Monday, November 29, 2010

Juan Uribe Cashes In On Cyber Monday

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti hit the Internet this morning and purchased three years of a 230-pound short stop for a mere $21 million. I bought an ironic $10 t-shirt from Threadless. At least my t-shirt will be useful in a year. Juan Uribe inked a minor league deal with the Giants in 2009 after a replacement level performance the prior season with the White Sox. Uribe posted a career best .329 OBP in '09 which earned him a $3.25 million deal with the Giants in 2010.

If Colletti was checking with Fangraphs, Uribe was worth $12.7 million in 2009 and $12.9 million in 2010. So perhaps Colletti figured at $7 million per year, he stumbled upon one of those crazy Internet post-Thanksgiving deals. But something tells me giving a middle infielder on a the wrong side of 30 with a hungry-hungry-hippo appetite and a career .300 OBP $21 million is a poor use of company resources.

The Dodgers will presumably slide Uribe over to second base with Rafael Furcal still manning short. This also makes Ryan Theriot an easy non-tender candidate in Los Angeles. Uribe provides some power from the middle infield position since he usually hovers around the 20 home run mark each season. Still a 3-year, $21 million deal is a dicey contract considering Dodger dogs are delicious and Uribe might be the fattest second basemen in the history of baseball by next year's All Star Game.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving (Ft. Slapsgiving)

Ah, Thanksgiving. The ultimate American holiday to show off our glutenous ways. I'm not sure when Thanksgiving became a competitive eating contest between friends and family but there is no denying it is now the mortal enemy of turkeys, shirt buttons and dent free couches.

This is the space where most bloggers announce how thankful they are for their excellent writing staff but I'm not going to waste your time patting myself on the back. I've already had to go see Dr. James Andrews once after tearing my rotator cuff doing so.

Since I have no way to tie Thanksgiving into baseball, I will just share this wonderful How I Met Your Mother Slapsgiving gif with you, my dear readers. Have a safe and merry Turkey Day and don't forget to slap the ones you love.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Delmon Young's MVP Candidacy; A Timeline

While I think the BBWAA did an outstanding job in choosing the winners of this year's regular season awards, I can always find something to complain about. Today's object of my disfection is your 2010 10th place finisher in the AL MVP voting, Delmon Young. Once upon on time, Young was the first pick overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2003. Times were simpler back then. Old School made me pee a little in the movie theater, The O.C. was just getting started, Outkast's Hey Ya wasn't overplayed yet and it wasn't creepy that I was dating an 18-year-old.

But the times, they were a changin. In 2007, Young played all 162 games for the Rays and was basically a replacement level player. He hit 13 home runs and a .288/.316/.408 line while playing some pretty good right field but was terrifying in center. Meanwhile, Hollywood crapped out some triquels for us in Spider-Man 3, Shrek The Third and Rush Hour 3. The future looked bleak, my friends.

In fact, the Rays would ship off their former top prospect to Minnesota for Matt Garza before the 2008 season. While things picked up for Hollywood in 2008 (Dark Night, The Wrestler), Young was regressing at an alarming pace. Young hit 10 homers and respectable-ish .290/.336/.405 while wondering the Metrodome outfield like a drunken hobo searching for the cans of beer with a sip left in them. His 2008 -19.4 UZR was slightly better than my -26.5 URR (Ultimate Relationship Rating) after I was dumped by a girl for her ex-boyfriend who was recently released from prison. It was a rough year for us both.

2009 was even worse. I moved back to New Orleans, developed a drinking problem, engaged in a highly dysfunctional relationship and lost what seemed like seven hours of my life watching Avatar. Young only managed to make it to the field for 108 games. And that was the highlight of his season. He did pop 12 homers but barely broke a .300 OBP and continued to butcher left field like he was selling deli meat.

Which brings us to Young's top ten finish in AL MVP voting in 2010. In full disclosure, I think it's absurd that Young finished tenth and even received a fourth place vote. But Young did seem to turn the corner a little bit at the plate. Young cracked 21 homers and hit .298/.333/.493 good for his career high 2.1 WAR. That 2.1 WAR was good for 45th in the league, inline with Brandon Inge and Marco Scuturo. Thanks to the new stadium, Young did improve his fielding to a near blind-man level.

Young wasn't the most valuable outfielder on the Twins (that would be the underrated Denard Span) but every once in a while, you can fall back-asswards into appreciation despite some pretty average work. So if my timeline is matching up with Young's, you should expect to see my nonsensical ramblings in some form of mainstream media in the not too distant future. True story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Josh Hamilton Pops The Schweppes

The voters from the BBWAA capped a shockingly good award season by handing the American League MVP to Josh Hamilton today. It appears the hard work of basement dwelling math nerds is finally wearing the mainstream media down. Hamilton was the best player in the AL and perhaps all of baseball despite missing the last month of the season.

Hamilton's feel good story has been well documented from being the first overall pick in 1999 to washing out of baseball in 2001 due to drug and alcohol addiction to his Phoenix-esque rise from the ashes in 2007. Hamilton was able to shake off his demons, except for a spring training wagon fall in 2009, to become one of the game's top players. Which brings us to his amazing 2010 season.

In a mere 133 games, Hamilton managed to out fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) all of baseball including NL MVP Joey Votto and the all around awesomeness of Albert Pujols. It helps, of course, that Hamilton played good defense in center and great defense in left field instead of manning first base. Hamilton hit 32 home runs and a .359/.411/.633 line while taking the Rangers to the AL West crown.

He collected 22 of the 28 first place votes leaving Miguel Cabrera and Robinson in a distant second and third respectively. I had Hamilton first and Cabrera second in my BBA ballot so I don't have much to complain about, at least in this post.

Congratulations, Josh. The next round of ginger ale is on me. Um, so if you have, like, a Pay-Pal, let me know and I can send you the $4.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ryan Zimmerman Gets Chase Utley'd

The BBWAA released the outcome of the voting for the National League MVP earlier today and Joey Votto ran away with the award. Votto grabbed 31 of the 32 first place votes while Albert Pujols vultured the remaining top vote to prevent the sweep. Both hard slugging first basemen were deserving of the award so it's not worth dissecting how close the two really were despite the wide margin of victory. Besides, Rob Neyer already did that.

Instead, I'll use this space to complain about Ryan Zimmerman's 16th place finish. I may have written a few words in the past about the lack of MVP support that Chase Utley has received over his career. I mean, Utley has been the second best player in the NL since, roughly, 2005 but the highest he's ever finished in MVP voting is 7th. Hell, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard have even won MVPs when Utley was a more worthy candidate. I could go on but there's some pretty ominous wording in this restraining order. (Can't resist; Utley finished with the 14th best fWAR and received zero MVP votes this season) Okay, on to Zimmerman and his Utley treatment.

I had Zimmerman third on my BBA ballot which might have been a tad high in retrospect but I wouldn't have had him lower than 5th-ish. How could I be so far off from the people who get paid to write about baseball? What do they know that I'm missing? Let's go to a little Twitter conversation with Fox Sports' own miniature baseball insider Ken Rosenthal.

First I'd like to take a moment to reflect on how polite I was. I was surprisingly calm for something I so vehemently disagree with. Contending team? That's it? Really? Strap on the nerd boots and let's go to the stats...

Ryan Zimmerman
142 G, 25 HR, .307 AVG, .388 OBP, .510 SLG, 13.9 UZR, 7.2 fWAR (Fangraph's WAR)

Scott Rolen
132 G, 20 HR, .285 AVG, .358 OBP, .497 SLG, 10.6 UZR, 5.0 fWAR

In Rosenthal's eyes, playing for a contending team negates the fact that Zimmerman was worth TWO more wins than Rolen. That is a significant gap even with the 10 extra games Zimmerman played. Rolen only finished two spots and eight points ahead of Zimmerman in the final tally but it still hurts my brain.

I might put more stock in WAR than I should but Fangraphs loved Zimmerman this season. His 7.2 WAR was only one tenth of a point behind Albert Pujols and two tenths behind Joey Votto. That would make him the third most valuable in the National League for the 2010 season. Yet, like Chase Utley before him, he was almost ignored in MVP voting. Why?

Much of Zimmerman's value is tied to his brilliant defense at third base. While there aren't any perfect metrics for defense, the nerds in basements have been making big strides in understanding defense and it's value. But, I guess it's still easier for the mainstream media to give votes to a terrible fielding first baseman who hits 31 home runs and strikes out over 150 times (Ryan Howard received a 2nd and 3rd place vote).

Still, 16th place is absurd. And so begins my crusade to get Ryan Zimmerman more MVP respect. Don't hold your breath, Ryan, it didn't help Chase any.

More fun with the NL MVP results
*Troy Tulowitzki finished 5th; five voters left him off of their ballots.
*Martin Prado finished 9th because why not.
*Brian Wilson finished well ahead of Adam Wainwright, Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson.
*Jimenez received one fourth place vote and that's it.
*Carlos Ruiz (Chooch!) finished ahead of Brian McCann.
*Buster Posey finished 11th including one third place vote. Not a bad year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Felix Wins By A Wide Margin Then Back To Normal

Felix Hernandez won his first Cy Young running away, receiving 21 of the 28 first place votes. King Felix was a horse pitching 249.2 innings while leading the American League with a 2.27 ERA. He was second in complete games (6) and strikeouts (232). And for those of us practicing nerdism, Felix was fourth in the league with a 3.04 FIP and third with a 6.2 WAR. The debate was whether he could take home the award with a 13-12 record against the likes of CC Sabathia (21 wins, 3.18 ERA), David Price (19 wins, 2.72 ERA) and Jon Lester (19 wins, 3.25 ERA).

The voters got it right and the BBWAA has done a solid job overall during this award season. Price, in a mild surprise, finished second receiving four first place votes over Sabathia and his three first place votes. Jon Lester placed fourth with Jered Weaver finishing a distant fifth. The win totals after Felix's 13 went back to the normal 19, 21, 19 and another 13. But Weaver did lead the league in strikeouts and had a 3.01 ERA. I'm surprised Justin Verlander's 18 wins didn't get him more than one fifth place vote.

In my ballot for the BBA, I had a coin flip between Felix and Cliff Lee for first and ended up settling with Felix for the top spot. Lee just managed one third place vote, one fourth and one fifth. Lee only won 12 games but he did pitch more innings than Price and Lester. I know the voting is getting better as far as looking at statistics past wins and ERA so I might be getting a little ahead of myself. However, Lee led the AL with a 2.58 FIP and 7.1 WAR. The reason I gave Lee more love than anyone else I've seen was his strikeout to walk ratio. Lee finished with a ridiculous 10.28 K/BB rate. Jered Weaver was second best with his 4.31 ratio.

Perhaps I'm a bit cynical even though the voters chose the best pitcher in the AL for the Cy. There was a big groundswell for Felix Hernandez by the stat guys and all of us writing from our moms' basements toward the end of the season. The main stream media had to take notice of our deifying of Felix this year. I suspect that's why he won by such a large margin. If the voters were really looking at advanced metrics now, wouldn't Cliff Lee have received more support? It's just a thought. Even the great Joe Sheehan admitted it was a tough year to sort out via Twitter...
@MnkysThrwngDrts I had him #5 (Lee). The AL Cy pool was a mess, seven or eight guys with cases, metrics pointing all over the place.
Fair enough. But Francisco Liriano was second in FIP (2.66) and fourth in WAR (6.0) and he received one fifth place vote. The aforementioned 18-game winner Justin Verlander finished third in FIP (2.97) and second in WAR (6.3) while being rewarded with a single fifth place vote. It just makes me wonder if Felix won due to the overwhelming hype surrounding him rather than the voters actually warming up to advanced metrics.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adrian Beltre Would Like A Ton Of Cash Please

Adrian Beltre is coming off his second best season since, get this, his first contract year in 2004. The slick fielding third baseman erupted in '04 for 48 home runs and a .334/.388/.629 line which earned him a 5-year/$64 million deal with the Mariners. Beltre returned to human form in Seattle but still hit 103 home runs and averaged a .266/.317/.442 line over the five years. Those numbers were actually hampered by his second contract year in 2009 when he only played in 111 games. But according to FanGraphs, he was worth $68 million over that contract even with the shortened last season.

The Red Sox gave Beltre a one year deal for $9 million in 2009 which ended up being a steal just a few notches below whatever it was Bernie Madoff was doing. Beltre thrived once again in 2010 smacking 28 home runs, hitting .321/.365/.553 and finishing only behing Josh Hamilton (8.0) with a 7.1 WAR. Now he's gots to get paid.

The 31-year old is looking for that proverbial fat cash and Mega-Super-Agent Scott Boras is just the man to get it for him. For the rest of this post, I'll be referring to the inside information that I received straight from Sports Illustrated's own Jon Heyman (via his Twitter).

Tweet 1:
it appears the comp being used by adrian beltre is torii hunter ($90 mil, 5 yrs). gulp.
That $18 million due when Beltre is 36 is going to suck if some team actually gives it to him. Unless, if in 2015 we're officially New China and they've straightened out our economy.

Tweet 2:
sounds like a's are willing to pay adrian beltre $60-plus mil, but that's apparently not in ballpark of asking price.
Perhaps Boras is right and every Major League team is in on Beltre as well as six NFL teams, three NBA teams and the New York Rangers.

I don't think Beltre is going to get close to 5-years/$90M. But if he does, I'm hiring Boras to renegotiate my Yardbarker contract.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Halladay Unanimous, Johnson Undervalued

The BBWAA announced that Roy Halladay picked up all 32 first place votes on his way to winning the National League Cy Young. Exactly zero people were surprised. Halladay was the perfect storm of shiny mainstream stats and nerdy advanced metrics. His 21 wins, nine complete games, four shutouts and 250.2 innings led the league. The 2.44 ERA was second, 3.01 FIP was third, 2.92 xFIP was first just like his 6.6 WAR. I had Halladay first on my ballot for the BBA where he also finished first unanimously.

So the right guy won and won running away but, as a blogger, it's my duty to find something to bitch about. I could complain about Brian Wilson and Heath Bell getting more voting love than Tim Lincecum but instead I'll just point out that nobody, including me, realized how good Josh Johnson was in 2010. I had him fourth on my ballot and that's where he finished in the BBA standings. The BBWAA had him fifth behind Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim effing Hudson.

Really Johnson, Wainwright and Jimenez could have finished in any order after Halladay but Johnson didn't receive a single second place vote. I suppose the BBWAA reasoning was the same as mine. Johnson only pitched 183.2 innings which was 45 fewer than Hudson, 38 from Jimenez and 47 from Wainwright. Obviously that a pretty substantial gap in usage but he was brilliant when on the mound. His 2.30 ERA and 2.41 FIP were tops in the league and his 6.3 WAR was tied with Jimenez for second. If I had it to do over, I might have had Johnson second.

I guess this rant was more about Hudson who finished fourth due to his 17 wins and 2.83 ERA. Hudson's actual ERA should have been closer to his 4.09 FIP. Hudson was incredibly lucky thanks to a 2.50 BABIP and his 2.7 WAR ranked 29th among starting pitchers. I know I'm more obsessed with WAR than I should be but Hudson wasn't anywhere close to the top five pitchers in the NL.

Felt like I should have had more to complain about but I guess that will have to wait until Thursday when the AL Cy Young gets announced. That one is going to be filled with nonsense.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Former Zephyr Cameron Maybin Dealt To Padres

Within two days, the Florida Marlins have traded away the top prospects they received in the Miguel Cabrera deal with Detroit from three years ago. Left handed pitching prospect Andrew Miller has underachieved to the point where he was flipped to Boston for reliever Dustin Richardson on Friday. The Cameron Maybin deal is a little more curious.

The Marlins soured on the 23-year-old center fielder but they also had him split time between AAA New Orleans and the Major Leagues both in 2009 and this past season. His stat splits between the two leagues were pretty severe though. As a New Orleans Zephyr, Maybin looked like the potential superstar he was billed to be while he looked like a replacement level player in the bigs.

In 2009, Maybin played 82 games for New Orleans and produced a .319/.399/.463 line that would make him a potential All Star. In his 54 games with the Marlins he only put up a .250/.318/.409 line while playing good defense in center field. The 33 games he spent in New Orleans in 2010 were even better than the previous stint. Maybin hit .388/.407/.508 which would certainly make him an All Star. But in the 82 games he spent with Florida, he hit for a paltry .234/.302/.361 line.

Maybin’s swing has some holes in it. He struck out 51 times in 176 at bats during the 2009 season with Florida and another 92 times in 291 at bats in 2010. He has the chance to be a plus defender in center and is still young at 23. Maybin was out of options which means he couldn’t be sent back to New Orleans but he had nothing left to prove there anyway.

In my opinion, the Marlins gave up on Maybin too soon especially for the pair of relievers, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica, they received in return. Maybin may be one of the prospects who just needed a change of scenery to flourish at the Major League level and he will have plenty of room to run in Petco’s spacious outfield.

I expect to be giving a similar send-off post to Brandon Wood anytime now.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Girl Charged With Stealing Nude Pics Of Sizemore

The villainous Intertube Grady Sizemore stalker has been charged with a gross misdemeanor for stealing nude photos of Sizemore after a little Facebook stalking and hackery. Grady's Ladies nod their head in gratuitous approval. The Cleveland Indians superstar center fielder, when healthy, sent some NSFW photos to his Playboy Playmate girlfriend, Brittany Binger, sometime in August 2009 because nothing turns chicks on more than pictures of yourself naked in mirror shots. Despite what all of the retraining orders that have been filed against me by Hollywood actresses would have me believe.

Here's what the Star Tribune had to say...
An Apple Valley woman was charged on Tuesday with breaking into a model's e-mail account and stealing racy photos of Cleveland Indians baseball player Grady Sizemore, which were widely posted on the Internet last year.


Leah M. Ayers, 19, has been charged by the city of Apple Valley with two counts of unauthorized computer access, a gross misdemeanor. She could not be reached for comment.
I blame this entirely on Sizemore's girlfriend. They tell you what a good security password is now and I'm sure gradysizemoresgrrl24 wasn't too hard to break. My friend Chris got it on his 4th try. He doesn't even like baseball which brings up a whole new set of questions.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Joe Morgan Unsurprised By Firing

Neither was I considering the statistical revolution that has been going on over the past few years (or decades if you read Bill James). While Joe Morgan seemingly embraced On Base Percentage during his playing days, he turned a blind eye to it over his years of mouth breathing on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. I enjoyed Morgan's ramblings because I built an entire drinking game around his long winded stories and continual angst against the sabr community. Here's Morgan's response from his dismissal...
“I was not surprised by ESPN’s decision. They have been taking ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ in a different direction the last two years and I was not comfortable with that direction.”
The different direction was getting rid of Morgan due to his ear shattering mis-analysis according to one of the mail room kids working in Bristol.[citation needed]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Does Everybody Hate Chase Utley?

I've made it abundantly clear over my months of writing here and the years at Monkeys Throwing Darts that I am an unabashed Chase Utley fan. It continues to baffle me why he doesn't get more MVP love every season. Even more baffling, Utley has zero Gold Gloves compared to Derek Jeter's five.

Brandon Phillips was solid by all accounts at second base this year. So it's not as an erroneous error as giving Jeter another Gold Glove over, oh say, me at short stop in the AL. But Utley was yet again the best fielding second baseman in the National League. As you all should know by now, defensive metrics are still in the works but we've at least advanced past the point where just looking at errors and fielding percentage gives us any kind of accurate portrayal of positional efficiency.

Personally, I prefer FanGraphs UZR (ultimate zone rating) when I'm looking at defense and that's mainly because they don't charge me for stats. Come on Bill James, I live in a basement, hook me up with the free info. Anyway, here's this year's second base UZR leaders...

1. Chase Utley 10.3

2. Brandon Phillips 9.7

3. Kelly Johnson 7.1

4. David Eckstein 6.2 (say what???)

11. Skip Schumaker -15.4

I'm going to go ahead and pretend that Utley didn't get the Gold Glove this year because he only played in 115 games otherwise I'll give myself a stroke. In case you were wondering, Utley was also the best second baseman in 2009 (11.2 UZR) and 2008 (18.4). And on another note, Skip Schumaker plays second base as well as I play poker when I'm drunk. I throw things everywhere and rarely make the right play.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jeter Wins Again

The American League Gold Gloves came out today and, not surprisingly, I'm just going to rip one. You know the one. Derek Jeter won his fifth Gold Glove for whatever it is that he is doing between second and third base. I realize the Gold Gloves are largely awarded because of reputation, some deserving (Ichiro) and some from fairy tales (Jeter). Defensive metrics are far from perfected but I'd be remiss if I didn't throw down a little Jeter hating. And this time it doesn't involve my insane jealousy about him dating Minka Kelly. Here is a quick look at the top short stops in the AL according to FanGraphs Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).

1. Alexei Ramirez 10.8

2. Cliff Pennington 9.9

4. Elvis Andrus 0.1

7. Derek Jeter -4.7

8. Yuni Betancourt -9.5

9. Jason Bartlett -10.4

My immediate reaction after looking at those stats was blinding bewilderment. I can't believe there was a worse defensive short stop than Yuni but Bartlett apparently had one of those car boots strapped to his leg by the Tampa police.

I can't sit here and tell you if Alexei Ramirez was much better than the rest of the American League short stops based solely on his UZR. But I can tell you, he was definitely far superior to Jeter's drunken hobo wandering around the infield.

Maybe it's time for somebody other than managers and Derek Jeter to vote on the Gold Gloves. But what do I know? I spent half of the day Googling Brad Penny's future wife.

Brad Penny Is Engaged To Some Hot Chick

I've never seen Dancing With The Stars. I watched the first couple of seasons of So You Think You Can Dance but that's because I had a girlfriend at the time and thought I had a bright future in popping and locking. Anyway, like I said, I've never seen DWTS so I don't know who Karina Smirnoff is, but that's why God invented Google Images. I guess she's pretty hot if you go for that tan, sexy, smoking body look. She recently announced her engagement to pitcher Brad Penny, take it away AHN...
"Dancing with the Stars" dancing pro Karina Smirnoff is a fiancée again. The 32-year-old ballroom dancing champ has revealed that she is engaged to her baseball player boyfriend Brad Penny.

Smirnoff showed off her engagement ring Saturday at the fifth anniversary for TAO in Las Vegas. According to, since Penny couldn't be at the event, he sent his soon-to-be bride an Everlon Diamond Knot necklace in a fortune cookie.
If you're keeping score at home, Brad Penny has now dated Alyssa Milano, Eliza Dushku and is engaged to Smirnoff. Chicks must really dig that career 4.11 ERA and 3.98 FIP. Either that or diamonds and cookies. The fact that I went with stats first might explain why I'm single.

Penny made 9 starts for the Cardinals and over those 55.2 innings posted a 3.23/3.40/3.77 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) line. I don't think that's worth the $7.5 million he got paid but he clearly needed the diamond money.

Angels Selling Grass For $25 A Bag, Er.. Box

The Angels are pulling up their outfield turf due to upcoming Monster Truck events or some such Larry The Cable Guy nonsense. I never realized Orange County catered to so many rednecks. The Halos are cutting the turf into 4-inch squares and slapping it on a commemorative 50th anniversary tray in an attempt to market the otherwise wasted field as a piece of history. Please read this blurb from the OC Register while I look for my credit card...
Still, this is sod from the Big A. And proceeds benefit the Angels Baseball Foundation, which helps fund local and nationwide youth education and sports programs.

"Were anticipating selling 1,000 to 1,500 squares, hoping people will either replant it or keep watering it and keep it alive in the commemorative tray," said Robert Alvarado, vice president of marketing for the Angels.
Wait. Are you telling me that my $25 box of grass baseball memorabilia comes with homework? *puts credit card back in wallet* Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a sample of the same grass that Juan Rivera misplayed a ball on but that box of grass would be dead within a week and then my roommates would try to smoke it.

Give me a call when you're recarpeting the clubhouse.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Joe Morgan, Fired

In a move that will surely destroy my Sunday Night Baseball drinking game, ESPN has decided to not renew the contracts of the announcing duo of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller. Miller may stay on with ESPN to continue his radio work but Morgan was told no thank you. Most of the baseball blogosphere is rejoicing tonight after hearing the news but I built an entire drinking game around Joe Morgan's nonsensical stories, stat bashing and referrals to his playing days. I'm going to miss being drunk by the third inning. Here's what the four letter told Richard Sandomir...
“We’ve decided to make a change and introduce new voices and new perspective,” said Norby Williamson, an executive vice president of ESPN. He added: “Twenty one years is an eternity in this business. And today is about acknowledging the contributions they made to the franchise.”
Ken Tremendous and the rest of the prophets at Fire Joe Morgan are no doubt popping the corks of their proverbial champagne. I reluctantly approve of this move because before my drinking game, I had to watch SNB on mute. I have nothing against Jon Miller but Joe Morgan's crusade against advanced metrics was aggravating. On base percentage is an actual thing, Joe, people understand it now.

Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser look like the heir apparents and I think they will be a great team. I can begrudgingly give up the drinking game for some intelligent game calling.

The collateral damage here is no more of my Weekly Cup of Joe where I ripped a question and answer from an ESPN Joe Morgan chat. Obviously FJM did it better but it was fun while it lasted. I guess this will be one of the last times I get to use my Joe Morgan cup pic. *chugs the rest of the Icee, brain freeze*

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NL Central Year In Review

Off Base will take a look back at the 2010 season season with our own brand of science nonsense. Today we'll look at the NL Central, do the Pirates still live here?

1. Cincinnati Reds
Highlights: The Reds led all of baseball in WAR (wins above replacement) at 33.7 and won the Central with a 91-71 record. Joey Votto put together an MVP season belting 37 home runs with a .324/.424/.600 line while contending for the NL Triple Crown for most of the year. Jay Bruce continues to improve at the plate and even got his OBP way up to .353 this season. Aroldis Champman finally arrived and hit 100+ MPH at every appearance. Chicks dig the fastball. Mike Leake skipped the minors all together going straight from the draft to the majors. He pitched admirably, considering, with a 4.23 ERA and 4.68 FIP (fielding independent pitching). Even Homer Bailey progressed and pitched better than his 4.46 ERA suggested according to his 3.74 FIP.

Lowlights: Got swept out of the playoffs by the Phillies and became only the second team in history to get no-hit in the post season thanks to Roy Halladay. The combination of T.O. and Ochocinco is more obnoxious than I initially feared. Edinson Volquez remains ineligible to win Rookie of the Year. For whatever reason, Jonny Gomes was allowed to spend way to much time wandering around in the outfield like a drunken hobo.

Hot Stove Outlook: The Reds could use a short stop after wisely declining the option on Orlando Cabrera and probably another starter after also declining Aaron Harang's option. Unfortunately the market isn't bursting with great/affordable players that fit their needs. They also need to hope Scott Rolen can stay durable after rounding the corner of his mid-30's.

2. St. Louis Cardinals
Highlights: MVP seasons from Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Pujols hit 42 homers to go with a .312/.414/.596 line and competed with Carlos Gonzalez and Joey Votto for the Triple Crown until nobody could claim it. Holliday wasn't too shabby either with 28 home runs and a .312/.390/.532 line of his own. Adam Wainwright was fantastic and should finish in the top three of Cy Young voting. Rookie pitcher Jaime Garcia established himself as a solid number three behind Wainwright and Chris Carpenter.

Lowlights: Finishing five games back of the Reds and missing the playoffs. And that's in part due to Tony LaRussa's resistance to playing Colby Rasmus. Just strange.

Hot Stove Outlook: The core is solid if TLR will play Rasmus everyday otherwise they'll be in bigger trouble. They don't have much payroll flexibility considering Pujols is a year away from free agency and will likely require the Arch to re-sign. Maybe they try to hang on to Jake Westbrook. Deal with the inevitable LaRussa DUI. I like the ones where he falls asleep at a red light.

3. Milwaukee Brewers
Highlights: Was this the year that Rickie Weeks turned the corner? I'm inclined to believe that is was and this is his true potential. Weeks slugged 29 home runs and hit .269/.366/.464 while staying healthy. Yovanni Gallardo looks like an ace. Guido, the Italian sausage, won the most sausage races with 22.

Lowlights: Just about everything else. Trevor Hoffman was downright old and miserable. The only pitchers with a WAR above one were Gallardo, Jon Axford and Chris Narveson. Brett Wurst, the bratwurst, trailed the rest of the pack with only 11 sausage race victories.

Hot Stove Outlook: Pitching. At some point, just like the Padres, the Brewers need to trade their big slugging first baseman. Prince Fielder is a free agent after next season and all of the fatty foods in Milwaukee won't keep him around. He'll also command big money for a body type that won't age well.

4. Houston Astros
Highlights: Used smoke and mirrors to win 76 games.

Lowlights: Paid Carlos Lee $19 million to produce -0.8 Wins Above Replacement. They would have been better off sticking a traffic cone in left field. And they still owe him another $38 million over the next two years. Oopsy. No talent in the minors anywhere close to contributing.

Hot Stove Outlook: Pray for rain.

5. Chicago Cubs
Highlights: Starlin Castro is going to be a star short stop. Geovany Soto recovered from his nightmare 2009 season to hit 17 homers and a .280/.393/.497 line. The season, mercifully, ended.

Lowlights: Carlos Zambrano is a crazy person and the Cubs are on the hook for another $36 million over the next two seasons. Even funnier than that contract? The Cubs owe Alfonso Soriano $19 million per season until 2014 at which point he'll be even less valuable than Houston's traffic cone. The Cubs sent off retiring Lou Piniella with a 16-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves. They should have just lit his shoes on fire as well.

Hot Stove Outlook: Do nothing. The Cubs could use a cheap first baseman but won't be writing blank checks anymore. They could try to deal Carlos Zambrano for a bag of balls. Crazy Carlos pitched well after returning to the rotation on August 9. In his last 11 starts, he posted a 1.41 ERA and a 1.5 K/BB ratio.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Highlights: Drafted and signed Jameson Tallion and Stetson Allie. Andrew McCutchen. Secured the number one draft pick in the 2011 amateur draft. Ben Roethlisberger did not try to rape them. Allegedly.

Lowlights: Finished with the worst record in baseball at 57-105. Finished with a losing record for the 18th consecutive season. Forgot to employ any Major League caliber pitching. Pedro Alvarez struck out at a 35% clip.

Hot Stove Outlook: Do nothing. The Pirates are doing a good job building through the draft and in a few years should be able to try to make some savvy moves like the Rays have been doing recently. Until then, it's unfortunately more years of futility. Learn to embrace the draft, Pirates fans. You're going to have a lot of high picks.

Friday, November 5, 2010

AL Central Year In Review

Off Base will take a look back at the 2010 season season with our own brand of science nonsense. Today we'll look at the AL Central, who's in this division again?.

1. Minnesota Twins
Highlights: The Twins won the Central with a 94-68 record. Joe Mauer was fantastic as always posting a .327/.402/.469 line. The Twins opened their shiny new open air ballpark. Justin Morneau put together an MVP caliber .345/.437/.618 line. Danny Valencia played over his head after getting called up to play third base. Francisco Liriano returned to ace status with a 3.62/2.66/3.06 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) pitching line. The zombie corpse of Carl Pavano pitched a decent season and had a 3.75 ERA. I picked them to beat the Yankees in the LDS.

Lowlights: Got swept by the Yankees in the LDS. Lost Joe Nathan before the season. Only got 81 games out of Justin Morneau before losing him for the season to a concussion. Joe Mauer lost his power and only hit nine home runs. Brett Favre returned for another season and they traded for Randy Moss. It's cold outside in Minnesota in April.

Hot Stove Outlook: The Twins payroll is tied up in Joe Mauer so don't expect much tinkering. They had to take out a second mortgage on The Mall of America to keep Mauer in Minnesota.

2. Chicago White Sox
Highlights: Well, they somehow managed to finish second in the Central with an 88-74 record. Mark Buehrle made the play of the year on opening day. Paul Konerko had a monster season hitting 39 homers and a .312/.393/.584 line. The Sox managed to get 107 inning out of the appendage formerly known as Jake Peavy's arm. Matt Thornton was the best reliever in the AL. Ozzie Guillen started a Twitter account @OzzieGuillen!

Lowlights: Gordon Beckham forgot how to play baseball. They traded Dan Hudson for Edwin Jackson. Not nearly enough Ozzie.

Hot Stove Outlook: Kenny Williams isn't afraid to throw around cash whether it makes sense or not. Maybe they take a run at Brandon Webb, he used to be a good pitcher.

3. Detroit Tigers
Highlights: Frankly, it's a miracle they finished with a .500 record considering they have one Major League hitter in their lineup. I got a lot of pleasure from the giddiness of Tigers fans over Austin Jackson and his .396 BABIP and Brandon Boesch's nice month-ish. That's more of a highlight for me though. The hitter I alluded to, of course, is Miggy Cabrera who did his normal 38 homer, .328/.420/.622 thing. Justin Verlander had a Cy Young ballot worthy season and youngsters Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer had fine seasons.

Lowlights: In all seriousness, the Tigers lost long time skipper Sparky Anderson when he passed away this week. A true legend on and off of the field. In fact, it's so sad that I won't even make fun of the Tigers here.

Hot Stove Outlook: My fear is that the Tigers will be bidding on the services of Carl Crawford against my beloved Halos. And I think they might have a shot too.

4. Cleveland Indians
Highlights: Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana before he got hurt. And I'm spent.

Lowlights: A 69-93 record. The most racist mascot in baseball. Grady Sizemore can't stay on the field anymore. Travis Hafner is a shell of his former Pronk. Fausto Carmona was their best pitcher with a 2.7 WAR (wins above replacement). Choo might have to go serve military time soon. LeBron left. I might be their best minor league prospect.

Hot Stove Outlook: Hope General Custer wins this round and start from scratch.

5. Kansas City Royals
Highlights: The minor league system is pretty loaded and the future looks bright with Hosmer leading the way. Billy Butler is turning into an On Base machine. Joe Posnanski is still a fan, although they seem to have lost Rob Neyer. We got to make fun of Wilson Betemit a lot even though he was pretty decent. Awesome Bar-B-Que.

Lowlights: They're still the Royals and finished with a 67-95 record. They played Yuni Betancourt at short stop for 151 games. They played Yuni Betancourt at short stop for 151 games. That repeat was not a typo, it counts twice. The Royals also employed Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, Willie Bloomquist and Chris Getz. Woof.

Hot Stove Outlook: Wild trade rumors surrounding Zack Greinke or Joakim Soria. One of those is a good idea.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NL West Year In Review

Off Base will take a look back at the 2010 season season with our own brand of science nonsense. Today we'll look at the NL West.

1. San Francisco Giants
Highlights: Let's see, where should we start? The Giants won the West with a 92-70 record. Buster Posey emerged as a budding superstar when he was finally called up. Brian Wilson turned out to be quite the weirdo colorful personality. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be one of his "loser friends." Madison Bumgarner looks like he'll be a front of the rotation starter again. Oh, and uh, they won their first World Series.

Lowlights: Well, Tim Lincecum won't win his third straight Cy Young. Kung Fu Panda wasn't good at the plate and might have actually eaten a few Panda Express franchises. I lost a slap bet because Cody Ross hit a home run in the World Series. That was more of a lowlight for me, I suppose.

Hot Stove Outlook: Try to convince Aubrey Huff to sign a one year deal. Maybe try to get another outfielder. Try to trade Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand. Haha, good one. Figure out how long to leave Brandon Belt in Triple A before calling him up next year.

2. San Diego Padres
Highlights: The Pads finished second in the West with a 90-72 instead of finishing last like most people projected. Mat Latos looks like an ace in the making despite, tragically, only having one "T" in his name. There is a secret underground factory where quality bullpen arms are manufactured. They play in SAN DIEGO.

Lowlights: A September collapse left them looking in from the outside of the playoff window. They employ and play David Eckstein.

Hot Stove Outlook: Brace yourselves, Pads fans. Trade Adrian Gonzalez for a boatload of high quality prospects from the Red Sox.

3. Colorado Rockies
Highlights: Troy Tulowitski is really freaking good. Ubaldo Jimenez through the first no-hitter in Rockies history. Carlos Gonzalez became a monster hitter (at home) and contended for the NL Triple Crown for a while. The Rox got off to another one of their hot September runs toward the playoffs.

Lowlights: The Rox stumbled their way through the end of September and missed the playoffs by nine games. It was partially due to Jim Tracy, who mismanaged the team all over the place. They're still paying Todd Helton a ton of cash.

Hot Stove Outlook: Well, they declined the option on Miguel Olivo and seemingly have zero interest in giving Chris Ianetta the full time job. So a catcher is probably a priority and I've heard (on Twitter) that they like Mike Napoli who the Angels might be looking to move. The Rox will also try to extend Jorge de la Rosa.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers
Highlights: They managed to somehow lure Zach Lee away from LSU.

Lowlights: The McCourt divorce was the biggest story of their season. Kemp hit 28 home runs but his .249/.310/.450 was a disappointment. The catcher formerly known as Russell Martin had a .306 wOBA.

Hot Stove Outlook: I'm sure they'll bid on some big names with money they aren't allowed to spend. Crazy Matt Kemp rumors will be floated around. I will continue to be angry with the Dodgers while watching Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee play quarterback for LSU.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Highlights: They led the world in strikeouts. Oh, batters' strikeouts. Perhaps more of a lowlight then?

Lowlights: Everybody underperformed and Mark Reynolds had over three times as many strikeouts than the team had wins. They finished with the third worst record in baseball at 65-97.

Hot Stove Outlook: Part ways with Brandon Webb. Then blow everything up? Figure out who to draft with the third pick next year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Derek Jeter Dabbles In Delusion

I'm a big fan of delusion, it's why I watch the American Idol tryouts. Delusion is also why I keep writing this blog. I fashion myself as the Hunter S. Thompson of baseball writing who never leaves the basement. I also figure Johnny Depp will play me in the movie adaptation of my life entitled Fear and Loathing With No WiFi. It's just going to be Depp drinking and smoking in a basement while reading FanGraphs for two hours. I don't have high hopes for it being a summer blockbuster.

Anyway, this post isn't about me because if the rumors are true, Derek Jeter is having his own little bout of delusion. According to a John Heyman tweet, Jeter might be looking for a six year deal from the Yankees...
jeter could take awhile. #yanks may be thinking 2-3 yrs. but industry sources suggest he could ask to stay 'til hes 42 (6 yrs), a la arod.
The 36-year-old "short stop" had one of his better seasons in 2009 and one of his worst in 2010. Maybe he rebounds some from this year's .270/.340/.370 line but I doubt he's ever returning to within a mile of his 2009 .334/.406/.465 line. His defensive shortcomings at short have been and will continue to be a liability until/if he is convinced to move to an outfield spot. Even then, I have no idea how effective he'll be on defense but his bat certainly won't be worthy of a corner outfield spot.

The Yanks seem to have no choice but to re-sign the face of their franchise but giving him six years is a joke. Three years sounds like a mistake. It's a good thing I'm not a Yankees fan because I'll be laughing about whatever the outcome is for at least the next few seasons.

One final Jeter note: Minka Kelly. That is all.

AL West Year In Review

Off Base will take a look back at the 2010 season season with our own brand of science nonsense. Today we'll look at the AL West because the Angels owe me $120 after watching them all year on

1. Texas Rangers
Highlights: The Rangers made it all the way to the World Series after winning the West with a 90-72 record. They lost, of course, because I purchased a Cliff Lee voodoo doll from the French Quarter. Josh Hamilton put together what should be an MVP season. C.J. Wilson ended up being a star both on the mound and on Twitter @str8edgeracer. Nolan Ryan's giant head and finance group bought the Rangers which means much more of his buddy, George W. Bush. There is a good chance the Rangers will declare war on Cuba for relief pitchers.

Lowlights: Ron Washington forgot he had Neftali Feliz once he got into the World Series. Which could mean either the onset of Alzheimer's disease or the dreaded poor bullpen management syndrome. Nelson Cruz took more trips to the DL than your sister takes to the free clinic which doomed my fantasy baseball team.

Hot Stove Outlook: Re-signing Cliff Lee is priority number one. They have a good chance I think too. He recently bought cowboy boots. If that ain't science, I don't know what is. They declined Vlad Guerrero's $9 million option but will probably try to bring the old man with no knees back on the cheap.

2. Oakland A's
Highlights: The A's managed to finish second in the West with a .500 record. Dallas Braden threw a perfect game. A Dallas Braden "Get Off My Mound" T-shirt was made. Umm, their young starters pitched better this year?

Lowlights: Average home attendance was 137. There wasn't a single player who hit 20 home runs. Nobody sent me a "Get Off My Mound" T-shirt.

Hot Stove Outlook: It is now completely impossible to guess what Billy Beane might do anymore. In fact, I think he only watches soccer now.

3. Los Angels Angels
Highlights: Jered Weaver led the league in strikeouts and became the ace I hoped he'd become. Peter Bourjos got called up and played some amazing center field. Mike Trout is now the top prospect in baseball. Also, Mike Trout. Mike Trout.

Lowlights: Kendry Morales continued his hot hitting from 2009 but broke his leg celebrating a walk-off grand slam. The Angels finished 10 games out of first with an 80-82 record. The Brandon Wood third base experiment finished the season with a .146/.174/.208 line. I cried a little after each one of his plate appearances. The bullpen.

Hot Stove Outlook: The Angels figure to open up Arte Moreno's checkbook and bid on the likes of Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre and Rafael Soriano. I really want to see a Crawford, Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos outfield.

4. Seattle Mariners
Highlights: None. Okay fine, Felix Hernandez was brilliant and will probably win the Cy Young.

Lowlights: Chone Figgins was a bust and has a fat contract. They finished with the second worst record in baseball at 61-101. The M's finished last in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. It was a reverse triple crown slash line as a team.

Hot Stove Outlook: Overspend on a player after a career year. Pray Justin Smoak develops into the prospect everybody thought he would be. Spend a lot of time trying to figure out who to draft with the second pick in next year's draft.