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Saturday, March 20, 2004

NOTES FROM THE NEWS

What's more, Epstein said, it could be unwise to make a major new investment if the injuries heal on schedule.

"If we can't withstand [Nixon possibly missing the first month], we're not a championship club," Epstein said.


A day or two ago, I was harsh on Cafardo. He has a good take on the Sox injury situation, although the comparison to the Pats/football is not the best - it certainly works.

Speaking of football, I read yesterday in ESPN the Gagazine that the Pats and other clubs scout their scouts. They measure the scouts reports against player performance to get a better take on the scouts bias in order to draft better. Does anyone know if this happens in baseball?

``It's just something to maybe get a few more strikeouts with a ball in the dirt - which is something that I don't do a lot - and maybe get a few ground balls than fly balls,'' Foulke said. ``I've given up some pretty good fly balls (historically) and I've got to try to stay away from that.''

Like Curt Schilling, who is working on a cutter to utilize right and center fields at Fenway Park, Foulke is adding the pitch to keep the ball on the ground.


Nice stuff to hear.

Alex Belth of Bronx Banter (formerly?) and Hardball Times has an excellent interview with the Herald's Howard Bryant about race and sports in Boston. This interview is the reason I will be purchasing Bryant's book Shout. Here is a quick cut:

THT: There is a profound moment in the ESPN Sports Century episode on Russell when Bob Cousy spontaneously breaks down crying. Essentially, he was describing what Russell had to go through and he expressed his own guilt or shame for not having recognized it more at the time. It was an incredibly moving and a tribute to the difficulties Russell and other black athletes faced at the time, not only in Boston.

Bryant: Absolutely. You asked me the question as to why the racial dilemma in Boston was unique and it's because you parallel tracts between city and team. I always make the argument that the city of Boston - still to this day - can be reflected through its sports teams....But most sports teams today are just teams. That's all they are. But in Boston, they still have weight.

Friday, March 19, 2004

BAD NEWS

Tito, please spare me from watching Millar in right; play Kapler unless DLowe is pitching.

Nixon's injury is a real problem. Backs usually do not heal quickly or fully.

Right now, it does not appear that Nomar's injury is too bad. On the plus side, Bellhorn will play more in Nomie's absence allowing the Sox to showcase his talent just in case a move needs to be made in right.

This is a joke, right? Nomar is fine. The cast is just part of a Kevin Millar prank, right?

From DirtDogs:

3.16 on Larry King Live (Caller: What do you think about the A-Rod trade?): “…Don't ever underestimate the crookedness of Steinbrenner for one thing. (LK: What did he do that was crooked?) Well, I mean I don't know exactly, but I know it was crooked. I know, I mean he had the players union. He was gonna... it doesn't matter, it's past us.” [emphasis EGG].

If the Ben Aflack Trivia Question is referring to Red Sox Nation as “us,” then when was the vote taken for him to be Spokesperson? I was not involved nor any of the other member of RSN that I know. It’s fine that B.A. wants to talk about the Sox but he should only speak for himself. He must be stopped. Let's get the word out to him. Please help me in this effort.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

General manager Theo Epstein did not rule out a trade before the start of the season if he feels recent injury problems -- mainly Trot Nixon -- are long term.

The first thing that popped into my head was oh shit, Nixon must be really hurting. Then I saw who wrote the article, Nick Cafardo, not the usual Notes scribes, Edes and Hohler. Cafardo is not as bad as CHB but Theo was not quoted so I am taking this report lightly.

Anyway, the first two possible RF that came to mind were Richard Hidalgo and Jacques Jones. Both are on clubs with cheaper outfield options making them tradable. Hidalgo (contract numbers: $8 million cap, $12 cash, $2 buyout) – no need to go further Hidalgo is too expensive and the cheap Astros will not throw in enough, if any cash. Jones ($3.55 cap, $4.35 cash) – Jones doesn’t walk and is horrible vs. southpaws, but rips up righthanders and is great in the field. Jones is a mixed bag. The Twins are likely to want a top prospect in return. Since Jones is unlikely to be with the Sox beyond this season, it is doubtful that Theo would part with one of the few legit Sox prospects.

Then I thought about non-contending clubs. Craig Wilson of the Pirates ($1.15) seems like a good fit. Wilson has decent plate discipline and power. After three seasons, his career line is 272/363/496. Wilson has been mostly a part-time player never getting more than 425 plate appearances in a season. He could have a “breakout season” with more chances at the plate, but Wilson would likely be only adequate in right at Fenway. On the plus side, Wilson could also serve as Varitek’s backup. Littlefield is not going to give away a developing hitter making a little over a million. My guess is that an A-level or a couple of B-level prospects would be necessary to attain Wilson. But unlike Hidalgo and Jones, Wilson would be under Sox control for two arbitration eligible seasons giving the Sox more roster flexibility regarding backup catcher, outfield and first base positions. Hopefully, Nixon gets better and soon so no deals need to be explored.

And...

Are you joking? I do not know what to make of this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

RETRACTION

It was not Gammons who was advocating a Nomar-Cabrera deal. It was his colleague, Scott Ridge of ESPN.com.

Three good points from Tito in today's news:

1. Francona said he does not plan to regularly pair Wakefield with catcher Doug Mirabelli, as Grady Little did last year. He indicated Mirabelli's catching schedule would depend on when Varitek needs days off Play your best as much as possible like maximizing at-bats for your best hitters.

2. ``I really think we want to take 11,'' Francona said. ``If at the buzzer something happens, we reserve the right to change that.'' A late inning defensive replacement, pinch runner or hitter is a more valuable option than an extra mop up arm.

3. "If it looks like maybe it's a struggle toward the end," Francona said of Nixon's condition, "we may go ahead and let Manny play over there for a couple of days. He's fine with it. If it came to that, I think I'd rather put Manny out there and put Kevin in left." Certainly, on the road and when DLowe is on the mound, Manny and Millar in the outfield should not hurt the club. Other combinations are questionable. Hopefully, Trot will be ready soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I forgot to mention this about Gammons’ latest because it is so absurd. There is no way the Sox trade Nomar for Orlando Cabrera straight up. If it is Theo’s plan A, which I doubt it is, to replace Cabrera with Nomar in 2005, he would still not make this deal for the following reasons:

1. Nomar is very likely to have a better season than Cabrera and it is too late to make another deal to make up the difference. Theo would be hurting the main objective, the 2004 club’s chance of making the playoffs.

2. The Sox will offer Nomar arbitration and when he declines the Sox will receive at least a first round draft pick as compensation to further restock the farm.

3. It is unlikely that the Expos will offer arbitration to Cabrera like Vlad so the Sox would gain a pick.

Plus, Renteria is a better option than O.C. and will likely be available. The Cards have indicated that they are not expanding the payroll even with a new stadium. At $84 million, it will be very difficult to sign Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria and pickup the option on Woody Williams. The Cards have $53 million committed to only seven players. Only Jim Edmonds is possible trade bait in order to shed payroll, but his $22 million is a big pill to swallow for most clubs. If Edmonds can’t be moved, Morris and Williams get signed and Renteria moves out of the show me your junk state. Renteria is a better alternative than Cabrera for the Sox in 2005.

From Gammons' latest,

Martinez is far more confident of his ability to get Kevin Brown money on the open market than he was last spring. Martinez expects there is nothing that George Steinbrenner would consider more priceless than Pedro in pinstripes just because of what it would set off in Lucchino.

I know this is part of the negotiation process but I want to here again from Pedro that Boy George “..can’t buy my heart!”

As stated previously, if the YES network is NOT part of Cablevision’s basic package, the MFY will have a difficult time breaking even next season. Of course, adding $15 million makes it even tougher. The current payroll break even point is about $185 million. Doug Pappas of Baseball Prospectus estimates the MFY revenue would fall by at least 50% or roughly $29 million if YES is moved to the premium tier. Being the math geek that I am, it would reduce the MFY break even mark to $156 million. The MFY have $167 million already committed to 17 players. An additional $7 million for the other seven players and $15 million would produce a payroll of $189 million or a $33 million loss (assuming the additional tax payment will be offset by additional attendance related revenue). The possible sea of red should make Boy George think twice about another spending spree and decrease Pedro’s leverage with the Sox. The upcoming ruling could be huge for the Sox.

My last analysis of the upcoming free agents, Pedro, will be posted later next week. I apologize for the delay. My weekends have been busy and I have been preparing for my fantasy draft next Monday. BTW, Ed Cossette is a must read today.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Jon Lieber, the MFY fifth starter, is down with a groin injury Newsday reports.

"He could pitch with it. But we don't want him to pitch with it," Torre said. "If we were in the last two weeks of September, we may say, 'Do the best you can.' But not at this point."

It doesn’t seem to be serious but groin injuries like backs and hammies trend to linger. (I am concerned about Trot. Kim should be fine and if not Arroyo is waiting in the wings.) If any of the MFY top five can not take the hill, a fairly good bet, rookie Jorge De Paula, Donovan Ozzy Osborne or the old, creaky El Dooker will take their spot. All three would be a significant drop off.

The report goes on to say that..
The Yankees will likely explore the trade market for starting pitchers, because that's what they always do. Los Angeles is interested in trading Odalis Perez or Kazuhisa Ishii for offense, and the Pirates would like to trade Kris Benson. At first blush, none of the trio interests the Yankees.

It is unlikely that the MFY will make a move until June unless any of their starters go down for a prolonged period of time. In this scenario, Benson would be the likely candidate. He will not cost much in terms of player compensation; the Pirates are desperate to move his $6.1 million salary. In a Benson deal, the MFY would not have to include their top prospect and only big trading chip, Dioner Navarro.. They do not want to panic and pull the trigger on a deal for a Perez or Ishii involving Navarro when a better pitcher may become available when more teams fall out of contention in July.

BTW,

The decision regarding Nomar has gotten even more difficult with the impending signing of Eric Chavez. The SF Chronicle is reporting that a $66 million deal over six years will be announced shortly. The only real infield replacement for Nomar's past production is now officially not even coming to market.

Friday, March 12, 2004

DID AL REYES ON SEPTEMBER 25, 1999 CHANGE EVERYTHING?

The reports indicated that the Red Sox and Nomar have had varying opinions on his “market value” during these changing economic times in baseball. It should no longer be much of an issue with the acquisition of A-Hole and the signing of Tejada. Baseball “market value” is based primarily on historical performance for a number of reasons. With that in mind, Nomar’s “market value” is above Tejada’s roughly $12 million salary and A-Hole’s salary paid by the MFY at $16 million. Both Nomar and the Sox appear to not have issue with the length of the proposal (three years), so a contract around $42 million should be considered “market value.” The issues are will Nomar’s future performance mirror his historical production and are better alternatives available.

Beside that fact that Nomar was an all-world hitter prior to his wrist injury, the only good comparables (shortstops in the modern era), in terms of getting a gauge for future performance is HOF, Ernie Banks. One player is too small of a sample size to draw any type of conclusions about Nomar’s future performance (I will mention that Banks did not put up an OPS+ greater than 120 after the age of 30) so a hard look at his past performance in relation to a larger sample is the best way to measure Nomar’s future value.

A hitter’s value is mostly measured by his ability to contribute to putting runs on the scoreboard by getting on-base/scoring runs and hitting for power/driving in runs. A player’s OBP and SLG are the mainstream statistics that measure the aforementioned skills. Any keen observer of the Red Sox is acutely aware of the fact that Nomar rarely EARNS a walk. The pitcher usually walks Nomar. He is up there to swing the bat and most times he makes contact. Fortunately, Nomar hits for a high average leading to an above average on-base percentage. Another way to put it is that a lot of Nomar’s OBP is tied up in his ability to hit for average and for most players that is a risky strategy.

The table below is in Baseball Prospectus 2004 Book in the Baltimore Orioles chapter.

Correlation for batters, per PA, consecutive seasons >200 at-bats, all players 1969-2003

K - .837
SB - .829
BB - .751
HR - .750
1B - .585
O - .583 (batting an out)
H - .450
3B - .412
2B - .384

K, SB, BB, and HR have a high correlation in consecutive seasons; thus a player’s performance in these areas from one year to the next should be similar. Three of the four (K, BB, HR) are battles between the pitcher and hitter only. The outcome is not dependent upon the eight other defensive players on the field. Luck plays a bigger role in the other outcomes. Hence, “Events that come primarily from a player’s own skill will be very highly correlated for the same player from one season to the next; events that are mostly luck will have low correlations” (Huckabay, et al). Since Nomar relies on hits (.450) as his primary weapon to getting on-base, Nomar’s OBP will likely vary from year to year and this has held true throughout his career. Half of Nomar’s value as a hitter is highly variable.

The other half, his ability to hit for power and drive in runs, is also variable. Nomar’s SLG has become less influence by home runs from 1998 as the table below illustrates (year – SLG - XBH/PA; 2B+3B/PA; HR/PA):

98 – 584 - .1227/.0690/.0537
99 – 603 - .1227/.0773/.0454
00 – 599 - .1252/.0902/.0351
02 – 528 - .1227/.0880/.0346
03 – 524 - .1085/.0695/.0389

Other than in 2003, Nomar’s HR/PA has dropped each full season while XBH/PA has stayed steady. The declining homerun rate is not a positive trend.

The more concerning development is the overall drop in slugging percentage post-wrist injury caused by, the previously discussed, drop in HR/PA and XBH/PA. Intuitively one would think that a decrease in G/F ratio would increase SLG, but the opposite is true of Nomar. Nomar had a G/F ratio greater than 1.16 from 1998-2000 or his 584+SLG years, when he hit the majority of his balls on the ground. In 2002 and 2003, Nomar’s G/F ratio dropped to .71 and .73, respectfully, but his SLG dropped as well. It seems that Nomar hit a high percentage of his fly balls with authority increasing the likelihood for XBH from 98-00 and even though Nomar hit more fly balls in 02-03, the majority was of the weaker variety resulting in outs or singles rather than XBH. A professional scout(s) after a five season at-bats review would be the best resource to comment on the above statement and be able to recognize any differences in pre and post-injury. Since both the numbers and the conclusion of the above analysis can not both be positive, the most optimist outlook is that it would be difficult to forecast Nomar’s future ability to hit for power increasing the risk of a long-term deal.

The possible 2004 winter free agent alternatives in the infield (less first baseman) are Eric Chavez, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera and Jose Vidro. (Of course, we could discuss the tons of scenarios to offset the possible loss of Nomar’s production but that would go on forever.) Chavez would be a less risky investment for numerous reasons with similar upside of Nomar, although it is unlikely that he is leaving Oakland. Chavez has hired former Red Sox post season killer, Dave Stewart as his agent and the talk is of signing a “fair” deal for both parties soon. Negotiations are ongoing; the deal will get done. Cabrera would not come close to filling the shoes of Nomar. A O.C. signing would have to be in conjunction with the inking of Vidro. Prior to last season, Vidro’s OBP was tied to his AVG like Nomar, but not to that extreme. Vidro also has not shown nearly the same amount of power as Nomar throughout his career. The same can be said of Renteria. Other than Chavez (an unlikely free agent), there is no upcoming infield free agent alternative that can fulfill Nomar’s past production making the decision an even more difficult one.

The Sox should not sign Nomar to a long-term deal this spring. There is too much risk involved. A reasonable and conservative projection for Nomar in 2005 and beyond is 285/330/480. Vidro, Renteria and Cabrera could put up that line and their upcoming salaries may not top $10 million. Paying $14 million for those numbers at shortstop is not cost effective. Thus, the Sox should wait to sign Nomar. Waiting on Nomar does run the risk of further alienating him, but only the Cubs and Anaheim have the resources to match the Sox and an opening at shortstop. The Sox can certainly top any offer made by another club. Hopefully, Nomar can regain his power of the past in 2004 and the Sox ink Nomar a week after the parade.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

There was a strong indication yesterday that the Sox are making serious bids to re-sign Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Jason Varitek before the end of spring training, according to one industry source with knowledge of the talks. The team has made offers to all three players, with the offer to Garciaparra believed to be for three years plus an option.

I am working hard on getting my Nomar analysis completed. It is going very well. I hope to have it done by next week at the latest. Hopefully, Pedro's will be done prior to Opening Day and I am against a long-term deal for V-Tek.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Just in case you missed this Jim Caple article about Red Sox Nation on Page 2.

REELING IN THE EVIL EMPIRE?

Later this month, three people have the power to significantly reduce the possibility of the MFY topping the $200 million dollar payroll figure. Louis Bechtle, Stanley Sporkin and Richard Aurelio may have more say about the MFY 2005 player salary budget than anyone directly affiliated with MLB. The three make up the arbitration panel that will decide the fate of the Yankees’ YES Network on Cablevision, which has 2.9 million subscribers in the NYC metro area and owned by former Red Sox bidder and Boy George hater, Charlie Dolan.

As Doug Pappas states on his blog,

The big issue is whether YES will air on the expanded basic cable tier, which will force all Cablevision subscribers to pay for it, or as a premium channel which most Cablevision subscribers won't buy. The arbitrators will also determine the price Cablevision must pay for YES, and the length of the contract between YES and Cablevision.

Moreover, if Cablevision wins and is able to move YES to a premium tier, clauses in YES's contracts with other New York-area cable systems will allow these operators to do the same. YES currently collects an average of $2.12 per month for every cable subscriber with expanded basic. If relegated to a premium tier then even at a higher price per customer, its revenues would be likely to fall by 50% or more.


It is estimated that the MFY are operating very close to break even in 2004 with a payroll of $185 million. If the ruling is in the MFY favor resulting in YES airing on the expanded basic cable tier like NESN, than it should increase the MFY revenue from cable operators and player’s payroll. If the panel sides with Cablevision, it will at least make Boy George think twice about adding players because he and his partners will likely be operating at a loss. An experience the MFY organization has probably not dealt with in sometime.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

HISTORIANS SHOULD WATCH THEIR WORDS

If Barry Bonds and others used steroids to achieve record breaking levels, than asterisks will and should be next to their names in the books. But each name should have an asterisk because:

• Babe Ruth never played against any people of color.
• Ted Williams missed a few seasons in his prime to fight for our country.
• Bonds uses, arguably, a better/harder type of wood bat. He’ll get two stars next to his name.
• Steve Carlton pitched on a higher mound than Pedro Martinez.
• Curt Schilling extensively use of video allows him to better prepare for the opposition than Tom Seaver.
• Willie Mays never saw a split finger fastball from Roger Clemens.

And let’s not forget park factors. I can go on and on. My point is that the use of steroids should be viewed as just another factor in any analysis comparing players of different eras. The real issue is that “baseball” has deemed steroid use as an unfair advantage and thus, it improperly gave certain players and teams an advantage over others.

FANS DO MATTER

Scott Williamson tells Jeff Horrigan that we, fans, played a part in his decision to drop his demand for a trade.

…Williamson was caught off guard by the passion and intense interest that New Englanders have for the Sox. Living just a few blocks from Fenway Park, he likened his walk to work to a stroll down the red carpet.

``It was awesome,'' the right-hander said. ``My wife and my parents and her parents were just amazed by it. There are all of these people lining the street and cops on horses and they form this long line that you have to walk through to get into the park. It's such a great feeling.''

``To play in Fenway Park in front of a sold-out crowd all the time is amazing, but I can't even explain what it was like in the playoffs,'' Williamson said. ``When the fans were standing and I struck out a guy, it sounded like an airplane was flying right over my head.''



Tuesday, March 02, 2004

COMING TO THE SOX

The following is great stuff from Paul Hagen and the Philadelphia Daily News from the mouth of Curt Schilling.

"That was a huge part of the attraction," he said. "I assessed the potential teams, all the pros and cons. And the Red Sox had one thing that no other team could offer. Instead of looking at it as a negative, I looked at it as a positive. The chance to step up and help this team (win) the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

"I've established myself by being at my best when it's on the line. People say I like the attention. It's not that. It's that I like to succeed when it's do or die. I went after it harder this winter than I've ever gone after it before, because it's the first time I've been in a win-or-else situation. We're not allowed to lose. And I love that."

"If we lose, it's really going to suck. Because these fans have welcomed me with open arms," he said. "I know as soon as I don't do as well as they expect they're going to be all over me. But that's all right, too.

"It's different here. It truly is. There are whole generations of fans, from children to their grandparents. It's like another element, another set of eyes watching you all the time."

Monday, March 01, 2004

EVERY GAME COUNTS

The old media has totally focused on Sox-MFY and the internet media has flirted with the notion that Toronto could take one of the two top spot if all of the stars are aligned, but the club that could stand in the Sox way to a playoff berth is Baltimore. Yes, the O's and here is why.

Last season, the Sox only won one more game than they lost against Baltimore - 10 up and 9 down. The O's played the Sox tough; the run differential was only six runs in the Sox favor. The series was even. On the other hand, the MFY went 13-6-1 with a plus 42 runs (I do not understand the tie. Two ties last season! I was always thought there was "no crying in baseball" and tie games.)

According to Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system, the three aforementioned members of the AL B-East have significantly improved their run differential over last season: the Sox + 108, MFY +105 and O's +93. The Sox are much improved but so are the O’s. It is not going to get any easier for the Sox when they take on the boys from Camden Yard (maybe my favorite park). The season series could make or break their shot at the playoffs if the MFY continue to dominate the Birds.


Saturday, February 28, 2004

Because the history of catchers' careers is so consistent, so clear, that even the most ignorant of baseball executives can't ignore what will probably happen to Rodriguez within the next two or three seasons.

Statistically, the three most similar players to Rodriguez through age 31 were Ted Simmons, Yogi Berra, and Gary Carter. Throw Johnny Bench and Bill Dickey into the mix, and the forecast is inescapable: great-hitting catchers generally don't remain great hitters once they're into their middle 30s.


Rob Neyer concludes that the nine greatest hitting catchers' performance dropped a cumulative 31% when comparing their numbers at age 28-31 and 32-35. Obviously, Rob Neyer is analyzing Pudge Rodriguez’s deal with the Tigers but it should be applied to Jason Varitek’s contract situation as well. V-Tek.com does not have the same track record as Pudge or his comparables in Neyer’s piece but the outcome is the same. Here is a list of Tek’s comparables with significant playing time and their AVG OPS+ from age 30-32 each year follows in brackets, then from 33-35:

Aaron Robinson – 135 (141/147/118) – 100 (95/119/87)
Sandy Alomar – 87 (74/127/59) – 86 (111/82/65)
Darrin Fletcher – 104 (115/91/107) – 76 (116/60/52)
Mike Macfarlane – 101 (107/86/111) – 77 (85/79/66)
Don Slaught – 114 (94/132/116) – 116 (146/112/90)
Roy Campanella – 117 (121/155/75) – 108 (153/89/81)

By just comparing the three year averages, two players did not decline, three dropped more than 25% and one, Roy Campanella, slipped at little. Campanella was included in Neyer’s article or the aforementioned 31%, so I’ll discontinue analyzing of the HOFer’s career. The three that dropped significantly are further of evidence of Neyer’s theory. The two others, Sandy Alomar and Don Slaught, need further discussion.

Slaught was never a full-time catcher. He was a backup with a good stick. Slaught’s lack of at-bats in both subsets eliminates him as a good comparable to Tek. As for Alomar, his age 33-35 seasons were cut short due to multi-injuries playing in only 207 games over the three years; not enough data. (Some of the comparables listed above did have fewer at-bats in the age 33-35 set. The lack of at-bats was, mostly, caused by their lack of production at the plate which is further proof of a big decline in performance for catcher as they age. Thus, the general small sample size issue should be ignored in this analysis.)

Jason Varitek can certainly buck the trend by putting up 100+ OPS+ seasons at age 33-35, but the Vegas odds are against him. Many media members report that Tek has tremendous value in the clubhouse and with the pitching staff. I do not doubt that, but it can’t be easily measured like homeruns and translated into dollars. Assuming Tek's intangibles do not diminish, it is still a big risk to sign him to a fair market extension - Javy Lopez's deal at $22.5 million and three years is likely the mark - with the history of catchers in their mid-30's.

Another year of data on Varitek will only assist in evaluating his future and more importantly, the potential of Kelly Shopach. Currently, it is too risky to investment $20+ million in a player hoping that he will be the outlier among his peers.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

UNPLEASANT, THEN PLEASANT SURPRISE

After hitting the gym and grabbing a bite to eat at Ken’s Pizza, (BTW, Ken’s has two plasma sets and the dish network. It will be my new hangout if MLB Extra Innings is ordered.) I walked home and checked the mail. And to my surprise, the latest Sports Illustrated was in my box. I am not a big fan of SI or any paper periodicals for that matter. If I can read the article without having to wait for the mail, flip through pages and ads to get to the story, then all the better. I find paper periodicals annoying. But I had the mag in-hand, so in-between commercial breaks of West Wing, I flipped through my free SI and to my amazement Moneyball author Michael Lewis wrote an epilogue in response to all of the criticism his book has received from the old school baseball community. It is brilliant like Moneyball. I highly recommend reading both of Lewis’ work on baseball.

The links below have excerpts of Lewis’ article and commentary. The article is not on the net yet.
Bronx Banter
Dodger Thoughts
Futility Infielder

Lewis’ comments and opinion of Ringolsby and Morgan are tough but seem to be accurate. Early last summer, Ringolsby and I had an email exchange regarding the A's draft philosophy. I opted not to post Ringolsby’s reply on El Guapo’s Ghost. He did not understand the central theme of my note and his prose and grammar were less than professional. It was not worthy of being on my blog.

Have a good weekend. I hope for post on V-Tek.com over the weekend and update site links. The next couple of weeks are going to be very busy so do not anticipate many posts. I will have an opinion posted on Nomar and Pedro's contract situation prior to Opening Day along with other news of interest.

MY FANTASY LINEUP

1. Dirty Damon - sees nearly an average of four pitches per plate appearance
2. Space Cadet - without a doubt the best hitter on the club and should be in a position make the biggest impact by maximizing his possible plate appearances
3. Nomah - second best hitter
4. Mo Light - third most productive at the plate
5. Want to be Texan from L.A. - see below
6. Trot the Tank - a better hitter than Millar but need a RHB to eliminate the effectiveness of the LOOGY in the late innings
7. V-Tek - projects as a better hitter than Ferris
8. Ferris B-Mueller
9. Pokey no-Power or Liberty Bell-horn

Over the past three seasons, the Red Sox number two hitters have had roughly an average of 20 more plate appearances than the number three guys. Even though Manny is a far superior hitter over the current consensus number two hitter, Mueller, it would only save the Sox about one out in the twenty PAs. It is not worth giving the talk shows and main stream media hacks additional ammo. If I were making out the lineup card, I would drop everyone down a spot after Damon and place Mueller in the two hole.

Mueller is also being considered for the leadoff spot after his fantastic 2003 season. Many folks point to Mueller 398 OBP in 2003 and his 383 OBP average over the last three season as justification for the leadoff spot. OBP is important, but not the first consideration for a leadoff hitter. It is the number of pitches seen per plate appearance, then OBP, then above average speed and power. As Damon stated in the Globe.

"We beat up on pitchers, and that's my job in the leadoff spot," he said. "I know I could hit for a higher average, but how the rest of the team would adjust, I don't know."

Damon sees more pitches than Mueller which tilts the scale over to the centerfielder. Damon also has an above average OBP, good wheels and doubles power. Mueller would be a good leadoff hitter; he just is not the best option for the Sox.

It is likely that the lineup will be different versus southpaw starters with at least one of the RHB (Burks and Kapler) in for Ortiz and/or Nixon. But do not be concerned, the Sox, at most, should only see 45 AL LHP in the first inning. Plus, a healthy Burks can rake!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

SLAP HITS AND QUICK LINKS

• Ian Brown of MLB.com reported on Fox New England Sports Tonight that Pedro has mentioned to David Ortiz that he has thrown in the high 90s this winter. It is on!

• Who’s afraid of Big Bad Bud? The Big Bad Bud…The Big Bad Bud…the Wisconsin tax payers. Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO explores the Brewers sketchy financial situation. One Wisconsin Government Official in the segment says, "Be prepared Bud is on the way." DC, Portland, Northern Virginia and other cities interested in the Expos should take his words to heart. Doug Pappas, how many more days in Big Bad Bud’s tenure as Commissioner?

Caple on Henry the Hypocrite.

• The MFY can not be confident in Giambi's health with Tony the former Tiger Clark and Travis Ordinary Lee signed to guaranteed contracts. Good times. Good times.

• The Sox have only knuckleballer Charlie Zink in BP's top 50 prospects with Youkilis and Shoppach listed as honorable mentions. The MFY do have a prospect to deal in July by the name of Dioner Navarro.

Jayson Starks covers the arrival of Nomar and Pedro and no one seems to be interested in the upcoming season. The talk is about 2005 and 2003. It is 2004, right? How about some media attention about the best Red Sox team in the past twenty years?

• I agree with Greg Dickerson and Papa Jack that "Somebody's Got to Pay" should be the team’s new motto.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

WARNING NON-BASEBALL RELATED POST!

Robert Kuttner has a great editorial on Howard Dean and his campaign. It is the first national accurate look at the Dr. Dean. I would also credit Dean, in part, with the record breaking primary turnout. If this occurs in November, the Democrats will make a bid for taking control of the House as well as the White House. Highlights of Kuttner’s article include:

He got into the race early -- and bravely -- when President Bush, waving the bloody shirt of 9/11, was deemed unbeatable…In a sense, he made it safe for the rest of the Democratic field to be a lot tougher on Bush and his rogue foreign policy.
• Despite the faltering of Dean's candidacy, every other candidate is now imitating the e-fund-raising that Dean pioneered, which still has the potential of allowing small money to level the playing field against big money.
• For starters, one always had the sense of an odd marriage -- the right movement yoked to the wrong guy. This was a progressive, grass-roots army in love with a rather tightly wound centrist candidate. As the governor of Vermont, after all, Dean had been a fiscal conservative to a fault. And despite his rebirth as a populist in the campaign, neither his policies nor his temperament suggested a man of the people.


El Guapo’s Ghost is not a Dean supporter even though I am a Vermont Democrat. I never voted for Dean. The Iraq War was Dean’s first real liberal position. Dean is a President Bill Clinton/DLC/conservative Democrat. Although I have voted for Senator John Kerry in his battle with Bill Weld back in my Mass-hole days, I am supporting Senator John Edwards because he can WIN.

Kerry has ridden a wave of primary wins on “electability” because he has the experience to confront President Bush on national security issues. But I would contend that is not the biggest issue for independents and swing voters in the battle ground states around the Great Lakes. As Clinton said, “It’s the economy stupid.” Making national security the focus of the Democrats campaign will be a mistake. The President’s foreign policy is the major issue dividing the country. It will not win independent votes in the swing states.

Like Clinton, Edwards can feel your economic pain. He can change an independents heart and mind and win their vote. Kerry can not. The Democrats need to focus on the economy and leveling the playing field for all Americans to win in November and Senator John Edwards is the best person to deliver that message.

Monday, February 23, 2004

LOWE STAY OR GO NOW

Derek Lowe is a durable extreme ground ball pitcher. At age 30, Lowe should be able to continue to throw 200 innings without much trouble. He has logged fewer innings than other starters, although some say pitching 100+ relief innings is worst than 200+ as a starter, and has never had any arm problems (knock on wood). With Pokey Reese's gold glove and better command, Lowe could be a Cy Young candidate in 2004. If so, Lowe would command Colon type money or $10+ million per season. He deserves the big money and is likely to go after it. It is Lowe's only opportunity to cash in and his agent is the hard liner and wildly successful, Scott Boras. A hometown discount is not going to happen nor should it. DLowe will have no difficulty inking a deal worth around $50 million over four years with Texas, L.A., Baltimore, and the Mets all with money to spend and a need at the top of the rotation.

The Sox should not sign DLowe now because it will limit their flexibility for middle infielders beyond 2004. Lowe is a $10 million pitcher with a better defensive infield, most notably at second base. Thus, the Sox would have to sign good glove men at short stop and second to get the proper return on their Lowe investment. With instability beyond 2004 in the middle of the infield, waiting on Lowe is the proper move. Plus, the Sox have cheaper internal rotation alternatives with Bronson Arroyo and possibly Scott Williamson for 2005. Both have the potential to be productive starters at a fraction of the cost. Theo should wait on DLowe and probably should not be brought back after 2004. Lowe is right; it is HIS "last run".


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