Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: March 2006


Grady, It's the Big One, Part II
2006-03-30 10:42
by Mike Carminati

In an attempt to put the Grady Sizemore contract in context, I want to project its impact given a variety of scenarios.

First, there's the Lyman Bostock scenario—Sizemore is hit by a bus, never plays again, and retires to Miami on the $24M the Indians owe him. This is what I would term a bad outcome for Cleveland. The Indians would buy him out in 2012 for $500K instead of $8.5 M. He record no further Win Shares for his career (it currently stands at 25).

Next, let's assume he plays out his contract but never again plays at the high level he displayed in 2005. Let's call that the Rick Manning scenario (to give Joe Charboneau a break—besides Manning was a center fielder, looked like a future All-Star when he came up, but had a long replacement-level career in Cleveland and Milwaukee). Again, the Indians buy out his contract for 2012. His Win Share total would increase by the replacement-level value of ten per year (for six years, that's 60 WS or 85 in total).

The third scenario is that Sizemore remains an All-Star caliber player throughout the remainder of the contract. The Indians use their 2012 option ($8.5M). Let's call that the Albert Belle scenario. His Win Shares would increase by around 20, to be conservative, each year for a total of 165 by the end of the contract (his current 25 please 20 per year for seven years).

The final scenario is that Sizemore becomes (or remains) one of the best center fielder in the game for the remainder of the contract. The Indians happily use their 2012 option. His Win Shares go up by about thirty per year for 235 by the end of his contract (25 plus 30 per year for seven years). We'll call that the Earl Averill scenario in honor of the Hall of Fame Indian center fielder.

Here's a summary of how the scenarios play out:

Player Salary Under 30 Win Shares $/WS
Grady Sizemore--Bostock $ 23,768,300 25 $ 950,732
Grady Sizemore--Manning $ 23,768,300 85 $ 279,627
Grady Sizemore--Belle $ 31,768,300 165 $ 192,535
Grady Sizemore-- Averill $ 31,768,300 235 $ 135,184

Obviously, the first scenario would be tragic for the Indians and the final one would be ideal. But how do the other two, more realistic scenarios in the middle play out for them?

We need to put them in context. I summed the salary and Win Share numbers for all players under the age of thirty (min 10 WS). Here are the under-30 players who cost the most and delivered the least:

Player Salary Under 30 Win Shares $/WS
Matt Mantei $ 18,319,999 27 $ 678,518
Kazuo Matsui $ 12,066,666 19 $ 635,088
Darren Dreifort $ 16,148,000 34 $ 474,941
Eric Milton $ 27,178,333 62 $ 438,360
Hideki Irabu $ 5,250,000 12 $ 437,500
Jaret Wright $ 15,606,667 36 $ 433,519
Jeff Weaver $ 20,375,000 47 $ 433,511
Felix Heredia $ 5,962,000 14 $ 425,857
Glendon Rusch $ 9,220,000 23 $ 400,870
Kerry Wood $ 30,185,000 76 $ 397,171
Alex Rodriguez $ 126,027,000 318 $ 396,311
Danys Baez $ 14,750,000 38 $ 388,158
Jose Lima $ 15,325,444 40 $ 383,136
Matt Morris $ 29,200,000 79 $ 369,620
Jermaine Dye $ 21,907,334 61 $ 359,137
Sidney Ponson $ 17,070,000 48 $ 355,625
Kevin Millwood $ 28,725,000 82 $ 350,305
Odalis Perez $ 13,945,000 41 $ 340,122
Carl Pavano $ 16,250,000 48 $ 338,542
Javier Vazquez $ 33,410,000 99 $ 337,475
Carlos Perez $ 7,985,666 24 $ 332,736
Dustin Hermanson $ 17,287,999 52 $ 332,462
Fernando Tatis $ 14,920,000 45 $ 331,556
Joe Mays $ 14,450,000 44 $ 328,409

If the Bostock scenario plays out, Sizemore deal would be the worst of the bunch above. However, given the more realistic Manning scenario, Sizemore would be rank 40th in dollars-per-Win Shares for players under thirty. That's bad but far from Kaz Matsui territory. Actually, it puts him right between a couple of other fairly successful center fielders:

Player Salary Under 30 Win Shares $/WS
Andruw Jones $ 60,206,500 215 $ 280,030
Preston Wilson $ 20,488,000 76 $ 269,579

To put the Belle scenario in context, here are the other players who would be within $10K per WS of Sizemore:

Player Salary Under 30 Win Shares $/WS
Jose Silva $ 2,230,000 11 $ 202,727
Johnny Damon $ 28,939,000 143 $ 202,371
Ben McDonald $ 16,658,334 83 $ 200,703
Juan Encarnacion $ 13,013,000 65 $ 200,200
Josh Beckett $ 7,790,625 39 $ 199,760
Dwight Gooden $ 27,120,002 136 $ 199,412
Eric Munson $ 3,187,500 16 $ 199,219
John Smiley $ 14,140,000 71 $ 199,155
Wes Helms $ 5,535,000 28 $ 197,679
Nomar Garciaparra $ 33,684,000 171 $ 196,982
Shawn Estes $ 9,055,500 46 $ 196,859
Mark Prior $ 8,150,000 42 $ 194,048
Kirk Rueter $ 9,295,000 48 $ 193,646
A.J. Burnett $ 9,671,500 50 $ 193,430
Jesus Sanchez $ 2,125,000 11 $ 193,182
Mitch Williams $ 12,462,500 65 $ 191,731
C.C. Sabathia $ 9,750,000 51 $ 191,176
Brad Penny $ 7,812,500 41 $ 190,549
Ken Griffey $ 52,272,731 275 $ 190,083
Adrian Beltre $ 25,540,000 135 $ 189,185
Steve Trachsel $ 10,958,500 58 $ 188,940
Pedro Astacio $ 11,486,000 61 $ 188,295
D'Angelo Jimenez $ 4,485,000 24 $ 186,875
Jason Johnson $ 5,590,000 30 $ 186,333
Darin Erstad $ 20,975,000 113 $ 185,619
Sammy Sosa $ 27,000,000 146 $ 184,932
Ted Lilly $ 5,536,000 30 $ 184,533
Dave Nilsson $ 13,764,133 75 $ 183,522
Esteban Loaiza $ 6,184,000 34 $ 181,882
Melido Perez $ 11,392,000 63 $ 180,825
Carlos Beltran $ 22,046,429 122 $ 180,708

For the Averill scenario, I ranked just the players with 175 Win Shares or more before the age of 30. Here are the cheapest from that group:

Player Salary Under 30 Win Shares $/WS
Darryl Strawberry $ 11,171,667 177 $ 63,117
Barry Bonds $ 18,373,332 273 $ 67,302
Will Clark $ 16,650,000 222 $ 75,000
Roger Clemens $ 14,785,250 185 $ 79,920
Albert Pujols $ 19,700,000 180 $ 109,444
Frank Thomas $ 26,060,000 219 $ 118,995
Chipper Jones $ 24,381,333 186 $ 131,082
Edgardo Alfonzo $ 25,229,000 186 $ 135,640
Greg Maddux $ 24,745,000 180 $ 137,472
Scott Rolen $ 26,509,000 186 $ 142,522
Miguel Tejada $ 27,617,000 189 $ 146,122
Manny Ramirez $ 28,070,000 192 $ 146,198
Roberto Alomar $ 31,323,758 212 $ 147,754
Ken Griffey $ 52,272,731 275 $ 190,083
Ivan Rodriguez $ 46,910,000 200 $ 234,550
Vladimir Guerrero $ 53,930,000 222 $ 242,928
Andruw Jones $ 60,206,500 215 $ 280,030
Derek Jeter $ 59,230,000 192 $ 308,490
Alex Rodriguez $ 126,027,000 318 $ 396,311

My conclusion? It's a good deal for the Indians with a bigger potential upside than downside. Now, let's regroup in 2013 and see how it turned out.

Say It Aint Charboneau!—Indians Hope Grady Contract Won't Label Them 'You Big Dummy'
2006-03-29 22:11
by Mike Carminati

The Indians today locked up Grady Sizemore, a veteran of a season and a quarter, to a six year contract for a minimum of $23.45 M. The deal includes an option year at $8.5 M or a $500 K buyout (included in the $23.45 M). The Indians have essentially locked up the center fielder until he turns 30

This is the sort of strategy—signing up youngsters to long-term deals—that the Indians employed to perfection in the Nineties, becoming for a time perennial winners. I am surprised that Cleveland rushed to sign Sizemore so quickly, two years before he is arbitration eligible. But really the money that he would be getting each year would be relatively if he remains a serviceable starting position player (ergo the Joe Charboneau reference).

Here's a quick table for each of Sizemore's years until the contract expires with his age and salary (I'll be optimistic and use the non-buyout figure for 2012):


Thirty million or so by your thirtieth birthday? Sure, I'd take it.

It made me wonder what was the most any ballplayer made before turning 30. So I looked it up. It turns out that Sizemore won't even make the top ten:

PlayerSalary Under 30
Alex Rodriguez $126,027,000
Andruw Jones $ 60,206,500
Derek Jeter $ 59,230,000
Vladimir Guerrero $ 53,930,000
Ken Griffey $ 52,272,731
Pedro Martinez $ 48,220,000
Ivan Rodriguez $ 46,910,000
Gary Sheffield $ 41,886,667
Juan Gonzalez $ 40,937,500
Shawn Green $ 40,735,501
Edgar Renteria $ 36,864,500
Scott Rolen $ 35,109,000
Mike Hampton $ 34,196,543
Nomar Garciaparra $ 33,684,000
Javier Vazquez $ 33,410,000
Troy Glaus $ 32,052,500
Roberto Alomar $ 31,323,758
Carlos Beltran $ 31,046,429
Richard Hidalgo $ 30,910,000
Kerry Wood $ 30,185,000
Paul Konerko $ 29,790,000
Matt Morris $ 29,200,000
Johnny Damon $ 28,939,000
Raul Mondesi $ 28,820,000
Kevin Millwood $ 28,725,000
John Olerud $ 28,593,667
Carlos Delgado $ 28,499,000
Manny Ramirez $ 28,070,000

So, yes, it's a gamble, but at least the Indians haven't mortgaged the farm. Maybe a big gamble is what it takes to win. It worked for them before. At least it'll make things interesting.

By the way, I couldn't resist the Fred G. Sanford reference in the title.

Katzenjammer Kids Keystone Kombinations, Redux
2006-03-29 21:30
by Mike Carminati

As promised here are the missing entries:

Milwaukee BrewersRickie Weeks2210J.J. Hardy221112005200521
Colorado RockiesLuis A. Gonzalez2616Clint Barmes261212005200528
Philadelphia PhilliesChase Utley2640Jimmy Rollins26106120052005146
Arizona DiamondbacksScott Hairston243Alex Cintron253012004200433
Pittsburgh PiratesJose Castillo2317Jack Wilson266512004200482
Atlanta BravesMarcus Giles2585Rafael Furcal25119220032004204
Cleveland IndiansBrandon Phillips225Jhonny Peralta212912003200334
Toronto Blue JaysOrlando Hudson2456Felipe Lopez2245120022002101
Toronto Blue JaysOrlando Hudson2456Chris Woodward263012002200286
Oakland AthleticsMark Ellis2553Miguel Tejada26189120022002242
Colorado RockiesBrent Butler247Juan Uribe226112002200268
Texas RangersMichael Young2490Alex Rodriguez25318220012002408
Anaheim AngelsAdam Kennedy2582David Eckstein2680120012001162
Minnesota TwinsLuis Rivas2133Cristian Guzman2380420012004113
Katzenjammer Kids Keystone Kombinations
2006-03-28 20:59
by Mike Carminati

The Padres handed the second base job to youngster Josh Barfield today. It's not a big surprise given that his competition was an aging Mark Bellhorn and the gapping hole created by unloading Mark Loretta had his name all over it. It does tick me off to have the son of a player who I remember as a rookie (Jesse Barfield, that is) be a rookie himself, but I sometimes forget the world doesn't revolve around me.

Anyway, this gives the Pod People a doubleplay duo, Khalil Greene (26) and Barfield (23), under the age of 27. It made me wonder how often that had happened and what one can expect from two such youngsters.

Well, this will mark the 330th time in baseball history that a team's starting second baseman and shortstop are both under 27, and it's the first time since 2000.

Here are the best of the lot ranked by career Win Shares for the two individuals. Many of the top keystone combos ready come to mind. Some are celebrated in song:

Team2BAgeCareer WSSSAgeCareer WS#yrsFirst YrLast YrTotal WS
Milwaukee BrewersPaul Molitor21414Robin Yount22421319781980835
Cincinnati RedsPete Rose22547Leo Cardenas24199319631965746
Philadelphia AthleticsEddie Collins22572Jack Barry22132519091913704
Detroit TigersLou Whitaker21354Alan Trammell20317619781983671
Washington SenatorsBuddy Myer25257Joe Cronin22334219291930591
New York GiantsFrankie Frisch25366Travis Jackson20211119241924577
Houston AstrosJoe Morgan22513Sonny Jackson2161219661967574
St. Louis CardinalsRogers Hornsby26503Specs Toporcer2343119221922546
Chicago ColtsBill Lange22139Bill Dahlen23392118931893531
Chicago CubsJohnny Evers21268Joe Tinker22258519031907526
Chicago CubsRyne Sandberg25345Shawon Dunston22151219851986496
Baltimore OriolesBilly Ripken2253Cal Ripken26427119871987480
New York YankeesJoe Gordon26241Phil Rizzuto23231119411941472
Boston Red SoxBobby Doerr24282Johnny Pesky22188119421942470
Chicago CubsBilly Herman22298Billy Jurges24170319321934468
Pittsburgh PiratesCookie Lavagetto21107Arky Vaughan22356119341934463
Chicago White SoxJackie Hayes2576Luke Appling25377219321933453
Milwaukee BrewersPedro Garcia2429Robin Yount18421219741975450
Milwaukee BrewersTim Johnson2621Robin Yount20421119761976442
Pittsburgh PiratesBill Mazeroski19218Dick Groat25223219561957441
Cleveland BluesGermany Smith21175Jack Glasscock24261118841884436
Chicago White SoxNellie Fox22304Chico Carrasquel22131519501954435
Pittsburgh PiratesLee Handley2379Arky Vaughan25356119371937435
Chicago White StockingsTom Burns25154King Kelly24278118821882432
Chicago ColtsJim Canavan2538Bill Dahlen22392118921892430
Pittsburgh PiratesTony Piet2572Arky Vaughan20356219321933428
New York YankeesWillie Randolph22311Bucky Dent25116219771978427
Cincinnati Red StockingsBid McPhee25303Frank Fennelly25123218851886426
Cleveland BluesFred Dunlap21164Jack Glasscock20261418801883425
New York GiantsLarry Doyle21289Al Bridwell24136319081910425
St. Louis MaroonsFred Dunlap26164Jack Glasscock25261118851885425
St. Louis CardinalsBill Keister2578Bobby Wallace26346119001900424
Minnesota TwinsRod Carew26385Danny Thompson2533119721972418
Brooklyn DodgersTony Cuccinello26204Lonny Frey23209119341934413
Louisville ColonelsClaude Ritchey24205Claude Ritchey24205118981898410
Chicago ColtsJiggs Parrott2213Bill Dahlen24392118941894405
Toronto Blue JaysRoberto Alomar23345Manuel Lee2660119911991405
Detroit TigersCharlie Gehringer26382Heinie Schuble2218119291929400
Overall Average 102 1101.33 212

The average combo ended with 212 Win Shares, 102 for the second baseman and 110 for the shortstop, not too shabby.

Keep in mind that the year ranges reflect the years in which both men were under 27, but just for the heck of it, let's see who were together for the longest time in their youth or as Joe Pesci would say their yute:

Team2BAgeCareer WSSSAgeCareer WS#yrsFirst YrLast YrTotal WS
Detroit TigersLou Whitaker21354Alan Trammell20317619781983671
Philadelphia AthleticsEddie Collins22572Jack Barry22132519091913704
Chicago CubsJohnny Evers21268Joe Tinker22258519031907526
Chicago White SoxNellie Fox22304Chico Carrasquel22131519501954435
Cleveland BluesFred Dunlap21164Jack Glasscock20261418801883425
Cleveland IndiansRay Mack2356Lou Boudreau22276419401943332
Atlanta BravesGlenn Hubbard23141Rafael Ramirez23113419811984254
Milwaukee BrewersPaul Molitor21414Robin Yount22421319781980835
Cincinnati RedsPete Rose22547Leo Cardenas24199319631965746
Chicago CubsBilly Herman22298Billy Jurges24170319321934468
New York GiantsLarry Doyle21289Al Bridwell24136319081910425
Detroit TigersFrank Bolling22142Harvey Kuenn23223319541957365
New York YankeesTony Lazzeri22251Mark Koenig21103319261928354
Philadelphia AthleticsJimmie Dykes23243Chick Galloway2370319201923313
Boston Red SoxMike Andrews23108Rico Petrocelli24203319671969311
Minnesota TwinsChuck Knoblauch24230Pat Meares2463319931995293
Chicago CubsGlenn Beckert24125Don Kessinger22157319651967282
New York MetsGregg Jefferies21161Kevin Elster2486319891991247
New York YankeesBobby Richardson23120Tony Kubek22120319591961240
Minnesota TwinsBernie Allen2393Zoilo Versalles22132319621964225
Atlanta BravesFelix Millan24152Sonny Jackson2361319681970213
Pittsburgh PiratesRennie Stennett23118Frank Taveras2485319741976203
Cincinnati RedsAlex Kampouris2257Billy Myers2479319351937136
Montreal ExposJose Vidro2459Orlando Cabrera2449319992001108
Boston Red StockingsRoss Barnes2142George Wright245131871187393
Florida MarlinsLuis Castillo2355Alex Gonzalez222431999200179

Even though there has not been a keystone combo under 27 since 2000, there was a spate of them in the late Nineties. For those scoring at home, there is a Jay Canizaro sighting, and I had to go back the Steve Jeltz days in Philly:

Team2BAgeCareer WSSSAgeCareer WS#yrsFirst YrLast YrTotal WS
Minnesota TwinsJay Canizaro2610Cristian Guzman223512000200045
Tampa Bay Devil RaysMiguel Cairo2634Felix Martinez261012000200044
Montreal ExposJose Vidro2459Orlando Cabrera2449319992001108
Florida MarlinsLuis Castillo2355Alex Gonzalez222431999200179
Seattle MarinersDavid Bell2653Alex Rodriguez23185119991999238
Toronto Blue JaysHomer Bush2632Tony Batista2572119991999104
St. Louis CardinalsJoe McEwing2621Edgar Renteria2382119991999103
Minnesota TwinsTodd Walker2648Cristian Guzman213511999199983
Chicago White SoxRay Durham26124Mike Caruso2117119981998141
Oakland AthleticsScott Spiezio2544Miguel Tejada2277119981998121
San Diego PadresQuilvio Veras2695Chris Gomez2665119971997160
Florida MarlinsLuis Castillo2155Edgar Renteria2182119971997137
Florida MarlinsQuilvio Veras2595Edgar Renteria2082119961996177
Detroit TigersMark Lewis2659Andujar Cedeno2642119961996101
Toronto Blue JaysTomas Perez2212Alex Gonzalez237411996199686
Milwaukee BrewersFernando Vina26106Jose Valentin25116119951995222
Florida MarlinsQuilvio Veras2495Kurt Abbott2648119951995143
Los Angeles DodgersDelino DeShields25184Jose Offerman25144219941995328
New York MetsJeff Kent26198Jose Vizcaino2697119941994295
Montreal ExposMike Lansing26109Wil Cordero2285119941994194
Florida MarlinsBret Barberie2640Kurt Abbott254811994199488
Minnesota TwinsChuck Knoblauch24230Pat Meares2463319931995293
Montreal ExposDelino DeShields24184Wil Cordero2185119931993269
Colorado RockiesEric Young26132Vinny Castilla25113119931993245
New York MetsJeff Kent25198Tim Bogar2634119931993232
Houston AstrosCraig Biggio26342Andujar Cedeno2242119921992384
Cleveland IndiansCarlos Baerga23147Mark Lewis2259119921992206
Philadelphia PhilliesMickey Morandini26119Juan Bell2416119921992135
Toronto Blue JaysRoberto Alomar23345Manuel Lee2660119911991405
Kansas City RoyalsTerry Shumpert2437Kurt Stillwell2673119911991110
New York MetsGregg Jefferies21161Kevin Elster2486319891991247
Pittsburgh PiratesJose Lind2581Jay Bell23243219891990324
Cleveland IndiansJerry Browne2381Felix Fermin2550219891990131
Atlanta BravesJeff Treadway2661Andres Thomas252311989198984
Cincinnati RedsJeff Treadway2561Barry Larkin24321119881988382
Toronto Blue JaysManuel Lee2360Tony Fernandez26278119881988338
Atlanta BravesRon Gant23195Andres Thomas2423119881988218
Pittsburgh PiratesJose Lind2481Rafael Belliard2636119881988117
Chicago White SoxFred Manrique2531Ozzie Guillen23148219871988179
Baltimore OriolesBilly Ripken2253Cal Ripken26427119871987480
California AngelsMark McLemore22136Dick Schofield24116119871987252
Seattle MarinersHarold Reynolds26122Rey Quinones2331119871987153
Milwaukee BrewersJuan Castillo258Dale Sveum235311987198761
Seattle MarinersHarold Reynolds25122Spike Owen25121119861986243
Minnesota TwinsSteve Lombardozzi2631Greg Gagne24157119861986188
Chicago CubsRyne Sandberg25345Shawon Dunston22151219851986496
Los Angeles DodgersSteve Sax25198Mariano Duncan22114219851986312
Minnesota TwinsTim Teufel2698Greg Gagne23157119851985255
Philadelphia PhilliesJuan Samuel24175Steve Jeltz2637119851985212
The 44-Year-Old Boy Genius Strikes Again
2006-03-28 20:04
by Mike Carminati

The Nationals will start the season with 24-year-old rookie Brandon Watson in centerfield. Watson batted .355 with a .400 on-base percentage, .419 slugging percentage, and .819 OPS. So he's a fine choice, right? I guess, the only problem is that they had a better choice already starting in center.

Ryan Church went .287/.353/.466/.819 in 102 games last year before succumbing to injury. He had a park-adjusted OPS that was 20% better than the league average. That was the second best figure among Nat starters after Nick Johnson.

Jim Bowden, in his infinite wisdom, sent Church down to Triple-A.

Yes, Church is 27, three years older than Watson. However, Watson was making his second attempt at Triple-A in 2005 (he went .293/.332/.348/.680 in 2004). He started last season in Double-A and was rather lackluster there (.247/.290/.253/.543). He also has almost a thousand more minor-league at-bats than Church (2436 to 1558) even though their ages make it seem that Watson ascended more quickly. Bowden also praises Watson's speed. Church did steal just 3 bases last year. Watson stole 31 bases in Triple-A but was caught 13 times, barely over the break-even point. In all levels, he stole 38 bases and was caught 29 times in 2005. For his professional career he has stolen 130 bases and been caught 71 times, which is worse than the magic 67% success rate.

Watson does have the advantage over Church defensively. Church is more of a corner guy and the Nats appear to be covered in left and right with the converted Alfonso Sorisano and Jose Guillen. Given Soriano's defense, the Nats will need all the defense they can get in center, but if Bowden hadn't acquired two starting second baseman—but I digress.

It all reminds me of the story of how the Mets in the early Nineties devolved into chaos (and that sucking sound that Davod Letterman oft referred to) by trying to resolve their center field situation and in the process poisoned just about every other position. At least these Mets have one over those Mets: the have a new stadium deal all set. The Mets though they may contend this year will have to do it in that tin can in Flushing. And they have an aging boy genius calling the shots.

In the Bag? Well...
2006-03-27 22:44
by Mike Carminati

With Jeff Bagwell's career apparently in jeopardy, I am left wondering how many teams have had two Hall of Famers retire on them. Last year's Astros could be the last team for two future Hall of Famers, Bagwell and Roger Clemens.

No team has ever had more than two Hall of Famers play their last game in their lineup. There have actually been 16 instances in which two HoF players have retired from the same team. The last time was 34 years ago when Maz and Clemente played their last games for the Pirates (and yes, I know, Clemente didn't "retire"—let it go). Here is the full list. Note that both St. Louis teams had two future HoFers up and quit on them in 1937:

Pittsburgh Pirates19722Bill MazeroskiRoberto Clemente
St. Louis Cardinals19632Red SchoendienstStan Musial
Cleveland Indians19552Hal NewhouserRalph Kiner
New York Giants19472Ernie LombardiMel Ott
Pittsburgh Pirates19472Billy HermanHank Greenberg
Brooklyn Dodgers19382Kiki CuylerWaite Hoyt
St. Louis Browns19372Jim BottomleyRogers Hornsby
St. Louis Cardinals19372Frankie FrischJesse Haines
New York Giants19362Bill TerryTravis Jackson
Boston Braves19352Babe RuthRabbit Maranville
Philadelphia Athletics19282Tris SpeakerTy Cobb
Chicago White Sox19252Chief BenderHarry Hooper
Chicago Cubs19162Joe TinkerMordecai Brown
Cleveland Naps19102Addie JossElmer Flick
Philadelphia Phillies19062Hugh DuffyKid Nichols
New York Giants19042Dan BrouthersJim O'Rourke

Oh, so you may have noticed that I skimmed over the part where I assumed Bagwell is a Hall of Famer (and don't embarrass yourself by arguing that Clemens may not be one). Yes, my basic assumption is that Bagwell is not only a Hall of Famer, he's a better than average for HoF first basemen.

Let's test that theory. I ran a query for all HoF first sackers and took their average for various stats (Note: Banks and Carew qualify since the played more games at first than any other position):

Lou Gehrig4898001188827214931995.340.447.6321.080 179
Eddie Murray43711336162732555041917.287.359.476.836 129
Jimmie Foxx4358134175126465341922.325.428.6091.038 163
Willie McCovey4088197122922115211555.270.374.515.889 148
Rod Carew384931514243053921015.328.393.429.822 131
Cap Anson3811027719963418972076.333.393.445.838 141
Harmon Killebrew3718147128320865731584.256.376.509.884143
Roger Connor3637794162024671381322.317.397.486.883154
Dan Brouthers3556711152322961061296.342.423.519.942170
Tony Perez3499778127227323791652.279.341.463.804122
Johnny Mize3386443111820113591337.312.397.562.959158
Ernie Banks3329421130525835121636.274.330.500.830122
Jake Beckley318952616002930861575.308.361.435.796125
Orlando Cepeda3107927113123513791365.297.350.499.849 133
George Sisler2928267128428121021175.340.379.468.847124
Bill Terry2786428112021931541078.341.393.506.899136
Hank Greenberg2675193105116283311276.313.412.6051.017158
Jim Bottomley2587471117723132191422.310.369.500.869125
Frank Chance2374297797127320596.296.394.394.787135
George Kelly193599381917781481020.297.342.452.794110
HoF avg3407933135124382871441.308.383.500.883140

(And yes, George Kelly is one of the worst Hall of Famers at there.) OK, Bagwell exceeds those numbers (i.e., the averages) in all stats but at-bats, hits, and batting average. Putting Bagwell in the Hall will improve the average stats for players at his position. If that's not a definition for a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I don't know what is (and I don't).

I'll even offer that there is plenty of talent at first that is not in the Hall. What if you took all first baseman with at least 300 Win Shares who are not in the Hall, would their averages for the various statistical categories be better than the averages for those in the Hall? Let's see:

Rafael Palmeiro39510472166330205691835.288.371.515.885132
Jeff Bagwell3887797151723144491529.297.408.540.948150
Frank Thomas3626956132721364481465.307.427.568.995161
Mark McGwire3436187116716265831414.263.394.588.982163
Dick Allen3426332109918483511119.292.378.534.912156
Fred McGriff3418757134924904931550.284.377.509.886134
Will Clark3317173118621762841205.303.384.497.880138
Norm Cash3156705104618203771103.271.374.488.862139
Keith Hernandez3117370112421821621071.296.384.436.821129
John Olerud3017592113922392551230.295.398.465.863129
HoF avg3437534126221853971352.310.375.487.863143

It's pretty close. If Olerud had had an extra trip to the DL in his career, the non-Hall group would trounce the Hall guys.

So what's the point? Bagwell is arguably the best first baseman not in the Hall even without a number of flashy Hall-worthy numbers (500 homers, 3000 hits, three major felonies, etc.). With Palmeiro and possibly McGwire facing steroid backlash, Bagwell's case looks even better. And who knows? Maybe somebody they will let that Dick/Richie Allen in at some point.

Howard in a Von Purple Hayes of Spring Stats
2006-03-27 10:17
by Mike Carminati

Phillies fans, as they await a nearly written in (Jeff) stone guarantee for third place, can rejoice at least that Ryan Howard, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, is not suffering through a sophomore slump if spring training is any indication.

He stands at ten home runs through 23 spring games, a "record" whatever that means. Meanwhile, the Phils' former first baseman, Jim Thome, just hit his first dinger this spring. One could argue that Howard's performance does not really matter given the state of the Phils today unless he can pull a Babe Ruth and pitch. I would also point out that in 1989 Von "Five-For-One" Hayes had four homers through the first eight games of the season, thereby projecting to a Bondsian 81 for the season—and the local papers did indeed bother to project it—, so what do spring stats mean?

Then there's other side of the argument that goes something like, dang, this has been a boring spring with the unnecessary Wannabe Baseball Classic preempting the action like turning on the TV this season to watch Lost and finding instead of a new show or even a rerun from this season, a season-one Lost re-run for the umpteenth plus one-nth time.

In that spirit, I present the following projections for Howard's performance this season. First, I projected his spring stats based on his at-bats per game this spring projected to a full 162 games. You might be disappointed that Howard comes out as a mere McGwire clone, with 70 homers. However, he projects to a mere 465 at-bats with 35 walks. Given that players constantly traipse in and out of spring games, that projection seems low.

I recalibrated with at-bats based on his at-bat per game rate from last year. Now, Howard projects to a record-breaking 87 dingers. With me ridiculous projection now achieved, I will proceed to present the results at a Spaceballs-esque ludicrous speed:

Ryan Howard2366152456201019517.364 .403.8481.251

So does it mean anything? Yes, it means that Ryan Howard will probably not be supplanted by Tomas Perez at first this spring (though Charlie "I Need A" Manuel reserves the right to pull any young player at any given time).

It means that Josh Beckett, who, though a newly minted Red Sock, is already fitting in as a hothead, can key on Howard to the point of causing a bench-clearing shouting match in yesterday's ballgame. Howard's come a long way given that his lollygagging at the plate can now be interpreted as showboating on a potential homer instead of the laziness it had heretofore been seen as. Like Howard could showboat in those silly crappy blue-topped uniforms.

As for watching spring stats, I am more interested in Ryan Madson's (1-0, 2.84 ERA in four appearances) and Gavin Floyd's (3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in five games). If those two guys can pull a Mark Fidrych and lead the staff this year, then the Phils have a chance to be real contenders. Otherwise, it's Franklin and Lidle and hope that they're idle.

Put Me In Coach, I'm Ready To Play….Left Field
2006-03-23 13:49
by Mike Carminati

So Alfonso Soriano is now ready to play the same position as such defensive luminaries as Greg Luzinski, Manny Ramirez, and Ron Kittle, at least for one day. If he is ready to assume the position and, Kevin Bacon-like, affirm, "Thank you, sir. May I have another,"—game in left field, that is—the issue of his free agent value being diminished by the decision still looms.

Being a putz myself, I wondered if a second baseman moving to left field would affect his value on the open market. The only problem is that the only player in baseball history who went from being a starting second baseman one season to a starting left fielder the next was Chuck Knoblauch, and he had extenuating circumstances (like a Mackey Sasser-like inability to make simple throws). Knoblauch did go from a $6M per year contract with the Yankees to a $2M one-year contract with the Royals, one year after shifting to left, but he was 33 and in the midst of a very rapid decline.

So without a history of comparable player moves affecting a player's worth, I have to resort to the actual values of players whose primary position is left field as opposed to those who are second baseman.

I selected all players with a primary defensive position of either second or left who were active from 2001-2005 (the years in which Soriano has been a starter). I looked at only those seasons in which they played just those positions and just those players who had at least three years primary at those positions over the past five seasons.

For each I averaged the batting Win Shares and salary. I removed the defensive component so that we were comparing left field oranges to second base oranges. Here they are sorted by average batting Win Shares (min. 5 BWS average). Soriano was 11th among all the playersm, but second among second basemen, though slightly ahead of a whole back of second sackers:

PlayerPosAvg BWSAvg $
Barry BondsLF37.55 $16,160,000
Manny RamirezLF27.03 $19,990,682
Hideki MatsuiLF21.93 $ 7,000,000
Adam DunnLF21.77 $ 1,423,750
Luis GonzalezLF20.99 $ 6,300,000
Jeff Kent2B20.31 $ 7,370,000
Cliff FloydLF17.76 $ 6,279,214
Garret AndersonLF17.18 $ 6,112,500
Carlos LeeLF16.73 $ 4,360,000
Moises AlouLF16.64 $ 8,062,500
Alfonso Soriano2B15.99 $ 2,992,000
Carl CrawfordLF15.89 $ 330,000
Mark Loretta2B15.52 $ 2,500,000
Bret Boone2B15.03 $ 7,250,000
Craig Biggio2B14.46 $ 6,500,000
Marcus Giles2B14.04 $ 826,625
Jose Vidro2B13.76 $ 5,200,000
Ray Durham2B13.61 $ 7,150,000
Pat BurrellLF13.13 $ 3,312,000
Luis Castillo2B13.11 $ 4,041,667
Jacque JonesLF12.84 $ 1,112,500
Shannon StewartLF12.77 $ 4,483,333
Todd Walker2B11.84 $ 2,437,500
Mark Bellhorn2B11.08 $ 1,154,667
Frank CatalanottoLF10.80 $ 2,105,000
Geoff JenkinsLF10.50 $ 4,575,000
Mark Grudzielanek2B9.61 $ 3,600,000
Placido Polanco2B9.59 $ 3,808,333
Rondell WhiteLF9.00 $ 3,625,000
Ron Belliard2B8.28 $ 1,207,000
Adam Kennedy2B8.25 $ 1,685,000
Orlando Hudson2B8.05 $ 333,333
Brian JordanLF8.01 $ 5,600,000
Fernando Vina2B7.35 $ 4,250,000
Marlon Anderson2B6.98 $ 470,000
Junior Spivey2B6.97 $ 1,284,875
Terrence LongLF6.69 $ 3,541,667
Damion Easley2B6.08 $ 3,093,750
Jerry Hairston2B5.92 $ 695,000
Keith Ginter2B5.82 $ 422,555

Now, here are the same players sorted by average annual salary. Not that Soriano is 25th and 11th among second basemen, though his arbitration money had yet kicked in (min. $2M annual salary):

PlayerPosAvg BWSAvg $
Manny RamirezLF27.03 $19,990,682
Barry BondsLF37.55 $16,160,000
Moises AlouLF16.64 $ 8,062,500
Jeff Kent2B20.31 $ 7,370,000
Bret Boone2B15.03 $ 7,250,000
Ray Durham2B13.61 $ 7,150,000
Hideki MatsuiLF21.93 $ 7,000,000
Craig Biggio2B14.46 $ 6,500,000
Luis GonzalezLF20.99 $ 6,300,000
Cliff FloydLF17.76 $ 6,279,214
Garret AndersonLF17.18 $ 6,112,500
Brian JordanLF8.01 $ 5,600,000
Jose Vidro2B13.76 $ 5,200,000
Geoff JenkinsLF10.50 $ 4,575,000
Shannon StewartLF12.77 $ 4,483,333
Carlos LeeLF16.73 $ 4,360,000
Fernando Vina2B7.35 $ 4,250,000
Luis Castillo2B13.11 $ 4,041,667
Placido Polanco2B9.59 $ 3,808,333
Rondell WhiteLF9.00 $ 3,625,000
Mark Grudzielanek2B9.61 $ 3,600,000
Terrence LongLF6.69 $ 3,541,667
Pat BurrellLF13.13 $ 3,312,000
Damion Easley2B6.08 $ 3,093,750
Alfonso Soriano2B15.99 $ 2,992,000
Mark Loretta2B15.52 $ 2,500,000
Todd Walker2B11.84 $ 2,437,500
Frank CatalanottoLF10.80 $ 2,105,000

Now, here's the entire group sorted by batting Win Share per each million dollar of the player's salary. Soriano has been one of the cheaper players, but again this predates his Amigo Money for 2006:

PlayerPosAvg BWSAvg $ BWS/$1M
Carl CrawfordLF15.89 $ 330,000 48.14
Orlando Hudson2B8.05 $ 333,333 24.15
Marcus Giles2B14.04 $ 826,625 16.98
Adam DunnLF21.77 $ 1,423,750 15.29
Marlon Anderson2B6.98 $ 470,000 14.84
Keith Ginter2B5.82 $ 422,555 13.78
Jacque JonesLF12.84 $ 1,112,500 11.54
Mark Bellhorn2B11.08 $ 1,154,667 9.60
Frank Menechino2B3.23 $ 376,125 8.59
Jerry Hairston2B5.92 $ 695,000 8.52
Damian Jackson2B4.14 $ 533,333 7.77
Ron Belliard2B8.28 $ 1,207,000 6.86
Mark Loretta2B15.52 $ 2,500,000 6.21
Junior Spivey2B6.97 $ 1,284,875 5.42
Alfonso Soriano2B15.99 $ 2,992,000 5.35
Tomas Perez2B2.63 $ 501,667 5.24
Frank CatalanottoLF10.80 $ 2,105,000 5.13
Adam Kennedy2B8.25 $ 1,685,000 4.89
Todd Walker2B11.84 $ 2,437,500 4.86
Miguel Cairo2B3.97 $ 883,333 4.49
Dave Berg2B2.53 $ 579,167 4.37
Nick Punto2B1.28 $ 310,833 4.13
Pat BurrellLF13.13 $ 3,312,000 3.97
Carlos LeeLF16.73 $ 4,360,000 3.84
Luis GonzalezLF20.99 $ 6,300,000 3.33
Luis Castillo2B13.11 $ 4,041,667 3.24
Hideki MatsuiLF21.93 $ 7,000,000 3.13
Carlos Febles2B1.82 $ 620,000 2.94
Shannon StewartLF12.77 $ 4,483,333 2.85
Cliff FloydLF17.76 $ 6,279,214 2.83
Garret AndersonLF17.18 $ 6,112,500 2.81
Keith Lockhart2B1.76 $ 633,333 2.78
Jeff Kent2B20.31 $ 7,370,000 2.76
Mark Grudzielanek2B9.61 $ 3,600,000 2.67
Luis Rivas2B2.07 $ 781,000 2.66
Jose Vidro2B13.76 $ 5,200,000 2.65
Placido Polanco2B9.59 $ 3,808,333 2.52
Rondell WhiteLF9.00 $ 3,625,000 2.48
Barry BondsLF37.55 $16,160,000 2.32
Geoff JenkinsLF10.50 $ 4,575,000 2.30
Craig Biggio2B14.46 $ 6,500,000 2.23
Terry Shumpert2B1.27 $ 600,000 2.11
Bret Boone2B15.03 $ 7,250,000 2.07
Moises AlouLF16.64 $ 8,062,500 2.06
Todd HollandsworthLF3.46 $ 1,716,667 2.01
Damion Easley2B6.08 $ 3,093,750 1.96
Abraham Nunez2B0.96 $ 500,000 1.93
Ray Durham2B13.61 $ 7,150,000 1.90
Terrence LongLF6.69 $ 3,541,667 1.89
Fernando Vina2B7.35 $ 4,250,000 1.73
Brian JordanLF8.01 $ 5,600,000 1.43
Manny RamirezLF27.03 $19,990,682 1.35

There a couple of check young left fielders at or near the top of the list, but for the most part the cheapest players are second basemen. That made me wonder what the average for all players on the list were per position. Here 'tis:

PositionAvg BWSAvg $ BWS/$1M
2B8.73 $ 2,495,361 3.50
LF16.44 $ 5,830,606 2.82

So second basemen are usually better values, but left fielders produce more offensively (surprise!) and are paid almost twice as much.

So what does this mean for Soriano? He probably wouldn't be among the highest-paid left fielders. His production is about average for the position. However, since left fielders make so much more than second baseman, the money he'll lose by going from the top end of second basemen to the middle of the left field pack will be made up for by the difference each position is paid. My prediction is that he'll make the same amount of money either way.

You may notice that his $10M in 2006 would be toward the high end for either position. I don't expect him to make that much annually in his next deal, but that might have more to do with a market adjustment than a change of position. Then again, the odd idiotic GM—Wayne Krivsky, are you listening?—might be easier to sway by a high-end second baseman than by a fair-to-middling left fielder, even though they are both worth about the same to the team. Think about your fantasy league opponents salivating over Soriano until he no longer qualifies at second base. Again, life reflects roto baseball.

Left Field? Soria-No Problem
2006-03-22 11:55
by Mike Carminati

Alfonso Soriano, a career middle infielder, will accept an assignment to left field for his new club, the Washington Nationals. Manager Frank Robinson reacted, "It's a relief for everybody, it really is." You said a mouthful, Frank.

Baseball gets it second chance in less than a week to emit a collective sigh of relief. The first instance was when Japan defeated Cuba in the Wannabe Baseball Classic. It was bad enough when the US got ousted, but imagine how Bud and his boys would have reacted if Fidel Castro could crow that he had the best players in the world. Having the Japanese win jut showcased players that the majors will be signing in the next few years.

Soriano agreeing to play left in the Nationals version of chicken, allows baseball to avoid a PC version of Danny Gardella or Curt Flood. Back in the day, players argued that they could not be held to a team in perpetuity as some sort of chattel. Fights flared up with John Montgomery Ward and the Players League rebellion in 1890, Danny Gardella challenging being blacklisted after playing in the then-rival Mexican League in the late Forties, and Curt Flood famously refusing to report to the Phils—I can't blame him—after a trade in 1969.

Those players were fighting for the right to play for the team they wanted at a fair market value. That's a right that the players later won to some degree. That is, players must complete six seasons of major-league service to earn the right.

Soriano, though he may not have known it, was fighting for a player's right to play a role that he desired, the one that he felt was best for his career in the long run. Though many can empathize with players being able to decide the team and city for which he would play, the public is not going to support a player refusing to play a new position just because he doesn't want to do so. He is seen as a lazy lollygagger who is putting himself before the team.

Some would say Soriano should have seen this coming. Going back to his Yankee days, two franchises ago, rumors swirled that Soriano would eventually be moved to the outfield. Some would point to the fact that when he was traded to Texas, Michael Young shifted to shortstop to accommodate his playing second (not to mention Alex Rodriguez, the man for whom he was traded and the then-reigning AL MVP, agreed to shift to third base).

Never mind that Soriano had been steadfast in his refusal to shift to the outfield. At the time he was traded to the Nationals for two outfielders in December given that the Nats already had Jose Vidro at second base, he stated he was not moving to the outfield. That was four months ago and Washington apparently made no effort to trade him due to the deadlock.

With the Soriano away at the WBC, the issue was tabled, but when he returned, apparently, the team just assumed he was ready and able to play left field though he had never played there before in his major-league career and the issue was never resolved after the trade.

When he refused, Jim Bowden, the Expo GM, knee-jerked that the team was ready to put Soriano on the disqualified list, thereby holding onto his $10M price tag for 2005 and barring him from becoming a free agent after the season: "[H]e would not be a free agent. He would still be our property."

It was theorized that the union could argue that Soriano shifting to left would reduce his value just as he is preparing to become a free agent. It was also in question as to whether Soriano would lose service time while sitting on the disqualified list since it was not explicitly stated one way or the other in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

One could also question whether refusing to play a particular position was an offense that could put a player on the disqualified list. At the very least it would be a precedent. Disqualification is just for players who violate their contract. Of course, there is nothing Soriano's contract that states which position he will or will not play so it's a stretch under the best interests of the team corollary of the disqualified list definition:

Disqualified List:
A player who violates a player contract or reservation may be placed on this list. There is no minimum number of days the player must remain on the Disqualified List before the player can be reinstated to the Active List. A player on the Disqualified List does not count against a Club's Active List limits or its Reserve List limits.
I found three instances in recent history in which the disqualified list was used other than as a disciplinary action for suspended players. Bert Blyleven tried to force a trade on April 30, 1980 but caved after two weeks on the disqualified list (though he was granted his wish and was traded after the season).

Dickie Thon left the Astros on July 3, 1987 still dealing with being beaned three years earlier. An unsympathetic Dick Wagner, the Houston GM, placed him on the disqualified list for the rest of the season. Interestingly, Thon became a free agent in the offseason and signed with the Padres. However, he had already amassed more than six years of major-league experience and he was apparently release by the Astros (though it appears that he was paid his full salary for the season).

In 1993, Deion Sanders went AWOL for three weeks starting at the end of April, after attending his father's funeral. He was on the disqualified list for the entire time but was welcomed back when he finally did report.

There's not a lot of history that applies to the Soriano case in there. Thon's the closest and it's still a stretch.

So there were a lot of question marks and no real answers. Both sides girded for battle. The Nats were idle on Tuesday, but Bowden set a deadline with today's game against the Cards. If Soriano refused to play left again, the GM would set the whole machinery in motion.

The game would start and the PA announcer would boom playing left field for the Nationals….Bueller?...Bueller?..Er, I mean, Soriano?...Soriano?

Unfortunately, Soriano perhaps seeing how hard the row would be to hoe, decided that left field aint so bad after all. So we'll never find out who would have won. It would have been interesting.

I think that the whole idea of team sports start to erode if players decide how and when they will be used. Remember how many kids wanted to play right field in stickball when you were growing up? It may make teams think twice if they blatantly disregard a player's desires like Washington did here. If you acquire a first baseman to play short in the future, you might now reconsider. Then again, if the Nats knew what they were doing they would have never picked up two starting second baseman and painted themselves in the corner to such a degree.

Then again, this issue may not be dead. Soriano only needs one-half season under his belt to be eligible for free agency after the season. Let's say he has an amazing first half, and Jose Vidro struggles. That might allow him to put more pressure on the team to trade Vidro and shift him to second. Or for another example, he could stink up left field, boot balls and have a sub-par offensive start, which might convince the Nats to trade him, but that won't help to get him Amigo Money once he becomes a free agent. Then again, with Christian Guzman and Royce Clayton at short, Washington may decide that moving Soriano back to the infield—he was a shortstop in the minors—is the best option.

I'm still disappointed the worst-case scenario didn't play out. I expected Bud Selig to engineer a trade to the Red Sox for a bucket of ice (wait, the Reds just took that in the Pena trade). Dang!

Reds Lop Off a Wily in More Ways Than One
2006-03-21 09:41
by Mike Carminati

The Cincinnati Reds will start the season Wily-less, but will have another mediocre pitcher to shove into their abysmal rotation.

They traded Wily Mo Pena to the Red Sox for Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is 29 and has had one decent full season (2004—10-9 with a 121 adjusted ERA) since breaking into the Pirate rotation in 2000. Those Pirates seem to crank out the mediocre pitchers, don't they? Arroyo was about a league-average pitcher last year (98 adjusted OPS) and just signed a three-year, $11.25 M contract this winter.

Pena had a very good year subbing for most of the Red outfield in 2004 (26 homers, .527 slugging percentage, and 121 adjusted OPS). Last season was a push, but he is just 24 and should start to blossom over the next couple of years. Oh, and he made just $440 K last year and will not be eligible for free agency until 2008. The worst you can say about him is that he doesn't know how to draw a base on balls.

Pena plays all three outfield spots and should move into an instant platoon in right with lefty Trot Nixon. The Sox have never seemed enamored or Nixon even in his best seasons and 2005 was not one of them. He could start to decline quickly at 32. Expect Epstein to start shopping him should Pena fit in well.

Arroyo was probably not going to make the rotation given the development of Jon Papelbon. So he would have become an expensive albatross who would be at best a long reliever and rotation insurance.

The best you can say for Arroyo going to the Reds is that he will fit in well with the rest of their rotation dreck. I guess being saddled with Eric Milton's execrable contract wasn;t enough.

Arroyo could start anywhere from number two to number five (I guess Harang is the number one). What's the difference? If he keeps his ERA under 5.00 in Cincy, I'll be surprised. Not that it'll matter. He'll be in the rotation if he still has a pulse by the All-Star break. It seems that the Reds have five guys destined for 10-14 records with a 4.00-5.00 ERA. Bless 'em.

So on the surface, the Red Sox get a younger, cheaper, better. They jettison a player that would not have a major role this year or in the future for a player who should make a significant impact this year and for years to come.

But if you delve deeper it's even worse for the Reds. First, it effectively reverses just about the only decent deal the Reds have made this century. They originally acquired Pena from the Yankees in the Drew Henson deal, a major embarrassment for New York.

Wayne Krivsky, the new GM, carries on in the proud tradition of his predecessor, Dan O'Brien. That is, he got fleeced. The Reds were once a GM machine cranking out in rapid succession Larry MacPhail, Warren Giles, Gabe Paul, Bill DeWitt, and Bob Howsam. Now, the can't find a credible rendition of a general manager.

This line from Krivsky says it all, "Signing Hatteberg was the key" to the deal.

You see, the Reds needed to jettison Pena to move Adam Dunn back to left field in order to clear a starting spot for Scott Hatteberg. Oh, it all makes sense now!?! It was a trade of Pena for that stellar veteran Scott Hatteberg. Incredible.

Even if Hatteberg were Lou Gehrig, he's 36. Pena's 24. Even when he's not involved, Billy Beane gets the last laugh. Hatteberg was a washed up backup catcher whose career was resurrected by Beane when he became a role-playing first baseman in Oakland. Beane held onto him until it was clear that he was done. He signs with the Reds and now becomes probably the worst starting first baseman in baseball.

He replaces fan fave Sean Casey, who though overrated, had his points. The Reds trade him for another mediocre Pittsburgh pitcher (Dave Williams), and then putz around until eventually they replace him with Hatteberg? Way to bring in the fans! At least you can justify it with shifting Dunn there. What a screwed up team!

Krivsky further effuses, "They needed a right-handed bat to complement Trot Nixon. It all fell into place rather quickly. Theo Epstein and I have been talking about this for three or four days." Sheez, he sounds like a fantasy GM trading Barry Bonds for Andy Ashby circa 1999. Of course, it fell in place quickly. Epstein got him to bite at the bait and then reeled him in.

I hope the fans remember this trade fondly around the All-Star break when the Reds are fighting the Pirates for last in the NL Central, Ryan Freel is starting at two of the outfield spots (when was the last time Griffey, Dunn, and Kearns didn't go down with a season-ending injury at some point in the year?), Hatteberg is stinking up the lineup, and Williams and Arroyo are major albatrosses in the rotation.

The Reds are a perfect team. Perfectly awful. The only question is how bad they will be. They should compete with the Marlins, Rockies, and Pirates for worst team in the NL. Florida will be hard to beat since they have a different agenda besides trying to win. Krivsky's really going to have to try to out-awful them, but I know he can do it.

Leiter Fluid
2006-03-20 22:16
by Mike Carminati

Al Leiter returned from the WBC, pitched to one batter for the Yankees, and then decided to hang 'em up. And when I say "'em", I mean "'em".

After 19 years of fairly decent pitching, Leiter retires after one batter and then retires himself. At least he got the guy out, and what pitcher doesn't want to go out pitching a shutout, or at least pitching in a shutout.

But it seems a rather circuitous route to retirement. His own version of "veni, vedi, vici". Eh, then again, he did retire in Florida: that's pretty typical.

Leiter will be remembered as a very good, fairly intelligent pitcher for a number of years but even in the steroid-diluted list of Hall eligibles, Leiter will have a hard time even getting the necessary five percent of the vote to remain on the ballot his first year.

It's a shame since his career is somewhat unique in its own way. Leiter, you may remember was a "can't miss" prospect—I think I have is "Topps Top Rookie" Rookie card from 1987—who missed, for a while. He broke in at age 21 and followed that up with 14 starts, a 4-4 record, and a slightly better than league average ERA of 3.92 in 1988. Then injuries limited him to 13 games and just 5 starts at the major-league level over the next four seasons.

He finally made the Blue Jay rotation in 1994, and then registered a double-digit win total for the first time the next year. He would then collect at least ten (and as many as 17) for every season through 2004.

I wondered if Leiter had the most wins for any pitcher who did not win ten in a season until the age of 29. He's not but he's close. Here are the most wins for pitchers who qualified with the age and stats for the season in which he first won ten:

PitcherYrAgeWL ERA Career WCareer L Career ERA
Dazzy Vance1922311812 3.70 197140 3.24
Mike Cuellar1966291210 2.22 185130 3.14
Bill Hutchison1889291617 3.54 183163 3.59
Murry Dickson194629156 2.88 172181 3.66
Alvin Crowder192829215 3.69 167115 4.12
Al Leiter1995291111 3.64 162132 3.80
Curt Davis1934301917 2.95 158131 3.42
Rube Walberg1926291210 2.80 155141 4.16
Hoyt Wilhelm195229153 2.43 143122 2.52
Ray Kremer1924311810 3.19 14385 3.76
Rip Sewell193932109 4.08 14397 3.48
Harry Brecheen194429165 2.85 13392 2.92
George Mogridge1918291613 2.18 132131 3.21
Vic Raschi194829198 3.84 13266 3.72
Frank Kitson1899292216 2.77 128117 3.18
George Earnshaw192929248 3.29 12793 4.38
Preacher Roe1944291311 3.11 12784 3.43
Larry Gura197830164 2.72 12697 3.76
Bob Ewing1903301413 2.77 124118 2.49
Jeff Fassero199330125 2.29 120123 4.08
Sal Maglie195033184 2.71 11962 3.15
Thornton Lee1937301210 3.52 117124 3.56
Bill Bernhard1900291510 4.77 11682 3.04
Togie Pittinger1901291316 3.01 115113 3.10
Ken Forsch197831106 2.70 114113 3.37
Woody Williams199831109 4.46 11296 4.12

And after the long wait, he went ahead and pitched 19 seasons, a sort of Minnie Minoso on the mound. Leiter is one of a handful of pitchers to pitch 19 years. They are an interesting group of second-tier Hall of Famers and memorable if not Hall-worthy pitchers. Here they are sorted by wins:

Robin Roberts286245 3.41
Fergie Jenkins284226 3.34
Tom Glavine275184 3.44
Burleigh Grimes270212 3.53
Jim Palmer268152 2.86
Luis Tiant229172 3.30
David Wells227143 4.06
Jerry Koosman222209 3.36
Freddie Fitzsimmons217146 3.51
Rick Reuschel214191 3.37
Kevin Brown211144 3.28
Jesse Haines210158 3.64
Jamie Moyer205152 4.16
Babe Adams194140 2.76
Doyle Alexander194174 3.76
Tom Zachary186191 3.73
John Candelaria177122 3.33
Scott Sanderson163143 3.84
Al Leiter162132 3.80
Ron Reed146140 3.46
Terry Mulholland124142 4.40
Syl Johnson112117 4.06
Gene Garber96113 3.34
Tug McGraw9692 3.14
Bob McClure6857 3.81

Leiter is pretty far down on the list. I tried projecting out his win total for the injury-plagued years to see if it helped his Hall credentials. I came up with a 199-181 record, still not really Hall-worthy.

19874422 6.35 22
1988141444 3.92 99
19895512 5.67 612
19904000 - 810
19913000 27.00 810
19921000 9.00 810
1993341296 4.11 96
1994202067 5.08 911
199528281111 3.64 1111
199633331612 2.93 1612
19972727119 4.34 119
19982828176 2.47 176
199932321312 4.23 1312
20003131168 3.20 168
200129291111 3.32 1111
200233331313 3.48 1313
20033030159 3.99 159
20043030108 3.21 108
20053326712 6.13 712
Total419382162132 3.80 199181

The hard part in those projects were his three consecutive years with zero wins. I based those on the two adjacent years before and after the futility streak. Whatever. I did make me wonder how many pitchers went through three consecutive seasons without a win and then went on to win at least once more at the major-league level. Well, there were 72 occurrences, so it's not as rare as I thought. However, few very went on to have successful careers. Here are the pitchers in the group who won the most. Leiter makes a better showing here:

PitcherFirst 0-W YrLast 0-W YrWL
Charlie Hough19701972216216
Wilbur Wood19611964164156
Al Leiter19901992162132
Gary Peters19591962124103
Dick Donovan1950195212299
Bill Singer19641966118127
Syl Johnson19251927112117
Fred Norman19621964104103
Cal McLish194619489292
Jesse Orosco199920018780
Nick Altrock191219158375
Phil Ortega196019634662
Carl Scheib194319454565

So good bye to Al Leiter the pitcher, and after his decent job as a color man in the playoffs a couple of years ago, I hope it's "Hello" to Al Leiter, the broadcaster. I mean, the guy's IQ is higher than the aggregate for the entire Fox crew. Then again, that's probably reason enough for him not to get the job.

By the way, my Toaster-mate Alex Belth's biography of Curt Flood was officially released today. I have my own signed copy in hand. Make sure to get one yourself. And congrats to Alex on publishing his first book. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Retaining Watermark II
2006-03-15 22:31
by Mike Carminati

Yesterday we found that retaining many of one's youngsters does not ensure success on the field. Being a Phillies fan, I know that sometimes running your homegrown talent out year after year is only a good idea if you homegrown guys are good—remember Steve Jeltz?

But what if we could filter out those homegrown players that burn a hole in your team's roster. I reran the numbers looking at just those players who had at least 100 Win Shares in their careers. Here are the results sorted by the percentage of time the average 100-WS prospect spent with his first club:

Franchise100 WS Tm Yrs Total Years %
Colorado Rockies1 9.00 9.00 100.00%
Tampa Bay Devil Rays1 5.00 8.00 62.50%
Detroit Tigers77 8.48 14.22 59.63%
Kansas City Royals25 8.04 13.92 57.76%
New York Yankees101 7.19 12.89 55.76%
Boston Red Sox69 7.83 14.12 55.44%
Minnesota Twins67 8.13 14.78 55.05%
Chicago White Sox66 7.14 13.08 54.58%
Toronto Blue Jays23 7.57 13.91 54.38%
Milwaukee Brewers22 8.00 14.77 54.15%
Los Angeles Dodgers103 7.44 14.15 52.57%
Houston Astros35 7.37 14.17 52.02%
Washington Nationals28 7.11 14.29 49.75%
Atlanta Braves92 6.89 14.07 49.00%
Cleveland Indians89 6.85 14.04 48.80%
Pittsburgh Pirates103 6.80 13.97 48.64%
San Francisco Giants105 6.88 14.30 48.10%
Baltimore Orioles66 6.92 14.41 48.05%
St. Louis Cardinals112 6.47 13.99 46.27%
Cincinnati Reds95 6.23 13.84 45.02%
Philadelphia Phillies72 6.19 13.82 44.82%
Oakland Athletics82 6.71 15.05 44.57%
Chicago Cubs103 6.30 14.19 44.39%
New York Mets37 6.62 15.05 43.99%
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim36 5.86 14.17 41.37%
Texas Rangers28 5.93 14.68 40.39%
Seattle Mariners24 5.21 13.04 39.94%
San Diego Padres18 5.39 14.22 37.89%
Florida Marlins7 4.14 11.00 37.66%

So how well does that correlate to winning percentage? Not at all actually (coefficient of -0.0842). Maybe 100 Win Shares just isn't enough. I ran the data again using a 200 Win Share cutoff:

Franchise200 WS Tm Yrs Total Years %
Colorado Rockies1 9.00 9.00 100.00%
New York Yankees25 11.28 14.72 76.63%
Kansas City Royals4 13.75 18.75 73.33%
Detroit Tigers31 12.03 16.74 71.87%
Minnesota Twins22 11.86 18.23 65.09%
Los Angeles Dodgers35 9.60 16.43 58.43%
Boston Red Sox24 10.08 17.33 58.17%
Milwaukee Brewers5 10.80 19.00 56.84%
Atlanta Braves31 9.03 16.19 55.78%
Pittsburgh Pirates30 9.10 16.47 55.26%
Houston Astros11 9.27 16.82 55.14%
Chicago Cubs31 9.19 16.77 54.81%
Baltimore Orioles21 9.48 17.33 54.67%
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim8 8.50 16.25 52.31%
Seattle Mariners6 8.17 15.67 52.13%
Chicago White Sox17 9.12 17.65 51.67%
San Francisco Giants41 8.32 16.76 49.64%
Toronto Blue Jays8 7.63 16.00 47.66%
St. Louis Cardinals32 7.84 16.50 47.54%
Washington Nationals9 8.44 17.89 47.20%
Cincinnati Reds31 7.81 16.94 46.10%
Philadelphia Phillies26 7.31 16.46 44.39%
Cleveland Indians28 7.25 16.46 44.03%
Oakland Athletics36 7.61 17.33 43.91%
Texas Rangers9 7.11 16.33 43.54%
San Diego Padres5 7.80 18.00 43.33%
New York Mets8 6.63 17.25 38.41%

I like what I'm seeing toward the top of table. Does it correlate any better? Ever so slightly, but not really (0.1527).

Ok, as a last ditch effort I will limit the data just to players with 300 or more career Win Shares, basically a Hall of Fame-caliber player. So how'd we do this time?

Franchise300 WS Tm Yrs Total Years %
Kansas City Royals12121100.00%
New York Yankees616.333316.598.99%
Detroit Tigers619.520.166796.69%
Baltimore Orioles516.420.281.19%
Seattle Mariners31215.666776.60%
Los Angeles Dodgers712.571417.857170.40%
Cincinnati Reds813.519.87567.92%
Milwaukee Brewers31319.666766.10%
Atlanta Braves912.777819.888964.25%
Houston Astros511.818.663.44%
Chicago White Sox611.66671961.40%
San Francisco Giants1311.230818.384661.09%
Boston Red Sox1112.545520.545561.06%
Minnesota Twins812.62520.87560.48%
St. Louis Cardinals1110.727318.545557.84%
Chicago Cubs1110.363618.454556.16%
Pittsburgh Pirates1110.363618.909154.81%
Oakland Athletics108.919.346.11%
San Diego Padres48.7519.544.87%
Philadelphia Phillies117.9090917.818244.39%
Washington Nationals58.419.642.86%
Toronto Blue Jays26.51836.11%
Cleveland Indians3618.333332.73%
New York Mets3620.666729.03%
Texas Rangers11175.88%

We improved significantly (0.4327 coefficient), but I'm still not happy.

Maybe looking at the total number of players produced who eventually collected the desired Win Share total is enough. Maybe it doesn't matter how much time those actually spend with the team. Let's see. I ran the numbers and actually it correlates pretty well for 100 Win Shares (0.7662). But what's odd is that it goes down significantly as the Win Share cutoff goes up, eventually approaching what we saw above at 300 WS (0.6538 for 200 WS and 0.4332 for 300).<.p>

Let's try looking at just the average number of years the player spent with the team that developed him. Those numbers don't correlate as either of the other two (0.3418 for 100 WS, 0.2470 for 200, and 0.3469 for 300), and it takes an odd dip in the middle.

So what have we learned? It's most important to develop credible major-leaguers in large numbers and it's best to retain the best players for the longest amount of time. That seems to make sense, sort of the Branch Rickey player development approach when he revamped the Cards' minor league system. Quantity and quality.

Retaining Watermark
2006-03-14 21:59
by Mike Carminati

Given my newfound data on player retention, I thought it might be interesting to look at whether retaining young talent leads to winning teams. I looked at how long each franchise does on average in retaining the players that first reach the majors with them.

Below are the results sorted from highest to lowest. Keep in mind that the newer expansion teams will have lower numbers given that they haven't had time to build up a history:
Franchise Avg Team Yrs Avg Total Yrs % FirstLastPCT
Houston Astros 3.22 5.61 57.49%19622005.500
New York Yankees 3.09 5.79 53.43%19012005.567
San Francisco Giants 3.07 5.48 56.06%18832005.540
Los Angeles Dodgers 3.05 5.67 53.89%18842005.524
Milwaukee Brewers 3.03 5.09 59.57%18842005.472
Detroit Tigers 3.00 5.08 59.07%19012005.505
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3.00 5.61 53.51%19612005.490
Toronto Blue Jays 2.99 5.78 51.70%19772005.494
Kansas City Royals 2.95 5.09 57.98%19692005.491
Minnesota Twins 2.95 4.62 63.69%19012005.480
Boston Red Sox 2.94 5.02 58.49%19012005.515
Cleveland Indians 2.86 5.30 53.95%19012005.511
New York Mets 2.86 5.99 47.65%19622005.474
Pittsburgh Pirates 2.84 5.16 55.06%18822005.508
Texas Rangers 2.83 5.43 52.19%19612005.467
Chicago White Sox 2.82 4.60 61.28%19012005.506
Atlanta Braves 2.77 4.83 57.36%18762005.499
San Diego Padres 2.72 5.15 52.81%19692005.459
Seattle Mariners 2.70 5.11 52.89%19772005.470
St. Louis Cardinals 2.67 5.07 52.71%18822005.517
Cincinnati Reds 2.67 5.13 51.96%18762005.506
Chicago Cubs 2.66 5.18 51.46%18762005.514
Oakland Athletics 2.59 4.61 56.17%19012005.485
Baltimore Orioles 2.54 4.57 55.55%18822005.482
Washington Nationals 2.49 4.89 51.03%18722005.469
Florida Marlins 2.47 4.36 56.59%19932005.472
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2.47 3.18 77.49%19982005.401
Philadelphia Phillies 2.45 4.37 56.18%18832005.468
Colorado Rockies 2.29 3.45 66.55%19932005.465
Arizona Diamondbacks 2.07 3.16 65.57%19982005.503

A cursory look at the list seems to indicate that winning teams retain young players longer. However, when I ran the numbers I found that the correlation isn't very strong at all (coefficient of 0.4546). Actually, the total years that the players these teams developed (though didn't necessarily spend with the given team) correlate to their winning percentage slightly better (0.5056).

OK, maybe I'm comparing apples to oranges. What if we divvied the up the team stats by decade? The teams that retained young talent best did have some very good results. The Yankees of the '30s, the Reds of the Sixties and Seventies, the Seventies Royals, the O's in the '60s, etc.:

FranchiseDecade Avg Team Yrs Avg Total Yrs % PCT
New York Yankees1930s 5.20 8.05 64.55%.636
Cincinnati Reds1960s 4.78 9.33 51.19%.537
Kansas City Royals1970s 4.53 7.29 62.20%.528
Baltimore Orioles1960s 4.51 7.75 58.23%.566
Cincinnati Reds1970s 4.44 8.26 53.73%.592
Pittsburgh Pirates1960s 4.37 8.12 53.79%.529
Milwaukee Brewers1970s 4.31 6.40 67.27%.458
Boston Red Sox1980s 4.19 6.60 63.43%.525
San Francisco Giants1960s 4.18 7.92 52.72%.562
St. Louis Cardinals1940s 4.17 6.36 65.60%.623
Atlanta Braves1970s 4.16 5.88 70.75%.451
Atlanta Braves1980s 4.14 7.58 54.63%.457
Baltimore Orioles1970s 4.12 7.86 52.37%.590
Minnesota Twins1990s 4.04 6.33 63.88%.463
San Francisco Giants1970s 4.04 7.49 53.88%.493
Los Angeles Dodgers1970s 4.00 9.31 42.96%.565
Detroit Tigers1960s 4.00 6.02 66.50%.547
San Francisco Giants1950s 4.00 7.47 53.53%.533
New York Yankees1940s 3.95 6.32 62.50%.604
Washington Nationals1970s 3.94 7.26 54.27%.465
Los Angeles Dodgers1950s 3.93 6.70 58.64%.592
Los Angeles Dodgers1960s 3.92 7.72 50.74%.546
Seattle Mariners1980s 3.89 7.35 52.98%.430
Pittsburgh Pirates1930s 3.88 5.83 66.43%.531
Atlanta Braves1960s 3.87 7.45 51.90%.531
Boston Red Sox1960s 3.86 7.15 54.03%.475
Toronto Blue Jays1970s 3.85 4.85 79.38%.343

So how well does retaining one's prospects correlate to winning when the data are divided up by decade? Even worse than the overall stats (coefficient of 0.1598).

Well, my next thought was that maybe we need to limit some of the data. The data from the current data is largely meaningless given that it'll be incomplete for another decade or so. Also, the nineteenth-century data are much lower given the volatility of the times. I limited the data to 1900-2000 only. The results were…(drum roll please)…not a whole lot better (0.3198).

So what does it all mean? I'm going back to the drawing board, but by the looks of things teams that held onto their young players longer did not necessarily lead to on-field success. Given that teams have tried to sign up their youngsters a la the Indians in the Nineties, this seems counterintuitive. Isn't the whole idea behind restricting free agency to players with six years of major-league experience and arbitration to those with three based on this theory?

Maybe it's not retaining the most youngsters for the longest that helps teams win. Maybe it's retaining the best and being able to evaluate that correctly that helps teams win.

Loyal Is As Loyal Does
2006-03-13 14:59
by Mike Carminati
Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world-and never will.
—Mark Twain

Mine honesty and I begin to square.
The loyalty well held to fools does make
Our faith mere folly; yet he that can endure
To follow with allegiance a fall'n lord
Does conquer him that did his master conquer

—William "Author" Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra.

Why do you hurt me, Michael? I've always been loyal to you.
—Tom Hagen, The Godfather: Part II

The other day on the SABR-L email digest, there was a note from John Thorn from a reader to the effect:

I came across a transcript of an interview you did with "Outside the Lines" a few years back. You mentioned during the interview that player tenure on teams lengthened during the 1940s and 1950s, and I was wondering if you had any statistics to that effect.

I won't go into the idea of loyalty in player movements, whether it's a matter of disloyalty, if you want to call it that, on the part of the owners or the players or whether this is just a business like any other where employees move around from time to time. (If you want a treatise on management disloyalty, you revisit Ford's recent history, but I digress.) However, I can and did investigate how long it took a player, for whatever reason, to switch teams.

First, here is a breakdown by a player's first team per decade. For each decade, here are the average years he spent with that team (whether he went to another or left the majors) and the average number of years he spent in the majors. Finally, the percentage of his major-league time spent with that first team appears in the last column:

Decade#Players Avg Tm Yrs Avg Total YrsFirst Tm %
1870s450 1.35 4.18 32.22%
1880s934 1.51 3.85 39.13%
1890s814 1.66 3.93 42.38%
1900s1084 2.26 3.99 56.69%
1910s1546 2.12 3.87 54.80%
1920s1205 2.62 4.26 61.47%
1930s1038 2.95 4.94 59.68%
1940s1168 3.10 4.58 67.55%
1950s1070 3.16 5.67 55.67%
1960s1251 3.60 6.65 54.12%
1970s1316 3.45 6.72 51.34%
1980s1458 3.36 6.80 49.36%
1990s1879 2.88 5.50 52.38%
2000s1203 1.97 2.45 80.39%

Note that the data for the current decade (and possibly for the 1990s) are incomplete. The number of years with the first team were way down but the percentage of total time is way up. Clearly, more time is needed to examine the 2000s.

The numbers for the 1990s are also down from the previous forty years. It may be due to incomplete data for current players.

Next, let's look at the average life expectancy for a given player when he starts his tenure with a new club (either as a rookie or as a veteran on a new ballclub) over the years. Below are the average stats for all of those new tenures per decade:

DecadeNew TenuresAvg Tm YrsAvg Tot YrsTm %
1870s952 1.42 5.99 23.68%
1880s2116 1.59 5.38 29.46%
1890s2063 1.67 6.65 25.07%
1900s2164 2.28 6.11 37.41%
1910s2867 2.13 5.66 37.68%
1920s2148 2.48 6.28 39.47%
1930s2104 2.54 7.33 34.66%
1940s2254 2.59 6.62 39.16%
1950s2403 2.53 7.54 33.53%
1960s3034 2.70 8.47 31.87%
1970s3518 2.68 9.07 29.51%
1980s3742 2.64 9.10 29.01%
1990s5353 2.20 8.61 25.52%
2000s3848 1.63 6.78 24.03%

Again, we do not yet have complete data for the last decade or so. However, you might note that the average tenure had held pretty steady in the 2.5 to 2.75 years range from the Twenties to the Eighties. Actually, it went up slightly in the expansion era, and even free agency didn't put much of a dent in it.

But, you'll also note that the average career length went up, meaning that the percentage of time that a player spent with any one individual team went down on average.

If you want to argue that expansion helped marginal major-leaguers stay in the game longer, the data seem to support that. However, if you want to look into any concept of player/owner loyalty. All parties seem to remain as loyal as ever to each other, whatever that means.

Old Rocket Chair
2006-03-09 21:10
by Mike Carminati

Roger Clemens is really going to retire. Believe him. Right after the WBC, the fulfillment of his long career—I kid you.Never mind that he was in the Texas Rangers camp today, Texas being one of the teams he will deign to pitch for this season.

You see, Rocket was just sightseeing: "I've never pitched in Arizona, and I told him I wanted to come see things in Surprise." Ah, it was beautiful Surprise. The Rangers just happened to be encamped there. Surprise is Arizona's version of Mecca after all. And according to their website, there was a city council meeting today. I hope Roger got tickets.

But let's take Roger at his word. Let's say he does retire. Would his 2005 season be the best final season by a pitcher ever?

I looked up all pitched with at the lowest ERAs in their final season while throwing at least 50 innings. Here's what I got:

PitcherYrAgeWLPCTIP ERA WHIP K:BB K/9IP Win Shares
Ted Abernathy19723934.42958.3 1.70 1.08 1.47 4.32 7
Ned Garvin190430516.238193.7 1.72 1.21 1.18 4.37 11
Sandy Koufax196630279.750323.0 1.73 0.98 4.12 8.83 35
Eddie Matteson19183353.62567.7 1.73 1.06 1.13 2.26 6
Eddie Plank19174156.455131.0 1.79 1.09 0.68 1.79 7
Tom Henke19953711.50054.3 1.82 1.10 2.67 7.95 12
Larry French194234154.789147.7 1.83 1.10 1.72 3.78 17
Jim Scott19172967.462125.0 1.87 1.34 0.88 2.66 9
Roger Clemens200542138.619211.3 1.87 1.01 2.98 7.88 25
J.R. Richard198030104.714113.7 1.90 0.92 2.98 9.42 12
Johnny Rigney19473223.40050.7 1.95 1.13 1.27 3.38 5
Tex Pruiett19082517.12558.7 1.99 1.30 1.33 4.30 2
Charlie Hodnett188423122.857121.0 2.01 1.13 2.56 3.05 13
Jim St.Vrain19021946.40095.0 2.08 1.19 2.04 4.83 6
Irv Higginbotham19092762.75089.3 2.12 1.02 1.55 3.43 6
Tom Hilgendorf19753373.70096.7 2.14 1.23 1.37 4.84 10
Buttons Briggs19052988.500168.0 2.14 1.15 1.31 3.64 12
Dan Griner19183015.16754.3 2.15 1.14 1.47 3.64 4
Ed Conley18841944.50071.0 2.15 1.20 1.50 4.18 4
Tex Neuer19073042.66754.0 2.17 1.09 1.16 3.67 4
Robb Nen20023262.75073.7 2.20 1.14 4.05 9.90 15
Erv Lange1914261211.522190.0 2.23 1.14 1.58 4.12 14
Bill Bartley19072201.00056.3 2.24 1.12 0.84 2.56 3
George Kaiserling1915221515.500261.3 2.24 1.22 1.03 2.58 19
Jim Devlin1877283525.583559.0 2.25 1.18 3.44 2.27 60

Well, clearly ERA isn't the end-all be-all. Let's try Win Shares. Here are the most in a pitcher's final year:

PitcherYrAgeWLPCTIP ERA WHIP K:BB K/9IP Win Shares
Jim Devlin1877283525.583559.0 2.25 1.18 3.44 2.27 60
Bill Sweeney1884 4021.656538.0 2.59 1.11 5.05 6.26 49
Charlie Ferguson1887242210.688297.3 3.00 1.16 2.66 3.78 36
Sandy Koufax196630279.750323.0 1.73 0.98 4.12 8.83 35
Henry Boyle1889282123.477378.7 3.92 1.37 1.02 2.31 28
Toad Ramsey1890252417.585348.7 3.69 1.22 2.52 6.63 28
Roger Clemens200542138.619211.3 1.87 1.01 2.98 7.88 25
James Burke1884 1915.559322.0 2.85 1.11 8.23 7.13 24
Eddie Cicotte1920362110.677303.3 3.26 1.29 1.18 2.58 24
Hank O'Day1890272213.629329.0 4.21 1.58 0.58 2.57 23
John Sowders1890231916.543309.0 3.82 1.68 0.57 2.65 22
Ben Sanders1892271219.387268.3 3.22 1.28 1.24 2.58 22
Fred Smith1890271913.594286.0 3.27 1.27 1.29 3.65 22
John Ewing189128218.724269.3 2.27 1.27 1.31 4.61 21
Jim Conway1889301919.500335.0 3.25 1.27 1.28 3.09 20
Mark Baldwin1893291620.444333.7 4.15 1.45 0.70 2.70 20
Park Swartzel1889231927.413410.3 4.32 1.46 1.26 3.22 19
Walter Thornton1898231310.565215.3 3.34 1.31 1.00 2.34 19
Lefty Williams1920272214.611299.0 3.91 1.31 1.42 3.85 19
George Kaiserling1915221515.500261.3 2.24 1.22 1.03 2.58 19
Win Mercer1902281518.455281.7 3.04 1.29 0.50 1.28 19
Harry Salisbury1882272018.526335.0 2.63 1.05 3.65 3.63 19
Jim McCormick1887301323.361322.3 4.30 1.43 0.92 2.15 18
Billy Hart189024128.600201.3 3.67 1.26 1.44 4.25 18
Ted Lewis1901281617.485316.3 3.53 1.23 1.13 2.93 18
Henry Schmidt1903302213.629301.0 3.83 1.47 0.80 2.87 18
Van Mungo194534147.667183.0 3.20 1.27 1.42 4.97 17
Larry French194234154.789147.7 1.83 1.10 1.72 3.78 17
Chief Johnson1915291717.500281.3 2.75 1.15 1.66 3.77 17
Tommy Bond1884281314.481232.0 3.49 1.14 7.94 5.55 17
Red Donahue1906331314.481241.0 2.73 1.30 1.52 3.06 17
Ed Cushman1890381721.447315.7 4.19 1.44 1.17 3.56 17

So there you are: Koufax, Clemens, and a bunch of nineteenth-century guys.

Actually, there are a lot of interesting stories in there. Devlin was kicked out of the game in 1877 in the Louisville Colonels game-throwing scandal. And of course, there are Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams who were of course a couple of the infamous "Black Sox" (though Cicotte did get played by a future Oscar nominee in David Strathairn and was way more sympathetic because he was hosed out of a bonus).

Sandy Koufax as you probably know retired due to arthritic pitching elbow. He quit instead of potentially becoming crippled.

Win Mercer was named the Tiger manager (Player-manager actually) at age 28 but pulled a Dave Chapelle and committed suicide after the season. He inhaled poisonous gas and left a note on the evils of women and gambling, maybe not in that order.

Henry Schmidt returned to his native Texas and decided not to go back to the East to play ball. He returned his 1904 contract unsigned, explaining that "I do not like living in the East and will not report."

Ted Lewis retired to become a full-time coach at Columbia.

Larry French and Van Lingle Mungo both went into the military. Actually, Mungo returned and then retired.

And a bunch of the players were creations of single-season leagues. Bill Sweeney was from the lowly Union Association. George Kaiserling was a Federal League creation who never made it in organized ball afterwards. Chief Johnson jumped his Reds contract to play for KC in the Federal League. It probably didn't bode well for his career when the Feds folded.

So there you have it, Clemens would probably be the best pitcher to just hang 'em up without a reason ever. That's all the more reason to believe he'll be pitching somewhere this season.

Grin and Barry
2006-03-07 22:42
by Mike Carminati

Yeah, screw you, too. I had a bad enough day even before finding out that the best ballplayer I've ever seen did it on steroids. Great.

I know, the rumors had been swirling for quite some time, but now there's tangible proof, or at least tangible allegations. I'm not sure how reliable these guys' sources are— certainly, Kimberly Bell seems highly suspect at best—, but will it matter?

The court of public opinion is already weighing in and Bonds apparently will end up on the guilty end of Justice's scale, not that he'll get an actual trial. First, Palmeiro. Then Sosa. Now, Bonds. Look on the bright side though: Maybe it helps McGwire's chances of getting into the Hall next year.

Bonds will now be asterisked and marginalized to death. Never mind that the man already had 411 home runs, 8 All-Star appearances, and three MVPs before he started taking steroids after 1998, when the writers allege that he started roiding. He was already a Hall of Famer, but now that will be forgotten. Some would argue that his "cheating" abrogates his prior achievements.

It seems that the legacy for the power hitters of the last decade or so will now be permanently tainted. As for me, I'd rather not deal with this crap. I like my heroes to seem heroic, not to have fallen arches.

I'm not even ready to debate how this affects his career or the era in which he played. It's too depressing.

The one thing I noticed in their analysis was that they looked at Bonds' homers per at-bat, given that he was walked about a gazillion times in the last five years or so. Of course, he can't homer when he is intentionally walked, but I'm not sure limiting him to at-bats alone is fair. Nor, is it fair to forget that he played before and during the greatest power surge in baseball history. Comparing his early stats to his later stats without keeping an eye to that is unfair as well.

Here are his yearly stats with homers per at-bats and per plate appearance included:


Now, here they prorated for the league average for each stat:

1986 1.67 1.61 0.88 1.03 1.10 1.06
1987 1.65 -1% 1.67 4% 1.00 1.00 1.22 1.12
1988 2.29 39% 2.24 34% 1.14 1.19 1.35 1.28
1989 1.58 -31% 1.51 -32% 1.01 1.12 1.17 1.15
1990 2.76 75% 2.58 71% 1.17 1.26 1.47 1.38
1991 2.24 -19% 2.03 -22% 1.17 1.29 1.38 1.34
1992 3.74 67% 3.24 60% 1.24 1.45 1.69 1.58
1993 3.38 -10% 3.03 -6% 1.27 1.40 1.70 1.56
1994 3.40 1% 3.16 4% 1.17 1.28 1.56 1.44
1995 2.35 -31% 2.11 -33% 1.12 1.30 1.42 1.36
1996 2.84 21% 2.45 16% 1.17 1.40 1.51 1.46
1997 2.68 -6% 2.34 -5% 1.11 1.34 1.43 1.39
1998 2.32 -14% 2.07 -12% 1.16 1.32 1.48 1.41
1999 2.95 27% 2.74 32% 0.98 1.14 1.44 1.30
2000 3.01 2% 2.72 -1% 1.15 1.29 1.59 1.46
2001 4.58 52% 3.70 36% 1.25 1.56 2.03 1.82
2002 3.86 -16% 2.88 -22% 1.43 1.76 1.95 1.86
2003 3.77 -2% 3.02 5% 1.30 1.59 1.79 1.71
2004 3.76 0% 2.57 -15% 1.38 1.83 1.92 1.88
2005 4.07 8% 3.70 44% 1.09 1.22 1.61 1.44

Aside from 2001, his homers per at-bat and per plate appearance relative to the league average has not changed that dramatically.

Bonds also changed stadiums. Here are his stats relative to the team average:

1986 1.90 1.83 0.89 1.03 1.11 1.07
1987 1.92 1% 1.94 6% 0.99 1.00 1.22 1.12
1988 2.18 14% 2.16 11% 1.15 1.16 1.33 1.25
1989 1.91 -12% 1.84 -15% 1.03 1.13 1.19 1.16
1990 2.48 30% 2.37 29% 1.16 1.23 1.39 1.32
1991 2.12 -15% 1.96 -17% 1.11 1.21 1.29 1.25
1992 3.75 77% 3.28 67% 1.22 1.41 1.64 1.53
1993 4.31 15% 3.89 18% 1.26 1.37 1.72 1.56
1994 4.57 6% 4.19 8% 1.20 1.32 1.68 1.52
1995 2.58 -44% 2.29 -45% 1.13 1.34 1.46 1.40
1996 3.33 29% 2.86 25% 1.15 1.40 1.51 1.46
1997 3.21 -4% 2.79 -2% 1.11 1.36 1.45 1.41
1998 3.44 7% 3.03 9% 1.19 1.41 1.63 1.53
1999 3.06 -11% 2.86 -6% 1.01 1.17 1.47 1.34
2000 3.43 12% 3.06 7% 1.15 1.30 1.62 1.48
2001 5.14 50% 4.12 34% 1.33 1.65 2.20 1.95
2002 4.28 -17% 3.20 -22% 1.52 1.82 2.10 1.97
2003 3.95 -8% 3.17 -1% 1.28 1.56 1.78 1.68
2004 4.66 18% 3.14 -1% 1.39 1.90 2.03 1.97
2005 4.77 2% 4.30 37% 1.10 1.25 1.67 1.48

Again, 2001 is the big outlier.

I guess, all I'm saying is if you want to dislike Bonds for steroid use, go ahead. But if you want a statistical basis for it, I don't thin it'll be quite so easy as people expect.

2006-03-06 20:17
by Mike Carminati

Kirk Rueter retired tonight as the all-time winngest lefthander in San Francisco Giants history. I have nothing more to say other than I am shocked by that fact.

I looked up the team leaders in left-handed wins (as opposed to left-handed compliments) for each franchise in their various iterations. Here goes. Enjoy:

TeamPitcherWLIPoutsER IP ERA
California AngelsChuck Finley1291146223841 2,074.3 3.65
Anaheim AngelsJarrod Washburn67492928441 976.0 4.07
Los Angeles AngelsBo Belinsky21281198166 399.3 3.74
Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimJarrod Washburn8853263 177.3 3.20
Arizona DiamondbacksRandy Johnson103494169409 1,389.7 2.65
Atlanta BravesTom Glavine242143100341252 3,344.7 3.37
Milwaukee BravesWarren Spahn23413894861073 3,162.0 3.05
Boston BravesWarren Spahn122915652637 1,884.0 3.04
Boston BeaneatersFred Klobedanz53252106321 702.0 4.12
Boston DovesPatsy Flaherty24331383153 461.0 2.99
Boston Red CapsCurry Foley23231199148 399.7 3.33
Boston BeesJoe Sullivan1623873116 291.0 3.59
Boston RustlersLefty Tyler71049693 165.3 5.06
Baltimore OriolesDave McNally1811137958937 2,652.7 3.18
St. Louis BrownsCarl Weilman85954563451 1,521.0 2.67
Milwaukee BrewersPete Dowling1414931 49.7 5.62
Boston Red SoxMel Parnell123755258682 1,752.7 3.50
Boston PilgrimsJesse Tannehill56312249208 749.7 2.50
Boston AmericansWin Kellum2314434 48.0 6.38
Chicago CubsHippo Vaughn1511056649575 2,216.3 2.33
Chicago ColtsDanny Friend32271604279 534.7 4.70
Chicago White StockingsGus Krock28171201125 400.3 2.81
Chicago OrphansRube Waddell141473176 243.7 2.81
Chicago White SoxBilly Pierce18615287931038 2,931.0 3.19
Cincinnati RedsEppa Rixey17914886721068 2,890.7 3.33
Cincinnati RedlegsJoe Nuxhall73583318482 1,106.0 3.92
Cincinnati Red StockingsElmer Smith69503214392 1,071.3 3.29
Cleveland IndiansSam McDowell1221096329702 2,109.7 2.99
Cleveland NapsVean Gregg72362695231 898.3 2.31
Cleveland BluesPete Dowling1122769110 256.3 3.86
Cleveland BronchosOtto Hess2413129 43.7 5.98
Colorado RockiesBrian Bohanon29301414305 471.3 5.82
Detroit TigersMickey Lolich207175100851289 3,361.7 3.45
Florida MarlinsDontrelle Willis46271782216 594.0 3.27
Houston AstrosBob Knepper931005214706 1,738.0 3.66
Houston Colt .45'sHal Woodeshick1834995117 331.7 3.17
Kansas City RoyalsPaul Splittorff16614376641082 2,554.7 3.81
Los Angeles DodgersSandy Koufax156776359622 2,119.7 2.64
Brooklyn DodgersPreacher Roe93373832463 1,277.3 3.26
Brooklyn SuperbasNap Rucker76844495392 1,498.3 2.35
Brooklyn RobinsSherry Smith69703592387 1,197.3 2.91
Brooklyn BridegroomsHarley Payne29331592239 530.7 4.05
Brooklyn GraysSteve Toole2016894144 298.0 4.35
Brooklyn GroomsBert Inks71246368 154.3 3.97
Milwaukee Brewers (AL)Mike Caldwell102804814667 1,604.7 3.74
Milwaukee Brewers (NL)Doug Davis26251447188 482.3 3.51
Seattle PilotsSteve Barber4725946 86.3 4.80
Minnesota TwinsJim Kaat18915288781080 2,959.3 3.28
Washington SenatorsCase Patten1051276178765 2,059.3 3.34
New York MetsJerry Koosman1401377634875 2,544.7 3.09
New York YankeesWhitey Ford2361069511967 3,170.3 2.75
New York HighlandersHippo Vaughn23291298153 432.7 3.18
Philadelphia AthleticsEddie Plank284162115821025 3,860.7 2.39
Oakland AthleticsVida Blue124865837638 1,945.7 2.95
Kansas City AthleticsBud Daley39391745254 581.7 3.93
Philadelphia PhilliesSteve Carlton241161110921270 3,697.3 3.09
Philadelphia QuakersDan Casey72593593387 1,197.7 2.91
Philadelphia Blue JaysAl Gerheauser18351193179 397.7 4.05
Pittsburgh AlleghenysEd Morris49582903353 967.7 3.28
Pittsburgh AlleghenysEd Morris80443409303 1,136.3 2.40
Pittsburgh PiratesWilbur Cooper2021599597974 3,199.0 2.74
San Diego PadresRandy Jones921055298648 1,766.0 3.30
New York GiantsCarl Hubbell253154107711188 3,590.3 2.98
San Francisco GiantsKirk Rueter105804842775 1,614.0 4.32
Seattle MarinersJamie Moyer139755799846 1,933.0 3.94
St. Louis CardinalsBill Sherdel1531317352992 2,450.7 3.64
St. Louis Browns (NL)Ted Breitenstein921225645901 1,881.7 4.31
St. Louis Browns (AA)Toad Ramsey27181169161 389.7 3.72
St. Louis PerfectosCowboy Jones6525634 85.3 3.59
Tampa Bay Devil RaysMark Hendrickson21231085215 361.7 5.35
Texas RangersKenny Rogers133965727882 1,909.0 4.16
Washington SenatorsClaude Osteen33411914245 638.0 3.46
Toronto Blue JaysJimmy Key116815087645 1,695.7 3.42
Montreal ExposJeff Fassero58482550302 850.0 3.20
Washington NationalsJoey Eischen2110913 36.3 3.22
Washington NationalsMike Stanton218311 27.7 3.58
Feeling Pokey?
2006-03-06 18:32
by Mike Carminati

Just when I finish the chart on how bad it had gotten for the Marlins' payroll, it got worse. Over the weekend, Florida released an AWOL Pokey Reese, thereby saving his eight hundred thousand dollar salary. Or to be more precise, the saved the $473 K difference between Reese and a league-minimum, replacement-level shnook, which given the Marlins' ways of late, he surely will be.

So that lowers the projected Marlins payroll to just $14,837,000. They potentially will leapfrog the 1998 Pittsburgh Pirates ($15,065,000) for the fourth-lowest in the the last twenty-one years (the era for which we have salary data). (See the payroll numbers below.)

Of course, that could get lower if guys like Wes Helms ($800K), Joe Borowski ($1 M), Brian Moehler ($1.5M) get moved to lower the payroll more. The payroll devoted to their top four salaries (those three plus Dontrelle Willis $4.35 M), is almost as much as they have devoted to the next 23 guys on the roster ($7,650,000 to $8,241,000).

With this team, I wouldn't be surprised if Willis or potential arbitration-eligible Miguel Cabrera get the heave-ho by season's end. This team won't be a Triple-A club; it'll be a bad Mexican League club. Maybe we can outsource their jobs south of the border and kill two birds with one stone or rather pelota.

Cabrera-fied Screwing
2006-03-02 21:02
by Mike Carminati

Miguel Cabrera re-signed with the slash-and-burn Marlins today for the lowly sum of $472K. Four hundred and seventy-two?

What, they couldn't spring for the extra $28K to make it an even half-million?

And they had the gall to add a provision should he find himself in the minors this year. If that should happen, Cabrera will make $296K. The man hit 33 home runs each of the last two seasons, and they couldn't guarantee the $176K difference? That wouldn't pay the weekly liquor bill for Jeffrey Loria's suite at Joe Dolphin Player Stadium-agig.

Besides what series of events could occur to drive Cabrera off the major-league roster? The Marlins have basically a Triple-A lineup going into 2006. Cabrera's the only guaranteed starting position player with any experience. Retreads Pokey Reese and Wes Helms have plenty of experience but will be battling rookies for playing time. Cabrera could pull a Glenn Davis this season and the Marlins would still be hard-pressed to replace him.

That aside, the Marlins have now signed all of their players for 2006. Now we can complete the payroll calculations that I started investing as the Marlins cut veterans (here and here).

I originally estimated Cabrera and Willis would get $5 M each, under the assumption that both were eligible for arbitration. Cabrera missed the cut for arbitration—he only played 87 games in 2003. After Willis signed for $4.35M, I reset Cabrera to $3M.

Boy, was I wrong.

In any event, we now have the final numbers for the non-rookie players. It gets grimmer and grimmer each time I do this. Here is a comparison between last year's and this year's payroll:

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 FA;signed with Blue Jays
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 FA; signed with Tigers
Jim Mecir$1,100,000 Free Agent
Damion Easley$750,000 FA; signed with D-Backs
John Riedling$750,000 FA, signed with Cards
Matt Perisho$475,000 No longer with team
Lenny Harris$425,000 FA;re-signed to minor-league contract
Brian Moehler$400,000 Free Agent; re-signed; SP$1,500,000
Dontrelle Willis$378,500 SP$4,350,000
Miguel Cabrera$370,000 Starting 3B (RF?)$472,000
Nate Bump$360,000 RP$400,000
Chris Aguila$316,000 Starting LF$327,000
Matt Treanor$316,000 Backup C$327,000
Antonio Alfonseca$300,000 Free Agent, option declined
Mike Mordecai$425,000 Free Agent
Paul Quantrill$3,000,000 Free Agent
Jason Vargas?SP$327,000
Randy Messenger ?RP$327,000
Ron Villone $1,950,000 Traded to Yankees
Valerio de los Santos?RP$327,000
Scott Olsen?SP$327,000
Chris Resop?RP$327,000
Josh Johnson ?SP$327,000
Robert Andino?UT INF$327,000
Jeremy Hermida?Starting RF?$327,000
Joe Dillon ?New 2B or UT?$327,000
Josh Willingham ?Starting C/LF?$327,000
Josh Wilson ?New 2B?$327,000
Ryan Jorgensen ?Backup C?$327,000
Alfredo Amezaga$0 New 3B?$340,000
Mike Jacobs$0 Starting 1B (C?)$327,000
Eric ReedStarting CF?$327,000
Hanley Ramirez$0 Starting SS$327,000
Sergio Mitre$0 SP$330,000
Alfredo AmezagaUT INF$340,000
Miguel OlivoC$400,000
Joe Borowski CL$1,000,000
Pokey ReeseStarting 2B$800,000
Wes Helms 1B/3B$800,000
Total$60,058,834 $ 16,291,000
Mordecai is based on 200428
Quantrill's 2005 contract was with the Yankees
Villone's 2005 salary was paid by the Mariners
Olivo's salary based on 2005 salary
Borowski's salary was estimated
Salary Lost$61,343,334
Possible Payroll $ 15,310,000
Decrease $ 44,748,834 -75%
Lowest possible (all lg min) 8,175,000

So there you have it. The Marlins could possibly pay just under twice the league minimum payroll (that is, 25 times the league minimum, $327K, or $8.175M). And that's assuming that higher-paid players like Reese and Helms make the team. With the current crop, I estimate the payroll at $16,291,000, but that would fall to at least $15,310,000 when they get down to 25 players. The net effect would be that Florida would cut 75% of their payroll from last year.

That would put the Marlins at the fifth lowest payroll since 1995 and the lowest since the Expos and Pirates in 1998:

YrTeam Payroll
1998Montreal Expos $ 10,641,500
1997Pittsburgh Pirates $ 10,771,667
1995Montreal Expos $ 12,364,000
1998Pittsburgh Pirates $ 15,065,000
2006Florida Marlins $ 15,310,000
1996Montreal Expos $ 16,264,500
2000Minnesota Twins $ 16,519,500
1997Detroit Tigers $ 17,272,000
1995Milwaukee Brewers $ 17,798,825
1999Montreal Expos $ 17,903,000
1995Pittsburgh Pirates $ 18,355,345
1997Montreal Expos $ 19,295,500
2003Tampa Bay Devil Rays $ 19,630,000
2000Florida Marlins $ 19,872,000

But if that's not enough, let's shift the focus back to the Cabrera low-balling. Cabrera batted .323 with 33 homers and a .947 OPS last season. I took a look at the lowest salaries doled out to players coming off of similar seasons (from 1985 players batting at least .300 with a minimum of 30 HR and a .900 OPS). Cabrera's is the fifth-lowest deal and the worst in twelve years. Here are the only men meeting the criteria who made less than one million dollars the next year:

PlayerYr Salary HRBAOPS
Will Clark1988 $ 320,000 35.308.951
Danny Tartabull1988 $ 330,000 34.309.931
Rick Wilkins1994 $ 350,000 30.303.937
Kirby Puckett1987 $ 465,000 31.328.903
Miguel Cabrera2006 $ 472,000 33.323.947
Lance Berkman2002 $ 500,000 34.3311.051
Larry Sheets1988 $ 540,000 31.316.921
Mike Piazza1994 $ 600,000 35.318.932
Albert Pujols2002 $ 600,000 37.3291.013
Frank Thomas1992 $ 620,000 32.3181.006
Brook Jacoby1988 $ 812,500 32.300.928
Vernon Wells2004 $ 870,000 33.317.909
Albert Pujols2003 $ 900,000 34.314.955

When one considers that Cabrera isn't a one-year flash in the pan, that he has hit 33 home runs each of the last two seasons, the Marlins' offer is even more unbelievable. Only two players coming off consecutive thirty-homer seasons have been rewarded with less money, and they were at least 18 years ago. Only 13 have made $1.5M or less out of the 225 players who qualify:

PlayerYr Salary Prev HRPrev BAPrev OPSHR 2yrs prior
Ron Kittle1985 $ 300,000 32.215.74835
Jose Canseco1988 $ 325,000 31.257.78033
Miguel Cabrera2006 $ 472,000 33.323.94733
Mark McGwire1989 $ 510,500 32.260.83049
Dave Kingman1986 $ 730,000 30.238.72635
Albert Pujols2003 $ 900,000 34.314.95537
Tony Armas1985 $ 915,000 43.268.83136
Dave Parker1987 $ 1,100,000 31.273.80734
Richie Sexson2001 $ 1,125,000 30.272.84831
Nomar Garciaparra1999 $ 1,400,000 35.323.94630
Fred McGriff1990 $ 1,450,000 36.269.92434
Darryl Strawberry1989 $ 1,495,000 39.269.91139
Mark McGwire1990 $ 1,500,000 33.231.80632

Cabrera should get battle pay for the atrocities he will see on the field this year. The only thrills for the Marlins will be measured by how badly the perform. Will they be worse than the 2003 Tigers? The 1962 Mets? The 1899 Cleveland Spiders? Will Dontrelle Willis have a season on par with Steve Carlton in 1972? Carlton won a Cy Young despite how woefully his Phils performed that year (he collected 27 of their 59 wins). How far down can their attendance go, triple digits per home game?

At least the Marlins fans' (if there are any left) loss will be my gain. I can't wait for the historic pain to begin. Dare I dream that they will out-bad even the Spiders? Dare. Dare.

All Quiet on the Baseball Front
2006-03-01 22:04
by Mike Carminati

A quiet fool can go undiscovered for a long time
—"Roger" Mason Cooley

War begets quiet, quiet idleness… —Sir Walter "Alston" Raleigh

It's a slow news day, news week, and even news month, if you count February, which just ended with Barry Bonds, arguably the best player of the last seventy years, appearing in drag on the front page of most of the major baseball sites.

Aside from debating the merits of Bret Boone's Hall of Fame chances or enumerating all the players backing out of the World Baseball "Classic", which henceforth will appear only accompanied by the pretentious quotes, there aint much going on here.

While I complete my General Manager study (I have just about every one all-time and will finalize the rest soon) and regretfully ignore my site, my baseball jones the last few days has been slaked with the amusing attempts by to positively spin the WB"C" defections. Witness, "Citing family tragedy, Guerrero out of Classic". " Leiter, Majewski added to Team USA" (Of course, replacing two major pitchers gone AWOL, Billy Wagner and C.C. Sabathia).

Unlike March, which starts today (set your calendars accordingly), this baseball season goes in like a lamb but comes out a lion.

The Marlins and Nationals have already hung "Contract Me" targets on their backs. Both teams are clamoring for a new, more favorable stadium deal. In the last collective bargaining agreement, of course, the owners acquired the rights to contract without the players union's say-so. Thanks Donald Fehr, bye bye Expo-Nats and Marlins. Of course, the contraction threat might just be empty posturing to secure the deals in question, but hey, that doesn't mean it won't happen. And the Marlins are down to "Cabrera and Willis and hope the rest don't kill us".

And there's the CBA itself, which runs out at the end of the year but has barely caused a ripple this languorous offseason. I think I read one mention of a meeting by both parties on a new CBA. I expect that to change dramatically fairly soon.

And lastly, there's hardly a mention of last season's bugbear, steroids. Meanwhile players who are tainted by steroids, or at least perceived as so, are quietly disappearing into the sunset. Rafael Palmeiro. Sammy Sosa. And now Bret Boone. They will be spending plenty of time with Luca Brasi and Adrianna from "The Sopranos" this season.

It's quiet out there.

But like Billy Ray Valentine in "Trading Places", I can smell that there's something afoot. (Or as Valentine put it, "They're panicking out there. It's Christmas and they're afraid they can't get their kids the G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu grip and that their wives won't make love to 'em anymore. They're panicking. I can smell it")

I have the feeling that every parent gets when his kids are too quiet. "It's quiet…too quiet! They're up to something!"

Or maybe it was a slow news day and Mr. Eko cutting his beard off and giving it to one of the "Others" on Lost got my conspiracy mojo rising. What the frig was that about anyway? Was it a possible reference to the newly minted, non-caveman edition of Johnny Damon, New York Yankee—how weird is that to say?

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