Friday, July 25, 2003

Gettin' Busy...
Hey everybody, I got unexpectedly busy this morning which means I probably won't be posting until later today. If I don't get to post today, expect a weekend piece. In the meantime, check out the blogs on the left hand sidebar to occupy your time including the most recent one: **No Pepper** by Brad Dowdy. You don't need to be a Braves fan to enjoy good writing. And while I'm not a Braves in the least, I do like Gary Sheffield & Russ Ortiz as players and also cheer vehemently for Marcus Giles, Horacio Ramirez and soon to be Rich or Sporer (name of my fantasy team, too!) player Greg Maddux. For those that don't make their blogging rounds on the weekends, see you Monday and for those that do --- stay tuned.

Also --- please participate in the Most Frivolous Vote of the Century: Arial or Verdana for my blog font. Click Feedback below to participate.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

While jokes may circulate about the older guys in the league getting a discount at Luby's or using a walker to get out on the field, they do get it done. Many guys hitting the upper 30s-early 40s are still performing at a high level like those 10-15 years their junior. In fact, it's no big secret either as two contending teams, the Yankees and Dodgers, have just acquired a 46 and 44 year old respectively. Some guys are playing at an All-Star caliber level, while others are just contributing at a solid level. Proponents of the DH always say that it gives older players a chance to stay in the league and continue hitting, but the guys we're about to look at don't need the DH, they still play the field.

ARZ Steve Finley (38) 17 54 .947
BAL B.J. Surhoff (38) 3 33 .808
CHC Moises Alou (37) 14 62 .840
CIN Barry Larkin (39) 1 15 .705
HOU Craig Biggio (37) 9 34 .765
LA Fred McGriff* (39) 10 35 .748
LA Rickey Henderson(44) 2 2 .615
MIL John Vander Wal (37) 10 36 .858
NYY Ruben Sierra (37) 7 30 .780
PIT Jeff Reboulet (39) 1 13 .709
SF Benito Santiago*(38) 10 41 .785
SF Andres Galarraga(42) 7 22 .887
SF Barry Bonds (38) 32 67 1.232
SEA Mark McLemore (38) 2 22 .625
SEA Edgar Martinez (40) 19 64 .958
TEX Rafael Palmeiro (38) 21 57 .810
TOR Greg Myers (37) 10 38 .962
TOR Mike Bordick (38) 3 29 .676

* - currently on DL

ARZ Randy Johnson (39) 1 3 0 5.83 1.47
ATL Greg Maddux (37) 9 8 0 4.36 1.20
BOS Mike Timlin (37) 3 3 2 3.15 1.07
CLE Terry Mullholland (40) 1 2 0 4.36 1.62
COL Steve Reed (37) 5 2 0 3.61 1.28
DET Steve Sparks (38) 0 4 2 4.36 1.39
LA Kevin Brown* (38) 10 5 0 2.26 1.09
MIN Kenny Rogers (38) 8 5 0 4.88 1.50
NYM John Franco (42) 0 2 1 3.86 1.84
NYY Roger Clemens (40) 9 6 0 3.79 1.19
NYY David Wells (40) 12 3 0 3.83 1.16
PHI Dan Plesac (41) 2 0 0 1.83 1.12
SEA Jamie Moyer (40) 12 5 0 3.24 1.19

* - currently on DL

Some impressive stats on my All Old Team. I realize that Johnson is sporting a near 6.00 ERA, but he's Johnson and I'm willing to take a chance and put him on my team. If I had to pare down my 31 player team to 25, I'd let Henderson, Reboulet, Mullholland, McGriff, McLemore, and Franco go. My AO team was also well represented in the All-Star game this year with Martinez, Bonds, Moyer, Clemens and Brown.

So what kind of lineup could I draw from my team of geezers? I may have to use some creative license with the positions on a few players, but I won't be putting Bonds at Catcher or Galarraga at Shortstop just to make a good lineup. So, let's look at the lineup for the Austin Colt 37+'s:

2B C.Biggio
LF M.Alou
RF B.Bonds
DH E.Martinez
1B R.Palmeiro
CF S.Finley
3B B.Larkin
C G.Myers
SS M.Bordick

Bench B.J. Surhoff
Bench J.Vander Wal
Bench A.Galarraga
Bench R.Sierra

SP J.Moyer
SP R.Clemens
SP D.Wells
SP G.Maddux
SP R.Johnson

LR K.Rogers

MR S.Reed
MR S.Sparks

SU D.Plesac

CL M.Timlin

DL B.Santiago
DL K.Brown

Not a bad team if I say so myself. It certainly wouldn't be last in the majors with the Tigers, Rays, Padres, Brewers, Indians, and Rangers bringing up the rear. Maddux or Johnson becomes our 6th starter when Brown returns from injury and Santiago begins a platoon with Myers when he returns. The bullpen is by no means great, but it's serviceable and with that rotation, getting to the 7th or 8th inning shouldn't be a huge problem.

So today's piece was a tad frivolous, I admit, but if you're looking for some actual baseball analysis and the maturation of a new stat, BAP, head over to Eisenberg Sports. David is certainly onto something with his new stat that accounts for the non-quantified aspect of gaining bases and losing bases from peripherary plays like fielder's choices, stretching doubles into triples (and getting caught), getting a base on tagging up, etc... Early into the study, BAP is undefeated in predicting the winner.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Cubs pounce while Pirates dump...
First it was Corey Patterson getting hurt running out a ground ball and then yesterday it was Tom Goodwin comimg up lame heading into second. And just like that the Cubs were once again without a centerfielder and 4.5 games behind the division leading Houston Astros. Something needed to be done and it was. Last night, the Cubs moved IF Jose Hernandez and two minor leaguers for Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton. Overall, a fantastic move for the Cubs and at the perfect time. Lofton, the ageless wonder, continues to put up solid numbers and play wonderful defense at age 36. Let's look at what's getting added to the Cub lineup:

Lofton 9 .277 .333 .437 .770
Ramirez 12 .280 .330 .448 .778

The first minor leaguer named going to the Pirates with Hernandez is Mike Bruback, who was 6-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 125 IP and a 2.73 K/BB rate. This Cub move puts even more pressure on the Cardinals who are simply reeling. In fact, they are reeling so much so that 40-year old Jeff Fassero got the start yesterday. He went 4 innings putting 6 men on and giving up one run in a 3-2 loss. Further complicating matters for the Cards is that they found out that ace Matt Morris will be shelved for 3-to-6 weeks with a fractured right index finger. Now, just a half game ahead of the Cubs, the Cards need to find some pitching in a pitching-thin market. Steve Trachsel & Jeff Suppan are the main attractions left available approaching the July 31st deadline.

In other trade news involving the Pirates, they dealt lefty-specialist Scott Sauerbeck to the Red Sox for Brandon Lyon. From 2000-2002, lefties are hitting a paltry .214 against Sauerbeck and thus far in 2003, just .211. The bullpen that was long the source of problems for the Red Sox is slowly becoming a strength with Chad Fox, Mike Timlin, Todd Jones & Byung Hyun-Kim. Along with Lyon, the Pirates received minor leaguer Anastacio Martinez. Martinez is 3-1 with 14 saves and a 2.25 ERA for the Portland Sea Dogs of the Eastern League. Lyon looks to spell Mike Lincoln as the Pirates closer, but manager Lloyd McClendon may choose to go with a committee instead.

Despite these moves, and the move of Mike Williams to Philadelphia a few days ago, it doesn't appear as though the Pirates are done just yet. Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, and Jeff Suppan are all attracting great interest and could be moved before the 31st. Giles talks have been linked primarily to the Oakland Athletics, a team that could definitely use his offensive boost.

Lastly, and certainly least significantly, was the Yankees' acquisition of the real age-less wonder, Jesse Orosco. The 46-year old had a 7.56 ERA, but can still get out lefties, as they are hitting just .228 against him. Righties, however, have tattooed Orosco to the tune of .426. The Padres got a player to be named later in the deal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Harden shines in debut.
The much anticipated debut of Oakland phenom Rich Harden finally took place Monday night. The 21-year old Canadian went seven strong innings allowing just one run on four hits and two walks before coming away with a no-decision in a 1-1 tie. The Athletics went on to win the game 6-1 by notching 5 in the 9th. Harden threw 93 pitches total, 57 for strikes. Kansas City's 25-year old righty, Kyle Snyder, was not to be outdone as he also went 7 strong allowing one run on three hits and one walk and hitting 49 of 75 pitches for strikes. A key to Harden's success was his ability to keep the ball on the ground with 14 groundballs to just one flyball. How does the Harden debut stack up to that of his teammates, aka the Big 3:

Harden (03) 7 4 1 4 2
Zito (00) 5 2 1 6 6
Mulder (00) 6 5 4 6 3
Hudson (99) 5 7 3 11 4

I'd love to be able to comment more on the game, but ESPN decided to show the Atlanta Braves v. Chicago Cubs game instead, even though that game was already on TBS. Harden's next start should come in Anaheim on Saturday afternoon against the Angels.

Monday, July 21, 2003

In Focus: Pat Burrell
After putting up 37 home runs with 116 RBIs and a .282 average in 2002, Philadelphia's Pat Burrell was expected to improve to the 40-home run mark this season in the high octane lineup with Bobby Abreu, Jim Thome, Jimmy Rollins and David Bell. Well after 96 games of the 2003 season, it doesn't look like he'll come anywhere near expectations. Instead of being the second coming of Thome, Burrell is quickly becoming the second coming of Rob Deer. Burrell's current pace has him dangerously near eclipsing Deer's 1991 season of power & futility:

Burrell (03) .195 22 61 174
Deer (91) .179 25 64 175

If he can get that average down a few points, he'll be right on track. So what is wrong? Well if we or he knew, I think it'd be closer to being corrected. But it's not close to being corrected. His highest monthly average was the .231 of April and hasn't reached .200 again and he exploded with 7 home runs in May, but blasted exactly 1 in June. He has, however, doubled that total thus far in July. Is it the strikeouts that are plauging Burrell? I doubt it, considering he doesn't even lead his team with 103. (Thome, 106)

At this point, when the struggles have continued through more than half the season, the pressure to breakout of the slump and start hitting "like you're supposed to" has got to be wearing on Burrell. Is he going up there, swinging at the first pitch and trying to do too much? His numbers would say no as his 4.15 pitches per plate appearance are the highest since the 4.24 he looked at in 2000 and actually puts him the top of the entire league (t-3rd). However, it appears at some point during those 4.15 pitches, he is gripping the bat a little tight and looking to hit a home run everytime, but getting stuck with flyballs and pop outs as his Groundball/Flyball ratio sits at 0.76, good for 155th of the qualified hitters in the majors.

So where does he go from here? To the bench if he keeps it up and Philly stays in the playoff hunt. Not only is it difficult to justify keeping a .195 average in the lineup, it's even more difficult to justify when Bell is hitting very near the same (.198). If I were Larry Bowa, I'd keep Burrell in the lineup regularly for the rest of July, assess his progress and move on from there. Worse yet is the impact of his performance on fantasy rosters. Yes, that's right "worse yet". Most teams spent upwards of $30 on Burrell's bat and their choices are to move him for a bag of balls, play him and watch your average plummet for the occasional home run, or bench a $30 player/4th-5th round draft pick. Ouch.

Why I hate ESPN...
It's tough to hate a network that caters to my main interest, but at least 15 times a year, they manage to get me so angry. Here's a quick excerpt from my TV listings tonight:

53 ESPN2 7:00 Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta Braves
65 WTBS 7:00 Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta Braves

Why oh why do they insist on showing Braves games? Have they never heard of TBS? Do they just not care? It's bad enough that they do this to me regularly, but to do it when Rich Harden is starting against the Royals tonight is even worse. It is not even like years past when showing a Royals game would be downright useless. They are contending on the next great pitcher is making his debut. Throw me a fricken bone here, Bristol! I already sit through the horribly unwatchable SportsCenter with Stuart Scott, the Coors Light Sixpack (?!) and the Budweiser HotSeat (are you kidding me?).

So ESPN Program Manager, just for your continued practice of irresponsible scheduling, I will watch the TBS telecast of the Braves game tonight and might even just watch the Texas Rangers v. Baltimore Orioles game in protest. When you get a chance, please flip through your cable channels and notice that superstation dedicated to the Braves and then discontinue scheduling Braves games on your network.

Late morning EDIT: Because I hadn't yet made my Blog rounds for the morning, I didn't see this, but Al's Ramblings goes into more detail on the utter suckiness of ESPN, and specifically SportsCenter. Great minds think alike, I guess.