Saturday, October 30, 2004

Carlos Beltran Update

WARNING...The AngelFan wife has taken over my blog.

I live in L.A., for those who don't know, and this little tidbit was on the front of the sports page.

The Angels plan to cut ties with Troy Glaus and pursue Carlos Beltran.

And you all thought I was crazy when I wrote this. With Appier, Glaus, Percival, Sele leaving and the probability of declining Russ Ortiz's option the Angels will lose $41.5 million off their books next year, not to mention another $3 million when they trade Jose Guillen away. Throw in a bunch of extra revenue from 2 playoff games and a new attendence record and I think the Angels won't be cutting all that much payroll as people think. The paper also says their biggest priorities this offseason are starting pitching and center field. (For those unaware, they're moving Garrett Anderon back to LF, keeping Erstad at first base and inserting Dallas McPherson at 3B). They also will probably make a run at Pedro Martinez.

Next year's lineup possibility:
DH (Combo Davanon, Quinlan, Kotchman or a signee)

You could move Erstad to the leadoff spot and drop Eckstein to 8th, also Figgins will be super-subbing again, probably starting at 2B until Kennedy recovers from his knee injury.

If that happens and they sign Pedro,(starting staff of Pedro, Colon, Escobar, Lackey & Washburn), the Angelfan wife may have bragging rights for the longest time. Yuck!!!

Cutting ties with Glaus although unexpected means their is another marquee free agent out there, one who will end up being a much better signing than the supposed third base trophy that is Adrian Beltre. Mark my words, Troy Glaus's next 5 years will be better than Adrian Beltre's. (Not accounting for one can predict those unless it involves Ken Griffey's hamstrings)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Yankee Wish List

The stupidity has already started, where so-called journalists concoct the craziest rumors based off nothing more than what will sell a paper or get them readers. Once again we'll be subjected to who the Yankees may acquire this offseason cause they didn't win it all. Apparently when you're the Yankees you can just pick and choose who you want, tell a team this is who you're getting and then sign over a check. Well folks, it isn't happening anymore, if it ever did?

The Yanks have NOTHING but their money now, no prospects, no tradeable players, NOTHING. All they can hope for are to sign some free agents and with the rules of free agency, that means only 2 at most top level free agents.

Matsui, Rivera and Vasquez are their ONLY tradeable commodities and Vasquez is the only one going anywhere, if the Yanks eat most of his contract. The article I linked up says the Yankees should go after Tim Hudson over Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez. Of course they should go after Tim Hudson, then Johan Santana, then Mark Prior, and then Roy Oswalt. But they're not going to get him, cause they have NOTHING to offer, to anyone. No 3 way deal, no 4 way deal, nothing!!!!

The only Yankee who will get traded this off-season is Vasquez and I'll be surprised if it lands them anyone substantial, the only way their starting staff gets better next year will be through free agency.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The LaRussa bashing continues

Not to pummel poor Tony LaRussa anymore, but I read this article at and I found this observation rather appropriate.

The Cardinals arrived in Boston flat and ill-prepared—their manager Tony La Russa once again seemed more interested in being the smartest person in the room than in winning baseball games. How else to explain his preposterous use of Jason Marquis? The scheduled starter in what is now a pivotal Game 4 has, already in this Series, been used for one inning of relief and as a pinch runner. In that latter capacity, Marquis fell flat on his face while trying to run from first to second, then was lucky not to break an ankle in a home-plate collision with Boston catcher Jason Varitek. Don't be surprised if La Russa trots out Marquis to sing the National Anthem Tuesday night.

The line Tony La Russa once again seemed more interested in being the smartest person in the room than in winning baseball games ringed true to me. There is something to be said about making aggressive moves in the playoffs and something to be said about just making moves. He had already abused his bench to this point, but still had Hector Luna, John Mabry, Yadier Molina, and Roger Cedeno (who pinch hit for the next batter). Now I get the idea for pinch running Matheny, but what was wrong with Luna, he seems to have some speed and Marquis is obviously no gazelle on the basepaths. Just plain silliness in my opinion.

One of the many reasons I don't like him as a manager.

NL Awards Race

I missed out on the Internet Baseball Awards that Baseball Prospectus runs every year, but these would have been my picks.

NL Coach of the Year (should be known as Manager of the Team that the Media Thought Would Suck)

1. Jim Tracy
2. Bobby Cox
3. Phil Garner
Honorable Mention : Dusty Baker

What? No Tony LaRussa!!! Yes, since I think penciling in the same lineup every day, trotting out the same rotation every 5 days and using the same guys out of the bullpen all year require all the skill of a monkey, Tony LaRussa gets no votes from me. Most will laugh that Dusty gets a mention but the team had more injuries than most any other team in the league and he was able to keep them competitive, getting a ton out of a pretty crappy bench and a poorly constructed bullpen. Of course he also continues to use Mike Remlinger against lefties and not righties, so no one is perfect. Tracy gets the overall nod for keeping together a patchwork starting staff, keeping the team focused after the July 31st trades which apparently got rid of the heart and soul in LoDuca, and just general good in game management in my opinion. Cox once again did it with smoke and mirrors this year and Garner kept a team focused that easily could have given up, also utilizing a very patchwork bullpen and starting staff.

NL Cy Young
1. Randy Johnson
2. Ben Sheets
3. Roger Clemens
Honorable Mention: Carlos Zambrano, Oliver Perez, Carl Pavano

I look at only a few things when it comes to Cy Young. First anybody not in the top 10 in ERA is automatically disqualified as ERA usually encompasses enough to get a good idea on who dominated the league this year. Then it's K/BB rate, Total Batters Faced (saving the bullpen), Ballpark Factors and most importantly Quality Starts. The Big Unit led the league in quality starts, 2nd in K/BB rate, 3rd in Total Batters Faced, and 2nd in ERA while pitching about half his games in a hitters park. I don't care that the D'Backs lineup consisted of a combo of AAA and over-the-hill players. Here's a chart in my selected categories of the top 6:

R. Johnson____2.27(2nd)___26(1st)___6.59(2nd)___964(3rd)___Hitter's
B. Sheets______2.70(3rd)___24(3rd)___8.25(1st)___937(4th)___Pitcher's
R. Clemens____2.98(5th)___23(5th)___2.76(13th)__878(17th)__Neutral
C. Zambrano__2.75(4th)___22(7th)___2.32(18th)__887(14th)__Hitter's
Oliver Perez___2.98(6th)___21(12th)__2.95(9th)___805(31st)__Pitcher's
Carl Pavano___3.00(7th)___23(5th)___2.84(12th)__909(9th)___Pitcher's

I also should add that if I could find a good place to get HR/9 inning I'd look at that as well. Jake Peavy who led the league in ERA, just didn't pitch enough to be considered. As you can see by the chart, Johnson and Sheets were easily the two best this year by my own wacky standards, Clemens and Zambrano were a close 3rd and 4th, while Perez and Pavano got too much help from their parks in my opinion.

NL Rookie of the Year
1. Khalil Greene
2. Jason Bay
3. Akinori Otsuka
Honorable Mention: Mike Gonzalez (I think he qualifies as a rookie)

UPDATED:Do I have to pick? Greene played rather good defense and hit the ball occassionally and ranked 5th in Win Shares in the NL at shortsop(behind Rollins, Izturis, Wilson and Furcal). I originally skipped over Jason Bay as he didn't show up when I sorted by rookies as he didn't have enough at-bats to qualify but he did enough when he did play to get him the #2 spot and it would be #1 if he played a little more. I had MIke Gonzalez at #3 but he gets bumped leaving Otsuka there who had an excellent season in middle relief and could easily become an effective closer one day in my opinion.

1. Barry Bonds
2. Albert Pujols
3. Adrien Beltre
4. Scott Rolen
5. Jim Edmonds
6. J.D. Drew
7. Bobby Abreu
8. Todd Helton
9. Lance Berkman
10. Mark Loretta

It always gets sketchy when you near the bottom of the list, but those are my picks. Anyone who thinks Barry Bonds doesn't deserve it should be shot. OPS is a good way to get started on these, I also like to look at defensive win shares, ballpark factors, RBI's(they may not be predictable but they certainly have a ton of value during the season), and if it's close I'll take batting average over OBP. Believe it or not Beltre got the nod over Rolen in defense and not to mention playing half your games in Dodger Stadium on a bad ankle and way too many big hits over the course of the season, gives him the #3 nod. Helton gets dropped cause of the Coors effect as does Berkman and the Juice Box although it played as a neutral park this year. Loretta is probably a surprise but he was 2nd in defensive win shares at 2nd in the NL behind the surprising Jeff Kent (may be worth a call from the Cubs this off-season) and head and shoulders over all other 2nd baseman in offense. He ranked 8th in overall Win Shares in the NL and 16th in OPS, throw in ballpark factors and he's worth the mention.

My AL choices sometime later this week.

Schedule Release

We're in a good 2-3 week stretch of boringness when it comes to baseball, there's the World Series but since the Cards are in it, I just can't bring myself to care, then we get awards the next few weeks and the commissioner office wants teams to keep the news slow, so as not to take away from these events. Not to mention most teams won't sign anyone until after December 7th(the deadline for offering arbitration) to see if they are going to cost them a draft pick. In the meantime the Cubs released their 2005 schedule today and it begins April 4th in Arizona. Good news for me as I may be able to make a trip out there. Other notable games:

Home Opener April 8th versus Milwaukee Brewers

Host Toronto June 6-8
Host Boston June 10-12
Host White Sox May 20-22
At New York Yankees June 17-19
At Comiskey June 24-26

They finish the season against the Astros on back-to back weekends and their last game versus St. Louis this year is Sept. 18th. That's much better than this year's craziness when we were done with St. Louis I think by July, the Astros by August and played the Brewers 40 times in something like 38 days.

UPDATE: Here's the link to a calendar of the tentative schedule

Monday, October 25, 2004

Free Agency and Roster Rules

This is my compilation of free agency and arbitration rules. I will add on to this as I discover more information:

A player may not make less than the league minimum of $200,000.

Players with one or two years of service time and players between two and three years of service time (except for the 17% with the most service time) can have their contracts renewed automatically by the team if they cannot come to an agreement. When renewing a contract, a team cannot reduce a player's pay by more than 20% from the prior year or 30% from the year before that.

Players with 3, 4, or 5 years of service time and the top 17% of the 2 year players may opt for arbitration in order to come to a contract.

The club' proposal may not be less than 80% of the player's salary the previous year. The exception here is that if a player won an arbitration award the prior year that resulted in a 50% or greater salary increase, there is no maximum paycut allowed in the proposal.

Arguments that are not allowed in an arbitration hearing include the state of the team's finances, previous offers made during salary negotiations between the player and the team, any press comments or testimonials with the exception of media-supported awards like the MVP Award or salaries in other sports or occupations.

A player with a non-guaranteed contract or an arbitration award may be released up until the 15th day of spring training with 30 days' pay or from the 16th day of spring training until the opening of the season with 45 days' pay.

When a player is claimed on waivers, the new team takes on the contract. When a player is released in the middle of a guaranteed contract, the new team only has to pay league minimum with the old team footing the rest of the bill.

Free Agency and Compensation
A player that has accrued 6 complete years or more of service time at the end of a season and does not have a contract is eligible for filing for free agency, after which the player can sign with any team he wants.

To receive compensation for a player that signs with another team, the team must offer the player salary arbitration.

The team must offer salary arbitration to the player by December 7 or will not be allowed to negotiate with or sign the player until the following May 1. After arbitration is offered, the player has until December 19 to either accept or refuse salary arbitration. If it is refused, the player can only negotiate with the club until January 7th, after which no more negotiation can take place until May 1.

The compensation formula is based off a negotiated formula, heavy on triple crown stats, for the previous 2 seasons. Type A players are those that rank in the top 30% of his position. Type B players are those that rank below top 30% but still in the top 50%. Type C players are those that rank in the top 60% but not the top 50%.

A type players fetch the 1st-round draft pick of teams in the top half of W-L record or a 2nd-round draft pick of teams in the bottom half of W-L record and an additional pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds. B types don't get the sandwich pick and C type players fetch a sandwich between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The higher the player's ranking in the compensation formula, the higher priority the old team gets in acquiring draft picks.

Something that's never mentioned is that there are still limits to the type of free agents that teams may sign.

If there are 14 or less type A and B players available, no team may sign more than 1 type A or B player. If there are 15-38 available A and B players, no team may sign more than 2. From 39-62 this becomes 3. The club quota increases accordingly for higher totals of available free agents. There is no maximum allowed for type C free agents. Lastly, a team can sign up to as many type A and B free agents as they've lost, regardless of the above quota.

Major League free agents come with an automatic no-trade clause until after the next June 15.

Rule 5 Draft

Once a player is signed by an organization either through the draft or as a free agent, the clock immediately starts ticking on the club's exclusive rights to the player.

After 3 complete minor league seasons (or 4 if the player was younger than 19 on the preceding June 5), a player comes to one of the major crossroads of his career. At this point, a team has to decide if they want to sign the player to a major-league contract (adding him to the 40-man roster which consists of 25 active players and 15 on optional assignment) or if they want to let the other teams have a shot at him.

Players that have the minor league seasons required and are not added to the 40-man roster are eligible for baseball's Rule 5 draft. A player can be drafted by another organization for a sum of $50,000. The catch, however, is that if the player is ever removed from his new team's 25-man roster during the next season, he has to be offered back to the original club for half the price, or $25,000.

A player not on the 40-man roster and not taken in the Rule 5 draft remains under contract with his current organization. If the player has less than 6 years of minor league service, he can elect to be a minor league free agent, thus getting out of Rule 5 consideration for all intents and purposes.

Service Time

Service time is accrued for every day spent in the majors. If a player spends 20 days or less of the season on optional assignment, the player is given service time for the entire season. This is to prevent various shenanigans if calling up a player at the end of April to buy an extra year of rights.

Service time allows the player more authority over how his contract can be assigned.

A player with 10 years or more Major League service, the last 5 being with the team he's currently on may not be assigned to another team without his consent.

A player with 5 years or more Major League service cannot be optioned to the minors without his permission. He must be offered his release. In the case of a player signed to a Major League contract as a free agent, and thus almost certainly signed to a guarantee contract, still has to be paid according to the provisions of his contract.

A player with 3 years or more Major League service may not be removed from the 40-man roster without his permission. The player can opt to be released immediately or at the end of the season.

A player may elect to become a free agent whenever he is removed from the 40-man roster starting with the second removal of his career. The player may opt to not become a free agent but to become a free agent after the season.

A player with 5 years or more Major League service that is traded in the middle of a multi-year contract may, during the offseason, require his new team to either trade him or let him become a free agent. If the player is eventually traded, he's not eligible to demand a trade again under the current contract and loses free agency rights for 3 years.

The 40-Man Roster and Options

Now that the player is on the 40-man roster, another clock starts ticking. He's signed to what amounts to a major-league contract, but the organization has a limited number of seasons in which to keep the player on the team for good. A player can be removed from the 40-man roster at any time, but removing a player from the 40-man roster results in the player having to pass through waivers.

Once a player is added to the 40-man roster, the parent club can send him down to the minors on "optional assignment" in 3 separate seasons. You don't need to actually be on the 25-man roster for an option year to be used; being on the 40-man roster in spring training and optioned to the minors before the season is enough to make the season count as an option year. If a player is never sent down, however, he doesn't use an option year.

Also, despite it being a major league contract, the minimum for players on the 40-man roster and not the 25-man roster is $37,000 plus collective cost of living increases since 1999.

After the three option years are up, a player must pass through waivers to be placed on optional assignment.

When a player is designated for assignment, the player is essentially in limbo. He doesn't count against any of the roster sizes and this is used while you either try to trade the player or get him to accept a minor league assignment.

When a player is placed on waivers, other teams have a shot at claiming him, in order of worst record in the same league to best record in same league to worst record in opposing league to best team in opposing league. For the first month of the season, the W-L record of the previous season is used. When a team places a waiver claim on a player, the new team is subject to the same option rules. For example, if the Red Sox claim Joe Schmoe off waivers because he was out of options when the Devil Rays sent him down, the Red Sox would then have still to pass Schmo through waivers to send him down to their own minor league team.

There are two disabled lists in the majors. The 15-day disabled list forces teams to keep players out for a minimum of 15 days and does not count against the 25-man roster. The 60-day or Emergency disabled list requires a minimum of 60 days on the shelf and doesn't count against either the 25-man or 40-man roster.

World Series Prediction....

I told you baseball playoff predicting is way too difficult. When this all started these were my original picks:

Division Series
Astros over Braves
Cardinals over Dodgers
Red Sox over Angels
Twins over Yankees

Red Sox over Twins
Astros over Cardinals

World Series
Astros over Red Sox

I then learned the Yankees set an MLB record with 61 come from behind wins which is one of the markers I like to look at during the playoffs and I said that I would have predicted the Yanks over the Twins and then Red Sox over Yanks and Red Sox over Astros.

When the LCS came around I made some more predictions, this time picking the Yanks over the Red Sox (who knew bionic man was going to pitch again?) and the Cards over the Astros. Well there's the recap, now here's the prediction for what it's worth. (And yes I know it's late but these are my thoughts before the series)

This one is a no-brainer, beating the Yankees removes the monkey the size of King Kong off of the Red Sox back. Plus their pitching is better and Tony LaRussa will hopefully never win another title in my day. If you want to go by positions, then let's do that.

C - Varitek over Matheny
1B - Pujols over Millar/Ortiz
2B - Bellhorn over Womack
SS - Renteria over Cabrera (barely)
3B - Rolen over Mueller
LF - Manny over Taguchi/Sanders
CF - Edmonds over Damon
RF - Walker over Nixon (barely)
DH - Ortiz over Sanders

That's a 5-4 edge for the Cardinals but it's really, really close. The big difference is the Red Sox have no automatic outs in their lineup while the Cards have 2 with Matheny and Womack and a third when Taguchi plays.

Schilling, Pedro, Lowe, Wakefield versus Williams, Morris, Suppan and either Carpenter or Marquis. It's not that close, throw in the supposed strength of the Cardinals bullpen which has not been a strength particularly with Steve Kline down and the fact that Francona has used his bench quite well so far in these playoffs and all signs indicate a Boston win.

Good, get this curse crap over with.

Red Sox in 6

In other news, check out the documentary on HBO, "9 innings from Ground Zero", excellent stuff.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


The Cubs dream this off-season is to get Carlos Beltran which would mean a big jump in payroll probably, one which the Tribune probably won't be approving anytime soon. Not to mention the mess that bringing in a high priced center fielder will cause, as in messing with the minds of Sosa and C-Pat. (Sosa knows he'll be shown the door and C-Pat will have to move positions).

Now I certainly don't think Beltran is worth the $20 million figure that people are throwing around, but evertime I see him in the playoffs, I think he may just get it. Read this article by Eric Neel if you'd like as well. Anyway here's my take.

Possible Suitors
-Yankees $170+ million ALREADY committed in salary next year and they need 2 starting pitchers....just depends how crazy George goes this off-season. My prediction for a Yankees team next year: (Payroll close to $250)

1b - Delgado
2b - Garciaparra (or Kent)
3b - A-Rod
SS - Jeter
LF - Matsui
CF - Beltran
RF - Sheffield
DH - Giambi

SP - Pedro, Brown, Vasquez, Mussina, Milton
RP - Whoever they have now plus Steve Kline

In honesty I think they'll stay out of the Beltran sweepstakes, unless they are positive Giambi can play 1B and they can move Bernie to DH. Eric Milton is someone they need unless they can talk the D'Backs out of the Big Unit but they couldn't do it at the trade deadline, so I don't see why they could now. That still leaves them with a starting pitcher slot open and they are in desperate need of an ace on that staff. Sad thing is whatever George decides sets the market for the rest of the league.

Word from their camp is Erstad is staying put at 1B (bad move), Jose Guillen is getting traded (check in on that one Hendry), Anderson's moving back to LF. Guess what means, they have a CF position open and Arte isn't afraid to spend. What they really need is starting pitching, so I expect them to make a move for Pedro Martinez.

Now what they SHOULD do, is move Darin to CF, Anderson to LF, trade Guillen (to the Cubs) and let Kotchman and McPherson play first and third(letting Glaus go) and go after 2 starting pitchers(or at least one and wait for Jared Weaver in 2006). If they sign Beltran, I'll never hear the end of it next year from the AngelFan wife.

If they don't decide to go to complete rebuild mode, they probably have the money to make the deal. They worry me....

No idea what their financial situation is but Wade is willing to pull the trigger on these things and they need a CF.

Beltran hopefully is overpricing himself for the Astros. Kent will be gone next year(they have a 2B prospect I believe) and Berkman is in line for a huge deal. They'll definitely be making a pitch though.

Don't know their financial situation as well, but they could certainly use him.

I know Brian Sabean cherishes guys who play both sides of the diamond (offense and defense), so he's definitely someone they will covet. Once again finances may get in the way though.

Hendry has already said he's interested. Beltran put up huge numbers in Wrigley so he should be interested. Backload his contract for when Sosa comes off the books and we may have a chance. Plus Hendry is one of the few not intimidated by uber-agent Scott Boras. Read all above about finances.

Minor League Factor

I've been checking out prospects a little lately (basically to see who we may be trading). This article about Cubs Minor League Player of the Year (rather Organization) Brian Dopirak was interesting. He's a 20 year old first baseman who just hit a crap load of home runs in single A ball at Lansing. My favorite quote (and one that should be plastered on the Cubs clubhouse):

To that end, Dopirak is in Arizona working on his biggest weakness at the plate: discipline. He's hoping that playing for the Mesa Solar Sox will help him improve that aspect of his game. "My pitch slection, being patient at the plate, trying to slow things down," said Dopirak, who has hit a pair of homers in 31 at-bats. "I need to work for my pitch and when I get my pitch, not to miss it. I don't want to miss a mistake.

"That's what I'm focusing on now in the Fall League, getting into a good hitter's count and not missing my pitch."

Can we send all the Cubs hitters to the Arizona Fall League?

Wavin Wendell waved home

That's old news...the new news is that Chris Speier is our new 3rd base coach. You can get the full article by clicking on Speier's name there, but here are some quotes from the article I liked.

And the difference between Kim and Speier?

"I don't see much difference at all," said Baker, who was in Arizona watching the Cubs prospects in the Arizona Fall League. "Chris will probably get instant respect because he's played so long in the big leagues."

Read between the lines and you get, "I had absolutely nothing to do with this!"

Then there's Hendry's take:

"It's a tough job, and it's a job based on split-second decisions and knowing your personnel," said Hendry of the third base coach. "A lot of things go into it. Nobody knows except internally on that given day who may be fresh, who has a hamstring problem. You also have to go on knowledge from your scouts."

Read between those lines and you get..."Wendall Kim SUCKED and now we have somebody who's hopefully paying attention."

I still recall the Cards game where Ramirez had just gotten back from his groin issues and Wavin Wendell sent him home on some blooper to RF and he got thrown out by a mile. I'm assuming Hendry is still bitter about it as we all are.

The other amusing thing is that Baker is in Arizona to check out the prospects in the Arizona Fall League, I assume only to let Hendry know that none of them will ever get a chance to play under him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Free Agent list

This guy has a good free agent list sorted by position if you're curious. He also has the rules of free agency and arbitration in the bottom right. It's not quite up to date as some players options have been picked up or declined, but it's a good tool.

Here's another one listed by team

Offseason thoughts

The big "What the Cubs need to do" article is coming soon, around when the World Series ends. Here are some random thoughts:

- I think Sammy is going to have a big year next year. He's going to be a FA next off-season unless you trade him, which almost has no chance of happening. I'm sure his people will inform him that he's playing for a new contract and the Cubs have no intention of picking up his option. Hence watch him be on his best behavior next year, saying all the right things, putting up hopefully huge numbers in the hope that in some way the Cubs will pick up his option since there's no way in hell he's getting that kind of money from someone else and even if they don't, he's put himself in position to get a nice FA contract for the next 3 years.

- I didn't think we'd have a chance at getting Beltran especially with his record playoff run, but if we backload his contract we just may have a chance. Offer him a greater overall contract with the 1st year at somewhere between $10 to $13 mil and then backload the contract(when Sosa leaves) so the overall value is in the $14 to $15 mil per year range. Not a terrible idea. (and he'll probably land something in the $15-17 mil per year range in my opinion and that range goes up everytime I see another playoff homer). To be honest though, by year 6 or 7 of this deal, if we do backload it, we'll probably be regretting it as he's destined to start his decline (like Sosa) by that point. We will have him though for a nice 4-5 year stretch though of mostly his best years.

- I know we were all very hurt by Hawkins last year, but the fact of the matter is 99% of closers, began their careers as something else, either a relief pitcher or a starting pitcher(actually they probably all were starting pitchers at one point).
Finding next year's closer, means we should look at all available candidates and not just those who have closing experience. Who you'd convert from a starter to a closer, I'm not sure but here are some relief pitchers I like a lot. I generally like guys who strike out a ton of guys (over 9 K/9 rate and over a 3 on K/BB rate)

B.J. Ryan 3.49 K/BB 12.62 K/9
Brendan Donnelly 3.73 K/BB 12.00 K/9
Juan Rincon 3.31 K/BB 11.63 K/9
Mike Gonzalez 9.17 K/BB 11.42 K/9
R. Betancourt 4.22 K/BB 10.26 K/9
A. Otsuka 3.35 K/BB 10.13 K/9
S. Linebrink 3.19 K/BB 8.89 K/9

Now none of these guys are available as far as I know, B.J. Ryan is mediocre versus righties but lights out versus lefties, Donnelly is 33 but hasn't shown any signs of decline yet, Rincon K/9 doubled this year after 3 years of mediocrity. That being said those are a few guys you can look at and there are plenty more out there. Scott Shields in Anaheim has some good numbers too.

Anyway the closer can be found in a variety of places, let's hope Hendry is looking.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

LCS playoff guesses

Well I went 3 out of 4 in the Division Series and it would have been 4 out 4 if I knew the Yankees had set an MLB record weith 61 come from behind wins.

It's a little late but here's my LCS thoughts:

Houston vs. St. Louis
Well I was most definitely wrong about Tracy outmanaging LaRussa. My apologies to the Cardinals and their faithful. I know the Dodger starting staff is in disarray but there's no reason to bring a guy back on 3 days rest who sucked the first time(in this case Odalis Perez). Since he hasn't done it all year and his name isn't "The Big Unit" or Schilling, I don't see the point. He already had enough doubt in his mind by being shelled in Game 1, now you throw in that he has to think about throwing on one less day of rest. Oh well...the better team won so now 'saber' folks we'll be happy.

Then there is Phil Garner who is definitely in the 'outside the box' mode of managerial thinking but he's not really doing it in a smart way. He brings back both Clemens and Oswalt on 3 days rest both of whom can't get out of the 5th inning after throwing a bunch of pitches and struggling with their control. So what does he do in Game 1 of the NLCS...brings back Brandon Backe on 3 days rest who can't get out of the 5th inning and struggles with his control. Now it gets better cause he was planning on using Pete Munro to pitch Game 2 who's nothing but rested. WHY NOT JUST PITCH HIM GAME 1 and let everyone else fall on their normal day of rest.

St. Louis had a chance to beat these guys in the regular season and rolled over to rest their starters. If their is such a thing as baseball gods they will exact their revenge. Unfortunately Phil Garner spotted the Cards the first 2 games and there is only so much cosmic forces can accomplish.

Cards in 6

Boston vs. New York
Just read Bill Simmons over at ESPN Page 2 and that should give you everything you need to know about this series.

This should have been the Red Sox's year to beat the Yankees and then Curt Schilling tore a tendon in his ankle handling a routine grounder in Game 1 versus the Angels. Series over...curse continues.
Yankees in 6 or less

That leaves a New York/St. Louis World Series and they might as well put Tampa Bay versus Montreal cause I could care less about either team. I guess the Yankees will win it.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Playoff notes edition

- I told you all about the Angels and their defense.... Okay well I didn't expect them to be that bad.

- OBP and patience are great and all but WOW does it make for boring baseball. Game 2 of the Angels/Red Sox was a 4 hour marathon of nothing but people LOB and 3-2 counts with lots of foul pitches. Yuck!!!

- Not finding stats for stuff can suck sometimes. Apparently the Yankees lead the league (and set a MLB record) with 61 come from behind wins this year. I suppose I'll stick to my original picks but if I had to do it over, I'd go Yankees over Twins in 5, Red Sox over Yankees in 7, and Red Sox over Astros in 6. Yes the curse is over and the Cubs can stop making excuses now.

- Garner's move to bring in Lidge in the 7th is the kind of stuff I love to see. Sadly it didn't work out for them in the 8th so he'll get roasted for it. But anytime a manager is willing to screw conventional baseball in the playoffs at least I know they get it. Playoff baseball is MUCH different than regular season baseball. The normal rules do not apply.

-Then there's Gardenhire who left Nathan out for 3 innings plus. No problem with that until he walks Cairo. Time to go get him. Loss of control generally means you're tiring. Bet that was a fun plane ride home.

-Then there's Scioscia....who all season has lived with the #1 bullpen in the league without any lefties in the whole pen. So he has Frankie Rodriguez who's into his 3rd inning and has just struck out Manny Ramirez for the 2nd time in the game. So what does he do? Puts in Washburn to face the lefty Ortiz, who promptly puts the 1st pitch into the Green Monster seats. I have no problem with the unconventional thinking of bringing in a starting pitcher, I have an issue when that pitcher is Washburn who pretty much sucks. That was a stupid move and although I can't prove it, as soon as he motioned to the pen, I knew it was a mistake.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Playoff predictor...Division Series version

I should put a random number generator and assign it to each of the 8 teams and it might be just as reliable as what I'm about to spell out to you. Here's how I usually look at the playoffs.

-First find the teams that have been playing well for longer than a month....a good 2 month stretch or longer is nice
Boston, Houston & St. Louis

- Find teams that have a knack for coming from behind
(2002 - Angels, 2003 - Marlins, 2004 - ????? Dodgers lead the league with 53 but I can't find stats for the rest of the league)

- 2 dominant starters on staff equals trouble for other team
Boston & Houston, Radke has been good this year but he doesn't qualify as dominant. Pedro just barely qualifies Boston.

- Aggressive managing is better than the same old thing works managing
This spells trouble for Cox & LaRussa. Edge to Scioscia, Tracy, Torre and maybe Gardenhire. The jury is still out on Francona & Garner.

-Never go for a team with a bad defense particularly up the middle (CF, 2b, SS & C)
Not sure that applies to anyone this did in 2002 with the Yankees though. The Red Sox improved enough with their trades, Anaheim might be in trouble though. Garrett isn't spectacular in CF, Eckstein doesn't make errors but doesn't get to a lot of balls, they lost A. Kennedy who should always be a Gold Glove candidate, Molina is great though. Yanks might be in trouble as well here.

It's a series of tradeoffs as always, but Boston & Houston are my favorites at the moment.
Here's my bold playoff predictions:

St. Louis vs. Dodgers
Toughest one to call in my opinion, the Dodgers and their remarkable comebacks, great defense plus the fact that Tracy will probably outmanage LaRussa. That being said the Cardinals have had a lights out bullpen, have good to great defense almost everywhere on the diamond and we all know about their offense. The Dodgers limped though to the postseason and their starting pitching is less reliable than the Cardinals.

Cards in 5, winning all of them at home

Houston vs. Atlanta
Houston has played great ball the last 2 months and has 2 GREAT starters. Atlanta has been playing great ball since the All-Star Break and no great starters. Cox still believes what gets you through the regular season works in post-season. I don't know what Garner thinks.

Astros in 4

Boston vs. Anaheim
I have serious rooting interest in the Angels, but Boston has been playing better than anybody the last 2 months and weren't all that bad before that. Since the Angels will have to win 3 straight (games 2-4) to win it in my opinion, I don't see much of a chance for them. Angels had a great last week to mask the fact they played poorly versus the Mariners & Blue Jays in the middle of the month. Don't be fooled.

Red Sox in 4

Minnesota vs. New York
I'm not really sure how this team got the best record, teams must have been playing the pinstripes rather than the team on the field. If Mussina and Brown go crazy they have a chance but that offense will fall back to Earth against the Twins (& Red Sox if they face them). I like this Twins team for whatever reason, especially with the way Santana has been pitching. Solid pen and defense and the mediocre Yankee pitching tells me the Yankees may exit early again this year.

Twins in 5

The Championship Series
Houston vs. St. Louis
St. Louis had a chance to beat these guys in the regular season and rolled over to rest their starters. The baseball gods will exact their revenge.

Astros in 6

Boston vs. Minnesota
Fun matchup and what I think will be a great series to watch. And if Schilling meets up with Santana in a start, that would make it better. That Red Sox offense is a little too good though and the Twins 3 & 4 starters are a bigger dropoff than the Red Sox's.

Red Sox in 7

The World Series
Houston vs. Boston
Until Boston beats New York in the playoffs I'm not betting against any curses. Plus Clemens beating the Red Sox in game seven would just be lovely. The Red Sox fans will have something more to moan about.

Astros in 7

Friday, October 01, 2004

Anything is possible

Anything is possible....

The last 3 words I have left for the last 3 games of the season.

May the baseball gods be North Siders this weekend
May every A. Miles blooper fall in
May every Jeff Bagwell liner find a Rockies glove
May every K. Wood slider be swung at and missed
May every Brave contract food poisoning
May the Dodgers beat their arch-rivals
May the Cubs not break my heart again.

Go Cubs (he says meekly)