Monthly archives: March 2007
We're in the Money
It seems like Major League Baseball (or one of its subsidiaries) has been signing a new broadcasting deal almost on a daily basis this offseason. The latest and the one that drew perhaps the most attention was iN Demand and DirecTV fighting over the cable rights to MLB's "Extra Innings", their package for out-of-market games. That netted MLB $100M a year for seven seasons starting in 2009.
MLB International sold the international rights for the next three seasons to ESPN Star Sports (ESS) and Formosa Television (FTV). The terms were not released.
Baseball also signed a deal with Interactive Television Networks (ITVN) to broadcast condensed games and such. Again the terms were not released.
Under an agreement signed last summer, TBS will expand their coverage beyond the Braves to include the major-league playoffs as well as Sunday games during the season. This is part of a new seven-year, $3B agreement that also includes FOX and FOS Sports Net (FSN).
MLB.tv, baseball's broadband solution, also increased their base price from $79.95 to $89.95, which starts to get big when you realize that the service had 1.3 M subscribers in 2005 (the last published numbers).
It's no wonder we saw so many long-term, big-money contracts signed this offseason. Over the past decade starting position players have gotten older and aside from a minor speed bump in 2004-05, are making more and more money.
Witness this comparison between starting position players and players overall:
So I put together the total revenue and payroll per season from 1960 through 2006. I also projected the values for each through 2010 based on the growth witnessed in the last five seasons. I think the projections for each are rather conservative especially since a number of the more recent broadcasting deals have been without terms announced. But I think it gets the point across.
Note that I expressed the payroll as a percentage of total revenue and revenue above total payroll. Note that as the last CBA took effect in 2003, revenues started to grow more quickly than payroll:
That's a number that has been rattling around my head since before spring training started. It's the number of games the 2007 edition of baseball's version of the LA Clippers, the Philadelphia Phillies, will win.
This team is a dysfunctional, dystopic mishmash mess despite all the blather that the Phils somehow are the team to beat in the NL East. Yesterday's cuts fully illustrate why.
They cut utility infielder Danny Sandoval, who committed six errors in thirteen games, and two pitchers who were supposed to be part of the bullpen mix, Brian Sanchez and Justin Germano (who was claimed on waivers by the Padres) among others. Minor cuts surely. However, they demonstrate how deeply, how fundamentally fouled up this team is.
Sandoval, a no-hit/(apparently) no-field middle infielder, was the only man on the roster who could competently back up Jimmie Rollins at shortstop. The only other player with major-league experience at short is Abraham O'Nunez, who played just three games there last year.
On average backup shortstops play around fifty games each year (actually, 52.14 to the starter's 128.38 on average for 2000-06). Nunez, who came up as a shortstop with the Pirates in 1997, has not played that many games at short since 1999.
Besides Nunez is supposed to split time at third with cemented gloved Wes Helms. Imagine Charlie Manuel, a manager who has yet to master the intricacies of the double-switch or a modern bullpen, trying to rotate Nunez around the infield late in ballgames.
So no biggy, the Phils are just foregoing utility infielders. Maybe in and of itself, that wouldn't be that big a deal. But this team is skimping in so many areas like right field, third base, and the bullpen.
This is a team that looks better on paper than on the field. They are built more like a fantasy team than an actual team. They have two center fielders, six starting pitchers, two part-time third basemen, and three part-time catchers.
And who is to blame for this mess? I lay the blame at GM Pat Gillick's feet. Did Gillick have to sign sub-par Adam Eaton (4.40 career ERA in a pitcher's park) to a grossly overpriced contract, three years and $24 M, and then acquire Freddy Garcia?
Why did he trade Bobby Abreu last year without retaining his only viable replacement, David Delucci? Delucci left as a free agent, and Victorino, the natural choice for center, became the right fielder even though he doesn't hit well enough to play there. Oh, but I forgot, trading Abreu was just a salary dump.
Then there's the catcher. The Phils used a rotating door behind the plate last year, but seemed to settle on Chris Coste down the ill-fated stretch. Never mind that Coste was a 33-year-old rookie, who had no future with the team. The only catcher in the organization that had a shot of contributing in 2007 was Carlos Ruiz, but Ruiz was yo-yoed in and out of the lineup and up and down to Triple-A without any sort of concern for developing the 27-year-old rookie. The season ended. Mike Lieberthal was a free agent the Phils had no intention of resigning. Sal Fasano was long gone to the Yankees. With Coste and Ruiz remaining, the Phils realized that they did not have enough experience, went out and signed no-hit vet Rod Barajas, paired him with Ruiz, and proceeded to shun Coste much to the dismay of the local media who have been running a weekly homage to the marginal player ever since.
Actually, the Phils are a conglomeration of their own shortcomings over the years. Their inability to sign Scot Rolen lead to the ridiculously long and expensive contract to which they signed Pat Burrell. Losing Rolen also lead to the ill-fated signing of David Bell indirectly and directly to the acquisition of Placido Polanco, who could have been a viable solution at third until he was traded for the useless Ugueth Urbina, who is in prison somewhere in Venezuela.
The Phils have actually traded arguably the best players in the game at third (Rolen) and in right (Abreu) and all that they have to show for it is Matt Smith. Oopha!
Yes, Gillick was not involved in a number of those trades, but the moves that have been made with Gillick as GM are mind-bottling (to quote Will Farrell). He trades Abreu in a towel-throwing move and then fails to make moves that will help the Phils in the future. His only decent pickup this past offseason was Freddy Garcia, but with only one year left on his contract, if the Phils don't contend in 2007, it was a waste.
Gillick has set himself up with a built-in scapegoat with the execrable Charlie Manuel as manager. He even has his old manager, Jimy Williams, waiting in the wings. So no matter how badly the Phils start out of the blocks, he has himself covered.
It's a good thing, too, since Gillick's replacement will undoubtedly be company man, assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., more mediocrity from the folks that brought you Ed Wade.
Wither the Bullpen?
When I used o play fantasy baseballactually, back then it was still called "Rotisserie" baseballone of more effective stratagems, or perhaps my sole effective one, was to forego the mad rush for relief pitchers. As the early-round feeding frenzy for relievers, or more to the point, saves, since that is their one category, commenced I stayed out of the fray. I looked for pitchers who were available later, ones with good opportunities, and traded up when possible via free agency throughout the year, and always won or came close to winning the saves category.
That seems to be the Phils strategy with their actual bullpen this year. They do have some spots filled, but after losing a ton of bullpen vets in the last year, they have to cobble together the tail-end of the staff, something that has not been an issue since before the Ed Wade era. Of course, Wade was notorious for getting a veteran reliever in every trade he made. Actually, the problem was that that was the only thing he could get.
The Phils do have veteran Tom Gordon under contract for another two seasons, though his arm came under question when he flew up to Philly for a checkup. Factor in his age, his second-half slide, and the still unanswered question of whether he's a setup, as he was in New York before the Phils signed him, or a closer. The Phils even (ludicrously so) flirted with starter Brett Myers as the closer earlier this spring to resolve the issue.
Aside from Gordon, there's Geoff Geary, who finally came into his own in 2006, and will apparently be the setup guy this year if Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel has any semblance of a plan. Ryan Madson is the long man as always especially given that there are already six starters. Then there's reclamation project Antonio Alfonseca as possibly another setup guy or some sort of reliever. 2006 rookies Matt Smith and Fabio Castro will apparently fill the lefty spots. And potentially, Justin Germano will take the last righty spot. Unless, of course, he doesn't.
Where's Porfi Altamirano when you need him?
Let's say that these guys comprise the Phils bullpen this year. They will enter the season with just 29.4 Win Shares given their 2006 performance:
That's a remarkable low total, especially when you consider that almost two-thirds are derived from Gordon's and Geary's totals.
How bad is it though? I took a look at the performance of a given bullpen from the previous season. That is, how bad did these pitchers look at the start of the season? Could they have come off a collective poor or inexperienced season, and then pull things together in season two? Basically, will the bullpen be an Achilles heel for the Phils barring a trade or could it be solved by the personnel they currently have?
Looking at the stats starting in 1969, the Phils are pretty bad but come in at just 70th. Here are the worst:
There are actually some pretty good teams in there. So looking at the 74 bullpens with 30 or fewer pitching Win Shares from the previous season, how many made the playoffs? That's what the Philly brass and news media are trying to sell to the local yokels, that the Phils are a playoff team if not the best overall team in the NL East (Jimmy Rollins, please shut up and learn how to lead off). So will the pen be an albatross around their collective necks this year?
The answer is an apparent yes. Only four of the 74 qualifying teams made the playoffs wither as a division winner or a wild card (1988 A's, 1997 Astros, 1981 Dodgers, and 1995 M's), and two of those teams came in strike-shortened seasons.
So what should the Phils do? Trade the extra veteran starter (Jon Lieber?) for a veteran reliever or two. Of course, I'm still concerned with a possible dysfunctional non-platoon at third and having the starting center fielder play right. I won't even go into the mind F the Phils did to Pat Burrell this past offseason. And Adam Frakin' Eaton and his 4.40 career ERA mostly in San Diego? Bleck!
This hole is at least something the Phils can fix, but they had better start moving before Antonia Alfonseca and his twelve fingers become this season's Arthur Dusty Rhodes. And even with Jimy Williams on the bench instructing Manuel on how to use a bullpen can't overcome Manuel's actual presence and Rich Dubee's eminent sub-mediocrity as pitching coach.
'Tis All a Cheat
When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat.Today on Dan Patrick's radio show, Pete Rose made this admission that, in my opinion, seals his fate forever.
Baseball's misconduct rules are quit explicit in this area:
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL RULES - Rule 21: MISCONDUCT
Rose admits his guilt. He bet on a "baseball game in connection with which [he,] the bettor [had] a duty to perform". Well, not just one game, but many, many games, seemingly every game for some portion of his professional career. I suppose it was, as the Dowd Report alleged (and quite unsuccessfully), during his tenure as manager in Cincinnati.
So Rose is not just banned for this lifetime but many, many lifetimes to come, in case he sold his soul to the devil (or Ray Walston) and plans to come back as Tab Hunter a few more times.
The ultimate irony is that had Rose just kept his mouth shut, he probably would have been reinstated by now. Bud Selig was seemingly floating the idea of his reinstatement. Ex-teammates who were eminent representatives of the game, like Hall-of-Famers Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt, were speaking favorable about his rehabilitation.
And then came Rose's juicy memoir, My Prison Without Bars, in which Rose first admitted that he bet on the Reds, but to win. Now comes his admission that he was basically addicted to betting on the Reds, but always to win, as if that makes it OK.
Apparently, Rose felt that this admission would clear the way for resuscitating his baseball career. Many in the media had asked for Rose's contrite admission. It appears that they got what they asked for, but the only problem is that he is now clearly unredeemable to the baseball world.
Could baseball possibly make an exception to one of most basic procedural rules, which is in part credited with saving the game after the Black Sox scandal, for Rose? Why not for Buck Weaver? Or Joe Jackson? Heck, even the Eliot Asinof-indicted members of the White Sox have a better (or is it bettor?) case than Rose. They at least did not have the rule codified while these players threw the World Series.
And yet Rose is surprised that he has yet to be reinstated, especially given that he is "the best ambassador baseball has." If true, that is a shockingly sad statement. What about the sixteen thousand or so major-leaguers that never bet on a game?
Rose know, however, that it's "all about dollars If [Rose] was [sic] ever reinstated. If an owner don't [sic] want to win and draw people, don't call [his] number." Hey, allowing the winning team to slaughter the loser after the game would probably put fannies in seats, but would be problematic on many levels (most of all, how do you recruit enough talent to sustain a 162-game schedule, given that even your best teams are going to be killed off at least 60 times a season).
Shockingly, though, the ESPN poll that accompanies their Rose article shows that more than two-thirds of the over thirty-two thousand respondents feel that Rose should be reinstated. Now, I know that American voters are dumbhow else do you explain Sanjaya?but Rose is one of the most clearly guilty individuals this side of the Bush administration.
Please America turn your back on this charlatan. He's a ruthless (or Ruthless) self-promoter. Always has been, always will be. He was a hot dog when he ran out walks much to the burbling pleasure of the baseball commentators of his day and the facile analysis. He was allowed to insert himself into the lineup and extend his career ludicrously longer than he should have without a peep from the media.
Rose was a great player once, but he always enjoyed a free ride when it came to his eccentricities. The media chose to see them as endearing and his persona was born. That was fine when he was still operating with the strictures of the game. Now that he repeatedly admitted to breaking the game's most basic procedural rule, it's time to close the book on Peter Edward Rose, Sr.
He should never again be allowed to manage. He should be barred from induction in the Hall of Fame for all time. In short, any involvement that Rose should have in the game is all in the past, as a cautionary tale, not in the future as a thriving representative of the game.
Can the Veterans Committee Be Fixed?
The Cooperstown caretakers, the Clark family, are concerned. We haven't seen a new Hall of Famer selected by the Veterans Committee since Bill Mazerowski was tabbed by the then Ted Williams-led committee just prior to wholesale renovations to its structure and procedures.
After the last non-selection board chair Jane Forbes Clark had this to say:
"We are disappointed that no one has been elected after three cycles of voting. We said we would go through three cycles before we would discuss possible changes in the process. We're not abandoning the effort. Maybe it needs a little bit of change."
Actually, she's understating the issue. There have been five separate votes during this span, three for veteran players and two for veteran executives, managers, and umpires (the "composite" ballot), in the intervening seven years. Consider that the next election will not occur until 2009, so at best we can expect an eight-year gap between Maz and the next Vet selection (Can I get a Santo?).
"So what?" you say. Well, consider that the longest previous gap between Veteran selections was five years, and that came as the actual Hall was still being established and the body was known as the Committee on Old Timers, from 1939-44. Since the inception of the Veterans Committee in 1953 through Maz's selection in 2001 there was never a wait longer than two years between Veteran selections. We would have that if the committee picked someone each election.
Between the Centenial (1937-38), Old Timers (1939-49), and the Veterans Committees, an average of slightly under twelve players per decade have gone into the Hall (with 22 selected in the Seventies and 21 in the Forties). As for non-players, an average of seven per decade were picked with a high of 15 in the 1990s.
You may still say "So what?", but you have to acknowledge that it's not par for the Veteran course. That may not be a problem for most, but I'm sure Doug Harvey's and Dick Williams' family aren't thrilled.
Anyway, the board met yesterday, but apparently the situation is not yet dire enough to force any changes:
"The Board had full and engaging preliminary discussions on the Veterans Committee procedures. The Board feels strongly that we need to take our time out of respect for this important process, and we plan to meet again in the upcoming months to continue these discussions."
Remember that Joe Morgan is on the board, and he likes the ex-players having control, at least as far as which players will join them in the Hall. As for the executives, it appears that Joe is ready to abdicate control: "The most difficult thing for me is to look at executives and know how much of a contribution they made to the game." Their most glaring oversight might be not inducting the clearly qualified Marvin Miller given that many were active during his tenure with the union. This shows the players general contempt for the idea of allowing non-players in the Hall. The same goes for Doug Harvey, who according to all reports is one of the greatest umps ever to call a game.
Anyway, that won't help Ron Santo gain admission to the hallowed Hall. They will discuss narrowing the field. They have had between 25 and 27 players on each of the three Veteran ballots so far. Maybe limiting that to 12 or 15 will help the voters concentrate but as long as the Mike Schmidts of the world keep submitting a blank ballot, thing's aren't going to change muchthere will just be fewer candidates to disappoint.
Let's take a look at previous baseball writers elections to determine whether a short ballot helped produce more Hall of Famers. Here are the shortest:
Those percentages are pretty good especially when you compare them to the results for the longest ballots:
So is there a real trend or does it just appear to be the case? There is a correlation between the two, ballot size and induction percentage, albeit not a string one (-0.551 coefficient).
This begs the question as to whether some other change would make a larger impact. What about the number of ballots? The old Vets Committees consisted in a small group of individuals who could more easily come to a consensus. So far the new Vets Committee has had between 80 and 82 ballots. Let's take a look at the BBWAA votes with the fewest ballots:
Now the most:
Actually, here more ballots seem to help, not hinder, Hall admittance. I ran the numbers and there is a slight correlation (0.361) between the two.
Hmm..,maybe the problem is that we are not considering the talent level of the players involved. I split the players up by Hall grade based on career Win Shares: Grade A for 400 or more Win Shares, B for 301 to 399, C for 225 to 299, and D for 150 to 224.
I ran the numbers are the correlations don't get any stronger:
Here are the overall numbers per grade:
OK, maybe limiting the number of players on the ballot helps slightly, but what about the Mike Schmidt-blank ballot issue? I took a look at the elections with the most votes cast per candidate.
Not much help there. The number of players varies wildly throughout. How about if we look at the votes per player per ballot?
Wow, all five the new veterans committee ballots are on there. So it's not as if they are submitting blank ballots (except for Schmidt). They are voting for players. They are just not reaching a consensus.
My theory is that there are a number of viable candidates, but no one candidate that demands inclusion. It's sort of the limbo that certain players (Dale Murphy, Jim Rice, etc.) have reached on the writers ballot. They get enough votes to stay on the ballot from year to year but not enough to go into the Hall.
Here are the top players on the past Veterans Committee ballot based on career Win Shares. Only Allen is above the Hall average of 337 Win Shares, but any of the top fifteen would be a reasonable Hall selection:
Consider that 22 men on the ballot have more career Win Shares than the last man selected, Bill Mazerowski. The problem is just going to get worse as more players from the expansion become eligible more quickly and with fewer men going into the Hall.
Can we fix the Veterans Committee? Well, we could go back to the old system: let Joe Morgan pick a few of his buddies with whom he will meet on a yearly basis in order to select a couple of their old cronies. Of course, toward the end of the Williams era, Teddy Ballgame was promulgating old teammate and famous baseball brother, Dom DiMaggio, for the Hall.
Put Joe in that spot and what will we get? Davey Concepcion, Hall of Famer! God bless us everyone!
Javy A Nice Life
It looks like Javy Lopez's career might have reached an end today with his release from the Rockies spring training camp. Lopez, 36, would prefer to remain behind the plate instead of moving back to the AL to DH. Either way, it is highly doubtful that he'll be able to catch on with a major-league ballclub at this stage of the game
So, I thought it would be an appropriate time to find his place in catching history. Lopez has had a pretty good career behind the plate, but could he possibly be Hall-worthy? And what of his great 2003 season (43 HR, 109 RBI, .328 batting average, and 1.065 OPS), where does it fall in the list of great years by a catcher? Let's see
Here are the best players whose primary position was behind the plate ranked by career Win Shares, including all current Hall-of-Fame catchers:
Note that Piazza and Pudge are not yet eligible and are pretty close to locks. Torre will go in as a manager whenever he decides to hang 'em up. Even Jorge Posada, who should have a few more years to improve his case, is already ahead of Lopez along with thirteen others who are not in the Hall. Consider that there are just thirteen catchers
Long story short, Lopez has almost no shot at the Hall, especially given that his best asset was his offense during the steroid era. But before he fades in our memories, let's take a quick at his peak to see if that makes his case:
OK, let's wish Javy a nice retirement and hope that he hasn't booked the flight to Cooperstown in six years, unless he wants to listen to Jeff Bagwell's induction speech in person.
So Long, Vuke
When I was kid the Phils coaches seemed as set in stone as Lincoln and Washington on Mt. Rushmore (or Dick Cheney wherever he may be). They never seemed to change. There was bench coach Bobby Wine, third base coach Lee Elia, batting instructor Billy DeMars, pitching instructor Herm Starette, Ruben Amaro at first, and the rookie Irish Mike Ryan in the bullpen.
In recent years, it seemed that the coaches came and went. They no longer resembled the well-hewn and hoary with baseball knowledge. I remembered them as over-age players whose main qualifications were card playing in the clubhouse. That might have been a function of my aging, not the sport.
However, there was one coach that I can to know more for his coaching career than his playing career, John Vukovich. Indeed his playing career was unremarkable except for having a strange talent for Zelig-like ubiquity: he won a ring with the Big Red Machine and the Phils' sole World Champion team. He played third and reportedly played it extremely well in Rick Wise's no-hitter, recording the final out. With 1980 teammate George Vukovich, no relation, he shared perhaps the oddest last name for two teammates weren't brothers (say that three times fast).
Vukovich is best remembered, however, as a coach. Indeed it seemed that the Phils kept him around more as a coach than a ballplayer. In his second tour with the Phils (1976-1981) he amassed just 88 at-bats and missed the 1978 season entirely (he was in Triple-A Oklahoma City). From the middle of the 1979 season through his retirement (1981) he stayed in the majors but still amassed just 78 ABs.
Now a coach, he joined the Dallas Green-led defection to the Cubs in 1982, and was almost promote to manage the team, but the Green regime ended in 1987. He returned to the Phils as coach the next year, and remained throughout the 2004, becoming the longest-tenured coach in Phils history (passing the aforementioned Mike Ryan).
Vuke was the bench coach extraordinaire,. He was the interim coach briefly but never did get to manage in the majors, though during the Bowa years, it seemed that he was about to take over the team constantly.
Now, like 1980 teammate Tug McGraw, he is gone.
I hope it's mot impious to take a look at some of his rather, let us say, unique numbers in the majors. So here goes
Forget about the Mendoza line. Vukovich holds the dubious distinction of recording the lowest batting average for a Hall-of-Fame eligible player (i.e., with ten years experience).Here are all of the players who qualify and are at the Mendoza line or worse:
He was also among the wor-, er, least best players to play for two separate World Series Champs:
So long, Vuke. We'll not see your like again. To the Phils' credit, they will keep a reminder of him around the clubhouse. The Phils uniforms will bear a "Vuk" commemerative patch this season (I always thought it was "Vuke"). Not bad for a .161 hitter.
In the Court of the GM King
If you missed it, Forbes came up with its own ranking of general managers throughout the major sports. "Forbes?" you say? Yes, that bastion of sabermetrics. That makes about as much sense as their CEO running for president (twice).
Forbes found that Kevin McHale of the ever-underachieving and ever-mediocre Timberwolves was the best. Aside from the fact that McHale may be the one sports figure I despise the most, there is not a whole lot to recommend him for this vaulted position. Baseball's best was Billy Beane, a good choice, but he came in 26th overall. And don't get me started on Billy King ludicrously coming in third overall while running my Sixers about as well as Dick Cheney shoots quail.
The basic problem is that Forbes made no adjustments for the wildly varying winning percentages across the major sports. This is exacerbated by the fact that they range from 16-game to 162-game schedules. That Kevin McHale took on a faltering expansion team with a .250 or so winning percentage and made them mediocre for many years is not as impressive as, say, converting a perennial sub-par baseball team with a .400 winning percentage like, say the Braves in the Eighties, into a perennial division winner as, say, John Schuerholz did.
So I thought I would try to rank them, just the baseball GMs, given that the each sport has different schedules, playoff systems, central bargaining agreements, etc. (and besides I don't have data for the other three sports). But what criteria should we use?
Clearly, Forbes approach of looking at the improvement from one's predecessor is inherently flawed. Why is a one-year change so important? What if use the previous five? How about ten? And what happens to Brian Cashman who took over a successful team and kept it successful? He ends up looking no better than Dave Littlefield, who took over an abysmal team and kept it abysmal.
I reject this approach. I prefer to look at what the individual accomplished. What makes a successful GM anyway? The three main criteria in my opinion is that his team wins, that he accomplishes this while spending his payroll dollars as wisely as possible, and that he keeps his job. Therefore, I ranked the current crew of GMs based on career winning percentage, total games, and adjusted payroll (i.e., his team's payroll adjusted for the overall major-league average, averaged over his career).
Here are the results. First, winning percentage and games:
Next, the adjusted salary:
Finally, here's the overall ranking:
So I got the same results as Forbes: that's embarrassing. But I can't disagree with Beane coming in number one. Also, Hendry coming in near the bottom makes sense. I would like to run each GM's transactions to determine who was at the best at acquiring talent, but I can't say that I disagree with the results from these three quickie metrics. At least Billy King didn't come in number three.
Break Up the Hall! (Or At Least The Veterans Committee)
Last week's Veterans Committee vote was just the third player election and just the second for executives since the committee was revamped in 2001. And again no one was able to reach the magical 75% threshold and gain admission to the Hall.
It's clear that this system will never bear fruit, or rather Hall of Famers.
The last major-leaguer to be selected by the Veterans was Bill Mazeroski in 2001. That winter the Veterans were reorganized to include all living Hall of Famers and the elections were limited to one every two years for players and one every four for non-players (executives, pioneers, managers, and umps).
Meanwhile, the special Negro Leagues committee last year selected an orgy of 17 players and executives for enshrinement. Many of these selections raised quite a few eyebrows even when not viewed in the context of such a ludicrously immense class.
Yes, this might make the powers that be in Cooperstown a bit reluctant to return to a secret special committee whose voting tabulations are kept private. However, the system and the old-time would be better served if the committee were abolished altogether than to go through the motions with an ineffectual group.
Some are content to sit idly back while the Veterans are ignored. Who knows, maybe that's the ultimate goal for the revamped committee. Besides, what's the end result? Many say it is better to keep these man out than to allow latter-day Tommy McCarthys and Travis Jacksons in.
The basic problem is that there is and always has been two roads to the Hall, both with different election procedures and with wildly divergent standards. To illustrate the overall average for the 198 players selected by either the baseball writers or the veterans (or a special election) is 337.7 Win Shares and have had to wait an average of just over 14 years after becoming eligible to gain election. While the 103 picked by the BBWAA have average almost 380 Win Shares and a wait of over four years, 93 Veterans selections have averaged almost a hundred Win Shares fewer and have waited over 25 years.
Looking at the change over time, the pattern becomes clearer. First, here are the averages per decade for players selected for the Hall in one of the elections during that decade:
Other than the gluttony of the 1970s, the players have remained pretty consistent since the 1950s in career Win Share average if not waiting period. Next, here are the decade averages for the writers:
And finally the Veterans Committee:
Here's what happened: After lowering their standards in the Forties and Fifties, the writers limited their elections and (therefore) their selections in the Sixties while raising their standards slightly. The wait for the players who did go in became shorter then and has continued to shorten. So the writers become pickier but were able to concentrate on a worthy candidate more and more quickly.
Meanwhile, the Veterans alternated decades of high membership and low standards with those of high standards and low membership until, in reaction to the stasis the writers reached in the Fifties, they indulged for two decades on players of lower and lower standards. The membership began to slow, but the standards remained low until the committee was dramatically revamped in 2001.
After 2001, these once leaky faucet (the Veterans Committee) went from a trickle to being completely shut off.
So who cares? Even though we can't correct the past, at least now we are getting players who are truly plaque worthy, right? True, but who is being left out?
Take a look at the table below listing the number of players that were eligible for an election but were not selected even though they exceeded the Hall average for Win Shares (337). Also, listed is the number with 300 Win Shares (a Tropic of Cancer away from the 337-WS equator). Note the numbers were approaching zero around 1980, meaning that all players who met this criterion were the Hall, and have been growing ever since. Sure the standards remain high for the Hall but a number of worthy candidates are being overlooked arbitrarily:<./p>
Screwing Ryan Publicly
Friday was a tense day in Philadelphia. Would the Phils sign Ryan Howard by the ordained deadline? And if so, would they open the coffers as they did earlier this offseason for Chase Utley?
The final word was just short of the million dollars that some had predicted. By signing Howard to a $900K one-year contract, the Phils made him the highest paid not-yet-arbitration eligible player in baseball history, or some such verbiage, according to ESPN.
That's fine and dandy, but did anyone notice that a day or two earlier the Giants signed 22-year-old rookie pitcher, Matt Cain, who has a slightly better than average ERA but a very good strikeout ratio, to a four-year $9M deal.
The truth is that the Phils delayed Howard's ascent to the majors far too long and the only way he earned a starting spot was due to a Jim Thome injury when Howard was already 25. While Howard was stuck in the Phils system, the fans were told a myriad of reasons why his great stats in the minors would never translate into the majors. He can't hit the curve, he can't hit lefties, he has minor-league power, he is unteachable, etc. Remember this is a team that had Chase Utley, the best second baseman in the league, platooning to start off 2005 as well.
Well, I would toss this "record-setting" contract on the pile of indignities the Phils have heaped on Howard.
Consider that the average salary for a 27-year-old player in 2006 was about $1.9M and the last time the average 27-year-old made less than Howard will make this year was 1998. Here's the average per year:
If that's not enough, consider that the last reigning MVP to make less than $900K was Roger Clemens in 1987 (who has pitched just parts of three seasons in the majors). Here are the lowest paid reigning MVPs (since 1986):
If I ran this team, I would have played Solomon and split the big paycheck that they gave Utley this year between the two players. Then again, I wouldn't have signed Wes Helms and Adam Eaton.
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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