Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Jackie, Ernie And Nolan

As far as baseball birthdays go, you'd be hard pressed to find a more dominant crew than the guys who share January 31st. Check out this list of greatness while I run over to Carvel to pick up a Fudgie the Whale and a Cookie Puss, we're partying tonight.

Jackie Robinson - 1/31/1919
*MLB Rookie of the Year in 1947 (also something about a color barrier)
*NL MVP in 1949
*World Series Champion in 1955
*Hall of Fame induction in 1962

Ernie Banks - 1/31/1931
*NL MVP in 1958
*NL MVP in 1959
*Hall of Fame induction in 1977

Nolan Ryan - 1/31/1947
*World Series Champion in 1969
*7 no hitters
*All time strikeout king with 5714 (and walks 2795)
*Hall of Fame induction in 1999

But the Hall of Famers aren't the only ones sharing a birthday today. Arrested Development stars Jessica Walter (Lucile Bluth) turns 70 and Portia de Rossi (Lindsay Bluth Funke) turns 37. This is one of my many favorite scenes featuring Lindsay and Gob and the chicken dance...


If that wasn't enough, Justin Timberlake and Johnny Rotten were also born today. That's a good batch of celebrity birthdays.

I share a birthday with Derek Lee, Mark Teahen and porn star Raven Riley. So, um, good for me.

Jose Canseco Tweet of the Day

You should note that he said "human being." I'm pretty sure he believes there is some form of artificial intelligence that will not only take over the human race but can also beat him in a long ball competition. Unless that was a euphemism for porn.

I desperately want to see Canseco fight 48-year-old Herschel Walker. Who do we have to call to get Canseco's ankle bracelet removed for 30 seconds?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Long Island Liquor King Wants Part Of Mets

The Wilpons are having some financial problems and this time it has nothing to do with Omar Minaya or Ollie Perez. With big losses potentially looming from the Madoff litigation, the Wilpons are looking to sell a 20-25% stake in the Mets. Or more accurately, they're looking for someone to give them 20-25% of the Mets value which was estimated at $858M by Forbes last April.

Of course, people are coming out of the woodwork with an interest in snatching up part of New York's other baseball team including Martin Luther King III and, my favorite, the Long Island Liquor King...
Silver, a liquor distributor and owner of the Georgi Vodka brand, said he is only willing to invest if he has some say in day-to-day operations of the team.

"Anybody who is going to the bank to borrow money and invest in the team isn't going to be okay with having no say in operations," said Silver.

Silver said the $858 million that Forbes estimates the team is worth is high and wants the Wilpons be "more realistic" about the price.
I'd like to pledge my support for Martin Silver even though I've never heard of Georgi Vodka (I am happy to write a review if he sends me a case though). It's a match made in heaven. Mets fans will finally be able to get their reason to drink and booze from the same place. That's synergy.

Possible Mets Drinking Games

*Take a shot for every day Jose Reyes spends on the DL

*Drink until you find a plausible reason for the Luis Castillo contract

*Blackout when the Mets are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in July

*Buy Four Loko from the Internet when they reacquire Jeff Francoeur from Kansas City

*Something about Johan Santana being injured or K-Rod punching a father figure.

I kind of ran out of steam there at the end.

Pujols Will Veto Any Trade, Now Give Him All Of Your Money

Albert Pujols has already set a spring training deadline to get an extension signed with the Cardinals and now he has apparently made it clear that he won't be approving a trade this year either...
Sources tell Buster Olney of that Pujols will not accept any trade proposal. And with his 10 and 5 rights, he has every right to do so. There’s always the chance he could change his mind, but we should probably assume that he’ll be a Cardinal this season no matter what.
Obviously the Cardinals are going to have to fork over a ton of cash to keep Pujols long term. The SportsDome suggested giving him a working key to the city. But I'm sure they can raise enough funds by putting the Arch on Craigslist or adding a "Pujols tax" to every bottle of Bud Light.

In his first 10 years in the league, Pujols has racked up 80.6 Wins Above Replacement. To put that into perspective, let's look at my favorite tool at Fangraphs, the War Graph. Here's Pujols' cumulative WAR by age compared to some guy named Stan Musial and former Yankee pinch hitter Lou Gehrig. Click to embiggen.

The 31-year-old slugger has 408 home runs and a career .331/.426/.624 line. That's such a good looking line it wouldn't even let me buy it a drink. Dave Cameron figured Pujols would be worth +42.5 WAR during a 10-year contract from 2012 through 2021. In cash, that would be about $267 million. Cameron also said somewhere (that guy is everywhere) that he wouldn't mind giving Pujols 10-years and $300 million considering the extra bump for being the entire franchise.

If he added $300 million to the $100M or so he's already made, he could finally buy Rhode Island and hunt hobos for sport in the off-season. Or was that my fantasy? Either way, that's a lot of money.

Bonus WAR Math: Pujols career WAR through 2011 80.6 + 2011 projection of 7.5 + Cameron's 2012-2021 projection 42.5 = 130.6

That would be good for 12th place all time, ahead of Gehrig and behind Eddie Collins.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Julio Teheran Could Win No. 5 Spot

Prospect rankings are out and it appears that the Braves have a right handed pitcher who might be pretty good. Julio Teheran made a big jump in Keith Law's rankings moving from 63 in 2010 all the way up to 6th in this year's rankings. The Braves seem to be on the same page and realize they might not be able to send him back to the minors after Spring Training (from MLB)...
Teheran is one of the finest pitching prospects to ever pass through the Braves organization and they certainly don't have any plans to rush his development.

But based on what they've seen from him, there are some members of the Braves organization who believe Teheran will make it difficult for them to determine when or maybe even if they should send him to back to Minor League camp.
Teheran turned 20 on January 27th and pitched 142.2 innings between A-AA last season. So Teheran is still somewhat of a long shot to make the April rotation.

But if you look at Teheran's 2010 season, you can see why the Braves are optimistic...


I can't wait for Spring Training. This slow news cycle is killing me. I almost wrote about Adam Kennedy's DUI instead of this post. In hindsight, I'm not sure I made the right choice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

J-Roll Has A Stake In Justin Bieber

Jimmy Rollins doesn't want to be just another former baseball player after he retires. He has big plans involving the music industry. Now, I couldn't name a Justin Bieber song but he seems like a safe bet since that kid is always trending on Twitter and Tom Brady apparently stole his haircut. Rollins has tried to develop his own music stars but let's just say he isn't quite P-Diddy yet so he turned his attention to buying in on established artists. And I'm using "artist" in the loosest sense with Bieber. Here's the deal...
Rollins owns 5 percent of the publishing rights to Justin Bieber's "Eenie Meenie," a hit duet with Jamaican chubster Sean Kingston. The song appears on Bieber's platinum album, "My World 2.0."


Rollins indicated that his investment in Bieber's song cost him about $20,000. Rollins' attorney, Christopher Cabott, who also teaches entertainment and sports law at Temple, yesterday presented to the assemblage a formula that, for that 5 percent stake, recoups about $10,000 per million units sold.
I guess the $20,000 investment in Bieber isn't a bad move for a guy who bought a $350,000 Bentley with his 2008 World Series check. Instead of me alienating my 13-year-old girl fan base by filling the rest of this post with Bieber jokes, I decided to focus on my other problem with the Phillies short stop. And if you read me at all, you should know where I'm going with this.

I'm still upset about the 2007 NL MVP results. That voting was worse than a grown man buying a single ticket to a Justin Bieber concert. Let's just move right past the fact that Albert Pujols should have won with his .327/.429/.568 line instead of finishing NINTH, and focus on the Phillies. Rollins hit 30 home runs and a .296/.344/.531 line for a good .378 wOBA. Sure, maybe he deserved some MVP votes but he wasn't the most valuable player on his own team let alone in the league.

Ryan Howard finished fifth thanks to 47 homers even though he struck out 37.6% of the time. But the real crime here was that Chase Utley finished eighth in the voting despite finishing both third in WAR (7.7) and wOBA (.420) while playing Gold Glove defense at second (which he didn't win either).

It boggles my mind how Utley doesn't get more MVP love. He's been one of the top five players in the National League for the past five years. He's clearly the Phillies best positional player but still can't beat out Howard in MVP voting. It makes me sad. And whether you agree with me or not, you have to be impressed that I managed to turn a Justin Bieber post into a Chase Utley love fest.

At least Utley finally got to be on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vernon Wells Is An Upgrade From Juan Rivera, Right?

Yesterday I took a look at Mike Napoli vs Vernon Wells as hitters. And while this isn't becoming an Angels blog, it does seem like I have an awful lot to write about them lately. I think the guys over at the Orange County Register are egging me on though. Dan Woike recently wondered "Was Angels' Juan Rivera That Bad?" I'm not sure what his answer was because I'm allergic to slideshows but it did get me thinking.

How much better is Wells compared to Rivera? It's a little easier to compare the two since they're both 32-year-old outfielders. And Wells has a clear advantage in Wins Above Replacement because Rivera has the mobility of a wounded pylon (except for his outlying 2009 season). Click image to embiggen.

In terms of overall value, Wells is clearly the superior player even with him, hopefully, moving to left field. But in pure hitting terms, you might as well flip a coin. Yes, I am still using wOBA and, as always, click to enlarge.

These aren't especially comforting graphs for Angels fans. Now, I'm not saying Rivera is close to the player that Wells is because he isn't. I'd much rather have Wells than Rivera in a vacuum but we can't ignore the Wells contract.

Could the Angels have suffered through a Bobby Abreu/Juan Rivera left field and found better production from a Manny Ramirez or Johnny Damon designated hitter? If we turn a blind eye to defense for this experiment, I think the answer is yes. Plus that assortment of players could have just been a place holder until Mike Trout arrives.

Of course, this has just become a "could have, should have" exercise for me at this point. Actual results may vary.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crazy Guy To Manage AA Baseball Team

It's official: Walter Wayne Backman is just two steps away from a major league dugout. The Double-A Binghamton Mets named former infielder Wally Backman their manager Monday, paving the way for a public spectacle at Citi Field in mid-April, 2014 involving a table of cold cuts (mostly salami) landing on the on-deck circle, and the abduction of Mr. Met.

Backman has been Jose Canseco with room and board and without a boxing match against Danny Bonaduche since retiring from baseball after the 1993 season. He was manager of the Diamondbacks for four days; DUI; assault; shouting profanity at mailboxes (speculation). Then he delighted us all with a squirrel-in-a-fish tank meltdown while managing the South Georgia Peanuts of the independent South Coast League.

Backman has had a number of minor league managerial jobs in the Whitesox, Diamondbacks and Mets organizations, but this seems like one of the last stops for Walter before he finally gets the big league job we should all be hoping he gets. He interviewed for New York's major league job before it went to Terry Collins, but I'm convinced if he does well at Binghamton, he will be in a big league dugout. Think Ozzie Guillen, but with no sense of humor and more death threats to bat boys.

Mike Napoli Versus Vernon Wells And It's Not Pretty

An insufferable amount of words have been written about how bad the Vernon Wells trade was from the Angels aspect. We get it. The contract is an albatross, Wells is a 32-year-old declining outfielder, his splits last year were a nightmare of Freddy Krueger proportions, Tony Reagins has a drinking problem, et cetera, et cetera... I know it hasn't been completely lost in the shuffle but the Angels also traded away the best hitter in this deal.

The fallacy I keep hearing from Angels fans is that Mike Napoli wasn't one of Mike Scioscia's "guys" or he wasn't wanted in Anaheim or he wasn't going to get playing time anyway or the Angels didn't want to pay him the $6 million or so he was going to win in arbitration. Maybe, but by trading Napoli, the Angels made the Blue Jays better and themselves considerably worse. The Angels will go into 2011 with Jeff Mathis, a career .199/.265/.311* hitter, as their starting catcher. But this post isn't about how bad Mathis is, and he is bad, it's about how underrated Napoli is compared to Wells.

*I accidentally copied Mathis' OBP/SLG/OPS line first and thought we were all terribly misinformed. Then I realized I missed the actual AVG/OBP/SLG line and Mathis is worse than I ever imagined.

I don't think the majority of people do realize that Napoli has been a better hitter than Wells over the past three or four seasons and will probably continue to be so over the duration of Wells' cashrific contract. For illustrative purposes, let's take a look at the career Weighted On Base Averages (wOBA) for Napoli and Wells. For those new to wOBA, you can read about it here. Click image to enlarge.

As you can see, Napoli has had a higher wOBA for each season since 2007 except for 2010. The Wells supporters like to point at the bounce back season of 2010 hoping it is an encouraging sign for things to come. Unfortunately, Wells' big 2010 season was aided by a massive power spike in Toronto.

Park Factors HR Rates 
YearAngels StadiumRogers Center

So I would caution any Angels fans who are hoping Wells will be bringing 30 home run power to Anaheim. Wells has as good a chance of repeating his 2010 season as I do being Scarlett Johansson's rebound. Obviously, I hope I'm wrong in both cases.

The other concern about Wells is his splits. He hasn't hit lefties over the past two seasons and was atrocious on the road last year. Napoli isn't going to hit for a high average and he struggled with right handers this past season but absolutely crushes southpaws. He is also a pretty consistent hitter at home or on the road.

Vernon Wells   
Yearvs RHPvs LHPHomeRoad
201027 HR .291/.342/.5534 HR .195/.289/.35420 HR .321/.363/.62811 HR .227/.301/.407
200912 HR .278/.322/.4253 HR .206/.279/.3238 HR .214/.285/.3487 HR .300/.335/.444
200818 HR .290/.328/.5092 HR .333/.394/.45511 HR .296/.347/.5029 HR .304/.339/.490

Mike Napoli   
Yearvs RHPvs LHPHomeRoad
201016 HR .208/.277/.42310 HR .305/.399/.56713 HR .240/.324/.48013 HR .237/.307/.456
200914 HR .251/.325/.4536 HR .337/.422/.61110 HR .230/.332/.48010 HR .308/.365/.514
200816 HR .270/.364/.5904 HR .286/.406/.57110 HR .250/.356/.54210 HR .299/.394/.636

I would love to be wrong about Wells but the numbers suggest he's on the decline and has lost the ability to hit left handed pitching. His spike last season was a clear product of the Rogers Center becoming a hitters park for 2010. I doubt this is one of those "change of scenery will do him good" scenarios. But who knows, maybe the Angels have the Fountain of Youth hidden in the outfield rocks.

Napoli, on the other hand, is poised for a big 2011 season and won't cost the Jays the price of a small island.

As an Angels fan, it isn't fun being the bearer of doom and gloom.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Obligatory Vernon Wells Trade Post

Angels fans were promised a "big splash" by General Manager Tony Reagins and, dammit, he delivered. By now, thousands of words have been written about the Angels decision to send Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to Toronto for Vernon Wells and his bloated $80+ million contract. The trade, as you should know, has been universally crushed from the Angels point of view except for the frighteningly optimistic James of True Grich.

As the resident Angels fan, I feel obligated to post something about the trade even though I don't think I have much to add. I'd love to be optimistic and I do like Wells but I'm afraid advanced metrics and the Internet have ruined by ability to be a "die hard" fan anymore. It's almost sad in a way.

The starved for offense Angels traded for a center fielder who hit 31 home runs, 44 doubles and a .273/.331/.515 line in 2010. Twelve-year-old me would have been ecstatic about this trade. Instead, I immediately began trying to figure out how much of Wells' contract Toronto would have to eat for the deal to make sense. If they ate $30M + the $10M or so saved from Rivera and Napoli, then Wells would just have to be a 2.5 WAR player each of the four years of the remaining contract. That is providing Wells will move to a corner outfield spot and not cost the Angels runs by playing center. That was my rough estimate anyway.

Of course, the Blue Jays only sent $5 million back to Anaheim and the trade looks like a financial disaster for the Angels. But as a fan, I kept digging through Fangraphs and scouring Twitter to find a silver lining. Much like quicksand though, the harder I tried, the worse it got. I could ramble on about his splits or declining defense or what $75 million could have bought but it's all rather depressing.

It's hard to imagine this is the same Tony Reagins who orchestrated the heist of Dan Haren last season. But what's done is done now. No amount of analysis or whining will reverse this deal. Unless you have a time machine, do you have a time machine? No? Well, then, all Angels fans can do is continue to support the team and root for Wells to prove the pundits wrong or at least less wrong. That hasn't exactly worked with that Gary Matthews Jr signing but at least the Angels are only paying him $10 million for one more season.

The Mike Trout era can't get here fast enough.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ohio Is Trying To Out-Fat The Rest Of America

Occasionally, I'm going to rant about some nonsense and try to tie it into baseball. I can't promise it will always work. But let's see what happens.

Easily my favorite thing about minor league baseball is the caloric killers that teams invent to see if they can get your Uncle Jeb to sweat beef in August. In light of Ohio falling from 10th to 12th in percentage of obese residents, the Akron Aeros have stepped up their game for 2011. So tuck that bib into your moo moo and say a prayer for that elastic waistband, let's see what the Aeros are going to fill your lunch wheelbarrow with this season.

Three Dog Night

Unveiled in December, the Three Dog Night makes the Dodger Dog look like a cocktail wiener (hee-hee). Pure emasculation. Here's the full description...
Named after the late-60s rock band that popularized the song “Joy to the World,” the Aeros will be serving up a trio of ballpark favorites…all in one edible item. That is correct: the Three Dog Night will consist of a hot dog, inside of a bratwurst, inside of a kielbasa. And if that isn’t enough, the entire “dog” will be stuffed inside of a hoagie roll and topped with sauerkraut.
Weighing in at over a pound and an estimated 3,300 calories, the TDN is sure to shut down at least a few arteries. But at just $7, you might as well order a few. I assume your wife has your cardiologist on speed dial anyway. Huh, fatty?

Nice 2 Meat You Burger

This is the true inspiration of this post. I mean, who doesn't want their heart attack to come from a food pun? It's every mid-westerners dream. It looks like the Fifth Third Burger has finally met its match. Here are the deets...
Doubling the weight of the Three Dog Night, the new burger comes equipped with a 1.75 pounds of hamburger meat, stuffed with a half pound of hot dog, and a quarter pound of bacon, cheese, and onions.
The Nice 2 Meat You comes served on two kaiser rolls and, if you finish it, a bucket of shame and regret. Look at that thing. I'm not even sure how you would go about eating it but I'm pretty sure the ability to unhinge your jaw is a prerequisite.

The scariest part is that the Aeros plan on revealing one more gut buster before the season begins. My guess is a deep dish pizza made up of layers of hamburger and hot dogs topped with chili and M&Ms.

MLB Needs More Chicken Fighting

This is the most ridiculous and awesome baseball brawl I've ever seen. Those krazy Koreans. It's been on Youtube for three years but somehow managed to escape my viewing pleasure until NotGraphs resurfaced it today.

Brilliant. This is how Derwood and I will settle all future arguments at the Off Base headquarters.

Caught Looking 1/21

Here are some links from my fellow BBA General Chapter brethren to help you make it to your lunch break on Fridays.

*I was excited for my friend Mike at The Golden Sombrero when I heard he was getting direct messages from 2010 third overall pick Manny Machado. Turns out Manny just wants him to buy Apple products. I could use an iPad with already loaded on it if you're buying.

*The great Larry Granillo at Wezen-Ball wonders why TV sitcoms in the 80's and 90's told us that diet or caffeine pills were bad for us but greenies were fine for ballplayers. And he provides an awesome video mash up including the famous Saved By The Bell clip. I'm so... scared.

*In a great post at The Platoon Advantage, Bill looks back and forward at Bill James' Hall of Fame predictions from 1995 through 2019. Then Bill drove me drink with his 3 Questions about the Angels.

*The Hall of Very Good has a very good post on Vinny Castilla's retirement from baseball. He apparently took the Rickey Henderson approach to retiring from baseball.

*Jason from the aptly titled Jason's Baseball Blog does a pretty thorough job reviewing prospects. In this one, he looks at the Angels Jean Segura. I plan on spending most of the 2011 Angels season obsessing over Segura and Mike Trout. And cursing Tony Reagins and Scott Downs.

*Figure Filbert takes a look at how ridiculously consistent Jason Hammel was over the past two seasons except for ERA.

*Flagrant Fan makes a case for Jose Bautista having an even better 2011 season if he can just muster a few more multi-hit games. Toronto might want to get this linked blocked in Canada during the arbitration process.

*Rational Pastime has some interesting data on construction trends of stadiums between the NFL and MLB.

*Aaron make a case for Andy Pettitte's HOF candidacy using the always fun Player A through Player F comparison game. I thought I was going to get more right in that game. For more BBA General Chapter links, check in with Blogging From The Bleachers.

*Finally, our own Derwood's dad played in the Cubs' minor league system back in the day (or has a crazy imagination). Sometimes he shares some stories with us. You don't won't to miss the one about the onion picker girl.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eric Chavez Worked Out, DL Stint Upcoming

Once-upon-a-time third baseman Eric Chavez worked out for the Dodgers in Arizona Thursday. He has also reportedly worked out for the Yankees, Blue Jays and Mariners. I'd suggest he takes the first offer he gets because another work out will surely send him in for more back surgery.

Chavez came up with the A's in 1998 and won six consecutive Gold Gloves from 2001-2006 but his baseball expiration date came in 2007. In '07, Chavez managed to play in 90 games and saw his OBP fall to .306. Watermarks he would never reach again. Chavez played in 23 games in 2008, eight in 2009 and 33 in 2010. Last season, Chavez admitted his career might be over because swinging a bat was uncomfortable and he had numbness in his shoulders.

Yet, he's attempting another comeback. The AL teams are looking at him as a DH possibility. Sure, why not? The 33-year-old hit 18 home runs and a .233/.290/.399 line over the past four seasons. The Dodgers make even less sense considering Chavez has the mobility of a traffic cone.

I have nothing against Chavez as long as he doesn't end up as the Angels 2011 third baseman. Besides, he's an easy joke. I give you exhibit A...

Well, they can't all be winners.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Angels At The Hot Corner

The Angels off-season was filled with ups and downs and as a fan masochist, I wanted to take a look at just how bad their third base situation is. After losing out on Adrian Beltre, the Halos are left with Maicer Izturis, Brandon Wood and Alberto Callaspo to man the hot corner. It may look bad on paper but it's even worse when you say it out loud and people give you the stink eye. Here are the aforementioned players' WAR Graph by age (via Fangraphs). Click to enlarge.

Ruh-roh. Izturis is the proud owner of a career high 3.0 WAR (in 2009) between the three of them and Wood has yet to crack a 0.0 WAR in the majors. Just roughly looking at the 2010 seasons of this trio of trepidation, it doesn't look like the Angels can plan on getting more than a combined 1.5 WAR from this rotation.

I've been known to be delusional at times so allow me to put on my optimism hat for a minute before I have a panic attack. If the winds all blow the right way, they could at least be league average at third. All three have the potential to be a tick better than average at defense. Izturis and Callaspo could get their OBPs back into the .330-.340 range. And if Wood was granted a wish during the off-season, he might be able to reach a .300 OBP.

Wood was the future of the Angels power hitters but that ship has sailed and was probably sunk by pirates. But if the crew can combine for 18-20 home runs, the Angels' perfect storm would be Michael Young's 2010 season with better defense.

An Evening With Pops Derwood

Pops Derwood is practically a celebrity in his living room, so we've asked him to bring that fame and a .205 career batting average to Offbase and share a story or two about his illustrious career in the Chicago Cubs organization. His book, I Didn't See That Fast Ball, But I Heard It, is not scheduled for release until January, 2012, but here is an excerpt.

More Tales from the Low-and I mean Low-Minor Leagues

Sorry to use an old-timers term, but all I could say was ‘yowza yowza yowza.’ The woman that walked into our trailer with Pete LaCock’s summer girlfriend was a knockout. Blond, busty...oh, and smelly.

The smelly part was that she was picking onions in this small, South Dakota town for a summer job (the summer job should have been the first hint of trouble to come). So, she smelled like an onion.

I had no intention of doing anything that would cause me trouble. I was practically engaged and though I was also lonely as hell sitting in rookie ball in the Pioneer League, this was strictly a ‘look at the menu but don’t taste’ situation. Of course, she and her friend weren’t thinking that way at all. Way before Susan Sarandon and that other girl were following the minor league team in Bull Durham, groupies were following team buses in the bushes of Idaho, too. And these girls actually followed the bus. When we had 13-hour bus rides to places like Ogden, Utah, some of our players would actually find their girlfriends following the bus and sleeping god knows where (we knew where), and showing up at the ballpark at night.

I must say I was intrigued that this very pretty, onion picker was following the bus and kept talking to me. But I was a good boy from start to finish. Not only didn’t I touch her, I didn’t encourage her and didn’t invite her to follow me anywhere, which is going to be real important to this story as you will find out in a minute.

As for Pete? Well, Pete was the No. 1 draft choice, which made him different (I found out just how different when I slept on the floor of his apartment after getting shipped to Caldwell, rolled over in the morning and saw his bats with his freakin’ name on them in a box. My bats said K55 and didn’t have anybody’s name on them, especially not mine). Pete was different because he was from California, and the son of Peter Marshall of Hollywood Squares fame. He was going to the big leagues and he was going to break whatever rule he wanted to break and though our manager, the great Sparky Davis, fined him so much he was borrowing money from me to buy his chew, Pete was less concerned than me about rules.

So what’s the importance of my not having been a bad boy? Well at the team's season-ending party at the palatial and beautifully-appointed Holiday Inn, a guy with cowboy boots, chew in his mouth and a shirt that looked like he had just shat in it and put it back on, sidled up to me.

“So you been hanging out with ____ huh?” (the onion picker).

“Nope I ain’t been hanging out with anyone. She just follows the damn bus.”

“Well, that’s good.”

“Why’s that?”

Drum roll....

”'Cause she’s 14.”

I didn’t even say ‘how old?’ or anything like that. I just ran away as fast as I could and headed to my room to hide under my bed to wait for the school bus that was driving us to the airport the next day.

Looking back, the school bus was quite fitting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We'll Always Have June 2nd, Armando

On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce became famous. It was probably the seventh post I had written here when Joyce famously blew a call preventing Galarraga from a perfect game. For Galarraga, it appears it was all down hill from there. He was very forgiving of Joyce and took the blown call like a champ. Soon after, he was sent down for a minor league stint and finished the season with a 4.49 ERA and a 5.09 FIP (fielding independent pitching) in 144.1 innings.

2011 is has started out just as turbulent for the freshly turned 29-year-old Tiger pitcher. From MLB Trade Rumors...
One day after agreeing to terms with him on a $2.3MM contract for 2011, the Tigers have designated Armando Galarraga for assignment. The team announced the move on Twitter, while making its deal with Brad Penny official.

Galarraga's contract is non-guaranteed, though the Tigers would owe him termination pay if they were to release him.
That's a pretty severe two-day rollercoaster of emotion. I hope Galarraga didn't spend that money opening a Five Guys franchise in Detroit yesterday.

Galarraga is a fringy starter anyway posting career bests in 2008 with 178.2 innings and a 3.73 ERA. But you still have to feel for the guy. He might have millions of dollars snatched away from him in just a day or, even worse, get sent to Toledo.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Is A Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton?

And how did this get by me? I know this isn't exactly breaking news but I'm bored. Apparently, young Marlins slugger Mike Stanton has a whole front half of his name that I didn't know about. The full, and much awesomer, name of the outfielder is Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. Here's the origin story behind the full name which will be what I call him on this site henceforth...
The Jacksonville Suns [published on 4/28/10 - Ed.] right fielder’s name is listed on his birth certificate as “Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton,” a long name for a long-ball hitter. The first half was given to him by his mother of Puerto Rican and African-American descent, and the second half is the same name as his Irish father.
By 5th grade, Stanton's name had been abused so much by teachers that he just went by Mike. I like to think that he was so hurt by the mispronunciations that he took his frustrations out on baseballs.

Legend (that I made up) has it that he used to come home so upset that his mom would toss him batting practice to cheer him up. This was where he developed the crushing power he now displays with the Marlins. As a 9-year-old, he routinely belted his mom's 15-mph pitches 400 feet into Panorama City's neighboring town of Rustic Gardens.

When he was 10-years-old he hit a ball so far it landed in a crabby old-man's backyard where he kept a giant, angry dog that chewed up baseballs. Little Mikey Stanton had no idea that that ball was his dad's prized possession and signed by Babe Ruth. Hijinx would ensue but I can't tell you the rest of the story due to copyright laws.

In Giancarlo's first 396 plate appearances with the Marlins, he hit 22 homers and a .259/.326/.507 line. The power is legit and 40 home runs are in his future. Bill James has him pegged for 38 homers and .268/.355/.556 for 2011. I thought I owed you guys some actual facts after wasting your time with the rest of that nonsense.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best. Wiffle Ball Pitcher. Ever.

*sigh* I used to be proud of my Wiffle Ball pitching prowess in the early 90s. Then Hardball Talk alerted me to the greatest Wiffle Ball pitcher in the history of everything. It made me happy and sad quicker than when I saw Bambi when I was five. Let's go to the tape...

I struck out seven times watching that.

I'm also inclined to believe my grandma was just placating my ego back during my playing days. She struck out a lot but blamed it on not being able to see and being old. Now I have to question my ability.

This turn of events has shaken my baseball knowledge to its core. Does Jack Morris belong in the Hall of Fame now? I'm so confused.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brady Anderson Teaching Mark Reynolds To Not Strikeout

Well, well. It looks like former Orioles star outfielder Brady Anderson has found a nice secondary career as a trainer/hitting instructor in Southern California. Working out in the sun all day sounds like a nightmare to me but I'm Irish and the most extensive lifting I do is moving a laptop around. I do some solid reps with six ounce adult beverages but that's just for tone not bulk.

Anyway, Anderson recently had a little Q&A with The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro and he spoke specifically about one of my favorite players...
Q: What have you been working on with Reynolds?

A: He gets himself in a situation where he's late, he waits until the last second and swings as hard as he can. That's a mechanical flaw - not him being stubborn. When you're late and you don't have proper rhythm and timing, you chase high fastballs with two strikes, you check swing and strike out on sliders in the dirt. ... It doesn't really matter that he strikes out. Sure, you'd like to eliminate them. You don't have to take them from 200 down to 100. Ideally with him, the difference in a tiny little incremental improvement, if he went from 215 (strikeouts) to 185 ... then the whole season changes.
I love Mark Reynolds but this is scary news for me. I spend way too much time during the season watching Reynolds' box scores awaiting just one more strikeout to crown him with another Golden Sombrero. He even won our first annual Golden Sombrero of the Year Award but, for some reason, still has not contacted me for his Off Base t-shirt prize.

Now, Reynolds is taking his Ks to Baltimore and has turned to Anderson for help. This is very disconcerting for me as I was fully expecting a 437 strikeout season against the power arms in the AL East. I'm no scout but in the 30 seconds that I took to skim this interview, it sounds like Anderson knows what he's talking about. Rhythm, timing and not striking out all sound like keys to not striking out.

I'm sure I've thrown around some perfectly unfounded opinions on Anderson's silly (steroidy?) 50 home run season but he only struck out over 100 times in just five seasons and his watermark was 111. Anderson was a 18.3% strikeout rate guy compared to Reynolds' fantastic (for me) 38.7% rate.

I'm not happy about this and will be monitoring the situation closely.

Second-Best Closer of All Time Retires

Padres great and Brewers pitcher Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement today, ending an 18-season, Hall of Fame career. Hoffman, the all-time leader in saves with 601, had his best season 1998 when he helped the Pads reach the World Series with a 265 ERA+ and a career high-tying 4.0 WAR. The righty struggled last season with Milwaukee, posting a 5.89 ERA and allowing 68 base-runners in 47 innings pitched, but through 2009 was the most dominant closer in the game not named Mariano Rivera. Now I'm not about to take anything away from Hoffman, but

Time for me to stop talking about Trevor Hoffman

Greatest closers of all time

1. Mariano Rivera
73. Trevor Hoffman and others

Caught Looking

Caught Looking is MTD's links that thought that curveball was just a bit outside.

*There can be only one Highlander. MLB Trade Rumors reports the Cubs have claimed Max Rameriz. That leaves the struggling Taylor Teagarden as the only catcher left in the once vaunted Rangers' backstop trio. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was dealt to the Red Sox during the 2010 season and they also briefly claimed Ramirez.

*Back to MLB Trade Rumors for a sec, the Angels are still in on Scott Podsednik. My thoughts on this potential signing involve a combination of a toilet flush and bicycle horn which I haven't been able to find on Youtube or created on my own yet.

*Our friend Mike over at The Golden Sombrero looks at what the signing of Will Ohman means for Chris Sale's future in the White Sox rotation. He makes some very good points but I think Sale is an asset in the bullpen right now and would hate to see him get the "Joba treatment."

*You all know how good Larry Granillo is at writing about baseball. Well, Wezen-Ball has a new look and it's finally time to rank the Kids In The Hall. My vote is Dave Foley (loved News Radio), Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch and then Scott Thompson.

*The guys over at The Platoon Advantage had a blog fight over Jack Morris' HOF worthiness. And the Common Man might have won me over with his Mona Lisa example but I was already loaded on Absinthe and half way through figuring out Da Vinci's code that's going to lead me to a pot of gold.

*Our BBA General Chapter pres is doing this much better than I am right now. So in the meantime, enjoy Blogging From The Bleachers roundups here and here.

I promise I'll get better at these once somebody shows me when this 7 a.m. happens.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jose Canseco Tweet of the Day

Even Pablo Sandoval Is Getting In Shape?

Let's face it, we're 10 days into the new year and you're actually up three pounds from the time that you announced this was the year you'd finally get in shape. But all you've done is driven by the gym twice and learned how to roll your own breakfast burritos using pancakes, sausage and cookie dough. As long as we're being honest, I never really had much faith in you anyway.

But dammit, I only have a few fat baseball players left in the MLB and I don't appreciate them trying to improve themselves. First Bartolo Colon is attempting a comeback by not being fat and now Pablo Sandoval is trying to shed some of his panda weight to improve on his disappointing 2010 season. Here are the deets from Henry Schulman from the SF Gate...
Dunston has not seen Sandoval this winter, but Rich Aurilia has.

Aurilia lives in Phoenix and told me today he saw Pablo at a shopping mall just before Christmas. Sandoval told him he had lost 17 pounds.

Last week, Sandoval was in Venezuela and held a news conference at a baseball museum. According to reports in the Venezuelan papers, Sandoval said he lost 16 "kilos" with the goal of dropping 24 by the start of spring training. I've been told that something got lost in the translation and he meant "pounds." Sixteen kilos would be more than 35 pounds. Twenty-four kilos would be nearly 53 pounds. Nobody's expecting Sandoval to slim down that much.
Let's hope something was lost in translation. I'll be crushed if Sandoval went all Al Roker on us and looks like a deflated balloon version of himself playing third base. I've grown to love the Sandoval who roams the infield like a Hungry-Hungry-Hippo with what appears to be a mustard stain of his jersey and/or pants.

Giants fans surely will be pleased that Sandoval is working on bouncing back after his slash line tumbled from .330/.387/.556 to .268/.323/.409 in just one year. But as a fan of fat baseball players, I'll be sending care packages to Bobby Jenks and hoping for a David Wells comeback.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rays Avoid Arbitration With Garza

Yikes. I thought the Angels were having a poor offseason. The Rays continued their "it's not really a fire sale" fire sale by dealing pitcher Matt Garza to the Cubs before he could hit arbitration for the second time. Rays fans, both of them, already had to deal with losing Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano to free agency. Luckily for the Rays, it sounds like Jose Canseco is ready for his prodigious return to the baseball world and that just sounds like fun for the whole family.

What it means for the Rays
Uh, believe it or not, it doesn't mean that much. Garza is a fine pitcher but I don't think they miss a beat plugging Jeremy Hellickson into the rotation full time. The only fallout to the Rays rotation from this trade might be the removal of Jake Shields from the trading block. The Rays get Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee and Sam Fuld from the Cubs to bolster their farm system.

Archer was the Cubs third best prospect according to Baseball Prospectus (or Kevin Goldstein if you're keeping score at home) but has some command issues to deal with before becoming a star. Lee was the fifth best prospect but his future short stop endeavors were blocked by Sterlin Castro similar to his new blockage at short by Reid Brignac. Guyer and Chirinos were 11 and 12 respectively but BP expects me to pay for any insight into them. Jerks, trying to make money and whatnot.

What it means for the Cubs
Garza jumps into the mix as the number two starter for the Cubs with Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano. And one of those guys is going to have to the ace. My guess is that the Cubs rehash how much money they'll have to eat to move Zambrano and his psychiatry bills. It doesn't seem like a big hit to their minor league system that was already devoid of any big impact guys.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Send Me Your Extra Angels Giveaway Swag

It's been a rough Hot Stove League for Angels fans unless you really dig 35-year-old middle relievers. Then this offseason was like Christmas took your birthday out to a nice dinner at In-N-Out Burger and then made sweet love to it in the back of a station wagon. After the Angels finished below .500 for the first time my attention deficit riddled brain can ever remember, owner Arte Moreno declared the team would make a big splash in free agency and he was willing to hand out some straight cash homey. But the Halos were left holding only lefty relievers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi after the whirlwind of $100 million contracts settled.

Before you panic and trade your season tickets for bags of oranges on the freeway, my fellow Angels fans, I have good news. What Arte didn't spend on improving the team, he's making up for in kick-ass giveaways. They might not be as cool as the Pirates offering season ticket holders the opportunity to bat cleanup on Sunday games or run the franchise day at the trade deadline but the Angels are giving away some pretty nice keepsakes. The full list of promotions can be found here. What follows, dear Anaheim readers, is the list of crap I want and what I'm willing to pay for it...

5/10/11 Angels Wrestling Mask - Full shipping and I'll write 150 words about whatever you'd like me to. That could be anything from a post here to your E-Harmony profile to the eulogy for your uncle Clint. Let's face it, he's not doing so hot.

5/24/11 Kendry Morales Bobblehead - 1/2 shipping for broken leg model, one free rental at Blockbuster for healthy two legged model.

7/5/11 Angels Sock Monkey - Full shipping and an autographed picture of me from my high school roller hockey MVP season OR an autographed Wiffle Ball from the summer of 1993 when I struck out 39 hitters during a double header.

8/4/11 Angels Flat Billed Plaid Hat - You pay shipping and I agree never to wear it in public.

8/18/11 Angels Gnome Bobblehead - The rest of an authentic New Orleans muffuletta that I was eating until I realized I don't like olive salad. I'm willing to autograph the sandwich if you plan on incasing it in plastic instead of finishing it.

8/23/11 Angels Rally Monkey Chia Pet - This is my second favorite next to the wrestling mask so I'll pay the shipping. Plus I'll write a post about how sick I get after I try to smoke the Chia clippings.

9/24/11 Angels Gumball Machine - You pay airfare, food and liquor and I'll come live in your basement for a week.

If any of these wonderful prizes pique your interest, feel free to email me at or DM me on Twitter @mnkysthrwngdrts.

Prices and participation may vary. Offers are subject to change without notice.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hall Of Fame Rewind

The BBWAA survived a little website hackeration earlier today but righted the ship in time to announce Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar are the 2011 Hall of Fame class. I won't spend much time discussing Blyleven and Alomar because, let's face it, they're both Hall worthy.

Blyleven spent more time sweating it out but his career 90.1 WAR was not to be excluded again. And yes, I realize that only around six voters are spending time pouring over Wins Above Replacement. Fine, I understand that some of these voters are set in their old-school ways and won't embrace the new metrics because they didn't get the typewriter with dial-up access to AOL. To those voters, I submitted his willingness to drop the f-bomb live on air and his awesome beard from his Angels days. So I did my part.

Alomar on his second year on the ballot picked up an extra 126 votes for a whopping 90.0%. Alomar hit .300/.371/.443 over his career while playing overrated defense. That is not to say that Alomar wasn't a very good second baseman but should not be confused as the greatest fielder at his position. But again, I have no qualms over Alomar's selection or deservedness. Even the jump from 73.7% to 90.0% isn't that big of a surprise considering the amount of voters who simply won't consider any player during their first year of eligibility.

HOWEVER, that last point is no excuse for Jeff Bagwell receiving only 41.7% of the "yes box" punches. Bagwell hit 449 home runs and .297/.408/.540 over his career which would make him one of the top five first basemen in the sport's history. For a guy who was never connected to steroids, he sure does have a lot of suspicion surrounding him now. Bags HAS to get in eventually and you should be able to tell how serious I am about this because I used all caps for two words in this paragraph.

Tim Raines fell short again and will immediately become the new Bert Blyleven for all of the crusading, basement-dwelling writers. Raines might be taking a hit for his flirtation with cocaine. I actually hope that's the reason because I can't see a reason to keep the second best leadoff hitter of all time out of the Hall. Yet, I don't understand how cocaine can be condemned on a different level from that of the amphetamine usage during the 70's.

I'm nowhere close to be included in the BBWAA because I believe they have a rule that a writer should have more than four readers to be included in their club. Stupid secret handshake elitists. But I did get a ballot for the BBA. The BBA also recommended just Alomar and Blyleven and you can see the full voting here. Here is my ballot followed by career WAR and the actual BBWAA totals for each player...

1. Bert Blyleven, 90.1 WAR, 463 votes, 79.7%

2. Jeff Bagwell, 83.9 WAR, 242 votes, 41.7%

3. Tim Raines, 71.0 WAR, 218 votes, 37.5%

4. Roberto Alomar, 68.2 WAR, 523 votes, 90.0%

5. Mark McGwire, 70.6 WAR, 115 votes, 19.8% (down from 23.7% from last year)

6. Larry Walker, 72.2 WAR, 118 votes, 20.3%

7. Barry Larkin, 69.8 WAR, 361 votes, 62.1% (3rd best this year, next year's best shot)

8. Edgar Martinez, 71.6 WAR, 191 votes, 32.9%

9. Rafael Palmerio, 75.5 WAR, 64 votes, 11.0% (doesn't look good)

10. Kevin Brown, 77.2 WAR, 12 votes, 2.1%

Kevin Brown receives this year's Price Is Right losing horn for, despite his HOF WAR, not reaching the 5% mark and is one and done in the Hall of Fame voting.

Defending My Benito Santiago HOF Vote

The 2011 Hall of Fame voting has commenced and Offbase has received a letter from the one writer who voted for former catcher Benito Santiago.

My name is Rory Carsdale and I'm a staff writer/backdoor look out for the Plumptin Valley Times. I'm here to defend my Hall of Fame vote for Benito Santiago. Oh, hang on, somebody moved my Marvell Wynne bobblehead doll...and it's NEXT TO MY HOLE PUNCHER?! Barry!

OK. First of all, let's remember:

1. 1987
2. Rookie of the Year

I'm not sure why I need to continue, but I will. Benito Santiago, a catcher, tried to throw out would-be base stealers by throwing from his knees. And sometimes those runners would be out. You know what the opposite of "out" is? "In". Which is what Santiago should be in relation to the Hall of Fame.

Let's take a look at Santiago's career numbers:

* 217 home runs. 259th all-time, one behind Bob Horner, who once hit four home runs in ONE GAME.
* 1,830 RBIs. Most career RBIs by a Santiago.
* 1991: led the majors in grounding into double plays with 21. You know how many HOFers have led their league in GIDP? I have no idea and I'm not looking it up, but my bet is zero. The Hall needs a GIDP champion, and that champion is Benito Rivera Santiago.

One final thought: in 2002 Santiago, at age 37, finished 20th in the NL MVP voting. Junior Spivey finished six spots ahead of Santiago. Am I saying Junior Spivey should get a HOF vote? Check back with me in 2012.