Baseball Wiseguys

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Around the Bigs

Tom Boswell has a column in the WashPost today that actually makes a few good points. After praising Bowden's moves so far this offseason (moves which seem to have been panned everywhere else) he goes on to talk about how the tide in the DC area may be turning ever so slightly away from all-Redskins, all-the-time. Damn, I hope so. Being a Yankee fan in this town is relatively painless, because the local media has not fawned all over the Orioles in my years here as they do the Redskins. But pulling for the Giants every year while hearing the Skins are Super Bowl bound from April onwards is a bit of a chore. Every year the Redskins manage to find a savior who will take them to the mountaintop, and every fan in the area runs out and buys another jersey and drinks this year's Kool-Aid. Now they can start acting like every other city's fans and pay attention to each sport in its season, and hopefully we won't have to talk NFL depth charts on a Saturday afternoon in May.

The Nationals signed a backup catcher over the weekend- Gary Bennett. I don't know what else to say about him other than I hope Schneider is very durable. Bennett's 2004 EQA was .221, which puts him in vaunted company with Sandy Alomar and Brook Fordyce. (brain fart earlier today- not sure why Schneider slipped my mind- apologies.)

In an effort to reach out to the community, the 'Spos will aim to rebuild some local youth baseball fields in the future, and align themselves with area Little Leagues. This is something the Nats will really need to exploit. For all the hype and excitement that I and my other young adult friends have, the only way baseball can survive long term in this area is by heavily marketing towards the future fans. The region around DC seems to be heavy into soccer, lacrosse, etc. in terms of youth enthusiasm, so pushing baseball as a primary sport will be a must.

Not quite Yankee related, but the Mets have made a high dollar offer to Pedro, apparently 3 years, $37.5 million, with a 4th year option. Not sure quite what to think of this but I have a sneaky feeling that unless big Stein gets involved, maybe the Yanks and Sox will both take a step back, content in the knowledge that the clown won't be pitching against them over the course of 19+ games next year, and happy to not have been the team to shell out for that many years.

In other news, Donnie Baseball is still on the Hall of Fame ballot, though it's expected he will continue to fall well short of induction. The Yanks are close to re-signing John Flaherty, which could be a strong indicator that catching prospect Dioner Navarro will be traded this winter.

Smart Kids?
Yale pulled a major league prank on Harvard at their annual football game last weekend. Yalies acting as the Harvard Pep Squad handed out 1800 sheets of paper to the Harvard crowd, which they were told would spell out 'Go Harvard.' Turns out they actually spelled out, 'We Suck.' Your future world leaders ladies and gentlemen...

Netflix is money. Been watching the early years of Seinfeld and season one of the OC nonstop lately. Backyard football is one of the best things about Thanksgiving; my dad, my bro and I lost a tightly contested shootout against our old friends last Friday by a final score of 70-56. (top that, Cincy-Cleveland). Little bro has grown into a Moss-type deep threat while I like to think of myself as a fearless, over-the-middle receiver in the mold of Hines Ward. Book recommendation: The Numbers Game by Alan Schwarz is a real interesting look at the kinds of stats that have shaped baseball, and the people who developed and obsess over them. Another good winter read is this book about the Cape Cod baseball league, which if you haven't yet read, you should. After heading out to Lehigh last Saturday to see my alma mater, all I have to say is go Dukes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Cheeseburga! No Fries. Chips.

Figured out where the Nationals stole their logo from, and it made me hungry.

I smell a concessions license...

Monday, November 22, 2004

Get Your Nats Gear!

MLB now has their Washington Nationals shop up and runnning. Check it out. The logo seems a little too corporate and anti-septic, and I think using the old Senators hat is kind of a cop-out, but I won't complain too much.

The new name and presumably the myriad uniform combos will be unveiled this afternoon. Maybe it's the consumer in me, but seeing this stuff really makes it feel more like we're gonna have a local team than reading about the player moves last week.

Monday Chatter

A bit of a break from baseball this morning...

Eli Manning started his Giants career for real yesterday in a 14-10 loss to Atlanta. Manning was pretty bad in the 1st half, but much much better in the second. If not for a ton of dropped passes (anyone know if that's an actual stat and where I can find it) by Shockey and Co., and a bullshit roughing the Vick-er penalty that clearly showcased the NFL's version of the Jordan Rules, the Giants would have had a good shot to win the game.

I have nothing productive to say about The Brawl that hasn't already been written, but can I just say that while outrageous and bad for the league, it sure as hell made for good television. I watched yesterday's 4pm NFL games in a bar, and FOX repeatedly showed clips of the fight, to the delight of the cheering mob.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Washington Crapitals

Nationals It Is
The Expos will officially be unveiled as the Nationals this Monday at Union Station. I guess that means I have to get all of my unfunny combo-names out of my system this weekend. Let's hope the Monday press conference shows us some new logos and uniforms for the Senaxpograytionals.

Because if Bowden keeps making deals like Guillen for Rivera, that's a pretty fitting nickname. I'd thought any trade for Guillen would be for prospects and Rivera and Guillen would slot into some combo at RF/CF (see below), but I was apparently off the mark.

Maicer Izturis was also sent to the West Coast in this deal. I only started following the Exposinators recently, so I ain't got nothin' to say about this guy.

I don't like this swap one bit, and not just because of my fondness for Rivera from when he was on the Yankees. Rivera will make roughly 1/4 what Guillen will earn this year. He's over two years younger. And both players posted similar OPS last year. Rivera's one of those guys whose growth was stunted by being the last man on the Yankee roster for a while, but I always felt when he got a chance to play full time, he'd be a contributor. Maybe not THE power guy in a lineup, but in terms of cost vs. results, I think he's a better fit than Guillen. Let's not forget the reason Guillen was even available. Rumors have it that there was physical contact in the altercation between Jose and Scioscia, and I'm inclined to believe them, given the severity of the punishment even as the Angels were playoff bound.

Here's Rivera's weighted 2005 projection, but showing only the percentages, leaving out counting stats since he has not put up any real full seasons yet.

Rivera02 .311 .361 .672
Rivera03 .304 .468 .772
Rivera04 .364 .465 .829
05 PROJ. .335 .449 .784

Again, not great, but the numbers are definitely trending upwards as he got more and more playing time. You could expect him to start to match Guillen's numbers as he reaches his peak age in a year or three. This trade will be a mistake. Given Trader Jim's week, it's a shame that GMs aren't subject to the three strikes and you're out rule...

Hola Loco!

The ExpoNats have announced a press conference for 4pm today.
The Angels have announced a press conference for 4pm today.
Looks like Jose Guillen will be patrolling the RFK outfield in 2005.

If this goes through they will have Wilkerson in left, and Guillen/Rivera in CF/RF, actual spots to be determined...

Guillen will be 29 next year, and using my trusty weighted (1x2002+ 2x2003+ 3x2004)/6 formula (and doubling his 2002 numbers since he only played about half the year), perhaps we could expect to see something along these lines in 'o5:

Guillen02 480 114 50 16 62 86 28 .287 .367 .654
Guillen03 485 151 77 31 86 95 24 .359 .569 .928
Guillen04 565 166 88 27 104 92 37 .352 .497 .849
05 PROJ. 524 152 78 27 91 92 31 .344 .499 .843

Decent power and production numbers, but the walks totals and OBP are pretty poor, leading to an OPS that ranked 53rd in the bigs last year. Good but not great.

Before I get too deep into these numbers and his impact on the locker room, let's see what the 4pm announcement says...

Meet Your Montreal-DC Nationals Cock'n'Balls

Funniest uniform idea yet, developed by the Ball-Wonk, and actually displayed on the Page 2 section of the NESN2 website...if this design could somehow get OK'd, it'd be a new version of the old South Carolina 'Cocks' hats, and the term dickhead would take on a whole new meaning.

Yeah, I'm immature. Sue me.

Hot Ticket
In other news, the 'Spos have taken non-refundable $300 deposits from over 10,000 prospective season ticket buyers in the first couple days. Rumors out of the league office say however, that had tickets gone on sale before the dubious signings of Guzman and Castilla, the number would have been at least triple that.

Hoop It Up
Two bigtime NCAA ballers were on display last night at the World's Most Famous Arena. Hakim Warrick led Syracuse past Miss. St. with 21 points, most of them in the 2nd half. This guy is an absolute freak, and will put up a 20-10 spot almost every night. Beyond the numbers, he seems to be everwhere on the floor at once, and could probably jump out of the gym if it had no roof. A sleeper jumped onto the national stage in a big way last night, as Rodney Carney of Memphis shot the lights out in a dominat performance against St. Mary's. Apparently Carney was one of the final cuts of the US Young Men's National team this summer, despite having outplayed most of the guys in camp. He'll be one to watch in the deep and athletic C-USA this season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

All the News That Fits

The Nationexpos 2005 infield is now set, after yesterday's signing of 3B Vinny Castilla and SS Cristian Guzman. Paired with Nick Johnson and Jose Vidro, the 'Spos will now turn their attention to getting an outfielder who can hit, and possibly some bullpen help. Castilla will be 37 next year and signed for two years, $6.2 million, while Guzman will be a full decade younger and is on board for four years, $16.8 million. Neither was probably going to be offered arbitration by their former clubs, so I believe the Expos will be giving up some draft picks...not the best thing to do with their farm system as barren as it is now. I'd have thought they'd try and draft and develop in an intelligent manner, so as to have some contributors arrive on the scene as the new park opens in a couple years.

Next year's PECOTA projections are not yet out, but I've done a (much) rougher approximation of it for these two players in this manner: average out the player's previous three years using a weighting of one part 2002, two parts 2003, and three parts 2004. For Castilla I only used his road stats and doubled them, to account for overinflated offensive stats coming from Coors Field.

Here we go...

Cas 02 574 138 58 14 72 74 28 .275 .352 .627
Cas 03 592 162 78 32 92 100 32 .312 .497 .809
Cas 04 568 124 76 42 102 120 42 .281 .493 .774
05 PROJ. 577 139 74 34 94 106 36 .290 .471 .761

Simply put, Castilla is an older, less defensively adept version of recently let go Tony Batista. He hits for power and drives in runs, but hardly ever walks. Not sure how thrilled I am about this one; the OBP and OPS numbers just don't seem acceptable for someone in a position that requires production, especially in the Expos lineup.

Guz 02 623 170 80 9 59 79 17 .292 .385 .677
Guz 03 534 143 78 3 53 79 30 .311 .365 .676
Guz 04 576 158 84 8 46 64 30 .309 .384 .693
05 PROJ. 570 155 81 7 51 72 28 .307 .378 .685

Guzman does not get on base often enough, doesn't steal once he's on base, and can't slug his way out of a paper bag. To be fair, he is a switch hitter, and posted the highest fielding percentage among AL shortstops this year. Ladies and gentlemen, the Senaxpos have just signed a perfect shortstop if they plan on playing in the 1970's. I don't understand this move- there are a ton of SS on the market this off-season, so why jump the gun and go grab this guy. Yes he's young and in his prime, but if his prime ain't gonna be that great, why not take a chance on a Nomar for a year, or make a real run at Renteria or Cabrera?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Yay, Monopoly!

In major news today, the Exposenators have announced that they have chosen Ticketmaster to be their official ticket retailer, and that season ticket deposits will go on sale next Thursday, November 18th.
The anticipated sales schedule will be patterned after those of other Major League franchises, starting with season ticket sales, followed by mini-plans and single game seats. Seating configuration and pricing structure are still in development, with average ticket prices expected to range from $24 to $26 and reserved seats starting as low as $7.

$7 bleacher seats ain't too bad, until you factor in Ticketmaster's obscene 'handling and bullshit' charges, which can sometimes effectively double the price of cheap seats. Let's use another local example. Say for instance I wanted to go see the Wizards play the Bulls on Saturday 12/4 (remember folks, this is an extremely hypothetical situation. the outrageous prices are the only real item here. if I wanted to see shitty hoops, I'd go down to the illegal immigrant playgroun in my neighborhood.) The end cost of buying two $10 nosebleed seats works out to $33.95 after the following add-ons: $3.85 per ticket 'convenience charge', $2.75 per ticket 'order processing charge', and $3.50 delivery charge, a total of a 70% marukp.

Rant ended.

Team president Tony Taveres has this to say about the tickets:

Tavares said the team will not sell out the entire stadium with season tickets.

"You've got to be available to everybody," Tavares said. "One of the things in sports that has evolved and become more prominent is the exclusion factor. We want to be accessible. We want to be affordable, and we think, with tickets as low as $7, we will be. We're in the business of building a fan base here, not extorting money from people."

No shit! You mean a crappy retrofitted MLB stadium and it's marginal team won't be selling over 43,000 season ticket plans? How generous of them!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Let the Games Begin

Superagent Scott Boras has already started the spin doctoring in the media with regards to Carlos Beltran. It's no secret that he wants the biggest deal possible for young Carlos, and that the team with the most resources to give such deal is the New York Yankees. One small problem. Seems that the incumbent Yankee CF is also a Boras client, and still playing under a huge contract that Boras himself negotiated in 1999. Boras claims in the NY Times today that Bernie has acknowledged that he will be a graceful vet and pass the baton to Beltran, while Williams maintains that no such conversation has been had...

Scott Boras, Beltran's agent, is also the agent for Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams. When Boras was asked about the delicate position of having one client take another client's position, he intimated that any potential problem had been remedied.

"That's something that's between Carlos and Bernie, and that's something that they've talked about and dealt with," Boras said Tuesday while attending the general managers meetings here. "And I'm going to leave their conversation among them private and confidential."

Beltran told Houston reporters during the season that Williams had told him he would step aside.

But when Williams was asked last month if he had told Beltran that he would surrender center field, he shook his head and said, "I don't even know about that."

Boras continued trying to minimize the potential for a controversy by reiterating that Williams and Beltran had discussed the situation.

"They talked during the season about this," Boras said. "More than likely, knowing Bernie Williams, and I don't know this for a fact, I would estimate that Bernie Williams initiated that conversation because he's always been kind of a mentor to Carlos."

Now I know and everyone else knows that Beltran is way better than Bernie at this point in time, and that Bernie is probably enough of a 'real Yankee' to step back and accept a DH position for the final year of his contract. I just wonder a little bit about how players' perception of Boras may change if they start to realize that once he negotiates your one big contract, all bets are off down the road; if one of his younger studs is gunning for your job, the concept of morality and any conflict of interest is quickly jettisoned from the agent's mind. Boras is probably rich enough to retire at some point soon anyway, so maybe he just says damn the consequences and will ride off laughing into the sunset.

Ms. Kropp, Expos(e) Yourself

Linda Kropp knew she didn't have the votes yesterday to move the proposed stadium to near RFK, so she did what any good politician would do: Drop a tantalizing (but likely false) hint about private investors who're just dying to drop $350 mil on a new stadium, and put any decisions off for another day. The Sports Reporters on 980AM last night were discussing just who might have these types of funds in the DC area that would be likely to invest in a stadium. I have my suspects too:
  • Dan Snyder: The Danny has plenty of dough and an ego to match. Perhaps he's jealous of Abe Pollin's ownership ties in the DC area, and he too wants to own two crappy franchises rather than just the Redskins.
  • Michael Jordan: MJ is a very rich man. MJ doesn't like to be out of the spotlight. MJ may want to come back to DC to continue wrecking Kwame Brown's life. MJ is due for another comeback and realizes that .202 hitting outfielders don't get benched if they own the stadium.
  • George W. Bush: Now that that pesky election thing is out of the way, Bush can go back to concentrating on things that matter, like the war on terrorism and the fact that even in Marine One, it's a bitch to get to Camden Yards during rush hour. So why not (make Halliburton) build a stadium for the people? (And if he trades Termel Sledge, hope his future career resembles the 2004 Sammy Sosa rather than the 1998 version.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Around the Majors

Cubbies: Latest word out of Chi-town is that Sosa will not be traded and any differences between Sammy and the club are not irreconcilable. What a difference a week makes...

Washington Senaxpos: There's a vote this morning within the city council on whether the proposed ballpark should remain at the Anacostia Waterfront Site (this is the proposal that was in place when MLB awarded DC the team) or near RFK. Mayor Williams is confident he has the votes for the Waterfront. The Nats also cut former closer Rocky Biddle loose yesterday after posting horrific numbers in relief this year. In sunnier news, ticket sales and plans should be announced today and go on sale very shortly, so anyone looking to buy me Xmas presents, please take note.
Evil Empire: New rumors out of the Bronx say that Posada is available for the right price. I understand the knowledge that catchers have steeper and quicker declines at younger ages than other position players, but as we get further and further away from tha lasy Yankee championship, I'm not sure trading a fiery catcher in order to add the mask-wearing pansy catcher of your rival just to stick it to them is the brightest idea. And finally my updated wishlist of FA pitchers to look into: (re-sign Lieber), Pavano, Radke, and sleeper pick Jaret Wright.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Nationals Pastime

No Mo' Expos
Heard on the radio this morning (980 AM) that the Expos will be renamed the Nationals when they begin play in DC. Didn't see a link on either the Post or NESN2 websites, so just take my word for it. Not sure how I feel about this choice of names, but I understand the hesitation to ring up the Senators again for a third go-round. I liked the idea of the Grays. Aside from those three possibilities, there's really nothing good out there, those 'hilarious' columnist suggestions of Pork Barrels, Wonks, or Crooked Politicos notwithstanding. And we all remember the fiasco that ensued last time the good people of the DC area were allowed to name a team...

Team colors will continue to be red, white, and blue, though one would imagine the blue will be changed to more of a navy than the current royal. The script 'W' hat probably won't make a return, nixed in favor of something more contemporary. I'd have really liked the name Grays, along with a simple Gray, White, and Navy Blue scheme. At any rate, let's hope they can come up with something that manages to be both traditional, and original.

The Boogiedown Rumor Mill
Latest Yankee news is that Mel Stottlemyre, after hinting at retirement, is now planning to come back, and wants a raise. A raise for what?!?! Making Vazquez horrible? If he must come back, George should give him a higher salary than this year, but include a series of reverse bonuses that dock his pay for every negative influence he has:
  • $750,000 base salary
  • ($10,000) for every 0.01 above 4.25 for the team ERA.
  • ($25,000) for every time a Yankee pitcher is sent to Tampa to work out his problems.
  • ($5,000) for every home run Vazquez gives up on an 0-2 count.
  • etc etc etc

I had really hoped that the Yanks would have had a 2 year deal done for Lieber by now, at slightly less per year than the $8 million option for 2005 they are about to decline. Nothing's official yet, but with such a weak FA crop of starters, the Yanks can ill afford to let him even think about leaving. The guy eats innings and pitches on an even keel, quickly, and hardly ever gets blasted like the Browns and Loaizas of the world.

Jersey Shore native Al Leiter may be about to hit the FA market as well. He could be a great fit with the Yanks, providing the lefty arm they so badly want. I could see it happening too, since Leiter's a local guy with family roots here. Also, any connection he can make/keep in the New York area will only help his budding announcer hopes once he retires. And with Big Stein having so much airtime to fill, likable Yankees aren't retiring in big enough numbers to keep him satisfied.

Overpaid for a Decade
Scott Boras claims Carlos Beltran is seeking a 10 year contract, worth about $18 million a year. I'm sorry, but the only way this is happening is if Boras invests some of his commission from the A-Rod deal to buy a time machine and turn the clock back to 2000. I am praying the Yankees don't attempt to sign him to anything longer than a 5 year deal, at no more than $14M/yr max; Beltran's an above average player, but he's no superhero.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hot Stove Part Uno

I think the Yankees need to try and swing a Kevin Brown for Andruw Jones trade.
Jones is not as good as Beltran but he'll come cheaper and has 3 years left on his deal, as opposed to at least 5 at mega bucks for Beltran; no more long contracts. Mel's not coming back next year, so the Yanks don't have to worry too much about their pitchers getting worse thru coaching over the course of a season.

I can't believe Jason Kendall is only 30, but I still hope the Yanks stay far away from him.

This Sosa thing is getting ugly; I wonder where he'll end up and what kind of production he'll have next year.

In 1989 I won a contest on WABC radio in NY where we got 2 tix to a Sunday Yankee-Ranger game, and for one inning we got to 'broadcast' the game from a fake booth, complete with stats and anecdotes, and they tape you. My dad said he watched the tape last week and it was a riot. The Yanks were absolutely miserable, and Sosa was playing in his 3rd MLB game. My dad did color, while I provided a horrible play by play, consisting mainly of, "And the pitch" over and over again.