055,025.80 Philadelphia Phillies $41,928,888.67 Cincinnati Reds $41,273,225.17 Detroit Tigers $40,759,333.33 Milwaukee Brewers $38,604,606.00 Florida Marlins $34,767,514.00 Kansas City Royals $33,975,833.33 Pittsburgh Pirates $29,924,516.50 Oakland Athletics $29,256,597.17 Minnesota Twins $27,355,333.33 Montreal Expos $25,777,388.83
I know that these are THE Dodgers that play in the second largest media market in the country and that there is a cable channel being bartered over, but if these numbers warrant a 100% increase, how much have the other successful franchises worth? And how could their cries of poverty found a an audience in the media (besides the fact that they own all of it) during the last Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations?
The players are really going to be kicking themselves by the time this CBA expires.
"The Rose of Battle" Rose
"The Rose of Battle"
Rose of all Roses, Rose of all the World!
A report in Newsday claims that Pete Rose is willing to admit that he bet on baseball and to apologize for his denying this fact for 13 years. Rose would then face a reported six- to eight-month probationary period before reinstatement. If his behavior is up to snuff, he could enter Cooperstown in 2004. Bud Selig has required during the "negotiations that Rose fulfill all three obligations: an admission, an apology and probation."
There has been no mention of an admission of betting on the Reds, which would ban him for life, and then some. Therefore, I see no reason for the probationary period other than to exact another pound of flesh from the Hit Earl. The penalty for gambling on baseball is one year, and Rose has served that 13 times over. If the probation is to evaluate Rose's behavior, then he has displayed that not a whole lot has changed in the quagmire that is his personal life in the intervening 13 years. Besides, if Rose were to change for 6 months, does anyone believe that he would be permanently altered in some way?
Whatever, it's good for baseball to end this ugly episode. Let him enter the Hall, be the flavor of the week, and then fade from the baseball landscape.
O Positive? MLB.com reports that
MLB.com reports that the Orioles are set to sign free-agent catcher Pudge Rodriguez and outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. to one-year deals for, respectively, $7 M and $1.5-2 M.
Cruz would apparently take over for recently departed Chris Singleton in center although he can play all three spots. Jay Gibbons and Gary Matthews Jr. should probably play the corners, unless a better defensive player is needed, in which case Melvin Mora will be added to the mix. (Marty Cordova should just be used as a DH.)
These guys should be big upgrades over what Baltimore had at their positions in 2002, but after winning only 67 games last year will it matter? Given Pudge's injury history and Cruz's underachieving, their signings could turn into busts. But at least the market minimizes their exposure to one year and under $10 M.
Brew Ha Ha Here's the
Brew Ha Ha
Here's the Brewers quote of the day from SportsTicker:
MILWAUKEE (Ticker) - The Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday signed righthander Chuck Smith to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Hoyt Couture Over at Futility
Over at Futility Infielder they have an interesting Hall of Fame analysis for baseball relievers. FI revamps a stat introduced by Rich Rifkin called the Hoyt Scale. It is interesting to see pitchers from different eras compared in one scale.
I feel that I cannot accurately comment on the Hoyt Scale until I complete my history of relievers. I plan on having my own means of comparing relievers over time at the end of it. Like most of American culture, I am currently stuck in the '70s. It is the decade in which the greatest amount of change occurred in relief pitching. The experimentation of '60s led to new approaches. The sticking point for me is the development of the 5-man rotation and its effects on relief pitching. I should have something out soon though.
I Heard He Sat on
I Heard He Sat on the Dugout Floor Until He Got the Deal He Wanted
The Twins have signed first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to a one-year, $1.75 M contract, thereby avoiding arbitration. From the AP:
Mientkiewicz made $285,000 last season and asked for $2.05 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The Twins offered $1.45 million.
So they basically split the difference.
Mientkiewicz is a useful player who knows how to take a walk and is a good defensive first baseman, but he doesn't really hit enough to play first base or DH regularly. Ortiz was probably a better choice to have been kept, but as David St. Hubbins once said, "That's just nitpicking, isn't it?"
Flash in the Pen Paean
Flash in the Pen Paean
The White Sox may now be considered the front-runners in the AL Central after acquiring 20-game-winner and erstwhile man without a ballclub, Bartolo Colon, but they have not done their bullpen any favors this offseason.
First they traded away closer Keith Foulke for Bill Koch. Then they traded right-handers Antonio Osuna and Rocky Biddle in the Colon deal. Yesterday they acquired Tom "Flash" Gordon for one year at $1.4 M to replace them. The White Sox bullpen had also lost longtime member Booby Howry to the Red Sox during 2002.
Foulke was a superior closer who fell into the White Sox doghouse early last year and was never redeemed. He did finish 15th in Baseball Prospectus' s reliever rankings by Adjusted Runs Prevented (with 17.5). Koch wasn't bad in 2002 (12.4 ARP), but is not Foulke's equal by a long shot. Foulke has had an ERA under 3.00 each of the last four seasons. Koch had a sub-3.00 ERA just once and also had a 4.80 ERA two years ago.
Osuna was a valuable setup guy (6.6 ARP) but Biddle was sub-par (-7.5 ARP). The White Sox bullpen was ranked 13th in the majors by BP with a 22.0 ARP. Gordon is still a good pitcher at 35 but hasn't thrown over 46 innings since his arm troubles in 1999. Osuna threw 67.2 innings last year and Biddle 77.2. Oh, and Gordon's ARP was an unimpressive 0.4 overall.
With these changes, expecting the White Sox bullpen to be better than mediocre may be unrealistic.
Bowling for Homefield My cousin-in-law
Bowling for Homefield
My cousin-in-law Adam has a suggestion to reinvigorate the Pro Bowl:
So maybe the Pro Bowl should decide home field advantage for the World
Maybe the NFL will then be able to get a first-string quarterback to show. Or how about having Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens suit up?
Gammon-ical Error, Continued I defy
Gammon-ical Error, Continued
I defy anyone to make sense of the following offering from Peter Gammons' Diamond Notes:
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, of those with 20 or more starts, those who had the most significant improvement in the stetch as opposed to out of the stretch in 2002 were Colon (.758 OPS against out of the windup, .600 out of the stretch) and Barry Zito (.686 and .548 respectively). Those who had the biggest differentials throwing out of the stretch: Frank Castillo (OPS +.245 out of the stretch), Brad Radke (+.242), Danys Baez (+.201), A.J. Burnett (+.188) and Mike Mussina (+.184).
"Stetch"? "Out of the stretch" is obviously the opposite of "out of the stretch", right?
Billetes! Quien Necesita Billetes por
Billetes! Quien Necesita Billetes por Los Expos?
The Expos games in San Juan are selling at a brisk pace according to MLB. This may weigh in their favor for acquiring the team.
"I'm pleased to be where we are, considering it's the first weekend," said Claude Delorme, executive VP of Business Affairs for the Expos. Included in that 3,000 are all of the seats priced at $85 each behind home plate, and two-thirds of the seats priced at $75.
A Trip (or Pratfall) Down
A Trip (or Pratfall) Down Memory Lane
The Phillies report that they will be constructing a memorial to the old Negro League Philadelphia Stars on the site of their old stadium. Coincidentally, the announcement came on Martin Luther King Day
"Any way that we can aid in everybody permanently remembering that important era in baseball is great," said Phillies team president Dave Montgomery.
I wonder if anywhere amid the hoopla the Phillies will mention that they did not field a black player until 1957, the year after Jackie Robinson retired. They actually had two black players in 1957: John Kennedy and Chico Fernandez. The Phils were the last team n the NL to integrate. On April 22, 1957 that honor fell to John Kennedy, who was used as a pinchrunner.
The 30-year-old Kennedy got only two at-bats to prove himself even though he was a third baseman and starting Phillie third sacker Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones would bat only .218 in 1957 (with a .641 that was only 75% of the adjusted league average). Chico Fernandez was a young shortstop from Havana that the Phils acquired from the Dodgers prior to the season for five players. He was a pretty good shortstop but had a bushelful of errors and couldn't hit a lick. He would only last three years for the Phils.
Rob Neyer has some other memorable moments in Phils' proud history:
In The Lords of Baseball (which has just been reprinted; more on that some other time), Harold Parrott wrote about [Phils' director of baseball operations Herb] Pennock's reaction to Jackie Robinson in 1947. Parrott was working for the Dodgers, and shortly before Brooklyn's first trip to Philadelphia, Pennock called Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. With Parrott listening on another extension, Pennock told Rickey, "[You] just can't bring the nigger here with the rest of your team, Branch. We're just not ready for that sort of thing yet. We won't be able to take the field against your Brooklyn team if that boy Robinson is in uniform."
Maybe that can be engraved on the statue.
Pathetic Red Sox, III The
Pathetic Red Sox, III
The Red Sox will apparently have to give up on acquiring Kevin Millar even though they had allegedly offered Benny Agbayani to get him (Millar's agents are now trying to break his Japanese contract, but c'mon!). While Theo Epstein hangs out at the local Gas'N'Sip on a Saturday night lamenting the loss with his compeers, the Red Sox are now reportedly interested in two others to fill the void left by the non-tendoring of Brian Daubach: David Ortiz and Dave Nilsson.
Ortiz was let go by the Twins after they got caught in a numbers crunch. He should fit in well at first base and DH.
Nilsson was a very fine hitting catcher who moved to first, corner outfield, and designated hitter, and then back to catcher in his final year (1999). He was an All-Star in 1999 and had an OPS almost 40% better than the league average, but he decided to play in Japan in 2000 to be close to home (Australia) and prepare for the 2000 Olympics.
Nilsson was not considered an adept enough catcher for the Japanese leagues and was moved to left field. He batted .180 in 61 with 1 home run and 8 RBI for Chunichi.
He faired better in the Olympics, in which he led all batters with a .565 average, a .957 slugging average, and a .667 on-base percentage in 23 at-bats with 1 home run, 6 RBI, and 3 stolen bases. He also played catcher for Australia.
Nilsson then headed a group that bought the revamped International Baseball League Australian. He was the acting chairman through the 2001-'02 season, which was canceled after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York. I'm not sure what he has been up to since though I heard that the Sox approached him about returning to the game a couple of years ago.
Nilsson is now 33. He appears too old to catch and yet his best seasons seem to come as a catcher. I cannot imagine him being anything more than a role player for the Red Sox, something akin to Warren Cromartie.
Cromartie was a young corner outfielder/first baseman and part of the Expos excellent outfield in the late '70s and early '80s (with Andre Dawson and Ellis Valentine/Tim Raines). He was far from a star but was a valuable player. At the age of 30, Cromartie went to Japan to play. He returned 7 years later playing a reduced role for the Royals very well and then called it a career.
Meanwhile, the Yankees signed the best player in Cuba and the best player in Japan this offseason. Do the Red Sox really hope to compete with these sorts of acquisitions? If so, why did they get rid of Dan Duquette in the first place?
Rockie Mountain Hola, II My
Rockie Mountain Hola, II
My friend Murray and I had a little interchange regarding the Hernandez signing. Here goes:
Do you think it was smart for Hernandez to sign for a year in Denver so that he could use it as a springboard to a better contract next year? I think it's a dumb move. If all the offers were small, then I guess he probably should have chosen the jurisdiction that would offer him the greatest tax advantages. Maybe that's Colorado.
I don't get it at all. $800K is a pittance today, no matter what the taxes are. He was the best shortstop in the NL last year. Even if they switch him to third, he was still in the top handful there offensively in 2002. Dreck like Neifi Perez and Dustin Hermanson get salaries higher than that. Backup Ben Davis just signed for a million and he is still arbitration-eligible only.
At the time, the Dawson signing was for less money but constituted a higher percentage of what the top salaries in the game were in 1987. So this Hernandez deal is terrible from the players' perspective. Hernandez will be paid less than the major league average salary next year.
Dawson signed for $400K ($700K with incentives). The average 1987 salary according to the AP was $412,454.
By the way, here are the average salaries from the AP from 1967. I added 2003 and the % increase column. Note that the 1995 strike year and 1987 collusion year were the only ones when salaries went down. The numbers for this season should be interesting:
Year Minimum Average % increase 1967 $6,000 $19,000 N/A 1968 10,000 NA N/A 1969 10,000 24,909 N/A 1970 12,000 29,303 17.64% 1971 12,750 31,543 7.64% 1972 13,500 34,092 8.08% 1973 15,000 36,566 7.26% 1974 15,000 40,839 11.69% 1975 16,000 44,676 9.40% 1976 19,000 51,501 15.28% 1977 19,000 76,066 47.70% 1978 21,000 99,876 31.30% 1979 21,000 113,558 13.70% 1980 30,000 143,756 26.59% 1981 32,500 185,651 29.14% 1982 33,500 241,497 30.08% 1983 35,000 289,194 19.75% 1984 40,000 329,408 13.91% 1985 60,000 371,571 12.80% 1986 60,000 412,520 11.02% 1987 62,500 412,454 -0.02% 1988 62,500 438,729 6.37% 1989 68,000 497,254 13.34% 1990 100,000 597,537 20.17% 1991 100,000 851,492 42.50% 1992 109,000 1,028,667 20.81% 1993 109,000 1,076,089 4.61% 1994 109,000 1,168,263 8.57% 1995 109,000 1,110,766 -4.92% 1996 122,667 1,119,981 0.83% 1997 150,000 1,336,609 19.34% 1998 170,000 1,398,831 4.66% 1999 200,000 1,611,166 15.18% 2000 200,000 1,895,630 17.66% 2001 200,000 2,138,896 12.83% 2002 200,000 2,295,694 7.33% 2003 300,000 N/A N/A
Rockie Mountain Hola The Colorado
Rockie Mountain Hola
The Colorado Rockies signed Jose Hernandez and Steve Reed today according to the AP.
Reed is a good, right-handed reliever and was an original Rockie.
Hernandez signed for a measly $800K and one year (according to Rotoworld.com). It was not disclosed if Hernandez would play shortstop, where he was an All-Star last year, or third. The Rockies have Juan Uribe at short and were looking at some combination of Brent Butler, Greg Norton, and newly-inked Chris Stynes at third. Hernandez would be a pronounced improvement at either position. Uribe is only 23 and wasn't bad in his short call-up in 2001 but showed very little offense in his first full year as a starter (.688 OPS overall, .509 on the road). The three third basemen, however, weren't much better, so Hernandez will probably start there and won't switch unless Uribe continues to struggle. Hernandez could have a breakout year at Coors, and he may finally be allowed to play out a season and break the all-time single-season strikeout record. The mind boggles at the number of home runs and whiffs he could tally as a Rockie.
Meanwhile, Hernandez's signing means that there is one fewer potential candidate for the Mets' third base vacancy. The only free agents that might pique their interest are retreads Ron Coomer or Shane Andrews. Their best bet appears to be Shea Hillenbrand, whom they attempted to acquire unsuccessfully in one of the Bartolo Colon three-way trades. The Rockies now have a surplus at third but may not want to trade any depending on where Hernandez will play and Uribe's status.
RotoWorld.com reports that Hillenbrand may be bound for Montreal in exchange for newly-signed Tony Armas Jr. ($2.1 M). The Red Sox would then look to trade Armas, why I don't know. The Mets could then acquire high-salaried Fernando Tatis from the Expos.
In any case their options seem limited rather unsavory.
Reading Is Fundamental Jim Caple
Reading Is Fundamental
Jim Caple has a very funny and very insightful, however apocryphal, open letter from Bud Selig regarding the free ride that football gets in the media. Caple makes some good points. That was the tip-off for me that it wasn't Bud Selig:
P.S. Paul Tagliabue is a good friend of mine but it's not like his hair is winning any Vidal Sassoon styling awards, either.
Far to clever.
Of course, football gets the free ride in the media that it does because people apparently aren't interested in stories that run the game down. In baseball, it's sort of a backhanded compliment that every little misstep is amplified tenfold. Maybe it has to do with football's never canceling a Super Bowl. It also doesn't help that the baseball powers-that-be are over-anxious to cast aspersions on the sport and its players as well.
Also, check out Travis Nelson, "The Boy of Summer" and one of my Blog brethren, who has just passed the 5K threshold. Check out his site and help him get to 50K soon.
Torii'ed a New One According
Torii'ed a New One
According to ESPN, Torii Hunter and the Twins finally have completed a long-term deal, four years for $32 M.
I read that and I thought there was a typo. Hunter won't be 28 until the All-Star break, had a breakthrough year in 2002, and is poised to be one of the best players in the game for the next five years or so.
$8 M per year is a great salary anywhere, even in the majors, but that seems a bit low given his credentials. That's only $500K more than Jeffrey Hammonds made in 2002. I guess he shouldn't complain because at least the Twins offered a multi-year contract.
In the late-'90s teams emulated the success of the Indians and tried to sign their young talent to long-term deals at decent salaries. It seemed a good strategy to gamble on the development of young players. There were some that disappointed, but since the salaries were usually not as excessive as veteran deals they proved not to be too onerous for the team.
This offseason, teams are rarely offering more than a one-year contract. Today Roy Halladay, arguably the best young arm in the AL, re-signed with the Blue Jays. Halladay is 25 years old, was 19-7 with a 2.95 ERA last year, and has been among the league leaders in most pitching categories over the last year and one-half. He also was Toronto's sole All-Star representative. 2002 was his first full season in a major-league rotation, however. He would seem a prime candidate for a long-term contract before he has another big season and sends his stock up higher.
Toronto re-signed him for one year at $3.825 M, ESPN reports. Here is a list of Blue Jays salaries in 2002 that were over $1M (from Baseball-Reference.com):
Carlos Delgado $ 19,400,000
Note that he won 19 games and got a modest $1.25M increase. That is a 50% bump but he is still woefully under-compensated. Consider that journeyman starter Esteban Loiaza made almost twice that last year and had a 5.71 ERA to show for it, his second over-5.00 ERA in his two years in a Blue Jay uniform. I know what you're thinking: he signed the contract before that performance. Well, he was 10-13 in 2000 with 4.56 ERA before signing the two-year contract. The same goes for the other two pitchers who made more in 2002 than Halladay will in 2003 (Parris and Carpenter). None of those three ever had a season as good as Halladay's 2002 before or since signing with the Jays.
The recent rash of one-year deals causes me to believe in collusion more than anything else. How do teams so quickly change the prevailing theory of locking young players into long-term contracts? And how do they all do it at the same time? I doubt that if one GM were going against the prevailing strategy that he would forewarn his fellow GMs so that they could all follow suit.
This is different from the lack of offers to established free agent players, which I could understand. There is incentive from the last Collective Bargaining Agreement for teams to keep salaries low by not signing overpriced stars. But this is different because these are still under-priced stars in the making, the bedrock that teams have always been built upon.
It's almost as if all these teams are gambling on salaries going down in the coming years. Let's just pay enough this year to keep them happy and then sign them next year for less. How would they all suspect that at the same time and how would they all be brave enough to act upon that suspicion? I find it all highly suspicious, but then again it's in my nature.
D'oh, Canada It seems that
It seems that our neighbors to the north are perhaps inadvertently embarrassing the powers that be in MLB. You see, the Canadians have a Baseball Hall of Fame themselves and their 2003 class may include Pete Rose, who is ineligible in the States-you may have heard.
Either the Canucks stoked the Pete Rose for-the-Hall bonfires without meaning to do so or they are trying to capitalize on the much-debated topic's marketability to get some free publicity. Either way, it may be in poor taste to induct the man given the current set of circumstances. Then again, he may not get selected and the point may be moot.
ESPN quotes the Canadian Hall's president thusly:
"From the baseball standpoint I could see the selection committee members having some reservations," Canadian Hall of Fame president and CEO Tom Valcke told the London Free Press. "From the marketing side, (Rose's induction) would go a long way in our awareness campaign."
I checked out the Canadian Museum's site and it seems a low-key venture typical of Canada. They won't even be able to enjoy the benefits of the extra publicity. They are closed until May 3. Besides who could begrudge a museum that enshrines Tip O'Neill, Dave McKay, Terry Puhl, and George Selkirk?
It is their twentieth anniversary and, who knows, maybe they wanted some free publicity. Well, whatever their intentions they have their publicity. Now, let's see if they actually induct Rose. That'll be interesting.
Also of Interest, they seem to have their own Abner Doubleday (from their site):
St. Marys [the site of the museum] has close ties with the beginning of baseball in Canada. One of St. Marys' early settlers, Dr. Adam Ford, wrote an article that was published in a magazine called the "American Sporting Life" in 1886 that described a game played in the nearby community of Beachville that closely resembled baseball in its current form. Ford was also a physician in St. Marys, aswell [sic] as the Mayor of the town.
The claim is that the first game was played in 1838 in Canada. That's seven years before the Knickerbockers organized at Hoboken's Elysian fields. It's great that no matter where you are these historic museums have to start by building up the legends and tall tales for their topics. It's like Ken Burns without the Chubb Group.
Oh, one last thing regarding Rose's Canadian credentials. He did break the 4,000 hit mark in the Expos tri-colored cap, but Rose's Canadian career lasted only 95 games at the age of 43. He batted .259 and slugged .295 during his Montreal "career". His OPS was 18% below the adjusted league average. That doesn't seem like something to commemorate.
Man Bites Dog, II My
Man Bites Dog, II
My friend Murray's friend Chris point out that there already is a Ted Williams Award. As Murray emailed me:
You forgot another component of the Williams Award screw-up: isn't that the new name for the All Star Game MVP? So now we have two Williams winners every year (at least in theory if not in practice)?
My attitude is name 'em all after the Splendid Icicle. Let's have the Ted Williams MVP Award, the Ted Williams Cy Young Award, the Ted Williams Rolaids Fireman of the Year Award, etc. I hope his freezer-loving son is receiving the proceeds from the name use. When I lived in Boston ten years ago, the town barely acknowledged the curmudgeonly clubber. Now, he's the flavor of the hour. Weird.
The Man Needs a Hobby,
The Man Needs a Hobby, II
First, I have to apologize for letting Bud and the Buddy System off the hook for getting utterly gleeful over the passing of his All-Star game-cum-Seventh Game of the World Series plan by the owners. From the ESPN article:
"This energizes it. This gives them something to really play for," commissioner Bud Selig said after the 30-0 vote. "People pay a lot of money to see that game. They deserve to see the same intensity they see all year long. Television people pay a lot of money for the game. It was not and should not be a meaningless exhibition game."
Basically, I think it's stupid, but since they alternate homefield advantage between the leagues each year, who cares? It won't work if it's intended to motivate the players. They see through the ruse.
"That's crazy. You've got the All-Star game with players from different teams. I don't think that's right," said Chicago White Sox catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., a six-time All-Star. "That's totally ludicrous."
The players risk looking like the bad guys in the fans' eyes if they reject the proposal. If they approve it, you may see a player overused in one spot (like Barry Bonds), which is unfair but I doubt will induce undue injury. They could see one manager, whose team is involved in the playoff hunt, being more interested in the game than the opposition if its manager's team is out of the playoff hunt. Probably none of those things will happen because these men are professionals who once played the game themselves.
However, by the same token, if this move is not motivating the players, which appears to be the case at least from its more vocal membership, and probably won't change the managerial approach, what's the point? Well, Bud the Lorax speaks for the poor wayward fans who gather their pennies to pay the admission to the game and "deserve to see the same intensity they see all year long." What of them, Mr. Scrooge-y baseball player (i.e. Tug McGraw)? "Bah, humbug," you say?
I'll reserve comments about the year-long intensity for a more appropriate time. But I have to ask if Bud was watching the same game that I saw last year. The All-Star game was exciting, great play all around. It went into extra innings. It just didn't have an ending. Well, that was a shame, but no one who paid for the game got gypped in the least. If anything they got the extra inning. Besides Bud could care less (my opinion) about the poor fan as long as he keeps laying out the kale to attend. Otherwise, Bud will be the first to contract his team's ass out of existence.
The players' intensity will never reach the level it had been at in the past because the players have a real union and make real salaries now. They can't be bullied by baseball executives into winning at all costs (remember Ray Fosse?). And it is less of carrot than it had been because the extra funds are no longer required to keep up the players' pension fund.
I think this plan is just a bone that they are throwing to Fox for last year's tie game: "Television people pay a lot of money for the game. It was not and should not be a meaningless exhibition game." They feel that they need to re-instill public confidence in the game to keep the networks happily paying usurially for it.
Bud vowed that something would be forthcoming to ensure that the game never ended in a tie again. I guess this is it. It's easier than coming up with a plan for extra-inning games (HR contest, extra squad, players held in reserve, etc.). "But those things would cheapen the game, make it an exhibition," Bud would sputter.
First, it is an exhibition. It counts in no standings. It's for fun. Why did they add the home run derby and futures game to it anyway? Because people like to see them.
Second, what has cheapened the game is a number of moves by Bud and the leaders at MLB. They introduced interleague play making Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza meetings commonplace. They shut down the league offices and standardized the interpretation of the rules across leagues (i.e., the strike zone). By and large, the only distinction between the leagues today is the DH rule, to which the NL teams now get some exposure during interleague play. Speaking of interleague play, why not use that to determine homefield in the Series? The league with a better interleague record gets homefield, at least that would reflect in some small way how the better teams in each league performed against each other.
The owners can't have it both ways. They can't homogenize the majors and then expect the players to have an intense rivalry with the players from the other league.
Baseball also continues the negativity and witch hunts. Bud's demeanor is downright McCarthyite in trying to root out the problems in the sport, which invariably are remedied by measures that put more moola in the owners' pockets. So now it's the All-Star game that he is fumblingly tweaking like Anse Bundgren pathetic attempt to smooth the covers of his wife's soon-to-be deathbed in As I Lay Dying (Too obscure?). Does it really matter what they do? No. But all of this disingenuois Buddy Knows Best really irks me
Meanwhile, in the NFL they can't even figure out who wins their playoff games and no one seems to mind all that much.
Pathetic Red Sox, II Now
Pathetic Red Sox, II
Now this is bordering on stalking. According to the AP, Red Sox today emailed the Chunichi Dragons an offer that included "the fees Chunichi paid to the Marlins for Millar, and the services of several players including outfielder Benny Agbayani" for Kevin Millar. The offer was rejected.
Millar is a good ball player, but if they had pursued Cliff Floyd like this maybe they wouldn't need Millar right now. Maybe if they had re-signed Brian Daubach instead of letting him go as a free agent, then they would have had more depth at DH/first base, thereby freeing up newly acquired Jeremy Giambi to play the corner outfielder/DH role that they would employ with Millar. Why not move Manny Ramirez to the DH role permanently, move Trot Nixon (who doesn't seem to be the greatest defensive right fielder) to left, and sign free-agent right fielder Reggie Sanders (or just play Sanders in left like the Padres and Braves did a few years ago).
My basic point is that they had options in the past and still have some options now. Their obsession with the talented non-star Millar is charming in a Play Misty for Me kind of way but unproductive.
Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon has slipped through their fingers after months of wooing the Expos. Now their only option to improve the rotation may be via free agent Kenny Rogers, whom the Yankee fans would love to see pitching again in the Bronx especially if it's for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox have been able to acquire a second starting third baseman in Bill Mueller. That's at least an improvement over the Mets who haven't been able to acquire one. But unless the can convert Mueller into a DH/corner outfielder type or a quality starting pitcher, then what's point in acquiring him?
So far the Theo Epstein regime has produced some small improvements (Walker, the lesser Giambi, etc.) and some rather large mistakes (Floyd, Daubach, Colon, etc.). The Red Sox can't afford to tread water in this division, let alone take two steps backward for each step forward (So, I like mixed metaphors). Meanwhile, Epstein seems to be staying up nights Googling the Dragons (excuse me?) and Millar to plumb the depths of the vast online email, voice-mail, cell phone, beeper, blackberry, etc. listings with one last hope of acquiring the former Marlin. The more things change in Boston, the more they stay the same.
The Man Needs a Hobby
The Man Needs a Hobby
Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, apparently displeased that this offseason has been relatively tranquil as salaries fall and multi-year contracts for talented, young players become things of the past, they have decided to tinker with the game again.
Frustrated that folding your favorite team is no longer an option at present, Bud and the boys are falling back on tried and true ways to screw up the game: appointing committees, that always include George Will, and sending Sandy Alderson and the bean counters in to shorten the game. In other words, they are again finding fault in the game at a time when everyone and his uncle have beaten them to the punch.
Sandy Alderson announced today that baseball is concerned that the length of World Series games was 3:30 even though the regular-season average had dipped to 2:52. MLB will be asking umps to "to emphasize the need to keep hitters in the box. They will also try and keep pitchers working at a reasonable pace and enforce the rule that states a relief pitcher must be ready to face a hitter no more than two minutes and 25 seconds from the time the manager signals the bullpen."
Well, that's all good and well, enforce the rules by all means. Take Chuck Knoblauch and his ilk to a shrink so that they can get over their obsessive-compulsive rituals before each pitch. Bring back the bullpen carts to get men to the mound quickly or force them to run to get to the mound in time. When Livan Hernandez falls behind a hitter, remind him that this is not chess, especially the way he pitches-but keep him away from golf clubs when you do it.
Fine. But the biggest problem wasn't even mentioned: commercial breaks. During the playoffs the commercial breaks whenever there was a pitching change were long enough to decompress from the Steve Lyons-Thom Brennamen fiasco that was unfolding before your eyes. Two minutes and twenty-five seconds? There was no way that the commercial breaks were that short. The Fox promos alone seemed to last longer than the games.
But baseball isn't willing to turn down the extra cash in order to present a better product to its fans. They would rather do what comes naturally, blame the players and talk down the sport. I can't believe that Alderson seemed revelatory just a couple of years ago in his dealings with the umps. Now, he is more concerned with the sartorial splendor and workmanlike demeanor of the players:
"If there are any sanctions, they will be imposed much as baseball handled violations of the uniform code last season. The clubs will be sanctioned and they in turn will deal with individual players"
Next up, Bud has commissioned a special task force called the "Commissioner's Initiative: Major League Baseball in the 21st Century." It's got to important if it has a subtitle in its name. It's stated goal is "to shape the future development of the game." Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we in the 21st century right now? Then it's not the future. It's now.
Bud is prepared to scare us right from the get-go:
"It has a very broad potential agenda," Selig said. "This is very important to me."
Of course a good number of the usual suspects are on hand: George Will, who would be the owners' shill if he were not an owner himself (minority owner of two clubs, but shh! don't tell anyone), MLB executives and owners, and people who work for companies owned by or affiliated with team owners (ESPN, Fox, and Anheuser-Busch). There is also Gene Orza from the Players' Association, a few professors, and Maryann, here at Bud Selig's Special Task Force. Of course, Bud dressed as Bob Denver in the red rugby shirt, white pants, and white sailor's hat spouting, "Skipper!" is too good an image not to dwell on. So I shall dwell.
Anyway, given the success of the Blue Ribbon Panel report that was oft-quoted in the labor negotiations, Bud must be salivating more than usual to get his hands on another panel to finally put his signature on the game. I mean it's not like he added an extra round of playoffs, wild card playoff teams, interleague baseball, 4 expansion teams in two rounds of expansion, an unbalanced schedule, the outlawing of doubleheaders, carding bat boys, two extra divisions, and a partridge in a pear tree or anything.
I may be too world-weary but I would be totally shocked if this committee was not formed to basically reiterate back to baseball exactly what it wants to hear. If it doesn't, MLB will just ignore its findings anyway.
Apparently, the first salvo has been fired. Baseball wants to expand the playoffs. I'm not sure if that means an extra round or just expanding the first round to seven games. Great, when will the season end, around Super Bowl time? But of course MLB will not be willing to shorten the regular season or play dreaded double-headers during the year. Maybe they'll just start the season in March in Japan every year.
Keep in mind that throughout all of their efforts to tweak the game, baseball still stays true to its roots:
"That's something we're not considering," Alderson said. "We don't think that the game lends itself to a clock, it's never been associated with a clock. We think we can shorten the games without having to do that. The idea here is to limit the dead time."
Dead time indeed. Good night and god bless.
Man Bites Dog In a
Man Bites Dog
In a shocking turn of events, Alex Rodriguez was considered for a baseball award, someone got screwed in the award voting, and it wasn't him. The first-ever Ted Williams Award for best major-leaguer hitter of the year was won by A-Rod-the Splendid Splinter must be rolling over in his cryogenic chamber.
Rodriguez was the best-hitting shortstop. He should have won the AL MVP. But in no way was he the best hitter in the bigs last year.
Here are the top 10 qualifiers according to OPS:
NAME BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ HR% RC/27Outs EqA Runs Above Pos Bonds .370 .582 .799 1.381 275 11.41% 19.06 .457 126.2 Thome .304 .445 .677 1.122 191 10.83% 11.20 .369 64.6 Ramirez .349 .450 .647 1.097 190 7.57% 11.23 .370 56.6 Giles .298 .450 .622 1.072 173 7.65% 10.07 .351 53.9 Giambi .314 .435 .598 1.034 174 7.32% 9.37 .351 55.8 Walker .338 .421 .602 1.023 146 5.45% 9.65 .318 23.0 Rodriguez .300 .392 .623 1.015 152 9.13% 8.76 .334 68.2 Guerrero .336 .417 .593 1.010 162 6.35% 9.00 .331 44.1 Helton .329 .429 .577 1.006 143 5.42% 9.44 .320 25.8 Sosa .288 .399 .594 .993 160 8.81% 8.54 .332 41.2
Note that A-Rod was 7th in OPS, 8th in Baseball-Reference.com's Adjusted OPS (OPS+), 3rd in Home Runs per At-Bat, 9th in Runs Created per 27 Outs, 6th in Baseball Prospectus's Equivalency Average, but 2nd in BP's Runs Above Position. The only major category he did lead the majors in was home runs, but he did it in 221 more at-bats than Bonds.
Who was first in every one of those categories? Barry Bonds, of course. Bonds had another historic year at the plate. A-Rod's was historic for shortstops, but the award wasn't just for shortstops, was it? A-Rod may have been the fourth best hitter in the American League alone.
Clearly there is no way that anyone other than Bonds should have been seriously considered for this award last year. But hey, at least they didn't give it to Juan Gonzalez.
Houston? We Have Problem? [This
Houston? We Have Problem?
So what's the problem? He is a fine defensive catcher with a decent bat. Well, he has missed significant playing time three of the last five seasons. But he was healthy in 2002. Well, sort of. He had surgery in October to repair his right knee, which he injured while getting out of a golf cart. That's one for the Darwin Awards. He is scheduled to be ready by spring training, but I suspect that the Phils are getting antsy.
Ever since Johnny "Don't Call Me Chuck" Estrada was foisted on the Braves in exchange for Kevin Millwood, Lieberthal has been the only catcher on the Phils' 40-man roster.
Todd Pratt, who was the only other man to catch for the Phils in 2002, was signed to a minor-league contract even though he did have arguably his best year ever with the bat (.949 OPS). Pratt is 35 and may be getting too old to be a viable backup or replacement.
Antediluvian Jesse Levis (also 35) was also signed to a minor-league contract, but has been out of the majors for a year. Then today in my email I received the Phillies Inside Pitch newsletter, in which the Phillies non-roster invitees are listed. Two more catchers were invited to camp, both minor-leaguers: Russ Jacobson and Jeremy Salazar.
Next, the Phillies signed Tyler Houston today to a one-year, $1 M contract. Houston is sort of a three-quarter starter who plays catcher, third base, and first base, but the Phils are full up at those positions. Houston had been pursuing starting jobs at third with Colorado and the Mets, but must now play behind free-agent signee David Bell there. Houston also has tiered performance bonuses based on the number of games he plays. He may have just been added for his versatility and to add depth to the Phils' bench. Houston also adds a left-handed bat with some pop. But are the Phils thinking about something more?
I know that Houston has not caught in a couple of years and he wasn't the best defensive catcher when he did catch, but I see nothing that indicates he was horrible. Maybe the Phils are fearful of another Lieberthal breakdown with only a Gary Bennett, a Bobby Estelella, or a Johnny Estrada in the cupboard to replace him as in the past.
Maybe it's a good sign-that the Phillies are trying to plug every potential hole. Also, it keep one more major-league caliber player from playing third at Shea this year. If I just could just get rid of that nagging question of Lieberthal's health. Who knows, if Lieberthal can't go, maybe Pudge Rodriguez will still be available. There now, that's better.
Mariners in Lower Depths The
Mariners in Lower Depths
The Mariners signed free-agent journeyman and former Mariner, John Mabry, to a one-year contract (plus an option for 2004), ESPN reports.
The 32-year-old had a breakthrough year in 2002 with the A's, but has been languishing as a free agent in this year's chilly market. Mabry's .826 OPS with Oakland was 17% better than the adjusted league average, not too shabby. However, nothing in his previous 8+ seasons would indicate that he can repeat 2002's performance.
The M's seem to be proceeding with their offseason plan to buttress the frontline players with experienced bench players (i.e., Greg Colbrunn though they did get Randy Winn as door price for losing Lou Piniella). It's too bad for the left-handed batting Mabry that the men he will back up are also lefties (John Olerud at first, Ichiro Suzuki in right, and Winn--switch-hitter--in left). He also has competition for the left-handed DH in Luis Ugueto, Mark McLemore, Chris Snelling, and Ben Davis (all switch-hitters but Snelling).
Kerry Is So Very I
Kerry Is So Very
I guess the days of locking your young stars in to long-term contracts are dead. First, Adam Kennedy and Tony Armas Jr. re-signed with their clubs to one-year contracts yesterday, and then today the Cubbies re-sign Kerry Wood to a one-year, $6.1 M contract. Why lock yourself into expensive long-term contracts if these players couldn't make that much money on the rapidly-falling free agent market?
Wood was pretty good last year, 12-11 with a 3.67 ERA. He was ranked 25th among all starters by Baseball Prospectus' Support Neutral Wins Above Replacement (SNWAR). His ERA was 10% better than park-adjusted league average according to Baseball-Reference.com.
His SNWAR wasn't much better than that of other youngsters like Wade Miller, Ramon Ortiz, Matt Clement, and Toma Ohka. Are we even sure that he will ever be as good as his rookie year anyway? Does that matter? Is it enough to earn Steve Austin-type money in today's baseball economy, especially when it only buys the Cubs one year's worth of service (Wood is free-agent eligible after 2004)? Besides the guy has only pitched 200 innings once.
Well, here are Wood's stats for his career:
Year IP W L ERA ERA+ WHIP K/9IP K:BB HR/9IP AVG OBP SLG OPS 1998 166.2 13 6 3.40 128 1.21 12.58 2.74 0.76 .196 .305 .320 .625 2000 137 8 7 4.80 89 1.45 8.67 1.52 1.12 .226 .345 .388 .733 2001 174.1 12 6 3.36 126 1.26 11.20 2.36 0.83 .202 .309 .315 .624 2002 213.2 12 11 3.67 110 1.24 9.14 2.24 0.93 .221 .315 .361 .676 Total 691.2 45 30 3.75 112 1.28 10.40 2.21 0.90 .211 .317 .345 .662
Well, I don't know if his 2001 season was as good as his rookie year, but it was pretty darn good.
What about 2002 though? His ERA, opponents' batting averages, and HRs allowed have gone up while his strikeouts per nine innings and strikeouts-to-walks ratio took a dive (his Walks Plus Hits Per Innings Pitching remains steady though). Does the future look rosy based on 2002? Here are his 2002 stats by month:
Month ERA W L IP AVG WHIP K/9IP K:BB HR/9IP April 3.54 2 2 28 .219 1.61 9.96 1.29 0.00 May 2.76 4 1 42 .173 0.92 6.38 2.00 0.64 June 6.75 1 2 31 .252 1.53 7.04 1.26 1.17 July 3.00 2 0 33 .223 1.12 8.18 3.00 0.55 August 3.82 0 3 38 .237 1.22 13.14 4.23 1.43 Sept 2.79 3 3 42 .228 1.24 10.07 2.94 1.50 First 1/2 4.12 8 5 107 .208 1.30 7.57 1.43 0.59 2nd 1/2 3.21 4 6 107 .233 1.19 10.72 3.74 1.27
An interesting thing apparently happened during his excellent month of May. His strikeouts dropped even though he was pitching well. He may have been finessing the batters a bit and then it caught up with him in his poor June. His strikeouts starting going up in July and his homers allowed went down, and he looked good the rest of the way (except for a 5-6 record).
Note that his opponents' average went up in the second half but his WHIP went down. What accounts for that? Fewer walks (64 before the All-Star game and 34 after), less finesse. He went after batters more and though some got hits off of him, he was a better pitcher.
Apparently, Wood learned that in the second half and appears poised for a big year in 2003. This time next year we will know if the Cubs' one-year contract strategy worked. If salaries are back up and Wood had a big year, the Cubs may be regretting that strategy.
Le Duc? Trois ESPN reports
Le Duc? Trois
ESPN reports that the deal has happened:
The Chicago White Sox acquired starter Bartolo Colon in a three-way deal with the Expos and Yankees on Wednesday.
There is no mention of cash going from the Yankees to the 'Spos to help pay Hernandez's salary, though the Pale Hose provide some monetary support.
Le Duc? Deux My friend
Le Duc? Deux
My friend Murray directed me to this Tony Massarotti article in The Boston Herald regarding the Duque-Colon trade rumor.
He reports that a) the Yankees would receive Antonio "Don't Call Me Al" Osuna not prospects, and that b) the Yankees, not the White Sox, would help defray El Duque's salary.
This one may actually happen because it is a good trade for all involved:
- The Expos pare down their payroll but get a reliable starter to fill in for Colon, and they get some young talent from the ChiSox.
Le Duc? The NY Times
The NY Times reports that the Yankees are close to sending Orlando Hernandez to the Expos in a three-way deal that would also involve baseball's newest holy grail, Bartolo Colon. The Yankees would not be the recipients of the much-pursued Colon, however.
That honor would fall to the White Sox who would send three prospects (one to Montreal and two to the Yankees) and cash to cover Duque's salary.
The Yankees would then be left with seven starting pitchers. They are still trying to trade Sterling Hitchcock, but no one believes he is an option for the rotation if he remains. That means that the Yankees would probably go back on Torre's promise to keep Jeff Weaver in the rotation or assign big-league newcomer Jose Contreras to the pen. Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettite, and David Wells seem set for the top four spots. Of course, with two forty-year-olds in the rotation, the one left standing when the music stops will probably get ample opportunity to work his way into the rotation during the season.
Pathetic Red Sox And I
Pathetic Red Sox
And I mean this in the truest sense of the word.
The Red Sox are becoming the jilted lovers of Major League Baseball. They offer their hearts-and more money-and yet Jose Contreras signs with the so-called "Evil Empire" (It reminds me of Joe Jackson's Is She Really Going Out With Him?).
They wine and dine Omar Minaya in an effort to pry Bartolo Colon loose. They even offer him a threesome or two to no avail. He even tries to sneak out with the Marlins behind their backs.
Now they grab Kevin Millar off waivers and like a young lover in a John Hughes' movie, try to woo him off a plane bound for Japan fearing that they will never see him again.
On the exterior, they remain calm (from MLB.com):
"By making this move, we are simply exercising our rights to express interest in Kevin Millar," Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said.
But you know that they are desperate. What would you do if Benny Agbayani was your DH and Jeremy Giambi your starting first baseman?
ESPN states that Millar has rejected the Sox offer and will play in Japan. No wonder, considering that he will make a reported $6.2 M over two years. Heck, All-Stars aren't getting that here.
I can see the expression on Theo Epstein's face upon hearing the news. I think its not unlike Lloyd Dobler's non-plussed expression in Say Anything when he offers the girl of his dreams his heart and she offers him a pen, as in "Write me." Young Theo will grow from the experience I'm sure.
Of Mice and Two-Million-Dollar Men
Of Mice and Two-Million-Dollar Men
First off, like Mark Twain's banned "weather", there will be no mice in this post. They were just a ploy for all of you headline seekers looking for a juicy mouse story-well, not that the mouse is juicy...you get the point. Just as long as we are clear that there will not be any mice or llamas in this piece. Right. Roll it.
Two men signed contracts today in the neighborhood of roughly one-third the value of Steve Austin. If my calculator is right, that's $2 M-6 divided by 3 is 2, new math, I guess. Those men are pitcher Tony Armas Jr. of the Expos and second baseman Adam Kennedy of the Angels. Both were eligible for arbitration for the first time.
Kennedy inked a one-year deal for $2.27 M. That's a good deal for the Angels. Considering how close Kennedy played to Ray Durham's level last year and that Durham got a deal for 4 years at $27.1M (or about $7M per). You don't believe me that they had similar seasons. Well, check this out my man:
Player SB% BA OBP SLG OPS Adj Lg OPS Adj OPS Kennedy 81% .312 .345 .449 .795 .747 113 Durham 78% .289 .374 .450 .825 .767 116
Durham did have about 100 more ABs in 2002 and double the homers. And Kennedy had better learn to take a walk once in a while (only 19 in 2002). But Kennedy probably is a little better defensively (Durham did DH for the A's for a good part of 2002 and James gives him a D defensive rating in his Win Shares book.).
Kennedy may fall back to his .300 on-base percentage ways, but he was only 26 last year, so the chances are good that his improvement is real. Durham is only 30 himself so he should be able to stave off old age for a couple of years yet. I'd say the Angels did better than the Giants in this regard (of course, if salaries shoot through the roof next year and the Angels either lose Kennedy or are forced to overpay to retain him, I reserve the right to change that judgment).
Tony Armas Jr., who I still think should have been an outfielder like his dear ole dad, signed a one-year, $2.1 M deal with the Expos. Armas seemed to be developing well until last year:
Season W L ERA WHIP K/9IP K:BB HR/9IP Adj ERA 1999 0 1 1.50 1.67 3.00 1.00 0.00 310 2000 7 9 4.36 1.31 5.59 1.18 0.11 106 2001 9 14 4.03 1.38 8.05 1.93 0.09 115 2002 12 12 4.44 1.38 7.17 1.68 0.13 94 Total 28 36 4.21 1.37 7.17 1.67 0.11 106
His strikeouts went down and his ERA and home run rate went up. And though his opponents' batting average stayed about the same (.243), the old OPS (on-base plus slugging) went up 30 points (all from his opponents' slugging percentage increase). But he won 12 games and that means an improvement to most people.
Armas is young (25 at the start of the season) so this down season probably won't be a blip on his radar screen in a few years. However, it is never good when a young pitcher starts to drop his strikeout numbers and up his homers allowed numbers. Armas did miss about a month in 2002 with a back strain, so that could have affected his numbers. (He was 0-3 with a 7.04 ERA in 5 July starts right before going on the DL and 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his two August games.) Of course, it's never good when a young pitcher misses time due to back strain either.
All in all, it's a good signing. There are few things for the Expos to watch with him, and the fact that this is just a one-year contract makes it all the more interesting.
Hey Mrs. C., Ritchie's in
Hey Mrs. C., Ritchie's in Milwaukee
[My other headline was "Ritchie Poor Starring Milwaukee Kaka". (Like "Richie Rich Starring McCauley Caulkin." Yeah, I though it was a stretch, too.) Take your pick.]
The Brewers in an attempt to recreate the "magic" of the 1999 Pirates-hey, they were almost .500-have signed two players from that team today.
The first was Keith Osik, the light-hitting backup catcher. Quoth MLB.com:
"Keith Osik brings experience and a strong defensive presence behind the plate," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "He will add depth and veteran leadership for our young catchers."
The Brewers catchers are young? In the sense that they are inexperienced or in the sense that they were not talented enough to make it to the majors until somebody got real desperate? Javier Valentin is 27, and Cody McKay and Robert Machado are both 29. Machado has been kicking around the majors since 1996, so he should be able provide all the necessary veteran leadership all by himself. The same goes for 4-year vet Valentin. McKay though 29, just broke into the majors for three ABs in 2002. I guess by the additive theory, three backup catchers and a stiff add up to one starting catcher at least in Milwaukee. "Now, if we were in Italy I'd have to make your bunk. But we're in Germany so you've got to make mine." (Sorry, just a little sojourn to John Candy Land.)
The other Pirate from the "Year of Prince" is Todd Ritchie, whom the Brew-Bucs inked to a one-year deal today. The Brewers rotation now looks like this, in no particular order, Ritchie, Dave Mlicki, Ben Sheets, Glendon Rusch, and either Nick Neugebauer, Ben Diggins, or Wayne Franklin. No, I'm serious-it really is.
Ritchie has actually been not that bad aside from last year. Take a look:
Season G GS IP W L WHIP K/9IP K:BB ERA Adj ERA 1997 42 0 74.7 2 3 1.54 5.30 1.57 4.58 102 1998 15 0 24.0 0 0 1.63 7.88 2.33 5.63 83 1999 28 26 172.3 15 9 1.29 5.59 1.98 3.50 131 2000 31 31 187.0 9 8 1.39 5.97 2.43 4.81 95 2001 33 33 207.3 11 15 1.27 5.38 2.38 4.47 98 2002 26 23 133.7 5 15 1.71 5.18 1.48 6.06 79 Total 175 113 799.0 42 50 1.41 5.60 2.02 4.65 98
His strikeouts are dropping and he has never pitched that many innings (200+ only once), but he wasn't terrible before 2002. Can he bounce back? Sure. He could be slightly worse than average. Then again, he could be terrible again. He is unlikely to ever recreate the 15-win season of four years ago, however.
It's the lot of the Brewers to gamble when the big payoff is mediocrity.
20,000 Rants Under Mike I
20,000 Rants Under Mike
I just wanted to do some self-congratulatory whoopees for passing the 20,000-hit milestone. Many thanks to you all for stopping by. Please come again.
"Welcome to the Hall's of
"Welcome to the Hall's of Relief", V
In the Fifties, the relief pitcher made great strides in the world of baseball. He evolved from a necessary evil, that could be satisfied by any type of pitcher (your ace starter, your tail-end starter, the last man on the staff, etc.), to a key element of the pitching staff and even a star. Basically, the relief pitcher of the Fifties crawled out of the primordial sludge and stood upright for the first time-indulge me my metaphor.
In 1940, 44.30% of games were completed by the same pitcher who started the game. By 1950, that number had fallen slightly to around 40%. By 1960, the complete game percentage had fallen by a third to under 27%.
In 1940, 21% of all major-league pitchers were pure relievers, 7% were pure starters, and 72% were swingmen (i.e., both started and relieved). In 1950, those numbers were: 25% relievers, 4% starters, and 71% swingmen. By 1960, they were: 36% relievers, 2.5% starters, and 62% swingmen.
The number of saves went from 236 in 1940 to 289 in 1950 to 430 in 1960 (all with 16 teams).
The Fifties was the decade in which mindsets were altered as to what relievers could do and what they were about. The age of the swingman was dying. Roles were now becoming delineated more and more between pure relievers and pure starters.
However, much like Spinal Tap's druids, it could be still be said of relievers that, "No one knew who they were or what they were doing." Men were now tabbed for the relief role early on in their careers but few relievers were successful for more than a handful of years. Also, the best starters were still expected to complete their games, eliminating opportunities for closers (though the best starters at least did not relieve any longer). The quickening of the Fifties, led to more opportunity as well as a great deal of experimentation in the Sixties. Hey, experimentation was in the air in the Sixties everywhere.
In the 1960s, the evolutionary process would slow for a number of the indicators above. For example in the decade: Complete game percentages only dropped about 5%. The number of relievers increased by only 3%, relative to the number of all pitchers. The number of saves doubled (from 430 to 878), but the percentage of games that resulted in saves increased by only 5%. But the table had been set by the Fifties. The changes just kept coming. First, starters enjoyed a resurgence. Their numbers increased four-fold relative to all pitchers (from 2.5% to 10%). Swingmen were being reduced rapidly until they comprised just over 50% of all pitchers by 1970. This was the lowest total for them since the inception of unlimited substitution in 1891. The Sixties were also the first decade, in which the average reliever had a better ERA than the average swingman. The role of the swingman was becoming more and more marginalized.
The changes were more subtle overall in the Sixties but the effects were more profound. The saves record changed hands 7 times between 1960 and 1973 (and by the end of the decade, they actually were recording saves as they occurred so I will remove the quotation marks from around the word record). The first 30-save man (Ted Abernathy) was born in 1965. The first man to appear in over 80 games in relief was John Wyatt in 1964 (six men exceeded 60 appearances that year). Wayne Granger appeared in 90 games in 1969. In the Fifties 300 relief appearances over the course of the decade were a lot. In the Sixties, five men exceeded 500 appearances, six men exceeded 400, and seventeen men, 300.
Three men who lived through the revolution of the Fifties-did you ever think you'd see revolution and Fifties in the same sentence-were to lead the experimentation of the Sixties. They were the Hall-of-Famer Hoyt Wilhelm, Elroy "Roy" Face, and Lindy McDaniel. All of them made 500 or more relief appearances in the Sixties (along with Ron Perranoski and Don McMahon). All of them were effective pitchers for 15 years, Wilhelm and McDaniel for 20, though each had down years mixed in. They almost exclusively pitched out of the bullpen over their entire careers. They had one main pitch-Wilhelm the knuckleball, Face the Forkball, and McDaniel, a control pitcher, his fastball. They consistently pitched 50-70 games a year, perhaps making them the first "modern" relievers.
These men set the tone for the decade. In the Sixties, the boundaries of a relief pitcher's endurance were being pushed almost on a yearly basis. No one knew if a relief pitcher could throw 125, 150, 200 innings out of the pen consistently or if it would destroy his arm. The only way to find out was to push a little one year, assess in the offseason, then push a little harder the next, and repeat.
No one knew what situations were best suited to bringing in your "closer" (or best reliever). So they put them in as many situations as possible. The modern concept of a save became official by the end of the decade, but closers were used when their teams were behind and when the game was tied. It was not unusual for pitchers to have double digits in wins as well as saves while appearing in 70 games with 130 innings pitched. This is when the anachronistic criteria used in the Rolaid's Fireman of the Year Award were established-the award started in 1976 but the criteria it used were defined in the Sixties.
No one knew which types of pitchers were best suited to the reliever role. In the 1960s there were a good many trick pitch hurlers, who were effective for a year or two, created a stir, and then faded. Yankee screwballer Luis Arroyo's 1961 season is perhaps the best example of this. He was a 33-year-old journeyman (three teams in 4 years) when he came to the Yankees. Within a year he registered 15 wins and 29 saves in 65 games and 119 innings. Within two years, injury and ineffectiveness had forced him out of the game. Very few relief pitchers, however, would have been well suited to start given their reliance on one or two pitches.
There were three more trends of note in the Sixties. The first was the birth of the middle or secondary reliever, guys like Bob Miller, Wes Stock, and Dan Osinski. These were men who rarely if ever closed but served as a bridge between the starter and the closer, just like long relievers and setup men do today. The use of pitchers in this capacity was perhaps not new (actually McGraw did it in the first decade of the century), but having a reliever whose role was defined by this approach was. The role was becoming an important one that needed its own specialist since by the end of the Sixties more than 2.5 pitchers were used per team in an average game. (It's a trend that seemed to start with the mid-Fifty Dodgers to support Clem Labine and then came into its own with Billy Hoeft, Wes Stock, and Dick Hall supporting Wilhelm on th '62 Orioles.)
The next trend was established by the first flamethrowing reliever, Dick "The Monster" Radatz, who came to the majors in 1962. The 25-year-old pitched 62 games all in relief for the Red Sox. He won 9, saved 24, and had a 2.24 ERA (almost 2 runs lower than the adjusted league average for Fenway). He also threw over 120 innings and struck out 144. 1963 was even better for Radatz: 15 wins, 25 saves, 162 strikeouts in 132.1 innings, and a 1.97 ERA. He continued his success in 1964, 16 wins, 29 saves, 181 strikeouts in 157 innings, and a 2.29 ERA. In 1965, Radatz was 28, on top of the world and about to lose it all. He saved 22 and won nine, but lost 11 and "only" struck out 121 in 124.1 innings. His ERA ballooned to 3.91. Radatz would never have an ERA under 4.00, more than 14 saves, or more than 100 strikeouts ever again. Apparently, the 79 appearances and 157 innings that Radatz pitched in 1964 or perhaps the 207 appearances and 414 innings he pitched in relief from 1962 to 1964 took their toll. Radatz became a cautionary tale, but baseball wasn't ready to slow down its experimentation. Well, all of baseball except for one team.
By the middle of the decade, the Pirates had began to limit Roy Face to 60 games and 80 innings a year. This came at a time when he was still in his prime. The Pirates proved quite prescient as this new paradigm for a closer became the norm late in the 1970s, but that was due more to necessity than design, as we will see later.
Here are the leaders in relief appearances and saves for the decade. Note that these men rarely if ever start now and that although the all-time career saves "record" at the start of the decade was 107 (Johnny Murphy), six people broke the "record" and nine tallied over 100 saves. Willhelm's total is almost 50% more than Murphy's and that is only including his number for the Sixties-he ended the decade with 210 for his career to that point:
FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Ron Perranoski 588 138 589 Lindy McDaniel 551 112 558 Don McMahon 545 87 547 Hoyt Wilhelm 542 152 557 Roy Face 524 142 524 Ron Kline 477 103 519 Stu Miller 465 138 468 Jack Baldschun 445 60 445 Ted Abernathy 444 106 444 Eddie Fisher 436 65 468 John Wyatt 426 103 435 Bob Miller 399 33 473 Al Worthington 393 98 393 Larry Sherry 381 79 388 Dick Radatz 381 122 381 Ron Taylor 368 57 385 Bill Henry 343 71 345 Claude Raymond 343 60 350 Dick Hall 341 62 392 Hal Woodeshick 332 61 380 Phil Regan 330 74 434 Al McBean 325 62 401 Bob Locker 322 54 322 Turk Farrell 312 56 445 Wes Stock 311 21 314 Steve Hamilton 305 35 322 Johnny Klippstein 302 37 311 Dan Osinski 300 18 321 FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Hoyt Wilhelm 542 152 557 Roy Face 524 142 524 Ron Perranoski 588 138 589 Stu Miller 465 138 468 Dick Radatz 381 122 381 Lindy McDaniel 551 112 558 Ted Abernathy 444 106 444 Ron Kline 477 103 519 John Wyatt 426 103 435 Al Worthington 393 98 393 Don McMahon 545 87 547 Larry Sherry 381 79 388 Frank Linzy 287 77 288 Phil Regan 330 74 434 Jack Aker 273 72 273 Bill Henry 343 71 345 Eddie Fisher 436 65 468 Fred Gladding 280 64 281 Bob Lee 262 63 269 Dick Hall 341 62 392 Al McBean 325 62 401 Hal Woodeshick 332 61 380 Jack Baldschun 445 60 445 Claude Raymond 343 60 350 Joe Hoerner 214 60 214 Terry Fox 248 59 248 Ron Taylor 368 57 385 Billy McCool 254 57 274 Turk Farrell 312 56 445 Jim Brosnan 207 55 209 Bob Locker 322 54 322
Here are the totals per role for the decade:
Year GP GS SV CG CG% RA P/G #P SP SP% RP RP% SP/RP Swing% 1960 6065 2472 430 666 26.94% 3593 2.453 238 6 2.52% 85 35.71% 147 61.76% 1961 6987 2860 501 745 26.05% 4127 2.443 254 16 6.30% 74 29.13% 164 64.57% 1962 8281 3242 618 844 26.03% 5039 2.554 304 15 4.93% 95 31.25% 194 63.82% 1963 8046 3238 589 865 26.71% 4808 2.485 299 32 10.70% 87 29.10% 180 60.20% 1964 8381 3252 668 797 24.51% 5129 2.577 311 22 7.07% 100 32.15% 189 60.77% 1965 8599 3246 678 739 22.77% 5353 2.649 299 23 7.69% 102 34.11% 174 58.19% 1966 8505 3230 667 736 22.79% 5275 2.633 310 21 6.77% 108 34.84% 181 58.39% 1967 8429 3240 647 782 24.14% 5189 2.602 315 37 11.75% 96 30.48% 182 57.78% 1968 8040 3250 597 897 27.60% 4790 2.474 287 29 10.10% 103 35.89% 155 54.01% 1969 10117 3892 745 982 25.23% 6225 2.599 360 37 10.28% 131 36.39% 192 53.33%
Braves Sporting a Venafro The
Braves Sporting a Venafro
The Braves signed free-agent reliever Mike Venafro to a one-year contract. Venafro appears to be the sort of refuse on which the Braves have consistently built their bullpen, including the excellent 2002 version. Venafro joins Ray King as the only proven left-handed relievers in the Braves' bullpen.
Venafro may prove more of a challenge than most of Leo Mazzone's reclamation projects. Here are his stats over the his career:
Year W L SV HLD BLSV ERA WHIP K/9IP K:BB 1999 3 2 0 19 1 3.29 1.24 4.87 1.68 2000 3 1 1 17 1 3.83 1.51 5.11 1.52 2001 5 5 4 21 4 4.80 1.37 4.35 1.04 2002 2 2 0 15 -- 4.62 1.59 3.89 1.14 Total 13 10 5 72 6 4.06 1.40 4.63 1.34
Those are far from great numbers, especially the walks. Add to that the fact that Baseball Prospectus calculated Venafro's Adjusted Runs Prevented at -4.7, meaning that he allowed almost 5 extra runs over an average pitcher in his 47 innings pitched.
Now batting for Mark Redman,
Now batting for Mark Redman, Mike Redmond
Over the weekend the Florida Marlins re-signed catcher Mike Redmond to a one-year contract and acquired left-handed starting pitcher Mark Redman from the Tigers. They have announced no plans to acquire minor-leaguers Prentice Redman from the Mets or Tike Redman from the Pirates.
Redman is a decent acquisition. He'll probably be the Marlins #4 starter and has just been average over the last two seasons (based on adjusted ERA average). But he has a ton of potential and is still only 28. He also complements the three righties (Beckett, Burnett, and Penny, plus potentially Carl Pavano) in the rotation. Then again, he is on his third organization and still has not fulfilled expectations. Tom Kelly may have been right in saying that Redman seems to want just to sit in the clubhouse and play cards.
Still the two "Red"s will make an interesting and rather confusing battery for next year's Fish. It's too bad that Allan Anderson never pitched to Andy Allanson.
Wilson Art? The Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds signed pitcher Paul Wilson today to a 2-year, $4 M contract. This comes a couple of days after Cincinnati failed to obtain Brad Penny from the Marlins in the most recent three-way Bartolo Colon trade rumor. (Cincinnati nixed the deal due to fear of a Penny arm injury.) Here's what GM Jim Bowden had to say about the signing according to the AP:
"Paul has the ability to pitch 180 to 200 innings a year,'' Bowden said. "We felt it was important to add another proven starter to join Ryan Dempster, Jimmy Haynes and Danny Graves in the rotation.''
Well actually, Wilson has pitched four seasons in the majors and only in 2002 did he pitch over 180 innings (193.2 IP). As far as being a proven starter, he has only started 30 or more games in a season once (again 2002).
Lest you think that Wilson improved in 2002, his strikeouts per nine innings dropped by almost two (7.08 to 5.16), his poor WHIP (Walks Plus Hits Per Innings Pitched) went up slightly (1.43 to 1.48), and his strikeout-to-walk ratio dropped considerably (2.29 to 1.66). Add to this that Baseball-Reference.com lists an adjusted ERA for him that is 8% worse than the adjusted average each year, and you get a sub-par pitcher. He is a serviceable fourth starter but no more.
So why give him $4 M in this poor free agent market? The Reds are desperate for starting pitching. The fact that they consider Danny Graves a starter at all, shows you how desperate they are. Graves started four games last year. Those are the only four starts in his seven-year major-league career. He was 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA in those starts, but with such a small sample that tells you almost nothing.
Here are the totals for the starting pitchers used by Cincinnati last year:
NAME GS W L ERA WHIP K/9IP K:BB HR/9IP Danny Graves 4 1 0 1.89 1.00 5.68 4.00 0.05 Elmer Dessens 30 7 8 3.03 1.25 4.70 1.90 0.13 Chris Reitsma 21 4 10 4.07 1.42 5.06 1.65 0.14 Jimmy Haynes 34 15 10 4.12 1.48 5.77 1.56 0.11 J. Fernandez 8 1 3 4.22 1.55 6.33 1.50 0.12 Joey Hamilton 17 3 7 5.56 1.61 5.56 1.40 0.11 Jose Rijo 9 4 4 5.84 1.48 4.23 1.62 0.18 Ryan Dempster 15 5 5 6.19 1.58 6.70 1.74 0.18 Brian Moehler 9 2 4 6.21 1.69 3.86 1.80 0.19 Shawn Estes 6 1 3 7.71 1.96 5.46 1.00 0.04 Jose Acevedo 5 3 2 7.77 1.73 5.32 1.18 0.36 Luis Pineda 2 1 0 8.44 2.44 8.44 0.71 0.19 Bruce Chen 1 0 1 11.25 2.00 11.25 2.50 0.25 C. Almanzar 1 0 1 40.50 4.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 Totals 162 47 58 4.69 1.48 5.40 1.59 0.14
That was a pretty motley crew. Of those men, only Haynes, Dempster, Graves, Reitsma, and Chen remain (Rijo also re-signed but via a minor-league contract). Dessens was basically the staff leader, but he was sent off to the D-Backs this offseason. The staff leader title was apparently bestowed on Jimmy Haynes, who had a decent ERA (7% better than average) and won 15 games but wasn't spectacular by any means. Also, 2002 was Haynes' best season by far in his eight-year career. On average his ERA is 13% worse than the league average. Is that a staff leader?
Interestingly, Chris Reitsma, who had similar stats to Haynes, except for wins, was lifted from the rotation on September 9 in favor of Graves and apparently does not figure in the rotation plans for now.
It's odd that Dessens who had significantly better stats than Haynes (except for wins and K/9IP) and Reitsma who was statistically comparable to Haynes were both dropped, but Haynes was reatained as the staff ace. Perhaps it's not so odd given that the peerless Bob Boone is the Cincinnati manager.
Shinjo A Go Go, II
Shinjo A Go Go, II
The Mets did indeed sign Shinjo today for one year at $600 K plus incentives. The AP says that he was signed as insurance in case the projected regular center fielder, Roger Cedeno fails. This is a tremendous vote of confidence for Cedeno and also a poor plan. Should Cedeno fail, are the Mets prepared to eat the remaining three years and $14.5 M on his contract? They have been rumored to be shopping him around, but it is extremely doubtful that anyone would be willing to take on his salary.
Lost in all of this, as I said before, is the starting center fielder and best offensive Met outfielder from last year, Timo Perez. Ostensibly, Perez is now the fifth outfielder behind the three designated starters (Cedeno, Cliff Floyd, and Jeromy Burnitz) and Shinjo. Shinjo can play all three outfield positions well and was brought in potentially to replace Cedeno, so I assume he becomes the #4 outfielder. So where does that leave Perez? Apparently, he will be fighting Brady Clark and Joe McEwing for the last one or two spots available in the outfield.
That would be great, just great. Perhaps McEwing will be retained because of his versatility and Clark for flashes of talent after being acquired form the Reds last year (including a 3-for-3 game). It would make sense because two starters (Burnitz and Floyd) bat left-handed and the third is a switch-hitter. The Mets would probably prefer to retain the two right-handed bats over Perez' lefty one. That would mean the Perez would be traded, demoted, or released. Perhaps the Phillies can pick him up. He would be a superior to Ricky Ledee as a sub for Marlon Byrd. Whatever happens, it is highly probable that Perez will no longer be an integral part of the team in 2003 and he is probably the least deserving of such an honor of all the Mets' disappointing outfielders.
One last item related to Perez, he made $205K last year as a third-year veteran. That's only $5K over the major-league minimum. Perez would also be the cheapest of all of the players concerned (except perhaps for Clark). So the apparent rejection of him makes little sense based on performance or on salary. That's a twin killing for GM extraordinaire Steve Phillips. How does he do it?
Will The Eagle Land or
Will The Eagle Land or Founder?
I know this is Mike's Baseball Rants, but my Eagles just won, so forgive me this small transgression. It wasn't pretty, but the Eagles pulled out a 20-6 win over the Falcons. What I find interesting, and the reason I am writing this, is that this game, while it was in peril for the Eagles reminded me of a similar game from my youth. That game was a 14-13 loss by the Eagles to the Falcons, a game the Eagles led 13-0 until the last 5 minutes of the game.
Then I got to thinking about other Eagle defeats from the Dick Vermeil-Ron Jaworski era. It may surprise some that Jaworski earned his "Jaws" nickname not because of his verbosity in the broadcasters booth but because of his on-field tenacity and rifle arm (the metaphor gets strained right about there). Anyway, It got me to thinking that this postseason might be dubbed their "Redemption Tour", a series of games in which they exorcise demons from their past. Let me explain.
The Eagles finally reached the playoffs in 1978 after 17 years of futility and then lost in the first round, which was then the Division Playoff. This was the 14-13 loss to the Falcons.
In 1979, the Eagles beat the Bears in the first round, 27-17-it was the year that the Wild Card Round was added. They then lost in the Division Playoff to the Doug Williams-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-17.
In 1980, the Eagles finally won the division for the first time and had a bye in the first round. They defeated the Vikings 31-16 in Division Playoff after trailing 14-0 in the second quarter. Next up was the hated Cowboys in the NFC Championship, who the Eagles completely dismantled, and I mean this derisively, America's Team, 20-7. The result seemed inevitable after the opening drive, in which number 31, Wilbert Montgomery, ran through Dallas' defense for a 42-yard touchdown. Unfortunately, the Eagles looked completely flat in Super Bowl XV, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter and eventually losing to the Oakland Raiders, 27-10.
Actually, now that I think of it, what got me to thinking about this originally was the Jets drubbing of Green Bay, 42-17, in the Meadowlands on the last week of the season to give the Eagles the number one seed in the NFC. This came a day after the Eagles had lost, 10-7, to the Giants on the same field to a) put the Giants in the playoffs as a wild card and b) temporarily lose the homefield advantage in the NFC for the Eagles.
So why did that get me to thinking about the Harold Carmichael-era Eagles? Because the Jets are coached by old Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards (#46 if memory serves). Edwards was the man responsible for the 1978 play that has become known as "The Miracle in the Meadowlands." I'll set the scene: The Giants led 17-12 and had possession on their own 29-yeard line with 31 ticks left. The Eagles had no timeouts. All the Giants had to do was fall on the ball, and they would have secured victory. However, the Giants' QB (and future Eagle) Joe Pisarcik attempted a handoff to running back (and future cruise line hawk) Larry Csonka. The exchange was bad and the ball bounced free. Edwards scooped up the loose ball and ran it in for the winning touchdown.
The 9-7 Eagles would not have made the playoffs in 1978 without that win. That was the first coincidence. Then I looked at the potential Eagles opponents in the playoffs after the Falcons surprising defeated the Pack-men in Lambeau. If the favorites won the rest of the way, the Eagles would face the Falcons, the Bucs, and the Raiders.
Tonight the Eagles led the Falcons 13-6 at the half but should have put more points on the board. They were lucky that they avoided disaster. Again this reminded me of 1978 playoff. 'Twas the night before Christmas and the Eagles scored after a fumbled punt in the first quarter. However, Mike Michel, who was typically the punter but had also taken on placekicker duties due to original kicker, Nick Mick-Mayer's, ineffectiveness, missed the extra point-Eagles led at the half, 6-0. They added another TD in the third quarter to lead 13-0. The game was apparently theirs when the scored remained unchallenged with less than five minutes to play. But Falcon QB Steve Bartkowski drove for two touchdowns to give Atlanta a 14-13 lead with 1:39 to play. Jaworski drove to the Falcon 16, but Michel missed a 34-yarder as time expired.
For most of the second half tonight, I was expecting a similar debacle. The Eagles, however, exorcised their 1978 demons with this textbook definition of winning ugly. All I hope is that the script plays as expected and the Eagles defeat the Bucs next week and the Raiders in the Super Bowl to dispel all of their late '70s demons. We'll just have to see.
Shinjo A Go Go The
Shinjo A Go Go
The NY Times reports that center fielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo may be returning to the Mets for $500-600 K in 2003. The Times speculates that if the Mets sign Shinjo, they will then try to trade outfielders Jeromy Burnitz ($11.5 M for 2003) and Roger Cedeno ($14.5 M over the next three). That would open the centerfield job for Shinjo.
I'm confused. Wasn't Timo Perez basically the Mets starting center fielder last year after they traded Jay Payton to the Rockies while Cedeno only played leftfield last year? Wasn't Perez also the best outfielder on the Mets' roster last year? And isn't Perez 27 and still improving while Shinjo is 30 and declining. (Cedeno is 27 as well but has been through 5 organizations and has seen his OPS drop each of the last four years). If all this is true, why are they considering anyone other than Perez for centerfield? Two words-Steve Phillips.
By the way, adding Shinjo in no way clears the way for a Burntiz and/or Cedeno trade. The Mets have been shopping the two disappointing players-and their salaries-without much luck this entire offseason. If I were Phillips, I would stick Perez in the center field slot next to Cliff Floyd in left. After that, it seems the best option is the apparently untradeable Jeromy Burnitz in right. Burnitz is a decent bet to turn things around in 2003. He had 6 straight seasons prior to last year with an OPS at least 7% better than average. He will be 34 next season, however, and it's possible that he is no longer capable of being a productive player. He had been declining slightly in the last two years before signing with the Mets. Of course, the foolishness in signing these players to such lucrative contract to begin with is what no has them in this mess (especially Cedeno, who was supposed to be their leadoff hitter last year but had just come off a year with a .337 on-base percentage).
The Times also reports that the search for a Mets third baseman continues. However, they have ruled out a trade for KC's Joe Randa. They are at an impasse with free agent Jose Hernandez (who's mostly a shortstop any way). And they got shot down by Houston in trying to acquire Geoff Blum. It looks like the only viable candidate is free agent Tyler Houston, who the Mets had been talking to prior to the failed attempt to acquire Boston's Shea Hillenbrand in a three-way trade.
This is a team that is supposed to compete in the NL East next year? They did improve their staff by picking up Tom Glavine and the offense by picking up Cliff Floyd (oh, and the avuncular John Franco may return), but with huge holes in right and third and now a self-made one in center, they could have a repeat of 2002. I think what this aging team needs is a babysitter to make sure that they don't get into trouble. Heck who needs a third baseman anyway? They're just overrated. I hope Philips has set up a seach agent on Hot Jobs.
Shea-peron The Mets are considering
The Mets are considering hiring a special adviser (read babysitter) to liaise with the players given the various peccadilloes the Mets committed last year.
One word of advice: I hear that Howie Spira is available.
Clipper Clippings Class, we have
Class, we have a new blogger in our class. His name is Alex Belth and his site is Bronx Banter. Now, let's make him feel at home and play nice with him. And Bobby, I saw that. I'll see you after class.
In the Small Print: Ties
In the Small Print: Ties Give The Brewers Homefield
ESPN reports that commissioner Bud is working on a plan to have the league that wins the All-Star game have homefield advantage in the World Series. This is something that the Power That Be have been kicking around for the last couple of years.
The cynic in me (no, me?) is shouting out, among the lewd comments, things like:
- What about "fixing" the game procedures as he promised to ensure that the game does not end in a tie like last year? (Personally, I don't care-It's just an exhibition. But he did promise. And what about Scarecrow's brain?)
- Here's a scenario: The game is tied in the bottom of the ninth and Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff hits a walk-off home run to win the game off of Milwaukee's Mike DeJean (now that's excitement). Now assuming that the game is not being played in a parallel universe, the teams these players represent will get no closer to the Series than watching it from the comforts of their own homes, er, clubhouses. Why should what they do affect the Yankees and NL team du jour three months later? No players from these two teams may even be involved in the game when the victor is determined.
- Here's another scenario: Dusty Baker is the NL manager and his Cubs are 12 games back at the break (remember Cub fans, this is just an example) and Mike Scioscia is the AL manager and his Angels are in the middle of neck-and-neck pennant race for the AL West. Doesn't Scioscia suddenly have a great deal more incentive to win the game than does Baker? In most games, this wouldn't matter very much since most professionals should still be able to compete at a high level. But suppose that Baker is using the dreck he is saddled with in order to ensure that all 16 NL teams get a representative in the game while Scioscia sticks with key players for most of the game?
- Lastly and most importantly, the game has become more and more marginalized as baseball has continued to employ its unbalanced interleague play schedule. If Bud wants to infuse the game with more excitement, rid the schedule of regular matchups between the AL and NL stars. When I was a kid Tom Seaver only faced Reggie Jackson if their teams made it to the Series. Now, their baseball descendents meet so often we can discuss on a regular which ones should or should not be throwing at each other and why.
So that's what the cynic in me thinks. But the holistic, centered, daily affirmed me is still basking in this offseason without the threat of folding teams or of losing the season to a players' strike. If this is the worst news Bud's twisted visage presents us with this offseason, it's a blessing. Let Bud tinker with the game a bit more if it makes him happy. Will it really matter one way or the other come Series time? No, homefield was always arbitrary anyway. If it prevents him from increasing ball boys' minimum age to 35, it's worth it.
Media-crity Whenever there are somewhat
Whenever there are somewhat odd results in the voting for a sports award, things become much clearer when you hear the thoughts of the slightly more than human voters involved. Case in point, Major League Baseball online has an article with various views from the sports writers themselves on this week's Hall of Fame voting. It's as fascinating in what it doesn't say as in what it does-like how did these slobbering idiots figure out how to fill out the ballot in the first place.
Let's take a look, shall we:
Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times agreed with the majority of voters who did not view Sandberg as a first-ballot inductee:
He is talking about the 4-year, $28.4 million contract that Sandberg signed in 1993. Sandberg's batting average after signing that contract was indeed .266. However, that was not in the next four seasons. Sandberg missed the 1995 season playing shuffleboard, and when he resumed play in 1996 it was at a somewhat reduced rate ($2.3 M in '96 and $3.25 M in '97). So the four-year contract is kind of academic, unless you're a Cubs fan with a grudge.
I'm sorry that I started off by nitpicking because I miss the sheer ludicrousness of his statement taken in its entirety. Let me try again. "If the Hall was a skyscraper"? Does the skyscraper have a thirteenth floor? Who cleans the windows, groundskeepers? If Ryne Sandberg were a tree, what kind of tree would he be? Who cares? Either he is a Hall of Famer or he's not (see the Barry Rozner quote below).
As far as Sandberg's early retirement is concerned, basically he lost a year and two-thirds because of it. Big deal. Players miss a year or more due to injury or military service over the course of their careers. It doesn't help his case, but would another .250 year with 25 HRs have helped that much? He may have reached 300 homers. He still had the most for a second baseman (Hornsby has more in his career, but not as a second baseman). Again this is a fan with a grudge not an unbiased journalist speaking.
"Ever hear of a first-ballot Hall of Famer who hits only .266 in the four seasons after his team makes him the game's highest-paid player?" That someone could make such a ridiculous statement and invest (clearly) so much emotion shows you the qualifications of the Hall voters. It reminds me of the litany of arguments that Bill James compiles in his Hall of Fame book for certain players to be inducted into the Hall based on a criterion or two that is handpicked to help his case even though when his career in toto is reviewed, it's clear the man is no Hall-of-Famer. Mariotti bases his argument on Sandberg's batting average in the last four years of his career. The salary should be irrelevant. Though his last four years were not up to his established standard, he did bat .309 in 1993, one of the last four, with an OPS 5% better than the adjusted league average. The others weren't as good but he did hit 25 home runs in 1996. Again, this is the tail end of his career. Oh, and sour grapes.
Fellow Sun-Times columnist Ron Rapoport couldn't help noticing that Sandberg didn't even fare as well in "just-for-fun" voting by users at MLB.com: "A poll of 400,000 fans was posted on Major League Baseball's official Web site, and would you like to know who got the required 75 percent of the vote? Nobody, that's who. Eddie Murray led the way with 54.5 percent, Sandberg was second at 42.0 percent and Gary Carter ... was fifth at 28.5 percent. ... Not a single vote for Mitch Williams? Dang."
Fan polls are pointless endeavors to begin with, but when you use one to support a point, a somewhat nebulous one at that, you know you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. It seems that Rapoport is of the opinion that no one was qualified-or least not Sandberg- and instead of being shocked by the ineptness of the poll voters he thinks the results validate his views. The fans would probably vote in Daryl Kile.
Steve Bisheff of the Orange County Register...was stunned that Sandberg was excluded and gave this theory:
I am sick of hearing about steroids. Do some players take them, probably? Is there any reason to think that it's a widespread, endemic problem in the sport today besides the opinions of two ex-ballplayers? No. I'm also sick of the "diluted pitching due to expansion" excuse, too. They said the same about the hitting after the first two rounds of expansion. The reason I hate these excuses is that they are just too facile and they extinguish investigation into the matter. Yes, pitching apparently was negatively impacted by expansion, but baseball got greedy for expansion fees and had two rounds before the sport had a chance to re-stabilize. James has shown that it takes about five years, so the two rounds overlapped and the sport is just now recovering (look at the dropoff last year). Besides, has anyone noticed the band-boxes they have been building in the last 12 years? Could that have anything to do with the power surge over the same time span? There are a dozen answers (well, maybe I'm exaggerating) that make as much if not more sense than steroids.
I went off-topic a bit there, but now I'm back. I can't say what the young writers were thinking, but I know that anyone voting on the Hall is required to have been a baseball writer since at least 1993, i.e., 10 years. They saw Sandberg, maybe not in his prime, but they should be familiar with his skill level. I have to believe that there was a perception by a large enough percentage of voters that Sandberg just didn't deserve to go in on the first ballot, as if it matters once the player's in.
"There were no Jeff Kents or Alfonso Sorianos in Sandberg's day. He should be compared to the second basemen of his era. He and Joe Morgan, who preceded him, were the first players at the position to hit with power."
And this man is putting down the young writers?!? Has he ever heard of Rogers Hornsby, arguably the best second baseman of all time, who hit 42 home runs once, 39 twice, and 301 for his career? I believe that there was a point in his career (before Gehrig) when he was second only to Ruth in career home runs. Joe Gordon, Bobby Doerr, Charlie Gehringer, and Bobby Grich (AL HR leader 1981) all had some pop (Davey Johnson, too, for a short time).
John Lopez of the Houston Chronicle, who will now have Kent in his backyard, writes that this era of the big power numbers could hurt Sandberg. "Although I didn't vote for Sandberg, it's hard to argue too much against his worthiness as a candidate," Lopez wrote. "His accomplishments during his time were remarkable. Today, they are not that remarkable."
So why didn't he vote for Sandberg? This man's vote should be revoked now. And no one should read his gibberish.
What surprised Phil Arvia of the Daily Southtown was not Sandberg's exclusion, but the continued omission of relievers. Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage are all former Cubs who were lobbied roundly at ballot time. Dennis Eckersley will be eligible next year, so you know the subject will be even hotter then.
Kickers? What sport is this guy voting for? A) Did you ever hear of Lou Groza? B) The reliever role has been changing almost constantly since unlimited substitution was allowed in 1891. Place kickers have been place kickers for quite some time. Now, if you want to talk about why Ray Guy or a punter isn't in there...
Blair quoted Mitch Melnick, a long-time radio talk show host in Montreal, as saying that Carter's career would be "a fraud" if he goes in as a Met. Writes Blair:
Boy, I love hearing these homers. It makes me even miss the Braves announcers. The Hall will determine which cap he wears. He played more years with the Expos (11), but he played a substantial amount of time in New York (5 years) and won a championship there. Who cares besides the fans of the two teams anyway?
There were two writers cited who actually spoke as if they had a brain in their gulliver. I'll just let them speak for themselves (though I disagree with the Carlton comment):
Many in the media have used the word "jerk" to describe Murray, but Rick Telander of the Sun-Times dismisses the perception. "Steve Carlton was a premier jerk, but he could throw a slider," Telander wrote. "Ted Williams was as pleasant as a rug burn, but the gangly fellow could hit the pea. If you eliminated all jerks from the Hall, it would be as crowded as the ethics room at Enron. So the point here should be that the best players should get in, period."
Hot Corner Hot Potato It
Hot Corner Hot Potato
It appears that the Mets deal with the Red Sox and Expos, in which New York would acquire third baseman Shea Hillenbrand and the Sox would finally get Bartolo Colon, will never happen. Earlier today there was talk of the Expos sending Colon to the Marlins in a package including Brad Penny. Now ESPN reports that those negotiations because third-wheel Cincinnati, who would receive Penny, has concerns about his arm. Nothing has gone smoothly for Expo GM Omar Minaya in the MLB-mandated process to rid the 'Spos of Colon's contract.
Meanwhile, the Mets may have to look elsewhere for a third sacker. A trade directly with the Red Sox, who just signed Bill Mueller, is still possible. The Mets may have to re-open negotiations with free agents Jose Hernandez and Tyler Houston.
Free-agent journeyman, Chris Stynes, was just signed ostensibly to play third base for the Rockies. Stynes has only played 198 games at third in his career and according to Baseball-Reference.com has played it poorly (a range factor 70 points below average). He has also played second, so range shouldn't be an issue. However, reactions and arm accuracy and strength could definitely be a problem. Stynes had a career three years ago with Cincinnati. Since then Boston and the Cubs have both given him short trials at third. Both found him wanting. Now, the Rockies will give him a go. Of course, salary enters the conversation right about here.
Jose Hernandez, though mainly a shortstop, is clearly the best player here. He was arguably the best shortstop in the NL last year. No one seems to want to sign him while they can get someone cheaper. The Mets would do well to snatch up Hernandez while he is cheap (they had recently been discussing a Rey-Sanchez like $1.5 M, one-year contract). Hernandez deserves to be treated better, but given this odd offseason, he may be left standing when the music stops. The strangest part is that not only will the metaphorical chairs be occupied by inferior players, the GMs of the teams that own the chairs will be the ones helping these subpar players into the chairs. So endeth the metaphor.
Dessens-ion in the Ranks? The
Dessens-ion in the Ranks?
The Arizona Diamondbacks signed recently acquired starting pitcher Elmer Dessens to a two-year, $7.3 M contract with an option for a third year. Here are the details thanks to the AP story:
The deal calls for salaries of $3 million this year and $4 million in 2004. Arizona has a $4.5 million option for 2005 with a $300,000 buyout. Bonus clauses could raise his 2004 salary by $250,000 and the amount of the option.
Dessens had a fine, overlooked season in 2002 (his ERA was 45% better than the adjusted league average), but at 31 he has only been a starter for about two and one-half years. Since going into the rotation in 2000, he has a 3.89 ERA and a 27-27 record. He has only had one 200-inning season, has never had more than 10 wins as a starter, and has only had a winning record once as a starter.
Here is a comparison of him as a starter and as a reliever in that period:
ERA IP AVG WHIP K/9IP K:BB Starter 3.89 487.67 0.273 1.327 5.075 2.007 Reliever 4.43 42.667 0.318 1.523 6.539 2.818 Total 3.94 530.33 0.277 1.343 5.193 2.068
Here are his career totals:
Season IP ERA WHIP K/9IP K:BB HR/9IP W L 1996 25 8.28 1.760 4.680 3.250 0.720 0 2 1997 3.3333 0 0.600 5.400 INF 0.000 0 0 1998 74.6667 5.67 1.540 5.183 1.720 1.205 2 6 2000 147.333 4.28 1.446 5.192 1.977 0.611 11 5 2001 205 4.48 1.351 5.620 2.286 1.405 10 14 2002 178 3.03 1.247 4.702 1.898 1.213 7 8 Total 633.333 4.29 1.378 5.173 2.056 1.108 30 35
Note that even though his ERA and Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) improved in 2002, his strikeouts per nine innings and strikeouts-to-walks ratio took a dip and both are rather poor for a decent starter. That is usually a bad sign for a pitcher. It didn't hurt him for 2002 though it might this year.
I like Dessens, but the bottom line is that he is not a worth $3.5+ M a year, especially in this market. The more I hear about deals like this one, the ones by the Phils, the Giants' one with Neifi Perez, etc., the less I am inclined to believe in the collusion theories. Collusion doesn't work unless everyone, or maybe almost everyone, is on board. I am more and more inclined to believe that the players just signed a bad Collective Bargaining Agreement, one that incentivizes teams, especially bad teams, to cut payroll at any and all costs.
Spencer For Hire Shane Spencer
Spencer For Hire
Shane Spencer signed a one-year contract with the Indians today. Spencer is a slightly below average hitter but will probably be an upgrade over what the Indians were using in left field last year.
Sans Millar-san Well, the Marlins
Well, the Marlins made good on the threats to get rid of Kevin Millar. They must have so detested him that they sent him all the way to Japan, to the Chunichi Dragons, of Mr. Baseball fame. I commented on this yesterday when Florida signed Todd Hollandsworth and hinted that Millar's days in the Swamp State were ending.
Major League Baseball's site had this to say:
Millar, who led the Marlins in hitting with a .306 average last year, was eligible for arbitration.
Let's get this clear, Millar was signed to a two-year, $1.6 M contract prior to the 2001 season. He made $900K last season. He is arbitration eligible and would have had a significant bump up if he had gone through arbitration, but that had not yet come to pass.
Hollandsworth was signed for $1.5 M for one year. That is $700K more than the man he is basically replacing, Millar. There are no dollars saved except in bizzaro world.
Yes, Millar would have cost the Marlins around $2-3 M after arbitration, although it's hard to gauge given this offseason. That would have been more than Hollandsworth. So the Marlins anticipated this and proactively rid themselves of a slightly expensive player's contract. Soon we'll have teams trading Rookies of the Year because they will not be able to afford them when the players are arbitration eligible. I'm being facetious, but you get my drift.
Now, I understand Hollandsworth's signing. It wasn't about improving the club. It was entirely about cutting payroll. Hollandsworth was Johnny Bravo of Brady Bunch fame basically: he fits the suit. It's not how he plays. It doesn't matter which player is better. They were both acceptable for the position, but one was cheaper.
The more I hear these stories this offseason, the more I am convinced that there is no collusion, no secret agendas. The agenda is right there, out in the open for all to see. It's not about putting the best product on the field. It's about putting the cheapest acceptable product on the field. It's about the luxury tax and revenue sharing, at least for seemingly the vast majority of the teams If the last Collective Bargaining Agreement had required teams to invest the funds they receive in their teams, this would not be the case. But given the current environment, while that carrot is out there, teams will do whatever it takes to get their hands on it.
The Best Damn Sports News...Today
The Best Damn Sports News...Today
John Kruk, the man who last spring regaled the Phils with stories of, for example, the irony that Mario Mendoz is now a hitting instructor and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams is now a pitching coach, is returning to Philly as a broadcaster and TV personality. He will be leaving The Best Damn Sports Show Period in order to return to the Phillies.
Kruk being paired with fellow oddball Larry Andersen will make for the funniest broadcasts since Bob Uecker in Major League. Kruk as a humorist is like a cross between Will Rogers and Chris Farley. It may be an acquired taste for many, but I can't wait for the first rain delay of the season with Kruk and Andersen in the booth.
Gammon-itcally Incorrect, III David Pinto
Gammon-itcally Incorrect, III
David Pinto has posted an email from a reader regarding my "fisking" of Sir Peter Gammons. The person contends that "it's not his fault that his material is full of bad grammar, typos and twisted syntax. For all that, the blame lies squarely with ESPN, which either can't afford an editor or can't afford an editor with half a brain."
I Just had a couple of comments regarding that email that I post below:
I just read the letter from your reader defending Gammons, and I have one comment. I have read that Gammons is such a prima donna (my take) that he refuses to have his prose poured over by an editor. I remember posting a citation to an online article to that effect sometime this fall (I have to find it).
For more on fisking, go here. It has nothing to do with Carlton as it turns out.
Keltner's Ryno and Other Genealogical
Keltner's Ryno and Other Genealogical Investigations
My blog brother, the Cub Reporter, has a look at Ryne Sandberg's Hall credentials based on Bill James' Keltner Test. Check him out.
"Welcome to the Hall's of
"Welcome to the Hall's of Relief", IV
When last we left the reliever, he had just survived a stultifying few decades. There were a few standouts and the role had continued to evolve somewhat, but on the whole relievers were used basically the same way in 1945 as they had in 1925. But halcyon days were approaching, and the second half of the 1940s presented some harbingers of the glory ahead for relievers.
In 1946 an important barrier was passed. That year the average ballgame saw each team use at least two pitchers. The percentage of games completed by the starting pitcher gradually fell to around 40%. Relief pitching was now very much a part of the basic strategy of the game. It was becoming a more clearly defined role, not just a chore performed by one's best pitchers on their off days.
Pure relievers had started to occupy the bullpen along with swingmen, who started and relieved. The pure relievers still on the whole did not occupy the highest rungs of the bullpen ladder. The top position still fell to the part-time starter, but the differences were lessening. The pure reliever no longer had an average ERA over 5.00. The specialists were beginning to evolve. The best pitchers evolved back into pure starters. The best reliever could now be a pure reliever or a swingman. The stigma was removed from the pure reliever label.
A few men from the late '40s excelled and they tended to be pure (or near pure) relievers. Joe Page started his career as a swingman, but when his workload was shifted more to the bullpen in his second year (11 relief attempts in 20 games pitched), his ERA dropped almost 1.75 runs. The Yankees, thinking that the young pitcher was now ready to become a bigger part of the staff, worked him in his third year as more of a starter (17 starts in 31 games). Page's ERA climbed 75 points, not bad but not great, just how the Yankees had played in that era.
In 1947, Page's fourth year, Bucky Harris took over the reigns of the team, and installed Page in the bullpen. Page won 14 games, save 17 others, and had a 2.48 ERA (42% better than the adjusted league average), and he did it almost exclusively out of the bullpen (2 starts in 56 games). The Yankees won the World Series, and Page brought respectability to the pure reliever's role, finishing fourth in the AL MVP race. After a subpar year in '48 for Page and the Yankees, in 1949 Page exceeded his level of two years before: 13 wins, 27 saves, 2.59 ERA (55% better than average), 60 appearances, all in relief, and third place in the AL MVP. The Yankees, now managed by Casey Stengel, again won the Series. Page was ineffective in 1950 though he continued to relieve for the world champion Yankees. His peak was extremely short, another trait for relievers, he always gave up a ton of walks, and when hits started to follow he was out of the game in a year.
There were other relievers who had similar careers in the late 1940s and early 1950s, though none seemed to get the notoriety that Page did. The first was probably Hugh Casey who became basically a pure reliever for the Dodgers by 1942. He had been a fairly successful swingman, failed one year, and was moved permanently to the pen. He too had a short peak that was very good if not great, that is, the three years bookending the war: 1942, '46, and '47 (he missed the war years). He collected 36 saves and 27 wins, made 142 appearances (only 3 of which were starts), and had an ERA under 2.00 one year and slightly above another year. That was basically his career however.
Others of note were "Fireman" Johnny Murphy (the man from whom Page wrested the "closer" job and who held the career saves "record"-107-from 1947 to 1961), Al Benton (a swingman until late in his career), Ace Adams (only 7 starts in 302 appearances in an incredibly short career), Harry Gumbert (another swingman converted to closer late in his career), Tom Ferrick (pure reliever and journeyman), and Gordon Maltzberger (4 years, all as a reliever).
In the 1950s, the star reliever arrived. Page and his notoriety were probably the biggest impetus behind this change, even though his career ended as it was really getting underway. In 1950 the Phils' Jim Konstanty won the NL MVP award with some very good numbers 16 wins, 22 saves, and a 2.66 ERA (52% better than the adjusted league average) in 74 games, all in relief. It wasn't the best year by a reliever in the decade (Kinder's 1953 season comes to mind), but he won the award, the lowly Phils won the pennant, and it was a sort of clarion call for all teams to get pure relievers. Unfortunately, it was also basically his career, except for a splash with the Yankees five years later.
Ellis Kinder and Clem Labine were probably the best relievers of the decade. Kinder didn't make it to the majors until he was in his thirties and didn't become a real reliever until 35, but he collected 87 saves in the next 6 years for the Red Sox. Brooklyn's Labine slowly evolved into the team's reliever. He never had more than three good years in a row but in toto was a reliable reliever.
Hoyt Wilhelm, Elroy Face, and Lindy McDaniel all pitched in this era and pitched pretty well, but they really didn't come into his own until the '60s. There were others, but none really stood out and most were only effective for a very short time.
Before the Fifties no man had made 300 relief appearances in a decade. Five men did it in the 1950s. Before 1950 very few men tallied 50 saves. Eight did it in the Fifties. The reliever role was now established, but teams were still not ready to devote their best pitchers to it.
The other roles evolved accordingly as well. The ace starter being used as a closer finally died in the 1950s. The last man to be used in this way with regularity was probably Allie Reynolds, who saved 35 games in 70 relief appearances in the decade. A few others still did it as well: Robin Roberts, Warren Spahn, Billy Pierce, and Bob Lemon (all with at least 15 saves in the decade), to name a few. There were also swingman still, like Lew Burdette, but the lion's share of the reliever duties was falling to men who were more and more pure relievers and less and less part-time starters. The stars were the purer relievers.
In the 1960s teams would start to test the boundaries of this new pure reliever role. They still had much to discover. Though on the surface many things seemed relatively unchanged (most pitcher were still technically swingmen, there were very few pure starters, etc.) at the end of the Fifties, the changes that were put in motion in that decade are still the ones that the game is dealing with today.
Here are the leaders in relief appearances and saves for the decade:
FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Hoyt Wilhelm 395 58 432 Clem Labine 375 82 412 Jim Konstanty 321 65 344 Ellis Kinder 309 96 346 Turk Lown 309 51 358 Roy Face 297 51 324 Marv Grissom 278 58 325 Gerry Staley 265 41 430 Frank Smith 264 44 271 Tom Gorman 256 42 289 Ernie Johnson 254 19 273 Bob Miller 250 16 337 Johnny Klippstein 248 29 400 Al Brazle 240 55 266 Harry Dorish 237 42 268 George Zuverink 234 40 265 Tom Morgan 226 43 287 Ray Narleski 214 58 266 Morrie Martin 202 15 240 Paul LaPalme 202 14 253 Hersh Freeman 201 37 204 FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Ellis Kinder 309 96 346 Clem Labine 375 82 412 Jim Konstanty 321 65 344 Hoyt Wilhelm 395 58 432 Marv Grissom 278 58 325 Ray Narleski 214 58 266 Al Brazle 240 55 266 Turk Lown 309 51 358 Roy Face 297 51 324 Frank Smith 264 44 271 Tom Morgan 226 43 287 Tom Gorman 256 42 289 Harry Dorish 237 42 268 Gerry Staley 265 41 430 Johnny Sain 120 41 218 George Zuverink 234 40 265 Jim Hughes 171 39 172 Hersh Freeman 201 37 204 Ryne Duren 93 35 100 Allie Reynolds 70 35 187 Don Mossi 192 32 258 Bob Grim 152 32 212 Don McMahon 130 32 130 Ike Delock 175 31 247 Don Elston 161 31 176
Here are the totals per role for the decade. Note the gradual increase in the pure reliever and decrease in swingman in the second half of the decade. Also, note that the pure reliever's ERA is more in line with the other two roles by the end of the decade (and that his strikeouts-per-nine-innings doubles):
Year GP GS SV CG CG% RA P/G #P SP SP% RP RP% SP/RP Swing% 1950 5246 2476 289 998 40.31% 2770 2.119 231 9 3.90% 57 24.68% 165 71.43% 1951 5332 2478 276 938 37.85% 2854 2.152 220 10 4.55% 46 20.91% 164 74.55% 1952 5259 2478 306 949 38.30% 2781 2.122 236 13 5.51% 49 20.76% 174 73.73% 1953 5592 2480 347 864 34.84% 3112 2.255 218 12 5.50% 41 18.81% 165 75.69% 1954 5589 2472 350 840 33.98% 3117 2.261 225 10 4.44% 50 22.22% 165 73.33% 1955 5944 2468 356 748 30.31% 3476 2.408 258 7 2.71% 74 28.68% 177 68.60% 1956 5932 2478 367 758 30.59% 3454 2.394 241 15 6.22% 55 22.82% 171 70.95% 1957 6013 2470 391 710 28.74% 3543 2.434 249 11 4.42% 71 28.51% 167 67.07% 1958 6025 2470 404 743 30.08% 3555 2.439 250 14 5.60% 72 28.80% 164 65.60% 1959 5908 2476 379 742 29.97% 3432 2.386 243 10 4.12% 77 31.69% 156 64.20%
Hollandsworthwhile? These desperate times call
These desperate times call for desperate measures, like giving Todd Hollandsworth a starting assignment. Hollandsworth was signed today by the Marlins, who have quickly supplanted Montreal as the poorest franchise in the NL East-even the worst Jeffrey Loria-owned team. The Marlins were handed his usufruct for one year at the mere sum of $1.5 M.
ESPN had the audacity to say, "His signing gives the Marlins some badly needed power from the left side." Hollandsworth slugged .463 last season in stadia with an average slugging percentage of .456 (Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com). His ratio in Texas was particularly disturbing: .417 to .447. He was similarly low in 2000, his prior full season as a starter (.449 to .458). People look at Hollandsworth and they see his Rookie of the Year award and a couple of bloated years in Coors. What they fail to see is that he has been at best average since his rookie season and has often been much worse than average. On the Marlins that's probably good enough.
In typical Marlins fashion, the team intends to divest itself of Kevin Millar after this signing. As ESPN puts it, "He also makes outfielder Kevin Millar expendable if the Marlins find the right deal." Millar has been a pretty good player for Florida over the years. His OPS has been between 7 and 41% better than the adjusted average over his career. He hits for average (.296 career batting average), has decent power (.504 career slugging percentage), and gets on base (.367 lifetime OBP). Two years ago he had a career year, but his 2002 was pretty good, better than any year that Hollandsworth has ever had, including his rookie year. But all the Marlins see is that he has slipped slightly, he is slow, is 2 years older than Hollandsworth, and can only play the corner OF positions and first. Oh, and he is a righty bat. Some of these things have worth, but on the whole, they are not seeing the wood for the trees.
That this team feels the need to jettison a useful player that made under a million dollars last year to sign an overrated nothing for a higher price defines what the Marlins are all about. They made the right move to non-tendor the subpar Eric Owens but then replaced him with a slightly better player. His is slightly cheaper than Owens' $2.1 M salary in 2002. I guess that's the bottom line nowadays.
Carter in the Hall?, Epilogue
Carter in the Hall?, Epilogue (The Part After Book'em Danno)
Baseball Primer has a discussion of the Gary Carter episode in its Clutch Hits page.
There, I posted the following as my final statement on the issue:
Thanks to Baseball Primer for perpetuating what I have been told was just an Urban Shocker Myth. I never meant to say that I had definitive proof. I just thought it was of interest that an encrypted file of clearly Carter's stats w/o his name was being wafted through the AP wire. It just steamrolled after that. I can't say that I mind the attention though.
It's been fun.
Well, Albie, III First Omar
Well, Albie, III
First Omar Daal and now Albie Lopez, former 19-game losers are very much in demand in the free agent market. Lopez signed a one-year, $1.5 M contract with the Royals. Meanwhile, future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux and All-Star Jose Hernandez couldn't get anyone to return their phone calls.
ESPN quote the inimitable Allard Baird thusly on the subject:
Royals general manager Allard Baird said Lopez would be given an opportunity to start, but ''what we like about him is his ability to bridge the gap between the young starters and the back of the bullpen.''
First, it should be pointed out that the Royals' rotation currently has one man with more than one year of major league experience, one man with more than three wins in the majors in 2002, and one man with more than six wins over his career-all Darrell May, not bad for a former Cub outfielder. That said, Albie Lopez is probably the last man you would want to toss into the mix.
Don't get me wrong Lopez pitched well in the excellent Braves' bullpen last year (2.95 in 26 games and Baseball Prospectus gave him 5.4 Adjusted Runs Prevented).
But he began the season as a starter, only switching to the bullpen as the last refuge of a scoundrel or a failed starter. As a starter Lopez is 0-6 in his last 10 starts going back to August 22, 2001. In 2002 he was 0-4 with a 7.11 ERA and a .372 opponents' batting average. Luckily for the Braves youngsters Damian Moss and Jason Marquis were fully integrated into the rotation by mid-season obviating the need for Lopez as a starter. In all fairness though, over the last three years his ERA as a starter is a not horrible 4.54 (plus an 18-32 record with two playoff teams and the D-Rays).
That's the basic problem with Lopez, he's not horrible, just pretty much mediocre overall. It's his mercurial nature that's the most dangerous aspect of Lopez-he seems like a decent pitcher one year and then a stiff the next. He has had some horrific, slow-down-and-let's-rubber-neck seasons over his career. 1996 and '97 are prime examples. He went from a great young Indian prospect to a 6.00+ ERA'ed staff killer. Then in 1998, he moved on to Tampa and had a stellar year: 2.60 ERA that was 88% better than the adjusted average according to Baseball-Reference.com and a 7-4 record. He was a long reliever that entire season. When he slipped somewhat in 1999, the D-Rays tried him in the rotation for a good part of 2000 and he was actually pretty good (11-13 with a 4.13 ERA, 19% better than average). But has been by and large subpar since.
He also gives up a ton of hits and walks and has a not so special strikeout-to-walk ratio even though he sports a decent strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate. Take a look at some of his numbers over the years:
Season G GS IP ERA Adj WHIP K/9 IP K:BB HR/9IP ERA 1993 9 9 49.6667 5.98 72 1.631 4.530 0.781 1.268 1994 4 4 17 4.24 111 1.529 9.529 3.000 1.588 1995 6 2 23 3.13 148 1.043 8.609 3.143 1.565 1996 13 10 62 6.39 77 1.645 6.532 2.045 2.032 1997 37 6 76.6667 6.93 68 1.839 7.396 1.575 1.291 1998 54 0 79.6667 2.6 188 1.318 7.004 1.938 0.791 1999 51 0 64 4.64 105 1.406 5.203 1.542 1.125 2000 45 24 185.333 4.13 119 1.451 4.662 1.371 1.165 2001 33 33 205.667 4.81 94 1.464 5.951 1.813 1.138 2002 30 4 55.6667 4.37 94 1.509 6.305 2.167 0.162 Total 282 92 818.667 4.73 99 1.494 5.969 1.666 1.154
He's all over the place from year to year. Is that the kind of pitcher that the Royals want to unleash on their unsuspecting young pitching staff? Aren't they paying him $1.5 due in part to his years of experience? What experience, as a drag on a staff? You know that at least one of their young pitchers will fail and they will turn to Lopez. "He's pitching well in long relief. Let's give him a start or two," they'll say. And before they know it he'll be a 2-7 sinkhole in their rotation. When they return him to the bullpen, he'll ruin the confidence of all of the remaining young starters by becoming a sinkhole in the middle innings.
And then they'll turn him loose after the season and talk about fiscal responsibility. Well, what do I expect? These are the Royals after all. I'm just surprised they were able to pry $1.5 M out of their coffers given that every move this offseason seems hell-bent on divesting them of payroll. This is of course to increase the amount of luxury tax money and welfare checks that the Royals' ownership will use to line their well-lined pockets next winter.
"Welcome to the Hall's of
"Welcome to the Hall's of Relief", III
The 1920s, '30s, and '40s
At the dawn of what's often referred to as Baseball's "Golden Era", the toolkit for relievers had been well stocked. In the first decade of the century, John McGraw had developed the main approaches: a) "star relievers", starters cast in the closer's role as well (e.g., Iron Joe McGinnity) and b) semi-modern reliever, a man who relieved in close games usually as a long reliever (e.g., Doc Crandall). These styles permeated the baseball community in the second decade to the point that they became part of a manager's repertoire. Starters completed remarkably fewer games than they had just a short time before.
In the next three decades, very little progress was made in the reliever's role. The Senators' Firpo Marberry, arguable the first great reliever, ushered in the 50-game reliever in 1925-'26. In 1939 Clint Brown of the White Sox brought us a season with 60 relief appearances (61, actually, all in relief). Marberry also set the saves "record" at 22 (breaking his two-year record of 15). This "record" stood until Joe Page tallied 27 in 1949.
Saves and relief appearances were generally higher than the Teens. There was a lot of waxing and waning along the way, however. Again, the role of the reliever wasn't greatly expanded. The use of the reliever was just becoming more widespread.
Over the period, the percentage of games completed by starting pitchers continued to fall but not at nearly the brisk pace of the previous decades. The percentage of pure starters also continued to fall and only in one of the three decades' years was it over 10 percent. The swingman's declined slightly to under 70% by the end of the period. It was still the most popular role, though the best starters began to become pure starters again. The use of the pure reliever had finally established itself (perhaps the one innovation of the period), to the point where they represented over 25% of all pitchers by the end of the period. The relief role was still the route for the tail end of the staff, but many talented players became pure relievers and their overall numbers became more respectable.
This period of malaise was to be followed by a decade of star relievers, some of who began their careers before the end of current period. We'll leave them to the 1950s section, however.
Here are the relief appearance and save totals for each of the decades. Note how the pure reliever came into his own in the 1940s. This readied the baseball world for the stars of the'50s:
FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Firpo Marberry 262 75 333 Eddie Rommel 193 24 423 Elam Vangilder 178 19 364 Bill Sherdel 169 24 378 Allan Russell 169 25 210 George Smith 168 7 254 Garland Braxton 160 25 215 Sarge Connally 157 25 205 Rube Ehrhardt 153 10 193 Jack Scott 149 18 329 Ken Holloway 148 16 257 Rosy Ryan 144 17 214 Bill Bayne 143 8 196 Lou North 142 13 166 Jakie May 142 16 246 Syl Johnson 132 11 198 Percy Jones 131 6 242 Huck Betts 131 8 157 Bert Cole 131 10 177 Claude Jonnard 128 17 137 Slim Harriss 121 16 349 Benn Karr 119 5 177 Art Decatur 117 7 153 Johnny Morrison 117 22 281 Jack Quinn 117 22 368 Ray Kolp 116 7 226 Wilcy Moore 112 23 126 Fred Heimach 111 5 210 Hal Carlson 111 18 310 Guy Bush 108 18 222 Lil Stoner 107 14 217 Bob McGraw 106 6 149 Carl Mays 104 19 304 Rube Walberg 103 18 251 Joe Oeschger 103 3 224 Art Nehf 100 13 312 Hooks Dauss 100 24 269 FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Firpo Marberry 262 75 333 Waite Hoyt 99 29 379 Allan Russell 169 25 210 Garland Braxton 160 25 215 Sarge Connally 157 25 205 Eddie Rommel 193 24 423 Bill Sherdel 169 24 378 Hooks Dauss 100 24 269 Lefty Grove 75 24 222 Wilcy Moore 112 23 126 Sam Jones 85 23 363 Johnny Morrison 117 22 281 Jack Quinn 117 22 368 Urban Shocker 69 22 330 Herb Pennock 65 20 352
FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Jack Russell 290 37 394 Dick Coffman 246 33 366 Clint Brown 216 49 344 Joe Heving 215 33 241 Chief Hogsett 213 33 323 Charlie Root 190 28 377 Syl Johnson 185 30 327 Johnny Murphy 179 54 218 Mace Brown 175 22 213 Pete Appleton 174 17 240 Chad Kimsey 167 16 174 Bob Smith 166 31 276 Fred Frankhouse 157 10 345 Lloyd Brown 153 17 302 Waite Hoyt 149 23 281 Bill Swift 143 18 305 Whit Wyatt 143 12 205 Allyn Stout 142 10 171 Ivy Andrews 141 8 249 Jumbo Brown 139 14 162 Rube Walberg 134 14 293 Al Smith 133 13 188 Russ Van Atta 131 6 207 Jim Lindsey 130 18 143 Benny Frey 129 8 253 Larry French 125 14 430 Ben Cantwell 124 18 255 Guy Bush 122 15 316 Jack Quinn 122 30 130 Jack Knott 122 19 250 Phil Collins 119 19 248 Bump Hadley 117 20 374 Wilcy Moore 117 26 135 Don Brennan 115 19 141 Clyde Shoun 115 10 139 Jesse Haines 114 6 208 Willis Hudlin 113 23 338 Leon Chagnon 113 3 134 Si Johnson 112 7 287 Bob Kline 111 7 148 Pat Malone 110 22 275 Dolf Luque 107 18 151 Tommy Thomas 106 6 242 Hi Bell 106 21 134 Larry Benton 105 10 195 Jack Wilson 105 14 192 Lynn Nelson 102 6 160 Johnny Welch 102 6 165 Firpo Marberry 102 26 218 Mel Harder 100 21 385 FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Johnny Murphy 179 54 218 Clint Brown 216 49 344 Jack Russell 290 37 394 Dick Coffman 246 33 366 Joe Heving 215 33 241 Chief Hogsett 213 33 323 Bob Smith 166 31 276 Lefty Grove 83 31 351 Syl Johnson 185 30 327 Jack Quinn 122 30 130 Dizzy Dean 86 30 305 Carl Hubbell 81 30 383 Charlie Root 190 28 377 Wilcy Moore 117 26 135 Firpo Marberry 102 26 218 Waite Hoyt 149 23 281 Willis Hudlin 113 23 338 Mace Brown 175 22 213 Pat Malone 110 22 275 Hi Bell 106 21 134 Mel Harder 100 21 385 Bump Hadley 117 20 374
FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Ace Adams 295 49 302 Hugh Casey 259 54 290 Clyde Shoun 254 19 315 Harry Gumbert 228 47 354 Tom Ferrick 212 41 219 George Caster 209 37 242 Ted Wilks 204 28 247 Ken Trinkle 197 21 216 Johnny Murphy 196 53 197 Joe Page 196 63 241 Joe Beggs 192 29 224 Andy Karl 187 26 191 Ed Klieman 185 33 217 Joe Heving 175 30 189 Alex Carrasquel 171 14 218 Al Benton 169 50 280 Joe Haynes 165 16 277 Mace Brown 157 26 174 Mike Ryba 156 16 183 Kirby Higbe 147 22 354 Hank Behrman 147 19 174 Russ Christopher 144 35 241 Emil Kush 142 12 150 Murry Dickson 140 7 248 Johnny Gorsica 140 17 204 Dizzy Trout 135 22 374 Gordon Maltzberger 135 33 135 Joe Berry 133 18 133 Nels Potter 129 15 272 Bob Chipman 129 9 204 Les Webber 129 14 154 Bill Zuber 129 5 191 Earl Caldwell 127 23 139 Bob Klinger 124 22 200 Johnny Hutchings 121 6 155 Paul Erickson 121 6 207 Bob Muncrief 119 9 283 Steve Gromek 115 14 217 Sam Zoldak 113 3 175 Earl Johnson 112 16 162 Boom-Boom Beck 111 2 146 Xavier Rescigno 108 16 129 Ken Burkhart 107 7 148 Andy Hansen 105 6 142 Jim Turner 105 19 138 Si Johnson 104 8 201 Milo Candini 104 8 141 Johnny Lanning 100 7 149 Ed Heusser 100 13 190 Nick Strincevich 100 6 203 FirstName LastName RA Saves GP Joe Page 196 63 241 Hugh Casey 259 54 290 Johnny Murphy 196 53 197 Al Benton 169 50 280 Ace Adams 295 49 302 Harry Gumbert 228 47 354 Tom Ferrick 212 41 219 George Caster 209 37 242 Russ Christopher 144 35 241 Ed Klieman 185 33 217 Gordon Maltzberger 135 33 135 Joe Heving 175 30 189 Joe Beggs 192 29 224 Ted Wilks 204 28 247 Andy Karl 187 26 191 Mace Brown 157 26 174 Earl Caldwell 127 23 139 Kirby Higbe 147 22 354 Dizzy Trout 135 22 374 Bob Klinger 124 22 200 Ken Trinkle 197 21 216
Here are the totals by pitching role:
Year GP GS SV CG CG% RA P/G #P SP SP% RP RP% SP/RP Swing% 1920 3998 2468 143 1395 56.52% 1530 1.620 207 9 4.35% 46 22.22% 152 73.43% 1921 4265 2458 177 1273 51.79% 1807 1.735 202 13 6.44% 41 20.30% 148 73.27% 1922 4432 2478 156 1240 50.04% 1954 1.789 207 13 6.28% 45 21.74% 149 71.98% 1923 4451 2463 167 1224 49.70% 1988 1.807 206 10 4.85% 51 24.76% 145 70.39% 1924 4505 2462 175 1198 48.66% 2043 1.830 218 10 4.59% 44 20.18% 164 75.23% 1925 4510 2457 175 1209 49.21% 2053 1.836 207 10 4.83% 44 21.26% 153 73.91% 1926 4577 2468 194 1155 46.80% 2109 1.855 198 7 3.54% 41 20.71% 150 75.76% 1927 4487 2473 197 1198 48.44% 2014 1.814 210 10 4.76% 42 20.00% 158 75.24% 1928 4496 2462 218 1172 47.60% 2034 1.826 210 7 3.33% 42 20.00% 161 76.67% 1929 4554 2458 215 1169 47.56% 2096 1.853 206 13 6.31% 41 19.90% 152 73.79% 1930 4701 2468 215 1094 44.33% 2233 1.905 199 7 3.52% 37 18.59% 155 77.89% 1931 4524 2472 196 1188 48.06% 2052 1.830 189 7 3.70% 29 15.34% 153 80.95% 1932 4608 2466 193 1125 45.62% 2142 1.869 196 3 1.53% 44 22.45% 149 76.02% 1933 4593 2452 222 1113 45.39% 2141 1.873 184 8 4.35% 26 14.13% 150 81.52% 1934 4787 2446 229 1061 43.38% 2341 1.957 202 11 5.45% 29 14.36% 162 80.20% 1935 4712 2456 208 1093 44.50% 2256 1.919 201 13 6.47% 28 13.93% 160 79.60% 1936 4782 2476 238 1075 43.42% 2306 1.931 206 10 4.85% 35 16.99% 161 78.16% 1937 4713 2477 215 1114 44.97% 2236 1.903 208 14 6.73% 35 16.83% 159 76.44% 1938 4627 2446 210 1090 44.56% 2181 1.892 214 15 7.01% 48 22.43% 151 70.56% 1939 4841 2462 250 1027 41.71% 2379 1.966 229 15 6.55% 52 22.71% 162 70.74% 1940 4863 2472 236 1095 44.30% 2391 1.967 224 16 7.14% 47 20.98% 161 71.88% 1941 4807 2488 220 1085 43.61% 2319 1.932 228 19 8.33% 44 19.30% 165 72.37% 1942 4621 2448 199 1128 46.08% 2173 1.888 215 17 7.91% 47 21.86% 151 70.23% 1943 4650 2476 253 1095 44.22% 2174 1.878 219 23 10.50% 46 21.00% 150 68.49% 1944 4699 2484 223 1123 45.21% 2215 1.892 226 16 7.08% 59 26.11% 151 66.81% 1945 4655 2460 218 1140 46.34% 2195 1.892 236 15 6.36% 52 22.03% 169 71.61% 1946 5180 2484 227 1052 42.35% 2696 2.085 275 18 6.55% 62 22.55% 195 70.91% 1947 5287 2486 290 961 38.66% 2801 2.127 231 16 6.93% 54 23.38% 161 69.70% 1948 5523 2474 314 897 36.26% 3049 2.232 235 7 2.98% 67 28.51% 161 68.51% 1949 5302 2480 245 979 39.48% 2822 2.138 214 9 4.21% 56 26.17% 149 69.63%
Carter in the Hall?, IV
Carter in the Hall?, IV
My fifteen minutes are completely used up...now.
Carter in the Hall?, III
Carter in the Hall?, III
Here's the final tally, thanks to Clay Marston at the Canadian Baseball News, eh?
NEWLY ELECTED .....
I'm not a bit surprised by the sub-five-percenters, except that Darryl Kile led the group. There's not a Hall-of-Famer among them. I would be surprised if someone could make a reasonable argument for any of them. As Neyer said earlier today in his chat session, Butler is the best of the group and was far from a Hall-of-Famer (though I remember the press discussing the possibility of his enshrinement in the last couple of years of his career).
Anyway, here's what I wrote to Clay. I thought it might be of interest, at least to me:
Looking at the 5-75% guys, the "tweeners", I am starting to wonder if there are too many viable candidates for voters to choose from. I mean, none of those guys is a clear-cut Hall-of-Famer, but a decent argument can be (and seemingly has been) made for each of those guys. They are borderline cases for the most part, but they don't seem to be progressing in the process (except Kaat who shuffled of the mortal coil to Vets' Committee land). Rather they are stuck in a purgatory that seems to be getting more crowded.
If I ever have some time, I'd like to figure at a means to do just that. I'll keep you posted.
Carter in the Hall?, II
Carter in the Hall?, II
Both Gary Carter and Eddie Murray will be inducted as it turns out. Murray was a no-brainer, and Carter was long overdue.
I am surprised, however, that Ryne Sandberg did not even get 50% of the vote and that Bruce Sutter was third. Maybe not that many people thought of Sandberg as a first-ballot type. Next year's vote will be very important for his candidacy. Sutter seemed to benefit the most from all the "relievers for the Hall" talk. I would have picked Gossage first, but both are pretty good candidates. Also, I expected that Lee Smith's save totals would buoy him above the other two, but guess I underestimtaed the voters.
I haven't seen the complete voting results, but Here's what ESPN had:
Eddie Murray 423 85.3%
Rice, Dawson, and Blyleven (who didn't make the top 8) are still doing pretty poorly. ESPN reports that Jim "Kitty" Kaat only received 26.2% in his last year of eligibility and now is subject to the vicissitudes of the Veterans' Committee.
Carter in the Hall? I
Carter in the Hall?
I know that we will not hear officially until 2 PM today, but the AP is broadcasting Gary Carter's career stats in an encrypted file sans Carter's name. Methinks they dost profess too much. It seems that they are readying the data for the announcement later today but are trying to hide the individual's identity. The stats, years, and teams (even playoff series) match Carter's exactly. Hm....
"Welcome to the Hall's of
"Welcome to the Hall's of Relief", II
In the first half of the Aughts, relief pitching had basically become a safety net for one's starting pitching. Whichever pitcher was fresh would relieve to keep the game close. The number of pure starters dwindled to about 10% of all pitchers by the end of the decade. The percentage of pure relievers was dwindling in the first half of the decade from almost 16% in 1900 to under 6% in 1906. The starter-reliever had taken hold. Aside from a one-year dip in 1902, each year of the Aughts had between 71 and 80 percent swing men.
In each year, the leader would have 3 or 4 saves. Usually it was an undistinguished member of a staff (Frank Kitson with the 1900 Dodgers 4 saves in 10 relief appearances, Bill Hoffer's 3 saves in 6 opportunities on the 1901 Cleveland Blues, etc.). The players could be old, could be young, or could be trying to comeback from a poor season. They rarely worked in the role for more than a year. Rarely now were they the ace of the staff (though Vic Willis lead the majors with 3 saves in five relief appearances in 1902). Rarely did they relieve more than a dozen games in a season.
Then came Roscoe "Ruberlegs" Miller. Miller wasn't much of a pitcher, but he happened to be on the Giants when John McGraw started to experiment with his pitching staff. In 1902 John McGraw took over a last-place team that hadn't had a winning season in 5 years. McGraw recounts in his autobiography, My Thirty Years in Baseball, how he found a young Christy Mathewson playing first base. He moved Matty to pitcher and brought in Iron Joe McGinnity and Jack Cronin. (Note that Mathewson only played 3 games at first that year. McGraw tended to exaggerate. He also claims to have rehabilitated Mathewson's career, which by his 1901 and 1902 stats was in no need of revival.)
This was the bulwark of the Giant staff. In 1903, Mathewson and McGinnity pitched well but the rest of the staff faltered. So McGraw tried something new, he started experimenting with a relief ace. Well, maybe using a reliever wasn't so new. But everyone on McGraw's staff was used as a reliever-that was new, at least for a winning team (the 1901 Milwaukee Brewers did it with a bad pitching staff on a last-place team)-and he also had fifth starter Roscoe Miller act as the closer. He saved three games in seven appearances. The two aces also picked up two saves each (Mathewson in 7 relief appearances and McGinnity in three). It was like a modern bullpen built into a starting rotation. The Giants finished in second.
The only problem with the scheme was that Miller wasn't very good. The staff was improved in 1904 and this time they saved 15 games in total led by Iron Joe's 5 (plus 35 wins and over 400 innings). The next highest staff in the majors had 6 saves. There were only 12 saves in total in the entire American League. The Giants won the pennant (though McGraw refused to play the Series).
The 1905 Giants again had 15 saves led by Claude Elliott's 6 in 8 relief appearances. The next highest again was 6 saves. The Giants won the Series in 5 from the A's. Other teams had started to take note of the strategy, though they couldn't yet duplicate it. The NY Highlanders' Clark Griffith adopted the strategy inserting himself as a reliever 18 times, the highest total in the majors. Griffith would finish his career as a reliever. In total there were nine men in the majors with 10 or more appearances as a reliever (including Chief Bender and Rude Waddell), though Griffith was the only man to do it regularly (18 appearances in 25 games).
In 1906, George Ferguson became the Giant closer (7 saves in 22 games, all but one in relief). The staff saved 18 in total, but the Cubs and Dodgers (sorry, Superbas) had gotten double digits in saves and the Cubbies wrested the NL flag away from the Giants. The Cubs and Dodgers also adopted the strategy of using the entire staff as both starters and relievers. In this season, there were 10 men with at least 10 relief appearances.
As the decade wore on the strategy was adopted by more teams. In 1907, 19 men had 10 or more relief appearances. In 1908, forty men had 10 or more relief appearances. Among them was the Giants' Bill Malarkey, who was used exclusively as a reliever, saving two games in 15 appearances. The save "record" fell three times between 1905 and 1909.
Then in 1909, McGraw came up with perhaps the game's first true reliever in Doc Crandall. Crandall had pitched reasonably well as a rookie in 1908, but he was now reinvented as the team's reliever. He pitched 30 games and started only 7, and he had 6 saves. 1909 was a banner year for relievers overall. There were 114 saves in the majors up from only 36 in 1901. 36 men appeared in games as reliever in 10 or more games. And a good number of them were predominantly relievers, like Crandall, Steve Melter, Forrest More, Irv Higginbotham, Rube Vickers, and Sam Leever. Unfortunately, few of these men pitched all that well-they had basically expanded the role of the last man on the staff-and were out of the game within a year. All but Crandall, who would relieve the rest of his 10-year career, never starting more than 21 games and saving 25 in total. However, the era of the full-time reliever was short-lived and soon the stratagem would take on a different guise.
Her are the leaders for relief appearances and saves for the decade:
FirstName LastName RA Saves GP JOE MCGINNITY 77 22 417 TOM HUGHES 61 11 329 JIMMY DYGERT 60 2 156 ED WALSH 59 14 234 JACK CHESBRO 58 5 373 HOOKS WILTSE 58 20 208 RUBE WADDELL 57 3 385 SAM LEEVER 57 8 306 HARRY HOWELL 54 5 309 DEACON PHILLIPPE 54 7 296 GEORGE FERGUSON 54 8 110 LEW RICHIE 53 4 116 CLARK GRIFFITH 52 4 181 MORDECAI BROWN 51 19 246 CHIEF BENDER 48 8 221 FRANK KITSON 47 8 246 BILL DUGGLEBY 45 6 231 CHRISTY MATHEWSON 44 15 388 HOWIE CAMNITZ 44 6 122 RUBE VICKERS 43 2 88 JACK POWELL 43 14 377 NICK ALTROCK 42 6 193 WALTER CLARKSON 41 1 78 FirstName LastName RA Saves GP JOE MCGINNITY 77 22 417 HOOKS WILTSE 58 20 208 MORDECAI BROWN 51 19 246 CHRISTY MATHEWSON 44 15 388 ED WALSH 59 14 234 JACK POWELL 43 14 377 TOM HUGHES 61 11 329 ORVAL OVERALL 32 11 184 CY YOUNG 37 9 403 GEORGE FERGUSON 54 8 110 FRANK KITSON 47 8 246 SAM LEEVER 57 8 306 TULLY SPARKS 33 8 281 CHIEF BENDER 48 8 221 FRANK ARELLANES 20 8 56
Now, here are the major-league totals by year for the decade. Note the increase in swingmen and pure relievers throughout the decade. Also note that the pure reliever's stats didn't improve much, but the swingmam's did, so much so that the best pitchers by far were in this category by the end of the decade:
Year GP GS SV CG CG% RA P/G #P SP SP% RP RP% SP/RP Swing% 1900 1356 1136 12 935 82.31% 220 1.194 70 8 11.43% 11 15.71% 51 72.86% 1901 2545 2218 36 1913 86.25% 327 1.147 139 25 17.99% 14 10.07% 100 71.94% 1902 2517 2226 34 1950 87.60% 291 1.131 160 45 28.13% 16 10.00% 99 61.88% 1903 2565 2228 50 1909 85.68% 337 1.151 141 23 16.31% 11 7.80% 107 75.89% 1904 2817 2496 42 2186 87.58% 321 1.129 129 23 17.83% 10 7.75% 96 74.42% 1905 3019 2474 44 1976 79.87% 545 1.220 144 23 15.97% 12 8.33% 109 75.69% 1906 3072 2454 85 1910 77.83% 618 1.252 155 21 13.55% 9 5.81% 125 80.65% 1907 3217 2466 90 1828 74.13% 751 1.305 161 15 9.32% 18 11.18% 128 79.50% 1908 3476 2488 108 1677 67.40% 988 1.397 172 17 9.88% 23 13.37% 132 76.74% 1909 3544 2481 114 1622 65.38% 1063 1.428 203 22 10.84% 24 11.82% 157 77.34%
Did Braves Fick Up? The
Did Braves Fick Up?
The Braves signed free agent Robert Fick to a one-year, $1 M contract today. The Braves have not said where he'll play, but I would expect that he was signed to upgrade them at first (given that they are set in the outfield and his starting catcher days appear to be over).
He's cheap and not a bad player. He was 8% better than average last year with Detroit (by OPS according to Baseball-Reference.com). That's not great for a RF-1B-DH type, but apparently he's the best solution available. He'll probably hit 14 HRs, drive in 60 and bat .260 in Atlanta. The Braves could have pursued a better hitter in Greg Colbrunn, but probably didn't like his price tag (he signed for $3.6 M over two years with Seattle). They also could have done worse, like Tony Clark.
Overall, he won't hurt them especially after the dreck they've had at first over the last couple of years. He won't help much either. But apparently teams are more concerned about what they pay than what they get. And as a Phillies fan, I thank the Braves for continuing their subpar offseason.
Gammon-itcally Incorrect, II Peter Gammons
Gammon-itcally Incorrect, II
Peter Gammons talks to a lot of GMs. That's the only way that the article he wrote on Sunday attacking George Steinbrenner and the Yankees makes any sense. The Yankees have continued to spend this offseason while most teams have tried very hard to cut salary. GMs around the league have had to be creative. They have, for the first time, declined contracts to a number of players, whose services, in many cases, they still want to retain, just not at the old going rate. GMs have made trades to shift or share payroll among multiple teams. For the most part, these changes are demanded by the stringent payroll set by ownership.
And then there's George Steinbrenner, who continues to spend. He demands that his GM Brian Cashman grant no quarter in acquiring players that the team has targeted. "Why is he so special?" ask those GMs. "Why doesn't he have to cut payroll? I hope the Yankees fall flat on their face. Etc."
Gammons hobnobs with these man. As they say, in the vernacular of my white middle-class neighborhood, they're his peeps. And Gammons wanted to send some love out to the men who provide the fodder for his inane, anachronistic tripe. So he wrote this article.
Now to the substance of the article:
OK, they have between $75 million and $80 million invested in a pitching staff whose rotation's theme song is "Eight Days a Week." That's in contrast to the Kansas City Royals, whose highest paid pitcher is Jason Grimsley at $2 million per season, no one else in seven figures and not one starter on their current roster who won five (yes, five) games last season.
So the Royals let their ace leave to sign a $5 M-per contract with the Braves. They non-tendored Jeff Suppan. Those were the only two men to remain in the Royals' rotation all year in 2002. Now they have a rotation, for lack of a better word, with no one who won more than 4 games as a starter last year or won six games in his career (both Darrell Mays, also the only starter with more than one year of experience). Is Gammons saying that this is a good thing?
By the way, the first sentence above is Peter's fourth in a row that starts with "OK", but as we shall see later, my ninth-grade English teacher, Miss Foley, has much worse things to which to wrinkle her nose. At least here he divided his thoughts into sentences.
And, oh yes, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had every reason to be set off by Red Sox team president and CEO Larry Lucchino's ill-advised "Evil Empire" comments, although when George was done skewing Lucchino, he did his Dave Winfield, "you-didn't-hear-from-me routine" with his trusted New York media buddies in order to undermine Red Sox GM Theo Epstein by planting a story that Epstein broke a chair after Jose Contreras signed with the Yankees. That manager Georgina Lacayo of the Campo Real Hotel backed Epstein's story that it was a fabrication that he broke a chair never kept Steinbrenner from the Winfield routine, and he actually got someone to write that the action raised questions about Epstein's maturity.
And oh yes, this paragraph is just two sentences. Miss Foley is rolling over in her grave-she's not dead; it's just a fetish. First, by "skewing" I take it that Gammons means "skewering" meaning "to criticize or ridicule sharply and effectively" or perhaps "screwing", which needs no definition, but "skewing" means "to take an oblique course" or "to look askance". That was probably not what he meant. Next, I was taught in school that a sentence should convey a coherent idea, or words to that effect. The first sentence alone conveys thirty-seven ideas. They were scattershot and stillborn, but I count them. Peter, man, you need an editor. As far as the content, Steinbrenner and Luccino got into a rhymes-with-hissing match. That's a big surprise? Who cares?
Just watch Jeter take ground balls and do his work or run the bases or always throw to the right base.
And what? You'll realize how overrated he is? You'll fall for his doe-eyed punim? What, Peter? Finish your idea. Alright, I'll take it that we'll be impressed in some nebulous way. Peter, there has been enough statistical evidence over the years to the effect that a) Jeter has never been a great defensive shortstop and b) that his defense has worsened as he has aged. His offense has clearly declined. He is still a valuable player, but is George as his employer wrong to ask Jeter to respect the team curfew and to calm down a bit in general?
OK. OK. OK. They Yankees have a great team.
Three OK's followed by They Yankees, that's lovely.
They are going to win. George has bought the championship and they'd better damn well win.
Haven't we progressed beyond this simple-minded analysis? I mean, they have been saying it for decades, but are the Yankees the only ones who spend a lot of money? No, they spend a lot of money wisely and win. The Mets and Red Sox have spent a heap of dough lately and have not much to show for it.
All of which brings it down to this: what happens if their pitchers pitch in October as they did last October, when the Angels hit the New York pitching so brutally that if you took Anaheim's series OPS, it meant that every batter they sent up in that series was turned into the statistical equivalent of Jason Giambi by the Yankees pitchers?
Take a breath, Peter. Here's another gratuitous run-on sentence with a dozen or so ill-formed ideas. Well, what will happen? Will George fire his whole rotation? Well, wasn't that his reaction this offseason? Oh, it wasn't? So what's your point. He criticized the pitching coach indirectly, is that it? So shouldn't he be less than pleased with the rotation's preparedness for the Angels series? Maybe he shouldn't do it in public, but that's George.
This Yankee team should be very good, but we don't know how private people like Jeter and Bernie Williams will take to the 50 member media entourage that will be following Hideki Matsui.
Jeter is private?!? My friend Mikealls him "Page 6" Derek. As far as the Godzilla media blitz annoying veteran Yankees, they have been the cynosure of the media capital of the world for a half-dozen years. Do you really think they'll be fazed by Matsui's entourage?
We don't know what kind of cross-culturalization support Contreras will have in what will be a very difficult lifestyle change.
I'm not sure that cross-culturation is a word, but I'll let it go. If any team should be able to help Contreras become acclimated, it's the Yankees. First, they (currently) have fellow Cuban defector Orlando Hernandez. Second, even if El Duque is gone before the season starts, the Yankees still retain the experience of acclimating him to the big leagues and to America in general. It seemed to go pretty smoothly with him anyway.
As good as they've been, the Yankees could easily have been knocked out in the first round of the postseason three straight years. In fact, in the first round over the last three years the Yanks are 7-7 against the A's (2000 and 2001) and Angels (2002).
First, these are pretty good teams. One won the World Series, and two could have very easily had they gotten past the Yankees. Second, the Yankees did not get knocked out in the first round for three straight years. But what if they had? The Braves have had their playoff difficulties, but you hear people like Gammons defending their approach. The point is, according to them, that they got to the playoffs. So why isn't that the point for the Yankees? Because expectations are higher for them? Isn't that to their credit? Being a Phillies fan, I know that complacency is a franchise killer.
Oakland could win it all this fall with their Big Three, or if Boston ever got in, they could as well if Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe are at full throttle ... and that's without thinking about Bartolo Colon, whom Expos GM Omar Minaya says "would make the Red Sox better than the Yankees on paper right now" because Boston arguably would have three of the AL East's four best starters, with Toronto's Roy Halladay being the fourth.
I don't know if I would take everything Minaya says about Colon at face value. Isn't he trying to trade Colon to the Sox? Isn't it in his best interest to say that Colon will make them better than the Yankees to entice them into the deal? Anyone can argue whatever they want about the best starters in the AL East, but the Yankees have the best pitcher of his era in Roger Clemens, a bunch of proven winners (Wells, Pettite, Mussina, and Hernandez), a young pitcher who many consider the best young arm in the division (Weaver), and the best pitcher from Cuba (Contreras). That's not bad. Their rotation, from 1 to 5, is the best in the division. Their lineup is the best in the division.
If Torre and Yankees GM Brian Cashman and senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman are allowed to do their work, the Yankees will be fine; they won four world championships on talent, character, logic and good management, not a madcap spending pattern that puts them 50 percent above the next highest spender.
Gammons acts like the Yankees were a small-market team. They have outspent teams for years, maybe not at this rate, but they have stuck to their approach while the rest of baseball has gone austere. Shouldn't they be commended for sticking to a winning formula? By the way, the baseball people were the ones making the bulk of those decisions, though George would put in his 2 cents from time to time. Basicallym that's what they are doing now. Also, Torre shouldn't be given as long a leash as he was given last year or he'll kill Posada and most of the staff by the end of September.
If the Yankees don't win, (George Steinbrenner) will fire a lot more little people and plant stories about (Joe) Torre and (Derek) Jeter and (Brian) Cashman and Mike Mussina. But in the end, if the Yankees don't win, it will be Steinbrenner who will be the laughingstock of the baseball world. What a shame. What a way to live. Or win.
A) This is all conjecture, and B) if a winning team fails to win, then heads roll: the GM's, the manager's, the players', and the little people's. As far as George had been for years, I don't think it's a sure thing that he will start bad-mouthing everyone in the organization, just because of a few comments last week after a relatively quiet-rhetoric-wise- offseason.
Now to Peter's "Why George just doesn't get it" points:
Why Cashman always wanted Darin Erstad, who led the Angels by sheer determination, enabling Angels manager Mike Scioscia to sell the notion of unselfishness because Erstad cares only about winning and proved it with his rocket homer off Giants reliever Tim Worrell in the eighth inning of World Series Game 6 (right around the time he broke his hand) that he can rise to any occasion. There is no statistic or dollar figure that applies to Erstad.
I always liked Joe Lefebvre, too. We all have our faults. By the way, the bulk of this paragraph is a run-on sentence of tangentially-at best-related ideas. I think that Gammons is saying that we should overlook Erstad's actual production because he hustles. We shouldn't notice that in 2002 he had a .313 on-base percentage, nor that he had 27 walks in 625 at-bats, nor that his OPS was 12% below the adjusted average. Those are irrelevant. He wins. That's why his Angels have been over .500 in only four of his seven seasons. We should ignore the fact that he had a dropoff since his last productive season (2000) of 15 homers, 37 walks, 11 doubles, 22 runs, 27 RBI, 123 total bases, 72 batting average points, nearly 100 OBP points, and 150 slugging percentage points. We shouldn't notice that he created twice as many runs in 80 more plate appearances that year than in 2002. We also shouldn't notice that Erstad has had very poor seasons, three of the last four years in fact. OK, I'll ignore it. He's a winner, just like Jeter.
David Eckstein proved that grit, intelligence, instincts and energy are more important than name.
What about talent? Eckstein's a nice player, but he is far from a superstar. Besides I thought John Wayne had already taught us the meaning of true grit, pilgrim.
John Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez proved that sometimes you have to provide room for the season to evolve, and that talent will often beat experience.
Rodriguez didn't evolve. He had 5 innings in the regular season. He threw the ball past everyone he faced, and the Angels exploited a loophole in the rules to get him on the playoff roster. Lackey was pressed into duty mid-season because of Scott Schoeneweis' ineffectiveness.
The pure, unexpected joy of winning is more fun and more condusive to winning than the weight of unlimited expectation.
First, conducive is spelled with a c, Peter. C'mon ESPN can afford a spell checker. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings in arrows of 40 years of outrageous futility to win it all one year or to take arms against a sea of teams year after year and by opposing generally beat them? That is the question.
Players do make huge improvements from year to year, as evidenced by Scott Spiezio and Adam Kennedy.
How about Soriano's development last year? It took Bernie Williams a few years to be a productive player and about seven to attain his current level. The Yankees were similarly patient with Posada and Jeter. They are allowing Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera to develop. They allowed David Wells to grow in both of his tours of duty. They have been willing to sign international players and allow them to develop in the majors. Kennedy is a good young player who should be developing now (like Soriano). Spiezio at first base was a dumb gamble that worked last year. But it was a career year after a whole lot of mediocrity before that. Players also have sharp declines from year to year after a career year, as will be evidenced by Spiezio in 2003.
That scouting and development matter, in Anaheim's case, the foundation laid by Bill Bavasi and Bob Fontaine, Jr.
Wait a second, the Yankees have developed more than their fair share of talent. They have had the scouting to separate the Zack Wheat from the Chet Chadbourne. They have had the money to retain the best and the know-how to trade the dreck for valuable players. They have also been scouting international players pretty well (Soriano, Hernandez, Contreras, Matsui, etc.).
That sometimes ownership is wise to allow baseball folks to run the baseball operation, and ownership run the theme parks and networks.
Yep, that's exactly what George has been doing while the Yankees have had their dynastic run. What's your piont?
Few teams ever enjoyed winning more than the 2002 Angels. Even if the Yankees sweep the 2003 World Series in four games, they or their fans will never experience what the Angels experienced.
Maybe that's because the Yankees have never gone 40 years without a championship and it's been decades since their first one. I know from my Phillies upbringing and my Yankee ogling as an adult that it is more enjoyable to win often every year than to have one championship amid years of futility. The championship season only lasts so long.
Lastly, in his screed regarding Jose Canseco's Hall-of-Fame credentials at the bottom of the article he writes that Canseco:
uttered the memorable statement that "the problem with the Oakland A's is that they care too much about winning,"
Isn't this basically Gammons knock on the George and Yankees? They just win at all costs. I guess Canseco is bad so his utterances are just chock full of evil so there's the difference.
It's a shame to see Peter Gammons nowadays. It's like going to your high-school reunion, running into the class stud, and discovering that he's bald and overweight (which I did). He used to be the best, the best baseball writer/analyst around, say, twenty years ago. Now there's very little analysis in his work, and I can no longer consider him a writer, maybe one with eighth-grade skills. I guess insider and executives' drinking buddy are titles he has yet to embrace fully.
Gammon-itcally Incorrect Please read--or at
Please read--or at least attempt to muddle through--Peter Gammons article, and I use the term loosely, on the Yankees from yesterday. I don't have time to post anything on it tonight, but I can't let this Peter Gammons go by without comment.
Does MMII Equal Collusion IV?
Does MMII Equal Collusion IV? II
Major League Baseball posted this article on its site in response to the collusion theories circulating. Basically, their stance is that all is normal and the rumors are the result of some skylarking cospiracy theories on a few agents' parts.
They cite both MLB president and COO Bob Dupuy, who termed it "both disappointing and farfetched", and union executive Gene Orza on the matter:
"Asking agents to keep good notes of negotiating meetings is nothing new," said Orza, the union's No. 2 official. "We've been doing it the last 15 years. It's the way we monitor the market. The operation of the free-agency market is always a concern for us."
Dupuy added that:
"The market is behaving as it always does, reacting to economic stimuli and the quality of the players in the marketplace," DuPuy said. "There have been numerous free agents who have attracted attention from any number of clubs. I can state unequivocally that there has been nothing done in contravention of the Basic Agreement."
I can believe that there is no collusion afoot, but when Dupuy starts talking about ecomonic stimuli, I check for my wallet. What stimuli? Revenues have flattened somewhat but we're talking about an industry that has trebled its revenue growth in the past six years. Also, there have been a number of ticket-price increases throughout the offseason.
The economic stimuli must be the fact that there was no provision in the CBA that teams that are paid money in the luxury tax measure actually spend that money on the team. There are two effects: 1) teams that have high payrolls are reluctant to take on more even if it means weakening the team (witness the Mets' reluctance to sign anything but a bargin at third base) and 2) the potential windfall for small-salaried teams induces them to forego any and all payroll even if it means non-tendoring some of the team's most talented players (for example, Robert Fick in Detroit). The Yankees are still spending because they know that they will have enough revenue to take care of themsleves. The Phils are spending because they have neglected the team for decades and are now realizing the profits that they will make when they move to a new stadium if they just invest a little now.
Dupuy, as remarkable as it sounds, isn't lying. The fact is that the CBA just obviated the need for collusion. Too much liability. Even a salary cup is too messy as teams well below the cap have no incentive not to sepnd. Why not just institute measures that stimulates payroll cuts?
Even a team with a meager payroll like the Royals have incentive to cut payroll. Look at their moves this offseason. They let some high-priced free agents go: Roberto Hernandez ($6M in 2002), Chuck Knoblauch ($2M), Jeff Suppan ($4.14 M--non-tendored), Blake Stein ($1.35--waived), and Neifi Perez ($4.1 M--waived). They also lost ace Paul Byrd ($850 K in 2002) to the Braves at $5 M a year and are extensively shopping Joe Randa ($4 M, plus an extar mil if traded). The Royals went from a team with eleven players making over one million dollars to a team with five or six, depending if tehy can trade Randa. I guess If you going to suck, you may as well really suck and make as big a profit as possible.
Anyone who believes that the major-league teams are really losing money should note how much Ruppert Murdoch sells the Dodgers for in six months. If he doesn't make a huge profit on the deal, something on the order of $100-200 M, I will be officially shocked.
Expos to Get High Colon-ic?
Expos to Get High Colon-ic?
Rumors abound that the Expos will finally dump Bartolo Colon's salary and that the Red Sox will finally acquire Colon's services for 2003. The newest rumor is that the Mets will be involved and that they will receive Shea Hillenbrand. It makes sense for the Mets because they need a third baseman. It makes sense for the Red Sox because they need a pitcher and wouldn't mind losing Hillenbrand. It makes sense to Montreal because they have been instructed to cut salary. It makes sense forMLB, because it makes John Henry happy.
The only thing that has not been disclosed is what the Mets will be willing to give the 'Spos in return. The Expos had been asking for both Hillenbrand and Casey Fossum from teh Sox. I cannot see many players that the Mets could pry off their roster and the Expos could fit within their payroll to be able to consumate the deal. As far as position possible players, the only two I could think of were Timo Perez and Ty Wigginton. Wigginton would be interesting because the Expos have been trying to move third baseman Fernando Tatis' contract as well. A deal that sent Colon and Tatis to Boston, Hillenbrad to the Mets, and Wigginton to the Expos would make sense in this topsy-turvy offseason. Dumping salary balances out the loss of talent. Alas, the Sox are set to sign Bill Mueller to play third, so a rotating third sacker deal probably won't happen. Timo Perez is a possibility since the Expos need a left fielder. The Mets could move Roger Cedeno to center and play Cliff Floyd in left and Jeromy Burnitz in right. The Mets are trying to move Burnitz but may have to resign themselves to keeping him.
There is always the possibility of a young pitcher (like Mike Bacsik, Jason Middlebrook, or Pat Strange) being moved in the deal as well. Whoever it is, the deal does blow a giant hole in the Expos' rotation for this season. Of course as a Phillies fan, I hope the Mets do it. The Mets will pass on Jose Hernandez and Tyler Houston at third, and Hillenbrand will Scotty Cooper his way into oblivion in a few years. Of course, it does obviate shifting light-hitting Rey Sanchez to third, a move I have been salivating over ever since I sniffed rumors of it.
Under-Zeile-ous? My friend Murray writes:
My friend Murray writes:
When you get a chance, check the wire service report about the Mariners' signing of Greg Colbrunn. The quotations from the organization about Colbrunn's leadership qualities--no doubt the missing factor for a team that won 116 games two years ago and that has untested kids like John Olerud and Edgar Martinez on the roster--are typical, but hilarious.
Yeah, I saw that. I don't really get it either. I've always liked Colbrunn, but $1.8 M in this market seems a bit expensive. It only makes sense if they a) expect Edgar to break down and want Colbrunn to replace him as DH, b) want to platoon Olerud with a righty bat at first, or c) want to jettison Jeff Cirillo at third.
Does MMII Equal Collusion IV?
Does MMII Equal Collusion IV?
According to this AP story, the players' union is now asking agents to keep tabs on which teams make offers to which players and for what terms. The thinking is that teh union is preparing the case for collusion suit.
There are a number of odd contracts being floated and a number of non-contracts that players are not receiving (dare I mention Jose Hernandez yet again?). I opined that this trend was due to the new CBA instututionalizing the right environment for suppressing salary growth. Of course, the owners or never loath to surreptitiously, in the vernacular, fix the game. But nothing that I have read would lead me to believe that there is anything else going on.
If it just the wonderful luxury tax and revenue sharing measures doing their intended dirty work, then the players have no one to blame but themselves. Scratch that. They could blame Donald Fehr, who represented them. Perhaps a new union chief to combat a seemingly stronger and more unified management front, would be in order.
I don't blame the union for going this route whatever the cause. When All-Stars are not being offered contracts when free agents and are not even tendored contracts by their current employers in some cases, something fishy may be a foot (a-fin?)
Well, Hell-O Daaly, II I
Well, Hell-O Daaly, II
I just read that Omar Daal's contract is for $7.5 M over two years. Can it be that this team actually competed with the Yankees during their dynastic run? Daal's ERA will climb at least half a run just by swapping his Dodgers Stadium address for Camden Yards (average adjusted ERAs in 2002: Balt 4.38, LA 3.79. I'm being too kind-that's 60 points).
Daal has been subpar for 3 years. He will be 31 in 2003. He has a 4.40 ERA for his career. That's 2% worse than the adjusted average. Here are his career numbers for ERA, WHIP, SO/9 IP, and SO:BB:
Season ERA WHIP SO/9IP SO:BB 1993 5.09 1.61 4.84 0.90 1994 3.29 1.24 5.93 1.80 1995 7.20 2.20 4.95 0.73 1996 4.02 1.27 8.45 2.22 1997 7.06 1.80 6.91 2.10 1998 2.88 1.21 7.30 2.59 1999 3.65 1.24 6.20 1.87 2000 6.14 1.68 5.17 1.33 2001 4.46 1.37 5.19 1.91 2002 3.91 1.21 5.86 1.94 Total 4.40 1.38 6.13 1.83
The O's can point to an improvement in each category over the last three years, but a) after his abysmal 2000 season, things had to imporove and b) who's to say how much Dodgers Stadium had to do with that. His ERA on the road in 2002 was 4.48, and his strikeouts were down and walks up. Anyway, he still is nowhere near his career peak in 1998 (or even 1996).
He may pitch alright, but, more likely, he will be a sligthly-to-very-much worse than average pitcher. Why do you give him $3.75 M per in today's market? It seems that the O's dueling GMs got a little free agent happy.
Meanwhile, Jose Hernandez still can't get a job.
"Honor lies in honest toil"
"Honor lies in honest toil"
That quote was Grover Cleveland's attempt at being humble in his letter accepting the nomination for the presidency in 1884. It sounds good, but...Hey, by the way it worked-he won, twice actually. And he had a Hall-of-Famer named after him.
So what's my point? There is some sort of weblog award doohickey that the weblogs are abuzz over. Why should I be any different?
Here's my pitch: "Vote for Me." It's simple, but it says it.
Wait, I think I'll emulate Cleveland--hey, he did win. Toiling away in the wee hours of the night on Mike's Baseball Rants is reward enough.
"Welcome to the Hall's of
"Welcome to the Hall's of Relief"
You know who invented the relief pitching? Napoleon. No Joke. Napoleon believed tat every battle tended, for reasons of its own, to resolve itself into immobile, equal positions...So on the day of the battle he would take two or three regiments of crack troops, and sequester them a distance from the shooting...Finally, at a key moment in the battle, with everyone else in the field barely able to stand, he would release into the fray a few hundred fresh and alert troops, riding fresh horses and with every piece of their equipment in good repair, attacking the enemy a his most vulnerable spot. He did this many times and with devastating effect-and if that's not relief pitching, I don't know what is.
The other day I read an AP article by Hal Bock regarding the Hall-of-Fame credentials of three eligible relief pitchers: Lee Smith, Goose Gossage, and Bruce Sutter. Bock starts with a brief history of repeats all the old saws regarding the development of the bullpen:
In the beginning, there were no relief pitchers. There were high-quality starters, and there were broken-down starters. The poor souls no longer capable of throwing nine innings became relievers.
Where to start? Decisions. Decisions. I mean no disrespect to Bock, but this is the sort of pap that the media have been promulgating regarding relief pitchers for years. It just taint so.
First, here's another quote from The Bill James Historical Abstract and then I will have a detailed history of the development of relief pitching that may differ slightly from Bock's facile explanation:
Who was the first modern relief pitcher? That question has a dozen correct answers...No question in baseball history is more impossible to answer than the question of when the role of the modern relief pitcher developed. From 1880 to the present , the role of the relief pitcher has never reached an equilibrium; it has been in constant flux...The differences, though the may become subtle if you get far enough away from them, were perceived as significant in each generation, so that every generation of managers since 1920, if asked how the game had changed in the last fifteen or twenty years, has been inclined to say that one of the largest changes was the development of modern relief pitching. I still hear people say that whereas ten or twenty years ago relief pitchers tended to be old, broken down starters, now the bullpen is one of the keys to a team-and in a sense this statement is still true. But people also said exactly the same thing twenty years ago and thirty years ago and forty years ago-and it was just as true then as it is now.
Thank you, Bill. Indeed, relief pitching has changed significantly in the 14 years since James wrote this. We have larger staffs and more pitching changes now. With James' approach to relief pitching as an evolving art form in mind, I would now like to look at relief pitching through the ages and then I will try to identify those relievers who are Hall-worthy.
The manager who first used a relief pitcher regularly, at least in major-league ball, was also the first regular relief pitcher. Who would that be? Well, none other than Hall-of-Fame innovator Harry Wright. Wright inserted himself in almost a third of the 1871 Boston Red Stockings games in key situations, all in relief of star pitcher A.G. Spalding. Wright, regularly the team's center fielder, registered-posthumously-three saves in nine appearances to "lead" the majors. He also won one game, but his 6.27 ERA was more than 2 runs higher than the adjusted league average.
Wright continued to use himself as a reliever over the next four years. He would tie his 1871 total of three saves in 1874, the last year that this "record" stood. Wright retired and first baseman-catcher-center fielder Cal McVey became Wright's next position player cum relief pitcher in 1875. McVey was a primordial Bert Campaneris. He did so well that he briefly became a starting pitcher.
Wright also picked up a young pitcher to give Al Spalding a day off once in a while-he pitched 616.1 in 1874. That pitcher was named Jack Manning and there'll be more on him later. Spalding would obliterate the old saves "record" with 8 in 1875, coming to the aid of the still-developing Manning on nine occasions. He was also 55-5 with a 1.52 ERA with nine strikeouts in 575 innings. Manning would also relieve Spalding on occasion registering 7 saves himself in 10 appearances. This was the first real use of a starting pitcher in a dual role as the bullpen ace. And both pitchers were far from broken-down: Spalding was 24 and Manning, 21.
This was at a time in which substitutes were only allowed after an injury and then only at the allowance of the opponent. As substitutions became more common, opponents denied their use even when players were obviously injured. The rule was changed in the 1880s to allow one replacement with the opponent's approval, called an "unchallenged" substitution. Finally, in 1891 the current substitution rule was introduced. That is that a team was allowed unlimited substitution with the replaced player being ineligible to re-enter the game.
When the National League came into being in 1876, many teams still had only one pitcher. The best teams, however, followed Wright's lead and employed relief pitchers in key situations. The worst teams also had more than one pitcher, but that was mainly due to their lack of confidence in the number-one starter.
Manning led the league with 5 saves in 14 appearances. This was the major-league "record" until 1905. Cal McVey was tied for second with two, having brought relief pitching to the Chicago White Stockings that year.
McVey led the league in 1877 with only two saves. Only four saves were recorded that year and only three pitchers recorded even one (McVey and Manning, now on Cincinnati, and Chicago's A.G. Spalding with one each). Harry Wright and Boston used no relief pitchers that year.
In 1878, only one save was recorded all year, that by Tom Healey of Indianapolis in his one relief appearance. Apparently, opponents were no longer allowing the stronger teams to bring in "fresh troops".
In 1879, George Wright, now the Providence manager, took a page from his brother's book and used starters Monte Ward (10 appearances) and Bobby Mathews (2) as relievers, each registering a save. Those were the only two saves in the league.
Here are the numbers on the 1870s First by relief appearances and then by saves (from 1876 on only):
FirstName LastName Relief Apps GP JACK MANNING 22 6 47 CAL MCVEY 14 4 31 JOHN WARD 10 1 107 AMOS BOOTH 6 0 15 GEORGE BRADLEY 6 0 168 JOE BORDEN 5 1 29 BLONDIE PURCELL 5 0 24 JOE BLONG 5 0 26 CURRY FOLEY 5 0 21 AL SPALDING 4 1 65 MIKE GOLDEN 4 0 22 CHEROKEE FISHER 4 0 29 TRICKY NICHOLS 4 0 54 FirstName LastName Relief Apps Saves JACK MANNING 22 6 CAL MCVEY 14 4 GEORGE ZETTLEIN 3 2 JOE BORDEN 5 1 JOHN PETERS 1 1 FOGHORN BRADLEY 1 1 AL SPALDING 4 1 BOBBY MATHEWS 2 1 JOHN WARD 10 1 DEACON WHITE 1 1 TOM HEALEY 1 1
Here are the annual totals:
Year GP GS SV CG CG% RA P/G #P SP SP% RP RP% SP/RP Swing% 1876 570 520 13 472 90.77% 50 1.096 34 14 41.18% 11 32.35% 9 26.47% 1877 395 360 4 326 90.56% 35 1.097 19 10 52.63% 1 5.26% 8 42.11% 1878 385 368 1 352 95.65% 17 1.046 21 11 52.38% 3 14.29% 7 33.33% 1879 676 642 2 609 94.86% 34 1.053 25 12 48.00% 1 4.00% 12 48.00% (Note: RA = Relief Appearances, P = Pitcher, SP= Staring Pitcher, RP = Relief Pitcher)
Here's a comparison among the starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and swingmen per year:
Here's a comparison among the starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and swingmen per year:
Well, Hell-O Daaly Omar Daal
Well, Hell-O Daaly
Omar Daal sigend a two-year contract today with Baltimore. He was 11-9 with a 3.90 ERA for LA last year. He is expected to be the number 2 or 3 pitcher next year. It sounds like a pretty good pick-up for the O's, right?
Well, what the stats don't tell you is that Daal's ERA was only slightly above the adjusted average for a Dodger pitcher (by 3%). That's not bad, just average. But when you have a staff led by a 27-year-old, 2nd-year pitcher in Rodrigo Lopez, who surprised everyone with a 15-9, 3.57 year last year, as the Orioles do, you cannot afford too many average pitchers.
Besides the rest of the staff is highly suspect. There's 26-year-old Sidney Ponson who may have started to finally become a major-league pitcher after 6 years of trying. He had a career-low 4.09 ERA (7% better than average). His strikeouts per 9 innings, WHIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio improved. He still does give up a lot of home runs though. Ponson and Daal will duke it out for number 2. I think the Orioles would be better served in giving the job to the youngster and allowing him to grow into a reliable starter.
The rest of the staff will be filled by untried rookies (probably 23-year-old John Stephens) and franchise albatross Scotty Erickson, who is in the last year of his contract. They do have a pretty good bullpen led by youngster Jorge Julio though.
That's not much of a staff though when you are competing with the Yankees and Red Sox. With all of the starting pitching talent available and the O's lack of spending of late, couldn't they have opened the coffers for someone better than Daal? I don't mean to dis Omar. He's a solid, average pitcher. He is not, however, the type of pitcher that you want competing for number 2 on your staff, not unless you are not a very good team. And clearly the O's are content with remaining not a very good team--Oh, and with blocking the Expos relocation to abutting D.C. territory. It's pretty clear that this club is not as good as their post All-Star floundering lunges at mediocrity would lead you to believe. Their late-season swoon may have been a better indication of how they'll do in 2003.
Jose, Can You See...A Job
Jose, Can You See...A Job in Your Future?
Jose Hernandez became the punchline to a joke that was the Milwaukee Brewers over the last two seasons. His strikeout numbers reached record proportions each year before the team sat him out. He ended up with 185 in 2001, four short of the record after missing three of the last four Milwaukee games, and 188, one short, in 2002-due mostly to being sat out nine of the last twelve games. His record pace became the biggest story in Milwaukee baseball at the end of the past season. Manager Jerry Royster asserted that he would not allow Hernandez to become a joke while failing to realize that his organization had long been one.
Strikeouts notwithstanding, Hernandez was the best shortstop in the National League in 2002. His OPS of .838 was just behind the (new) Big Three of A-Rod, Nomar Garciaparra, and AL MVP Miguel Tejada. Being in that company, Hernandez should be a hot commodity as a free agent this offseason. Also, consider that only 7 starting shortstops were within 100 OPS points of Hernandez (Chris Woodward would have been, too, but played only 90 games).
In 2002 A-Rod made $21 M and Garciaparra made $8.6 in 2002 (Tejada made just over $3M in his breakout year) and players with inferior stats in 2020 made: Derek Jeter a Yankee-high $14.6 M, Barry Larkin $9 M, Rey Ordonez $6.25 M, Edgar Renteria $6 M, Rich Aurlia $5.25 M, Mike Bordick just under $5M, Royce Clayton, Tony Womack, and Omar Vizquel $4.5 M, Alex Gonzalez $4.25 M, and Neifi Perez $4.1 M. Given these numbers, one would assume that Hernandez should be expecting at least a $2 M upgrade on his 2002 salary of $3.33 M.
However, as Murray Chass reports, Hernandez is having trouble even getting his foot in the GM's door. His list of possible suitors fell to three when the Rockies decided to explore other options.
OK, some would say that his age (33) and defensive limitations (he had a slightly below Range Factor in 2002) may be limiting interest and those interested may be considering shifting him to third, lowering his value. Well, only 5 starting third basemen could match his 2002 OPS.
Others may say that his 2002 was a career year. It was, but not many shortstops had more than his 79 home runs in the last 4 years. Wouldn't an average Hernandez year be a huge improvement over, say, a good Cesar Izturis one?
The most likely destination for Hernandez appears to be third base at Shea, but the Mets have made it clear that they will not be willing to pay dearly for a third sacker. The ever-average Bill Mueller had been in the running but will probably sign with Boston. Chass claims that the Mets are offering a relatively meager sum for they honor of playing third for them:
He [Mets' GM Steve Phillips] signed Rey Sanchez - for a $1.3 million salary and the chance to earn $700,000 in bonuses based on playing time - to keep shortstop warm for JosÚ Reyes. He would like to get Hernandez for a similar total.
This from a team that was spurred by an untried Japanese free agent and has even considered moving weak-hitting Rey Sanchez to third. The last time something like this happened was during baseball's collusion years. I have been pondering all offseason if some sort of collusion was at work now. Chass though may hit the nail on the head with this quote:
"Years ago we called this collusion; now we call it coincidence," one agent said facetiously yesterday. But he added: "In this environment they have reason to say they have to show restraint. We've been hearing the same story from everyone."
What they have done with revenue sharing and the luxury tax is to institutionalize collusion. Everyone is now on the same page because the business of baseball is set up that way. They no longer need backroom meetings and secret agreements. The mechanisms were all put in place in public with the approval of the players' union.
During the remaining six weeks of the offseason and spring training, it will be an interesting power struggle between the remaining free agents and the GMs who claim that the money is dwindling with the days of the offseason. And remember we are still in the first offseason of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. As more big-money contracts expire, what will the coming years have to offer?
Fultzing Around The Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers finished in last place, 18 games below .500, 31 games behind Oakland, and 21 behind next-to-last Seattle, in the AL West last year. And yet the Rangers decided to pass on often-injured backstop Pudge Rodriguez though they have no viable replacement. They have a hole seemingly at every outfield position, and all they did to sign it was replace Todd Hollandsworth with Doug Glanville. They have a starting rotation that ranked in the bottom third in the majors last season (23rd in Baseball Prospectus), and all they did was trade the god-awful Aaron Myette for the just plain awful Ryan Drese while probably staff ace Kenny Rogers to free agency. They also have a rather weak-hitting second baseman.
So where is Texas investing all their time and money in the offseason? Their bullpen. The 2002 Ranger bullpen was very bad (ranked 25th with -22.9 Adjusted Runs Prevented by Baseball Prospectus). The Rangers set relievers Hideki Irabu, John Rocker, and Juan Alvarez free in the offseason. That was wise. Rocker made $2.5 M last year and had an evil 6.66 ERA and 1 save and 3 blown saves in 30 appearances. That was 26% worse than the adjusted league average. He also had a -4.9 Adjusted Runs Prevented. The other two weren't much better: Irabu at $550 K had a 5.74 ERA, 16 saves, 4 BS, 86% adjusted ERA (i.e., 24 points worse than average), and a -0.3 ARP. Alvarez at around the league minimum had a 4.76 ERA, 0 saves, 3 BS, 103 adjusted ERA (3 points better than average), and a -4.3 ARP.
However, the Rangers have opened up the Tom-Hicks-mandated tight purse strings to acquire three questionable relievers this offseason: Esteban Yan, Urgueth Urbina, and now the abysmal Aaron Fultz. In two of the three deals, the terms were not disclosed, but Urbina was signed at $4 M, a $2.7 M cut from 2002. So what will Texas be getting? Urbina was good last year in Boston with a 3.00 ERA, 40 saves, 6 blown, 148 adjusted ERA, and 9.6 ARP (good but not close to the top 30 in the majors). Urbina is a decent pitcher but not the consistently dominant one that most teams demand in the closer spot, but they could spend their money in worse ways.
Yan and Fultz are, as they say, another story. Yan was very average in 2002. He had a 4.30 ERA, 19 saves, 8 blown, 104 adjusted ERA, and 1.2 ARP. He also made $1.5 M. Fultz was poor: 4.79 ERA, 0 saves, 1 blown, 79 adjusted ERA, and -8.0 ARP.
The Rangers correctly identified a deficiency in their team, the bullpen (aside from Francisco Cordero and Jay Powell). But instead of viewing it as an organic issue for their team, that is that their pitching is poor overall, they have decided to jettison the shoddy parts for new average parts. It doesn't seem a winning strategy.
Then again given their starting pitching woes, maybe they are taking the opposite approach to the Yankees' apparent strategy. Whereas The Yankees may go in the season with 8 or 9 starting pitchers on their staff, perhaps the Rangers want to go into spring training with a staff of relievers. It could even be a commendable strategy, if they got some good relievers.
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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