Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dan Graziano a "no" for this writer

By The Common Man

Yesterday, Dan Graziano of AOL Fanhouse announced that he was not voting for Jeff Bagwell because of lingering suspicions he had regarding whether or not Bags used steroids,
“I don't know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don't have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I'm suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked. I'd rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn't have.”
This morning, Friend of the Blog Craig Calcaterra pointed out that Graziano’s stance, and that of many of his fellow BBWAA voters, represents a new McCarthyism in baseball, an era of accusation without evidence, based on hearsay and speculation, “Let’s not make any mistake here: this is an accusation. Maybe not a legally-actionable one, but Graziano believes Bagwell took steroids and says it as plain as day.” Joe Posnanski, in his excellent HOF column today, compares it to a witch hunt, “Let’s just burn him at the stake. If he survives, you will know you were right” and “I’d rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out.” As usual, both of them are right on. For if you can accuse (or suspect) Bagwell of using steroids based on the era in which he played and the numbers he put up, that opens the field up to all kinds of wild accusations.

For instance, The Common Man suspects that Dan Graziano, of AOL Fanhouse, is a plagiarist. Now, TCM doesn’t have any evidence. Nor has anyone else made a specific public accusation against Mr. Graziano. Nevertheless, he writes an awful lot, doesn't he? Far more than a regular person writes on a daily basis. And he has been writing about the Hall of Fame lately, which a lot of other writers (including Bill and TCM) have been writing about. It’s just hard for TCM to believe that Graziano could be writing so much without help. And it’s equally hard to believe that it’s a mere coincidence that his article is so similar to other articles out there, both in the mainstream media and the blogosphere.

Frankly, The Common Man isn’t comfortable that a suspected plagiarist might have a Hall of Fame vote, but it sounds like Dan’s already turned in his ballot. So TCM is calling on the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA to put a hold on Graziano’s vote until he can clear up these salacious rumors. If he isn’t a plagiarist, Dan Graziano should produce evidence here and now that he is not and never has been one. Otherwise, he should never be considered eligible for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor the BBWAA can bestow on its members, for which their names are inscribed in the Hall of Fame itself.

Look, TCM realizes his call will not be a popular one. People will hate this position (for instance, Mr. Graziano might be a bit annoyed). But TCM offers this defense: we readers who read Graziano's article should have reported our suspicions earlier. But the fact that we could have been subject to legal action for such reporting works in our defense. But the time for staying silent has long past.

The withholding of eligibility for the Taylor Spink Award based on suspicion of unethical activity is not the same as writing a blog story accusing someone of unethical activity (although, ironically, TCM is writing about his suspicions that he'll have to accuse Graziano of unethical activity in a blog). The Common Man is not accusing Graziano of plagiarizing. He's just saying he's suspicious.*

*There is, TCM realizes now, an argument that he didn’t give much weight to. It could be that Graziano is a good and prolific writer. Not just good, but better than his contemporaries. Perhaps Graziano is such a good writer that he has the ability to post more often and with more insight than other writers. Maybe he’s just better. In that case, TCM would have to apologize to Graziano for airing his baseless suspicion, and take back his call that Dan’s vote be stricken and demand that his eligibility be restored for the Spink Award. But unless Dan can provide us with proof of that he didn’t build his reputation on the backs of other writers, TCM just doesn’t see how that will ever happen.\

Update: Great, now TCM has to suspect Jeff Pearlman of plagiarism as well.  Seriously, The Common Man has in his hand a list of 300 mainstream media members who are suspected plagiarists, and he will release it at a future date.  Jeff, if you're not a plagiarist, how can you take positions similar to those who are suspected plagiarists?  Expain yourself and provide evidence, Jeff!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SweetSpot Roundup 12/29

The final SweetSpot Roundup of 2010.  We'll be back on our regular offseason schedule in 2011.

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: When I knew the Astros were headed for disaster
"Af I had to pin down a moment I knew the Astros were headed for disaster, it was Dec. 13, 2006."  Ah yes, the day a dream died.

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): An early look at the depth chart
Chris has a complete and annotated look at the Braves' organizational depth chart.  Plus, it's color coded for easy reading.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Zack Greinke and Recent Brewers Aces
No pressure: "Even before throwing a single pitch, Zack Greinke is already started down the path to becoming the preeminent starting pitcher in Milwaukee Brewers history. Now all he has to do is just live up to expectations."

Fungoes (Cardinals): Twelve Days of Christmas 2010
Pip's got an awesome feature running in honor of the carol 12 days of Christmas, counting up the gifts that Cards fans will receive in 2010.  By the way, if you add it all up, the singer receives 364 gifts from their "true love."  That's one hell of a Christmas haul.  True love, indeed.

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Just How Good WAS Starlin Castro's Rookie Year
"Do you believe in Starlin Castro?"  Like my boy believes in Santa Claus.

Dodger Thoughts: Reminiscing about baseball in the pre-Internet age
Jon Weisman looks back at what being a baseball fan was like before the Internet: "We have it good — a little too good, maybe."  I have to be honest, I love the Internet. It, via Jon, provides me with awesome video of Louis C.K. on Conan objecting to people who don't appreciate the Internet.

Mets Today: Himelfarb Hears a Hu
The boys are cautiously optimistic about the Mets' biggest offseason pickup.  In other news, man the Mets are quiet.  Like an alligator waiting for a Florida golfer to retrieve his ball.

Nationals Baseball: Merry Christmas, Aaron Thompson
"You were claimed off waivers from the Nationals! You're like a toy plucked from the trash bin heading for a sleigh ride with Santa!"

Ducksnorts (Padres): Days in First, Largest Leads
"As we are all too aware, how long a team stays in first or how far ahead of the competition it gets doesn’t matter. In the end, everything comes down to which team is left standing after all others have fallen."

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Future Phillies Wall of Famers
The Phillies have a cool Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park with HOF-style plaques.  Bill looks at guys who might have a shot at the wall in the future.

Redleg Nation: Erardi on Dave Parker for HOF
Bill Lack fisks a BBWAA voter's case for The Cobra

Baseballin' on a Budget (A's): Top Fives, Best Shortstops in Team History
How crazy is it that Miguel Tejada is the best shortstop in A's history?  And yet, here we are.  Nice to see Walt Weiss again, by the way.

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Jays End Year, Likely Many Games With a Bang
Drew thinks that the Octavio Dotel era will not be good for the Jays.

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Trader Jack
Jon wonders whether Jack Z may have unrealistic expectations when he's dealing with other GMs.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Making the Case for Jim Thome
Jim Thome may indeed be the best option for the Rangers.  And you know what?  Vlad Guerrero might be a better fit in Minnesota.

Fire Brand of the American League: The Value of Tim Wakefield in 2011
"2011 may indeed be Tim Wakefield’s final season as a big league pitcher. If he simply does what he has always done, he will provide important yet once again underrated value for the Sox."

Royals Authority: The Moustakas Clock
"Given the state of the Royals in 2011, there is not much harm in letting Moustakas get 150 or so at-bats in AAA before making the call and at least try to avoid the look of service clock manipulator."

Sox Machine (White Sox): Filling in blanks for Jackson and Jenks
The mystery of why the White Sox didn't acquire Adam Dunn for Edwin Jackson at the deadline has been solved.  As usual, the Nats screwed up. And now the Sox have both of them.

It's About the Money Stupid (Yankees): An Open Letter to Andy Pettitte
"Dear Andy, I don’t want to sound desperate or anything but…please come back! Pretty please?! With sugar and candy and $15 million on top?"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

3 Questions: St. Louis Cardinals

By The Common Man

Just landed back in America's Frozen Heartland after a little less than a week in the desert of Scottsdale (soon to be rename Klawtonia).  Lots of stuff burning in TCM's bloggy brain, but he owes the St. Louis Cardinals answers to these questions three.

The Cards remain a team driven by a few, exceptionally strong, personalities and focused around a small number of, incredibly important questions. The future of the franchise seems to hang in the balance of the answers to these questions far more than other teams. As always, you can read previous 3 Questions entries here.

Question 1: Will Albert Pujols sign a contract extension?

Albert Pujols, who is already (at just 30 years old) one of the three best first basemen of all time, is going to make just $16 million in 2011 and is one of the biggest values in baseball. That won’t be the case next season, as Pujols is currently on track to become a free agent. To keep their superstar, the Cardinals are going to have to pony up with some big money. As in A-Rod money. And that’s probably just a starting point (in a world where Jason Werth can get $126 million over 7 years). Though Pujols has had nagging injuries to his shoulder and heel (though he’s averaged 156 games per season), he has posted an OPS below 1.000 just twice in his 10 seasons, in 2007 and 2002, and has never had an OPS+ below 150. He has a Rookie of the Year trophy, six Silver Sluggers, two gold gloves, three MVP awards, and (perhaps most amazingly) has never finished out of the top 10 in MVP voting. And, again, he’s only 30. He is, in short, a dynamo.

Retaining their franchise player is the Cardinals number one priority for the next year. Albert has set a deadline to get a deal done at the start of Spring Training. Chances are that it happens.  For one thing, the Cards are already huddling with Pujols' agent.  (can you picture Pujols going elsewhere? TCM can’t), and if not GM John Mozeliak is sure to be seeking employment elsewhere before long. If you had to pick one player to be worth an eight or nine year deal at this point, isn’t Pujols that guy? However, the length and cost of Pujols’ new deal will have ramifications across the St. Louis organization as they try to compete in coming years with less money for supporting players.

Question 2: Can Tony LaRussa and Cody Rasmus co-exist and does Tony LaRussa have a problem with young players?

These are related questions, so TCM will fold them together.

At the tail end of his tenure in Minnesota, long time manager Tom Kelly was hurting his team as much as his experience helped it. Perhaps even moreso. Handed veteran rosters to start his managerial career, Kelly never really seemed to warm up to young players, and found innumerable ways to tear down rookies. He hated Todd Walker’s defense. He wanted Marty Cordova to stop pulling the ball. He exiled David Ortiz, Torii Hunter, and Doug Mientkiewicz to the minors for more almost a full season each. Meanwhile, he made sure that mediocrities like Ron Coomer, Denny Hocking, and Pat Meares had plenty of playing time. In the end, Kelly seemed to realize that his own predispositions were holding back the Twins and he stepped aside in favor of Ron Gardenhire, under whom the Twins have flourished.

Is something similar happening in St. Louis? It’s hard to say. LaRussa placed a lot of trust in 23 year old Jaime Garcia in 2010, and showed a ridiculous amount of faith in 25 year old rookie Jon Jay despite a choppy minor league track record. But TLR’s relationship with 23 year old phenom Cody Rasmus seems to be poisonous. Last year, LaRussa may or may not have been benching Rasmus. LaRussa definitely seemed to have problems with his young centerfielder seeking advice from his father on his hitting. And Rasmus definitely felt so persecuted by his manager that he requested a trade. Whether or not Rasmus’ feelings were justified is certainly debatable. He’s earning a reputation as uncoachable and a bad teammate (and his dad isn't helping matters), such that even Prince Albert wanted him shipped out of town last year.

The Cardinals need cheap young talent like Rasmus to build around big stars like Pujols (especially as his price tag soars), Holliday, Carpenter, and Wainwright. Perhaps no other team in baseball boasts a big four that big. But four players won’t win a World Championship if that’s all a team can afford to pay.

Question 3: How will the big switch from defense to offense go over?

The Cardinals have made a big show this offseason of deemphasizing defense on their team, despite what their GM thinks. Slick-fielding SS Brendan Ryan is gone, making way for the adequate, but unspectacular, Ryan Theriot. And Lance Berkman, who TCM previously assumed had been set in concrete around the first base area, is allegedly going to “patrol” leftfield (presumably like the US “patrols” the Canadian border, by staying in booths along major roadways).

This is particularly odd, given the probable payroll restrictions the team is likely to have moving forward. Offense, after all, is still expensive to acquire in free agency (how else does Lance Berkman get $8 million guaranteed?) and in arbitration. Meanwhile, defense is still relatively inexpensive. If the team continues down this road, look for victories to get more and more expensive, and thus harder and harder to come by for the Redbirds, especially if they continue to compromise infield defense in front of a very groundball heavy pitching staff.

Friday, December 24, 2010

MLB Christmas Lists

For what other reason would you come to The Platoon Advantage but for hoary old clich├ęs? The Common Man will not disappoint you. Here’s what each team wants for Christmas, along with whether they will get it:

Arizona Diamondbacks: A bullpen Phoenix doesn’t have to be ashamed of.

Because…oh my God, it burns! Don’t make TCM watch them again!

Will they get it? Probably

Nobody does bullpens like Kevin Towers does bullpens. That said, dude had better get to work. JJ Putz and David Hernandez come to town with big question marks, and everyone leftover from last year ranged from below average to God-awful.

Atlanta Braves: Dennis Rodman

Because somebody needs to help Chipper Jones and Nate McLouth rebound from their disappointing 2010s.

Will they get it? Not as much as they want.

Chipper sounds like he’s working his way back, but at 39 there’s no telling what he has left in the tank. McLouth has gone from an All Star in 2008 to hitting .190/.298/.322 and spending 34 games in the Minors in 2010. It’s been a precipitous fall for the man who ripped the Pirates for trading him. Right now, Neal Huntington looks awfully smart. Anyway, McLouth presumably can’t get any worse. Hey, at least the Braves are only on the hook for $8 million more. The Common Man has no idea what’s wrong with McLouth, nor how much Chipper will actually be able to play in 2011. Figure that the Braves will get slightly more production out of the pair.

Baltimore Orioles: A sense of adventure

The O’s are allegedly out to Adam LaRoche, a nice safe choice to play 1B in 2011. But they’re supposedly offering a multi-year deal to a player who is not much above average. A better solution, in order to maintain long-term payroll and positional flexibility might be to get crazy and either use Luke Scott at 1B part or full time, and go after a potential impact bat like Jim Thome to take aim at that short RF porch.

Will they get it? That depends…

…on whether LaRoche gets his head out of his kiester and realizes he’s not going to find a better deal that whatever the O’s are offering. If he hems and haws any longer, the Orioles are likely to look elsewhere. And they’d probably be better off.

Boston Red Sox: The Black Mercy

What do you get for the team that has everything? The only thing that can stop them…

Will they get it? Not with Theo running the show.

The BoSox have had a terrifically aggressive offseason, signing and trading for the two biggest targets available this winter. They’ve also made good pickups at the margins, getting Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. They’re not just good, they’re deep. And there’s no way Theo Epstein is going to let anything stop the Sox this year, let alone an alien plant that causes hallucinations of everything you’ve always wanted.

Chicago Cubs: The 5th season of Lost on BluRay

The Cubs would like nothing better than to be on an island that skips through time, in the hopes that they’d end up in the offseason of 2011, when Aramis Ramirez ($14.6 million) and Kosuke Fukudome ($14.5 million) will finally be off the payroll, and the team will only have one more year of Carlos Zambrano ($19 million) to work around.

Will they get it? The show, sure. The time skipping, probably not.

The Cubs are finally acting like a real large market team and spend their money wisely. Picking up Carlos Pena was a nice buy-low step, and he can be flipped for building blocks at the deadline. The Kerry Wood pickup was extremely positive. But 2010 is going to be a mediocre season to be endured on the North Side.

Chicago White Sox: Ozzie Guillen

Yes, they already have him, but who doesn’t need more Ozzie? Plus, they already got everything else they wanted this year.

Will they get him? Easily.

Look, you can get Ozzie and his nipples for a low, low price.

Cincinnati Reds: Money

The Reds’ biggest offseason acquisition (aside from resigning their own free agents) has been Dontrelle Willis. Sheesh.

Will they get it? Not unless team owner Robert Casetllini has an even richer uncle who dies.

The Reds have question marks in LF and SS, but have done nothing to address them. Their faith in Paul Janish for the latter spot is probably misplaced, and Walt Jocketty had plenty of chances to upgrade with JJ Hardy or Jason Bartlett, but failed to capitalize. Times are tight in Cincy, and with the huge moves by the Brewers this offseason, nobody can be too confident in The Queen City.

Cleveland Indians: A better, less racist logo

Seriously, you can do better. This isn’t a tradition, it’s a travesty. If you can’t have pride in a new logo, at least have enough pride in yourselves to feel good about doing away with such a blatantly racist caricature.

Will they get it? No.

Mark Shapiro, Chris Antonetti and company are doing their best to wean the Indians off of Chief Wahoo. But they’re still a few years away from being able to get rid of it entirely. And a few Tribe fans are too emotionally invested in a stupid picture to see things clearly. Which is a shame. Between LeBron and the team’s rebuilding effort, this could be the most positive thing to happen in Cleveland all year.
Colorado Rockies: Footage of the Todd Helton, Mike Hampton, and Denny Naegle signings

Remember how happy everyone looked at the time? Remember all your optimism, Dan O’Dowd? Remember how that turned to bitterness and disappointment?

Will they get it? Let’s see, it’s down in the storage unit somewhere. Oh no, there’s been a leak in the basement and it’s all ruined! Guess not.

So there’s nothing to tell the Rockies that, if they go down this road of needlessly locking players into deals that don’t actually save your club much money, and take on significant risk, they are going to regret it. Just like they did the last three times. Oh well, after they sign Carlos Gonzalez to a 7 year extension, they can get to work on Dexter Fowler, who has just four more years of team control.

Detroit Tigers: Their old stadium back

Because if the Kitties are hellbent on fielding a mediocre team, they can at least play in a beautiful old ballpark with character.

Will they get it? Nope.

Alas, this is all that’s left of Tiger Stadium. So very, very sad.

Florida Marlins: The Wizard of OZ

Jeff Loria: “When a man’s an empty kettle, he should be on his mettle, and yet I’m torn apart. Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be a human if I only had a heart.”

Will they get it? Well, the might get a prequel.

But unfortunately, the Wizard can’t bestow an actual heart. Indeed, the Tin Man actually already had the biggest heart of all. Plus, that wizard was a total fraud. Sadly, nobody can make the Marlins’ owner give a damn about his ballclub.

Houston Astros: Real Prospects

For a team who is rebuilding, the Astros seem to be relying an awful lot on guys who aren’t actually all that young, like Chris Johnson, or good, like Brett Wallace and Jason Castro.

Will they get it? It’s inevitable.

Like the Cubs, the Astros are in for another mediocre season. At least this year, they’ll be relatively inexpensive. And they have ways they can spend off that extra revenue through the draft and amateur signing bonuses. They pick 9th in 2011, so they’re bound to get something good in the upcoming draft. But probably nobody who’s going to help right away. Nor will the minor league free agents. Have faith, Houston.

Kansas City Royals: The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

Well, the time skipping island is already taken, and the Royals really, really want to get through 2011. And the fewer fans who have to watch Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur the better. And with so many terrific prospects at or near the Majors, skipping 2011 would help get them on the field sooner.

Will they get it? Yes, but they may not like it.

The book is widely available for a couple bucks, but the Earth shattering conclusions of jumping forward in time are such that the Royals may want to think twice about carrying through on Wells' dream. Indeed, they may skip a year only to find that Dayton Moore’s plans have gone horribly awry (it wouldn’t be the first time), with the fledgling Royals becoming lazy and lacking discipline while the veterans hunker down and grow ever more bitter.

Los Angels Angels, etc: Adrian Beltre

The Angels have a glaring, Beltre-sized hole at 3B.

Will they get it? Very, very likely.

Angels fans are up in arms about the team’s lack of activity this offseason, but missing out on Carl Crawford (with young OFers Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout in the fold, and veteran Torii Hunter under contract) and falling back to Beltre might be the best outcome for the Angels. While Halo fans can scream about needing “a leadoff man,” what the team needs more than that is just plain offense. And Beltre can provide a ton of that, including the best 3B defense in baseball. Beltre’s got to sign somewhere, and the Angels figure to have the most money to be able to reel him in. Plus, if they miss out, it’ll be time to break out the torches and pitchforks.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Peace on Earth
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could just get along? Starting with Frank and Jamie McCourt, of course. That would clear up a lot of uncertainty regarding the Dodgers in 2011 and help clarify the payroll situation and who will be owning the team going forward.

Will they get it? It sure doesn’t seem like it.

The judge ruled in favor of Jamie, meaning she owns half of the Dodgers. Neither Frank, nor Jamie, likely has the cash reserves to buy the other out, so one of the most storied and noble of baseball’s franchises will be dragged through the mud and sold to the highest bidder very soon. Merry Christmas, Los Angeles.

Milwaukee Brewers: Strikeouts

The Brewers seem relatively set at all of their positions, and by set The Common Man means both that they have guys to fill those spots, and that those guys move like they’re stuck in concrete. Since they aren’t likely to get any new fielders at this point, having some extra Ks on hand will reduce the need to rely on these statuesque glovemen.

Will they get them? Assuredly

With Greinke and Marcum coming over from the Junior Circuit, there’s no doubt that fans will see more flailing in 2011. Though some of that might be the pitchers going after Yuni Betancourt when he refuses to move three steps to his left.
Minnesota Twins: A do-over

OK, TCM’s cheating here. The Twins don’t want a do-over, but TCM does. Because this off-season has been pretty awful.

Will they get it? You can’t unring this bell.

The Twins allowed Guerrier, Crain, and Rauch to leave with no compensation, when they could have offered arbitration and gotten Guerrier and Crain for as much as they’re paying Matt Capps. JJ Hardy, despite being one of the 3-4 best shortstops in the AL, was given away for virtually nothing because he can’t do the one thing (run fast) that Ron Gardenhire wants him to. Jim Thome still isn’t resigned (though at the price he’ll want and the risk he represents, that might not be a bad thing). Nor is Carl Pavano. TCM likes Nishioka though.

New York Mets: A sucker

One is allegedly born any minute, and the Mets would like to find one to take Carlos Beltran and/or Luis Castillo off their hands.

Will they get it? Alas, not.

Dayton Moore seems pretty tapped out. The Braves might want an OFer later this year, but would be hard pressed to add Beltran’s salary and the Mets might not want to deal in the division. Ditto on Philadelphia. Jim Hendry has all the overpriced outfielders he can handle. Maybe the Tigers need more gimpy players to go with Magglio, Inge, and Carlos Guillen.

New York Yankees: A pitching machine

As in, a machine that makes pitching. Because nobody seems to want to come to the Bronx this year and hang out with CC Sabathia.

Will they get it? If anyone has the resources…

It’d be hard to come with that on short notice though. The best they could probably do is to figure out some mind control device to get Andy Pettitte to come back. The Yankees look vulnerable, so a lot of teams could be going after the Wild Card this year.

Oakland A’s: Extreme Makeover: Ballpark Edition

It’s becoming increasingly clear the A’s won’t have a new home for a long time, between San Francisco’s stalling and Bud Selig’s mysterious committee that has yet to figure out that Oakland is not a viable home for the A’s going forward, despite having two years to study the issue. The next best thing is to bring in Ty Pennington and let him at least make The Coliseum a decent place to watch a ballgame.

Will they get it? Opportunities are limited.

For one thing, it’ll be hard to find a bus big enough to block out the whole stadium. For another, Billy Beane would have to go on vacation to Disney World or something, and that guy hasn’t taken a vacation in years. Plus, the A’s probably have, like, 14 more moves to make this offseason.

Philadelphia Phillies: Another Ace

It would just be more aesthetically pleasing to have the full rotation full of great pitching, instead of Fat Joe and the Terrors. There must be one around here somewhere that nobody’s using…

Will they get it? The cupboard is bare.

With the farm system largely tapped, the Phillies don’t really have what it takes to acquire a Felix Hernandez, Ubaldo Jimenez, or Brett Anderson, even if one were available. The best they could probably do at this point is to get Brandon Webb and hope he recovers from shoulder surgery. They have the depth to carry the former Cy Young Award winner.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 24 more guys with Corey Wimberly’s attitude
Yesterday, the Pirates acquired Wimberly, and as Craig Calcaterra reported yesterday, he was really excited about it. A good attitude might make another bad season in Pittsburgh bearable.

Will they get it? Unclear.

Enthusiasm can be infectious, and maybe Wimberly can rub off on young Pirates like Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, and Jose Tabata. Of course, losing is infectious too, and that’s pretty demoralizing. And there’s going to be a lot of losing in Pittsburgh again this year.

San Diego Padres: A brand new Adrian Gonzalez

They used up their old one, and now they need a new guy to plug in at 1B to be the sole thing driving their offense.

Will they get it? They’re pretty hard to come by.

Slugging first basemen are relatively easy to find, but finding elite first basemen like Gonzalez, who have the power to carry an offense by themselves, is incredibly rare. The Pads have tried to improve at other positions (SS, 2B, and CF) to account for the loss of offense. But they still need a big bopper at 1B.

San Francisco Giants: A bigger trophy case

So their new hardware can be properly displayed. After winning the World Series, the Giants can’t possibly ask for more.

Will they get it? Are there Amish in San Francisco?

The Amish make a great trophy case. But the Giants had better hurry, before Brian Wilson puts a beard on it or Timmy fashions it into a bong.

Seattle Mariners: Lower expectations

The M’s were the sexy pick of baseball bloggers in 2010, but we should have seen their regression coming. That said, the 101 loss season they got was completely unexpected and made all that preseason hope nothing more than unearned hype.

Will they get it? TCM expects so.

It’s hard to predict great things for a team that lost more than a hundred the year before. As the M’s consolidate and start to work in Dustin Ackley, they’ll probably win at least 80 in 2011, and the cycle of unrealistic expectations can start all over again.

St. Louis Cardinals: A night of drinking with Albert Pujols

Get him drunk, get him to sign a contract. For the next eleventy billion years.

Will they get it? No to the drinking, yes to the contract

TCM doesn’t know whether Albert’s much of a drinker anyway. But it’s damn near impossible to think of Albert anywhere but St. Louis. TCM has to believe a deal will get done. But it could be a drawn out process. TCM just wants it done so wecan skipped the braying of the national press about selfishness.

Tampa Bay Rays: A slugging 1B

The Rays could really use a bopper for the right side. Right now, the plan seems to be to use Dan Johnson and Ben Zobrist, but Johnson’s hardly reliable and the Zorilla could be utilized better as a multi-position super sub.

Will they get it? Doesn’t seem to be lining up that way.

The Rays seem to be positioning themselves to use Zobrist at 1B and they’re running out of potential lefty-mashers to match with him. None of Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus, Mike Sweeney, nor Fernando Tatis will represent much of an upgrade. The Rays may be going to war as is, if they don’t deal a starter.

Texas Rangers: A lick of sense

Look, it was fun while it lasted. But now it’s time to make Neftali Feliz a starter again.

Will they get it? 50-50

Ron Washington is on record saying he prefers Feliz in the closer spot. But Jon Daniels is smarter than that. If he can’t get Carl Pavano, Feliz represents the best option to upgrade the rotation following the loss of Cliff Lee. And with Frank Francisco, the Rangers have someone to step into the role.

Toronto Blue Jays: A crystal ball

It would be nice to know if Jose Bautista’s power was real in 2010 and represents a new level for him. And to see if Adam Lind and Aaron Hill recover from their rough 2010s. And if Travis Snider ever develops. It would help significantly with planning for the future.

Will they get it? Nothing is so uncertain as the future.

One of these days the Blue Jays are going to have a big season. It would be nice if that didn’t happen in a season that the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox weren’t also having big years. Some measure of long-term confidence in their players would be helpful. As it is, they’re an interesting collection of often frustrating pieces.

Washington Nationals: A good doctor and rehab facility

Things are definitely shaping up for the Nats to be frisky in 2012 and 2013, if they can just get and keep their young players healthy.

Will they get it? Well, the NIH is right in town.

A successful recovery by Steven Strasburg will do a lot to help the Nats to be competitive in a couple years, but only if their young guys stop getting hurt. It’s impossible to build a team when the guys you’re counting on keep going down. A healthy year will put them in position to surprise.

Well, that's something like nine yeses, six maybes, and fifteen nos.  Kind of like the odds that you'll get what you want this year.  Enjoy your knitted mittens and DVD of Jonah Hex this year. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blyleven vs. Mo(rris)

By Bill

It's that time of year, when most people just think about Christmas and stuff, but baseball freaks like us spend way too much of their time thinking about Hall of Fame voting.  And for the last few years, it's been that time of year when everybody talks about Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris.  Jon Heyman and Buster Olney, among what I'm sure are at least a few others, have already publicly admitted to voting no on the former and yea on the latter.

So that's what I was thinking about, and I started thinking about this fun little exercise:

It's the winter of 1994. Just a couple months ago, for the first time in ninety years, October passed without a World Series.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When the Knuckleball Goes...

OK, The Common Man will bite. He’s a sucker for when Rob throws out one of his mysteries (first George Strickland, then Ted Abernathy, now this), and yesterday he started wondering about Gene Bearden, a rookie sensation for the Indians in 1948, who won 20 games and quickly faded into obscurity. Rob writes, “Most knuckleball pitchers age well. Bearden peaked as a rookie.” According to the stories passed down by Eddie Robinson and others, Bearden lost his effectiveness when batters began laying off his knuckler, but Rob’s not having it, “By my count (because there's no source for it), Bearden gave up a .245 batting average on balls in play in 1948. That seems like an exceptionally low figure, even for a knuckleball pitcher in 1948…. He was blessed with good luck in that one season.”

So how much was luck and how much was Bearden? Did he really fall off because other players got wise to his knuckler?

3 Questions: Toronto Blue Jays

By Bill

Continuing to go in order of 2010 record from top to bottom, we've come to the last AL team that finished above .500 in 2010.  Gone are first baseman Lyle Overbay, starting pitcher Shaun Marcum, catcher John Buck and reliever Scott Downs. Coming in to replace them is...well, nobody, basically. Pretty much every spot figures to be filled from within.  How's that gonna work in the toughest division in baseball?

1. Can Jose Bautista Really Do That?
One of the stories of the year in 2010, Bautista -- who came into 2009 age 29 and the proud owner of a .238/.329/.400 line, mostly in the weaker of the leagues, with a career high of 16 homers and an average of 19 per 660-plate-appearance full season -- went absolutely nuts, at least tying (and usually smashing) his career bests in literally every positive offensive category.  Including, of course, those majors-leading 54 home runs (which helped Toronto lead the majors in home runs too, with 257 to second-place Boston's 211).

So this is kind of Bautista's "prove it" year.  Nobody would expect fifty-four homers again, but it'll be really interesting to see whether he keeps producing at an elite level or turns back into a pumpkin.  And for the Blue Jays' season, it'll be a lot more "necessary" than "interesting."

SweetSpot Roundup 12/21

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: Astros add strikeouts...I mean middle infield
Austin gets a little more apopleptic over a $3.25, one-year deal and the loss of the immortal Jeff Keppinger than is probably warranted.

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Baseball America's Top 10 Braves Prospects
New contributor Kevin Orris reviews the Braves farm system as seen by

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Brewers Acquire Zack Greinke
Jack is rightly excited about the big trade from this weekend, and can't wait for 2011.

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): In the News, We Got Wood
A bunch of quick Cubs related links.

Dodger Thoughts: I can't believe I'm saying it, Tony Gwynn Jr. should start
"By placing him in center and moving Matt Kemp to right field and Andre Ethier to left, Gwynn would turn the Dodger outfield defense from a weakness to a strength." I can't argue with that.

Bay City Ball (Giants): Quick Daydream About Zack Greinke
Otis wants a Zack Greinke of his very own.  Don't we all.

Mets Today: Inside Look, JJ Ricciardi
Joe asks fellow SweetSpotter Drew Fairservice some pointed questions about new Asst. GM JP Ricciardi.

Nationals Baseball: Less confused. Not "unconfused," but less confused
Confused?  So is Harper, who's generally not quite sure what the Nats think they've accomplished by trading Josh Willingham to the A's.  He's not very enthused.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Padres Reacquire Jason Bartlett
Geoff thinks the Pads overpaid for their new shortstop.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Why the Phillies Should Keep Big Joe
"if as expected, the Phillies are forced to eat half the contract to move him, they should hold onto Blanton until at least the All-Star break. The belief here is that if Blanton’s performance improves as expected, a team would be much more likely to take on the full contract."

Redleg Nation: This Day in Reds History, Ardolis Chapman hits 102
I love watching Ardolis Chapman pitch.  Cannot wait to tune in to the end of Reds games this year.  That is all.

Baseballin' on a Budget (A's): Harden and Willingham
Dan's pretty excited about a pair of strong moves by the aggressive A's.

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Rocco Baldelli, Future Executive, Blue Jays Fan, Rennaissance Man
@roccobaldelli: "assembling a roster- like assembling an art collection. tycoons go to christie's with blank checks. all else go to quaint little art shops."

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Why the Rangers Can Afford to Deal From Depth
"'Tomorrow Never Knows.'  A rather profound malapropism from the mind of Ringo Starr, but this is how you have to look at prospects. They are merely abstract dreams that very rarely manifest into reality. They are wonderful things to cultivate, but falling in love with the dream of a player can often limit the range of possibilities at the major league squad."

The Ray Area: The First Hall of Famer in the club
Marc points out that the venerable Tracy Rigolsby may not actually know what he's talking about when it comes to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Wheeler, Jenks Added to the Pen
Mike Silver reviews a couple of bullpen acquisitions for the Sox.

Royals Authority: Not Sure If You Heard, Zack Greinke Traded
"For now...let’s give these guys a chance before we decide this deal was horrible."

Nick's Twins Blog: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Hope vs. Expectations
Nick's skeptical of the Twins' new middle infielder in light of the relative weakness of the Japanese Leagues.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Eulogizing Bobby Jenks
Jim's got a nice retrospective of the Bobby Jenks era in Chicago, and an important reminder that a young man with serious makeup concerns was able to remake himself into a good teammate and a strong pitcher.

It's About the Money Stupid (Yankees): Montero and Nunez for Greinke, Would You Have Done It?
Good question in light of Jon Heyman's Tweet this morning.  Another one: If the Yankees' reluctance to deal with Greinke's mental health costs them a postseason berth, who takes the fall?

Monday, December 20, 2010

3 Questions: Milwaukee Brewers

By The Common Man

TCM’s done with the NL West, which means it’s time to move on in our 3 Questions series. And given the events of this past weekend, it’s pretty clear who should be in the crosshairs next, isn’t it?  (As always, you can find the rest of the 3 Questions series here)

Question 1: Have they fixed their rotation issues?

Come on. This is the old question. Let’s update it, in light of Doug Melvin’s exciting moves this offseason:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

On Rights and Responsibilities in Hall of Fame Voting: Do the Job Right or Don't Do It At All

By The Common Man

A couple of days ago seemed to be Hall of Fame Day around the internets, as SI’s Jon Heyman released his ballot which was predictably non-sensical and haphazard (Update: Heyman has since published a column explaining his voting. While TCM doesn't agree with his vote, nor his criteria ("in some ways you just had to be there" and "impact," and especially his assertions for Morris over Blyleven), it's clear that Jon has put a great deal of thought into his vote and has tried to be as consistent and true to his own criteria as possible.  He also strikes a very consiliatory and reasonable tone, and demonstrates an active interest in rethinking his previous votes.  He is also not trying to enforce a new standard on the Hall.  The Common Man is sorry, Jon, for suggesting otherwise.) and it was commented on here. Also, Hall of Fame voter Paul Leume offered to give readers a chance to have some input on his ballot over on Around the Horn. Paul announced his dissatisfaction that the Hall’s criteria for membership has been less than stringent in the past trimmed his 33 man ballot down to a more manageable number by crossing off players who did not meet his criteria, which he defined as:
“To me there is only one category of ball players that should be considered for the Hall of Fame. That category consists of those once in a generation type ball players that were dominant at their position during the era they played in for an extended period of time. These are players who changed the way the game was played and managed.”
This criteria, however, gave rise to serious objections by Bill and The Common Man, who contributed extensively to the comments section, and who suggested that Leume should face dire consequences for his desire to actively reshape the Hall of Fame’s body through his voting. Bill wrote, “
The Hall is what it is, and I think voters, while obviously totally free to apply their own valuations of players and such, have an obligation to do their best to more or less hold to the Hall's already entrenched standards. If you're going to say 'I know the Hall is this, but I think it should be limited to this instead, so I'm going to vote as though that's what it is,' in my opinion, you should have your vote taken away. You've been given a responsibility to the sport and the institution, and you're utterly failing to uphold it.”
The Common Man echoed, and perhaps amplified, Bill’s sentiments,
“You seem to be announcing a decision to completely abdicate your responsibility to the public and to the Hall of Fame as a voter and is an attempt to substitute your own subjective and arbitrary definition of a 'Hall of Famer' for one that has been previously established by the Hall and your brethren. You have crossed over from an arbiter to a politician…. Voters had to think carefully about these players to parse between them and less worthy candidates and came to the conclusion that, indeed, they were worthy. To hear you say you're not willing to do the heavy lifting is infuriating and sad. If you're not going to do your job, then stand aside so someone else, who is willing, can.”
 All of which gives rise to an important question, what are the responsibilities of a Hall of Fame voter in 2010?

Friday, December 17, 2010

SweetSpot Roundup 12/17

Hey, a huge congratulations to the SweetSpot Network's newest blog, Baseballin' on a Budget, which is representing the Oakland A's in our little family.  My first question is whether Dan Hennessey and Chris Martinez thinks Billy Beane's lost it (or if he never had it to begin with).  But Chris has a nice retrospective up of the best 5 second basemen in A's team history.  TCM's taking notes for his 40 Greatest A's and 2B columns.  Congrats, Dan and Chris, and welcome! 
Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Compare and Contrast
Part 2 of Drew's look at how Blue Jays fare under both WAR measurements focuses on the pitchers.

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): On Felix and breakups
"I don’t even want to think about this.  But, as Larry [Stone] points out, the Yankees are desperate."  Is it time to think about letting go?
Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): The Void
Positive thinking in Texas: "Lee and Harden combined to give the Rangers exactly 200 innings last year. Their combined ERA over those 200 innings was 4.73. How in the hell will the Rangers replace that?"
The Ray Area: Oh.  Right.  The 9th Inning
Marc wonders if the Rays should solve their questions about who's going to close by moving one of their extra starters to the back end.  Or, you know Mark, you could probably trade one of those starters for someone who's had success in the role.  How about you send us Wade Davis, and the Twins send you Matt Capps?
Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Sox Add Jenks to Bullpen
"The bottom line is that this is a great pick-up by the Sox. While other relievers were awarded similar deals for three-years, the Sox snagged a great bounce-back candidate on a two-year deal that will pay him roughly the same amount of money (~$2M more per year) as the Jesse Crain’s and Matt Guerrier’s of the baseball world." [note: that's only the same amount of money to the Red Sox and Yankees, but whatever]
Royals Authority: Spinning Wheels
The Royals are in a holding pattern, waiting to see whether someone will offer enough to pry away Zack Greinke.
The Daily Fungo (Tigers): No Brainer, Ordonez Returns
Apparently a $10 million salary for one season of a completely immobile outfielder with a plus bat but signifcant injury concerns is a hometown discount now.  Who knew?
Nick's Twins Blog: No Relief
It's a pun, see, because both Guerrier and Crain signed elsewhere and now the Twins 'pen consists of the hope that Joe Nathan is ok, Matt Capps, a left-handed Rich Garces, and something called Jim Hoey.  I'm actually drinking prety heavily as I think about this.
Sox Machine (White Sox): A plea for keeping Sale in the bullpen
Jim and company want to keep Sale in the bullpen because he'll be able to get out Mauer, Morneau and Sale in the late innings.  Which will be great for the Twins, since their sluggers won't have to face him three times in the first six frames and can jump out to a lead, rendering him moot.
It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Some thoughts on Andy Pettitte
Having gained some perspective over the years, Jason's willing to be patient with Andy Pettitte and his agents' negotiating strategy.
Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Dan Uggla and aging
CAC looks at some of Uggla's comps and finds some bad news.

Fungoes (Cardinals): Ryan trade: Tony LaRussa uber alles
"So let’s get this straight: The groundball-pitching Cardinals, who in re-signing Jake Westbrook became even more defense-dependent, proceeded to trade their starting shortstop, who averaged 1.85 WAR over the last two years and whose specialty is defense, for a sketchy defender who averaged 1.15 and is three years older."

Dodger Thoughts: Dodgers roll the dice with long-term bet on Matt Guerrier
"There have been 66 pitchers for the Dodgers in the Ned Colletti era, from Jonathan Broxton to Mark Loretta. The highlights in the bullpen have been the low-risk investments, coming up through the farm system or coming in as cheap free agents, who have paid dividends."

Bay City Ball (Giants): Cliff Lee and Delusions
"There’s pride, there’s fun and then there’s straight delusion.  And it is delusional to insist that the Phillies aren’t going into next year with the best rotation in baseball. Here’s a quick list of things that I think contribute to this delusion."

Mets Today: Would You Extend Jose Reyes?
"If you don’t want a player of his caliber playing shortstop for you in 2012, 2013, and 2014, then is this “long-term plan” much longer than we think? More concerning, is there a real financial problem related to the Madoff Affair that has yet to rear its ugly head?"

Ducksnorts (Padres): Gwynn and the Dodgers
Was it a good decision for the Padres to let Tony Gwynn Jr. walk?  "Bringing him here was a savvy business move. And although it is true that such fans will mourn the loss of that connection [to the progeny of Tony Sr.], it is also true that a statue of Gwynn’s father remains. We are free to enjoy the statue whenever we like. It is beautiful and it doesn’t ground out to second base four times a night."

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Phillies Worst Individual Seasons
A position by position look at the worst seasons over the last 20 years.  Yes, it's as awesome as you think it will be.

Redleg Nation: Reds Defensive Analytics
The Hardball Times' Annual book is bully on the Reds defense.  Particularly in the outfield.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

3 Questions: Arizona Diamondbacks

By The Common Man

Four years ago, the Diamondbacks were a surprising 90 win playoff team, whose young talent all came together at the right time for a postseason run. Chris Snyder, Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, and Carlos Quentin were all under 27 and considered building blocks. Alberto Callaspo (24) couldn’t crack the starting lineup. And Miguel Montero (23) and Justin Upton (19) were seen as major prospects and potential franchise players on the way up.

But then a funny thing happened. The team stagnated. They won 82 in 2008, finishing two games out in the NL West. Then came dispiriting 92 and 97 loss campaigns in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The D-Backs were headed in the wrong direction and their bright young talent was not developing as expected. And as their offense remained mediocre, the team’s pitching collapsed.

There were questions about how much control young GM Josh Byrnes had over his team, and how much ownership was interfering. There were questions about his hand-picked manager, AJ Hinch. Now, both are gone, replaced by former Padres guru Kevin Towers and World Series hero Kirk Gibson. But the questions remain for a team that has frustratingly refused to live up to its potential.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

3 Questions: Chicago White Sox

By Bill

I was a bit surprised to note that, going backwards by 2010 win total, the White Sox (at 88) are the next team on the list.  They just didn't seem nearly that good.  And in fact, part of that is because, after losing eight in a row and ten out of twelve at the end of September and ending their season, they won nine of their last eleven, meaningless games.  Still, they were a good team, and have gotten even better in the last couple weeks.  Here are your questions:

1. Will Jake Peavy...anything?
The former Cy Young winner was already injured when the Sox acquired him in 2009, and had been relatively ineffective with the Padres when he was healthy enough to pitch, so the team had to know that they didn't really know what they were getting.  And he finally did put together three very effective starts to end 2009, then started out just OK in 2010 (though he was better than he looked, with a 4.01 FIP compared to his 4.63 ERA) before shutting down with another injury.  In a year and a couple months, Peavy's logged 127 innings with a 4.11 ERA, though he's continued striking out around eight batters per nine innings and keeping his walks down, essentially maintaining the same fastball velocity he had in his peak years.

At this writing, Peavy's status for the start of 2011 is very much up in the air.  The shoulder injury Peavy suffered is quite serious and quite rare, and there aren't a lot of pitchers (if any) who have ever had to try to come back from it.  Peavy has been told that he should be able to "go full-bore" in February, but the team won't really know what (if anything) they can expect from him until then, and even if he's completely healthy then, you have to figure they'll be holding their breath every time he takes the mound.

A rotation of Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson is really good.  That same rotation with vintage Peavy at the top might rival the Red Sox' for the best in the AL.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Four Aces Are Not Necissarily the Best Hand

By The Common Man

As you no doubt know by now, the Phillies have locked up the pole position in the National League and will go into 2011 as the favorites to make the World Series from the Senior Circuit. By no means guaranteed to make the Big Dance, it’s clear that Philadelphia has greatly improved its odds in the last 24 hours. That much, at least, is a given.

But this signing represents much more, as the Phillies will trot out what looks, at first glance, to be one of the strongest rotations in baseball history. Of course, there are competing tendencies within human nature to romanticize and idealize the past, and to forget it entirely and focus on the present. After all, all the sepia tone and pleasant voiceovers on a Ken Burns documentary doesn’t replace the fact that Sandy Koufax pitched in an extreme pitcher’s era. Nor will the flashy “Four Aces” nickname make the quartet pitch any better (nor, technically, is it very accurate since Cole Hamels is probably more of a “2” than an ace). So The Common Man can be forgiven if he does not simply take Craig Calcaterra’s word that the Phillies’ 2011 staff will top the mid-nineties Braves, the 1960s Dodgers, and others and rank among the top staffs in baseball history.

With a heap of healthy skepticism, TCM broke down the best performances by a “Top 4” during the Integration Era (1947-2010) using Wins Above Replacement (and where possible, he averaged the FanGraphs and Baseball Reference versions). Anything from before 1947 seems irrelevant here because pitcher usage patterns have changed so dramatically. Also, The Common Man chose to look at individual seasons, given the likelihood that this foursome will only be together for a single year (as Oswalt is a Free Agent next year and Hamels will make in excess of $10 million in arbitration and may prove too expensive).

In the Integration Era, there have been four thirteen teams with a Big Four who managed to collectively post a WAR of 20.0 or greater. They are listed after the jump in reverse order.

SweetSpot Roundup 12/14

Capitol Avenue Club: Roster Update/Rant/Extensions
CAC's got the breakdown on what the Braves will look like in 2011, and he's pretty satisfied.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Winter Meetings Summary
Jack's pretty pleased with the Brew Crew's Winter Meeting haul.  But all he'd like for Christmas is Carl Pavano.

Fungoes (Cardinals): How does Crawford's deal affect Pujols?
"The domino effect means that the Angels now still have funds available for Albert next winter, thus returning some leverage to Pujols in this winter’s negotiating tug-o-war, at the very least. At worst, it means that Pujols has become unsignable, if he ever was signable in the first place."

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): GirlieView
"My wife and I just named our 8 month old son’s teddy bear 'Ron Santo.'"  Frankly, I think that's kind of morbid.  Welcome to life kid, here's a toy named after a dead guy you've never heard of.

Dodger Thoughts: Should Jamie Carroll start for the 2011 Dodgers?
Good heavens, man, what are you suggesting?

Bay City Ball (Giants): Velez Heads South
"If I were to design a ballplayer for the express purpose of destroying franchises and ruining managerial careers, that player would resemble -in probably all ways except looks- Eugenio Velez."

Mets Today: Sandy Alderson is Friend of Bloggers
Joe is quite pleased with the Mets' GM's blogger-friendly words and actions.

Nationals Baseball: Wrong Lee?  Nah.
"He's not THAT old.... Trusting a player at 35 & 36 doesn't seem like a terrible idea. Eventually he'll fall off the cliff but if you don't think that was last year (and I don't) than it's fine to gamble on the short term."

Ducksnorts (Padres): Small-Market Sonnet
A comforting verse for Padres fans in mourning for their lost Lenore.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Graphical Player 2011
Bill implores you to buy, buy, buy (one of the best fantasy baseball books available).
Bonus: Also, the Phillies signed some guy last night. Probably AAA depth or something.

Redleg Nation: Jose Reyes at Shortstop?
Are the Reds in the market for a SS?  And what would he cost in terms of treasure (prospects)?

Fire Brand of the AL (Red Sox): When Winning Isn't Enough, Crawford & Gonzalez at the Plate
Really two different stories smooshed together: one on the Sox's flagging popularity (everything's relative, people) and what they might be trying to do about it; another about what the two big new additions bring to the offense.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Results: Kenny Williams' trade grades
Readers grade every trade in the GM's ten-year history.

Royals Authority: Royals at Short and the General Silliness Surrounding Yuniesky Betancourt
"Even if Cortes becomes an effective power reliever for the Mariners, the Royals have not been irreparably harmed by the presence of Yuniesky Betancourt. That said, let’s not fool ourselves:  Betancourt is part of the problem, not part of the solution."

Nick's Twins Blog: Three-Bagger: Greinke, Hardy and Speed
"If you believe their claims, the Twins' front office seems to think they can improve their 94-win team by subtracting defensive proficiency and adding foot speed. That's a shaky proposition based on the way things played out last year. Whether or not you put much stock into UZR as a statistic, it was clearly more closely correlated with success this past year than stolen bases."

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Cliff Lee To Continue To Take His Time
The last three posts on the site are all about Lee, all suddenly outdated. Apparently Bill stays up later than Jason and company do. I'd encourage you to go to the site and check out what's sure to be at least one uniquely insightful take on yesterday's late-night Lee-to-Phillies shocker.

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): The Roster After The Meetings
The Mariners, somewhat quietly, were one of the more active teams in Orlando next week. Conor breaks down your M's as they stand today.

The Ray Area: Going to the chapel, Longo, wants to get maaaaaaaaaried
The Rays may have just lost the franchise's best player, but the current American League's best player wants to stay for a very long time.  Or...wants the Rays front office to panic and hand him a lot of money to pacify the fanbase.  Either way.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Report: Phillies Reach Tentative Agreement With Cliff Lee
Just a stub (but with lots of entertaining comments in a schadenfreude-y way). As with IIATMS, I'm sure you can visit the site later today -- or even now -- and find some more in-depth thoughts on the move.

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Compare & Contrast
Looking at how the individual Jays players fare under the two different versions of WAR.

Monday, December 13, 2010

3 Questions: Los Angeles Dodgers

By The Common Man

The National League has 16 teams to the AL’s 14, so rather than waiting for Bill to post the next installment of 3 Questions, TCM’s going to jump ahead of him here to look at the LA Dodgers (as always, click here to see other entries in the 3 Questions series). Of course, the danger of rolling these out over several weeks is that your initial questions may get answered, such as whether the divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt will hamper the Dodgers’ ability to spend. Indeed, Frank has opened up his wallet this winter to re-sign Hiroki Koruda, and pick up free agents Juan Uribe and Jon Garland, amongst others. So here are the new and improved questions while we wait to see what the long term ramifications will be of the Dodger Divorce.