Archive for March, 2005

Could Be Better / Could Be Worse – Part III

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Well, I woke up this morning to a complete internet outage. This is always frustrating for me because so much that I do revolves around being online. I called Sprint to see if there was an outage they knew of or if it was something on my end. Eventually I was able to get it up and running again. I log on to the site to check and see if there are comments, only to find that the site and my E-mail are also not working. So, I contact the host company and they tell me that the server is down and should be up today sometime. Man, talk about a bad way to start your day. Judging from the amount of comments on this series of posts, I can see that I am more excited about writing them than you all are about reading them, but that’s OK with me. I have enjoyed writing part I & II so far.

I had plans to write about second and short today but due to the internet crisis, only one got done before the golf tee time today. Man it’s nice to be on spring break from work. Anyways, enjoy and for cryin’ outloud LEAVE SOME FEEDBACK. Please =)

Second Base – Todd Walker
Todd Walker has always been one my favorite players in the game and I am not sure why. I think it may be due to the success I have always had with him in SIM Baseball leagues. He always seems to play so much higher than his talent. A lot of people give him a lot of crap about being a horrible fielding 2b. However, his career fielding % at 2b is .981. If he makes the play 98% of the time and a good fielder makes it 99%, I’m fine with the slight gap. He’s a career .289 hitter and has hit for as high as .316 twice. He’s not gonna make the all star team compete for gold glove, but he gives the Cubs solid 2b play for under 2 mil a year. I will take that any day of the week.

Could Be Better
Marcus Giles just seems to be getting better and better as he matures. The brother of Brian Giles was hurt last year and only managed to get 379 AB’s but still hit 8 HR’s and 48 RBI. This year, back to complete health, Marcus should be poised for a big year for the Braves. While Marcus is not infinitely better than Todd Walker, he does have age on his side. I would take him in a heartbeat to play second base for the Cubs in 2005.

Could Be Worse
Luis Rivas is one of the worst starting 2b in the majors. There has been talk out of Minn that he may not even be the everyday starter.

Luis Rivas, who is hitting a downright embarrassing .125 this spring, will likely see his playing time cut by converted shortstop Nick Punto (0-for-8), who has all but lost his battle with Jason Bartlett (.389). “I’ve had conversations with (Punto),” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I said, ‘If you’re not starting at shortstop, why couldn’t you be starting at second base?’ You just play. We are going to put the best team out there that helps us win games.”

Granted, he IS young, but even in the minors, he was only a .260 hitter, so what more can we really expect from him? Look for him to lose his starting spot this year.

Vorp Numbers

Marcus Giles – 35.9
Todd Walker – 25.0
Luis Rivas – 11.6 and falling =)

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Could Be Better / Could Be Worse – Part II

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Today I wanna look at a position that I think is a good topic of discussion. It is a position that was very controversial at the beginning of last year. Jim Hendry made a big trade in late November for Derrek Lee. He sent Big Choi and a PTBNL which turned into SP – Mike Nannini. When this trade went down, I was very positive about it. There were a few writers that did not like the deal at all.

“Was it a good move? Well, it may be a couple of years before we find out. I don’t think I would’ve made this trade though.”

“…I think this deal is likely to be a small boon to the Cubs.” “I just don’t see any way that one year of Lee is worth $6M and a PTBNL and several years of Choi.”

Derek from Lets Play Two even went as far as keeping a trade tracker in which he charted the successes of both players. In the end, Derek Lee had the better of the two seasons but the Cubs missed the playoffs.

First Base – Derrek Lee
Everywhere I read that Lee is poised for a breakout year at the plate. I’m not sure that we can expect much more than we already see. Do you really see Derrek Lee as a consistent 40+ HR guy? I really don’t. I see him as a consistent 30-35 HR guy that never quite reaches that 40 HR plateau. The one area that I do see him improving is his contact numbers. He will hit .300 soon, if not this year. Most power hitters don’t become good average hitters until later in their career. Lee is a tremendously good fielder and well worth the Choi trade in my opinion. My one complaint is that he always seemed to be curiously quiet in big game situations.

Could Be Better
The obvious player could be talked about here, but instead of focusing on how it could be THAT much better, and have to mention a Cardinal, I will talk about a future MVP. A few years ago, I read a publication that focused on prospects and everything I read said that Mark Teixeira was a batting title waiting to happen. Now, couple that with his rising power numbers and you not only have a future batting title, but a future MVP on your hands. In his rookie year, Texiera hit 26 HR and increased it by 12 the sophomore season last year. His average also went up to .281, which is well on it’s way. I look for a monster year from this kid this year. Watch for 40+ HR, 135 RBI and a .300 average. MVP numbers from a player much younger than our own Rodan.

Could Be Worse
This one may make people angry, but look on the bright side. We have Derrek Lee at first base, but we could be STUCK with the BUST that is Hee Seop Choi. Yes you heard me right, I said bust. Choi did nothing after his trade to LA. His spot at first base is safe for now according to Jim Tracy. With no one in the wings except so far disappointing prospect Jim Loney, look for Choi to get the full season to try to silence the critics. I look for him to disappoint.

VORP Numbers

Mark Teixeira – 52.6 (1st in the AL)
Derrek Lee – 43.3 (9th in the NL)
Hee Seop Choi – 27.5/-3.9 (First # is with Fla / Second # is with LA)

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Could Be Better / Could Be Worse – Part I

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

If I were to ask you right now how you were doing, you would probably say fine. The fact of the matter is, most people could say “I could be better, but I could be worse”. It sounds like a pessimistic viewpoint, but to me it comes across more as complacency. For example, when talking about your home, everyone could demonstrate that they would love to have a bigger house. As long as they realize that it could also be a lot worse and they could have a tiny shack or no home at all, I feel like it’s being content, rather than pessimistic. What I would like to do over the next six days is paint a picture of the current team. I’d like to show that it could indeed be much better, but it could also be much much worse. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts.

Catcher – Michael Barrett
Barrett was an acquisition that I was fairly happy with when he arrived. He had and still has a decent amount of upside. He’s 29 years old and had a good year last year, putting up career highs in games played, runs, triples, homeruns, and RBI. When he arrived last year, he told the press that his primary focus would be to work on getting to know how to catch the staff we had. His hitting would probably suffer as a result, but we were assured by him that he would work very hard to be in sync with the top staff we have. This year, with a full season of working with the staff, I would expect him to be a lot more solid on the defensive side of the ball. He’ll be working with Greg Maddux this year a lot more, so that should give him some pointers on how to call a good game. Anytime you can work with a guy like Maddux, you have got to learn something. I expect Barrett to put up relatively similar numbers to last year. The only number that may be a little out of reach is that 6 triples stat. That one may decline.

Could Be Better
Victor Martinez burst onto the scene last year with the Tribe and had an excellent 2004. He’s young, and hits the ball with some pop. His numbers are legit. He put up similar numbers in 2002 when he had a full season with AA – Akron. In that year, he posted a .336 avg with 22 HR, 84 runs and 85 RBI. He’s younger and cheaper than Barrett and has already hit his stride. This year, he will be batting in the 5 hole behind Travis Hafner and Juan Gonzalez in the Tribe’s lineup, so expect more of the same from this young All Star.

Could Be Worse
So you say that Barrett can’t field. You say he can’t call a good game. You say his 2004 season was a fluke. Fine, but bear in mind that our starting catcher in 2005 could be Brad Ausmus. I always looked at Brad Ausmus as a catcher you’d want to have on your team, but just not someone I would actually want to get into the game. Ausmus has no bat to speak of whatsoever. His career high in homers is 9 and that wasn’t even when he was with Houston. Maybe he’s a contact guy, right? Wrong!!!! He’s only cracked the .270 mark twice in his career and has a career avg of .255. To make it worse, he’s on the wrong side of 35 and is not getting any younger.

VORP Numbers
Saber stat heads always look at a stat that calculates how valuable a player is over a average replacement player. VORP is a way of measuring that value. The higher the number, the higher the value for the player as compared to the average replacement. Here are the VORP #’s for the players mentioned above.

Martinez – 47.1 (4th in AL behind Pudge, Lopez and Posada)
Barrett – 31.0 (3rd in NL behind Kendall & Estrada)
Ausmus-1.5 (Yes that is a negative number. He ranked 3 spots higher than Paul Bako)

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Agree 100%

Sunday, March 27th, 2005

Kurt, over at Cub Fan Nation posted about his desire to see Dubois get the last roster spot. I totally agree, but I’d like to take it a step further. Give him the starting LF job!! Let him take it, run with it and see what he does. I love Todd Hollandsworth, but I don’t see him doing the .300 avg. and 25 HR thing. Dubois, while it may not happen THIS year, could do it. I am anxious to see what happens with this. I am very glad Dubois has had a good spring. Hopefully that will put some pressure on Dusty to give him the spot.

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Saturday, March 26th, 2005


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