Friday, February 25, 2011

The Padres will be better than you and Vegas thinks

By The Common Man

Aside from The Common Man, who praised the Padres to the heavens for their offseason moves here and here, the conversation from the national media has largely dismissed the San Diego Padres, given that they traded superstar Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox this offseason. Jayson Stark gave them an C, for instance. And now, according to the Vegas sports books (h/t to Aaron Gleeman), the San Diego Padres are going to finish with somewhere around 76 wins. Frankly, that’s a bet you should take. And take the over. Here’s why:

SweetSpot Roundup 2/25

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): The '11 Braves--Baserunning
Peter says that the Braves' bad baserunning will, if everything breaks right, cost them only about half a win this season.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): LaTroy Hawkins Should Fit In New Role
As long as that role doesn't involve Twitter, it should be good. I'm following LaTroy, and let me tell you, it's been brutal.  All inspirational messages.  Good for him, by the way, for being so positive.  But it's tough on cynical bloggers like me who want some context and personality.

Fungoes (Cardinals):  Managing tactic for the 2011 Cardinals?
Cards bloggers discuss what tricky tactics they'd most like to see Tony LaRussa employ this year.

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Lose a prime Piece of Your Rotation? Call Jim Hendry!!
Joe generously offers some of his team's excess starters to the Cards to replace Adam Wainwright

Dodgers Thoughts: With Padilla out, who is the Dodgers' No. 6 starter?
Jon Weisman runs through the backup options for the Dodgers' backup option.

Bay City Ball (Giants): Name That Mystery Player
Chris finds an interesting comp for Pablo Sandoval.  That comp has never been photographed like this, however.

Mets Today: Offseason Changes: Phillies
Joe runs through the chances of the scariest team in the NL East.

Nationals Baseball: Anyone hear anything about Bryce Harper?
Harper takes us through the ups and downs of the Bryce Harper Hype Machine, which Jon Heyman is official on.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Regardless of Venue, Homers Are Hard to Come By in San Diego
No matter the ballpark, the Padres just can't seem to hit homers in San Diego.

Redleg Nation (Reds): Oh Jonny
Did he or did he not sing about Wainwright's injury? Chad Dotson break it down.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Potential Phillies Lineups
Who's going to bat where for the Phils?  And does it actually matter?

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Projectin' Thangs-Pitchers
Drew ponders the very optimistic projections for Blue Jays pitchers.

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Bradley vs. Saunders
Would the Mariners actually consider giving LF back to Milton Bradley? Masochists.

Weaver's Tantrum (Orioles): Roberts' Neck
The O's shots at respectability will take a tumble if Brian Roberts' neck doesn't heal.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers):  The Crucible
How hard is it to be above replacement level? Prashanth Francis does some cool math, makes some charts, and comes up with the answer.

The Ray Area: Did I invent a time machine?
Mark understandably goes off on Ken Rosenthal's suggestion that baseball may revisit contraction, and that the Rays could be on the chopping block.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Red Sox Shut Down Doubront
The Red Sox are taking the conservative route with their young starter.

Royals Authority: Rewind Yourself
Craig Brown breaks down the seriously deranged diatribe that Jason Kendall laid down this week.

The Daily Fungo: Tigers Podcast 128
In which Mike touches on the Miguel Cabreara situation and the 2B competition.

Nick's Twins Blog: Span's Grounders Must Get Moving
How can Denard Span turn it around after a disappointing 2010?

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): It's Not Personal Sonny, It's Strictly Business
Brien takes Mitch Williams to task for his idiotic and immature take on the Rangers/Michael Young situation.

Predicting the Hall of Fame Votes, Part 5: 2032-2036

By Bill

And so here we are, at the end of our epic, week-long, five-part series in which we try to guess at the BBWAA voting results for the next 25 years. And this is the part in which you really see exactly how hard this is, because things completely stop making sense. But it sure is fun!

 For the rules, such as they are, check out Part 1 here. And here is part 2, part 3, and part 4.  And here's our series wrap-up.  And away we go!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Predicting the Hall of Fame Votes, Part 4: 2027-2031

By The Common Man

As you probably are aware from the title, this is part 4 of our attempt to project the BBWAA Hall of Fame voting out for the next 25 years.  This installment covers 2027-2031.  Parts 1, 2, and 3 are here, here and here Part 5 is here, and here's our wrap-up.

Just so Bill knows, The Common Man plans to over throw his space-regime in 2027, with the help of a robot butler named Ken Phelps Jr., the sage advice of the still-living head of Joe Torre, the strength and daring of unfrozen Evan Longoria and the gumption and inspiration instilled by the ghost of Marvin Miller.  We will install a space-theocracy, based around the divinity of the Great Mauer, and make all unbelievers shag fly balls.  Praise be the Mauer.  The Mack and Stieb Leagues will continue uninterrupted, except that half the DHs will be shot.

We continue to cleave very closely to each other in the players, if not the years of selection here:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals' Playoff Hopes

By The Common Man

Today’s shocking news out of Cardinals camp, broken by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that ace Adam Wainwright likely has a “significant injury” and is possibly facing Tommy John surgery, is a huge blow to the Cardinals playoff chances for several reasons.

One reason is that the Cardinals were not that far out in front of their competition. Both Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS system and Baseball Prospectus were high on the Cards, predicting them to win the NL Central by a handful of games each. So any major injury to one of the big four (Carpenter, Wainwright, Pujols, and Holliday) was sure to put the Cardinals behind the 8-ball. And no one in the NL Central is likely to challenge for the Wild Card. So there’s little doubt the Cardinals playoff odds just took a big hit.

Predicting the Hall of Fame Votes, Part 3 (2022-2026)

By Bill (with able commentary from The Common Man)

It feels weird to even type those years in this post's title. By the time this comes to pass, I plan to be the mostly benevolent (but very volatile) dictator of a small planet in the Alpha Centauri system, and I'll start my own damn baseball organization. It'll have two eight-team leagues, the Mack League and the Stieb League, with the DH and replay everywhere. It will be glorious.

But while we're all still tethered to this particular orb, we might as well look at what Hall of Fame voting might be like 11 to 15 years from now. We're covering the next 25 years of the writers' HOF voting, just like Bill James did back in '94. You can see Part 1 here and Part 2 here. The Common Man and I each came up with our own separate (and very different) lists, and the middle fifth of those lists is dissected below. (Here are the other entries in our series, Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, and Part 5, as well as our wrap-up.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TPA Hits ESPN on the SweetSpot, Part 2

Yesterday, in addition to starting our Hall of Fame voting projections, we had five articles up over at The SweetSpot on  In case you missed them, the links and a brief description are below.  Feel free to peruse them at your leisure.

Hall of Fame Should Lower the Voting Threshold
To deal with the upcoming backlog of candidates, Bill and TCM argue convincingly for the election threshold to drop from 75% to 66%.

Jose Bautista's Win-Win Deal
The Common Man is pretty bullish on Bautista's new deal, from both his perspective and that of the Blue Jays.

More on Jim Edmonds and the Hall
Bill makes the case for Jim Edmonds, which will be largely ignored by the voters in five years.

On Michael Young and Fandom
TCM tackles the notion that Young has somehow been "wronged" by the Rangers.

People Still Don't Get Moneyball
It's been close to a decade since that book came out, and as Bill points out, too many writers are still getting it wrong and oblivious to the lessons it teaches.

Predicting the Hall of Fame Votes, Part 2: 2017-2021

By The Common Man (undermined at every turn by Bill)

Yesterday, Bill kicked us off with the first installment of this series, in which we're picking the BBWAA Hall of Fame voting results from the next 25 years. Yesterday, out of 13 players mentioned, we agreed on 10 of them going in in that five year window, though our order was somewhat different. As we move further out though, we're going to start to see a lot more distance between Bill's predictions and The Common Man's. (Here are the other entries in our series, Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5, as well as our wrap-up.)

Here's our methodology, as outlined by Bill yesterday,
"James picked two inductees for every season, which makes sense; historically, there have been either one or two BBWAA inductees in virtually every year, and since it's almost entirely guesswork anyway, why not make it uniform? But on the other hand, there are a ton of worthy candidates coming up, and you do see three in a class about once every ten years (see 1984, 1991, 1999). So we decided to limit ourselves to two candidates (or fewer, though I chose never to pick fewer) in every year, with the exception of two seasons, in which we could name three. For a 25-year stretch, that seems reasonable."
We both used up our three-man ballots yesterday, so those are off the table. The Common Man is handling the main commentary this time, with Bill piping up whenever he feels like it. And away we go:

SweetSpot Roundup 2/22

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: Friday Optimism
And now you get it on a Tuesday! "Why not be optimistic?  I’m as frustrated as the next fan, but you know…if I can’t be optimistic now, I might not ever have the chance."

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Andy Marte - Learning our lesson
Kevin looks back at a set of unpopular Braves moves that didn't turn out quite as badly as everyone expected, and along the way unearths some pretty funny quotes about uber-prospect Marte.

Fungoes (Cardinals): With Lohse, time is right for Cardinals to try four-man rotation
Several years ago (I don't remember now, 2002 or so?), a popular thought among sabermetricians -- then much less popular people -- was that five-man rotations were silly, that it was pitches per start, not days between starts, that fatigued a pitcher, and that teams would be heading toward four-man rotations in the near future. I never saw any study that contradicted that thought, or just kind of went away. Well, Pip looks at the Cardinals' four very good starters on one hand, and Kyle Lohse on the other, and figures it's time to start banging that drum again.

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): The Soriano Experiment
As we enter year five (!) of that huge, predictably poor contract Jim Hendry signed Alfonso Soriano to, Buddy finds it a good time to take stock.

Dodger Thoughts: Now Batting, Don Mattingly
Quotes about Manager Donnie standing in in the batter's box for bullpen sessions, and other Spring Training Dodger news.

Mets Today: Is Terry Collins Detached from Reality, or Playing Head Games?
Joe muses about some really puzzling things the new Met manager had to say to or about Luis Castillo.

Nationals Baseball: Danny Espinosa, I do not know you.
"As far as the Nats offense goes I feel like I got a pretty good grasp on how almost everyone is going to do. Those with a lot of major league experience (Werth, Zimm, The French Rock) are easy enough to predict. I think Morgan and Desmond will fall nicely into "better than last year, still not as good as fans hope". Pudge will have an empty batting average and stink. Ramos will have an empty batting average and not stink. But Danny Espinosa eludes me."

Ducksnorts (Padres): I think I sprained my cliche
Geoff with an entertainingly snarky look at some of the things to keep an eye on this spring.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Marlins 2011 Preview with Michael Jong
Getting the skinny on one of the Phillies' division rivals, from one of my favorite non-SweetSpot bloggers.

Redleg Nation: Behind the Plate
Thoughts on the catcher position, where the Reds are in much better shape than you probably realize. I'm with Chad, though -- if Ramon Hernandez is okay and everything, but if Hanigan's healthy, Hanigan's your catcher.

Baseballin' on a Budget (A's): Shooty Babitt, the King of the Parlay
An interesting interview with one of the A's broadcasters, who spent just a single year in the Bigs.

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Don't Lose Sight
It's nice to know that Drew is just as bullish on the Bautista deal as I am.

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Get Excited About Josh Lueke
Lueke is, of course, the young pitcher who was guilty of wrongfully imprisoning a young woman in 2008 and had sex with her while she was passed out and who refers to the violent rape and sodomization of a woman as "a situtation that I shouldn't have [gotten into]. Used poor judgment."  Get excited about him all you want. I hope he falls down an open manhole and breaks his femur and pelvis in several places.  And if he landed on his shoulder, that'd be all right too.  I don't give a damn how "severely underrated" he is.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Michael Young (and the Rangers) Discuss the Trade Situation
The Rangers and Michael Young continue to need to walk back from his comments over the offseason and the team's failed attempts to deal him.

The Ray Area: Don't Go to the Spring Training Zoo
Marc is underwhelmed by the actual process of visiting Spring Training.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Should We Count the Yankees Out?
The answer, of course, is no.  You don't count the Yankees out until you kill them, bury them, dig them up to make sure they're still dead, drive a stake through their heart just to make sure, and throw the body in a wood chipper like in Fargo.

Royals Authority: The Future of Catching
Craig profiles Kansas City's catcher of the future, Salvador Perez.  Sounds flashy.

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): Sheff Checks Out
"There’s been no other Tigers player in my lifetime that has left me wanting more than Sheff."

Nick's Twins Blog: Liriano and Work Ethic
"If quotes like the one Anderson provided above accurately reflect the lefty's work ethic, it's hard to fault the club for being hesitant to commit long-term, or for being perpetually irritated when apparently avoidable injury issues like his current shoulder soreness crop up."

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Could Brackman Be the Fifth Starter?
Has it really gotten this desperate in the Bronx?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Predicting the Hall of Fame Votes, Part I: 2012-2016

By Bill (with special guest snarking from The Common Man)

You might remember that a little over a month ago, I wrote about Bill James' 1994 predictions for the BBWAA Hall of Fame voting covering the next 25 years: 1995-2019.

I had a lot of (respectful) fun pointing out James' hits and misses, in what was essentially an impossible exercise, so TCM and I thought it only fair to try the same impossible exercise ourselves. We've each made our own lists covering the next 25 years of BBWAA voting -- 2012-2036 -- and as you'll see, our lists are very different, even as to players who have already retired (I can't wait to see what happens when we're dealing with guys currently in their early twenties). We'll be unveiling and discussing our lists in five five-year segments in the coming days and/or weeks. Today, the immediate next five years, 2012-2016, which covers the first ballot for every player who has already retired (2010 retirees will be eligible in 2016). (Also, here is Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5, as well as our wrap-up).

A word on methodology. James picked two inductees for every season, which makes sense; historically, there have been either one or two BBWAA inductees in virtually every year, and since it's almost entirely guesswork anyway, why not make it uniform? But on the other hand, there are a ton of worthy candidates coming up, and you do see three in a class about once every ten years (see 1984, 1991, 1999). So we decided to limit ourselves to two candidates (or fewer, though I chose never to pick fewer) in every year, with the exception of two seasons, in which we could name three. For a 25-year stretch, that seems reasonable.

So, onward. I'm handling the main commentary this time, with TCM injecting comments as he sees fit, and we'll switch next time. Here's hoping that in fifteen years, someone will care enough about us to come back to this list and have a good laugh at our expense:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The 40 Worst Off-Seasons Ever, Part 4

This week, The Common Man has been counting down the 40 worst offseasons in baseball history. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. And part 3 is here.  Today, he concludes, counting down from 10-1. Today, the Marlins and A's hold fire sales, the Giants petulently throw away a pennant, the Red Sox make the single most disasterous team that a team could make, even worse than the Mets, except for the one made by the Astros. Remember, from yesterday, TCM is trying to "account for the Wins Above Replacement lost by each team over the next five years as a result of their actions, or (for modern teams) until a player traded away, waived, or released became a free agent again. He has also tried to account for teams whose terrible moves cost them postseason berths, and also for how fans likely felt if they were watching their team get gutted or flail about." And now,the rest of the rankings!

3 Questions: Seattle Mariners

By Bill

OK, so I was one of those people who thought the Mariners were in really, really good shape at about this time last year. Every single move they made made sense, at least in isolation. And in retrospect, they certainly needed to do more -- in particular, a first baseman who could do more than play defense would have helped -- but I still think it should have been pretty good. I never picked them to win the division (or at least I don't think I did...please don't look it up), but I certainly didn't see 61-101 coming, and I think anyone who says he or she did is a liar. Any reason to hope for anything more this year?

1. Have they improved at all?
Last year, Jack Zduriencik was the busiest GM of the offseason, pretty much from start to finish. This offseason, you barely heard anything from the M's at all...which is what tends to happen with 100-loss teams who don't have a superstar to sell off. Moves were made, though. Jack Cust is in, Russell Branyan is out. Jose Lopez is gone, with Brendan Ryan, however temporarily, taking his place.

So that's not much, but on the other hand, there are a lot of guys who really can't be as bad as they were in 2010. Figgins, in particular (assuming he isn't traded), isn't the near-MVP candidate he was in 2009, but he had the worst year of his career in 2010, and he's not that guy either. Ryan certainly isn't quite the offensive zero he was in 2010, it's unlikely Milton Bradley has completely forgotten to hit, and so on. If the M's hadn't done anything at all, they'd very likely be better, just through regression and better luck.

And it's not just the dreadful offense that sunk them last year. The defense took a big step back, too, from close to the best in the game in 2009 to something like the middle of the pack in '10. Moving Figgins from second back to third, where he seems to perform much better, a healthy Jack Wilson, and plugging in the excellent Ryan for the plodding Lopez should all help. People will tell you that they need offense, not defense, to win. I don't buy it; until the point where their defense and pitching combine to allow 0.0 runs per game, permitting fewer runs will help them win roughly as much as scoring more runs will.

Baseball Prospectus' AL West preview went up yesterday, and PECOTA sees the Mariners going 68-94 (with some really dryly funny commentary from Mr. Wyers). For the second post in a row, I just can't buy that. That's a seven-game improvement over 2010 (and a nine-game improvement over their 2010 Pythagorean record), but between their being better and the Rangers and Angels being worse, 75 or so wins seems to me like a better bet.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The 40 Worst Off-Seasons Ever, Part 3

By The Common Man

This week, The Common Man is counting down the 40 worst offseasons in baseball history. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.  And Part 4 is here.  Today, he continues, counting down from 20-11. Today, the Braves trade a whole pitching staff, the Orioles and D-backs get burned by bad backs, the Twins get nothing for the best pitcher in baseball, the Expos and A's sell everything that isn't nailed down, and Christy Mathewson.  Remember, from yesterday, TCM is trying to "account for the Wins Above Replacement lost by each team over the next five years as a result of their actions, or (for modern teams) until a player traded away, waived, or released became a free agent again. He has also tried to account for teams whose terrible moves cost them postseason berths, and also for how fans likely felt if they were watching their team get gutted or flail about." And now, back to the rankings!

SweetSpot Roundup 2/16

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Consider an earthquake
Just how sabermetrically inclined is the Braves' new manager?

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): 2011 Maple Street Press Brewers Annual
Jack's hawking his wares, but I have a feeling this is going to be a publication you're going to want if you're interested in the Brew Crew or the NL Central.

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Cubs trade Tony Thomas to Boston for Robert Coello
A minor deal, but one that could pay off in the Chicago bullpen.

Dodger Thoughts: 2011 Spring Training Primer
Jon Weisman has a crackerjack preview of the Dodgers' upcoming Spring Training.  A must read.

Mets Today: Once Again, Would the Mets Sign Pujols?
"Assuming nothing changes in ownership between now and then, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Mets will be in no position to get in on the bidding should Pujols be a free agent."

Bay City Ball (Giants): Tracking the 'Best Shapes'
So far, only two players on the Giants are in the best shapes of their career. I blame the school systems for not teaching enough Geometry.

Nationals Baseball: A Number 1 Problem
A post about Livan Hernandez without an Elton John joke is a rare gift indeed.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Great Pitching Duels in Padres History, Kevin Brown vs. Daryl Kile
I really like this series that Geoff has put together.  And it's nice to take a moment to remember Kile, a terrific pitcher who was taken too young.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Are the Phillies Missing Right-Handed Power?
Well, do they?  Bill doesn't keep us in suspense for too long.

Redleg Nation: What to Expect From Mike Leake
Last year Mike Leake was a hotshot rookie who fatigued down the stretch for the Reds.  Now he wants to be let off the leash.  Should he be turned loose?

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Doom, Gloom and Soaking up the Fun
"Just about everything looks good for the future of the Blue Jays. The present...not so much. It isn't that the upcoming season is already lost or that I don't eagerly await Opening Day. I just think there are many short-term potholes between the Jays and a steady cycle of success."

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): The Last Stand (Until the Next One)
Jon looks at some players on the roster who might be in danger of hitting the waiver wire before Opening Day.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Projecting The Rangers' Opening Day Roster...On February 14th
"Barring some more chaos on the Young front, this really is a remarkably locked-in roster already -- for perhaps the first time in recent memory, all of the Rangers' position players seem to be set.... Probably the only remotely controversial thing about this roster, in fact, is my placement of a non-roster Dave Bush in the No. 5 spot and Derek Holland in the long-relief spot, which I admittedly can't provide much justification for beyond saying that it's what I'm feeling in my gut."

The Ray Area: 61!
No, not 61*; that's the number of players the Rays are bringing in to spring training. Mark looks at some past classes of invitees.

Fire Brand of the AL (Red Sox): Ten Things to Watch For This Spring
Number ten is the one I'll be keeping an eye on; Tony Pena, Jr., former shortstop who hits like a pitcher, in his attempt to make the Sox' roster as a pitcher who pitches like one. 

Royals Authority: David DeJesus: Not Easily Replaced
"I keep forgetting that David Dejesus isn’t a Royal anymore. It’s partly because the departure of Zack Greinke was much more publicized. It’s also probably because David Dejesus was  the kind of player who was always under-rated and under-appreciated."

Nick's Twins Blog: Windows
Preach it, Nick: "By trading Liriano right now for a package of prospects, which Christensen presents as a possibility in drawing comparisons to the Zack Greinke and Matt Garza trades, the Twins would effectively be slamming the window shut on themselves. Hypothetically, they could still compete for a division title, but contending teams just don't trade their best pitcher away."

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): More on CC's opt-out and the likeliness of it being exercised
Jason figures CC likely will opt out of his current contract after this season. But his analysis is a must-read.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3 Questions: Baltimore Orioles

By Bill

The Orioles are our second-to-last AL team to be questioned. They've made a bunch of fairly big moves this offseason, which you think would make them one of the more fun ones to talk about. You'd be wrong, though. Like, really wrong.

1. Is a good last-place team better than a bad last-place team?
Maybe that's not fair. PECOTA, after all, likes them to finish fourth, six games ahead of the Blue Jays. I just can't see it; the Jays have probably gotten a bit worse and the Orioles have gotten a bit better, but not to the tune of a 25-game swing from 2010.

The point, though, is that even that very rosy projection has the Orioles at 82-80 -- ten games out of first, nine out of a playoff spot, and stuck behind probably the three best teams in the league. So what are they doing acquiring three players -- Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero and J.J. Hardy -- who will be free agents after this season? With those three guys, they've spent $21 million for, basically, a chance to move from a distant fifth place to a distant fourth.

And this is fun: a few days ago, GM Andy MacPhail was speaking to some law students when he said that Alex Rodriguez's huge 2001 contract with the Rangers was "the worst signing in the history of baseball in my view." And why? Because "the needle didn't move at all. The team didn't improve. Attendance didn't go up." MacPhail hasn't spent anywhere near A-Rod money this offseason, but it's hard to imagine these moves turning out any differently.

2. How Good Is Matt Wieters?
And speaking of PECOTA: in 2009, before he'd played a game in the big leagues, the system saw Wieters as putting up one of the greatest seasons a catcher has ever had: .311/.395/.544, with 31 home runs. Of course, that didn't happen, though he was about an average hitter in 2009, which in itself is impressive enough for a 23 year old catcher. But then he took a step back in 2010.

Wieters is still the same guy who was taken fifth overall in the draft, was the #1 prospect entering 2009, and hit an incredible .343/.438/.576 in his minor league career. We're still a couple years from being able to say he won't be a star in the major leagues. I get the sense people are writing him off already, but if you're going to bet on somebody to come up with a huge year out of nowhere this year (and its coming "out of nowhere" pretty much means you shouldn't bet on it, or whatever), Wieters would seem to be a pretty good choice.

3. Can Mark Reynolds Hit (in the AL East)?
I've written about Reynolds several times already (here and here and here), because he's fascinating. The point was basically that while strikeouts by hitters are overemphasized, it is really, really hard to remain a productive player while striking out as ridiculously often as Reynolds does. And he went a long way toward proving that last year, going .198/.320/.433. I think he's an amazingly talented hitter and there's a good chance he turns it around, but I also think that in a division with Sabathia and Burnett and Lester and Beckett and Price, he could strike out 250 times. I'm going to forget all that and just hope that proximity to his alma mater (and mine, sort of), the University of Virginia, helps him somehow.

TPA Hits ESPN on the SweetSpot

In case you missed us yesterday on ESPN's SweetSpot blog, here are handy links to our fine, fine work:

A Handy Guide to How Your Team Screwed Up This Off-Season
The Common Man takes you through the major kinds of errors we saw this offseason from different teams around the league.

What If Albert Pujols Really Does Leave the Cardinals?
The Common Man looks at how other teams have coped with the loss of the best player in baseball, and what that means for the Cards.

The Worst 100 RBI Seasons In Baseball History
Bill points out that 100 is just a nice round number, and it doesn't really tell you anything about a player's performance.

A Baseball Institution Turns 50!
The Common Man wishes happy birthday to Strat-o-Matic Baseball, which you should really play if you haven't already.

The 40 Worst Off-Seasons: Part 2

Yesterday, The Common Man started his countdown of the 40 worst offseasons in baseball history.  Part 1 is here.  Part 3 is here.  And Part 4 is here.  Today, he continues, counting down from 30-21.  Come along and enjoy the Pirates ridding themselves of two Hall of Famers, the Diamondbacks' disdain for MVP candidates, some of the worst free agent signings in baseball history, the Rays' false start, and the Twins giving away a Boston Icon for free.  Remember, from yesterday, TCM is trying to "account for the Wins Above Replacement lost by each team over the next five years as a result of their actions, or (for modern teams) until a player traded away, waived, or released became a free agent again. He has also tried to account for teams whose terrible moves cost them postseason berths, and also for how fans likely felt if they were watching their team get gutted or flail about."  And now, back to the rankings!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The 40 Worst Off-Seasons Ever, Part 1

By The Common Man

This list was inspired by a reader and Twins fan, Norm Steadman, who writes at Mister 70%. Norm has been understandably disappointed by Minnesota’s offseason so far, and wanted some way to feel better about their lackluster performance. To cheer Norm up, The Common Man thought he’d take him up on his suggestion to rank the 40 worst offseasons in baseball history.  This is part 1.  The series will be five parts long, and run every day this week, including some follow-up thoughts and conclusions on Friday.  Good news, Norm, this iteration of the Twins are going to have to work really hard to crack this group.

Before we begin, a couple of notes. First, criteria. What makes a bad offseason? One thing, obviously, is when a team makes moves that hurt the team in either or both of the short or long term. Bad trades, bad signings. Things that cripple a franchise’s ability to compete. In his analysis, The Common Man has tried to account for the Wins Above Replacement lost by each team over the next five years as a result of their actions, or (for modern teams) until a player traded away, waived, or released became a free agent again. He has also tried to account for teams whose terrible moves cost them postseason berths, and also for how fans likely felt if they were watching their team get gutted or flail about.

Second, this is probably not a complete list, and TCM welcomes your suggestions for other teams that should be on here. TCM was working a lot from memory and from references like Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders, but there is not a good systematic way to examine all the data without digging through roughly 2300 team-offseasons. If you’ve got ideas of other terrible offseasons, by all means suggest them in the comments.

Finally, the list does not include the rumors and expectations surrounding a team as part of the analysis. For instance, there were rumors once that Yankees and Red Sox were going to swap DiMaggio and Williams. That didn’t happen, and so TCM is not going to use it to analyze what could have happened during that offseason. Obviously, the level of disappointment fans may have had that an anticipated deal didn’t come together (like the Twins attempts to deal Johan Santana to the Yankees and Red Sox in 2008) would affect their perception of the offseason. But that’s not possible across history. So instead, The Common Man is sticking to what did happen. So let’s get started:

(Update: you can find part 2 here.  Meanwhile, Part 3 is here.  And Part 4 is up here.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


By The Common Man

Dammit, people, stop writing things The Common Man needs to respond to today. TCM is looking straight at you, Austin Swafford, mega-Astros fan, proprieter of Austin’s Astros 290 Blog on the SweetSpot Network and holder of the proverbial keys to the SweetSpot blog today:

“Are the Rangers the only ones who were surprised by this? Were even the Rangers surprised? [Michael] Young has become the face of the Rangers and has been a model citizen, but you can only push a guy so far, and it's been going on with him for years. Granted, he's been paid well for what he's done with the Rangers. But it's nice to feel like the team is behind you, respects you and views you as an important piece of their success. Young's contributions for a decade have certainly warranted Texas' respect.”
How have the Rangers disrespected “the face of the franchise?” Well, Austin takes Young at his word that he’s been "misled and manipulated on different occasions." And as evidence of this, Austin points out that the Rangers have “taken advantage of his versatility and willingness” and asked/cajoled him to switch positions. This after making him the face of the franchise in the first place. And after making him one of the highest paid players in Major League Baseball. Both of which are excellent ways to show a ballplayer respect.

Missing the Grade

By The Common Man

The Common Man really didn’t want to write today, at least not about this. He’s getting ready for his big gig on the SweetSpot blog next Monday. But he just couldn’t let Jayson Stark’s offseason grades for the NL West go by without saying something. After all, Jayson gave the Padres a C and the Dodgers a B+ for their efforts this Winter, while TCM ranked the Padres #1 overall in their offseason execution, while Los Angeles fell to #17.

The Common Man knew lots of students in high school and college who never really applied themselves like they could have to their studies. They were smart, they knew it, and they got by on acceptable marks while biding their time until bigger and better opportunities came around. Meanwhile, TCM also knew classmates who would turn in a flurry of paper, assignments and extra credit, pandering to the teacher and reciting back what they had just been told, verbatim. They didn’t learn anything, but they looked like good students. Most of those guys and women are in middle management now. The other guys, the underenthused, tend to be running non-profits, getting PhDs, working for think tanks, and advising US Senators. Jayson doesn’t seem to know the difference.

The Case Against Barry Bonds' Collusion Case

By Bill

As you might have noticed by now, while we wait for to name a new fearless leader, control of the SweetSpot Blog is being passed around from one SSN blogger to another like so much...well, like a head cold or something. (Our turn is coming up pretty soon.)

A couple days, ago, the excellent Bill Baer of the excellent Phillies SSN blog Crashburn Alley had the reins, and he wrote a post about two things he'd do if he were named commissioner for a day. The suggestions: (1) issue a formal apology from MLB to Barry Bonds; (2) mandate that Adam Dunn participate in the Home Run Derby. Both good suggestions, I think, especially the first. You might say the media did it, but Selig and the MLB front office sat by and allowed Bonds to become public enemy no. 1 on the PED issue, when really, it was Selig and his cronies themselves, and the MLBPA leadership, who should have been taking most (or all) of the blame. So generally, it's a very good post (as you'd expect from Bill).

This caught me unawares, however, from the end of point number one, emphasis added:
Jamie Moyer is 48 years old and just had Tommy John surgery. Over the past two seasons, he has posted ERAs of 4.94 and 4.84, yet is eyeing a comeback. You can bet there will be some interested teams waiting for Moyer when he is once again healthy.

Whether MLB and the owners care to admit it or not, they colluded against Bonds to keep him from playing baseball after the '07 season. That, not the rampant steroid use during the 1990s and early 2000s, will be what ultimately leaves a black eye on baseball's history.
Wow. Didn't see that one coming. The "baseball is colluding against Bonds!" thing is something that I thought went away along with According to Jim and Frank TV. But I, apparently, was gravely mistaken. It lives -- helped along by one of the smartest bloggers out there, no less.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Women and Men Who Put Up With Us In Spite of Our Geekdom, and What They Endure to Do It

Last night, The Common Man went out for beers with the fellas, as they say, and left The Uncommon Wife with The Boy and Zeke, the Happy Puppy.  While TCM had a terrific day yesterday, what with the kidneys and the tweeting and the beer, The Uncommon Wife had a little bit more of a struggle.  When TCM returned home, he had the following conversation with his beloved, which she has been kind enough to turn into an XtraNormal:

Yes, like many of you out there in the Internets, The Common Man is a geek.  And for some reason this wonderful woman, like your wonderful significant other men and women, continues to love him.  Remember to thank them tonight for putting up with our idiosynchisies.  Thanks, honey!  (And, also, thank you Tom Tango!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Update: Drowning in a Sea of Donated Kidneys (Now with more kidneys!)

By The Common Man

This morning, Craig Calcaterra linked to a report out of Wake Forest, where Demon Deacons baseball coach Tom Walter made the incredible and selfless decision to donate one of his kidneys to freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan, “I would do anything to help any one of my players or any of my family members—anything in my power to help them have a better quality of life is something that I want to do.” Not that this was his motivation, but something tells me that Walter is going to have a much easier time recruiting going forward.

Anyway, Craig wondered on Twitter whether any Major League managers would donate a kidney to a player, concluding “I bet Ozzie would. ‘What I care? I got two. I do anything for Jon Danks.’” This set The Common Man off and running to uncover all the players, managers, executives, and owners who would donate their kidneys to needy players. Here’s what TCM discovered:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Truck Day! (A Previously Unknown Baseball Holiday)

By The Common Man

Today is Truck Day around the Major Leagues, which is exciting because The Common Man totally forgot that we were celebrating the career of Truck Hannah.

Hannah is one of 15 MLB players born in North Dakota, along with Darin Erstad, Travis Hafner, disgraced former manager Tim Nelson, Rick Helling, and Frank Brosseau (who only pitched 3.2 innings for the Pirates in his career, but TCM played Little League with his son Rick, so perhaps you’ll indulge TCM a little here). 15 guys. From the whole state. It’s cold there.

3 Questions: Washington Nationals

By The Common Man

With Stephen Strasburg on the DL for what should be all of 2011, the Nationals could have been forgiven for sitting out much of this offseason. Instead, they went all in and signed free agent Jayson Werth to a huge contract, and were allegedly players for guys like Cliff Lee, Javier Vazquez, and Carl Pavano as well. They’ve got an eye toward being competitive in 2012 and 2013, but it will be an uphill climb and there are still many questions that need answering. Here are three of them. (As always, you can click here to find more 3 questions previews for your favorite MLB teams.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Ripple Effect

By The Common Man

Now that he’s retiring, everybody seems to be wondering whether Andy Pettitte is going to be a Hall of Famer. The answer is likely that he doesn’t deserve to on merit, but there’s a distinct chance that his fame and his postseason success could push him over the top. But Pettitte is more interesting for how his candidacy touches on and affects the candidacy of others. What does The Common Man mean?

Was Andy Pettitte Better Than His Numbers?

By Bill

Everybody knows by now that Andy Pettitte -- you remember, the guy that used PEDs just like everybody else but it's totally OK because he seems like a nice guy? -- announced yesterday that he would retire rather than returning to the Yankees for 2011. The question that immediately comes up, then, is: is Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer?

Aaaand...that's not what this post is about, not really. My answer, based on his career (regular-season) numbers and accomplishments as they stand, is no, and not particularly close. If you ignore the wins (as all reasonable people do), there's nothing about his record that really looks anything at all like a Hall of Famer. He had one great year (1997), a couple other really good ones, and about twelve more in which, by and large, he was just a touch above average. His career bWAR is 50.2, better than a handful of weaker HOF starting pitchers but less good than Kevin Appier, Brett Saberhagen, Chuck Finley, Dave Stieb, David Cone and Jerry Koosman. By ERA+, Pettitte's 116 is pretty nice, but just 31st among non-Hall of Famers with between 2500 and 3500 innings pitched (Pettitte threw 3055), and doesn't compare very well at all to no-chance guys like Billy Pierce, Stieb, Carl Mays, or Kevin Brown, among others. I don't think there's any reasonable argument, not based on the absurd fiction of pitcher "wins," that puts Pettitte all that close to the Hall of Fame based on the stats you'll find at Baseball-Reference or FanGraphs.

But the question, I guess, is: is Pettitte somehow better than his raw numbers? There are two arguments I've heard hinted at today that kind of suggest that he was, and I'll deal with them separately here:

SweetSpot Roundup 2/4

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: What would you do with the Vader Throne?
Austin answers Joe Aiello's challenge and discusses what he would do if commissioner for a day.

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Rodrigo Lopez's loss is Atlanta's gain
"Signing Rodrigo Lopez to a minor-league deal is the type of move I’d pray my team’s GM made if I were a fan of a rebuilding team with an opening in the rotation. Lopez is a major-league pitcher. Granted, not a very good one, but a major-league pitcher nonetheless. Getting a major-league pitcher on a minor-league deal is a win, always."

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Brewers Add Kotsay to List of Veteran Signings
"he casualty will probably be somebody negligible – think Roque Mercedes or Martin Maldonado – but the idea of having to expose MLB talent to other teams just for the right to invite Mark Kotsay to camp and either realize he’s terrible or, worse, give his seemingly dead bat MLB plate appearances just rubs me the wrong way."

Fungoes (Cardinals): Is A-Rod's Contract a Wise Comparable For Pujols?
Given that Albert Pujols is way, way, way more valuable, and much, much younger than A-Rod, perhaps Pujols shouldn't be looking to A-Rod to set his price.

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Month in Transactions, January
Joe looks at the moves the Cubbies made last month.

Dodger Thoughts: Postseason pitching punishment
Will the Dodgers be the beneficieries of the Giants' hurlers having to pitch deep into October last year?

Bay City Ball (Giants): Labwork, Brian Wilson FB location vs. LHB
Heat maps are awesome.

Mets Today: 12 DUPACR, John Stearns
With 12 days left before the start of Spring Training, Joe looks at a good, but forgotten old catcher.

Nationals Baseball: Are the O's now better than the Nats?
"It is true. The Orioles have so far had a more successful offseason, but it's also true that they needed to. While their records were similar, 66 wins for the Os to 69 for the Nats, most indications were that the Orioles were lucky to win that many and the Nats were a bit unlucky not to win more."

Ducksnorts (Padres): One Hit Wonders
This installment in Geoff's look at guys who got just a single hit for San Diego includes one of the biggest draft busts of all time.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Potential July Departures
What would the Phillies do if everything goes to hell and they're in firesale mode come July?

Redleg Nation: Will Reds attendance increase as much as the front office expects?
"With something like 145 games on TV, a tough economy, minor league / non affiliated teams (thus cheaper tickets, etc) in Dayton, Lexington, Indianapolis, Florence, etc, plus other factors that I hadn’t thought of….is [two to three million fans] a reasonable expectation by the Reds front office?"  And if not, will they be able to pay for the extensions they just doled out?

Weaver's Tantrum (Orioles): Buying the Gloves?
Hey, Dave's back! The Orioles' offseason additions have improved the defense (at least a little), which is promising for the pitching staff.

Fire Brand of the AL (Red Sox): Is the Sox' Offense Too Left-Handed Heavy?
Charlie tries to set up a balanced batting order from this awe-inspiring lineup, which features five lefties out of nine slots.

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): The Detroit Tigers Podcast #127: Catching Up on a Busy Winter
Kill ninety minutes of your doomed-to-be-unproductive-anyway Friday by listening to some great Tigers talk covering the whole winter, including Sparky Anderson and the Tigers' ambitious offseason moves.

Royals Authority: Year of the Pitcher or Year of the Smaller Bat?
Nick uncovers something that, when I saw it earlier yesterday, I was shocked I hadn't heard a single thing about before: MLB reduced the maximum bat diameter in 2010, which could have helped explain the fairly drastic reduction in offense. It remains to be confirmed whether (a) MLBers were using the max size bats to begin with and (b) if so, whether this rule was actually enforced, but if so, this is actually pretty huge news and great ammo for people like me who aren't quite satisfied with the blatantly inadequate "steroids are the explanation for everything" thing.

Nick's Twins Blog: Joe Nathan and History
Musing about Nathan's chances for a comeback from his injury...not just this year, but to go well into his 40s and finish off a Hall of Fame career. Also: I have it on good authority that Nick has the reins over on the mothership, so check it out every now and then today.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Guest Post: One of Andy's Biggest Fans Reflects
IIATMS has a ton of great Pettitte stuff up, but this one is by one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter, Becca (rebexarama), who is not merely one of Andy's biggest fans, but appears to me to be a bigger fan of Andy than anyone else I know is of anything (while remaining healthy about the whole thing, anyway). She's put together a really nice, heart-felt, emotional yet startlingly rational piece reflecting on and celebrating what Pettitte has meant to her as a fan. Go read it.

Baseballin' on a Budget (A's): Top Fives: Best Designated Hitters in Team History
I really am a sucker for these lists posts, but it's just like I've always said: "any list with Dave Kingman at the top is going to have some rotting garbage at the bottom."

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Top 20 Seattle Mariners Prospects for 2011
Nice stuff here. With a pretty table and everything, Jon and Connor both give you their own top 20 list, both with a nice discussion afterward.

The Ray Area: Nothing left but a nickname
On the aftermath of the Damon/Manny double signing: "The top item on the list is a nickname. What do you think? RJ Anderson suggested DaManny back when the story first broke. Michael Webber has been using MannysBay in his Twitter feed. I am lukewarm on both. We need something better. What do you got?"

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): The One Where I Announce a New Gig
Maybe this is too meta for the roundup, but I like it: you may have noticed that Baseball Prospectus added approximately a million great new (to them) writers a couple days ago. Two of them are Joey Matschulat and Jason Parks, both of BBTiA (which isn't going anywhere). Pretty exciting stuff. Congrats to them!

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Inevitable Heat Maps Post
Taking a look at how Fangraphs' very cool heat maps work, with a look at the Jays' starting rotation.

And on The Platoon Advantage: Bill's take on Andy Pettitte is up, with TCM's likely to follow in a bit.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

3rd Place Isn't That Hard To Do

By The Common Man

It's apparently The Common Man's day to criticize Rob Neyer,which he totally doesn't mean it to be. But Rob wrote a lot yesterday, and TCM was paying very close attention to his old boss. And anytime Rob writes about the Twins, TCM's ears perk up.  Rob's debut on SB Nation was largely terrific, but this stuck out as a bit of a clunker:

"Just about everyone's back except Orlando Hudson, J.J. Hardy and Jesse Crain. Sure, those guys will be missed. But they weren't exactly All-Stars, and if Justin Morneau's back the Twins should be fine. After all, this is a team that won 94 games with Morneau for just half a season and Joe Nathan for no season at all. Baseball's a funny game and they might finish third, but that seems like a reach."
Look, as a Twins fan, The Common Man desperately wants this to be true.  But, even as someone who's not usually very pessimistic about the team, TCM can easily see how the Twins could end up in 3rd in 2011. 

The Folly of 10 Year Forecasts

By The Common Man

Yesterday, in his new digs over at SB Nation, Rob Neyer pointed back to his 1999-2000 predictions for who would be the best players in baseball from 2000-2009. As Rob himself points out, he went oh-for-10.

“Overall, though, I did a thoroughly lousy job.

Is there a lesson here? Well, it's really hard to know who's going to get hurt, and nearly as hard to know who's going to get fat. I think I've also got a general tendency to overrate young players. I still don't understand what happened to Ben Grieve, but at the time he was 23 and hadn't yet enjoyed a big season in the majors. Fernando Tatis was 25, and had just one great season on his ledger.

The real lesson, though, is that this stuff is hard. If it was easy, there wouldn't be so many lousy long-term contracts out there.”
So where did Rob go wrong? And, at the time, what, if anything, did he miss?

3 Questions: Kansas City Royals

By Bill

Let's get this out of the way: the 2011 Kansas City Royals are going to be bad. Really, really bad. They've currently got Major League-quality starting ballplayers at designated hitter, and possibly first base, shortstop and left field; they've got a couple number four or five starters and a quality closer. And that's pretty much it. They managed not to be the worst team in the AL last year -- they were third-worst ahead of Baltimore and Seattle, the final two stops on my half of the 3 Questions series -- but it'll be awfully hard for them to repeat that, er, accomplishment again in 2011.

So there's really no question about that. What are some questions we can talk about?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

3 Questions: Florida Marlins

By The Common Man

The Marlins won 80 games last year despite trading or waiving two members of their starting lineup, having four rookies play major roles for the club, enduring a down year by the club’s superstar SS, and getting almost nothing out of the catcher and centerfield spots. Plus, they contended with below replacement level seasons by Emilio Bonafacio and Wes Helms, both of whom got more than 200 PAs. That’s pretty impressive. But in true Fish form, Jeffrey Loria’s Marlins seemed to shoot themselves in the foot this offseason and left themselves with several questions to start 2011. Here are three of them. (As always, you can click here to find a complete list of The Platoon Advantage's 3 Questions series.)

SweetSpot Roundup 2/1

Today's SweetSpot Roundup is, as you might expect, full of tributes to the SweetSpot Network's progenitor. Here's hoping the new boss, is the same as the old boss...

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Cheers
Peter is a recent convert, who traces his Rob-assisted sabermetric rebirth all the way back to October of 2007, those heady days when I had already graduated from law school and bought the house I'm currently living in. Which isn't any kind of slight to Peter (it's amazing how quickly he's become the great baseball mind he is)--it's a testament to how long and how deep Rob's influence goes.

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): GirlieView (01/31/2011)
"Today (or, rather, last night) officially starts “Superbowl Week”. So what? This isn’t a football blog! Here’s why it’s relevant. Superbowl Week, to me, has always felt like the very, very beginning of baseball. It’s not a football celebration. It’s a “yay football is over now baseball can start” celebration!"

Redleg Nation: Janish freed, Renteria miscast
"For what it’s worth, our new utilityman has played 17,390 innings in the major leagues.  He’s played 17,389 at SS, and 1 at 1B."

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: Trouble on horizon for Wandy?
Austin discusses an ESPN S&I blog post that finds some reasons for concern regarding Wandy's best pitch, the curve.

Dodger Thoughts: Best of Luck, Rob Neyer
The Rob tribute is pretty quick this time, with the usual interesting collection of Dodgers-related links.

Mets Today: 15 DUPACR: Jerry Grote
There's interesting stuff on Mets Today today about the Mets being for sale, you know, topical stuff, but I'm partial to the DUPACR series, counting down the number of days until pitchers and catchers report by celebrating one Met who wore the corresponding uniform number.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Rob Neyer Is Movin' On
"It meant the world to me when I opened up my Gmail account in late September of 2009 to find Neyer reaching out to me, even going so far as to compliment my work, inviting me to join his SweetSpot blog network. I joined a team of bloggers whose work I had long admired and have watched as others joined the team."

Ducksnorts (Padres): Thank You, Rob Neyer; Best of Luck
Geoff's offering is a heartfelt thank you, and then a collection of links to other tributes around the blogo- and twittersphere.

Bay City Ball (Giants): Neyer Moving On From ESPN
"It goes without saying that I wish Rob the best in whatever he does next. It’s not a stretch to say that, for me, Rob has always been a writer that I looked up to. When I started blogging sometime around 2006 on this website, Neyer was one of my main inspirations. And it’s no lie to say that I’ve got more than just a few books with his name written on the spine sitting in my office right now. To me, as an infant blogger, Rob’s writing was the kind of stuff that I wanted to write. It was always accessible, smart, funny, and thought provoking."

Fungoes (Cardinals): Five headlines that we expect (not necessarily want) in 2011
More inspiration from the United Cardinal Bloggers, something more teams' bloggers need to emulate. Here, Pip looks into the future and sees some headlines and story summaries (none too bad for Cards fans, until you get to #5).

Nationals Baseball: Re-entry Post
Harper took over a week off, so he has some thoughts on Tom Gorzelanny just to get back into the swing.

Baseballin' on a Budget (A's): An arm for an arm: why it’s good to have Ethan Hollingsworth instead of Clay Mortensen
"This a good trade because Hollingsworth could be worth something to the A’s. Mortensen clearly wasn’t going anywhere in the A’s depth chart after the flurry of offseason acquisitions fortifying the bullpen and his track record wouldn’t justify giving him a chance to win the fifth starter role for Oakland."

Ghostrunner on First (Blue Jays): Stuck Between Stations
"Ultimately, I think this town will forget Vernon Wells in a hurry. Despite logging thousands of innings in the middle of Rogers Centre, his legacy will not last. Other insane contracts will shove his from the memory, other affable & well-adjusted athletes will attract our undeserving scorn."

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): So long, Rob, and good luck
More Rob love, this time from writers who he indirectly influenced.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Michael Young, the Baseball Media, and What's Gone Wrong
Joey comes out swinging at the way the alleged Michael Young trade rumors have been reported, and chastizes writers for creating rumors out of whole cloth.  A very good piece.

The Ray Area: Take Me Out With the Crowd
Has TV coverage gotten so good that it's actually better to watch games in HD than it is to go to the ballpark?  Maybe only in Tampa.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Ranking the Division Starters
Josh Beckett's health worries drop the Red Sox to #2 in these AL East rankings.

Royals Authority:  Chasing Emil Brown
Remember the Emil Brown era?  You probably don't, but I do.  And so do Royals fans.  And it probably wasn't as bad as you remember.

The Daily Fungo (Tigers):  Today's Tiger, Dave Stegman
Happy Birthday, Dave Stegman, former #2 overall pick in the amateur draft.  One of the great failures of the early draft years.

Nick's Twins Blog: Musical Chairs
Nick fisks the three pitchers vying for the final two spots in the Twins' rotation and thinks that Brian Duensing will (again) get the short end. 

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Rob Neyer to Leave ESPN
Jason looks back on his time as a Rob Neyer reader and colleague.  He's still a bit shocked, like the rest of us.

And on the Platoon Advantage: Check out Bill's recap of Doug Melvin's talk at SABR Day Milwaukee and the guys' own farewell and thank-you to Mr. Neyer.