In 1881 the future National League wanted to upgrade its image and target a more upscale fan base by doubling ticket prices, banning gambling, and outlawing alcohol sales. Several team owners who happened to be brewers refused to accept the new rules and banded together to form what would eventually become the American League. The National League attempted to discredit the new league by dubbing it the Beer and Whiskey League. This, of course only made the new league more popular. Duh!

Friday, March 12, 2004

In A League of Their Own Tom Hanks berates his players by telling them, "There's no crying in baseball" Well, I'd like to add an addendum to that: there should also be no facial hair in baseball unless, of course, it make you look like a porn star (or, as Steve points out in an earlier blog, like Freddy Mercury ... but I guess there's really not a real big difference between looking like a porn star and looking like Freddy).

If you want a great example of baseball facial hair check out Edgar during his rookie year. Ladies and gentleman, here we see the sweetest stache meeting the sweetest swing in all of baseball.

But, if you want really bad examples of facial hair just take a look at Mr. Scott Fucking Spiezio or Chan Ho "Out of the" Park.This is just wrong and while I certainly have no love for the Yankees, I think Steinbrenner may be on to something by outlawing facial hair on his team.

I only bring this up because as I was doing my rounds of the goings-on in the AL West, I came across an article about Park's supposed rebound. This got me thinking, "rebound from what? From sucking a lot to sucking less?" When Boras got Hicks to sign that gargantuan contract for A-Rod I thought it was stupid to pay one player so much money but I could also see some logic. After all, at that point and still today, A-Rod was being touted as potentially the best player ever to play the game. If I squinted and looked slightly to my left at the right time of day I could see the logic in that signing. But giving Park a five-year, sixty-five million dollar deal completely baffled me then and baffles me now. You don't need to be a sabermetrician to understand that this is just way way way over value. No, Virginia, A-Rod's contract didn't sink the Rangers, Park's did. The fact there are absolutely no takers for Park -- that no team in their right mind would want any part of Park or his contract -- is a clear indicator that Boras pulled the proverbial wool over Hicks's eyes.

Contracts like Park's are usually reserved for Cy Young caliber pitchers – perhaps the likes of Pedro or Mussina not for middling guys like Park. Only once in his career did Park have an ERA under 3.50 and that was in 2000 when he went 18-10 with an ERA of 3.27. So, yes, he had a very good year but that was also the year Park was 27-years old. Not too surprisingly his two best years (2000 and 2001) correspond with the normal peak years of players (27 and 28 years old). Anyone could have predicted Park would steadily decline and when you add on top of that he would be moving from the expansive Chavez Ravine to the little bread box known as The Ballpark at Arlington, then the fact the steady decline turned into a rather fast freefall should surprise no one.

But, not to be such a naysayer, I would like to point out that Alfonso Soriano is going to have one hell of a year and that if he stays in Texas (rather than move over the Mets), Soriano will most certainly be a 40-40 player. To some extent, I think the Yankees got worse, at least for the short term, by giving away Soriano. If you look at Soriano's and Arod's raw numbers, they are actually pretty close.

Yes, A-Rod has better numbers but when you consider that A-Rod played in Arlington while Soriano played half his games in Yankee Stadium then the differences between miniscule. Also consider that A-Rod has been having a fairly steady decline in terms of both average and power. These numbers will drop even more in New York. Mark my words, sonny boy, for the next two years, Soriano will have better numbers than A-Rods. The one exception might be, of course, OBP. Despite a declining batting average, A-Rod has had a very consistent OBP which certainly speaks volumes about his patience at the plate (or Soriano's lack thereof).

S-2001 .268 .304 .432 .736
R-2001 .318 .399 .622 1.021

S-2002 .300 .332 .547 .879
R-2002 .300 .392 .623 1.015

S-2003 .290 .338 .525 .863
R-2003 .298 .396 .600 .996

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Pale Hose Outlooks

Bad news, good news and shouldn't-be news for the White Sox: 1) Willie Harris and Ozzie Guillen (bad); 2) Joe Crede (good); 3) Mark Buehrle (good); 4) Jose Valentine (duh); 543) the Sox (bad).

1. Two things come to mind when the name Ozzie Guillen comes up: he played hard and was a slick fielder; he talked a lot. Okay, maybe that's three things. At any rate, Ozzie's "National League style" of play seems to consist of more bunting and running; or, if you prefer, being "aggressive." That is, if Willie Harris is on base. That is, if Willie Harris manages to keep his starting spot at 2nd base, which he apparently earned by way of hitting .204 with 5 RBI last season in 137 at-bats. Okay, so your lead-off guy's not an RBI guy, so that's not fair, and 137 ABs is not a lot. But how about his .259 OBP?

It seems that Ozzie sees something in Willie Harris. Could it be his physical resemblance (in stature and speed) to Juan Pierre? That's all I can figure. With the proper guidance, perhaps Harris's incredible raw speed and mediocre defense could help the Sox out. According to Mr. Harris, Guillen "told me if I get thrown out, who cares? Be aggressive." Now that's a managerial style we can all get behind: "Who cares? Be aggressive." Somebody print the window decals and let's get this show on the road! It'll be like the Mariners' "Two Outs--So What?" campaign of a couple years ago, but with more aggression! What's that? Of course Scott Schoeneweis can bring his 5.08 career ERA with him! Hopefully, when Scott falls behind a batter, he'll be aggressive like Ozzie says and try to throw a fastball by the guy. If he hits a home run, who cares? Schoey will be out there all nine innings anyway, so he'll have plenty of time to make up for it.

2. In 2003, baby-faced Joe Crede hit .225 before the break, whiffing almost every other at-bat, almost always by swinging weakly at a breaking ball down and away. Think he was nervous about his first full season in The Show? Maybe, but he may have just been surprised that other teams had taken the time to scout him--or he may have also just fallen ill with the general funk that had infected the entire team through the first two months. After the break, during which he apparently watched those tapes his soon-to-be-fired hitting coach had given him, he hit .308 and cut his strikeouts down to roughly one every third at-bat. His OBP went from .277 to .349, his slugging went from .348 to .543 and he hit .352 for the month of August. Does this coincide with the emergence of "Crede's Crew," that bunch of shirtless waif boys in the bleachers? Does it matter? Look for Joe to hit in the .280 - .300 range this season and show another little bump in power. He's got a cannon for an arm and that strength should start to show up a bit more in his batting numbers now that he's more confident about when to take a bigger swing.

3. Yes, it was sad to see Bartolo Colon go. He's a quality pitcher. He built up his arm strength knocking coconuts out of trees with rocks (no, seriously, I think that's fucking rad). Last year for the White Sox he pitched right around his career ERA of 3.86 and ate up 242 innings (that wasn't all he ate). But could the White Sox really have afforded to keep him? They offered him roughly the same amount Anaheim did, per year ($12 million), but for fewer years. So Bart's off to SoCal and everybody's weeping their eyes out because the Bears suck and the writers at won't have any more colon (rhymes with "swollen") jokes to make in their headlines.

Luckily for the Southsiders, Kenny Williams did manage to sign Mark Buehrle--remember him?--to 3 yrs and $18 million. If Bartolo's worth $12 mil + per season, then Buehrle is a steal at this price. In 2003, he had an off year, in which he still managed to throw 230 innings, which is 18 and two-thirds more than the fellow with the calves everyone's talking about, Mark Prior (211.1). Buehrle's career ERA is better than Colon's, at 3.71, and while his strikeout ratio isn't that impressive (5.6 per 9 IP career), it's only about one strikeout less per 9 than Colon's over the past two seasons (6.7). Buehrle has also given up fewer home runs (71) than Colon (76) over the past three seasons. The fact that Colon throws 95-99 mph seems justification enough for people to think he's much better than he really is. I'm not arguing against his being talented and dominating at times, but over the long haul I don't think it would have behooved the White Sox to pay Versace money for a very durable pair of Levi's. By the way, that really was a paragraph about Mark Buehrle. It only seemed to be about Bartolo Colon.

4. Jose Valentin has announced that, in addition to looking more like Freddy Mercury than any other big-leaguer (well, he didn't announce that but it's true, and not because no one else resembles Freddy Mercury--Jeff Kent, anyone?), he's considering batting exclusively from the left side this season. Let's see, now: Valentin finished the 2003 season hitting .265 in 396 at-bats from the left side and .131 in 107 at-bats from the right. I just don't see it. I mean, why give up the statistical advantage of having that right-handed bat to go against lefty pitching? That would fly in the face of baseball logic.

543. As alluded to by Tommy in his posting of 9 March, it has indeed come to the point where the mainstream press refers to "the Sox" and everyone assumes they mean Boston. Fine. More on this business in my next, "supernatural" post. So, get out your talismans. Or is it talismen? Anyway.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

In today's page-two column on ESPN.COM, Eric Neel points out how all the hype over the Yankees and Red Sox are overshadowing some very exciting baseball being played out on the West Coast. In his blurb about the Mariners, Neel points out:

In Seattle, where folks are still reeling from the news that Norm Charlton's decided to retire, they've got Jamie Moyer, the 117-year-old marvel who started 33 games, went 21-7, struck out 129, and had an ERA of 3.27 last year. Can he possibly do that again? Haven't we been asking that same question about him for years now? They've also got Edgar Martinez, who's putting the finishing touches on the first-ever Hall-worthy career for a DH. At age 40, Edgar posted an OPS of .895. He walked nearly 100 times, drove in nearly 100 runs, hit 24 homers and 25 doubles. At age 40.

Neel's comments about Moyer sparked a thought I've been harboring the last year and that I'm now sharing with you my dear faithful readers. For all the talk/debate about Edgar's being a true hall-of-fame candidate (based of course on the tired old debate about the DH rule), I'd like to propose the rather novel idea that Jamie Moyer should also be considered a viable HOF candidate.

Moyer?!?!? Are you fucking kidding me? -- yes, that's what you must be thinking but let's consider the specific parameters for HOF Candidacy. As Daniel Greenia points out in Baseball Primer, there are no hard and fast rules for HOF eligibility but there are some very rough guidelines:
Are there any requirements, any written standards for voters to follow? Here is Rule #5 used by the Hall itself: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." This is clarified only slightly by Rule #6: "No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted." There is one statistical standard mentioned in Rule #3(B): "Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons."

If you take Rule #3B in conjunction with everything else, the bottom line is that during a ten-year span a player must have been one of the most dominant at his position. In other words, it's not necessarily about one's entire career (although that's certainly important) but how dominant one can be for an entire decade ... and as Prince says, "and that's a mighty long time" (well, he's talking about forever but let's not quibble).

Look at the following sets of numbers for two pitchers from 1996-2003:

1996-2003	Wins	Loss	Win %	ERA

Pitcher #1 136 62 .687 3.95
Pitcher #2 143 58 .712 3.78

Both records and ERA's are quite good but Pitcher #2 is obviously the better pitcher and, of course, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that Pitcher #2 is Jamie Moyer. Since coming to the Mariners in 1996 (in trade for Darren Bragg, he of the great .258 career batting average -- possibly the second-best trade in Mariner history ... yeah, and you know the first, don't you, George Costanza?), Jamie Moyer has the best winning percentage of any major league pitcher with more than 150 starts. No other pitcher since 1996 has dominated in terms of wins and losses. What makes this feat even more impressive is that most of those last eight seasons were spent in the not-so-very-friendly confines of The Kingdome.

Who is Pitcher #1? That my friends is none other than Roger Clemens. Look, I'm not stupid ... there is no way I'm going to claim that Moyer is a better pitcher than Clemens but, again, if one of the major parameters of the HOF is decade-long dominance then I think that if Moyer can continue to do what he has done for the next two years (the remainder of his Mariner contract, by the way) he then needs to be looked at as a serious HOF Contender.

So, the next time you hear someone mention Jamie Moyer you should stop them and say, "you mean, Hall of Famer, Jamie Moyer."

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Here's a quick scan of AL-related baseball news:

Vote for Lou offers a detailed analysis on Angels hitters have been able to do against the Mariner's pitchers. Most of the numbers are rather meaningless, in my humble opinion, as they reflect spring training stats as well as regular season stats and the sample size for some players is rather small. However, if you keep scrolling down, there are some great numbers for Angels starters from last year -- larger sample size in regular season games. I only wish Vote for Lou had included league-wide averages so that, for example, we could see how Tim Salmon's performance against the Mariners compared to his performance against the league as a whole. But, maybe that's just my being lazy since finding out a general stat like that is only a few clicks away.

In related news, the Seattle-PI has a story on how Ben Davis -- also known as Henry Rollins's kid brother -- is going to get chewed out for calling back-to-back changeups that resulted in back to back homeruns against the Angels (Guerrero and Guillen). While Davis's pitch calls may be questionable it seems awfully silly to bring this up as being some terrible fault. Davis had to deal with a young pitching prospect going against two very good hitters (well, one very good hitter and another who had a very good year last year thanks in no small part to the wonders of the hitter friendly confines of Cincinnati's Great America Ballpark.

Mr. Gammons over on ESPN.COM has a story on the rookie phenom, Joe Mauer, who by mostprojections may turn out to be the best all-around catcher (defensively and offensively) since Pudge. Gammons's story is interesting but if you want some real information on "The Phenom" I suggest you check out Aaron Gleeman's web page. As a Twins fan (although his page is not a Twins blog) he's obviously been following Mauer's career a lot more closely than most folks. Also, you should read him in general because he's a pretty good writer when he isn't going on about his various fantasy women.

The always entertaining Rob Neyer, also from ESPN.COM, has an article about the Twins and the Red Sox. While the article is certainly interesting in its own right, the link to the article from ESPN.COM's main baseball page is the primary reason I bring this up. If you look under the Rob Neyer menu on the right side of the page you will see the headline: Twins, Sox have questions. It struck me then that outside of the greater Chicagoland area, if you ever mention "The Sox" people are almost always going to assume you mean the Boston Red Sox and not the Chicago White Sox. As someone who is from Washington (the state, goddammit), I'm all too aware of how annoying that can be. That's got to be reason number 543 on why life as a White Sox fan is so incredibly painful.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Ok, so here's my first "real" post and at this point no one is probably reading this at all so I'm probably just writing a note to myself but the what the hell:

A professor once said to me that journalism was the lowest form of writing (apologies to my journalist friends). Well, if that were true then baseball beat writing has to be the all-time lowest form of journalism. Day in and day out you have to write about hometown nine, always coming up with stupid gimmicks, human interest stories, etc. to justify the print space. I read the two Seattle papers and the Tacoma paper on a daily basis to see what new hair-brained theory one of the local scribes may have cooked up regarding my beloved Mariners.

Well, the Seattle-PI in keeping up with the Mariner's front office dictum to keep all baseball-related business as warm and fuzzy as possible, has cooked up a series of "take-five" interviews with new and upcoming Mariners and the most recent take-five is with one Mr. Scott Fucking Spiezo (and yes, for as long as Scott Fucking Spiezo puts on a Mariner's uniform he will always be referred to as Scott Fucking Spiezo). The first of five questions tossed to him is:

In 2004 you can win the AL MVP or your band, Sandfrog, can have a No. 1 single. Which would you choose?

Now, it's bad enough that Scott Fucking Spiezo's band gets any press at all but to even make the most remote hypothetical suggestion that his band might one day have a number one single polluting the already polluted airwaves strikes me as possibly the most inane question ever put forth in the annals of baseball journalism... possibly bested only by the remotest possibility of Scott Fucking Spiezo actually being good enough to ever win an AL MVP. I mean it would be like someone asking me, "If you could be the all-powerful dictator of the entire Western hemisphere or the Eastern hemisphere, which would you choose?" Couldn't they have asked him a question that was rooted in the slightest bit of reality, perhaps, "What do you think looks more ridiculous: your facial hair or your batting stance?"

Ok, I got the team links up for the AL West. Once I get the AL Central and AL East reps on-board we'll have blog links up for them as well.