Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"Juiced" and a pathetic admission.

Okay here it is. The first book I ever have ever bought on the day it came out is "Juiced" by Jose Canseco. People are saying that you shouldn't buy this book because it feeds the steriod witch hunt and puts money in the pocket of a guy who's only out for a buck. Whatever. Let's put it out up front: I do not care who he claims did steroids. It's his word against theirs and I won't put a bit of faith in what he says. I bought this book because it should be one of the most delightfully retarded reads ever. My AIM away messages are filled with gems from this wonderful gentleman, who as far as I'm concerned is one of the most quoteable players ever. I plan on giving a full and complete review once I finish (which should be the end of the week, given the reading level of this thing) but here's a teaser for the two of you who can't wait:

Jose on Mark McGwire's "All-American Athlete" status in the late 80's:

"It's great to have that kind of backing from America. You are set. You can never do anything wrong. You could rob a bank while raping a cheerleader and nothing would happen to you."

All that from a book that reads like a cross between a Seventeen magazine and self-help book. This just might end up being the best book I have ever read.

In other news you know it's the offical start of spring training when the first Ken Griffey Jr. comeback/big season article rears it's head. Gentleman. Start your boners.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Oh dear god. I wrote way too much on the Brewers.

Milwakee Brewers 67-94, 6th place in the NL Central.

I am currently wearing a two sizes two small t-shirt commemorating Paul Molitor's 3000 hit, (which is done up in old school A.L. Brewers' colors and has entirely too much lettering), as an undershirt because I desperately need to do laundry. That combined with the boredom of talking A.L. East all the time has lead me to do a write-up on the Brewers. Oh boy Brewers fans, get ready for a season of some sort!



2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CChad Moeller349-10.7
1BLyle Overbay66853.5
2BJunior Spivey26315.1
3BWes Helms3063.4
SSCraig Counsell5518.7
RFGeoff Jenkins68126.1
CFScott Podsednik71319.3
LFBrady Clark42022.0
ULTBill Hall4152.5
----------
4366139.9


Wow. How about that huh? Apparently the only thing Chad Moeller did all season was hit for the cycle. Oh no wait, he did have 62 other hits besides those. Oof. Beyond Lyle Overbay, there was not much too be excited about last year for the Brewers. To be fair, Spivey did go down with a a season ending shoulder injury and having Craig Cousell's retarded batting stance play such a big role can't help your chances, but still. It's pretty clear why they finished behind everyone's favorite whipping boys, the Pirates. Bill Hall played significant time and showed that he's not really full-time material yet. Scott Podsednik had a very disappointing year, although his 70 stolen bases were impressive in that Trival Pursuit kind of way. Geoff Jenkins had a solid season, and in the surprise of the Brewers' year (non-Ben Sheets division), stayed healthy enough to play the most games in his career.



2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CDamian Miller2985.2
1BLyle Overbay52918.9
2BJunior Spivey37720.0
3BRuss Branyan23317.2
SSJ.J. Hardy35219.3
RFGeoff Jenkins52716.2
CFBrady Clark3071.5
LFCarlos Lee58425.7
ULTBill Hall3486.5
----------
TOTAL3555130.5


Thankfully Chad Moeller isn't the starter anymore, now that they have the Damian Miller. Would it be too much to ask that they sign Pat Borders as back-up too? I want my catching tandem pushing 75 combined. Last year when he was with Oakland, Miller split time with Adam Melhuse so expect Moeller to still be involved. Overall the Brewers lineup has some changes that should improve them at least slightly. Podsednik is gone, replaced by Brady Clark in center. Brady had an alright year, but he's 31 and only has 2 seasons with any sort of extended playing time under his belt. He's expected to compete with Dave Krynzel for the starting job this spring. Carlos Lee comes over from Chicago in the Podsednik trade coming off back to back great seasons. He's only 28 and seems to be entering his prime. A surprisingly good pickup for the Brewers. Overbay broke out last year, once again showing that the Diamondbacks are clueless. As long as Spivey is healthy, the Brewers right side of the infield looks to be pretty decent.

The left side however, is a question mark. Russell Branyan is penciled in to be the starting third baseman. While I have a soft spot for Rusty since me and my friend Jojo saw his 1999 September call up game on TV, I don't particularly think he's a good major league player. Looking at his expected plate appearances, someone going to have to pick up the slack. I would guess that would be Wes Helms, or perhaps Bill Hall. Feeling confident Brewers fans?

The front office is hoping that J.J. Hardy can make the leap from 100 or so games in the minors to be their starting shortstop. By the way, he dislocated his shoulder on a check swing, ending his season last year. I hope the kid can take it, because that's sounds like a pretty tall order. BP seems to think he'll have a decent year, but take that with a grain of salt. Have you seen Dustin Pedroia's projection? If he's not ready, Bill Hall will step in. Hall played a few positions last year due to the injuries, but was underwhelming. All depending on what happens with injury, experience, and horrific strikeouts (Hi Rusty), he'll probably end up getting a good amount of playing time. My prediction: No matter what happens on the field, their mascot goes down a slide when they hit a home run. That's pretty rad.

Pitching for the Brewers last year (and by pitching, I mean Ben Sheets and the emergence of Doug Davis) was a source of pride for their fans:



2004 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Doug Davis34207.348.8
Ben Sheets34237.066.8
Victor Santos28154.03.6
Wes Obermueller20118.0-4.5
Chris Capuano1788.31.6
Ben Hendrickson946.3-3.3
---------------
TOTAL142850.9113.0



Sheets exploded last season, breaking way, way, way the fuck out. He put up an ERA of 2.70, a 0.98 WHIP, and he had a strikeout to walk ratio of 8.25:1. He kept his team in every game by only going over 4 earned runs in a game 3 times (he let up 5 in a W, and 5 and 6 in losses.) Plus that 18K game against the Braves was a thing of filthy, filthy beauty. In a fair and just world, he wins the NL Cy Young. Why didn't he? He finished with a 12-14 record, that's why. Thanks a lot Brewers. His fantastic lineup gave him one of the worst run support ratios in the NL at 44/45 (runs against/runs scored). Call him the anti-Derek Lowe. Oh, and did I mention he had this season while pitching with a hernitated disc in his back? Doug Davis was a nice surprise and has emerged last year as a decent starter, and a lefty to boot. Beyond those two let's just say that last year Wes Obermueller was more valuable as a hitter than a pitcher. Oh and did you know Brooks Kieschnick was a pinch hitter, and a good one at that!? Yeah exactly. When you're talking about how good your pitchers hit...


2005 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Ben Sheets30215.054.7
Doug Davis26152.018.6
Victor Santos20120.06.3
Chris Capuano19121.014.7
Ben Hendrickson19109.012.8
Jose Capellan1589.08.9
---------------
TOTAL129806.0116.0



Next year looks like more of the same, but with more promise. Sheets is expected to continue his dominating ways, and his back is fixed. Depending on how much it actually affected him last year, we could see an amazing season from him. Doug Davis provides a good number 2 option, and then 4-5 pitchers battle it out for the last spots. Capuano's numbers were interesting last year and he showed some flashes of talent. The Brewers really seem to like Hendrickson and he'll get a chance to make the rotation. Obermueller is slated to start the season in the bullpen, but would probably return the rotation if necessary. Even if the bottom 3 or 4 of the rotation improve over their numbers last year, this staff should be better overall. Basically the Brewers are going to give their young talent every opportunity to shine next year, and enjoy Sheets' every start. I still don't expect them to do compete or anything crazy like that next year, but at least the race for 5th place should be interesting.

Here's the question though: are the Brewers going to be able to afford Sheets after this year? They signed him to a one year deal to avoid arbitration and want to get him on a multi-year deal sometime this spring. He's not going to be cheap, but he's also a great draw for a team that's just been sold. If the Brewers can't lock him down, I could see him being traded to someone who can around the deadline. Then again, maybe the Brewers will surprise me.


Mags is a done deal.

Holy crap. I have to admit that Scott Boras, as much as he has fucked up baseball, is pretty amazing. Granted they can void the deal if his knee acts up again, but still. Even if he was in perfect health they still payed way too much about 2 years too late. If you click on the link to the USS Mariner on the right, you'll see they do a much better run down of the deal then I could do. The summary: they basically they gave Vlad money to Kevin Mench at worst, Trot Nixon at best. Poor, poor Tigers. Ty Cobb must be spinning in his grave over the sad state of the Tigers. Oh and the fact that they gave a dirty minority that much money.

EDIT: That link is an old one. www.ussmariner.com

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cubbies

Yes, I agree fully that Burnitz is a product of Coors field. I guess considering the alternatives in the free market, they could have done a lot worse. Then again, not trading Sosa would have been a lot better from a baseball stand point. I also don't understand how missing one game, which he was fined and disciplined for, is worthy of immediate expulsion, but anyway. This Burnitz thing is worthy of an update to the Cubs forecast. BP did an article yesterday on the Sosa trade, and also laying out the Mets lineup later in the article (been there, done that).

So here's the revised table for the Cubbies.

2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CMichael Barrett50631.0
1BDerrek Lee68843.3
2BTodd Walker42425.0
3BAramis Ramirez60659.6
SSRamon Martinez2981.5
RFSammy Sosa53927.9
CFCorey Patterson68727.9
LFMoises Alou67551.5
2B/OFN/A00.0
----------
4423267.7

2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CMichael Barrett35011.6
1BDerrek Lee57037.4
2BTodd Walker37817.7
3BAramis Ramirez56725.9
SSNomar Garciaparra50438.8
RFJeromy Burnitz44315.9
CFCorey Patterson55526.2
LFJason Dubois23513.2
2B/OFJerry Hairston32712.8
----------
TOTAL3929199.5

Burnitz makes some difference, but not a lot. There's still a 500 PA discrepency that is accounting for some of the loss in VORP, but to be fair, with bench players the likes of Hollandsworth, Henry Blanco, and Neifi Perez, we can only credit them with another 15 or so VORP at best. We'll call that a net loss of 50 runs.

Now let's take a look at the fantastic rotation.
2004 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Mark Prior21118.724.0
Kerry Wood22140.327.9
Carlos Zambrano31209.761.3
Greg Maddux33212.733.2
Glendon Rusch16129.727.8
Matt Clement30181.036.9
---------------
TOTAL153992.1211.1

2005 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Mark Prior25158.039.9
Kerry Wood24157.033.6
Carlos Zambrano28185.039.8
Greg Maddux29178.028.6
Glendon Rusch19120.017.8
Sergio Mitre20113.015.2
---------------
TOTAL145911.0174.9

PECOTA hedges quite a bit on pitchers, with good reason as the variability is a lot higher. Especially with this combination of young pitchers with heavy workloads and/or injury history (Wood, Prior, Zambrano), and control/rely on the defense kind of guys (Maddux, Rucsh). Given Dusty Baker's general tendency to work pitchers hard, I wouldn't be comfortable assuming a heavier workload for any of them except Maddux, but then again no one would be shocked if any of the 3 young guys busted out a 220 IP stellar season. This is reflected in the high breakout rates (30% for Prior and Zambrano, 16% for Wood). That said, I'm prepared to boost the VORP by another 15 or so due to the low innings forecast and the fact that Angel Guzman has a decent projection even if none of these guys out lasts his. Still, losing Clement does hurt, and Zambrano is as likely to come back to being very good as he is to remain amazing. Net loss of 20 runs.

The Cubs were actually a better team than their won loss record would indicate last year, underperforming their 3rd order win percentage by 5 games. My analysis (which ignores the bullpen and some of the bench) has them losing 7 wins off the 3rd order record, which puts them almost right back where they were last year. The numbers say 87-75 and probably missing the playoffs. My gut feeling says that one of the pitchers will have a big year and push them into the hunt for the division and the WC.

Way off.

Well apparently the Cubs answer to their outfield woes is the soon to be 36 year old man about town Jeremy Burnitz. I love when players extend their careers by going to Coors for a season and make everyone think that they are back. "Why yes Mr. Castilla, we can cash that for you."

Last year Burnitz' overall numbers were pretty impressive: .356/.559/.915 with 37 home runs and 110 RBI. You'd think getting a guy like that for $4.5 mil would be a steal. Except for the fact that he wasn't really that great away from Denver:

Home: .386/.670/1.057, 24 HR, 68 RBI
Away: .327/.448/.775, 13 HR, 42 RBI

By the way, Todd Zeile would kill for those away numbers. I'm not saying the Cubs shouldn't pick up Burnitz. As Colin showed further down, they don't have a ton of options. However, adding Burnitz pretty much solidifies that the Cubs will have one of the weaker outfields in the league. Intense fantasy baseball nutjob Eric Karabell from ESPN had a good point; If Burnitz comes in and matches his career averages, he'll put up the same numbers as Sosa did this year. I don't know how to feel about that. Chin up Chicago; you can probably still compete for the wild card with that sick rotation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Kick back, relax, take a pull off of Shotzie.

Alright, why not. I figured I'd try to tackle one of these team breakdown things that Colin has been doing. If can somehow manage to get it to work, maybe we can end up covering every team. Wouldn't that be a treat to the 3 people out there who read this thing? (4 if Justin got my email.) This is my first attempt at this stuff, so if the numbers are off, I apologize.

The Cincinnati Reds were an interesting team last year. Going into the season they seemed poised to compete in the NL Central. They ended up getting a career year out of Sean Casey, Adam Dunn showed his potential, and Ken Jr. managed to stay healthy for 83 games (the most since 2001) before tearing his griffeystrings again. Yet, they still finished in 4th place behind three tough teams in St. Louis, Houston, and Chicago. They did get hit by injuries pretty hard last year, but another factor to this disappointing finish can probably be attributed to the fact that I had to look who they had pitching for them not named Danny Graves.


2004 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CJason LaRue44521.1
1BSean Casey63366.2
2BD'Angelo Jimenez65235.3
3BJuan Castro3160.8
SSBarry Larkin38626.5
RFAustin Kearns2466.2
CFKen Griffey Jr.34826.4
LFAdam Dunn68164.8
OFWily Mo Pena36423.5
----------
4435294.3



2005 Roster
PosNamePAVORP
CJason LaRue32111.9
1BSean Casey55623.5
2BD'Angelo Jimenez55023.6
3BJoe Randa4144.0
SSFelipe Lopez31513.0
RFAustin Kearns37829.8
CFKen Griffey Jr.31021.6
LFAdam Dunn55042.4
OFWily Mo Pena37029.3
----------
TOTAL4134228.4


Unless you're still playing "Ken Griffey Jr.'s Slugfest", I included Wily Mo Pena for obvious reasons. Given recent history, he's more than likely going to get a good amount of playing time. Regardless, the Reds still project to have an enviable outfield next year. Although I'm curious to see if Adam Dunn's name gets bandied about in mid-season trade talks if the Reds falter again this year (*cough* redsox *cough*). I can't believe I just used the word bandied.


Thirdbase was obviously a hole last season. There was talk of moving Kearns to third, but it looks like that was scratched because of his injuries. You could do worse with Joe Randa, but then again you could also do a whole lot better. I got to give Joe props though for having such stick-to-it-ness. A group of us once went to Fenway with homemade "R-A-N-D-A" shirts on. They also said "F-R-A-N-K" for Frank Castillo on the back too, so now you know what you're dealing with.


One of the more interesting stories of this season will be who takes over for Larkin, and how well they do. I threw Lopez in there because he seems to be the frontrunner, but regardless shortstop will more than likely be filled by a very green player. How they handle taking over for a superstar should play a part in how the Reds do. Sean Casey's projections are down for obvious reasons, but I tend to think that last year was more breakout year than career year. I'd expect him to end the season with a much higher value.


2004 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Paul Wilson29183.724.6
Aaron Harang28161.013.1
Jose Acevedo27157.7-7.1
Cory Lidle24149.00.4
Brandon Claussen1466.0-7.7
Todd Van Poppel11115.3-6.5
---------------
TOTAL133832.716.8

2005 Rotation
NameGSIPVORP
Paul Wilson24139.05.4
Eric Milton27164.010.9
Jose Acevedo16104.05.0
Brandon Claussen17101.04.7
Josh Hancock1486.03.9
Luke Hudson1594.011.0
---------------
TOTAL113688.040.9


How bad was Jose Acevedo last year? Remember in 2003 when Danny Graves started and the words "unmitigated disaster" were thrown around? Yeah, that's a good comparison. This offseason they let mediocrity's sweetheart Cory Lidle go, resigned number 1 starter by default Paul Wilson, and added Eric Milton to the mix. So yeah, the rotation really isn't that much better. If Claussen gets it going this year, they will probably have two or three young pitchers vying for the 5th spot. Regardless, the rotation should be at least marginally better than last year just due to their young pitcher's progression. Having Todd Van Poppel sit at home wondering why he sucks so bad should help too.


Just like last year, the Reds successes will probably be in the hands of their starters. If they can get some of their promising young guys to click, they could make some noise in the Central, especially with the drop off of competition after the Cardinals. Sounds a bit like 2004 doesn't it?