Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: December 2005


January, Month of Empty Pockets!
2005-12-31 12:22
by Mike Carminati

January, month of empty pockets! … let us endure this evil month, anxious as a theatrical producer's forehead.
—"Umpire Nick" Colette

My heart is on a budget.
It keeps me on the brink.

—Anne "Richie" Sexton from "January 1st"

Billy Ray Valentine: Merry New Year!
Mr. Beeks: That's "HAPPY." In this country we say "HAPPY New Year."
Billy Ray: Oh, ho, ho, thank you for correcting my English which stinks!
—"Trading Places"

Happy New Year to you... in jail.

—Mr. Potter's cheerful response in "It's A Wonderful Life" to George Bailey's "Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!" (after Potter pilfered $8,000 from the Bailey family, then issued a warrant for George's arrest just one day earlier, and then suggested that he kill himself for insurance money which Bailey almost did)

Ah, 2005. I can't wait for the VH1 "I (Heart Symbol) the 2000s" episode on this magnificent year. Ah, redolent 2005….good riddance.

If you were a Philly sports fan, 2005 was a wasted year—as are most, come to think of it. Our best team was on strike for half the year. 2005 started with the Eagles reaching and then losing only their second Super Bowl and ended with the team gasping for air and Terrell Owens getting the last laugh.

In baseball, the Phils highlights consisted of young players performing well after being pressed into duty. They even somehow stayed in contention until the last day of the season. Actually, it wasn't until they had played (and won) their last game that they found out that they had lost the wild card to Houston (and the Nationals PA announcer was kind enough to inform those of us in attendance as we strode, heretofore, triumphantly to our cars).

The Phils have since seemingly been passed by the Mets as they opened their coffers—or at least divvied up the money they had been paying to Mo Vaughn to a new batch of free agents. And a new youth movement in Atlanta bodes well for their future. The 2006 Phils seem a solid bet for third as the Nats and Marlins worry more about stadium deals than actually on-field product (and as the Marlins cut unprecedented 70% or so from their payroll).

Amazingly the White Sox came out of nowhere to ride an up-and-down season (or rather up-up-up-down-and-up season) all the way to a World Series victory, their first championship victory since Julio Franco was a rookie or 1917, whichever was later.

In the real world (or rather the made-up world our wives have created to distract us from baseball), the year started with the president beginning his second term. What a difference a year makes. As Paul Krugman points out a year ago, "Mr. Bush [actually] made many Americans feel safe". And we all expected social security to be privatized and the Alaskan wilderness to be completed plundered by now.

A year ago, no one knew what "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" meant. Irony, where was thy sting before 2005? It's amazing to me that we could fit everything from Tom Cruise's

Anyway, December typically has ended with some with more business of baseball matters than baseball matters. I expect such matters to take center stage as the baseball world tires of the spate of Miggy Cairo signings and World Baseball Classic reports. Baseball will start to gird its loins for what could be a protracted labor dispute at season's end. I expect increased threats of the Nationals and Marlins being contracted and/or moved unless a new stadium deal is reached.

So as 2005 ends, it might be interesting to review how past years have ended. Here are past December 31st events with a little help from Baseball Library.

You might notice that the matters changed from business being conducted among the owners prior to free agency to matters between the owners and the players:

Three players purchased from the disbanded Kansas City AA franchise by the National League are divided by lot among the bidding NL clubs. Billy Hamilton is assigned to Philadelphia, while Boston is lucky enough to get both Herman Long and Dan Stearns in the drawing.

Charles H. Ebbets, 38, who "has handled every dollar" entering the Brooklyn club's treasury for the past 15 years, gains a controlling 80 percent interest in the team.

Ban Johnson's efforts to strengthen the New York Yankees succeed when he arranges the purchase of the team by Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Cap Huston for $460,000 from Bill Devery and Frank Farrell. After Detroit owner Navin refuses to let Hugh Jennings go, the new Yankee owners will name longtime Detroit pitcher Bill Donovan as manager. Donovan was recently manager of Providence (IL).

The state of Ohio withdraws a suit against the Reds when owner Bill DeWitt agrees in writing that the club will stay in Cincinnati for 10 years.

Happy New Year. The Yankees sign Catfish Hunter to a 5-year contract worth a reported $3.75 million. This is triple the salary of any other ML player. Catfish will win 40 games over the next two seasons before suffering arm trouble.

The Basic Agreement between players and owners expires, precipitating more than 19 months of bitter negotiations, culminating in the 1981 player strike.

Despite six weeks of negotiations, the Basic Agreement between the players and owners that was reached after the 1981 strike expires. The players are now seeking increased contributions to their pension plan from the clubs' additional television revenues, while the owners are hoping to slow the rapid growth of player salaries.

Baseball's collective bargaining agreement runs out with no new agreement yet signed.

Merry New Year. Let's just hope that 2006 doesn't join this unhappy list.

Trimming the Garland
2005-12-29 09:17
by Mike Carminati

On August 7, Jon Garland allowed one run and five hits in 7.1 innings, striking out three and walking two in a 3-1 win over the M's. He pitched so well that after allowing an RBI single to Ichiro Suzuki in the third, he retired the next 12 batters.

In the process Garland ran his record to 16-5 with a 3.29 ERA and was the AL wins leader. The White Sox ran their record to a major-league leading 72-38 and had a thirteen game lead. (By the way, their 72nd win came the day that they christened a life-size Pudge Fisk statue, and he wore number 72 for Chicago).

The last third of Garland's season was not the unalloyed success the first two-thirds had been. His next win did not come until almost a month later (Sept 4). He only won one other game and that was on the last day of the season, in a meaningless game against the Indians.

Meanwhile Chicago's seemingly insurmountable lead dwindled. On September 10th he allowed five runs on eight hits (two of which were homers) in six innings and blew a two-run lead after two innings in a 10-5 loss to the Angels (whose starter Bartolo Colon ran his record to 19-6). It was the third straight loss by the Sox just as the Indians were winning their sixth straight to close the gap to 6.5 games.

On September 21, a day on which Garland was quoted as saying, "tell them [the reporters] I didn't have it," he lost 8-0 to the Indians to trim their lead to just 2.5 games. Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, he threw a ball behind Jhonny Peralta scoring Grady Sizemore. Then after getting out of a jam in the seventh (second and third and none out), Garland allowed a three-run home run to Travis Hafner with one out in the eighth to seal it.

The White Sox were said to be fading and allusions to the '64 Phils abounded. Chicago held on to win the division as the Indians pulled their own fadeaway act. Garland pitched well in his two postseason starts (2.25 in 16 innings) including a complete-game, 5-2 win over the Angels in the pivotal game three of then-tied ALCS. But one has to wonder why he wasn't save to pitch game one of the Division Series instead of pitching the final day just to knock the Indians out of the wild card race.

Anyway, even with an 18-10 record and 3.50 ERA (27% better than the park-adjusted league average), one would have to say that the season was anything but an unqualified success for Garland. He went 2-5 with three no decisions and a 3.97 ERA down the stretch. After running his record to 8-0 with a 2.41 ERA on May 17, he was an even 10-10 with a 3.90 ERA.

At age 25 even that was a major step forward for Garland, who was coming off a 12-11 2004 season with a league average 4.89 ERA. Actually, in his previous five seasons, Garland only once had an ERA under 4.50 or better than the park-adjusted league average (both coming in 2001).

So what is to be believed the five seasons prior to 2005 in which he was largely a league average starter and the 24 starts after May 17 in which he was a slightly better than average pitcher OR the 8-0 start to the 2005?

I would offer this question rhetorically if it weren't for the ludicrous contract to which the Sox signed Garland yesterday. He will make $29M over the next three years. Now, Garland will be just 26 in 2006 and may be able to recapture his early brilliance from this past season, but for my money, I wouldn't gamble almost $10M a season for the next three years to find out, especially when the pitcher in question would not be eligible for free agency for another season. I would have traded him while his stock was high, but then again, it's not nice to disrupt the post-championship euphoria and its attendant attendance boost.

Then again, this about the umpteenth—umpeen plus one-th one, to be exact—contract that has caused me to shake my head in disbelief this offseason. When was the last time you heard a mention of collusion, something that was being taken as a given by a few agents the last couple of offseasons?

Garland gets a reported $7M in 2006, $10M in 2007, and $12M in 2008. That puts him second all-time among 26-year-old pitchers in terms of salary by my calculations:

Pitcher Yr Tm Salary
Pedro Martinez 1998 BOS $7,575,000
John Garland 2006 CHA $7,000,000
Byung-Hyun Kim 2005 COL $6,575,000
Kerry Wood 2003 CHN $6,190,000
Mark Buehrle 2005 CWS $6,000,000
Ben Sheets 2005 MIL $6,000,000
Javier Vazquez 2003 MON $6,000,000
Ismael Valdes 2000 CHN $5,737,500
Johan Santana 2005 MIN $4,750,000
Joel Pineiro 2005 SEA $4,700,000
Alex Fernandez 1996 CHA $4,500,000
Mark Mulder 2004 OAK $4,450,000
Jaret Wright 2002 CLE $4,312,500
Sidney Ponson 2003 BAL $4,250,000
Greg Maddux 1992 CHN $4,200,000
Steve Avery 1996 ATL $4,200,000
Jeff Weaver 2003 NYA $4,150,000
Mike Hampton 1999 HOU $4,125,000
Eric Milton 2002 MIN $4,000,000

That seems a bit high to me, especially when it's the lowest of the three years in the deal.

Garland had 21 Win Shares in 2005. To put his 2006 salary in perspective, here are all the 25-year-old pitchers with at least 20 Win Shares in the free agent era. For each I have listed their salary in the subsequent season, if available:

Name Yr WS Pitching WS Salary
Bret Saberhagen 1989 28 28.3 $1,400,000
Kevin Appier 1993 27 27.0 $3,800,000
Johan Santana 2004 27 26.8 $4,750,000
Pedro Martinez 1997 26 26.4 $7,575,000
Rich Gossage 1977 26 26.0 N/A
Mike Norris 1980 25 25.2 N/A
Dave Stieb 1983 24 24.4 N/A
Mark Gubicza 1988 24 24.3 $1,375,000
Tom Glavine 1991 23 23.1 $2,975,000
Ben Sheets 2004 21 23.0 $6,000,000
Mike Witt 1986 23 22.5 $1,133,333
Joe Mays 2001 22 22.2 $2,350,000
Roger Clemens 1988 22 21.5 $2,300,000
Mark Eichhorn 1986 21 21.0 $165,500
Fernando Valenzuela 1986 21 21.0 $1,850,000
Roy Halladay 2002 21 21.0 $3,825,000
John Garland 2005 21 21.0 $7,000,000
Andy Pettitte 1997 20 20.3 $3,800,000
Wayne Garland 1976 20 20.2 N/A
Mario Soto 1982 20 20.0 N/A
Bill Caudill 1982 20 19.8 N/A
Charles Nagy 1992 20 19.5 $541,667
Average (w/o Garland) $2,922,700

Yes, a number of these salaries are not representative of today's market. But even compensating for inflation, could Garland be worth almost two and one-half as much as the average from this group ($7M divided by the average is 2.40)?

If you answered "Yes", you may have what it takes to be a major-league GM. Just trace the picture of Bambi and a pirate that come in the attached brochure, send it in to us, and we'll tell you if you too could enter the exciting world of baseball management (that or gun repair). Just send us $19.99 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, wait six to eight weeks, and then (to quote the Dick Van Dyke Show) go outside and scream like a chicken!

Silva Lining
2005-12-28 15:03
by Mike Carminati

The Twins had a rather disappointing season in 2005, losing the division crown they had owned for three seasons and falling all the way to third with an 83-79 record. The Twins revamped their lineup with a number of young players (Justin Morneau, Lew Ford, Joe Mauer, etc.). In fact, they had no starting position player over 31 (Shannon Stewart). Unfortunately, they ended up dead last in runs scored in the American League.

However, their pitching staff was very good all around. They finished with a 3.71 ERA and 118 adjusted ERA and had a good young rotation built around three 26-year-olds. They were Johan Santana, arguably the best pitcher in the AL; Kyle Lohse; and Carlos Silva.

Since being traded by the Phils with Nick Punto for Eric Milton in a deal that is true to the execrable Phils' trading history (though nowhere near as bad as the Sandberg and Jenkins deals), Silva has been one of the most surprising young starters in the AL. He won 14 games in 2004 after having started just one game in his previous major-league career. Then in an injury-plagued 2005, he posted a 3.44 ERA, good for fifth best in the AL.

He also did something that has been done just once since 1919, something that I completely overlooked until a message started floating around the SABR-L online news letter. So what did he do? Silva walked as many men (9) as games he won.

Big deal, right? Well, the poster at SABR-L wanted to know if any other starter had performed such a feat, to allow no more walks than games won. And aside from Bret Saberhagen in 1994, no starter since 1919 has appeared in at least ten games and been able to walk fewer men than the games he won (that's 10 games pitched and at least half being games started).

OK, if that doesn't float your boat. He averaged under one-half walk per nine innings pitched (actually .430). No starter has done that over a full season in over 120 years (.433 by Guy Hecker in 1882). And no one has bettered his walks per nine innings ratio in 125 years (.276 by George Bradley in 1880). The last time someone had a better walks-per-nine-innings ratio, the National League had just changed the bases on balls rule from nine to eight called balls (!).

I have not much more to add, but, "Wow." You just don't see something happen all that often in baseball that hasn't been done in 125 years. I guess that's why they haven't happened in 125 years. It sure beats Haley's comet (and destroys Frehley's Comet).

By the way, no one since 1876 has had fewer strikeouts than wins. Of course, they had not yet arrived at the three-strikes-yer-out rule. And for the truly trivia-starved, only eighteen starters have had fewer strikeout and fewer walks than wins.

All of the above is listed below in tabular form for the insomniacs in the crowd:

Carlos Silva 2005 9 8 .529 9 71 27 27 3.44
Bret Saberhagen 1994 14 4 .778 13 143 24 24 2.74
Slim Sallee 1919 21 7 .750 20 24 29 28 2.06
Christy Mathewson 1914 24 13 .649 23 80 41 35 3.00
Christy Mathewson 1913 25 11 .694 21 93 40 35 2.06
George Bradley 1884 25 15 .625 23 168 41 38 2.71
Henry Boyle 1884 15 3 .833 10 88 19 16 1.74
Jim Whitney 1883 37 21 .638 35 345 62 56 2.24
Guy Hecker 1882 6 6 .500 5 33 13 11 1.30
Denny Driscoll 1882 13 9 .591 12 59 23 23 1.21
Fred Goldsmith 1880 21 3 .875 18 90 26 24 1.75
George Bradley 1880 13 8 .619 6 54 28 20 1.38
Pud Galvin 1879 37 27 .578 31 136 66 66 2.28
John Ward 1879 47 19 .712 36 239 70 60 2.15
Tommy Bond 1879 43 19 .694 24 155 64 64 1.96
Terry Larkin 1879 31 23 .574 30 142 58 58 2.44
Tommy Bond 1878 40 19 .678 33 182 59 59 2.06
Tommy Bond 1877 40 17 .702 36 170 58 58 2.11
George Bradley 1876 45 19 .703 38 103 64 64 1.23
Tommy Bond 1876 31 13 .705 13 88 45 45 1.68
Candy Cummings 1876 16 8 .667 14 26 24 24 1.67
Al Spalding 1876 47 12 .797 26 39 61 60 1.75
Al Spalding 1875 55 5 .917 14 9 72 63 1.52
Cherokee Fisher 1875 22 19 .537 9 8 41 41 1.92
Bobby Mathews 1875 29 38 .433 23 10 70 70 2.41
Candy Cummings 1875 35 12 .745 6 8 48 47 1.60
Jack Manning 1875 15 2 .882 14 10 27 17 2.19
Tommy Bond 1875 19 16 .543 10 8 40 39 1.56
George Bradley 1875 33 26 .559 16 9 60 60 2.05
George Zettlein 1875 29 22 .569 16 18 52 52 2.04
Joe Blong 1875 3 12 .200 2 11 15 15 3.35
Dick McBride 1875 44 14 .759 25 10 60 60 1.97
Al Spalding 1874 52 16 .765 23 11 71 69 2.35
Tommy Bond 1874 22 32 .407 10 11 55 55 3.19
Bobby Mathews 1874 42 22 .656 39 10 65 65 2.30
Candy Cummings 1874 28 26 .519 21 11 54 54 2.88
Cherokee Fisher 1874 14 23 .378 10 11 39 35 3.04
Dick McBride 1874 33 22 .600 29 10 55 55 2.55
Al Spalding 1873 41 14 .745 28 31 60 55 2.46
Dick McBride 1872 30 14 .682 26 44 47 47 3.01
George Zettlein 1872 15 16 .484 14 25 34 31 2.67
Al Spalding 1872 38 8 .826 27 27 48 48 1.98
Candy Cummings 1872 33 20 .623 30 43 55 55 2.52


Al Spalding 1876 47 12 .797 26 39 61 60 1.75
Cherokee Fisher 1875 22 19 .537 9 8 41 41 1.92
Al Spalding 1875 55 5 .917 14 9 72 63 1.52
Jack Manning 1875 15 2 .882 14 10 27 17 2.19
George Zettlein 1875 29 22 .569 16 18 52 52 2.04
Bobby Mathews 1875 29 38 .433 23 10 70 70 2.41
George Bradley 1875 33 26 .559 16 9 60 60 2.05
Dick McBride 1875 44 14 .759 25 10 60 60 1.97
Candy Cummings 1875 35 12 .745 6 8 48 47 1.60
Tommy Bond 1875 19 16 .543 10 8 40 39 1.56
Al Spalding 1874 52 16 .765 23 11 71 69 2.35
Bobby Mathews 1874 42 22 .656 39 10 65 65 2.30
Candy Cummings 1874 28 26 .519 21 11 54 54 2.88
Cherokee Fisher 1874 14 23 .378 10 11 39 35 3.04
Dick McBride 1874 33 22 .600 29 10 55 55 2.55
George Zettlein 1874 27 30 .474 46 12 57 57 3.07
Tommy Bond 1874 22 32 .407 10 11 55 55 3.19
George Zettlein 1873 36 15 .706 41 28 51 51 2.70
Jim Britt 1873 17 36 .321 40 15 54 54 3.89
Bill Stearns 1873 7 25 .219 15 4 32 32 4.55
Asa Brainard 1873 5 7 .417 9 3 14 14 4.14
Al Spalding 1873 41 14 .745 28 31 60 55 2.46
Al Spalding 1872 38 8 .826 27 27 48 48 1.98
Asa Brainard 1872 2 9 .182 5 1 11 11 6.52
Phonney Martin 1872 3 9 .250 6 3 18 12 4.86
John McMullin 1871 12 15 .444 75 12 29 29 5.53
Dick McBride 1871 18 5 .783 40 15 25 25 4.58
Al Spalding 1876 47 12 .797 26 39 61 60 1.75
Candy Cummings 1875 35 12 .745 6 8 48 47 1.60
Jack Manning 1875 15 2 .882 14 10 27 17 2.19
George Zettlein 1875 29 22 .569 16 18 52 52 2.04
George Bradley 1875 33 26 .559 16 9 60 60 2.05
Dick McBride 1875 44 14 .759 25 10 60 60 1.97
Al Spalding 1875 55 5 .917 14 9 72 63 1.52
Cherokee Fisher 1875 22 19 .537 9 8 41 41 1.92
Tommy Bond 1875 19 16 .543 10 8 40 39 1.56
Bobby Mathews 1875 29 38 .433 23 10 70 70 2.41
Al Spalding 1874 52 16 .765 23 11 71 69 2.35
Bobby Mathews 1874 42 22 .656 39 10 65 65 2.30
Cherokee Fisher 1874 14 23 .378 10 11 39 35 3.04
Dick McBride 1874 33 22 .600 29 10 55 55 2.55
Tommy Bond 1874 22 32 .407 10 11 55 55 3.19
Candy Cummings 1874 28 26 .519 21 11 54 54 2.88
Al Spalding 1873 41 14 .745 28 31 60 55 2.46
Al Spalding 1872 38 8 .826 27 27 48 48 1.98


Candy Cummings 1875 35 12 .745 6 8 48 47 1.60 .129
Joe Blong 1875 3 12 .200 2 11 15 15 3.35 .140
Tommy Bond 1874 22 32 .407 10 11 55 55 3.19 .181
Al Spalding 1875 55 5 .917 14 9 72 63 1.52 .219
Cherokee Fisher 1875 22 19 .537 9 8 41 41 1.92 .227
George Zettlein 1876 4 20 .167 6 10 28 25 3.88 .231
Cherokee Fisher 1876 4 20 .167 6 29 28 24 3.02 .235
Bill Stearns 1875 1 14 .067 4 15 17 16 5.36 .255
Tommy Bond 1875 19 16 .543 10 8 40 39 1.56 .256
George Bradley 1875 33 26 .559 16 9 60 60 2.05 .269
Bill Stearns 1872 0 11 .000 3 2 11 11 6.91 .273
George Bradley 1880 13 8 .619 6 54 28 20 1.38 .276
Cherokee Fisher 1874 14 23 .378 10 11 39 35 3.04 .284
Tommy Bond 1876 31 13 .705 13 88 45 45 1.68 .287
George Zettlein 1875 29 22 .569 16 18 52 52 2.04 .311
Tricky Nichols 1875 4 29 .121 10 10 34 33 3.03 .313
Bobby Mathews 1875 29 38 .433 23 10 70 70 2.41 .330
George Bechtel 1875 5 13 .278 6 24 18 18 3.56 .333
Al Spalding 1874 52 16 .765 23 11 71 69 2.35 .336
Hugh Campbell 1873 2 16 .111 7 5 19 18 2.84 .382
Tommy Bond 1879 43 19 .694 24 155 64 64 1.96 .389
Candy Cummings 1874 28 26 .519 21 11 54 54 2.88 .392
Dick McBride 1875 44 14 .759 25 10 60 60 1.97 .418
Bobby Mathews 1876 21 34 .382 24 37 56 56 2.86 .419
Carlos Silva 2005 9 8 .529 9 71 27 27 3.44 .430
Guy Hecker 1882 6 6 .500 5 33 13 11 1.30 .433


Lowest BB/9IP Since 1900 Yr W L PCT BB K G GS ERA BB/9IP
Carlos Silva 2005 9 8 .529 9 71 27 27 3.44 .430
Hal Brown 1963 5 11 .313 8 68 26 20 3.31 .509
Earl Yingling 1913 8 8 .500 10 40 26 13 2.58 .614
Babe Adams 1920 17 13 .567 18 84 35 33 2.16 .616
Christy Mathewson 1913 25 11 .694 21 93 40 35 2.06 .618
Bret Saberhagen 1994 14 4 .778 13 143 24 24 2.74 .660
Christy Mathewson 1914 24 13 .649 23 80 41 35 3.00 .663
Cy Young 1904 26 16 .619 29 200 43 41 1.97 .687
Red Lucas 1933 10 16 .385 18 40 29 29 3.40 .737
Jon Lieber 2002 6 8 .429 12 87 21 21 3.70 .766
Bob Tewksbury 1992 16 5 .762 20 91 33 32 2.16 .773
Saberhagen Plus One
2005-12-27 10:02
by Mike Carminati

I've seen teams try to emulate another's highly coveted staff by grabbing former members of that staff. Everyone wanted the Mets' rotation in Eighties and the Braves' in the Nineties. But why are Rangers trying to recreate the 2003 Phils' rotation, a staff with a 4.04 ERA, good for 7th in the NL that year?

The traded for the enigmatic Vicente Padilla earlier in the offseason. Now they have signed Kevin Millwood to either a 4-year, $48M or 5-year, $60M offer, depending on who you ask, to reunite the two 14-game winners from the 2003 Phils rotation. Wake me up when they sign Joe Roa.

The details of the Millwood signing are expected to be made public tomorrow after he passes a physical and takes the anti-Chan Ho Park vitamins. I hope for the Rangers' sake, that they sign him for the full five years, since that will give them better odds at getting at least two good years out of Millwood.

Millwood is sort of a David Nied on steroids—excuse the analogy—a guy from the highly touted Braves coffers who has been somewhat of a disappointment. Or maybe a better comparison is Bret Saberhagen. For a long stretch of Saberhagen's career, the pitcher would alternate good and bad years, sort of like Star Trek movies ("What does god need with a starship?"—Oopha!).

Millwood has produced one good season in every three since coming up with the Braves in 1997. One of the three just happened to be this past one in Cleveland, in which he posted a 2.86 ERA to lead the AL (though he was tied for second in adjusted ERA). The friggin' guy finally had the season that the Phils faithless had hoped for after wading through two years that began with a perfect game and then ran the gamut through mediocrity to just plain awful.

The problem for the Rangers is that he isn't due for another until 2008. Millwood posted a 162 adjusted ERA and won 18 games in 1999, his third year. His numbers in 2002 were 18 wins and a 127 adjusted ERA. And in 2005 though he went 9-11, his adjusted ERA was 143. That's an average adjusted ERA of 143 for those three years

Wow! He looks like a staff ace. Sign 'em up.

Oh, but wait, he pitched six other years in that stretch, and did not have an adjusted ERA better than 104 during the span. His worst was a 90 adjusted ERA in 2004 with the Phils. His average adjusted ERA was just about the league average (100) for these six seasons.

The odd thing is that most of his other ratios besides WHIP stay about the same over the span. Here are his career totals and then his stats divided into his good seasons (1999, 2002, and 2005) and the not-so-good:

Career 107 75 .588 258 1,559.1 3.76 4.28 114 1.243 7.39 2.70 0.91
Good 45 26 .634 98 637.0 2.92 4.18 143 1.118 7.47 3.01 0.85
Bad 62 49 .559 160 922.1 4.34 4.33 100 1.330 7.33 2.52 0.96

I don't know about you, but I'm not paying $12M per season for two years to get the next great season from Millwood. Then again, these are the Rangers. They have to spent that $12M or so that they were handing over to Park for the last few seasons, bless them. (Are they still paying the Padres for taking Park off their hands last year?)

By the way, just to tick off Bill O'-Lie-ly, er, O'Reilly, Happy Holidays!

Oh, and for those who got the Haircut 100 reference in the headline, we salute you. Fire!

Hope Winters Eternal
2005-12-22 09:24
by Mike Carminati

Yesterday, there were a few moves that smack of, if not desperation, at least an extremely hopeful spirit brought on by the holiday season. But maybe it's insanity clause not Santa Claus that will coming down their chimneys this Festivus.

Witness: The Cardinals signed Sidney Ponson, a man whose scandal last season with the O's was eclipsed by the Rafael Palmeiro steroid circus. After a DUI arrest last August, the O's voided his ludicrous three-year, $22.5 M contract in the middle of the first year (and then said a collective, "Phew!"). He now claims that after a drying process quicker than the Waco Kid's in "Blazing Saddles", he is ready to step back into a major-league rotation. We'll see.

But I would contend that Ponson, DUI or no DUI, isn't the pitcher that I would hang a rotation spot on, or strained metaphors to that effect. The guy had a career year in 2003, and frankly even that year wasn't that great. That year, he won a career-high 17 games, a career-low 3.75 ERA, and career-high 115 Adjusted ERA (along with a 1.259 WHIP, a 5.58 strikeouts per nine innings, a 2.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and just 0.67 homers allowed per nine innings pitched), all respectable numbers. For a number three starter. In an average year.

OK, maybe that's a bit harsh but at best Ponson's image got a bit of boost by becoming the trade deadline sweetheart, and eventually was traded to the Giants. By the way, that was an atrocious trade for the O's after so much hoopla. They received three players, only two of which have played in the majors in the last two and one half seasons, and those two (Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss) went a collective 1-6 for the Orioles. Neither pitched in the majors in 2005.

But even if we concede that 2003 was the stellar year that the O's thought and apparently the Cards now think—GM Jocketty said "We signed him…based on his past career"— it was, Ponson has pitched seven other seasons and has the following career numbers when we remove the 2003 stats: 59-79, 4.99 ERA, 1.470 WHIP, 5.40 K/9 IP, 1.74 K:BB ratio, and 1.25 HR/9 IP in 202 games, 191 starts, and 1,227.1 innings pitched. Those are execrable numbers.

Maybe he would be worth a spring let's-see if he did not have so much baggage as well. Who needs a guy struggling to make the tail-end of the rotation who will be a major distraction? Who needs the press hovering around a marginal player to dreg up his history? And who needs to waste between $1M and $2.5M for the privilege?

That wasn't even the oddest pickup of the day for the Cardinals. They also signed Brian Daubach, who is about four years past his expiration date and is now 34 (!). Besides, this isn't like signing an aging Eric Karros to spell your starting first baseman on occasion or to DH in an interleague game. Daubach never was that good in his heyday. He was a decent guy to threw at first, a corner outfield spot, or DH for about three years in his Red Sox career. Somehow (arbitration?) he landed a $2.325M contract with the Red Sox in 2002, and his career has been careening out of control ever since. At least they did sign him to a minor-league deal.

Finally, St. Louis also signed pitcher John Riedling to a minor-league contract yesterday. "So what?" you say?

Well, Riedling had been the highest-paid Marlin in 2005 to remain a Marlin so far this offseason. He made $750K in 2005, which tied him with Damion Easley for the 16th highest on the team (not including Paul Quantrill and Ron Villone whose 2005 salary, or at least the bulk of it, was paid by another team. Riedling had been listed on the Marlins roster when I investigated the payroll cuts over the past month. Somehow (was he non-tendered?) he became a free agent and signed with the Cards.

All 18 players who were on the Marlins roster in 2005 and who made at least as much as Riedling were already gone by yesterday. Now, the highest salary from 2005 that is still on the roster is Brian Moehler's $400K, just the 20th highest on the team, ignoring Quantrill and Villone (though Moehler re-signed for $1.5M in 2006). Lenny Harris ($425M in 2005) also re-signed, but to a minor-league deal, so he's not on the 40-man roster.

That means that that 69% of the Marlins 2005 payroll has now been jettisoned ($41,308,834 of $60,593,334 by my calculations). I estimate that after arbitration their payroll will be just $18,750,000, just $10M above the mandated league-minimum payroll ($8 M based on 25 players at $320K).

In related news two California teams traded problems. The Giants got 40-year-old Virginian Steve Finley (actually, Tennessean but there are no Steve Carrell references that I could extract from that) for flagging third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo. Talk about a lump of coal in your stocking. Both teams received a proverbial towel from Frank Cross as opposed to the VCR (yes, that was a different era).

A former star in Flushing, Alfonzo's career has been in a funk since joining the Giants three years ago. He is owed $7M from the fourth year of a $26 million, four-year deal he inked with San Fran back in 2002. He has registered Adjusted OPSs of 90, 93, and 79 in his Giant career (maybe David Bell aint so bad).

However, where I am sitting, the Giants got the—er, let's say short end of the stick in the deal. Finley is owed $8M in the final year of a two-year, $14 M deal. He was awful in 2005 (73 adjusted OPS) and is nine years Alfonzo's senior. Alfonzo may bounce back but Finley, even with the switch back to the NL, is highly unlikely to do so at age 41.

Besides, Finley is expected to back up Barry Bonds in left, Randy Winn in center, and Moises Alou in right. Given that Bonds is 41 and Alou is 39, it seemed that the last thing the Giants needed to add to the outfield was more aging players.

Alfonzo has a decent shot at starting at either second or third. Both players had seemed to lose their jobs on the old teams with Pedro Feliz apparently set to take over third in San Fran—at age thirty already: how cautious can the Giants be?—and Chone "Kruk's MVP" Figgins set to patrol center in Anaheim of Los Angeles. So basically it was a trade of big-salary players in their final contract year, who had essentially lost their jobs.

In any case, it looks like the Giants aging outfield will make history. There has never been a team who had three outfielders play at least 50 games each and who were at least 39 years old. The most was two by the '42 Braves (39-year-old Paul Waner and 41-year-old Johnny Cooney) and the 1927-28 A's (Ty Cobb, 40-41, and Zack Wheat, 39 in 1927, and Tris Speaker, 40 in 1928). However, in all three of those cases just one player started (Waner and Cobb) and the other came off the bench. The Giants are one injury to Winn away from the first 39-and-over outfield in baseball history. That's a gated outfield. All other outfielders will need to talk to the security guard to have an older outfielder buzz him in.

Then again, it's far more likely that one or more of the elder outfielders will miss time. Alou's 123 games in 2005 were the most in the trio. In any case, expect a spate of triples to rattle around the outfield in 2006 at whatever they call the ballpark in San Fran these days.

Inner Damons
2005-12-21 15:15
by Mike Carminati
BERNSTEIN (to Leland): What's the matter?

LELAND: Mr. Bernstein, these men who are now with the "Enquirer" - who were with the "Chronicle" until yesterday - weren't they just as devoted to the "Chronicle" kind of paper as they are now to - our kind of paper?

BERNSTEIN Sure. They're like anybody else. They got work to do. They do it. (Proudly) Only they happen to be the best men in the business.

—Citizen Kane "Davis" with the great Joseph Cotton (Leland) and the David Paymer precursor Everett Sloane (Bernstein) discussing the acquisition by their boss, Charlie Kane, of the entire staff from a better-established, rival paper

The Yankees signed Johnny Damon to reportedly a four-year, $52 M contract yesterday, thereby filling their biggest need, a center fielder who can field and hit above the proverbial replacement level. However, as the Yankees organization unfreezes the caveman—giving him a proper haircut a la Mrs. Howell chasing members of the Beatles ripoff band, the Mosquitoes, with scissors on Gilligan's Island, shaving him, and removing the Brundlefly expectorant from his batting helmet—one has to wonder how this erstwhile son of the Red Sox Nation will be received by the Yankee throng.

I guess if he can hit better than Bubba Crosby and throw better than Bernie Williams, the Yankee faithful will chant his name along with the rest of the starting lineup. However, one has to wonder with all if the identities of these two storied franchises and longtime rivals are getting rather incestuously intermingled.

I am reminded of the Star-Belly and Plain-Belly Sneetches applying and removing stars until no one knew "Whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one was what one or what one was who." (and Sylvester McMonkey McBean had all their money—god, I love Dr. Seuss).

Last year, the Red ox needed a pitcher and picked up an old Bronx favorite, Boomer Wells. The Yankees picked up former Red Sock favorite Mark Bellhorn mid-season. And Mike Stanton's entire career seems to be based on which of the two teams happens to need a lefty short reliever (and throw in the Mets as well, who have identity problems of their own with their big brother from the Bronx).

The big push for Damon seemed to be ratcheted up when the Yankees signed former Boston sinkerballer Mike Myers, and Myers called for the Damon signing—as if the Yankes needed the advice.

So next year you might see Boomer Wells pitching for the Red Sox to Johnny Damon, batting for the Yankees. Odd!

This commingling of identities gets all the odder when one considers that one team is considered by many in baseball fandom as the "Evil Empire" and the other is America's sweetheart. I leave it to the reader to determine which team is which in that equation. Of course, that doesn't reflect my opinion, but it does seem to be representative of the opinion of the baseball hoi polloi .

Last year the Yankees had a whopping eight former Red Sox on their roster: Bellhorn, John Flaherty, Rey Sanchez, Tom Gordon, Paul Qauntrill, Alan Embree, Mike Stanton, and Ramiro Mendoza. The Sox had three ex-Yanks: Stanton, John Olerud, and Wells.

A total of eleven turncoats between the two rosters was more than double the number from the previous season (5) and was the highest total in over seventy years (there were 12 in 1933).

This comes after the teams had a rather austere approach to the other team's ex-players for many years. From 1983 to 1992 the two teams had more than one of the other's ex-players just once (Don Baylor and Tim Lollar on the 1986 Red Sox). And for eight of the ten years in this period, there was no more than one player between the two teams who had played for the other team previously.

So what does it all mean? It's only natural for a team to go after players whom they face often and who perform well when the do meet. Perhaps the field gets rather limited for free agents when you consider that they have the two biggest payrolls by far in baseball and both have been extremely active in acquiring players.

So maybe it's a mere byproduct of the economics of the game today, but I have to confess that I have the same reservations that Joseph Cotton had in the quote above. So many players switching sides can't be good for the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. Many of the fans cheering Damon in my hypothetical at-bat above will probably be wearing an ever-popular Boomer Wells "Hero" T-shirt. The same goes for the Damon-toupee doffing crew at Fenway. And we thought that Red Sox fans needed therapy before?

Here are the years that the Yanks and Sox had the most cross-pollination. It's no surprise that the bulk were in the Frazee years:

Contract High
2005-12-19 21:47
by Mike Carminati

Ah, the holidays. Endless checkout lines at the malls. "A Brady Family Christmas", Heat-Miser, and tender family classics about suicides and angels pepper our plasma screens. Pointless lists of stillborn thoughts abound—you get the idea.

But while we you have visions of sugar plums foxtrotting in your brain—and I ponder whose brilliant idea it was to have Christmas and Hanukah on the same friggin' day—Major League Baseball seems to have visions of contraction pirouetting in their extremely limited gray matter.

The Marlins unloaded the last multi-million-dollar contract they had left on the roster, sending Ron Villone and his $2 M contract to the Yankees for, I believe, a personal appearance from Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson, or maybe it was another minor-league arm, the umpteenth plus two-eth one that they have collected this offseason. Villone will be another drop in the bucket but in Miami he was the last player not getting league minimum (and last year his contract was eaten by Seattle), at least until Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera go through arbitration.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball's version of Dick Cheney (with apologies to Cheney), Bob DuPuy, went on the offensive in DC. He said that Baseball and the D.C. area was "at a crossroads", and like Eric Clapton and Robert Johnson, DuPuy expects the entire city to fall down on their knees:

"We used our best efforts to reach closure with the Council to ensure the future of the Washington Nationals in the District of Columbia," DuPuy said in a letter addressed to Council Chairman Linda Cropp. "If the Council fails to approve the lease, we would be at a crossroads."

Hmm…what could he mean by "crossroads"? Quoth DuPuy, "The Baseball Stadium Agreement (BSA) requires lease approval by the end of this month… If the lease is not approved by then, the city will be in default on its contractual commitments and we will then have no choice but to prepare for arbitration."

Prepare for arbitration? What could that mean…

"In arbitration, all prior concessions by MLB would be revisited." Oh, I see. Sayonara Nationals.

Not only that but DuPuy applied the screws to Washington's collective thumbs by setting them up for some sort of compensatory damages lawsuit or at least the threat thereof: "Although not required by the BSA, we agreed to do it [meet a number of demands from the DC council] and to bear the associated costs, which are substantial." The guy is the master of sleaze.

In 2002 baseball threatened to contract two teams, reportedly the Twins and then Expos, though they tried to scare as many fanbases as possible by not truly disclosing the specific teams targeted. At the end of 2006, baseball appears set to explore contracting the neo-Expos and apparently the Marlins out of existence. The Marlins are turning into the Cleveland Spiders Mach II, and the Spiders were one of the teams contracted the last time, 106 years ago--remember? The only plus I see is that the Phils can no longer finish lower than third in the revamped NL East in 2007. Though I'm being a bit selfish there.

Refried Fish
2005-12-16 22:23
by Mike Carminati

At the risk of not just beating, but pummeling to fine pulp, I want to take one final look at the vivisection of the Florida Marlins. I've estimated that the Marlins have sliced off over $57 M of the $60 M they committed to players last season.

Of course, some of the remaining players will get salary increases given the extra year of experience. I estimated that Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera would be bumped up to about $5M each after arbitration. Brian Moehler just re-signed for $1.5M (up from $400K in 2005). All tolled, assuming that the Marlins fill in their remaining roster spots with league-minimum salaries, I estimate that they will have a team payroll of a little over $19M or almost $41M less than last year. It's also only about double the league minimum payroll ($8M based on 25 players at league minimum, $320K).

They will in effect have cut two-thirds of their payroll in one offseason. Has anything like this ever happened before? I can't imagine it.

Unfortunately, most player salaries and team payrolls were not published until about 20 years ago, and most of what we have until recently we have thanks to the late Doug Pappas. I ran the payroll numbers and here are the teams that cut 40% or more of their salary in one year (including only teams with complete payroll numbers):<.p>
TeamYr Payroll Prev PayrollDiff
Texas Rangers2004 55,050,417 103,491,667-48,441,250
Cleveland Indians2003 48,584,834 78,909,449-30,324,615
Cincinnati Reds1998 23,005,000 49,768,000-26,763,000
Toronto Blue Jays2003 51,269,000 76,864,333-25,595,333
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2002 34,380,000 56,980,000-22,600,000
Pittsburgh Pirates2004 32,227,929 54,812,429-22,584,500
Baltimore Orioles2004 51,623,333 73,877,500-22,254,167
Arizona Diamondbacks2003 80,657,000 102,819,999-22,162,999
Florida Marlins1999 21,085,000 41,322,667-20,237,667
New York Mets2004 96,660,970 116,876,429-20,215,459
Toronto Blue Jays1996 30,555,083 50,590,000-20,034,917

Unfortunately, the Marlins are going to have a tough time topping the 2004 Rangers who cut over $48M from their payroll. Losing A-Rod helped, but he only got them halfway there. Of course, the Rangers went from one of the highest payrolls in baseball to around the league average (which was $59,304,725 in 2004). The Marlins are attempting to go from league average (actually about $5M below it) to about $10M less than any other team.

What if instead we looked at the percentage of payroll lost:

TeamYr Payroll Prev PayrollDiff% Change
Cincinnati Reds1998 23,005,000 49,768,000-26,763,000-54%
Pittsburgh Pirates1997 10,771,667 23,017,500-12,245,833-53%
Florida Marlins1999 21,085,000 41,322,667-20,237,667-49%
Cleveland Indians1992 9,373,044 17,635,000-8,261,956-47%
Texas Rangers2004 55,050,417 103,491,667-48,441,250-47%
Washington Nationals1998 10,641,500 19,295,500-8,654,000-45%
Oakland Athletics1996 21,243,000 37,739,225-16,496,225-44%
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2003 19,630,000 34,380,000-14,750,000-43%
San Diego Padres1994 14,916,333 25,511,333-10,595,000-42%
Pittsburgh Pirates2004 32,227,929 54,812,429-22,584,500-41%
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2002 34,380,000 56,980,000-22,600,000-40%
Toronto Blue Jays1996 30,555,083 50,590,000-20,034,917-40%

It looks like the Marlins are doing something that's never been done before—well, at least in recent memory and if some like Connie Mack cut two-thirds of his payroll, it was never with salary numbers like these.

I repeat, this looks to be an historic season ahead for the Marlins. Whether the end game is contraction, relocation, the sale of the club, or just to extort a new stadium from the locals, I cannot say. But this team has been thoroughly disemboweled. If there are any fans left in Miami, I pity them, and that's something coming from a Phillies fan.

Fish Gutted and Fried…And Then There Were Three
2005-12-15 12:23
by Mike Carminati

I took a look at the dismemberment of the Marlins (or is it filleting?) a couple of weeks ago and found that the team had cut their payroll by about $25M from $65M to $40M.

I also looked at the high turnover on the Red Sox going into their second season after winning the World Series. One of the comments on that post asked how the Marlins would compare if we were to extend the study to a third year.

Well, given that the Crazy Marlins have unloaded everything that was not tied—or more to the point every player who was tied down, to a contract—I thought it would be interesting to revisit the floundering fish.

As for the team turnover, the Marlins have just three players left from the 2003 championship team: Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, and Nate Bump, all of whom were rookies in 2003. Since I wrote the first piece on Florida about three weeks ago they have traded away their starting second baseman for the past seven seasons Luis Castillo (who had been with the team since 1996), their veteran catcher Paul Lo Duca, and their center fielder Juan Pierre.

Miguel Cabrera is the only starting position player from this past season who is still with the team. In fact, of the ten players who had more than 134 at-bats for the team in 2005, he's the sole survivor. Willis and Jason Vargas are the only starting pitchers with at least 5 starts for the Marlins in 2005 to still call Florida their home. In the pen there is just one pitcher remaining who made at least 30 appearances in 2005 (Bump).

The Marlins have no players remaining from the 15 who made at least $1M in 2005. Their two young stars, Cabrera and Willis, could become trade bait after they go through arbitration and get what I would expect are very large salary increases. From an estimated $65M payroll in 2005, Florida has now pared $60,993,334 through trades and free agent departures. That is unbelievable. Until arbitration John Riedling with his $750 salary is the highest paid Marlin.

I wouldn't be surprised if they waived vets Ron Villone ($1,950,000 in 2005 with the M's and Marlins, paid by the M's) and Riedling. That would leave them with no player who made more than $378,500 in 2005 (Willis).

The minimum possible team payroll in 2006 would be $8M (i.e., league minimum, $320K, for all 25 players). I estimate that the Marlins 2006 salary (even with Riedling still in the fold and with the three holdovers from 2003 getting salary bumps through arbitration) being about $18M. If the Marlins complete their housekeeping, they could get below $18M.

This team has been thoroughly gutted with not so much as an "I say!" from commissioner Bud. And let's make no mistake here: this is an historic housecleaning. This is beyond anything that Connie Mack or Charlie O. Finley ever tried.

Here's an update to their team payroll by player:

Player2005 Salary2006 status2006 Salary
Mike Lowell$7,500,000 Traded to Red Sox
Al Leiter$7,000,000 No longer with team
Luis Castillo$5,166,667 Traded to Twins
Paul Lo Duca$4,666,667 Traded to Mets
Juan Encarnacion$4,435,000 Free Agent
Carlos Delgado$4,000,000 Traded to Mets
Juan Pierre$3,700,000 Traded To Cubs
A.J. Burnett$3,650,000 Free Agent
Alex Gonzalez$3,400,000 Free Agent
Jeff Conine$3,000,000 Free Agent
Guillermo Mota$2,600,000 Traded to Red Sox
Josh Beckett$2,400,000 Traded to Red Sox
Ismael Valdez$1,500,000 Free Agent
Todd Jones$1,100,000 Free Agent
Jim Mecir$1,100,000 Free Agent
Damion Easley$750,000 Free Agent
John Riedling$750,000 ?$750,000
Matt Perisho$475,000 No longer with team
Lenny Harris$425,000 Free Agent
Brian Moehler$400,000 Free Agent
Dontrelle Willis$378,500 $5,000,000
Miguel Cabrera$370,000 $5,000,000
Nate Bump$360,000 $500,000
Chris Aguila$316,000 New OF$320,000
Matt Treanor$316,000 New C$320,000
Antonio Alfonseca$300,000 Free Agent, option declined
Mike Mordecai$425,000 Free Agent
Paul Quantrill$3,000,000 Free Agent
Jason Vargas?SP$320,000
Randy Messenger ?RP$320,000
Ron Villone $1,950,000 ?
Valerio de los Santos??$320,000
Scott Olsen?SP$320,000
Chris Resop?RP$320,000
Josh Johnson ?SP$320,000
Robert Andino?New SS?$320,000
Jeremy Hermida?New OF$320,000
Joe Dillon ?New 2B or UT?$320,000
Josh Willingham ?New C?$320,000
Josh Wilson ?New 2B?$320,000
Ryan Jorgensen ?New C?$320,000
Alfredo Amezaga$0 New 3B?$320,000
Mike Jacobs$0 New 1B or C$320,000
Hanley Ramirez$0 New SS?$320,000
Sergio Mitre$0 $350,000
Total$65,433,834 $ 17,040,000

(Notes: Mordecai is based on 2004. Quantrill's 2005 contract was with the Yankees. Villone's 2005 salary was paid by the Mariners.)

Having only three players remaining from a championship team three years later is the lowest total ever, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Marlins got rid of any or all of the three post arbitration. Here are the worst records of player retention for a World Series winner, three years after a championship (Keep in mind that the average for a World Series champ is about 12 players retained three years later and that the highest was 20 retained by the '86 Mets and the '51 Yankees):
YrTeamNum PlayersPCTYr3 PCTDiff
1918Boston Red Sox4.595.487-.108
1974Oakland Athletics4.556.391-.164
1941New York Yankees5.656.539-.117
1997Florida Marlins5.568.491-.077
1944St. Louis Cardinals7.682.578-.104
1919Cincinnati Reds7.686.558-.127
1914Boston Braves7.614.471-.144
1990Cincinnati Reds7.562.451-.111
1915Boston Red Sox7.669.595-.074
1928New York Yankees8.656.614-.041
1913Philadelphia Athletics8.627.235-.392
1934St. Louis Cardinals8.621.526-.095
1925Pittsburgh Pirates8.621.559-.062
1942St. Louis Cardinals8.688.617-.071
2001Arizona Diamondbacks8.568.315-.253
1940Cincinnati Reds8.654.565-.089
1921New York Giants8.614.608-.007

The current Marlins are worse than the Charlie O. A's, the Harry Frazee Red Sox who begot a "curse", war-era championship teams—hey, the are even worse than the '97 version of the team reviled for buying a championship and then cutting bait. On average these teams' winning percentage decrease by 120 points, from .626 to .506.

I expect the Marlins to be much worse than that. 120 point worse than their 2003 record (91-71, .562) would be about 72 wins. I think that's high. This team could be among the worst ever even if they decide to keep Cabrera and Willis.

Consider that the current crew of position players has just 851 games of major-league experience. Miguel Cabrera with two and one half years under his belt is by far the most experienced player. He's the only one who has played in at least 162 games, the equivalent of a major-league season and his career total (405) is nearly half the team total (851). They have just eight players with more than 20 games of major-experience. Do I smell a lineup? Here's the rundown:

PlayerCareer G
Miguel Cabrera405
Alfredo Amezaga 127
Chris Aguila94
Matt Treanor87
Mike Jacobs30
Josh Willingham28
Joe Dillon27
Jeremy Hermida23
Robert Andino17
Josh Wilson 11
Hanley Ramirez 2
Reggie Abercrombie 0
Jason Stokes0
Eric Reed 0
Dan Uggla0

Baseball has not seen as inexperienced a team as this since foundation of the rival Union Association in 1884. There are 54 teams in baseball history with less than 851 games of experience for its position players. None are from after 1884. On average they have a .396 winning percentage, which translates into a 64-98 record in a 162-game schedule. Here are the least experienced:

PlayerLgYrCareer GWLPCT
Milwaukee BrewersUA18841384.667
St. Paul ApostlesUA18841526.250
Middletown MansfieldsNA187230519.208
St. Louis Red StockingsNA187536415.211
Washington NationalsNA187248011.000
Baltimore MarylandsNA18735406.000
Brooklyn AtlanticsNA187274928.243
Brooklyn EckfordsNA187288326.103
Altoona Mountain CityUA1884111619.240
Washington NationalsAA18841331251.190

All 13 career games for the 1884 Brewers were contributed by catcher Cal Broughton, and all of those came in the previous season.

Here are the teams with the least experience for their position players since the inception of the AL and the start of the "modern" era. None are within 1100 games of the Marlins. This includes teams from short-lived third leagues, from the starts of the AL, and during wars, and the '06 Marlins will destroy them all:

PlayerLgYrCareer GWLPCT
Kansas City PackersFL191420496784.444
Cincinnati RedsNL190721356687.431
Boston BravesNL194422136589.422
Boston DovesNL1910222653100.346
St. Louis TerriersFL191423736289.411
Detroit TigersAL190123917461.548
Minnesota TwinsAL198324257092.432
Indianapolis HoosiersFL191424448865.575
Cincinnati RedsNL190924557776.503
Florida MarlinsNL199924916498.395
Milwaukee BrewersAL190125134889.350
Brooklyn SuperbasNL1905253348104.316
St. Louis BrownsAL194825555994.386
Chicago CubsNL192326088371.539
St. Louis CardinalsNL1908264449105.318
Boston Red SoxAL190927238863.583
Philadelphia AthleticsAL1936275953100.346
Montreal ExposNL199327839468.580
Brooklyn DodgersNL191228245895.379
St. Louis CardinalsNL190228285678.418
Total 13221708.436

Looking at just the teams from the last fifty years, it gets worse. Note that the closest team has about 1600 games more of experience or about 200% more:

PlayerLgYrCareer GWLPCT
Minnesota TwinsAL198324257092.432
Florida MarlinsNL199924916498.395
Montreal ExposNL199327839468.580
San Diego PadresNL1969287352110.321
Kansas City RoyalsAL196932056993.426
San Diego PadresNL197032996399.389
St. Louis BrownsAL195033015896.377
Chicago White SoxAL199934767586.466
Pittsburgh PiratesNL195535796094.390
Pittsburgh PiratesNL199835976993.426
Montreal ExposNL199836606597.401
Minnesota TwinsAL200037346993.426
Montreal ExposNL199438547440.649
Kansas City AthleticsAL196238797290.444
Minnesota TwinsAL200139308577.525
Minnesota TwinsAL1982397460102.370
Kansas City AthleticsAL196740106299.385
Kansas City RoyalsAL199640737586.466
Montreal ExposNL199640988874.543
Oakland AthleticsAL1979416054108.333
Total 13781795.434

What we are witnessing here is something that's never even been conceived before. It's the near total dismantling of a major-league team. Some of the teams on the list above are very inexperienced but that is because of a young, talented players being given a chance. Usually those players get a short trial to prove themselves and a team makes the plunge.

That's not the case here. The Marlins were a veteran club that was supposed to compete in 2005. They failed to mount a serious postseason challenge. They did not start dismantling and rebuilding during the season. The team remained essentially intact until the postseason, and then…boom!

One has to wonder with the owners being allowed to contract after this season without the players say-so, what the end game is here. Of course, the Marlins are looking for—and apparently not getting—a new stadium. They have also threatened to leave, and may be cutting payroll to became more attractive, at least financially.

Whatever the cause, I think we have an opportunity to witness something that will make the '62 Mets and the 2003 Tigers seem like amateurs (or is that professionals?). We're talking neo-Cleveland Spiders here. If this team does not lose 100 games, I will be shocked. If they don't break the Mets' "record" of 120, it'll be a crime. Boy, Joe Girardi is really going to miss his cushy Yankee job, if not his cushy Yankee players, by season's end.

Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed....and a man named Ben
2005-12-13 22:51
by Mike Carminati

Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer were named co-GMs of the Red Sox Monday, a little over a month after Theo Epstein walked away from the post as well as a decent chunk of change. The lack of a GM didn't deter Boston from making as many deals as possible, however.

The co-GMs rein might be a bit short-lived. There are rumors like this one in the Globe that Theo Epstein will return as some sort of advisor to the budding GMs. He'd be the Liam Neeson character to the young Obewan and Annikan, and we all know how well that turned out. Then again, the Globe is the paper that brought us the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline that Epstein had signed a three-year deal just hours before he up and quit—he did both things.

Anyway, let's assume that the GM'er Twins will be left alone to do what all GMs do, hang out and get snookered with Peter Gammons. How successful can we expect the pair to be?

It reminds me of the fantasy team in every league that starts with two equal partners joyfully approaching each facet of the game and ends with two guys who hate each other, are in last place, and call the rest of the guys in the league to complain about the other guy and delineate how things will be different next season.

They are also the guys you hate to call because no matter how sweet the deal you present is, there is always that moment of hesitation in which they consider whether to consult the other co-GM. And even when they do have the cajones to pull the trigger on a deal, you can hear the apprehension in their voice in the aftermath as they mull over how to present it to the other dude.

Who needs the aggravation?

Well, I also considered looking at something a bit more scientific and a bit, just a bit, less anecdotal. I am putting together a GM register for all teams since the dawn of time or Julio Franco's rookie year, which ever is earlier. I looked at the instances in which the job was shared among two or more men and how it turned out.

The earliest instance I could find was Charles Comiskey II and Johnny Rigney running the White Sox from 1956 to 1958. Their partnership was an outgrowth of the infighting and inbreeding among the various family members running the club after the Old Roman's death. Charles II was the original Comiskey's grandson and Rigney was the husband of his granddaughter (II's sister) Dorothy. II sued Dorothy to get her shares of stock in the club, and eventually the Sox were sold to Bill Veeck. The Sox were fairly successful under the incestuous GM tenure going 257-205 over the span. However, the would win the pennant in 1959 after Hank Greenberg, Veeck's GM, took over.

Next, Jerry Donovan and Spec Richardson were co-GMs for the bulk of the 1976 season for the Giants. It was an uneventful season, as many were for the Giants in this era. They finished 74-88. Spec become the GM thereafter but eventually relinquished the job to his old catcher Tom Haller.

Trader Jack McKeon and manager Jerry "What You Talkin' 'Bout" Coleman shared the GM job in San Diego for a week in July in 1980. After which the Padres realized how silly the idea was and handed the job to McKeon.

The Yankees had co-GMs in effect, later that season when Bill Bergesch (VP of Baseball Opeartions) and Cedric Tallis (executive VP) filled Gene Michael's shoes. This lasted until June of 1983 when Murray Cook took on the more conventional GM role. This was a particularly un-fecund period for the Yankees (229-202) and helped usher in the period over which all Yankee fans (except for the Don Mattingly parts), though I do not know how much can be planned on these two co-non-GMs.

The Phillies, however, in true second-banana style, did try the same thing in 1983 when Paul Owens stepped down from the GM chair to manage full time. Tony Siegle (VP of Baseball Opeartions) /Jim Baumer (VP & Director of Player Personnel and Scouting) at first replaced Owens. Their tenure evolved into a multi-headed beast of a committee that was "headed" (for lack of a better term) by Bill Giles, the genius who brought us Rocket Man.

This conglomeration brought about something even worse, the Ryne Sandberg trade, which Baumer vehemently opposed but which passed by some sort of committee vote. They also brought together a remarkable number of white, thin guys to play for the team—think Randy Ready. Woody Woodward was named GM of the Phils for the 1988 season ending this arrangement but was fired in the first week of June. Welcome to Philadelphia. Again this little arrangement ushered in an era of frustration (or phrustration) after the best period in franchise history.

Next up is probably the worst pairing in the group, Whitey Herzog and Dan O'Brien in Anaheim. This is complicated. O'Brien was named to fill in for Mike Port who was fired April 30, 1991. His title was VP of Baseball Operations, however. On September 6, Herzog was hired as Sr. VP & Director of Player Personnel. For the next two years, both and neither was the GM. It was dubbed "an experiment in hell".

There are famous stories involving O'Brien's moves getting under Herzog's skin including signing a moribund Alvin Davis without consulting Whitey and trading for the wrong Patterson (Ken, not Bob) in 1993. Herzog took over solo but then lasted about four months before he quit. Their co-tenure led to a 143-181 record.

The last co-GM-ship was by Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie in Baltimore over the past three seasons, during which the O's failed to break .500. Again one GM (Flanagan) prevailed in the long run.

So what can we expect from the latest dynamic duo? We can expect the situation to be short-lived, two or three seasons at the most, probably much less. We can expect that one will prevail over the other and retain the title minus the "co" prefix while the other becomes a GM in your rotisserie league. They could have their fair share of success, but for some reason (do the dueling GMs ignore the minor-system for quick though more short-term fixes), they tend to be harbinger of bad times ahead for the team.

Of course, Larry Lucchino and his ego (his personal co-executive) will probably help egg these two on to failure. (Where's Grady Little anyway?) And he may have Theo back to help.

I am left wondering why most of America hates the Yankees when these pinheads can't even pick a GM without creating a soap opera.

Padilla Later
2005-12-12 22:11
by Mike Carminati

The Phils today divested themselves of Vicente Padilla and the Flotilla he rode in on, trading their one-time All-Star pitcher to the pitching strapped Rangers for the proverbial player Toby Named-Later. Apparently, Padilla was let go because of a general malaise and, oh yeah, he made $3.2M last year and is due for arbitration.

The Phils don't have many more option than do the Rangers, truthfully. They have Brett Myers, who is coming off a breakout season (122 Adjusted ERA) though he had 4.32 ERA in the second half.

John Lieber was okay (108 Adjusted ERA and 17 wins) and was very good in the second half (3.28 ERA and 9 wins).

Corey Lidle was good in the first half (3.65 ERA) but awful in the second half (6.03 ERA).

Next there's the oft-injured Randy Wolf, the only potential lefty in the rotation, who after three disappointing seasons is basically a big question mark.

Finally, there are youngsters Robinson Tejeda and Eude Brito, who were unexpected successes in limited trials this past season (Tejeda was 8-14 with 5.15 ERA in Double-A in 2004; Brito had a 4.85 ERA in Triple-A before the callup) , and former hot prospect Gavin Floyd, who was a major disappointment last year (6-9 and 6.16 ERA in Triple-A and 1-2 with a 10.04 ERA with the Phils).

That's it.

There doesn't seem to be a real number one among the lot, just a bunch of maybes. Maybe Myers turned a corner. Maybe Lieber will continue his second half success. Maybe Lidle can overcome his horrific second half. Maybe Randy Wolf can be healthy for a full season and maybe he will again draw comparisons to Tom Glavine (when that was a good thing). Maybe Tejeda and Brito are for real. And maybe Floyd will fulfill the promise the franchise once saw in him.

Then again, maybe not. An unhappy scenario is just as likely if not more likely in each scenario.

Padilla was a blight in the Phils rotation for throughout the first half (6.27 ERA, 4-8), but turned the corner just when the Phillies started to notice. He was a respectable 3.63, 5-4 in the second half.

So what's the end result? Does it make sense to weed a bit of the mediocrity by trading Padilla? Sure. Keep it coming. The Phils rotation problems over the last few years stemmed from an overabundance of mediocrity.

But what's the plan? Is there a plan? Does getting rid of Padilla get the Phils any closer to a real rotation? I don't think so. They need to add to the top of the rotation, not skim from the bottom.

The end result one fewer question mark in the rotation and a few million dollars freed up to sign…who? More overprice marginal players—their trend this offseason. Jim Mecir AND Dan Miceli are still available after all.

Generalissimo Julio Franco is Still Playing
2005-12-12 10:06
by Mike Carminati

The Mets, a team that once had two Bobby Jones on its roster (Bobby M. and Bobby J. in 2000, not the defensive specialist from the Sixers though), apparently makes its roster moves as if playing Monopoly. Now the are locking up 47-year-old Julio Franco a year after losing then 43-year-old John Franco. Next, they will re-sign Matt Franco and will start building hotels on their heads.

Franco is so old that he was part of the Fergie Jenkins deal in Sixties (actually, the five-for-one Von Hayes trade but the facts were changed for comedic effect.) However, it is well established that the man keeps himself in tremendous physical condition, but $2.2 M? And a two-year contract, yet? And I thought the B.J. Ryan signing was ludicrous, though it did give added nuance to the connotation for his chosen nickname.

Apparently, Omar Minaya, the Mets GM, was a former minor-league teammate of Franco's or maybe his mentor, and remember that Franco apprenticed at the knee of Alexander Joy Cartwright—get it? He's old! (These are the jokes, folks.)

Can Franco be effective as he approaches fifty? Well, what he did last season was without precedent, so who knows? I don't think I would pay that much to find out, however.

In 2005, Franco played 108 games and maintained a respectable 105 adjusted OPS. No other 46-year-old ever played more than 63 games, No other 46-year-old position player ever played more than 8 games, and none have played in a single game since 1926. Here are all the 46-year-old major-leaguers:

Julio Franco2005461081B
Jesse Orosco20034663P
Satchel Paige19534657P
Hoyt Wilhelm19694652P
Jack Quinn19304635P
Phil Niekro19854633P
Hod Lisenbee19454631P
Charlie Hough19944621P
Nolan Ryan19934613P
Tommy John19894610P
Sam Thompson1906468OF
Dan Brouthers19044621B
Jimmy Austin19264613B
Deacon McGuire1910461C

As for players over 46, no one has played over 100 games in total, let alone in a single season. The most were by pitchers, with Jack Quinn's 95 games leading the pack. The only position player to play multiple games in the field past age 46 was Arlie Latham, who played 2 games at age 49 at second base (and four in total).

Here are the most career games after age 46:

Player, >46Career GPOS
Jack Quinn95P
Hoyt Wilhelm81P
Phil Niekro60P
Minnie Minoso5DH
Nick Altrock4
Kaiser Wilhelm4P
Arlie Latham42B
Satchel Paige1P
Johnny Evers12B
Jimmy Austin13B
Jim O'Rourke1C
Hughie Jennings11B
Gabby Street1C
Deacon McGuire1C
Charley O'Leary1

Now, here's the breakdown by season. The most games by a player over 46 was 53 by Hoyt Wilhelm in 1970:
Hoyt Wilhelm19704753P
Jack Quinn19324842P
Jack Quinn19314739P
Phil Niekro19864734P
Phil Niekro19874826P
Hoyt Wilhelm19724916P
Jack Quinn19334914P
Hoyt Wilhelm19714812P
Arlie Latham19094942B
Kaiser Wilhelm1921474P
Minnie Minoso1976533DH
Minnie Minoso1980572
Charley O'Leary1934511
Deacon McGuire1912481C
Gabby Street1931481C
Hughie Jennings19184911B
Jim O'Rourke1904531C
Jimmy Austin19294913B
Johnny Evers19294712B
Nick Altrock1924471P
Nick Altrock1929521OF
Nick Altrock1931541
Nick Altrock1933561
Satchel Paige1965581P

Note that there have been just 261 games in total played by men after the age of 46. Franco potentially will double with his new Met contract, if he can 130 games a season in New York. Whatever happens, it can't be a worse deal than the Mo Vaughn signing.

Red Sox Becoming Marlins-esque
2005-12-09 06:02
by Mike Carminati

The Red Sox traded Edgar Renteria to the Braves today for third base prospect Andy Marte. In the process they have basically overhauled their entire starting infield. They now have newcomers Mark Loretta (2B) and Mike Lowell (3B) plus two players to be named later at short (Alex Cora?) and first (Roberto Petagine or David Ortiz?).

Of the players on the current Red Sox roster, only 11 wore the Boston uni two years ago when they won the World Series. Two of those are Abe Alvarez and Lenny DiNardo, pitchers who are long shots to make the opening day roster. The rest are Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Trot Nixon, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke, and Mike Timlin. And there are rumors that Foulke and Ramirez—aren't there always?—won't be on the team by opening day.

There were 50 men on the Red Sox in 2004. That's at best a 22% retention rate two years after winning a crown, which seems a bit low to me.

Let's see how it compares…I ran the numbers for all World Series champs. Here are the ten lowest assuming that all 11 Sox make (or at least play for) the team this year:

YrTeam2 Yrs LaterTotal%
1918Boston Red Sox63218.75%
1997Florida Marlins94320.93%
2004Boston Red Sox115022.00%
1914Boston Braves83423.53%
1992Toronto Blue Jays124030.00%
2000New York Yankees144630.43%
1942St. Louis Cardinals103231.25%
1996New York Yankees154831.25%
1922New York Giants123732.43%
2003Florida Marlins134032.50%

Wow, the 2004 Sox are already the third lowest and would drop to second lowest if they lose just one more of the remaining eleven by opening day, a likely event. Of course, no matter how many they lose a Red Sox team will have the lowest retention rate. Since the 1918 team (of course) is number one now. If the current Sox lose two players, they wrest the crown away from their forebears.

By the way, here are the teams that retained the highest percentage of players two years after a World Series crown:

YrTeam2 Yrs LaterTotal%
1917Chicago White Sox192673.08%
1907Chicago Cubs162466.67%
1971Pittsburgh Pirates233565.71%
1938New York Yankees182864.29%
1923New York Yankees162564.00%
1927New York Yankees162564.00%
1915Boston Red Sox193063.33%
1935Detroit Tigers172762.96%
1979Pittsburgh Pirates213461.76%
1910Philadelphia Athletics172860.71%
1936New York Yankees172860.71%

The 1917 White Sox and the 1907 Cubs? I think we all know how these guys turned out (the Cubs started their current ring-less, Bartman-filled streak two years later and the White Sox's high retention rate perhaps led to too much comradery two years later—get my drift? Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more?)

Maybe player turnover isn't such a bad thing after all.(by the way, the average retention rate two years later is 48% on the nose.)

Kevin Towers Loses All-Star in Drunken Game of "Mouse Trap"
2005-12-08 18:26
by Mike Carminati

In a farcical tale of drunken debauchery and plastic mouse game pieces, the San Diego Padres shipped former All-star second baseman Mark Loretta to the Red Sox for career backup catcher Doug Mirabelli for no apparent reason.

It seems that old buds Padres GM Kevin Towers and Red Sox Sith Lord Larry Lucchino spent a night watching "I Love the 80s 3-D", playing board games, and imbibing Peach Schnapps in Towers' basement.

Said a recuperating Towers the next morning amid hiccups and the pops of little cartoon bubbles:

"I did what?!? No…wait…We were trading their cards, weren't we? Wait, and then Evil E—that's what I call Larry—said, 'Let's get crazy and make it a real deal just for roll of the dice.' I mean, it was like a one-in-six chance that he would roll that six—he needed a six to get 'Turn The Crank'—and I was like, 'Yo Dude, I am sooo wasted.' The [bleep]-ing guy got it. He really didn't have to do scream, 'In your face,' and why did he call me 'Theo'? Anyway, I guess I have to give him…who was that guy again? And I got Paul Mirabella, the pitcher? No? Who? Oh, that crappy catcher?!? Dang!"

Of course this is not true, but makes a whole lot more sense than reality.

Loretta had an off year in 2005 but was coming off two monsters seasons. In 2004, he was arguably the best second baseman in the game. Also, he spent the first half of the 2005 season on the DL with a torn ligament in his left thumb. He made $2.75M in 2005 and had a $3.25M 2006 option automatically kick in after 293 plate appearances. He then becomes a free agent.

So was it because his contract is up next year? Was it because $3M is too much to pay even though the Padres re-signed 38-year-old, now so-so closer Trevor Hoffman to a $23.5, two-year deal and had saved by re-signing their best player (Brian Giles) just $30M over three years? Was it because his shoes were too tight? Oops, that's the Grinch.

The Padres are apparently concerned that they won't be able to re-sign catcher Ramon Hernandez. So Mirabelli might split time with Miguel Olivo. Besides they just signed the estimable Geoff Blum and have Bobby Hill and Eric Young on the bench (though Blum was supposed to spell free agent Joe Randa at third—heck, he can play both positions).

Would you rather have Loretta and Olivo or Hill and Mirabelli? I'd rather have the lion eat the bear as the old adage goes.

Meanwhile, the welfare state that is the Boston Red Sox goes on unabated. One has to wonder now that former Bud Selig compadre Sandy Alderson is running the Padres. Bud has a soft spot—his head—for the Sox. Be it plundering a Japanese for itinerate first basemen (Millar), trying to make players accept less money (the aborted A-Rod deal), extending trade deadlines (Schilling), or laundering players via his own personal baseball team/slush fund (Floyd), nothing is out of the question when it comes to his pal John Henry. Heck, he jury-rigged the process so that Henry could lowball a charity in order to get the Sox in the first place. So why not call in a favor with his old bud, Sandy?

Then again, the Towers-Lucchino deal smells of incestuous cronyism, too. Who wouldn't like to help out his boss when he is trying to prove that his former GM (Theo Epstein, in case you forgot) had nothing to do with the team's success? It's trés Scooter Libby.

OK, you're not into conspiracy theories? Maybe drunken debauchery is preferable to gross negligence in allowing oneself to be fleeced by one's former mentor. I'll go back to my original story.

J.P. Puts Jays in Alphabet Soup
2005-12-07 20:53
by Mike Carminati

What's next, C.J. Nitkowski signed to a $100M contract? Or D.J. Carrasco? Maybe J.J. Putz? T.J. Tucker?

Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi has apparently become so enamored of his new motif based on J-named players, that he is willing to invest Yankee-type dollars in any player who has the highly desirable initial in his name. It's no wonder A.J. Hinch declined a minor-league assigned with the Phils to become a free agent.

After the highly dubious B.J. Ryan signing, next comes the A.J. Burnett acquisition. Five years, $55M. Jay-sus!

Yes, Burnett is a good pitcher. But affectionately labeled A.J. Burnout, he is unfortunately not a hale and hearty pitcher. He has eclipsed the 200-inning mark just twice in his seven-year career. He's never won more than 12 games in a year (yeah, I know), had an ERA under 3.30 or an adjusted ERA better than 23 percent above the league average.

He's been good but not great. And in the five years since he broke into the Marlins rotation—remember he just signed a five-year deal—he has started 30 or more games just once and started fewer than 20 games twice. And this was when he was between 24 and 28 (inclusive) years old. I can't imagine he'll improve from age 29 to 33.

Consider as well that the Jays have devoted $12.7 M to Roy Halladay (who at least agreed to change his name to R.J.). And Halladay does pitch well enough to deserve the money. Give Ricciardi a break—it was before he landed on the J motif.

Perhaps the worst Jay (or is it J?) signing was re-signing Ricciardi to a three-year contract. Why can't these saber-GMs actually employ sabermetrics on some level nowadays?

Anyway, the J.'s now become the fifth team in baseball history to pay that much for three pitchers ($12 M, $11 M, and $9 M, if we assume that the two new deals are spread evenly among the length of the contract). And—surprise! —at least one of those teams was NOT the Yankees:

YrTmPlayer1 Salary1 Player2 Salary2 Player3 Salary3
2003ATLGreg Maddux$14,750,000 Mike Hampton$13,625,000 John Smoltz$10,666,667
2003NYAMike Mussina$12,000,000 Andy Pettitte$11,500,000 Mariano Rivera$10,500,000
2003NYAMike Mussina$12,000,000 Andy Pettitte$11,500,000 Roger Clemens$10,100,000
2004NYAMike Mussina$16,000,000 Kevin Brown$15,714,286 Javier Vazquez$9,000,000
2004NYAMike Mussina$16,000,000 Kevin Brown$15,714,286 Mariano Rivera$10,890,000
2005NYAMike Mussina$19,000,000 Randy Johnson$16,000,000 Kevin Brown$15,714,287
2005NYAMariano Rivera$10,500,000
2005NYACarl Pavano$9,000,000

It must be A.J. Pierzynski envy after his Herculean effort in the playoffs for the Chisox. The new plan must be to win via controversial play.

2005-12-05 22:00
by Mike Carminati

As my hopes for decent GM in Philly were being dashed and my disenchantment for Pat Gillick grew at the end of last week, a rumor was circulating that the Phils were shipping Bobby Abreu to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez.

The enlightened fans in Philly responded in kind. Of course, they supported the man who has been the best player in town since probably Mike Schmidt, right? I mean, it is an intriguing deal, two of the better players in the game still in t heir prime each with a hefty price tag attached. It makes for nice reading during Hot Stove time, but we've got to support our guys, right?

Ah, no. They reacted as if the Abreu was the T.O. of the Philly baseball nine (by the way, has anyone notice that the 1-2 since they cut Owens and our losing to the Seahawks 35-0 at the half as one can literally see them passing the mantle of NFC champ to other puky green team).

Witness this bit of drivel in the free rag called the Metro, whose international syndication makes USA Today's McPaper seem downright provincial. They know the right buttons to get the local yokels all frothy:

Twisted rumor

Rumor has it that the Boston Red Sox have discussed a trade with the Phillies involving Manny Ramirez and Bobby Abreu. What are the Red Sox thinking?

5) We have no GM so what the heck? Let's ruin the team to spite Theo Epstein.

4) At $13 million a year Abreu is a bargain compared to Manny's $20 million per.

3) Abreu's demeanor can help replace the "idiots" label Boston adopted during their World Series run in 2004. Now the team can just be labeled as lazy. It's better than idiots.

2) Maybe Abreu won't even be afraid of the Fenway wall in right field since it's only about two-feet high.

1) Abreu is a (insert laugh) Gold Glove winner.


I include the estimable Mr. Ranaan's email in case you want to drop him a little love-gram. This appeared in the December 4 edition of the Metro, right next to an item on the Phils signing 34-year-old Sal Fasano to back up Mike Lieberthal, who'll be 34 this summer. I guess at least he's five years younger than the old backup, Todd Pratt. It would be nice to actually have someone back up our aging catcher who'll still be in the game the next time they replace their GM.

Fasano is the second free agent they have signed who had been out of the majors for the previous two seasons, reliever Julio Santana being the other. Indeed Gillick is doing his darnedest to lock up as much replacement-level talent as he can even before the first snowfall of the offseason. Fasano had 11 homers and a 111 OPS+ in 2005 but should one trust his 160 at-bats this past year or his previous seven years and 669 at-bats of pure suckage? Santana did have 49 Ks in 42 innings, but his 4.50 was 6% worse than the park-adjusted league average. Abraham O. Nunez, the apparent heir apparent at third as David Bell slowly dissolves into oblivion (or Kansas City, whichever is worse) in the final year of his ill-conceived contract, had a career year this past season and still had an OPS that was 16% worse than the park-adjusted league-average. Wherefore art thou, Charlie Hayes?

These are the types of players you invite to camp as an afterthought, as a contingency plan, as a non-roster invitee, as a celebrity photo-op (if they were once Magnum P.I. or a chubby country singer). They are not the ones that you sign a month after the World Series right at the start of a new GM's term.

And yet that is the direction in which the Phils are headed, while the press fulminates over Abreu's Gold Glove award. It's a wonderful thing being a sportsfan in a second-class (or is it fifth-class?0 sports city. And Abreu remains on the trading block…

Anyway, if the Abreu-Ramirez trade had gone through, I believe it would have been the biggest two-man trade of all time. Abreu has 230 career Win Shares and Ramirez, 310. There has been only one other trade involving a 300-Win Share player and a 200-Win Share player. That was:

December 13, 1907: New York Giants trade Bill Dahlen with Frank Bowerman, George Browne, George Ferguson, and Dan McGann to the Boston Doves for Fred Tenney, Al Bridwell, and Tom Needham.

Dahlen had 372 WS at the time and Tenney had 214. Here are the only trades involving two 200-WS players:

1907/10/07Bill DahlenNYG37222Fred TenneyBSN21435
1921/12/06George BurnsNYG23951Heinie GrohCIN22151
1924/10/27Wilbur CooperPIT25016Rabbit MaranvilleCHN22181
1960/01/11Richie AshburnPHI28940Alvin DarkCHN2197
1975/12/12Rusty StaubNYM27088Mickey LolichDET21212
2001/12/07Robin VenturaNYM23636David JusticeNYY22211
Utility Futility
2005-12-01 22:11
by Mike Carminati

The Yanks signed Kelly Stinnett, career backup catcher to, well, back up catcher Jorge Posada—what else?

Stinnett is the ultimate backup catcher for Joe Torre, a man who despises backup catchers. He has never played over 92 games in a season in his twelve years in the bigs, and the year he did play 92 games was with expansion Diamondbacks in their inaugural season. He has played an average of slightly over 55 games a year.

What a great excuse for Torre to run Posada into the ground by September '06!

Oh well. But it did make me wonder if his record of utility futility was unique in baseball history. Could someone have played at least a dozen seasons and appeared in fewer games let's see…

As it turns out there are a few whose tuckuses collected even more splinters than Stinnett. Most were career backup catchers. Actually, it's quite an impressive collection of them:

PlayerPOS# YrsFirstLastGABMost G in a season G/Yr
Lou Klimchock3B121958197031866990 26.50
Mark ParentC1319861998474130381 36.46
Clyde ManionC1319201934477114576 36.69
Larry HaneyC121966197848091988 40.00
Fred JacklitschC13190019174901344122 37.69
Tom PrinceC1719872003519119066 30.53
Don PavletichC1219571971536137383 44.67
John BoccabellaC12196319745511462118 45.92
Harry Spilman1B121978198956381083 46.92
Grover HartleyC14191119345691319120 40.64
Lenny WebsterC12198920005871450108 48.92
Bill HaselmanC1319902003589160677 45.31
George WrightSS1218711882591287585 49.25
Todd PrattC1319922005600147780 46.15
Jack RyanC1318891913616219293 47.38
Bill HolbertC1218761888623233573 51.92
Turner WardOF12199020016261548123 52.17
Con DailyC1318841896630222280 48.46
Roy SpencerC12192519386361814145 53.00
Bob StinsonC12196919806521634124 54.33
Moe BergC15192319396631813107 44.20
Ron HodgesC12197319846661426110 55.50
Kelly Stinnett C1219942005667186092 55.58

And Moe Berg is the icing on the cake.

This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
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