Friday, August 01, 2003

Deadline dealings strengthen Yankees, RedSox; deplete Reds
As is almost always the case, I was less than impressed with the wheeling and dealing that took place during yesterday's MLB trading deadline. It's my fault though, I read so much about so many rumors and expect most of them to come true. However, of the trades that did go down, a lot of them have significant impacts on the remainder of the season and the playoffs that will follow. Remember, deals can still be made, but the participants must pass through waivers. So what sort of effect will the moves have? Let's look:

Sidney Ponson is traded to the Giants for Damian Moss, Kurt Ainsworth, and minor-leaguer Ryan Hannaman.

The hottest pitching commodity available at the deadline finally landed after all the rumors. He's most likely a 2-month rental, but the Giants acquired him for the specific purpose of getting to the World Series and winning it. I like this trade for both teams as the Orioles got three solid pitchers for someone they'd have lost at the end of the season anyway. Moss has started to straighten up and fly right. His last three starts:

5 2 8 5
7 1 8 0
7 3 6 3

Ainsworth is injured right now, but he will be all the way back in 2004. Before the injury, he was off to a solid start in his season with 5 wins and a 3.82 ERA. As for the young lefty, Hannaman, this is what has to say about him:

Ryan Hannaman - SP - DOB: 8/28/81 - ETA: 2005/2006
Notes: Every organization wishes they had a pitching prospect like Ryan Hannaman. Hannaman is a 6' 3", 200 pound projectable lefty with good stuff. He's improved every year and is off to a hot start in High A-San Jose. The 21-year old has 65 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings. Hannaman has struggled with his command. He'll need to harness control of his pitches before he makes it to the majors. Still, so far so good for Hannaman. He has top of the rotation potential.

Also, the Orioles now have gobs of money ($60 million) for next year. The Giants are now my odds-on favorite for the World Series. Effect O' Meter: ***** of 5

Aaron Boone is sent to the Yankees for Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning and money.

The Evil Empire strikes again... Like a loyal son, Boone demanded out of Cincinnati once his daddy was fired and he got his wish. He'll now play 3rd for the Yanks, while the Reds acquire the Yanks' top pitching prospect in Claussen. He is coming off of Tommy John Surgery, but he's been very effective so far this year. For Columbus, Claussen was 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP. Manning was recently demoted back to A, but here are his numbers:

Eastern League » Trenton Thunder 04/12 to 06/24

0-2 6.26 46.0 53 34 32 35 34

Florida State League » Tampa Yankees 06/28 to 07/27

2 4 3.45 31.1 27 14 12 15 25

With the money, they can buy the fans a ton of Kleenex to mourn the firesale. Boone has an .808 OPS, 18 HR, 65 RBI, & 15 SBs. Effect O' Meter: ****

Jose Guillen is traded to the Oakland A's for Aaron Harang, Joe Valentine and PTBNL.

Further use for the aformentioned Kleenex as Guillen was a waiver wire gem that started to make good on the potential he had with Pittsburgh. His 23 homers thus far easily eclipsed his previous career high (14). Guillen is also hitting .337 with a 1.014 OPS. He solidifies the middle of an inconsistent A's lineup and will most likely hit 5th or 6th. Harang was just 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA in his second season in the bigs, but he is an improvement to that wretched Reds staff that includes Ryan Dempster, Jimmy Haynes and Paul Wilson. With Rich Harden shining thus far and the Big Three, if Guillen adds the proper spark to this lineup, the A's will be playoff bound once again. Effect O' Meter: ****

Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon and a minor leaguer are sent to the Red Sox from the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez.

Suppan is the starter the BoSox needed to complete their pitching. Pedro, Lowe and Wakefield are a solid 1, 2, 3 and Suppan makes four. He's enjoying his best season ever and now gets the opportunity to pitch for a team in contention. Lyon is damaged goods and thus comes back in the deal after being sent over for Scott Sauerbeck. Sanchez is a solid infield prospect with some pop and some speed. He was hitting .341 for Pawtucket with a .932 OPS, 17 2B, 5 HR and 8 SB. Effect O' Meter: ***

Raul Mondesi is sent to the Diamondbacks for Bret Prinz, David Delluci and John Sprowl.

Super mal-content Mondesi punched his ticket out of the Big Apple when he took his ball and went home after being pinch-hit for earlier this week. The Yankees wanted so badly to removed Mondesi from the team that they gave the D'Backs some money too. With Schilling and Johnson coming back to go with Webb and Batista, the staff is set, but the runs weren't there. Mondesi adds some punch and should help the D'Backs down the stretch in their wildcard chase. Effect O' Meter: ***

Scott Williamson is shipped to Boston for Phillip Dumatrait, a PTBNL, and cash.

A great move for Boston, but a horrible move for Williamson owners in NL only leagues. He will set up Byung-Hyun Kim along with Scott Sauerbeck. The oft-criticized bullpen of the BoSox has now become a major strength. The division and wildcard races are extremely tight, though, and if the Red Sox can't find a way to win when Pedro pitches, things are going to be tough. After taking 2-of-3 from the Yankees, they give back 2-of-3 to the Rangers. Yes, those Rangers! Effect O' Meter:**

Robin Ventura to the Dodgers for minor leaguers Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor.

Ventura wasn't necessary with Boone moving in and thus the Yankees decided to get a token for him. This move won't cure the immense offensive woes of the Dodgers, but it will improve their situation. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said this move might inspire in Adrian Beltre to stop being a complete disappointment and actually play well. I don't think that's ever going to happen! Effect O' Meter:

Thursday, July 31, 2003


Willis outduels Johnson in Wednesday night gem
Everyone was looking forward to the battle of the elder statesman against the up and coming young firecracker. The highly anticipated Randy Johnson v. Dontrelle Willis matchup at Pro Player Stadium didn't disappoint last night. I kept a running diary of my thoughts and musings during the game that I will share with you now. Because of work running late, I joined the game in the top of the third. Alex Cintron had already given the Diamondbacks a one-run lead on his home run to leftfield.

3rd inning:
Willis has just thrown 4 straight fastballs of 89 MPH. Cintron, Steve Finley and Shea Hillenbrand look terribly perplexed by Willis' herky-jerky windup.

Hillenbrand gets caught looking on a 89 MPH fastball

Gonzalez fights off Johnson's challenge despite striking out on a 7 pitch at-bat. Four fouls and two balls before going down on the high heat. During this at-bat, it's clear that Johnson is healthy enough to be effective during the Diamondback stretch run, but he's not all the way back. He's not yet RJ.

Willis grounds out to first

Pierre, possibly the fastest man in the league, takes 5 straight pitches en route to a walk. Moeller and Johnson know Pierre is going to attempt a steal, it's just a matter of when. Johnson pitches out, but nothing is one. Pierre steals on the next pitch and the throw goes into center, Pierre gets third on the play. I noticed that Pierre wears his hat under his helmet. I don't think I've seen that since I was in little league and the kid with the small head had to wear his hat with the helmet because the helmet was too big.

Castillo grounds to third

A wasted opportunity for the Marlins as they leave Pierre stranded on third.

4th inning:
All the Ques-tec talk about how it nibbles up the strike zone doesn't appear to matter in this game. Both pitchers are getting their fair share of calls on the black.

Bautista strikes out swinging

A few close ups on Willis during Spivey's at-bat have me wondering who ran over his hat? Does he pack it underneath everything else in his bag when he goes on the road?

Spivey singles to left

Willis sticks McCracken and gets him to ground into the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

In my opinion, David Justice isn't that bad of an announcer. I have heard him catch a lot of flak, but he's all right.

After a ball away, Johnson leaves a fastball up and I.Rod laces it to deep right for a double. Had he not stared at it thinking it was a home run, he probably could've come away with a triple. The fastball was just 93, and yes it's just when talking about Johnson, and Rodriguez jumped on it.

Lowell flies to center

Rodriguez tagged and gets nailed at 3rd by Finley. He should've been on third and tagging to score. Another missed opportunity for the Marlins.

Cabrera strikes out swinging

5th inning:
On the commercial break, I flip ahead a channel to catch a bit of Atlanta against Houston. Another announcer calls Marcus Giles, Brian. I understand that it's a tad confusing and they are brothers, but it's your job to know the different players and their names. Get real, fellas.

Almost every fastball I've seen from Willis is 89 MPH, and almost all have had solid movement. After three straight 89 MPH fastballs, Willis comes back with an 81 MPH change.

Moeller strikes out swinging

Willis teases Johnson with three straight fastballs, all 88 MPH this time, for his 7th K of the game.

ESPN puts up a graphic showing the comparison of these two starters after their first 15 games. Why do they insist on doing this garbage? I could understand if this were Willis' 3rd or 4th year, but these are his first 15 starts! Don't jinx the kid. I understand they have to fill some down time here and there between pitches, but this is just silly.

Kata pops out to Pierre

Another commercial break takes me to the Houston/Atlanta game, which is creeping along. The two announcers begin talking about the Tomahawk Chop which leads to a terribly lame joke about the citizenry of Atlanta getting tendinitis and bone chips. They laugh heartily. Yeah, good one Seinfeld. Ugh!

Banks grounds out to Spivey

Johnson, as I said, is still very effective, but his fastballs continue to range 90-94.

Mordecai pops to Spivey

Gonzalez takes the first pitch to left center for a single. Why does ESPN have to continually show shots of the announcers in their box? What is the point of this?! Aside from the fact that Dave O'Brien is wearing a terribly hideous fuschia tie, I just don't need to see the announcers of the game I'm watching.

Willis comes to the plate and doesn't look as out of place as most of the pitchers batting.

Willis grounds to 3rd

6th inning:
Cintron's homer is the difference thus far, but he goes down for the second time in a row.

Cintron grounds out to short

Pudge looks like Dominik Hasek on Willis' break balls in the dirt. He's just picking them out of everywhere.

Finley pops to Mordecai

After throwing just three pitches to Hillenbrand, Willis gets out of the 6th with just 10 pitches.

Hillenbrand lines out to left

Pierre's seen 3, 5 and now 8 pitches from Johnson on his three at-bats and reaches again, this time on catcher's interference. The interference is clearly confirmed on several replays.

Pierre is clearly in Johnson's head as he tries four unsuccessful pickoff moves. Fans boo Johnson for his attempts. I can't stand when fans boo an opposing pitcher for trying to pick someone off. If it gets terribly egregious, I understand, but Johnson trying to catch Pierre leaning when he clearly wants to steal again is fine.

Castillo hits a bloop single to right

Pierre displays some excellent baserunning and gets to the third on the single by Castillo.

Johnson comes with three straight off-speed pitches to Pudge. Fastball away has to be next and it is, but it's too far away for ball 1. He finally tops 95, but it too outside for ball 2.

Rodriguez lines out to Spivey

Johnson hits 95 again and it just misses to Lowell. Two fouls and two more balls.

Castillo steals second

Lowell fights and fouls off three more pitches as Johnson hits 96 on the gun. Johnson has increased the speed 3-4 miles into the 95-97 range, but they are missing high and away. Another 95 MPH fastball outside for ball 4.

Lowell walks after 10 pitch at-bat

As Cabrera steps, ESPN flashes a graphic showing that the Marlins are hitting .195 with the bases loaded. That is a disgustingly low figure and it's amazing that they are 9 games above .500 at this point. Cabrera lays off two low fastballs to get out ahead 2-0. A hitters count in most cases, but for Cabrera, he hits just .154 after a 2-0 count. After fouling two straight, he grounds into an assumed double play, but Spivey's throw is off and Hillenbrand can't scoop it.

Cabrera safe at first on fielder's choice, Pierre scores. Castillo scores on throwing error

Hillenbrand is new at 1B with just 6 games of previous experience before 2003.

Johnson finally places a blazing fastball and freezes Banks with 97 MPH heat.

Banks strikes out looking

7th inning:
Bautista takes two balls and then lines a single to left. Willis has got to be reaching the 100-pitch mark at this point.

Spivey has a chance for redemption as his throwing error is now the difference.

Spivey flies out to Banks

Since his return, Johnson has gone 100 and 101 pitches and 6 and 8 innings, respectively. After his first two pitches to McCracken, Willis reaches 100. This is the 12th time he's hit 100, peaking at 116.

McCracken strikes out

Willis has 8 Ks to Johnson's 4.

After 98 pitches, Johnson is replaced by Oscar Villareal

Villareal makes quick work of the Marlins in the bottom of the 7th, disposing of Mordecai, Gonzalez and Willis in just 9 pitches. I figured Willis would be pinch hit for, he must be coming out for the 8th.

8th inning:
The announcers make mention that Florida is known for babying it's starters in the past. I thought it was the complete opposite with Beckett, Penny, Burnett, etc... I don't have the time to research this, so if anyone has concrete evidence leaning either way, e-mail me.

McKeon was just teasing us. He allowed Willis to come out for the 8th inning to get his standing ovation after 7 strong innings.

Nate Bump replaces Dontrelle Willis

Raul Mondesi steps in for his first at-bat as a Diamondback. He runs the count to 2-2 before gorunding to second. I wonder how long it will take him to become a malcontent cancer to this clubhouse. He is back in the NL though, so maybe he'll return to his Dodger days. Speaking of Dodgers, they are blowing another Kevin Brown start with that disgustingly inept offense.

Kata grounds to second

I start think of trade scenarios for tomorrow that would probably never happen, but would make me happy. Brian Giles and Jason Kendall to Detroit as Illitch decides to spend the next 10 years devoting 95% of his money to the Tigers and letting the Wings try to build from within. Don't get me wrong, I love the Red Wings, but enough is enough --- spend some money! Rumors of Ensberg to Pittsburgh for Suppan are just silly.

Cintron lines to center

I don't care if it's been reported to be discussed. The only discussion of it was Littlefield asking Hunsicker and Hunsicker saying not a chance in hell. Jose Guillen going to Oakland will bolster that lineup significantly. Dan Evans and his Dodgers couldn't use Guillen? Jeez. Tejada 3rd, Chavez 4th, Durazo 5th and Guillen 6th is quite solid for the stretch run.

Randolph replaces Villareal

Pierre should steal 85 bases this year.

Pierre grounds out to pitcher

I'm eagerly awaiting a Baseball Tonight break-in to announce a huge trade and thus far have come away quite disappointed.

Rodriguez walks

Valverde comes in to pitch to Lowell

A rumor I read has Giles going to the Phillies for Marlon Byrd, Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd. It looks like it'd be a great fit for both, especially with Burrell's struggles, but on the grand scale, I wouldn't do this if I were the Phils.

Lowell singles to center

Talks about Rondell White coming to Florida have many thinking that Cabrera would then be sent back down.

Cabrera singles to left center, I-Rod scores

I agree with getting White in a Marlin uniform, but not moving Cabrera back down. I hadn't heard much of Cabrera before the season, but he was 4th pick in the minor draft in my fantasy league so I figured he was a top prospect.

Banks strikes out swinging

Braden Looper comes in for the save again, and not Urbina. Looper looks solid, but I'm wondering if he'll keep the closer job for the entire stretch run.

Finley grounds to second

Hillenbrand still doesn't look at many pitches. He's seen 15 in four at-bats. He did see 7 in one at-bat, but then just 3, 3, and 2.

Hillenbrand grounds to short

Looper makes relatively quick work of Bautista and pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga to secure the win for Willis and the save for himself.

Willis impressed me in my first time watching him as he improves to 10-2. His WHIP drops to 1.20 and his ERA to 2.50 He has a 2.9 K/BB rate while using just under 100 pitches per start (98). Johnson will continue to get better in August and September, but he needs some run support or else his 1-4 record won't improve. Overall, not a bad game. Thanks for bearing through this diary of sorts as it was the first I've ever done that I then put into an article.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


The New Bash Brothers
In the mid-80's, Jose Canseco & Mark McGwire were dubbed "The Bash Brothers" as they offered a blistering 1-2 punch in the middle of the Oakland lineup. While Canseco was arguably the best player in the game, McGwire had the raw power to go deep every time up to the plate. For six straight years the duo combined for 50+ homers and five of the six years saw them knock out 64+ bombs. Also, the two were good for 1188 runs batted in over the six year span. Their OPS+ combined for 260 or more every year and peaked at 304. A breakdown of those magnificent seasons:

1987 97 161 49 118 71 131 .289 .370 .618 344
1988 87 143 32 99 76 117 .260 .352 .478 263
1989 74 113 33 95 83 94 .231 .339 .467 229
1990 87 123 39 108 110 116 .235 .370 .489 256
1991 62 97 22 75 93 116 .201 .330 .383 185
1992 87 125 42 104 90 105 .268 .385 .585 273

1987 81 162 31 113 50 157 .257 .310 .470 296
1988 120 187 42 124 78 128 .307 .391 .569 347
1989 40 61 17 57 23 69 .269 .333 .542 123
1990 83 132 37 101 72 158 .274 .371 .543 261
1991 115 152 44 122 78 152 .266 .359 .556 318
1992 66 90 22 72 48 104 .246 .335 .456 167

There haven't been many combos like that since. In 1997, Larry Walker and Andres Galarraga combined for 90 home runs, 308 OPS+ and 270 runs batted in. Their OPS were .974 and 1.172, respectively. Unforunately, sweet nicknames for power hitting duos have gone by the wayside. In fact, nicknames in general have seen to just disappear, but I'm bringing them back.

While I've yet to coin a completely original name, the Bash Bros. II is now born. Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells are the honorees of the title. With two days left in July, Delgado and Wells have 59 home runs, 200 runs batted in, and OPS totals of 1.048 and .930. At 31 and 24 respectively, the two could very well begin a streak similar to the Oakland duo's. It seems that if they don't each homer in a game, one does with the other on base. These two have been the catalysts for a team that has put up 615 runs, good for second in the majors. Their team OPS of .824 ranks 3rd behind Boston and Atlanta. Their 59 home runs have contributed to a 6th-ranked total of 135 for the Blue Jays.

It is still a bit early to be declaring these two the next dynamic duo, but Wells' star is rising, while Delgado continues to excel. With over two months left, they are on pace to match the 90 home runs that Walker and Galarraga put up in '97. Since 1998, there have been some great home run duos:

2002: A.Rodriguez & R.Palmeiro -- 100
2001: B.Bonds & J.Kent -- 95
2000: R.Hidalgo & J.Bagwell -- 91
1999: M.McGwire & F.Tatis -- 99
1998: M.McGwire & R.Lankford -- 101

Not to take anything away from them, but McGwire and Bonds dominated their end of the duo in '98, '99, and '01 whereas the '00 and '02 combos were split more evenly.

The New Bash Brothers are also on pace for 308 runs batted in.

The 1999 Amateur Draft 1st Round: A look back
How long does it take to develop a first round draft pick in the major leagues? Well the answer varies of course, but it's usually about three or four years until those first rounders really start to shine. They are plenty of exceptions both ways, but as we sit four years removed from the 1999 draft, let's get up to speed on those first rounders. Today, the first 15:

1. OF Josh Hamilton, Tampa Bay -- M.I.A

Hamilton has been facing many problems as he tries to get to the majors. Currently, he's on a leave of absence to deal with mental issues that have been plauging him. At this point, this pick is easily marked as a bust. ETA: ?
2. SP Josh Beckett, Florida -- in Majors

He broke onto the scene in 2001 with 4 starts, going 2-2 with a 1.50 ERA. He's dealt with some injuries including a perennial blister problem. Last year, he was just 6-7, but had a 2.57 K/BB rate and a 1.27 WHIP. This season, the injury bug has stuck around and limited Beckett to just 12 starts thus far in which he hasn't been overly effective. He currently sits at 5-4 with 3.24 ERA, but a 1.50 WHIP.
3. C Eric Munson, Detroit -- in Majors

Switched from Catcher to 1st Base/3rd Base and like most Tiger picks of the past years, he hasn't really lived up to expectations. With cups of coffee in 2000, 2001, and 2002, he hit .162 with 3 homers in 130 ABs. This is his first year as a regular and while he hasn't been horrible, he's only hitting .236. Munson does have 15 home runs, but just a .743 OPS. At 25, Munson hasn't topped out by any stretch, but when drafted out of USC, he was expected to bring 40 HR/120 RBI power to a very weak lineup.
4. SS Corey Myers, Arizona -- in AA

Playing for the El Paso Diablos, Myers has been moved to 1B and in 93 games, he's hit .291 with 7 home runs and a .794 OPS. Myers is 23 and should still have a solid shot at making the bigs, but he's not a widely regarded as a top prospect in the Diamondback orginzation. ETA: 2005
5. OF B.J Garbe, Minnesota -- in Rookie Ball

Garbe was recently demoted from AA to the GCL Twins of the Gulf Coast League. After hitting .192 with a 1.83 K/BB rate in 30 games. Things haven't gotten much better in his 8 games in the GCL as he's up to a 7.00 K/BB rate and just a .206 average. ETA: 2005, if ever
6. SP Josh Girdley, Montreal -- in A

The 22 year old lefty has thrown 51 innings in 12 games for the Savannah Sand Gnats. With just a 1.4 K/BB rate and 1.50 WHIP, Girdley isn't exactly shutting down the South Atlantic League. Add to that the fact that the 6'3 lefty is currently on the DL. A career in the minor leagues may be right up Girdley's alley. ETA: 2006
7. SP Kyle Snyder, Kansas City -- in Majors

Snyder is currently part of the surprise Royals, but he's not really part of the reason they are a surprise. He's just 1-5 with a 1.31 WHIP, 4.54 ERA and 1.94 K/BB. He has been an innings-eater though as he's gone 5+ innings in 11 of 13 starts. Snyder appears to have secured a spot in the majors for the forseeable future and I suspect he'll fit nicely into the 3rd or 4th spot of the rotation.
8. SP Bobby Bradley, Pittsburgh -- in A

Bradley has been affected by the injury bug most of his career. He missed all of 2002 after having reconstructive elbow surgery in 2001. This season was ended with arthroscopic shoulder surgery after 8 starts in A-ball. He was 3-1 with a 3.11 ERA. His control is horrible though as his K/BB ratio is just 1.04 and he had 6 wild pitches and 4 hit batters in those 8 starts. Things haven't gone well for the 22-year old and it's likely that he'll be stuck on the shelf or in the minors for years to come. ETA: 2006
9. SP Barry Zito, Oakland -- in Majors

Little needs to be said of Zito's progress into the majors. He has a deadly curve, a 20-win season and is the reigning Cy Young Award Winner. He's one of the Big Three that preside over the Oakland Athletic staff and one of the most feared lefties in the game. This year, despite great ERA and WHIP, he's just 8-8 as the A's have struggled to supply him with the run support needed to excel in wins. The 4.17 RPG for Zito ranks 83rd in the majors among qualifed starters.
10. SP Ben Sheets, Milwaukee -- in Majors

With a pristine 1.14 WHIP and sparkling 3.83 K/BB ratio, Sheets has given Brewer fans something to cheer about in Milwaukee. When a staff includes the likes of Glendon Rusch and Wayne Franlin, it's hard to get up for games. That 3.83 K/BB ratio puts him in some high company, as he sits 9th among qualified starters, ahead of Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and Mark Mulder and just behind Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt and Pedro Martinez. The question now is will and if so when will, Sheets make the jump from solid, bonafide ace on a crummy team starter, to golden 20-game winner on any team? That remains to be seen.
11. C Ryan Christianson, Florida -- in Minors

According to CBS, Christianson is playing for the San Antonio Missions, but the roster on doesn't list him and has no record of him. This can't be good for his career. So unless I've made a gross oversight, Christianson isn't even in baseball and thus I doubt he'll be much to write home about now or in the near future. ETA: Never
12. SP Brett Myers, Philadelphia -- in Majors

In his second year, Myers has been a very solid middle to lower end of the rotation guy for the Phillies. His 10 wins this season were improvement over his 4 in 12 starts last year. While I don't believe he is reall ace material, I do think that Myers can have a long, successful career in the majors as 2nd or 3rd starter for the Phils. Now, if he could only do something about those eyebrows.
13. P Mike Paradis, Baltimore -- in AA

To be in AA at 25 isn't ideal at all, in fact, it's a bad sign. For Paradis, AAA might be the ceiling of his professional baseball career. This year, with the Bowie Baysox, he's 4-7 with a 5.51 ERA and an astronomical 1.66 ERA. His K/BB rate is a sick 0.99. Until he can develop some control, he won't be promoted very far. ETA: 2006, if ever.
14. P Ty Howington, Cincinnati -- in AA

Howington is a 6'5, 22-year old lefty that has notched a 7-7 record in Class A Advanced ball with the Potomac Cannons. His 2.53 K/BB isn't great, but it's a sign of some control. The Reds are at least somewhat impressed with what he has done as he has recently been promoted to the AA Chatanooga Lookouts. With that God-awful rotation currently in place in Cincy, I wouldn't be surprised to see Howington making his debut in September and then break camp with the team in 2004. That might not be the right thing to do, but the Reds are desperate. ETA: 2004
15. Jason Stumm, Chicago (A) -- in A

Stumm has been a reliever for the Winston-Salem Warthogs this season where he averages 1 K/IN, but has a 1.62 WHIP to go with his 4.17 ERA. At best, he'll make the majors two-three years down the road as a middle relief/mop up type. His star isn't burning very brightly. ETA: 2005

Monday, July 28, 2003

Hey, it happens...
My apologies to those that were looking for the weekend piece. I bought two new books, Moneyball and Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups, and between reading those and then dealing with some "real life" issues during the weekend, I wasn't able to find the time to get a post up. I'm sorry to those that came looking.

I also had to go to my old place and start cleaning it up as I will be moving this week and while I was sorting through a big box of papers, I came across my American League list of closers and sleepers. I don't know how you guys feel, but I love stumbling upon things months into the season or after the season and see "how I did". With the closer list, I just listed the expected closer of the team with the backup also listed in some cases as well as notes that may be helpful during the draft. Here's what I came up with:

Baltimore Jorge Julio
Boston Alan Embree, Ramiro Mendoza - committee, avoid
Chicago Billy Koch, Damaso Marte - get Marte
Cleveland Danys Baez - new closer
Detroit Matt Anderson, Franklyn German - if one, get the other
KC Mike McDougal
Minnesota Eddie Guardado, J.C. Romero
New York Mariano Rivera
Oakland Keith Foulke*
TB Lance Carter, Jesus Colome
Texas Ugueth Urbina
Toronto Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Politte

Well, my notice on the Boston pen was accurate, though I think many were on the mark there. The Marte call wasn't bad, but that bullpen has been weird all year. If I had gotten the guy, I starred, maybe I wouldn't be in last as Foulke is 7-1 with 26 saves, 0.97 WHIP and 2.63 ERA. Instead I got the Detroit duo and maybe that should've tipped me off that this year wasn't going to be my year in the AL. Anderson has been worthless and now is stuck in AAA, while German blew his chance at becoming the regular closer and, too, is in AAA. In fact, Anderson, a former #1 draft pick overall, hasn't lived up to his billing in the least. I realize it's easy to second-guess a team and even easier to second-guess your team, but why in the world would you take a college closer #1 overall? For those interested, a quick peek at the notables selected after Anderson:

J.D. Drew (2nd)
Troy Glaus (3rd)
Vernon Wells (5th)
Lance Berkman (16th)

Of course those are all hitters and the Tigers have perennially needed pitching and I'm sure if that Anderson had been passed on, it would've been in favor of the hometown Anderson, Ryan. The high school phenom out of Westland, MI went to the Mariners at 19th and was billed as the Randy Johnson, but injuries have plauged and in effect, ruined his career.

But back to lecture hand (anybody know who said this first?), further down on the looseleaf piece of paper, I listed 6 "sleepers" for the 2003 season. They are in no particular as this list was made late into the night on the eve of the draft. They are as follows:

2B Mark Ellis, OAK
OF Jack Cust, BAL
SP Jeremy Bonderman, DET
3B Casey Blake, CLE
SP Ted Lilly, OAK
OF Kevin Millar, BOS

Had I got a few of these guys, as with the closer I starred, I probably wouldn't be in last. However, the only one I was able to acquire was Ellis, who started out hot and has been worthless since. I did put him a deal that netted me Alfonso Soriano, though. That deal ended my season, but I go into next with Soriano and Alex Rodriguez as my two keepers, plus 5 extra picks in the first 6 rounds.

1. Mark Ellis, 2B OAK

.254 AVG, .698 OPS, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 2 SB

I cannot remember precisely which round I took Ellis in, but it was a mid-level round, i.e. one of the rounds where you draft key players that make or break a team. He shot out of the gate with a .291 AVG & .835 OPS in April with 3 HR and 14 RBI, but has been pretty worthless since from a fantasy standpoint. For me, as mentioned, he was the 2B throwback in a Soriano deal, so I'm pretty happy with that. However, the main cogs were Eric Chavez, Magglio Ordonez and Jarrod Washburn so it didn't really matter who I had at 2B, just as long as I had some alive to throwback.

2. Jack Cust, OF BAL

Cust didn't make the team, but that doesn't really surprise me. What does surprise me is that he didn't end up on my team. I had a horrible draft in my AL-only league, so how I missed this non-major leaguer on my roster is beyond me! In 87 games for the AAA Ottawa Lynx, Cust has 8 HR, 50 RBI, and a 0.8 BB/K ratio to go with his .283 AVG.

3. Jeremy Bonderman, SP DET

4-14, 82 Ks, 1.41 WHIP, 5.08 ERA

His struggles have been well-documented by many as he's on track to lose 20 games along with teammate, Mike Maroth. The youngster was brought up very early with very little experience in the minors and while I didn't think my Tigers would be as bad as they are, I knew Bonderman would struggle. I was able to lay off the kid even in the reserve rounds. It was a small moral victory for me.

4. Casey Blake, 3B CLE

.268 AVG, .753 OPS, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 4 SB

With the most ABs on the entire Cleveland team (340), the 29-year old has been solid for the young, scrappy Indians. After starting off relatively ho-hum, Blake kicked it into high gear in June to the tune of .307 AVG, .845 OPS, 4 HR and 16 RBI, this just so happened to be about the time he joined my team via trade. Of course, I am in last as I said, but it is nice to see your guys names on the ESPN 28/58 ticker every once in a while.

5. Ted Lilly, SP OAK

6-8, 90 Ks, 1.39 WHIP, 4.99 ERA

I can remember being so angry that I missed out on Lilly in the draft. I thought he was destined for success on the A's... well, not so much. My other sleeper-type SP that I didn't list because I knew I wouldn't forget him was Jeff Weaver, so maybe I would've been better off with Lilly. At any rate, he now appears to be trade block material.

6. Kevin Millar, OF BOS

.289 AVG, .871 OPS, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 1 SB

I followed the Millar-Marlin-Japan-Red Sox saga closer than almost anyone because I wanted Millar so badly. When it was finally settled that he'd be an AL'er in 2003, I was so excited, but as is usually the case, I choked on draft day and let this premier hitter slip out of my grasp. Now, whenever I see a right-hander with knee-high red socks getting ready to go yard on Baseball Tonight, I get the urge to change the channel. The other slugger sleeper that I didn't list because I knew I wouldn't forget was Vernon Wells... needless to say, I choked on him too. And that folks, is why I'm in last place.

On to my 2 new books, I can't put either down and I'm actually reading both at the same time. I will read a chapter or two of Moneyball and then put it down to read a team or two from Neyer's book. I've been through the Tigers, Angels, Diamondbacks, Braves & Orioles. It is absolutely great reading about the guys from my childhood whose cards I had 100s of because they weren't superstars. Dick Schoefield, Mark Lemke, Joe Orsulak, Ben McDonald, Lou Whitaker, etc... Just a fabulously constructed book. I do realize I'm late on these two books as almost every stat-head has already read these, but I'd like to employ the "better late than never" cliche. However, if you are still without copies of either, I have to give a strong recommendation.

Halladay doesn't take Holidays
Toronto Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay has been electric en route to 15 straight wins, but not everyone who drafted him to their fantasy team is enjoying that success. That's because as April came to a close, Halladay was 0-2 with an ERA of 4.89 and 1.50 WHIP. He was no doubt throw-in fodder on the back end of many deals. Whoops! Since, Halladay has gone less than 7 innings, just twice and won 15 games in a row. He's given up 5 or more runs just three times. His ERA is 2.99, while his WHIP is a miniscule 0.99 during that stretch.

This and That...
As the site continues to grow, I continue to get e-mails from readers complimenting me on the site. I'm very appreciative of these e-mails and the latest comes from Tim Daloisio, author of Musings from Red Sox Nation. It's a great site that focuses on the Sox. Hate em or love em, you can enjoy this site. I happen to like them in terms of versus the Yankees.