Archive for December, 2004


Monday, December 20th, 2004

WHY, oh WHY, oh WHY WHY WHY does Sosa have to be such an ass? His declining production would be easier to live with if he weren’t such a bad teammate and didn’t get hit SO MUCH in the press for all the boneheaded things he did over the last two years.
We could still win a pennant (or at least a wild card) with Sammy and his bloated contract if he had the sort of personality that the other guys in the clubhouse could get along with, and if it were the kind of personality that he projected while things were all going his way back in ’98.

We could also live with him if Mr. Mystical Player’s Manager himself would suck it up and take one for the team by flying down to la Republica Dominica, giving Sosa some big speech about going out with a bang and how much we need him and how he loves him and needs his best and blah blah blah until Sosa’s steroid-and-ego-inflated head grows like the Grinch’s heart while the Whos down in Whoville are singing. Then it would require Sammy responding with an olive branch of his own by reversing his recent attitude and just playing ball.

Instead, Baker, who got the best out of surly Mr. Bonds all those years, can’t seem to coexist with Sosa, and Sosa can’t seem to coexist with anyone or anything except his wife, to whom he renewed his vows (aww…how romantic) recently. The glimmer of hope is that he was slummin’ with Mets GM Omar Minaya, who was invited to the re-wedding.

And about that production. In win shares, Sosa’s 14 was below the following outfielders:
Moises Alou (26; a big year)
Jason Bay (18; a rookie who makes about 1/27th of Sosa’s salary)
Corey Patterson (19)
Milton Bradley (17, and a man whose personality is as sunny as Sosa’s is sincere)
Reggie Sanders 16
Jay Payton 16
Marquis Grissom 16
Michael Tucker 15
Scott Podsednik 15
(Thanks to the Hardball Times for the data)

VORP? Sosa compiled a 27.9, below Juan Rivera (30.2), but because this has less to do with plate appearances, Sosa does much better. He’s slightly above Matt Stairs (25.1) and Reggie Sanders (23). The guys at the top of right fielders all kick his butt: Guerrero 88.5, Abreu 83.8, Berkman 83.7, Drew 83.7, Suzuki 80.9, Sheffield 63.4. He’s 13th overall.
(Thanks to Baseball Prospectus)

Sosa’s .277 Equivalent Average puts him 14th among right fielders with more than 400 plate appearances. Only the greats, such as Jeromy Burnitz and Juan Rivera, can beat that, and he was almost edged out by Jose Cruz, Jr. (.272), Jermaine Dye (.274), Brady Clark (.276), and B.J. Surhoff (.279 but 22 plate appearances short). (thanks to Baseball Prospectus again)

In other words, for 16 million a year the Cubs got Juan Rivera’s career year. They got a middle-of-the-pack right fielder. Now, if you had an excellent pitching staff, offensive production from some traditionally low-offense spots like SS (Garciaparra), 2B (Walker) and C (Barrett), good hitters at the other high offense spots like 1B (Lee), 3B (Ramirez), and LF (???????), a decent bullpen, and a couple of hitters off the bench, you could make the playoffs despite that handicap. If, that is, that handicap wasn’t such an ass that he manages to irritate his manager, the guys he shares the clubhouse with, and the fans.

The guy just broke the team record for homers — he oughta be riding out his declining years in a lovefest! The only reason he’s not is because of his defective personality.

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Graduation Present

Saturday, December 18th, 2004

Nothing would make me happier than a trade of Sammy Sosa. What a perfect graduation present that would be. I noticed this article this morning that gave me a little hope. The Mets seem to be the only serious contender in this thing. Maybe, just maybe, Minaya has one more dumb move left in his bag of tricks.

New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya met with Sammy Sosa’s agent in the Dominican Republic on Friday, and sources said the possibility of Sosa restructuring his contract to facilitate a deal was broached.

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Stupid Jerks, Stupid Teams, and the Right Thing to Do

Thursday, December 16th, 2004

Stupid Jerks

The stupid Atlanta Braves made a huge move today, acquiring Tim Frickin’ Hudson for Charles Thomas, Juan Cruz, and Dan Meyer.


Hudson, Smoltz and Ramirez — who missed the final four months of the 2004 season with shoulder soreness — will fill the voids created by the departures of Paul Byrd, Jaret Wright and Russ Ortiz. Those three hurlers exited Atlanta via free agency this year.

The Braves have shown interest in acquiring Hudson for over a month, but the talks really didn’t come to life until the A’s said that Marcus Giles didn’t have to be part of the deal. Braves manager Bobby Cox made it known that he was unwilling to trade Giles.

With this deal, the A’s are acquiring some of Atlanta’s top young talent. Oakland has been very high on Meyer, a promising 24-year-old southpaw. Thomas was one of the Majors’ biggest surprises last year, going from a non-roster player to a defensive gem in left field.

Cruz will likely get his long-anticipated shot at being a starter in the A’s rotation. The lanky right-hander has an outstanding fastball and has been compared by some observers as a raw Pedro Martinez.

Thomas was a rookie for the Braves last year; a left-handed hitter who turns 26 in ten days. You can see his stats here. Interestingly enough, Thomas was a former Western Carolina Catamount, which my colleague Joe attends.

Juan Cruz we’re familiar with. 6-2, 2.75, 30 BB to 70K in 72 innings, 50 relief appearances last year. He’s now 26 years old and thinks the A’s might use him as a starter. This is his golden opportunity to become a star.

Dan Meyer had 2 appearances last year in the majors. He’s a 23 year old lefty reliever who’s put up nice numbers in the minor leagues.

Charles Thomas is the kind of guy the Cubs should be going after to back up in the outfield and play occasionally. He’s cheap, motivated to prove himself, and a decent hitter, judging by his minor league stats and his debut last year.

I wish the best for Cruz, and he’s in a great organization to achieve his potential now. Dan Meyer seems like a good choice. So the A’s got a good pitcher (Cruz) who poses significant upside as well as risk — he’ll probably end up back in the bullpen if he does start; a lefty starter who’s maybe half a year to one year away (Meyer), and a backup outfielder. The prize is Meyer; Beane got good value for Hudson.

The Braves get a giant shot in the arm and suddenly the disappearance of the improbably effective trio of Wright, Ortiz, and Hampton is not as big a deal, ‘cuz we know Hudson can outpitch all of those scrubs even in their best years.

Stupid Teams
So far the Cubs have avoided any major blunders, so I’m pleased to say they’re not on the stupid team list.
However, the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are earning giant, overpriced cone-shaped caps with the word “DUNCE” upon them.

The Mets have done this:
-Signed mediocre Kris Benson to pretty big money.
-Signed Pedro Martinez, a great pitcher, to big money. Okay, tried to, pending the physical. Ideally, what would be best is that Pedro’s physical results scare the crap out of the Mets and they panic and trade for Sosa. Minaya will act as chemotherapist to the Cubs’ cancer, Sosa can have a fresh start and I can wish him the best.

The Mariners have done this:
-signed First Baseman Richie Sexson to big money. He’ll play LF (if they can sign Delgado and maybe even if not) during the beginning of his declining years, and hit a lot of long fly balls in Seattle.
-Re-signed Dan Wilson. WHY? Even for free he’s a rip-off at this point.
-Signed Adrian Beltre. I actually give them credit for this deal. They didn’t go too long — he’ll be turning 32 just after opening day the year after the 5 year deal expires, and they are paying him an average of 13 mil per year. They’re ASSUMING he’s going to be at least 90 percent of the player he was in 2004, but I think it’s a good gamble.
-However, they have SO MANY problems all around the diamond that throwing money at free agents is not going to move them to the top of the standings. They ought to have saved the money and kept working to build their team from within.

Across town, the White Sox submitted themselves to a completely unnecessary anal probing by getting Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino for Carlos Lee. Lee’s 28 and coming off of a big year. Podsednik is 28 and coming off of an absolute crap year which represents 50 percent of his major league career. Lee’s been pretty steadily around .825 to an .850 OPS, which doesn’t make him a star, but it doesn’t make him Scott Podsednik, either. Oh, and they got a 30 year old relief pitcher who’s one year from a 6.39 ERA.

But the granddaddy dunces are the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose special olympics-style decision making led to Big Benjamins for Glaus, whose arm is likely shot, and Russ Ortiz, whose 112:143 walks:strikeouts ratio speaks ill of his chance for continued success. These two are solid ballplayers, but they’re overpaying by a LOT. Last year’s worst team also added offensive zero, Craig Counsell, who hits like Rey Ordonez, Royce Clayton, who has hit worse than Ordonez a couple of years, and hired and fired a manager within a week. Baseball season will end in Spring Training for the length of the Ortiz & Glaus contracts in Arizona. Oh, wait a minute; I take it all back. They also signed, to a minor league deal, legendary catcher Kelly Stinnett. Now THAT’s progress.

The Right Thing To Do
The City Council of Washington, D.C. may have doomed baseball in Washington, but they saved the taxpayers of said district from bearing the burden of constructing a stadium by requiring that 50 percent of the money be put up from the private sector. JESUS BLESS THEM! I don’t care what kind of deal they made with MLB. Any time the owner of the team — the ones who stand to profit from the team — is required to pay for the team’s facility, it is a victory for the taxpayer. As big a baseball fan that I am, funding sports stadiums is NOT what tax money is for. Let the owners of the team be the financiers. I guess they don’t have an ownership group finalized yet (do they?), but that’s irrelevant. That’s my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it!

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A Parable

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

There once was a man who lived long ago in the United States. One of two boys in the family, he lived his life in the shadow of his older brother. Everything he did was always compared to his brother. No matter what he did, he brother always seemed to do it better and get all the praise. His brother had nicer clothes, nicer toys, and everything the brother wanted, he received. The younger brother worked very hard for everything he had, yet it never felt like it was enough.

One day, the man was browsing the local newspaper when he came upon an ad for a used car, a red Dodge Viper. Reading the ad, it seemed too good to be true. It was a beautiful car, based on the picture in the paper, and the details also seemed spectacular. He quickly called the number listed, hands shaking as he dialed. He thought to himself as the phone rang, “Could this finally be my chance to outshine my brother?” When the owner picked up, the man quickly expressed his interest in the car. After hearing the owner drone on about the vast amount of other people who had contacted him about the car, the man quickly requested a meeting to discuss price.

On his way to the meeting, the man’s thoughts continued to wander back to the fact that he could finally get the praise he deserved and drastically craved. Pulling up the house, he saw his dream car. After some small talk, the owner and the man decided on a price for the automobile, $50,000 to be paid in monthly increments to the owner over a period of four years. The man was weary about the steep price but hesitently agreed. He asked the man if he would be willing to let him take the car to the mechanic before signing the contract. Immeadiately the owner became very defensive and short with the man. “Why do you need to do that? Don’t you see how much of a steal you are getting with this deal?” said the owner. The man was hesitant but again asked for the opportunity to bring the car to the mechanic. Again the owner declined, this time more angry and defensive than before, bringing up the fact that a vast number of other people have already contacted him about the car. He told the man to quit wasting his time if he wasn’t serious about the car. He offered the man the opportunity to take the car for a quick test drive. In the end, the man decided to sign on the dotted line and the deal was done. He was finally going to outdo the older brother and be the benefactor of enourmous praise and envy.

In case you hadn’t heard, Omar Minaya of the New York Mets signed Pedro Martinez yesterday to a huge deal, despite the pitcher’s history of injury and rumors speculating that he has a tear in his labrum. When Minaya asked Pedro to have an MRI as part of the physical, Pedro and his agent essentially acted as the owner of the automobile and laughed in the man’s face, instead offering to take a simple strength test to demonstrate health. Minaya, like the clueless pansy he is, wanting only to outdo his older brother organization the Yankees, reluctantly agreed to this request.

Minaya, you’re clueless, which makes me happy. Maybe, just maybe, you REALLY ARE dumb enough to take Sammy Sosa. Thank you for uplifting my hope once again.

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Poor soul

Monday, December 13th, 2004

Ah, another poor soul falls victim to the rumors. This time the person is Mike Comar over at Cubs Pundit, which happens to be one of my daily reads.

At least Baker knows the closer is important. It is a very sensible approach I believe. It will take some balls to actually name Wood as a closer though.

I believe a rotation can get by with 2-3 excellent starters and the rest average to mediocre at best. You don’t need good starters 1-5 in your rotation to win 90-100 games a year. Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, and Greg Maddux make a nice 1-3 combination.

And if you really want to get whacky the Cubs could make Wood a closer and pursue the idea of maybe swapping Johnson and Sosa or somehow prying away Tim Hudson from the A’s.

Not only is Wood as a closer completely made up, but the very thought that he considers Maddux an excellent starter is absurd. He is average. He is one of my favorite players but I do not consider him an excellent starter at this point in his career. If that weren’t enough, the last sentence about Hudson is just way out of left field. With all the pitching the Cubs have in the minors, there is no way we would spend the money on Tim Hudson. For what? To make him a starter? We have Kerry Wood for a starter. Cub fans, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the closer for 2005 is none other than your average Joe…Borowski that is.

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