Thursday, July 29, 2010

Miguel Batista Takes on Midwestern Values

The frontpage of Yahoo! makes a pretty good living out of running the same shite that can be found daily in USA Today, America's fast food, news-less newspaper. And you know what? Despite the intelligent, well-read side of my brain telling me better, I click on it to see what's up. Boredom will make you do things like this.

Usually I end up reading about foods I shouldn't eat, get hungry, and then wind up consuming said bad foods. Funny how that always works. I swear that Burger King sponsors those things.

Anyways, the point of all this introduction is that today, there was this article that ran on Yahoo!'s frontpage, right next to how CPR will save my life (ummm... I hope so, otherwise all of that time I spent making out with a dummy in 7th would be meaningless!)

Now although things between Miguel Batista, career crappy pitcher, and Miss Iowa, hottie, sound a little hostile with that misleading headline, everything is supposedly okay.  At least that's what Miss Iowa wants us to think, so she doesn't sound like a super bitch.  Although, the more I read about it, I do think she may actually be a tad bit upset over the whole situation.  I would too, who honestly wants to be compared Miguel Batista, the man who made the Mariners waste $25 million dollars?

But it's not like Batista was too farfetched in the comparison, he knows how much he sucks.  And who knew that there would be such a hottie to come from a state that offers exciting hotspots like this, this, and this?

And yes, the flowers are nice little PR gesture, something I have learned can go a long way/be quite annoying in my recent few days of twitter binging. But honestly, why would Batista have to jump through such a PR hoop like sending flowers if she wasn't actually a little upset/want the attention?

If anything, she should be sending flowers to Miguel Batista as a thank you.  Hell, everything has seemed to work out in her favor over this situation.  She now gets the throw out the first pitch in front of like 4,000 people.  Plus, now there is the attention thrown her way, just what every Miss America contestant doesn't have enough of.  I smell a reality show soon.  Her sky is limitless thanks to Miguel!

But in the end, I think the real winners of this entire situation are actually us, the users of the internet.  Because we get to enjoy photos such as the following:


Or maybe we can all send thank you flowers to Miguel for that.

Inning Breakdown

Yesterday during my inning breakdown of a random sampling of pitchers I told you that I would be giving you all some numbers from the current crop of young exciting pitchers. Due to some speculation from another writer, I will be adding in the Curve ball % for each pitcher.

Again, the same rules apply as yesterday. We are analyzing these pitchers strictly on an inning workload and a rough idea on the success each pitcher has had. All I am attempting to accomplish is to see if there is any true link between limiting early pitching innings in a career and sustained health.

23 years old, 186 IP/201IP/201 IP, 977 IP over 5 years (195 IP/yr) Career 19.2% (80.1 MPH)... Justin Verlander. He has a shockingly high amount of early innings and uses the curve ball often and is a power arm. If our prediction is correct, he could be a future arm problem, or he is a natural born work horse.

24 years old, 110 IP in 1st year on pace for 160 IP, Career 11.5% Curves (74 MPH)... Jaime Garcia. Definitely not a power pitcher, and his innings in his first year will be medium to high. One would expect to see more innings the second and third year. Based on the information we've seen, I would say Garcia is in line to become a reliable injury free pitcher.

22 years old, 24/100/157, 324 IP over 4 years (81 IP/yr), 8.1% CB... Joba Chaimberlain. Possibly the best example of holding a pitcher back. What has this done for Joba? It may have just solidified him a career as a mediocre to bad pitcher. Well done.

23 years old, 127/119 on pace for 189 IP, 13% CB (75.9 MPH)... Tommy Hanson. Looks like they are going with no inning limit on Hanson and this could doom him. He has a little bit of power in his arm (93 MPH fastball) and likes the power curve ball.

23 years old, 53/70/206 708 IP over 5 years (141 IP/yr), 19.8% CB (78.7 MPH)... Gavin Floyd. Innings were not limited early on, he just got some time out of the bullpen and spot starts. However, his curve ball numbers are high, and were higher earlier in his career. He is not a power pitcher, and has been said to be an easy thrower.

23 years old, 82/198/218, 640 IP over 4 seasons (160 IP/yr), 9.0% CB (76.8 MPH)... Ubaldo Jiminez. i think this is a great test case for Tristan's curv eball theory. He is a power pitcher that has a lot of early innings on his arm. He does not throw a curve ball too much, instead stays with the sinker and changeup. If his arm goes through reliability issues I think this one gives a huge nod towards scouting as the best way to judge a pitchers reliability. Jiminez is a violent thrower, and someone that I would guess will have arm problems.

23 years old, 146/227/223, 737 IP over 4 seasons (184 IP/yr), 16.2% CB (78 MPH)... Tim Lincecum. Is this someone we've already seen with arm problems? Lincecum hasn't missed substantial time with an injury but his fastball velocity is decreasing and many are starting to wonder if he can remain at his elite pitching level.

23 years old, 33/34/196, 337 IP over 5 seasons (67 IP/yr), Large differentials in CB stats... Edison Volquez. This guy's numbers are crazy when analyzed. It is like he has been 3 different pitchers. He was used in relief appearances his first 2 seasons, then compiled huge inning numbers, then his arm broke down. Now after arm surgery he is throwing his curve ball at unprecedented rates (16% up from career 8%). We know he has arm problems and his schizophrenic pitching style can only lead to more problems.

22 years old, 174/171/124, 470 IP over 3 seasons (156 IP/yr), 0% CB... Jonny Cueto. Volquez's teammate never throws curve balls, has maintained himself as a power pitcher, and has avoided arm issues under Dusty.

23 years old, 121/76/136, 486 IP over 4 seasons (121 IP/yr), 0% CB many sliders... FranciscoLiriano. Was Liriano used too much early on? If you look at his innings numbers, no. Remember though that he put up his 121 IP in a shortened season with lots of minor league work too. He has been the role model for starting youth slow at the major league level. His fastball has lost a lot of velocity and he missed an entire year. It may not just be the curves, but the combination of power pitcher with smaller frame, and a lethal breaking ball which stresses the arm.

21 years old, 72/34/86, 304 IP over 4 years (76 IP/yr), 19.2% CB... Phil Hughes. A player thathad a painfully slow rise to a full workload in the majors. It may have paid off for the Yankees, though, as he has shown brilliance this year. Given the high amount of curves and the speed of his fastball (92.5 MPH) maybe the Yankees saw him as a risk and took precaution. More likely they truly believe this is the way to groom a young pitcher (See: Joba Chaimberlain).

22 years old, 90/147/200, 748 IP over 5 seasons (150 IP/yr), 20.4% CB... Chad Billingsley. This is a guy that basically had no restraint over innings and throws a lot of curve balls. While he may not be a prototypical power pitcher (91 MPH fastball) he relies on strike outs and will tally high pitch counts. He has shown no arm problems as of yet.

24 years old, 123/161/173, 812 IP over 5 seasons (162 IP/yr), 12.5% CB... Jared Weaver. Another pitcher which I do not believe had a inning limit. He has turned out to be a steady performer for the Angels.

19 years old, 84/191/190, 1,065 IP over 6 seasons (177 IP/yr), 13.4% CB... Felix Hernandez. Big power pitcher that throws a lot of innings and has had no arm troubles. I picture him a lot like CCSabathia in the sense that any workload his body could take. I would categorize him as an anomaly of this group.

So what is the verdict? More and more I'm leaning on taking this out of the numbers hands and leaving it to good scouting. If you can see a smaller pitcher with a lot of stress on his arm, take the ball out of his hand. If it is a larger power pitcher, maybe they are more willing to take a more serious load. I would not simply state pitcher size is the key contribution either. Scouts have to look at a multitude of things and sound pitching mechanics have to be the #1 variable in the innings debate.

As far as Tristan's theory goes, I do think it has some validity. You see a lot of these young power pitchers with early arm trouble. It does seem like there could be a good connection between young power pitchers and arm troubles, but I'm not sure how the curve ball, or other breaking balls, factors in. I simply haven't done enough research to give a verdict on that prediction.

I guess you all want me to get into Strasburg, as he is the hot topic in the innings debate.Strasburg uses power pitching and a lethal curve ball. He has had a small sample size of innings, but you can be sure the Nationals will limit his innings (By the way I'm not sure why they are doing this. They have 5 years of him before he flees for another team. Use him as much as possible). From what we have looked at, and what I have seen, I do think bringing him along slowly is the right move. He is a young power pitcher. He puts a lot of stress on the elbow. He mechanics are sound, but he is not an "easy thrower". Every time I see him throw I think, "Wow, everything about that pitch was violent." Starting with the arm motion and the big powerful arm motion to the plate, and ending with a devastating pitch. Will Strasburg have an injury plagued career? Who can tell, but it will be an exciting career. (Note: I truly believe thatStrasburg's DL stint right now is more of the Natinals conspiring against their fans. They got another Strasburg sell out crowd and didn't have to use up his innings. He got a good side session completed in the bullpen before the game, and then was told he wasn't pitching by the Natinalsmanagement. That is my spin on the injury)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Santo Bashing


In the third inning of Wednesday night's White Sox vs. Mariners game the White Sox television booth invited frequent guest/rambling old man, Moose Skowran, for a chat.

In the midst of yet another Hawk/
Moose story about Mickey Mantle (they tell at least 10 of these a game when Moose joins the booth), Paul Konerko hit a long flyball to the warning track. Moose, clearly perked by the home run possibilities, starts cheering like a wild man. When the ball is safely caught by the outfielder, Moose distinctly utters in a clearly dejected tone:

"O man, I just sounded like Santo right there"

Yes, the worst insult an announcer can give himself is comparing themselves to Ron Santo.


Inning Debate Breakdown

I've always sided in the old school realm of thinking over holding young pitchers back and limiting innings and pitches. I know there is a lot of evidence that will support these teams in limiting their huge investments, but I've always felt it was still unnecessary. I decided that I would take a small sampling of major league players from all different skill sets and judge them solely on their workloads. Without relying on much more than the Innings Pitched stat and general intuition on how good a pitcher is, I decided to analyze a few categories: Age of MLB debut (rookie season, September callups do not count), IP each of the 1st 3 years of their career, Career IP, and years pitched. After I present these limited statistics, I will give you the name of the player and hopefully we will be able to get some analysis if babying young pitchers arms pays off in the end.

21 years old, 22.2 IP/112.1 IP/78.2 IP, 2,477.2 IP over 16 years (155 IP/yr)... Jeff Suppan. Slow Start, Mediocre Career, Mediocre Pitcher.

24 years old, 141.2/233.0/127.1, 1,932.1 IP over 10 years (193.2 IP/yr)... Roy Oswalt. Fast Start, Good Carrer, Good Almost Great Pitcher.

21 years old, 12.1/157.0/15.2, 622.2 IP over 6 seasons (104 IP/yr)... Josh Johnson. Injury plagued start with lots of pitches, Soon to be Phenominal Pitcher.

25 years old, 36.1/164.2/179.2, 737.2 IP over 7 seasons (105 IP/yr)... Chris Young. Lots of pitches early. Injury rattled career.

23 years old, 23.2/120.2/100, 1642.1 IP over 11 seasons (150 IP/yr)... Ted Lilly. Low Inning start. Prolonged average career.

22 years old, 133/98/254, 4,916 IP over 23 seasons (213 IP/yr)... Roger Clemens. High workload early, prolonged great career.

22 years old, 41/82/173, 1698 IP over 12 seasons (141 IP/yr)... AJ Burnett. Low early workload, questionable future and injury risk.

21 years old, 23/191/180, 3256 IP over 20 years (162 IP/yr)... Kevin Brown. High early workload, became an inning eater and ended with terrible arm problems.

24 years old, 136/202/235, 2194 IP over 12 seasons (182 IP/yr)... Tim Hudson. Very high early workload and has had some injury concerns lately.

21 years old, 180/210/197, 2,040 IP over 9 seasons (226 IP/yr)... CC Sabathia. Very high early workload with no injury concerns and a great innings eater.

22 years old, 74/189/128, 818 IP over 8 years (102 IP/yr)... Rich Harden. Medium workload with a large second year and huge injury concerns throughout his career.

23 years old, 154/229/207, 1314 IP over 11 seasons (120 IP/yr)... Mark Mulder. Heavy early workload and an injury shortened career.

21 years old, 51/221/239, 2,188 IP over 11 seasons (199 IP/yr)... Mark Buerhle. Heavy early load and a good career innings eater with no injury concerns.

22 years old, 116/211/118, 657 IP over 4 seasons (164IP/yr)... Mark Prior. Heavy early load and huge arm problems.

21 years old, 166/137/174, 1,294 IP over 13 seasons (99 IP/yr)... Kerry Wood. Heavy early workload followed by a career of injuries.

23 years old, 77/88/26, 1600 IP over 10 seasons (160 IP/yr)... Bronson Arroyo. Low early workload and became a reliable innings eater.

22 years old, 134/104/97, 1,431 IP over 13 seasons (110 IP/yr)... Carl Pavano. Medium early workload followed by an injury sustained career.

I'm not sure if I'm even closer to a final judgement on if the innings should be limited or not. You have some guys with light early workloads that are injury prone, some with high workloads that become sustainable workhorses. I don't think it is as simple as laying some general pitch count on guys. I think there needs to be a good scouting department that can say, this guy has potential to be a workhorse, or this guy's arm may fall off. I truly believe scouting absolutely trumps the numbers game in this case.

What I would like to do is go through some of the young arms that have been put on pitch counts and we can vote to see who's arm will explode and who will become a workhorse. However, I'll save that for another post.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baseball Stumble:

I was on a slight role in the writing world after completing my I'm Gross Internship Application but I don't have much on the mind as far as the baseball world goes. Though I have been reading a lot of the FanGraphs daily articles, which I highly recommend. With this lack of topic, I decided to go to my one true backup plan: Baseball Stumble. You know the rules now, I pick the first website I Stumble on and write you a few paragraphs about the topic. Be prepared to be slightly entertained and thoroughly let down (Side Note: Stumble Upon now makes you sign up. That is gay as AIDS).

My first Stumble was this. Very entertaining, but not enough to write a post on.

This was my second. While I'm typically a douche bag, I'm not touching that karma train. Although some of our writers/readers absolutely would (Bob). Note: Please read a few paragraphs of that, it is basically written by a 6 year old. Poor, poor writing.

Here we go...

Ten Cent Beer Night

Let me get this off my chest. TEN CENT BEER NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!! I could get absolutely shit faced for $2. This is something that you travel miles to come to... except the event took place in Cleveland.

Can anyone guess the outcome of this game? Robby Alomar sneaking into the stands and tossing a few back with some fans? Albert Belle threatening the opposing team after losing a beer chugging contest with Juan Gonzalez? (Please notice, this game took place in 1974. I really only know sweet 90's Indians {Like Kenny Lofton and Paul Sorrento} Though here is there roster. It features Buddy Bell and Steve Kline. I'm 30% sure it is not this Steve Kline.

Some fun facts on the game: A few days earlier the Rangers-Indians had a brawl that fans got to participate in. Why was I not born in the 60's? I could have been that guy patting Hank Aaron on the back. There were no rules for fans charging the field before 1980 and it was a glorious time. These sentences explain my thinking: A woman ran out to the Indians' on-deck circle and flashed her breasts, and a naked man sprinted to second base as Grieve hit his second home run of the game. A father and son pair ran onto the outfield and mooned the fans in the bleachers one inning later. (Links supplied by Wikipedia)

This sounds like absolutely the funnest game to be at. Not only was Billy Martin managing, but when a rowdy fan tried to abscond with his player's cap, Billy and a horde of Rangers stormed the fans... with bats. Not to be outdone, Indians skipper decided to protect the Rangers from the rowdy fans. Before ordering his players to fight off the fans, the Major League Baseball Players, guys who professionally swing bats as hard as they can, were ordered to arm themselves with more bats. This is like the Palace Brawl times 50, Disco Demolition Night times 100. This may be the craziest game of all time.

We will finish up with a couple of quotes. The first one which is surely from the father of Andy McPhail, it equals the dumb things Andy would say years later (I refuse to look up if it actually is his father. Even though this is a story on Wikipedia and looking it up could not be easier).

American League president Lee McPhail commented, "There was no question that beer played a part in the riot." No kidding.

And here is one from a dead guy:

newscaster Tim Russert, then a student at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, attended the game. "I went with $2 in my pocket," recalled the Meet The Press host. "You do the math."

Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 YSSW Midseason Awards

As I write this, I am watching the Home Run Derby (on mute, thanks to Joe Morgan and Chris Berman) and pondering how much cooler this event was in the late 1990's.  Remember when Sosa and McGwire combined to jack like 120 homers over the Green Monster that one day?  And players didn't have to worry about "getting tired" or "messing up their swing," reasons that now keep some of the true sluggers out of the contest because they would shoot some juice after the Derby was over.  Yes, Nick Swisher, you suck, no one wants to see you hit pop flies to the warning track.  I miss watching guys who looked like Hercules get buck on this night and not regret it the next day.  Le sigh.

At least Corey Hart, one of my fantasy boys, has kicked ass so far.  I'm pretty sure that I get extra home run points for that.

In unrelated news, if you want to give yourself a brain aneurysm, I suggest taking on this challenge... watch the Derby and count the number of times Berman says "back."  I will mop up the blood that will drip from your ears after five minutes of tracking, I promise.

But now, what you all have been waiting for, the traditional midseason picks and predictions, because we here at Start Wedman like to take half a season to scout teams before making completely unattainable guesses at will happen in the future.  No guest this year since Weezy was too preoccupied.  Although I considered sending an invite to Snoop for this pop music classic (don't even try to tell me that video isn't the tits, I won't even hear it).  But then I remembered Snoop's career has been dead since this, much like a few of our writers.

First up is the new guy, TRISTAN:

NL MVP - Joey Votto. After not being a first ballot All Star, Votto will show the baseball world what he is made of. He is raking this year and hitting better than the likes of Pujols, Fielder, and Howard.
NL Cy Young - Josh Johnson. Sure, talk all you want about Ubaldo, but I'm not sold on him. He plays the NL West for half a year, of course his numbers will be inflated. How come no one is talking about Johnson's 1.69 ERA for a decent to crap team? Not to mention that Johnson is tied for third in the NL in strikeouts (123).
NL ROY - Buster Posey. Chose him based on the fact that Strasburg has already peaked this year and that Posey looks like he is 12. Batting .330 with 6 bombs in his first 35 games isn't a bad start to a career.
AL MVP - Josh Hamilton. Barring a relapse... errrrr... setback, Hamilton is giving Miggy Cabrera all he can handle for the MVP race.
AL Cy Young - Cliff Lee. He is only 8-3 because he has played on an awful team all year. Give him a decent offense. . .Yankees (ed's note - obviously this was written before he was traded to the mighty, mighty Rangers) . . . and who knows what his final numbers will tally.
AL ROY - Neftali Feliz. 22 year old who is currently anchoring down the very good Ranger bullpen. Struggled early in the year, but seems to have found his stride as of late.
 
 
ALDS:
Yankees vs. White Sox
Rangers vs. Rays
 
ALCS:
Yankees vs. Rangers
 
NLDS:
Braves vs. Rockies
Cardinals vs. Padres
 
NLCS:
Cardinals vs. Rockies
 
World Series:
Yankees vs. Cardinals; Yankees in 6
 
Solid work, T-Pain.  Highly inventive Yanks/Cards World Series match up.

And now with the knowledge from the streets, MR. ANONYMOUS:

AL MVP -  Miguel Cabrera.  Will not win the triple crown, but will gain 45 lbs over the offseason while celebrating, to continue his plan of snacking his way off the field.  Third to first to exclusive DH, just like another Detroit fatty.
AL CY Young -  Jered Weaver.  He is a Weaver.  The possibilities of great comedic articles to be written about this on YSSW is mouth watering.
AL Rookie of the Year -  Neftali Feliz.  He has a sweet name that reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas songs.   
Next prediction - That song will be stuck in your head for at least 3 hours now.
*** Bonus Pick*** (because I give more than required that is just how I roll.)
AL Home Runs -  Miguel Cabrera.  He will only hit 45 though.
NL MVP - Joey Votto.  Mainly because he is on my fantasy team.  He is an emerging star, and this will be the ultimate silencing of the haters for those who didn’t think he should be an all star despite being at or near the top of most offensive categories.  Plus MVP’s now a days have to be on good teams, and since the Reds (spoiler alert) are going to win the Central, this fits this bill as well.  He may win the Gold Glove as well since he is such a great hitter…
NL Cy Young -  Ubaldo Jimenez.  He is a beast.  So much so he will not be in Colorado next year - said it here first.  He will also win more than 23 games this year.
NL Rookie of the Year -  Stephen Strasburg.  Baseball writers are so captivated with him that there is no way for him not to win.  Is he deserving of it?  Likely.  But two words - Mark Prior.  Strasburg is going to start 10 games next season.  He is going to steal the award away from Jason Heyward (shouldn’t be an All Star this year though) who will be a great player for many years to come.  Not to be left out, Buster Posey will have the most positive impact on his teams on field play in the next few years. (ed's note - apparently the streets will recognize all rookie achievements this year?  But no Mike Leake?)
***Bonus Pick***
NL Home Runs -  Prince Fielder.  The Brewers suck so he will just keep swinging for the bleachers in the second half.  I hope he gets moved into the lead-off spot so he gets more at bats (very Cardinals like).  He will hit 52, or he will throw out his back.

POSTSEASON PICKS:

AL East -  Yankees.  Are good now, and will buy the needed pieces when it comes to the trade deadline.
AL Central -  Tigers.  I hate the White Sox.
AL West -  Rangers.  There is an AL West?  Huh, never hear anything about them.
AL Wild Card -  Rays.  See my reasoning for the Central.
AL Pennant -  Tigers.  Yankee let down after winning last year.  It does mean we have to watch Johnny Damon attempt to throw, which is ever so painful.
NL East -  Braves.  Bobby Cox and (possibly) Chipper’s last year, I’m hoping for some magic.
NL Central -  Reds.  In Dusty we Trusty.
NL West -  Dodgers.  San Diego will forget they are having a good year and will finally trade away Adrian Gonzalez.
NL Wild Card - Mets.  Cardinals suck too.
NL Pennant -  Braves.  Some inspired play and magic.  Plus I just couldn’t pick Dusty.
World Series Champion -  Braves…MAGIC.  1995 all over again. 
 
ZACH, set it straight.

AL MVP - Miguel Cabrera. I'm  determined to trade Cabrera to Cooly in our fantasy league.  Cooly is determined to keep rejecting these trade offers, so to spite him, Cabrera will win the AL MVP
NL MVP - Joey Votto.  I'm expecting the Reds to make the playoffs. If they do, there is no way you can not give this to Votto. His 4.1 WAR leads the NL (Morneau has a 5.0 WAR to lead the AL), and his team is playing well right now. He is the best player on an up and coming team. No way you can give it to Pujols this year.
AL ROY
- Toss up between Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson.  I'm going to go with Jackson on this one. Sure he strikes out way too much, but I don't give a shit about strikeouts as long as you stay productive. Also, Jackson's defense is very solid, and in the Year of the Pitcher great defense should be rewarded.
NL ROY - Holy crap there are a lot of candidates here. Strasburg, Jaime Garcia, Heyward, Posey, Ike Davis, Mike Leake, Gaby Sanchez, Mike Stanton. What's going on here???? I'm going Jaime Garcia. 1) Great name 2) Year of the Pitcher 3) 2.17 ERA 4) 3.30 FIP 5) Jayson Stark described Garcia's pitching with the following: "he's ridden some of the nastiest offspeed stuff on Earth".  Nastiest offspeed stuff on Earth?  Yeah, I'm going with this guy.
AL CY YOUNG - Currently the AL East has 8 of the Top 9 Cy Young candidates on ESPN's Cy Young Predictor.  That is quite ridiculous.  Teams from other divisions should not even try.  The postseason should just be a 4 team mini playoff in the AL East.  That being said, I'm going with a guy who is not from the AL East.  Yea, I'm a renegade.  I'm picking Cliff Lee.  Mainly because he is very very good.
NL CY YOUNG - Ubaldo is the sexy pick because he's going to win about 25 games this year.  However, wins are stupid.  Because of that I will pick Josh Johnson.  I absolutely know I will be wrong on this at the end of the year.  If Ubaldo has a ton of wins, there is no way he does not get the Cy Young. I'm still going with Johnson though. He is a stud.
 
POSTSEASON PICKS:

AL EAST - Yankees
AL CENTRAL - White Sox (I believe again!)
AL WEST - Texas
AL WILDCARD - Rays

AL CHAMPION - Yankees

NL EAST - Mets
NL CENTRAL - Reds
NL WEST - Rockies
NL WILDCARD - Phillies

NL CHAMPION - Mets

WS CHAMPION - My potential World Series makes me want to shove sharp objects into my eye. I'll go with the Yanks to win the Series.
 
Anything I say from here on out will look smart after Zach just picked the Mets to go to the World Series.  Even Paul Moro would think that's a ridiculous idea.  But wait for the gem I have at the end of my awards.  I already feel like I have to kick myself off the site for what's about to come.  Because of that, I will start with my postseason picks.

AL EAST - Yankees
AL CENTRAL - Minnesota Twins
AL WEST - Rangers, I have to pick them now that they got Lee and no longer have to worry about pleasing Justin Smoak.
AL WILD CARD - Rays
AL CHAMPION - Yankees
NL EAST - Braves
NL CENTRAL - Cardinals, please, will people stop with this Reds talk?  They are overperforming and being carried by the weak back of Scott Rolen.  They will not win this division.  Plus, look at the schedules down the stretch.  I can't look it up right now because the internet in my hotel room is as slow as Paul Konerko.  But I'm pretty sure the Cardinals play 75% of their games against the Pirates in September and August.  Those games will be the difference.
NL WEST - Giants.  I'm sticking with them.  Mason the Bum is up now and Kung Fu Panda can't possibly suck this bad all season long.
NL WILD CARD - Phillies, assuming they can field at least AAA-level infielders at some point the rest of the season.
NL CHAMPION - Phillies, if they get healthy, they won't be stopped in the playoffs.
WORLD SERIES CHAMP - Yankees repeat in the most boring World Series since Red Sox/Rockies.

AL MVP - Miguel Cabrera.  Fuck you, Zach!
AL Cy Young - David Price.  Dominance in the AL East comes at a bonus, sorry, Cliff.
AL ROY - Brennan Boesch, hands down.
NL ROY - Jamie Garcia.  Watch him pitch some time.  You will see the nastiest two-seam fastball of your entire life.  The GF was recently annoyed to near breaking point after I watched Jamie toss and made grunts/squeals every time he threw the two-seamer.

And here's where I get booed off this site.
 
NL Cy Young - Josh Johnson.  He's better than Ubaldo, without question.  And with Ubaldo's few average starts in June, Johnson now has better numbers.  The universe is back in order, thank you.
NL MVP - Ubaldo Jimenez.  Yes, see what I did right there?  I dogged Ubaldo for sucking more than Johnson in the Cy Young and then handed him the MVP.  Yes, I've lost my marbles.  But here's my reasoning...

1. Ubaldo has put up a 3.6 WAR so far this season, only behind Halladay and Johnson in the NL for pitchers.  In addition, that is only behind four batters (Votto, Wright, Holliday, and Zimmerman) in the NL, so that puts him number seven overall, which is more than enough to legitimize him being in the discussion.
2. Does anyone give a fuck about the Rockies this year without him?  Simple answer, no.  Plus, the Rockies believe in and rally around this guy.  He is their team leader and makes them think that, yeah, they actually do have a chance in the NL West.  Even though their best player (Tulo) has a broken wrist, promising young stars suck (Stewart, Fowler, and Iannetta), and Todd Helton might as well be a corpse.
3. The MVP award has always been bullshit, so why can't this idea be reasonable?  This all relates back to freshman/sophomore year when I told Zach that, much to his dismay, the MVP award in baseball is the greatest crock of shit in professional sports since the players who play the best down the stretch get the most votes.  Hence, Frank Thomas placed fourth that year.  When it boils down to picking an MVP in baseball, you need a player who you could make a case for statistically (7th in the NL in WAR as a pitcher, I got that covered).  Then, you have to think back on the season itself.  Who stands out?  What do you remember?  When I think about this first half of the season in the National League, Ubaldo Jimenez immediately pops into my head.  He dominated and had his face plastered everywhere.  Those factors are why I am picking him as my first half NL MVP.

Zach, I will send you my resignation as well as all the passwords to the website tomorrow.

Will They Ever Be Good? Kansas City Royals

The Royals are the sole reason that I wanted to start this mini blog series. They are terrible. They are a laughing stock. Yet, the Royals have had a history as a quality team, and were once a formidable AL franchise.

Unlike last post, I would like to put some rules on my analysis in deciding whether a team will ever be good in my lifetime. 1) Does this team have any hope for being good now? (1-3 year outlook) 2) How is the team's farm system (1-10 year outlook)? 3) How strong is the team's fanbase (helps in the long term outlook (10-50 years)? 4) Intangibles. Do they play in the AL East? Are they a team that should be relocated? Have they had a decent history? Has Reggie Sanders ever played there? The last question is a trick. Reggie Sanders has actually played on every team in the majors. So, let's get the Royal bashing on its way...

1) Do the Royals have any glimmer of hope presently? If you cannot answer this question you are either a complete moron or you really believe in the power of a fat Billy Butler. The Royals are no where close to being good. They have terrible pitching (Except for Grienke and the Mexicutioner), terrible defense, terrible hitting, and poor speed. The Royals cannot hit, run, catch, or throw. That is not a good start for being a baseball team.

2) The Royals farm system has brought up a few decent players the past few years. Grienke, Butler, Beltran, Dye, and a host of others. What the farm system cannot do is keep the talent on their field. The Royals have had such dismal results the past 10 years, they are forced to sell off any player that shows talent. They keep replenishing their system, so they have to have a strong minor league system, right? Not exactly (often ranked in the middle of the pack on many minor league system rankings). You would figure with such poor results the past few years they would have built a Rays like system. Really the Royals have few things going for them in the minors. They have some pitching and they have Eric Hosmer. O yea, and Alex Gordon is still in the system. However, he played so bad with the big club that he has moved to LF in the minors. Not a good thing. Is their system strong enough to climb over low spending and few Free Agent attractions? Not even close.

3) They are currently ranked 25 out of 30 in attendance with 20,000 per game. Sure they are bad, and no one wants to see bad teams, but they have had dismal attendance for years. Their Missouri fanbase is next to nothing because of the Cardinals. The only thing they have going for them is that they have a cool stadium. Unfortunately for the Royals, their cool stadium is getting old, and I have heard from several news outlets that it is run down and should have never gotten an All Star Game. Without strong attendance figures the team can't add payroll. Without being able to add payroll and having a terrible minor league system and relying on Scott Podsednik to produce offensively for you, this franchise stands no chance.

4) Do the Royals have anything going for them which may lead you to believe they may some day be good again? Absolutely not. They were good for a period of time in the 80's and that was simply because of George Brett. In today's game of baseball a talented guy gets bought by the Yankees as soon as arbitration is over. The Royals can't pay their good youth to stay on the team.

After realizing that the Royals do not stand a chance to ever be good, what can we do with the franchise? Is there any hope in Kansas City? I honestly feel that there isn't. Its a bad organization in a bad city. My theory is they need to be relocated, but to where???? No one goes to Las Vegas anymore. Baseball has already tried the Canada thing, and fans up there aren't receptive. The just moved a team back to Washington. California has enough teams, and Florida doesn't want the 2 they have. This leaves 2 options. Go play in Mexico or in the Cari bean. Really, there is only 1 option left after that. They need to move a team to Puerto Rico. They've hosted several Marlins games there over the years, and it is a great fit for baseball. They have a large park, and a rabid fanbase. I honestly feel that there will be a team in Puerto Rico sooner, rather than later.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Busted!

This post has nothing to do with baseball at all. However, I think you all will find this quite interesting. Please look at the Top Headlines from Fanhouse today. Look to the right of this screen shot.

Notice the very bottom headline...

Is there anyone in America that does not think john Clayton is the perpetrator?

All kidding aside, the Child Porn enthusiast was Denny Green's son. Go Vikes!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Young In The Dirty Dirty

I was going to cover this major news on one of the other days this week, but that would have given you readers two legit postings in one day.  Since I was worried about the possibility of the Earth collapsing upon itself (and threatening the lives of Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid!) if we posted twice on one day, I resisted.  Or maybe I was just a tad on the lazy side - your call.

But as I was spending the Fourth of July popping bottles at terrible Bloomington-Normal hotspots, apparently one Dmitri Young was also running around the city blazing trees.

Homeless or handsome?

I can't fathom that I was just a few beers away from a P.I. and the possibility of sharing a room in the clink with none other than two time All Star, Dmitri Young!  Nuts!

Although Young went with the "grandma smokes dopes to feel better" excuse, I am highly suspicious of his excuse's merit.  I believe he actually was getting high to release the pain of not being the automatic All Star selection for the Nationals once again.  

Either way, I hope that once he was released, he made his way over to La Bamba for some mad munchies time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Will They Ever Be Good: Toronto Blue Jays

The other night I got to thinking, is there any way that teams like the Royals, Orioles, Blue Jays and Pirates can ever be good again? Not one fluke season good, but sustained success good. These teams have all had their heyday in which they were powerhouses for a short time, but their present and futures look so bleak can you ever see them digging out again? I wanted to take a look at the prolonged future of these clubs, say 20-30 years from now, can these clubs become viable consistent championship contenders again?

Some of you may be saying, how are the Blue Jays on this list? They are not your classic inept team, they are willing to spend some money, and they have been good in the more recent past (sustaining back to back World Championships in the 90's is no small feat). There are 2 huge issues that the Blue Jays have to deal with, Yankees and Red Sox.

I actually contemplated putting the Rays on this list too, because I just do not see the Rays being able to support a viable championship contending roster for 5-10 years. It is far too difficult in the AL East. Look at how the Rays built their success. Years of toiling in MLB's dumpster scavenging #1 overall picks. Now that the Rays no longer get those #1 picks and their talent is getting shipped to the powerhouse teams (see: Carl Crawford in 5 months) how will they compete?

The same argument can be put forth on the Blue Jays, except it will be worse for them. Their club has shown willingness to pay players, and the front office is not completely inept. How could that possibly be a bad thing? If they can't compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in paying superstars, and they don't suck enough to land 3 Steven Strasburg's (see: Washington National's get good formula) then how will they ever be anything but a middling franchise? Could they make a run for 1 year here or there? Of course, but I do not see it possible to sustain such prolonged success.

Unless...

Giants in the game are not only found in the #1 or #2 picks in the draft. Hell, most of the time they are found from the Dominican. If they Blue Jays could land a bonafide Super Duper Star like an Albert Pujols (that happens to love playing in Canada) they could be on to something. Their organization has shown throughout several regimes that they are not complete Jim Hendry's out there. They have made several quality moves, and a few absolute bonehead moves (Vernon Wells' contract).

I honestly just wish that this Super Duper Star would show up in the next 1-3 years instead of 15 years from now. I think the Blue Jays have the absolute perfect supporting cast to start a giant run, they just need one Alex Rodriguez to show up. Is Brett Wallace really the Alex Rodriguez type that will lead this team to 10 years of sustained winning? No. Frankly, while the Roy Halladay deal got them a lot in return, they needed more. They needed that once in a lifetime prospect. Maybe that prospect wasn't around, and definitely wasn't offered, but they needed a Hall of Famer in that deal, especially since they gave up a HOF er in the process.

I do think the Blue jays current roster is fascinating, and that is why I really wish that they had a Mega Star. The Fred Lewis trade was one of the smartest moves made in a long time. What was San Fran thinking? Lewis was the second best player on their team. Why trade him/why did they never play him?

Clearly the power surge out of players like Alex Gonzalez was unexpected, but the Blue Jays do have some good youth on the team, that should be putting it together real soon. Their staff is also filled with young arms and if Shaun Marcum could take another step to get on the elite level they could really be something.

As they are presently constructed they are a .500 team. I think they will make that elite plateau sometime in the near future, but they will be waiting on a star.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

FJM: All Star Selections

While there were a plethora of terrible articles on the bounty of All Star snubs this year, this article was definitely one of the most debatable.




I can concede that a good argument for Strasburg making the All Star team can be made. Hell, there were points this weekend when I argued for him making it. The glaring weakness about this is how Mariotti makes his point, so lets begin...


There's a reason baseball is dying a slow death in this country.


Dying a slow death? Sure, attendance is down, but attendance is down in every sport. I know the steroid era left big black smudges on the face of a once proud sport for all the writers that are over 50, but those have been over looked by many who find baseball more interesting than ever. There are more metrics to analyze the game, fantasy baseball is strong as ever, and baseball is finally starting to relate to the ever man (even if it is solely through statistics). I completely disagree that baseball is dying.


Plainly, the people making the decisions are morons.


As are you, Jay, but that is only my opinion, and the opinion of most of America. Actually, Mariotti is fairly brilliant. He always makes completely asinine claims just to get the public talking about him. He is probably one of the most recognized writers in America, and he did this simply by having awful opinions and beating them to death.


Here we have Stephen Strasburg, the game's biggest non-steroids conversation piece in ages, ready-made to pitch in the summer showcase known as the All-Star Game. Here he is, featured on a Saturday afternoon national telecast, gracing the Sports Illustrated cover in his goatee (emphasis on the goat), packing ballparks in D.C.


Emphasis on the goat? What does that mean? I will have to disregard that as incoherent blabber and move on.


Here he is, a care package dropped onto a sport that doesn't deserve such gifts.


A care package? Look, this sport is prime for young stud pitchers to start dominating (see: David Price). If Strasburg wasn't this hyped, ESPN would be over hyping some other youngster. This is how the sports cycle works. The media needs some phenom to cling to.


And there they go, the dunderheads in charge, leaving him off the National League roster and out of the game entirely.


If he is left off the NL roster, doesn't that imply that he is out of the game entirely? Why do we need that addition to the sentence? Was there talk of Strasburg being a ball boy just to get him in the game?


Something is embarrassingly wrong with the leadership of an industry that wouldn't take advantage of this meteorite on a night, July 13 at Angel Stadium, when large numbers of TV viewers are watching.


Strasburg would command even more of a viewing audience, I think that is true. However, lets see how Jay follows up this good point.


I don't care that he has pitched only six games in his big-league career. I don't care that he struggled with control and exited after five innings and 96 pitches in his weekend start against the New York Mets. What I know is that Strasburg is on the tips of too many tongues to ignore his amazing early impact, his magnetic presence and, oh, the fact the NL is trying to break a 13-game losing streak and win home-field advantage in the World Series -- no paltry prize -- for the first time in the eight years since this traditional exhibition took on greater significance.


Lets break this paragraph down. Strasburg's stats so far indicate that he hasn't played very much. In his small sample size he has shown that he can be inconsistent. Strasburg has mythological presence. The NL hasn't won in a long time, including 8 years where the game unwisely meant something.


And the theory is that the small inconsistent sample gives the NL a better chance than pitchers with larger more consistently good sample sizes. This single paragraph destroys Jay's argument. Let's see if he can come back from it.


Give the fans what they want to see, right? Give an All-Star team its best chance to win the Midsummer Classic, right?


Yes, I believe that is the point now that it means something, but you just proved that he doesn't give us the best chance. You just proved he would be fun to watch, but possibly not good enough.


Give us a kid who has the poise to strike out 53, walk only 10 and post a 2.45 ERA in his first month on the elite level, right? Not in the world of Bud Selig, the Mr. Magoo of sports commissioners.


This just in, Bud Selig has gone blind. Now Jay is making fun of handicapped people. Real mature, Mariotti.


At 75, Bud Lite already has shown recently that he's stuck in the last century when he refused to allow replays to overturn a bad umpiring call and give Detroit's Armando Galarraga a rightful perfect game. Now, he won't put a bug in the ear of NL manager Charlie Manuel and suggest he pick Strasburg.


First not overturning the play is the right call, but we can argue that some other time. Second, Jay will prove to us why bugging Manuel shouldn't have been done soon enough.


It's a farce when one of Strasburg's Washington Nationals teammates, journeyman reliever Matt Capps, can make the All-Star team when the Google/Twitter/YouTube-crazy phenom cannot.


Matt Capps is currently 2nd in the NL in Saves. You are right, though. Twitter phenoms are much more in demand.


With Selig insisting that every team be represented in the All-Star Game by at least one player, the requirement should have been the escape hatch to include Strasburg, even if purists and old-time players have trashed the idea of including a raw rookie. But it was Capps -- 2-3 record, 3.19 ERA, 22 saves, four blown saves, 10.8 hits allowed per nine innings -- who was named by Manuel as the lone Nat.


Not really sure how this proves Mariotti's point. Again, we've decided that Capps is the 2nd best closer in the NL right now, and that Strasburg has been inconsistent. So the one player selected from a bad Nats team should not be the best player on said team, but the player with the most Youtube hits? I think Joel Zumaya's elbow should also be represented.


If your kid asks why Strasburg was omitted but someone named Evan Meek made it, how do you explain? Meek, also a relief pitcher, is the lone representative of the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates.


That is exactly how I would explain it. Except I would end by saying, "And right now in the MLB every team needs to have at least one player representing them in the All Star Game."


He has had seven save opportunities this season and converted exactly one, making it curious how he has a 0.98 earned run average.


Well, Meek is not the closer, he is the setup man. While a stronger case could be made for Andrew McCutchen to be the Pirates rep, that is not the debate we are having.


Whatever the reason, no one wants to: (1) see Evan Meek in the All-Star Game, maybe not even his friends and family;


I find it exceptionally hard to believe that Meek's mother would not like to see him in the All Star Game. Jay, please stop killing hyperbole for the rest of us.


or (2) see Evan Meek try to retire American League batters when Strasburg and his drop-dead array of stuff are at home.


This is a good point, which is why Meek will not be touching the field at the ASG. He is only there because the Pirates have to be represented. Jay is correct that he would not be exciting to watch. Arguing that Meek should be replaced by Stratsburg is insane though. It is an impossibility within the currently constructed rules. Jay's argument should be about a pitcher from a team with more than one representative. Let's see how he justifies this thinking...

They can name 68 men to All-Star rosters but none is named Stephen Strasburg.

Um, ok.

It's convenient to beat up Manuel because, technically, he chose the final three starters on the pitching staff after the players selected Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright.

Ask yourself, has Strasburg had a better/more dominating year than any of those players? I think you can definitively state that he has not. Had he been playing all year, he could be in that echelon, but he only has 6 starts under his belt.

Manuel, who hasn't seen Strasburg in person yet, opted for Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo. You mean to say Manuel wouldn't have mumbled "Yessir" in that dopey downhome twang had word been sent down to include the kid?

First of all, those 3 pitchers have had far and away better years than Strasburg. Hudson and Gallardo have had spectacular years so far, and all of these guys deserve to be in the ASG over Strasburg.

Also, the parting shot at Charlie Manuel is completely uncalled for. It seems like it was solely thrown into the article to catch arise out of people. That, in particular, is why I don't like Jay Mariotti. He seems phony in all of his arguments.

"He got quite a bit of consideration," said Manuel, manager of the Nationals' divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. "I don't have to tell anybody, he's got a great future. He is going be an All-Star for a long time. What's he got, like, five (six) starts in the major leagues? I just felt there are other guys out there who have started anywhere from 18 to 20 games. I just felt, 'Leave him alone and let him get used to the major-league level and he'll take care of himself.' "

I don't know about you, but I feel that that explanation hit the nail on the head. Why take a spot of someone who clearly deserves the recognition for a Youtube prodigy?

Hope he feels the same way when Alex Rodriguez is batting with the bases loaded, bottom of the seventh, and Manuel needs an out to protect a 4-3 lead. Oh, to see him summon Strasburg for such a situation.

You are correct, that situation would be fantastic and memorable, but Strasburg still does not deserve that spot. If the argument is: Would Strasburg be more enjoyable than Chris Carpenter in the ASG? I would definitively answer yes. Besides from the Youtube phenom comment, this article has been completely about credentials, and not hype. If you want pure entertainment value then they should just send Strasburg against Griffey, or hell maybe they could hold some sort of contest where the best sluggers in the game get together and try to hit home runs.

I will now skip around at the funny lines because the rest of the article gets a little long winded...

Instead, we might get Capps, who has pitched fairly well for the Nats and did lose a father to a heart attack last October.

Seems relevant in the All Star debate.

But last I looked, none has appeared on Late Show With David Letterman and has had each of his appearances televised by Fox, ESPN, TBS or the MLB Network.

Basically the only thing I care about as a fan is how many night shows you've been on. Its why I still feel Derek Jeter is the best player to ever play the game. I would rather see Jeter on Leno than Teddy Ballgame, I'm just saying.

"It would be an injustice to baseball in America not to show Stephen Strasburg on the biggest interleague stage," Fox analyst Tim McCarver said.

Here are my philosophies on debating. Find out what Tim McCarver thinks, and argue the exact opposite. History has shown us you will be right 100% of the time.

Mariotti actually does quite a nice job of compiling quote from all around the league and gets several different view points. Most of these are actually in the camp arguing against Strasburg for the ASG, which is a weird way to win your argument.

Some other quick thoughts that were either neglected or never mentioned about ASG snubs. Omar Infante! What the hell was Charlie Manuel thinking? If they need a utility guy, I'm pretty sure Martin Prado has more than enough experience at every position on the diamond (and starters can re-enter the game).

I do believe that McCutchen should have made it over Meek, as he has been killing the ball.

Same with Joey Votto. Actually Votto deserves to be there more than almost anyone in the league. I think it just came down to too few fielder spots and Manuel went with horrible decisions like, Ryan Howard over Votto.

As far as the AL, I thought Alex Rios got robbed. He is a Top 5 outfielder in OPS this year, which Votto showed means nothing to ASG voters.

Those are all my thoughts for right now, as my computer is currently in a room with no air conditioning and I'm sweating balls. Leave your thoughts in the comments.