Saturday, December 31, 2011

If Twitter Had Deleted Scenes

Have you ever watched deleted scenes to any of your favorite movies? There's a reason the scenes didn't make it into the final cut of the film. Usually, they're mundane scenes that are either poorly written, don't quite fit with the pace of the film, or have any other multitude of problems. Sadly, I'm afraid this post may live up to similar standards of excellence.

Coal for the Hot Stove

We did this 367 days ago. It was so much; we had to do it again.

Below is our suggestion for a 25-man roster comprised solely of current free agents, as of Dec 31, 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Basic Appreciation for Edgar Martinez

As we noted in our last post, one stat never tells the whole story. Nonetheless, it is widely believed that the most important offensive statistic is On Base Percentage. As readers of Moneyball may remember, outs are a baseball game's most valuable commodity. A team gets only twenty-seven outs per game, and each one is precious. OBP is baseball's most treasured offensive statistic because reaching base is the act of avoiding an out.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Last Year's Best Roster Additions

The final days of December are just a bit past the midpoint of baseball's hot stove season. Many big purchases have been made, while a few marquee prizes still shine in the sales brochures produced by their agents. This season, Prince Fielder, Ryan Madson, Edwin Jackson, among others, will make many millions of dollars after Christmas.

Instead of the usual guessing game as to who will end up where, let's take a quick look back at the 2011 season. Which players changing teams added the most to their clubs?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Extra Base Hit Leaders by Position

 Below are the 2011 batting leaders for each position, as measured by extra base hits. For historical significance, we included the last person at his position with more in a season.

Check out the "best since" surprises at 2nd Base, Shortstop, and LF.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Remains of Willis and Cabrera

Shortly after news broke of the Marlins' most recent transaction - trading Burke Badenhop to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor league catcher Jake Jefferies, the estimable Keith Law tweeted:
Badenhop is tough on righties 
"And with the Badenhop trade, the Marlins no longer have any of the six players acquired for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis."
That's interesting, but a little besides the point is that some of the six players were traded for players the Marlins still have, including Jefferies. Law's keen observation stands to point out that the Marlins could still have Miguel Cabrera. Granted, some of the past few years in South Florida have been lean. Without a steady, money-spending fan base and a couple dozen more corporate sponsors, it would have been terribly hard to sustain a payroll with an extra $66 million parked on first base.

Quickly, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the Cabrera/Willis for Maybin/Miller & Co swap four years ago.

Since the trade on December 7, 2004:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Average Game Scores for 2011

Messing around on baseball-reference, on the second night of baseball's winter meetings, I ranked starting pitchers by average Game Score in 2011. "Unhiding non-qualifiers for rate stats" makes the list particularly interesting by noticing successful, young arms with limited experience.

Tuesday Morning Winter Meetings Update

Earlier this Summer, I thought the days leading up to the trading deadline in late July was the best time of year to read mlbtraderumors. Whenever I thought that, I was mindlessly forgetting about the Winter Meetings.

Yesterday, and the next few days are really the crème de la crème time for rumors and blockbuster transactions.

Early this morning, I loaded up mlbtr on my blackberry's browser. On the subway, I read through their first page of rumors and jotted down some notes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2012 Hall of Fame Sneak Peek

The unofficial kickoff to the Winter Meetings was today, when the Golden Era Veterans Committee submitted their ballots on the Hall of Fame candidacy of ten individuals: former players Ron Santo, Gil Hodges, Ken Boyer, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Allie Reynolds, Luis Tiant, and executives Charlie Finley and Buzzie Bavasi.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Royals Add Broxton, Fail to Improve

This past summer, the inside scoop from of LA was that Jonathan Broxton was a country bumpkin. He hated it in LA and would embrace free agency as a chance to relocate to more comfortable surroundings.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stolen Bases Against Lefty Pitchers

From today's Buster Olney column, his Stat of the day:
"Ted Lilly allowed the most stolen base attempts in 2011, with baserunners swiping 35 bags in 37 chances off of the Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw. The remaining top-5: John Lackey (33-for-36), Josh Beckett (31-for-35), Felix Hernandez (31-for-39) and Tommy Hanson (30-for-33)."
Southpaws are expected to control the running game, and Lilly gave up more stolen bases than anyone, even righties.

Ted Lilly focuses on getting the batter out, and the numbers show it.

As his 35 of 37 record show, Ted Lilly was particularly terrible at controlling the running game by having only two runners thrown out. Of the Top 5 from Buster's column, at least Felix Hernandez got eight base runners thrown out.

Most stolen bases allowed by LHP:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

AL East Notes

We shared our droning on the NL East a couple of weeks ago. Springing forth in spite of a remarkable lack of creativity, below are a few quick thoughts on recent developments in the AL East. Unlike last time, these will actually be quick...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2011 MLB Award Ballots

During the 3rd week of November, Major League Baseball will unveil their Major Award winners, as voted on by the BBWA. This is fun to do; we suggest you try this at home. If we could vote on the awards, our ballots would look like this:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Random Thoughts, Early November

Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington discussed potential new managers for the Red Sox before Theo left for Chicago. So, they're working off similar lists of candidates.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Free Agent Team

It's that time of year again. Warming up the hot stove, it's time for the All Free Agent Team. Since the end of the World Series, the only transaction that may have affected this roster was CC Sabathia re-signing with the New York Yankees.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Top 5 Hitters of the Past 30 Years

Last month, when Manny Ramirez shamefully made it back into the news, our Already Missing Manny blog post received a bunch of page views. It was mostly a quick tour of humorous photographic moments of Manny being Manny. The post included a rash statement that Manny was one of the Top 5 hitters I've ever seen, which got me thinking, and got me into a whole lot of trouble...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Curse of Theo Epstein?

Maybe the Red Sox are asking for "something real" because they are afraid of selling another team asset and falling into an 86-year title-less abyss.

Larry Lucchino, who is in charge of the negotiations, and was spoken of recently as "one of the most unreasonable people I have ever dealt with...", reportedly is asking for two of the Cubs' best prospects as compensation for Theo Epstein.

The Cubs really just want to give cash in exchange for Theo, speculating around $3-5 million dollars.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankess, and that didn't work out so well.



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quick Look at the Final Four

Just a few weeks ago, it was a widely believed that baseball's Final Four would include the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and a team the Phillies would defeat. After Chris Carpenter pitched himself into eastern Missouri and southern Illinois folklore last night, the Final Four is quite unexpected: Rangers, Tigers, Brewers, and Cardinals.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Contact and Power in the Postseason

There are four playoff games today, which should be great fun to follow. In anticipation of the excitement, we thought it would be fun to check in on the players in the postseason to see which batters have the lowest strikeout to extra base hit ratio.

Dissecting the raw data from Fangraphs, we find that only four players in this year's postseason average fewer than one strikeout per extra base hit: Adrian Beltre, Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Victor Martinez.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Let's Not Blame the Umpire Too Soon

Buster Olney, sent off a tweet a earlier today saying:
"Gerry Davis is the home plate umpire. In his career, Sabathia is 6-0 with a 2.19 ERA when Davis is the home plate ump."
Well, that is interesting and all, but what does it even mean? Sabathia is clearly a very good pitcher, but does a 2.19 ERA with a certain umpire behind the plate tell us anything, when an entire season's worth of ERA can be misleading?

As a quick illustration, using CC Sabathia and another fine, young pitcher, the Ray's Jeremy Hellickson...

MLB Division Series Sunday Recaps

Friends and visitors, let's try something a little different today.

Friday, September 30, 2011

2011 Ex Cub Factor

The playoffs begin today. Since my favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, tanked and haven't been competitive in years, all I can do is watch and fight my jealous feelings.

We're not really into gambling over here, but anticipating the future and guessing what we can expect is fun. When handicapping the postseason, there are a few things to consider: strength of lineup, rotation, bullpen, health, bench, and on and on.

For accuracy, there's only one way to get the process started, and that's by calculating the ex-Cub factor.

The Farns was better at
fighting than pitching.
At times, late at night, with sleepy, half-damp eyes, Cubs fans lie awake at night and wonder, where their team's gone wrong. We remember the days of Corey Patterson swinging at the first pitch, although it was invariably over his shoulders. With haunted hearts, we stare at the ceiling, hoping to sleep without remembering any of the 75 back-breaking home runs Kyle Farnsworth gave up in a Cubs uniform.

This restless existence follows us, from the tribulations of prized import, Latroy Hawkins, through the history lessons of June swoons, September collapses, black cats, and competitively pointless Summers.

Last season, the San Francisco Giants overcame the presence of Mike Fontenot on the roster and Mark DeRosa in the dugout to win their first World Series championship since moving to California.

As usual, the 2011 postseason is peppered with lovable losers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Landing Spots for Juan Carlos Oviedo

When Leo Nuñez was placed on the Restricted List for a personal reason late last week, people expected it was a family emergency or visa problem. In actuality, he was involving himself in the process of reassuming his own identity, after posing as a childhood friend to be a younger, and therefore more appealing baseball prospect. The best insight on the story is from Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

Leo Nuñez's real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Player of the Fortnight

We haven't handed out any hardware since August 1st, when Justin Upton, Clayton Kershaw, Hideki Matsui, and Justin Verlander won Player of the Fortnight for their on-field contributions at the end of July. With less than two weeks left in the regular season, who is playing at the top of their games?

Monday, September 19, 2011

AL Wild Card Race

Red Sox fans in New York, presumably everywhere, are freaking out over the team's recent play and sheepish 2.0 game lead over the amazing Tampa Bay Rays entering play today.

Worries over a sweep at the hands of the Orioles today rumbled through Midtown offices.

Taking a quick look at the games remaining: (h/t Ben Badler)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Power Without Strikeouts

Often times, when discussing baseball or evaluating the performance of players, we talk about rate stats and insightful ratios. For example, scribes and announcers will quickly mention a pitcher's strikeout-to-walk ratio or a hitter's propensity for home runs per plate appearance.

Math is a tricky subject matter for discussion. Interpretation takes a back seat to right and wrong in mathematics. Numbers can be boring, but they can also enlighten. New statistics can expand our minds, lending a fresh appreciation to the subject we're studying. We have no grandiose delusions of being the next Voros McCracken or Tom Tango, but we do like to mess around with math and stats in search of minute, modern discoveries.

Tonight, we're going to try and look at rates stats that we haven't really heard much about. There's a chance this is a big waste of time that won't tell us much. Perhaps, there are other stats that tell us enough of what we want to know.

We'll never know if we don't try.

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 All Twitter Team

It's doubtful, but it might be fun to keep tabs of the best team of players on Twitter.

Below is our squad:

Obsessed with Yu

For Cubs fans, the 2012 Hot Stove season began about two years ago. It's actually been a bit more of the 2009-2012 hot stove season for the starving franchise. Many of us have been fixated on Japanese standout Yu Darvish for over a year and a half.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 American League MVP Race

We had so much fun last week, checking in with the contenders of the 2011 National League MVP, that we couldn't resist checking the pulse of the American League MVP race. Lately, the AL MVP race has garnered more attention and discourse. Across the twitterverse and other Interweb chat rooms, Jose Bautista and Justin Verlander have faced off in numerous philosophical debates regarding the intent of the MVP award being open to Pitchers and Position Players. To choose sides on that debate, I'd say that pitchers are absolutely eligible for MVP awards, but to win one they have to be so outstanding that there is no discussion. If there are two players, a pitcher and a position player, who are almost equal in value, I'll side with the position player.

There's one month left in the season, which leaves plenty of room for one of the following players to distinguish themselves and run away with the award.

Just like last week, let's take a look at MVP's for each MLB franchise:

Strange Findings in WAR

While calculating the average Wins Above Replacement scores as research for our upcoming AL MVP race post, we stumbled across a peculiar comparison between Boston's ace, Josh Beckett, and former Boston pitcher, Justin Masterson.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Best Hitters Against Pitch Type

An occasional glance at a few numbers on Fangraphs can quickly freshen up your bar stool baseball talk tremendously. Case in point, let's look at the best hitters against certain pitch types.

20 under 20%

There's about a month left to this year's regular season, meaning it's crunch time for competitive owners of fantasy teams. The last time we dusted off the 20 under 20% gimmick was during the first week of the season. We were lucky enough to earmark a few undervalued players, included a pretty solid pitching rotation of Bud Norris, Ivan Nova, Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland, and Aaron Harang.

As we'll see in a few minutes, there are some intriguing long-shots out there on most waiver wires. Let's get right to it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011 National League MVP Race

So far this season, I haven't read an article discussing NL MVP candidates, but I've heard chatter for Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, Reyes, McCutchen, defending winner Votto, and... I guess that's about it. Maybe there was a Michael Morse mention here or there also.

As a different perspective of this usually trivial question, let's look at MVP candidates by team before checking any league stat boards.

The Cubs Opportunity

In the aftermath of Jim Hendry's dismissal, it's clear the Cubs are looking for a big name that is respected, from a winning background, and able to instill what he has learned into Cubs culture. Quite a few candidates qualify for the first two requirements on that list, while the third is the most vital and difficult to ascertain. The names of rumored candidates begin as a who's who among GM's of the past decade: Gillick, Cashman, Epstein, Friedman, and so on.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Prepping the Stove

Cubs fans have basically been stuck in Hot Stove forever, having not gone to the World Series in the past sixty-five years. As current fans have likely noticed, the team hasn't contended since being swept out of the first round of the playoffs in '07 and '08.

This year's pennant races may be spectacular in the end, but there are really only two playoff positions up for grabs. Taking a quick jaunt over to Coolstandings, we see that everything has basically been decided except for the AL Central and NL West champions.

2011 Playoff Probability

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rare and Coincidental

Speaking of rare triple plays*, makes me think of my old playing days. Let's go back 19 years, to 1992, in Highland Park, IL. I'm playing the unfamiliar position of catcher, mostly by default, but also because of the fact that I enjoyed calling the game. If you're a control freak who thinks pitching would be fun, try catching.

The Best of the Scrapheap

The month of August is a good time to keep tabs on Ben Nicholson Smith's continuously updated Players Who Cleared Waivers post.

Reading it on the Subway tonight after work, a handful of pitchers stood out:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mentality of Zambrano

This story feels so familiar. We've been through this before with Carlos Zambrano. Heck, the cubs organization has went through something similar with Sammy Sosa and Milton Bradley. Of course, Carlos Zambrano will not retire. He's made a lot of money in his career, but certainly he will not walk away from another $22 million coming his way. This story feels like it's developed for the great blog It Is About the Money, Stupid.

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 MLB Attendance Trends

The last time we took a look at Baseball-Reference's nifty "2010 vs. 2011 Attendance" page, the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays had the most improved attendance, while crowds for the LA Dodgers and Seattle Mariners dwindled.

Let's take a quick peek at how the teams are doing tonight, the 23rd anniversary of the Cubs' first night game, 8/8/88.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Return to Dontrelle's Bandwagon

Dontrelle Willis is four games into his comeback. Carrying a 3.52 ERA and 0-1 record into his start in Houston on Wednesday night, D-Train fans have reason for optimism.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Player of the Fortnight

The last time we checked player rankings for the past two weeks, on July 10th, our Players of the Fortnight were Jose Bautista, CC Sabathia, Aramis Ramirez, and Madison Bumgarner. Let's take another look now; on the Fangraphs...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Corey Patterson and the Damage Done

In essence, this is a Corey Patterson post, but I'm really just throwing together a bunch of memories, emotions, and feelings, to see if it gets us anywhere. Going back to the 2nd of June 1998, Corey Patterson came to the Cubs with tremendous promise and pressure, as the #3 overall pick in baseball's June draft.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Change of Pace Update

About 12 weeks ago, the day after the Wedding of the Year, we did this study to see which pitchers have the largest difference in average velocity between their fastball and change-up. Today, we are increasing the Minimum Innings Pitched requirement to 80 ip, giving us a sample of 130 pitchers.

Please save your questions 'till the end, enjoy:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

MLB Pitchers with Best Stuff

We did this a few months ago, when there was such a small sample size, it was almost a waste of time. Tonight, we'll be looking at the Fangraphs Pitch Value Leaderboards to determine who has the best stuff. No hyperbole nor nonsensical jargon, let's dive right in.

This is compiled from 2011 statistics for all pitchers in with a minimum of 100 innings pitched in the Major Leagues this season.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Looking Back at Opponents' OPS Leaders

Expanding on our last post, looking at pitchers’ Opponents' OPS, here is a historical look at Oops leaders of this millennium. In our constant quest to find the best pitching in baseball, this time, only pitchers qualified for the ERA title are included.

Opponents OPS Leaders

Saturday, July 23, 2011

MLB Opponent OPS Leaders

Joe Posnanski published an inspired blog post on Friday. If you're into looking at baseball from different point of views, or just wonderful writing, check it out.

In his usual enlightening and entertaining prose, Joe writes a few mini-posts inspired by reader feedback.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mark Worrell's Pitching Motion

The Orioles called up Mark Worrell for their bullpen the other day. He didn't fare very well in his first game, versus the Red Sox, allowing two hits and a walk, without retiring a batter. I hope he gets another chance soon, as no-one likes to wake up the morning sporting an infinity ERA.

At least he has a cool, funky delivery that we will gladly celebrate here. I don't remember seeing Worrell pitch during his other time in the big leagues, a cup of coffee with the 2008 Cardinals.

The video is after the jump, and while his setup is nowhere near as remarkable as that of Mike Fetters or Sammy Gervacio, his actual delivery is quite different. Enjoy:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is Brandon Morrow Elite?

He shut down the Yankees
We've been fans since he was a prospect in the Mariners organization. A flame throwing right-hander who threw strikes with a plus slider? Sure, let's go check him out. He had some arm trouble, as seems to be the norm, gained valuable experience closing out games at the Major League level, and was traded to Toronto. As a Blue Jay, Brandon Morrow was given the chance to return to the rotation and refine his craft every five days.

Regards to Brett Anderson

Get Well Soon, Brett Anderson. He's one of our favorites, as is the awesome Susan Slusser. From her SF Chronicle piece:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jose Reyes: "No Hay Amigo"

Jose Reyes shows a different side here.

Hey, it's a contract year. He's gotta show every tool, if he's going to take his talents somewhere to get more than $140 mill.

Have you heard Jose Reyes drop Reggaeton rhymes?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Best Free Agent Position Player Bargains

Last week, Adam Bernacchio of Ghost of Moonlight Graham fame penned a piece titled "The Five Best Free Agent Bargains From This Offseason" on MLB Daily Dish.

Casey Kotchman was a good
catch for the Tampa Bay Rays
It's a fun, quick read; take a look. What I found interesting was that the Top 5 were all pitchers, which makes sense because pitchers are usually the highest risk/reward players to acquire.

The first comment on the piece, by Beyond the Box Score's Satchel Price, made the point and also said it would be interesting to see this done exclusively for position players.

Challenge accepted. We will only look at unrestricted free agents signed before this season to find the best position player bargains. In other words, we are excluding people who had their team options picked up, signed to avoid arbitration, etc.

Say no more. Here we go...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grounders and Popups in the First Half

We did this a couple of weeks into the season, and hope to have more meaningful data to share when looking at pitchers from the entire first half of the 2011 season. We're looking at pitchers with a minimum of 50 innings pitched this season. We have no dillusions of this being groundbreaking or difficult, it's just something we don't hear or read about much.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Player of the Fortnight

It's been over two months since we gave out any hardware, so we're overdue for another edition of Player of the Fortnight. For the uninitiated, here is a link to our last entry, where the winners were Lance Berkman, Josh Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Jered Weaver. Who's been best the past 2 weeks? Player agents teeter on the edge of their seats. Nervous anticipation paralyzes their plans. Their thoughts race through scenarios in future contract negotiations, where riches may be earned by mentioning their client's awards from BAseball Reality Tour.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mixed Emotions

This could get personal and may ramble on, but in the meantime, I'll try to be concise while struggling through the mixed emotions of joy, pain, sadness, sorrow, hope, and something extra.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Masato Watanabe Hit an Inside-the-Park Homerun off Yu Darvish Today

Once again, thank you to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker for keeping us informed about Japanese baseball.

Regular readers of this space know we are enamored with Yu Darvish. We hope the Cubs eschew the desire to take Albert Pujols away from the rival Cardinals and invest in Darvish instead.

Below is what should be rare video of Masato Watanabe hitting an in-side the park homerun off Darvish, and to Left Field no less.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cubs WAR by Acquisition Type

Last Monday, Adam Darowski, of Beyond the Box Score, tweeted the Baseball-Reference WAR data of Red Sox players acquired via Free Agency.
Most valuable Red Sox (B-R WAR) who were acquired as FAs: Ortiz (2.3 WAR), Aceves (0.6), Scutaro (0.5), Albers (0.5), Hill (0.4).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hyperbole, I has It

Walked into the office this morning to see Hall of Fame writer, Peter Gammons, tweet this:
From one who knows pitching:"The command and stuff Pineda gets from that angle is uncanny. He could end up better than Felix"
It looks like he hides the ball pretty well, and we know it's coming in hot.

Let us celebrate this moment in baseball hyperbole.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cuba's Modern Baseball Centennial Celebration

One hundred years ago, on this day in baseball history, according to NationalPastime.com:
1911: Armando Marsans and Rafael Almeida become the first Cuban natives to appear in a major league game as they both make their debut for the Reds. Appearing as pinch hitters in the eight inning, Almeida strikes out and Marsans singles in the 8-3 loss to the Cubs* at Chicago’s West Side Grounds.


This historical footnote ignores the contributions of Esteban Bellán, who we'll get to in a minute.

Friday, July 1, 2011

John Buck Abuses His Prerogative

Up here in New York, the city is already buzzing with locals rushing to get out of town, while tourists from around the globe ask for directions to the Fulton St Subway or Central Park.

People are embarking on their 4th of July plans, near and far, celebrating this country's independence from the motherland.

In the spirit of independence, have you seen what John Buck has chosen to place on his head?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy 83rd Birthday, Yo-Yo

Pompeyo "Yo-Yo" Davalillo was born in the oil producing town of Cabimas, Venezuela 83 years ago today. He was 8 years old when his brother, Vic, was born in the more agricultural and picturesque Churuguara. Vic Davalillo would go on to play 16 seasons, with 6 teams in the Big Leagues.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Looking for Arms?

The last time we publicly looked for arms, we used our 12-team H2H league as a case study and concluded with the decision to stick with Marc Rzepczynski. He didnn't last long on the team and turned into Carlos Carrasco, who has been outstanding.

After the jump are five under-owned options, and one over-owned player to avoid.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Respecting Honus Wagner

One hundred years ago, Honus Wagner was a 37-year old shortstop on the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would still be very productive for a couple of more years. No doubt the Yankees are hoping their 37-year old shortstop, Derek Jeter, can raise and maintain his production level for the next 2+ seasons.

People who pass away go on living when those who remain remember them. The following is our sincere expression of high regard for man they used to call The Flying Dutchman.

Darvish vs. Murton 2011

Nothing says "Saturday Night" like two-week old video from a Japanese baseball game. The following shows the promising Yu Darvish facing the established Matt Murton. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kemp and Lopes 20/20 First Half

Earlier today, I tumbl'd this tweet from @STATS_MLB:
Matt Kemp joined Davey Lopes (1979) as only #Dodgers w/ 20HR & 20 SB before All-Star break since team moved to LA in 1958. #MLB
I was 8 when rooting for this guy
Kemp has been a favorite of mine for years, and Lopes was one of my favorite Cubs as a child, in the mid-80’s. He stole bases and seemed pretty cool. Who knew he ever had that kind of power?

I never thought Davey Lopes hit 20 HR's in a single season. In 1979, he finished with 28 HR's, 44 SB's, a .265/.372/.465 triple-slash line, and a 128 OPS+. Reinforcing my affinity as a child, in 1986, before the Cubs traded him for the cult classic, Frank DiPino, Lopes hit .299/.419/.490, with a 144 OPS+.

Matt Kemp is a completely different athletic specimen. Davey Lopes was listed at 5'9' 170 lbs, Kemp is 6'3" 217 lbs.

"I was born in East Providence!"
Kemp, naturally, has shown more power, as demonstrated by plate appearances per Home Run:

Davey Lopes: 47 PA/HR
Matt Kemp: 26 PA/HR

Neither player gained a big advantage from their defense, and their avWAR per 600 plate appearances are almost identical:

Davey Lopes: 3.5
Matt Kemp: 3.4

Now, we'd like to see Matt Kemp compete with Davey Lopes's old mustache. That would be something.

Monday, June 20, 2011

McCourt Lifestyle: "Put it on the Underhill's"

From Larry Behrendt’s awesome work, sharing the inside scoop on the Dodgers debacle...
There is no doubt: Commissioner Selig should reject the Dodgers-Fox contract, seize control of the Dodgers, and sell the team to a responsible owner who will (with the grateful help of millions of my fellow left coasters) restore the team to its former greatness. Selig must act to prevent Frank McCourt from continuing to plunder the team. Selig must act before the team is saddled with even greater debt, while the team’s reputation can still be salvaged and the team is still marketable to a worthy owner.
Click image to enlarge
The Dodgers team is owned by a company called TeamCo, which in turn is owned by four other companies, the last of which is owned by Frank McCourt. If you follow a different branch of the enterprise tree, you’ll find Blue LandCo, the company that owns the Dodger Stadium parking lots. Blue LandCo owns these parking lots because McCourt caused the Dodgers to give these parking lots to Blue LandCo. The Dodgers got nothing for this give-away, but they now pay anywhere from $6 million to $9 million a year in rent for these parking lots. With this rental stream as security, McCourt was able to borrow somewhere between $60 million and $70 million through Blue LandCo, most of which went to “fund the lifestyle” of the McCourts.
There is more juicy stuff before and after those snippets. If you're at all interested, take some time to enjoy the entire post.

Feel free to also check out what I'm willing to guess is one of Frank McCourt's favorite comedy movie exchanges (only :34 sec)


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cubs Outfield Defense, Misnomer

Photo by Bob Busser
In the shadowy right-field corner of Wrigley Field, Jeff Baker tepidly reached out with his glove for a high flyball off the bat of Mark Teixeira. Since there is next-to-no foul territory in the outfield corners, the ball landed fair and Teixeira cruised into 2nd base.

The atrociousness of the Cubs' 2011 season has provided me a sense of numbness. Since I can't really take this team's competitiveness seriously, I've reached the enlightenment of temporary apathy. Sure, there are some players to cheer for, and games within the game to root along, but my heart isn't out there to get crushed when the Cubs don't pull it off in the end. My sincerest hope is that they have at least ONE good trade of a veteran for prospect(s), and my heart is once again filled with hope next season.

Feeling a sense of, 'oh well those are the 2011 Cubs', I was ready to let Teixeira's free double go, ready to give Jeff Baker a break. He's versatile and was just moved out to that position that inning, in fact. But, something happened on the way to nirvana.

One batter after Teixeira's free double, allow me to rephrase: THE VERY NEXT BATTER, Alex Rodriguez lifts a towering flyball to left-center field. It appears, by the Cubs outfielders' body language that it will land in the first couple of rows of the bleachers. As the ball begins its descent, the body language of the fans appear to indicate the ball will land in the basket. To just about everyone's surprise, the ball lands on the field, at the base of the wall. The left fielder, Alfonso Soriano, should have had it. He's terrible with the glove. Reed Johnson, from Centerfield, lamely raised his hands after the ball landed as if to say the ball was buried in the ivy. He quickly gave up those efforts and threw the ball back in after it was clearly sitting at the base of the wall. Reed has actually had a great series, season, and even an albeit limited Cubs' career.

Kal Daniels was different in LF
This is definitely the worst outfield defense I've seen since the Cubs trotted Kal Daniels out to left field in 1992.

It could be the worst they've had in my lifetime.

So, how about those Bears?

Go Bears

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cheryl Miller Looks Like...

The SATs were a month or two ago, I think. For all the young adults out there who've been thinking about this stuff, here's something: Cheryl Miller is to Lois Einhorn as Chris Rock is to Mr. Finkel. Finkel is Einhorn. From where I'm sitting, Cheryl Miller is Chris Rock in this photo with, her brother, Reggie Miller.

"I love you, man."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time to Shine: Andrew Miller

Earlier today, we started hearing whispers and rumblings that Andrew Miller was going to get called up. He has a contract clause allowing him to opt-out of his deal if he's not in the Majors by June 15th. What we don't know is in what capacity he'll be used.

I wanted to get excited about him for fantasy; he had good results the last two times out. Still, that was too small of a sample to do anything. After taking a peek at this blog post from the Boston Globe's esteemed Peter Abraham, we pulled the trigger and added Andrew Miller to our fantasy team staff.

The post is worth a read, but the main selling points for us were:
In his last five starts, Miller has allowed seven earned runs over 30.1 innings with seven walks and 30 strikeouts.

Miller went 5.1 innings against Charlotte tonight, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. He has a 2.47 earned run average this season.

According to the source, the Sox are planning to start Miller against the San Diego Padres next week
We have always said that big lefties take longer to figure it out. Although Andrew failed on our fantasy team in the past, that was our fault; he wasn't ready. He has our full confidence.

No pressure, Andrew, we're all counting on you.

Cuban Preselections

This is an exciting time for über cyber-scouts out there, especially when talking about the difficult to chronicle Cuban talent. Courtesy of a website called "CUBADEBATE. Contra el Terrorismo Mediático: Círculo de Periodistas Cubanos contra el Terrorismo", we have the announcement of their preselected players for tournaments this Winter.

I'll try to translate, which I haven't done since AP Spanish.

Apparently, these 92 ball players are competing to make the Cuban roster for the 2011 IBF World Cup Games in Panama and the 2011 Pan-Am Games in Guadalajara.

2017 Future Star: Daniel Vogelbach

Yesterday, we took a brief look at the Cubs' 2nd Round selection from the June Draft: Dan Vogelbach.

He's still just an unsigned amateur, and may end up accepting a scholarship from the University of Florida if the Cubs do not meet his asking price, which could be in the neighborhood of a $1,000,000 signing bonus.

In this article from news-press.com, Craig Handel writes:
The Cubs did consider taking him with the ninth pick in the first round, they said.
-- snip --
Vogelbach said, "The Red Sox and Rays were interested as well."

Before pick No. 68, teams asked the Vogelbachs if they'd lower their signing bonus figure. The family said no.

"We made a decision of what it would be worth not to go to college," said father Dan Vogelbach, whose son received a scholarship to attend the University of Florida. "We were not going to deviate, so we agreed not to go lower."

Before the draft, the Vogelbachs wrote down the bonus amount they wanted, sent it to the Major League Scouting Bureau and asked that it be given to every team.

Dan Vogelbach said what they asked for is a little higher than what past picks at No. 68 averaged. Those ranged from $477,000 to $1.1 million the past five years.

"Four teams said it was an extremely fair number," Dan Vogelbach said.
Due to his very large size, comparison's to Milwaukee's Prince Fielder have been common. It is almost irresponsible to compare high school statistics, since they are small sample sizes against varying competition, and in potentially starkly different environments. Of course, that's never stopped us before. Here are their numbers from High School Senior Year...

Prince Fielder (2002): .524 BA, 13 Doubles, 10 HR
Dan Vogelbach (2011): .467/.571/1.239, 6 Doubles, 19 HR

This link contains a scouting report from the 2011 World Showcase this January:
Daniel Vogelbach is a 2011 1B/OF with a 5-11 280 lb. frame from N. Ft. Myers, FL who attends Bishop Verot HS. Extremely strong build, has lost weight and looks great. Short simple swing mechanics, outstanding bat speed, ball jumps hard on contact, different sound than other hitters this age, easy plus power to all fields, hit one 400' feet to LCF in batting practice, very confident in his ability to hit.
David Rawnsley's draft report in the same links states:
Vogelbach is enormously strong, and along with his loose, easy wrists generates outstanding bat speed from the left side of the plate. Another factor that makes Vogelbach unique in the scouting community is that it is almost easier to break down his mental approach to hitting, rather than his physical approach, especially after granting him his raw strength and bat speed. The young man eats, sleeps and breathes swinging a bat, and is an exceptionally-confident hitter who doesn’t believe that any pitcher should ever get him out.
It sounds like he will likely sign with the Cubs. This kid weighed over 280 lbs a couple of years ago, worked very hard to lose weight, raising his draft stock, and is likely looking to cash in. If you subject his body to three years of college (the minimum before he's eligible for another draft), he could very well gain a Freshman Fifteen each year. Would he go in the top 68 picks in 2014, if he weighs 280-290 lbs? That is literally a huge risk.

Of course, it's a risk the Cubs would be taking by using their 2nd Round pick on him and potentially investing close to a million dollars that his body continues to improve, rather than the alternative. All told, I hope he does sign with the Northsiders. Perhaps, he'll be part of something special for the Northsiders in about 5 or 6 years, but I'd settle for him being part of a special trade in about 3 seasons.

We shared this slide show on tumblr yesterday, but since many of you stay here for your dose, we included the images after the jump, too:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Have You Seen Dan Vogelbach?

Chicago Cubs 2nd Round pick, Dan Vogelbach, is an 18-year old first baseman from Bishop Verot High School in Florida.

Looking at the MLB site of the Cubs' Draft, we see Vogelbach is listed at 250 lbs, and he won't turn 19 until December. Holy Cow.

Keith Law's concise write up (sub req'd) states:
"Dan Vogelbach will be a fan favorite ("Heavy D" seems to be the obvious nickname) if he makes it to the majors as a super-sized left-handed hitter with power to match and no defensive value whatsoever."
Avoiding stats for the moment, check this out...



Our tumblr will soon host a photo tribute to MLB's new Heavy D.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love and Baseball

For all you youngsters out there, this is the only way it's acceptable to propose at a ballgame...



Goosebumps.

As Harry Caray would say, "Ah, young love."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Own Private Mississippi

This was an interesting weekend. One of my best friends, Colonel Mustard, visited with his lady-friend, Honey Mustard, on Friday night. We went to an outstanding new Thomas Keller restaurant in the Lower East Side called CO-OP Food and Drink. It's really a tasty dining experience. I'm not real friends with Keith Law, but he reads routinely checks his inbox. I should probably recommend Co-Op to him for the next time he's in New York.

On Saturday morning, I drove to the Lehigh River, in the Poconos*, which oddly reminds me...

*Early memory: watching 'The Newlywed Game' (or worse), and someone won a trip to the Poconos. I was about 10 years old, or so, at the time, and thought the Poconos sounded exotic, like Tahiti. So, I thought that was an exotic prize. Looking back now? Please, I'd rather be in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Anyway, one of those odd things that sticks with you is what the weirdo announcer said something like "You can't pick your nose in the Poconos." I think it's because one of the questions in the game was something about an embarrassing habit, or something, and the guy admitted to picking his nose a lot.

Regardless, what a mundane thing to never forget. Twenty years later and I'm still scarred. We should come up with a list of the ten dullest things we've remembered for at least 12 years.

We can discuss the rest of Memorial Day 2011 another time. Quickly, the reason we're here tonight is to amend our Happy Birthday post to Bob Dylan from last week. I listed my 100 favorite Dylan songs but failed to mention Mississippi.

No excuses, just sorry, it should be in the Top 25 area... Again, here's a link to our Top 100. Well, maybe we should take it easy with the apologies. I mean, it's not like Dylan's Mississippi is an all-time favorite of millions of fans. It's a more recent song, from Love and Theft. He has played it live, as the video below will show, but the official Dylan website says he's never played it live.

Please enjoy at your leisure, lyrics after the jump...

Drop the Kid, Take the Cannoli

One line that has always stayed with me is oddly lovable and disarming Clemenza's "Leave the gun, take the cannoli."

The following video is not at all reminiscent of any moments in The Godfather, but non sequitur seem to be all the rage this year.

It's actually a terrible father dropping his kid to drop a foul ball.



The Dodgers are having a dreadful year.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Looking for Arms

Sorry we've been silent all week over here. Last weekend, I started a research exercise on players by age yet have gaps in the under 23 and over 33 groups. We still share some of our favorite photos, books, and films, and songs over on our tumblr. As for the writing element of our blog, we can thank writer's block for this:

Step it up, 'czynski!
If you're a real-life GM, or like us in fantasy baseball, you're probably looking for some pitching. With different rules from league to league, we'll utilize our competitive 12-team H2H league as a case study. It would appear that we could replace Marc Rzepczynski, whom we picked up a few weeks ago, and according to our team log, he's appeared in 6 games for us with no wins, no saves, 3 strikeouts, a 3.86 ERA, and 1.93 WHIP over 4 2/3's innings.

Below are available players, from our 12-team H2H league.

Jake Arrieta
Baltimore Orioles
Some thoughts:
As Mike Podhozer wrote last week, "He has posted a 3.74 xFIP so far, with a 4.03 ERA. Given my expectation for a decline in his K/9, I think his ERA should settle right around 4.00 where he currently sits. Though that would mean this is not a major breakout, it is a definite improvement from last season. Still, I think that would earn him only minimal shallow mixed league value, if any at all." He may not be available in my league much longer, especially when looking at a few numbers...
Some stats: 8.26 K/9, 3.98 BB/9, .263 BABIP, 6.56 rZIPS K/9

Carlos Carrasco
They got him for Cliff Lee, so we're
not the only ones expecting a lot.
Cleveland Indians
Some thoughts:
He was on our team earlier this year for 14.3 innings in 3 starts. Like Rzepczynski, he was unable to produce a win, while accumulating an unimpressive 10 strikeouts, 4.41 ERA, and 1.41 WHIP. Still, the Indians are hot, and their offense should maintain its output when its best players, Choo and Santana, start producing.
Some stats: 6.5 rZIPS K/9, 4.91 ERA, 3.67 FIP

Jordan Lyles
Lyles is just a kid soaking it all in.
Houston Astros
Some thoughts:
Anyone who's read a few of our posts knows we're suckers for highly touted prospects, and the 20-year old Lyles fits that bill. He has been the Astros' #1 prospect for a while. I'd like to pick him up because he'll pitch twice this week, and they are both good matchups. The cruddy Cubs face him on Tuesday night, and on Sunday, he'll take the mound in the pitcher's paradise of Petco Park. WGN's venerable Tom Skilling is reporting that the wind will still be blowing out, or at least out towards right field tomorrow night. I'd rather not have a 20-year old pitcher taking the mound at Wrigley with 15-25 MPH winds blowing towards the right field bleachers.
Some AAA stats: 6.25 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 3.20 ERA, 3.49 FIP

Paul Maholm
Maholm'll be good on the Yankees
Pittsburgh Pirates
Some thoughts:
This guy has never really been under consideration for us because the Pirates have stunk for 18 years, and Maholm is not an overpowering strikeout machine. we're looking know for a few reasons. He has a career high 6.11 K/9, four positive value pitches, and a distinct possibility he may be traded to a contender in about six weeks.
Some stats: 52.5 career GB%, .256 BABIP, 3.18 ERA, 3.39 FIP

A couple of SP/RP's...

Cory Luebke
San Diego Padres
Some thoughts:
We've liked this guy since Opening Day, and he has been very good so far. As Mike Axisa wrote on May 27th, "The lone lefty in San Diego’s bullpen, Luebke is more than just a specialist and he could move back into the rotation before season’s end. His ERA (4.21) will look better once his strand rate (59.4%) normalizes."
Some stats: 9.47 K/9, 44.4 GB%, 2.48 FIP, HR/FB 4.2%

Daniel McCutchen
McCutchen throwing a splitter
Pittsburgh Pirates
Some thoughts:
He does not strikeout nearly enough batters, or else he'd already be on our team. Most of his success should be attributed to the weak contact he generates from his effective slider and chance of pace split finger.
Some stats: 4.43 K/9, 0.40 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 2.46 FIP

This is our first year in this league, and there is a 45-move limit. As someone who would normally end seasons around the 175 mark, it's been rough. We actually only have 19 moves left, with roughly 65% of the season left to play. For now, we'll resist the temptation* to acquire Arrieta, Lyles, Maholm, or McCutchen, rolling with Repczynski, hoping to vulture a few wins along the way.

*We'll try to resist the temptation for at least a week, or two.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Next Big Hitting Debuts

Over the past three weeks, we've seen the MLB debuts of Eric Hosmer, Brandon Guyer, Julio Teheran, Jose Iglesias, Pete Kozma, and about nine other guys. Baseball-Reference, of course, keeps a record of Major League debuts by season. Here's the link that takes you to 2011.

Who are the next, most exciting prospects to expect in the coming weeks and months?

Jesus Montero, Yankees
Age: 21, Pos: DH/C Level: AAA
It doesn't help Jorge Posada's case in the Bronx, when team management sees a budding power hitter with a .317/.356/439 triple-A batting line. The eam could want to see some more slugging out of Montero before asking him to replace a lifetime Yankee and future Hall of Famer, but it's clear that Brian Cashman knows what he has in Montero. (Just look at the way he's staring at him in the photo.)
Other stats: .339 wOBA, 119 OPS+, 4.67 RC/27

Mike Trout, Angels
Age: 20, Pos: CF Level: AA
Most have Trout as the #1 prospect in baseball, so his name should begin to sound more and more familiar. His production this season has been fantastic. He's sporting a .314/.408/.550 triple-slash line, with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 6 HR's and 9 SB's. Since I can be an impatient person, I'm really hoping he gets to the big leagues this season.
Other stats: .404 wOBA, 152 OPS+, 5.13 RC/27, BB:K 22:27

Dustin Ackley, Mariners
Age: 23, Pos: 2b Level: AAA
Ackley has worked to develop his power, and early indications this season have been better than we expected. After just 7 HR's in 587 plate appearances between Double and Triple A last year, Ackley has already popped 6 homers in 214 PA's this year. His patience has always been excellent (108:104 BB:K career), so he'll be a good Major League hitter. If he develops 20+ Homerun power at 2nd base, he could be a perennial All Star.
Other stats: .346 wOBA, 15.4% BB%, 11.7% K%

Mike Moustakas, Royals
Age: 22, Pos: 3b, Level: AAA
Much of the Future Star talk this Spring Training this year surrounded Moustakas and Hosmer. In quick fashion, like a little coming out party at Yankee Stadium, Hosmer showed he belonged in The Show. It won't be long before Moustakas is manning the opposite side of the diamond for the Royals. My main man, Wilson Betemit, has been hitting the ball very well lately. In a few weeks, I could see the Royals trading him somewhere for someone's 15th best prospect, or something, to open the door for the Moustakas rapture.
Other stats: .364 wOBA, 111 OPS+, 21% LD%

Manny Machado, Orioles
Age: 18, Pos: SS, Level: A
We'll probably have to wait at least two or three years before Machado plays in Baltimore, but his start this season has been outstanding. Again, he plays shortstop, is only 18, and is hitting .333/.450/.611, with 5 HR's and a 19:14 BB:K ratio.
Other stats: 25 games, 30 hits

Right here, we were going to mention Shelby Miller as a pitcher we think is very exciting and close to the big leagues. Instead, we decided that since he's only 20 years old, and he's still in the Cardinals' organization, this will be a hitter only post. Are there any other MLB debuts that you're looking forward to? Please let us know if the comments, thanks!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why Not Travis Banwart?

The Oakland A's rotation has taken a big hit in the last few days. We've been picking the A's to win this year since the start of the season. They lost Dallas Braden for the season over a month ago. In the past couple of days, they lost Tyson Ross and Brandon McCarthy.

For details on their injuries and potential replacements, check out Joe Stiglish's article in the San Jose Mercury News to this SB Nation article by David Fulcillo, this aptly titled Billy Frijoles piece on Athletics Nation: 'Possible Fill-Ins for Tyson Ross AND BRANDON MCCARTHY !#@%!@#$!@#$.'

Get well soon, Brandon!
Among other things, we learn "The primary candidates listed are Josh Outman, Guillermo Moscoso and Graham Godfrey."

I looked at the Baseball-Reference page for the Sacramento River Cats, where I found a viable fourth candidate: Travis Banwart.

This chart is from Baseball-Reference...

Rk IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
5 Josh Outman* 37.2 1.726 9.1 1.4 6.5 7.2 1.11
4 Travis Banwart 46.0 1.000 6.8 1.0 2.2 7.6 3.55
3 Guillermo Moscoso 40.1 1.215 8.0 0.2 2.9 9.6 3.31
2 Graham Godfrey 33.1 1.110 7.6 0.5 2.4 8.4 3.44
21 Players 378.1 1.306 8.2 0.7 3.6 8.4 2.35
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/21/2011.

Outman's control has been terrible, but Billy Frijoles of Athletics Nation says that's to be expected coming off surgery. Moscoso and Outman are already on the 40-man rosters, so it is easier for the team to recall them. Purely thinking from a non-business perspective and looking at their baseball numbers suggest that Banwart and Godfrey should get a chance.

In conclusion, here are a few more interesting triple-A statistics pulled from their First Inning player pages.

FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching)
Guillermo Moscoso 2.97
Graham Godfrey 3.82
Travis Banwart 4.32
Josh Outman 6.44

BsRA9 (Base Runs Allowed/9ip)
Guillermo Moscoso 3.07
Save Travis Banwart
Graham Godfrey 3.12
Travis Banwart 3.24
Josh Outman 6.45

Moscoso's case is strengthened by those last two numbers. It'll be interesting to see who the A's go with. Outman's experience and the team's comfort level with him could earn him the promotion. Hopefully, we'll get to see Godfrey and Banwart pitch in the big leagues, too. If not, I'm picking the River Cats to do pretty well in the Pacific Coast League.