Archive for February, 2007

Cubs Trade Ryu

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Well, just as my previews of the Cub farm system get underway with Donald Veal, the Cubs go and trade one of my nine prospects to watch this year. If you haven’t heard by now, the deal with the Devil Rays, my second favorite bunch of losers, went down like this:

Cubs Send: Jae Kuk Ryu

Devil Rays Send: Andrew Lopez (OF) & Gregory Reinhard (RHP)

Here is a little info on the two new Cubs:

Andrew Lopez
Lopez was drafted in 2005 in the 8th round for the Devil Rays. He has played the last two partial seasons in the Appalachian League which is the Rays rookie league. In 2005, he looked really good, hitting .325 / .403 / .542 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in just 34 games. Unfortunately, they put him back in rookie ball last year and he took a step backward hitting .256 / .356 / .402 with 4 HR and 27 RBI in 56 games. An across the board drop doesn’t seem encouraging. I would imagine the Cubs will have to send him to Peoria. Can you really send him back to rookie ball for the third straight year? He’ll probably start the year with the Chiefs under Ryne Sandberg and his staff. I expect somewhere in the middle of those numbers over the past two years if he gets enough at bats.

Greg Reinhard
Reinhard went to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, which is a school I’ve never heard of. Does that make him a turd? No, but it doesn’t make me love him any more. He spent his year in Class-A ball, which for a college pitcher who is 23 years old, is not very encouraging. Hopefully he’ll be pitching for the Tennessee Smokies this year in Class-AA ball.

This looks like a deal that was intended to increase future depth at the expense of a pitcher that is probably major league ready now. With our rotation spaces limited, Ryu was severely log jammed and being wasted. The Cubs seemed to want to get younger guys for the next few years. We’ll see how it goes. That being said, Ryu may have an outside chance at making the Rays rotation sometime this season.

Note from Mastrick:

This is yet another bad Jim Hendry trade, reminiscent of the Todd Walker trade. That is, we gave up something for nothing. As far as I’m concerned, same with the Maddux and Nevin trades. Hendry can sure spend some money but he’s no shrewd judge of talent. Da Coach said it best Hendry, who you crappin’?

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Baby Cubs to Watch in 2007 – Donald Veal

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

When I think about Donald Veal, I think about the one that got away in Dontrelle Willis. Dontrelle is one of my favorite players in the game because of his flair for the game as well as the likeability factor that he brings to the table.

Drafted – 2nd round 2005
DOB – Sept. 18th, 1984
Throws – Left
Position – Starting Pitcher

2006 Season
Veal spent time in Peoria (A) and Daytona (High A) last season, pitching well in both places. His numbers were as follows.

Team         W    L    ERA    WHIP    K/9    H/9    BB/9
Peoria       5    3    2.69   1.15   10.5    5.5    4.8
Daytona      6    2    1.67   1.09    9.8    5.1    4.7

After 2006, Veal has become a player to watch in the Cubs farm system and should add to the list of young wave of arms that should be making an impact at the big league level real soon.

Here is what others are saying about Donald Veal

Scouting Report From John Sickels of Minor League Ball
A second round pick from an Arizona junior college in 2005, Veal had an excellent 2006 season, emerging as one of the top southpaw prospects in the game. This is mostly on the basis of his fastball, a 92-96 MPH power heater. He also has a nasty changeup. His curveball is mediocre, but his other pitches have so much movement that the lack of a consistent breaking ball hasn’t hurt him. Note his ratios: an excellent K/IP rate, an excellent H/IP mark, but a poor walk rate. His command is obviously an issue, but his stuff is so good that A-ball hitters couldn’t handle him even when he didn’t throw strikes. Yes, that might be different at Double-A. Veal needs to improve his control, but his ceiling is very high, and I am optimistic about him. Grade B+. (For more scouting reports like this one, be sure to pick up The Prospect Handbook 2007)

Scouting Report From Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus
Big, imposing lefty with an big, imposing fastball that sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96; his changeup is already a plus offering that he can use as an out pitch; opposing hitters went 91-for-521 (.175) against him with 174 whiffs; he has a durable body with repeatable mechanics. Still looking for a consistent breaking ball, as his present offering is slurvy; his control is below average. Veal finished the season with 16 consecutive starts in which he had more innings pitched than hits allowed. Veal is the perfect combination of a very good player right now who still has much room for improvement. Double-A will be a significant test for him, because he either needs to substantially improve his control or continue to allow hits at the miniscule rate he has been. The former is an easier task than the latter.

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Has Pitching Talent Really Been Diluted?

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Sometimes I get bored and decide that I want to look up information to answer a question I have. We all know that in the old game, pitchers would win tons of games in a season and pitch well over 300 innings a season. They were sort of super human. What I wondered was if the claim that pitching is in such short supply these days is really in fact true. Has pitching changed that much over the years?

I took a look at the league average ERA by year and separated it into National League and American League. Here is a table that lists my findings by year. If you read it from the top down, it shows you each decade year by year and then highlights the average ERA for that decade.

When I look at this, there are a couple of things that I notice.

1. ERA spiked sharply in the 1920’s
At first, I attributed this to the great Babe Ruth and wrote it off. Then, I started thinking through it a little more. If it was just due to Ruth, then only the American League would be affected, right? So perhaps there was something else involved in the spike.

A quick check of baseball history yielded this little nugget about 1920.

The Joint Rules Committee voted to ban the use of all foreign substances (saliva, resin, talcum powder, paraffin) as well as any other alterations (shine or emery) to balls by pitchers. As a result, the American League opted to allow two pitchers from each club the option to use a spitball for one more season. The Nationals set no limitations as long as all “practicing” pitchers were identified and any other pitcher who was caught cheating would be suspended for a minimum of ten days.

~ Baseball Almanac

So now you have guys that are known to live by the spitball or other baseball doctoring methods suddenly forced to adapt their style to keep up with the change in the rules. 17 players would be exempt from the rule based on a grandfather clause due to the fact that they attributed the vast majority of their success to the spitball. The most notable of the pitchers was Burleigh Grimes, who lasted until 1934 and finished his career with 270 wins and is a member of the Hall of Fame.

2. The 1930’s were a sharp incline compared to the 1920’s in the AL
The first thing I thought again was that this had to be due to not necessarily Ruth, but the Yankees in general. There was a huge increase in 1936 and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what this spike was due to. Any ideas on your part would be much appreciated. The only thing I can think of is that there were a ton of good hitters in the AL.

3. When you factor out the spitball, the ERA’s haven’t changed much
Look at the league average ERA’s in the 2000’s and in the 1930’s. If you do, you’ll see that pitching hasn’t changed all that much, even with the addition of many new teams over the years.

1930's 2000's Diff
National League 3.96 4.34 0.38
American League 4.58 4.56 0.02

Obviously looking at one statistic is not the end all determinant for whether or not pitching has changed over the years. However, it is an interesting fact to know that the league average pitcher, when it comes to ERA has not drastically changed over the years.

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Who should the Cubs draft #3 overall in this year’s amateur draft?

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Well here’s my choice, Pedro Alvarez of Vanderbilt University. As many of you might know, Pedro’s teammate David Price is considered by many to be the top choice in this year’s amateur draft, it is rumored by Rotoworld that Devil Rays’ GM Jerry Hunsicker is back in Houston to scout the Rice/Vanderbilt series in general and Price in particular.

It is also my pleasure to announce that #8 Vanderbilt beat #1 Rice today by the score of 7-3; Alvarez drove in two with a line drive that turned out to be the game-winning hit. Pedro was named the National Freshman of the Year by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and; he was also named the SEC Freshman of the Year. Alvarez finished last season with a .329 batting average along with 22 homers and 64 RBIs. He was also named to the SEC Academic honor roll.

This guy is worth spending a #3 overall on, provided that he can be lured away from Vanderbilt. He’s a top five prospect and should be ramping up right about the time that Aramis Ramirez is ramping down. Could this be our third baseman of the future?

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Ryan Theriot is my Hero

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Utility man Ryan Theriot has the potential to become the go-to guy for National League beat writers.

During a “Not For Women Only” panel discussion, former Cubs pitcher Mike Bielecki asked several players to invent a baseball catch phrase for Viagra. Theriot’s ad campaign: “Viagra — I always play hard.”

Theriot, the former high school prom king, didn’t hesitate when asked about his first makeout session (“Sixth grade … Jenny … back of the skating rink.”), or his imaginary porn name (the radio hosts emceeing the session said to combine your pet’s name with your street name; Theriot’s was, “Gauge Classique”), or showing his rear when a 73-year-old woman from Lafayette, Ind., requested that the panel (Bielecki, Theriot, Marshall, Cotts and reliever Scott Eyre) show her their “assets.”

Man I hope he starts this year.

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Let’s Discuss Something

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

The season is right around the corner and it’s clear that it could be a lot better than the results from last year. With that being said, let’s talk about where you the reader would like to see us take the site.

What are the good and bad parts of the site?

Is there anything we can start doing that would make the site more enjoyable to you?

Are there any contests you’d like to see? (I have a bunch of good baseball books for prizes)

The more we talk about it, the better we can make the site.

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Previewing the Cubs Season

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

On Sunday, before the Bear’s debacle no less, I was a guest on The Red Hot Broadcast to preview the upcoming 2007 season. My homerness, if that’s even a word, comes out in the show. If you’d like to listen to the broadcast, you can do so a couple of ways.

Download the mp3 (14.5 mb)

– Go to Red Hot Mama’s site and use their flash player

Subscribe download Bronx Tale, A to the Red Hot Broadcast via iTunes

If you listen, i’d love to hear your thoughts on the broadcast and my opinions.

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Good Ole’ Baseball Trivia

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Q1: What pitcher has the most World Series victories?

Q2: What pitcher holds the lifetime record for average number of strikeouts per game?

Q3: What were the only two brothers to win the Cy Young Award?

Q4: What two brothers have the most wins?

Q5: Who is the only pitcher with over 3,000 strikeouts and fewer than 1,000 walks?

Q6: Which pitcher has the most wins without ever appearing in a World Series?

Q7: Name the six AL pitchers who have won the Cy Young Award and MVP in the same season.

Q8: Who is the only pitcher to save three consecutive All Star games?

Q9: Who are the only two pitchers to strike out 300 batters three years in a row?

Q10: Who is the only pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP?

Q11: Who had his number retired on three different teams?

Q12: Who is the only pitcher to win the MVP two years in a row?

Q13: Who is the only pitcher to win six Cy Young Awards?

Q14: Name the four players who have won pitching’s “triple crown” (leading the league in ERA, wins and strikeouts) in two consecutive years?

Q15: What pitcher has won the ERA title the most times?

To find the answers, go to this site, which is where I took the questions from.

How did you do? I got a pathetic 3

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Monday, February 5th, 2007

Sometimes, nice guys finish on top.

Congratulations to the Colts. And Lovie, if you would have won, Leo would still be wrong!!

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