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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

2005 HOF Ballots Released

On MLB.com, the HOF ballots have been released; the top name is Wade Boggs, who is considered a lock. The complete list follows. The player's Jamesian Hall of Fame Monitor score is posted if available. Scores of 100 and up are considered a good bet, 130 and up are an almost certain lock.
on Ballot
HoF ScoreComments
Jim Abbott1
Bert Blyleven8120
Wade Boggs1268
Tom Candiotti1
Dave Concepcion12106
Chili Davis1
Andre Dawson4118
Steve Garvey13130Forget it. Here's why.
Rich Gossage6126
Tommy John11111I think he's a borderline case, but you could argue that Frank Jobe's career-resurrecting surgery should almost be enough to nudge him over the line. It won't happen
Mark Langston164
Don Mattingly5133
Jack McDowell1
Willie McGee1
Jeff Montgomery174
Jack Morris6122
Dale Murphy7115
Otis Nixon1
Dave Parker9125
Tony Phillips1
Jim Rice11146
Ryne Sandberg3157
Lee Smith3136
Terry Steinbach1
Darryl Strawberry1
Bruce Sutter1291
Alan Trammell4118

Baseball Prospectus also has a few things to say about these guys.

Pickoff Moves, Get Back To Work, You Edition

Postseason Shares Announced

In case you were wondering how much everyone got, postseason shares have been announced; the Angels received $25,138.15. "The Angels awarded 43 full shares, 17 partial shares and nine cash awards." For the Dodgers: "(Share of Players' Pool: $1,265,959.21; Value of each full share: $24,473.40) The Dodgers awarded 44 full shares, 22 partial shares and three cash awards." World Series winners Boston got $223,619.79, awarding 58 full shares, 29 partial shares and eight cash awards.

No word on rumors George Steinbrenner received a lump of coal in his stocking, regardless.

Angels, Meet Sawbones

Tim Salmon and Brendan Donnelly went under the knife. Donnelly will be ready in time for spring training, but Salmon is expected to be out nine months. Lessee... carry the one... that's August. Uh, Tim...

KCAL 9 New Home Of The Dodgers Through 2013

What have they done to deserve it? I just don't know. Nary a word about HDTV.

Meltin' Milton

Milton Bradley arrested? And he asked for it? Say it ain't so...

Giants Sign Armando Benitez

So much for hoping for a reappearance of Dustin Hermanson in late innings. The Giants signed Armando Benitez, to a three-year, $21M contract. How's this for an absurd wrinkle:
Contract guru Ned Colletti's creativity -- and Benitez's willingness to negotiation freely -- made the deal work. Colletti said the contract is spread out over five years, with the lowest salary in 2005. It increases every year thereafter and includes yearly portions of a signing bonus that runs two years after the pact is over.
In other words, they're backloading his signing bonus. Well, in two years Bonds is a pumpkin, anyway.

Not Even Wal-Mart Is That Cost-Conscious

On the Pirates website, regarding the begged-for signing of Tino Martinez:
There isn't much else on the free agent market at first base beyond Martinez. After Richie Sexson and Carlos Delgado, both of whom are way out of the Bucs' price range, Brad Fullmer, Tony Clark, Travis Lee and John Olerud are the top first sackers available on the market at the time of this writing.
Brad Fullmer? Brad Fullmer, who had 258 AB's and a .233/.310/.442 line? Brad Fullmer, who the Rangers used as a DH? Brad Fullmer, who had the temerity to criticize Scioscia after Mike did him a favor by keeping him away from lefties.

Carlos Beltran's Unrequited Love For Anaheim

This Houston Chronicle story claims Anaheim tops free agent centerfielder Carlos Beltran's wished-for landing spots, but Anaheim is apparently uninterested:
The Astros have been told that the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes are "yours to lose." ...

New York newspapers have reported that the Yankees will offer $13 million a year. The Cubs will also be serious players, but the Angels, who are believed to be Beltran's first choice, may not be interested.

Of course, this could omit the all-important part that says "we're not interested in $200M/10 years". Boras waits... and waits... and waits.

In that same story: the Astros are considering signing former Angel and Houston native Ben Weber?

[Weber] was one of the American League's best relievers between 2001 and 2003, but pitched just 18 games last season because of carpal tunnel syndrome. He was a key member of the bullpen that helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series. He's also a Houston native. If Weber is healthy, he could help filling those innings between the starter and closer Brad Lidge.
Tell me again how dealing Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner in the course of two years was a good idea. I'm forgetting now, exactly, how that was supposed to work.

Pickoff Moves, Why Am I Still Awake Edition

OT: Matt Welch Slays Dan Rather

Dan Rather: a dyspeptic dragon, an old noodle whose fame came from the principle ability to sit in a chair and not look utterly foolish while reading the news. Sic 'em, Matt:
The first, cheapest, and arguably best reason to despise someone is because he is rich, famous, and powerful. Bonus points if he works in your profession and carries on like a self-important jackass. Schadenfreude is a dish best served daily, and if America is rich enough to give around $7 million a year to not one but three different humans who have a job the Brits accurately call "newsreader," then certainly we have more than paid for the right to laugh like pitiless hyenas at the sight of the great Dan Rather slinking away from his enviable post in half-shame, like an armadillo leaving an ant nest after mistakenly pissing on it.


It's Xmas In Frisco, baby, and all over that Interweb thingy! Yeah! All the love you need, right here.

Do Not Let Us Speak Of Darker Days, But ... Sterner Days

From the M's website:
What will happen to Scott Spiezio if the Mariners are to sign Glaus and Delgado? Thank you. -- Stephen K. Beaverton, Ore.

He would have to fight for a spot on the 25-man roster or he could be made available as trade bait. However, coming off poor season in 2004, his trade value is low. He still has two years remaining on a three-year, $9 million contract.

Those still mourning Scott's departure, please inquire at Safeco Field. No reasonable offers refused!

The Empire Of Dumb Plays Its Game

... which, along with Steinbrenner, would mainly be making sure the Bosox overpay for Pedro Martinez. Omar Minaya helps out by outbidding the Sox (so far) to the tune of 3 years/$38M with a fourth year vesting option. The Sox allegedly offered two years and $25.5M. The Sox were supposed to be willing to adjust their bid in the face of additional competition, but the caveats about Pedro's shoulder and pitch counts define him.

Dellucci Said To Have Dodger Offer

The Arizona Republic claims that 31-year-old OF David Delucci has offers from seven teams, including the Snakes and Dodgers. Dellucci hit 17 home runs in 2004, with a .242/.342/.441 line.

Where Have I Heard That Before?

From the same Arizona Republic article:
General Manager Joe Garagiola Jr. and scouting director Mike Rizzo plan to meet with agent Scott Boras, who is serving an advisory role to Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew, at the upcoming owner's meetings in Anaheim. Negotiations with the 15th overall choice in June's amateur draft have been at an impasse for weeks.

Another C Bites The Dust

Doug Mirabelli and his enormous mitt won't have to leave Fenway to find work; he'll be back for two more years and $3M to catch Tim Wakefield's marvelous floaters. Interesting for the Dodgers mainly because they don't really have a starting catcher yet.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Cursology 101: Phinding The Phoundations of Philly Phailure

Is the Bambino's Curse thrashed? By this I mean the Curse itself, not the defunct blog. I daresay it is, the sign being the sprouting of rings on the hands of Jesus Christ's twin brother and his coworkers. So, by the Conservation of Curses principle -- similar to the First Law of Thermodynamics -- at least one new curse must spring into being. At first, I thought it might be the Curse of A-Rod, but realized then that that curse predated the demise of the Bambino's.


The matter's resolution may be found in Philadelphia, where they now have the curse of Billy Penn to explain the idiocies of Larry Bowa and Ed Wade:

Perched atop the City Hall building at Broad and Market Streets in Center City, Philadelphia is a statue of William Penn, universally regarded as both the founder (and namer) of the city, and the founder of the then-British colony of Pennsylvania, the name of the latter itself meaning "Penn's Woods." By tradition — although not by law — no building in the city could ever rise above this statue; however, in March of 1987, a glass skyscraper, known as One Liberty Place, was opened for business approximately three blocks away. It dwarfed the City Hall building, exceeding its height by a whopping 397 feet (121m), reaching 945 feet (288m) compared with the latter's 548 feet (167m).

Meanwhile, the city's sports teams had, up until then, enjoyed an admirable run of recent success, as in 1980 Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies had won their first World Series title ever....

Following the opening of One Liberty Place, Philadelphia's sports teams commenced a pattern of narrow failures to win a championship: The Flyers have lost in the Stanley Cup finals twice since the skyscraper's construction (in 1987 — a mere two months after One Liberty Place opened — and again in 1997), the Phillies lost the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays, and the 76ers lost the 2001 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers. But perhaps the most excruciating near-misses of all have been contributed by the Eagles, who lost the NFC Championship Game (the winner of which meets the winner of the corresponding game played in the AFC in the Super Bowl) three years in a row starting in 2001....

With four appearances in championship finals since 1987, the theoretical odds against the Philadelphia team losing all four were 15 to 1 — yet this is precisely what happened, and this does not even factor in the numerous semifinal-round losses the city's teams have suffered over this period.

The mystery, then, is why the statue is not raised atop One Liberty Place, thereby neutralizing the Curse. I throw out the suggestion, and pass on.

Japanese HS Baseball Federation Forbids Eyebrow Shaving

All the breaking news that's fit to print. Honest. Really, I don't blame 'em; it's scarier than even a wardrobe malfunction.

Two From BPro: What'll They Make, Another Guillen Take

Baseball Prospectus has a couple articles of interest today. The first has Ben Murphy and Jered Weiss discussing what free agents will likely make in the offseason. (You can find their earlier work deriving these numbers here.) Unfortunately, they won't get to outfielders until tomorrow, but I'll eat my Angels 2002 World Series Champions hat if Carlos Beltran breaks $20M/year. Another article, this time by an anonymous contributor(s), is almost effusive in its love for Bill Stoneman in the wake of the Guillen trade:
Basically, these are two right-handed hitters who play a pretty good right field, so I wouldn't exactly call Rivera a prospect. The man's already shown he can play. But the two of them are also not separated by all that much age: Rivera was born in July of '78, Jose Guillen in May of '76. Even if you give credit to Rivera for his being buried in a Yankees system that wasn't going to give him many chances, he's not that young, he's in the middle of his career. Angels fans might take particular pleasure in knowing that Rivera busted out in the last two months of the season after finally being entrusted with a full-time job, hitting .370 and slugging .549. Will that good stuff continue next year? To an extent, but not really any more than what the Angels could have reasonably expected from Guillen if his issues with management weren't in play.

So they really haven't changed what they can expect offensively, with the added benefits of cutting payroll (since losing Guillen gives them almost $4 million extra to kick into the pile they're offering to whatever shortstop is on their must-have list) and they get Izturis. Picking up Izturis is handy on a couple of levels: even if Adam Kennedy's injury encourages the Angels to bump David Eckstein across the keystone to second base, somebody needs to be the utility infielder. Alfredo Amezaga certainly didn't stake any claims, but admittedly, having Izturis is more insurance than anything else.

Of course, there's also Chone Figgins, but he can probably bet on a continued multi-task job on the roster, where he moves among third base, second base and the outfield; Izturis should spare him from any work at short. But now that they have Izturis, they don't have to rush Alberto Callaspo or rely on Amezaga, while also having the freedom to deal Eckstein once Kennedy's healthy, if not before.

All in all, a nifty bit of clubhouse politics, payroll savings, depth acquisition, and all while giving up very little to achieve it. Hats off to Bill Stoneman, even if it's understood he's exploiting an industry-wide understanding of Jim Bowden's sense of taste.

I'm almost getting to the point where I believe him on Rivera, but I'd need more than a couple good months to believe the former Yankee is more than a reserve. Richard is a bit more insistent: "the Angels need Carlos Beltran", and I agree. The problem is, of course, the Angels have a little competition for his services.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

And Now For Sosa Completely Different

Stories like this have an obligatory prefix of "for what it's worth", and with good reason, but Al Yellon claims to have uniqueness on this "story", and so I pass this worthless rumor along with all the other ones: Sammy to the Marlins, for Luis Castillo and -- hold on to your panties -- Juan Encarnacion. Hendry has lost his mind if he thinks Encarnacion is a respectable answer in anybody's right field; on VORP alone, this trade looks like a wash:
Player      VORPr  VORP
Sosa         .227  27.9
Encarnacion  .043   1.9
Castillo     .218  33.5
You like Sosa's rate stats a bit more than Castillo's; healthy -- a huge concern -- Sammy still has at least one good season in him. The Cubs would get a little younger and take on the shell of a former player who never on-based well, anyway, but may have some upside if his shoulder heals. Money would have to go to the Fish as well.

Yellon claims one of the motivations for the trade is "the Cubs have no interest in retaining Todd Walker". Essentially it's a trade of players in positions of need for each club, with each side getting something bad out of the deal. It's fairly even-up, provided Sosa can return to health next year; it might even make a winner out of the Cubs if Encarnacion can become an actual baseball player. Given he's never had an OBP over .330, that's unlikely.

MLB To Offer Game Broadcasts Over Cellphones

Thanks to Balls, Sticks, And Stuff for pointing out this Philadelphia Inquirer article indicating that MLB will offer game broadcasts over cellphones next year. "[F]or broadcasters, it's a brave new world, one in which having exclusive rights to anything is becoming rare and rights fees don't exactly buy what they used to." No kidding, and it's all to the good of fans everywhere.

Pickoff Moves

Baltimore's Free Agency Tango

The Baltimore Sun writes that the O's are considering Steve Finley as a short-term centerfield option, and estimate he would fetch more than the $6.75M/2 years contract he had with the Snakes. The O's are expected to be in the mix for Carl Pavano, as well. Despite re-signing Rafael "Viagra" Palmiero, they "still want a first baseman, and regard Carlos Delgado, Richie Sexson and Troy Glaus as possibilities -- though Glaus wants to stay at third base." The M's are happy with the underappreciated Melvin Mora at third, and don't want to move him to the outfield.

Tom Haller Dies

Former San Francisco catcher Tom Haller passed away due to a viral infection. He would be a footnote to me except for his appearance in Danny Kaye's immortal "Dodgers Song". My condolences to his family.

Tigers On The Block?

Lynn Henning in the Detroit News speculates that the Tigers may be for sale, considering the increasing expenditure on free agents and the continued millstone of stadium debt for the team. Henning notes that it's unlikely a local buyer would pick the team up; Edsel Ford dropped out of the bidding when the team finally cleared the auction block at $82M. You can't read too much into it, but the Tigers snatched scouting director David Chadd from Boston; I'm not sure I think of this as a major coup, considering how poorly Boston's recent drafts have been received.

Seattle Notes

The Seattle Times says the M's have extended offers to Carlos Delgado and Richie Sexson.
Seattle is also looking to sign Corey Koskie for third base, add one or two starting pitchers and bring back catcher Dan Wilson and left-handed pitcher Ron Villone. But hitting the daily double on Delgado and Sexson would likely tap out the Mariners' $16 million available for free agents and cause them to stop shopping, with the exception of bringing back Wilson as a backup catcher.

How Will RFK Play?

The Nats Blog figures RFK will play much like Anaheim Stadium, essentially a slight pitcher's park (though Baseball Reference has it as a hitter's park in 2000 and 2001). Now if they could only get some actual pitchers besides Livan Hernandez...

BTF Wiki!

Baseball Think Factory now has its own Wiki -- a community-extensible encyclopedia. The first, and largest of such is of course Wikipedia. A great idea, just in case you need to answer burning questions about the identity of The Run Fairy.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Pickoff Moves

What's A Birthday If You're Immortal?

Everyone, say Happy Birthday to Vinny, whose birthday is November 29th. Thanks to Ben Platt for the heads-up on the date.

BP PTP Notes

Baseball Prospectus has a PTP article on the Angels, Cubs, and Brewers. Vlad, natch, is the main thrust of the Angels part of the article, and they call out his season-long work as "one of the best free-agent investments ever." I'll second that one. They also note that because of Chone Figgins' versatility with the glove, it amounts to "[w]rapping a backup outfielder and infielder into one package... [and] opens two more slots and adds bench strength." A good deal so long as he's cheap. Could Figgy be the second coming of Mark McLemore? Yes, only more talented...

On the Cubs side, Sammy Sosa isn't a lock to come back, but BP labels a trade for Cliff Floyd and his gimpy back plus cash as "a push, unless rumors that Mike Piazza could be included prove true." Considering talks have supposedly all but collapsed between the Mets and the Cubs, this is unlikely... BP likes Nomar to come back, declaring him the best shortstop of a not-particularly-inspiring bunch (the other two are Renteria and Cabrera). Even though minor deity Mark Prior is reportedly healthy, "Dusty Baker again must get a long look" at the insane pitch counts to which he repeatedly subjects his young staff... The Northsiders must find themselves a closer, having let Percival get signed to an admittedly ridiculous contract in Detroit. None of the alternatives look especially compelling, though Hendry supposedly has a man-crush on Danny Kolb, he of the 5.57 K/9, 1.33 K/BB, but 3.49 G/F... better hope Nomar resigns and comes back healthy, Jim, you'll need all the infield help you can get.

The Few... The Proud... The Dodgers

Want a low paying job that requires you to travel alla time, and get paid to see all... friggin'... 162 games? The Dodgers have a gig for you. (Ditto, actually, theoretically, for the Angels.)

Finley, Dodgers Not Talking

Jayson Stark says that Steve Finley and the Dodgers aren't talking at all:
Finley's agent, Tommy Tanzer, confirms a report by the Sporting News' Ken Rosenthal that the Tigers have been "extremely aggressive" in their efforts to entice Finley.

What's puzzling is that the Dodgers -- who traded for Finley in July and assured him at the time they didn't view him as a "rental" -- are the team that has "been the least aggressive," Tanzer said.

"Maybe the Dodgers are waiting to see where this goes," Tanzer said. "Maybe they think we'll come back to them. But if they're waiting, I doubt Steve will be around that long."

Tanzer said five teams have been actively pursuing Finley. They're believed to be the Tigers, Giants, Phillies, Orioles and Rangers. The Diamondbacks also remain interested. But with Randy Johnson about to head back to the trading auction, it's a stretch to envision Finley returning to Arizona.

Andy Sisco Exposed To Rule 5 Draft

Some time ago, I espoused a trade of David Eckstein for Andy Sisco, but the Cubs have exposed him to the Rule 5 draft. Question before the house: should the Angels risk spending the money to pick him up? 1060west opines "Sisco's stock looks to be falling in the organization." The big difference: he's stopped throwing strikes, for whatever reason (134/65 K/BB, 1.45 WHIP, 4.21 ERA, 126 IP). But given that this is the most innings he's ever pitched, it's possible he's encountered some problems. I don't know if I'd pick him up at this point; the Cubs were probably wise to move him off the 40-man. Any team picking him up would have to be fairly desperate for starting pitching, but that describes a number of them.

Pedro, Mets In Negotiations

Boston free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez is in discussions with the Mets, according to Raul's buddy at the AP, Enrique Rojas.

M's "Frontrunners" To Land Delgado

Via foxsports.com:
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Mariners have asked Delgado if he would be willing to bat third in a Seattle lineup that could also include Richie Sexson or Troy Glaus in 2005. Delgado has agreed to the switch after years of being the cleanup hitter inthe Blue Jays' lineup.

Delgado could still bat cleanup if the Mariners fail to land Sexson or Glaus.

The Mariners can add two first basemen if they so desire because the team needs both a first baseman and a designated hitter this off-season. The outgoing designated hitter, Edgar Martinez, is a close friend of Delgado's and has made it clear he'd be willing to lobby Delgado on the Mariners' behalf.

The Mariners are also looking at the addition of a less expensive alternative than Glaus at third base in free agent Corey Koskie.

A Toronto radio report suggested Delgado was likely to return to the Blue Jays because the Mariners were leery of his past knee troubles. However, the Mariners and most other clubs interested in Delgado are evidently in possession of a report by Florida specialist Dr. Dan Kanell, the father of the Denver Broncos quarterback, in which the Marlins' orthopedist gave his opinion that the knee is sound.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Pirates/A's Trade

This one hit the news yesterday: Jason Kendall is an A, sending starter Mark Redman and closer-wannabe Arthur Rhodes to Pittsburgh. The A's certainly can't afford Kendall given his rich-by-current-standards $10M/year contract; he'll almost certainly be elsewhere on opening day. My guess he's going to get flipped for someone DePo has.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Pickoff Moves

OT, Kinda: Anaheim Picks Up Speed On NFL Bid

In today's Register, this story about Anaheim pushing for a new NFL franchise:
The city will pay two experienced sports consultants up to $125,000 to help them negotiate a deal with the National Football League that could bring pro football back to Orange County by 2008.

Anaheim will pay up to $75,000 to The Sports Business Group in Redondo Beach, a strategic marketing firm, and as much as $50,000 to MZ Sports, a financial-advisory firm based in Laurel, N.J., to advise the city on its plans for a football stadium next to Angel Stadium.

We're already getting assurances that the city won't put money up for a stadium, but given the NFL's love of publically-funded arenas, how long that will last -- or whether such a deal will even get done -- is a big question mark therefore.

Ray Ratto: Scott Boras's Voicemail

This is good:
If you must think of Boras this holiday season, just think of him sitting behind a bank of 30 phones, screening his calls and waiting for the gifts of the general managing magi to pile up in the service entrance.

"Hello, this is the office of Scott Boras, Emperor Of The Whole Damned Universe. Please deposit the $75,000 introductory conversation-starter fee, and listen to the following options:

"For Carlos Beltran, please press 1.

"For Adrian Beltre, please press 2.

"For Magglio Ordonez, please press 3, and have your medical plan information out and ready for the operator.

"For Jason Varitek, please press 4. If you're Theo Epstein, please bring proof of power of attorney.

"For Derek Lowe, please press 5.

"For Carl Pavano, please press 5 and ask for Derek Lowe instead.

"For J.D. Drew, please press 6.

"For Kevin Millwood, please press 5 and ask for Derek Lowe. If the line is busy, please press 7 and ask for Kevin Millwood."

"If you need further assistance, go to your bank, return, and press 1, followed by eight zeroes. This is the office of Scott Boras, and genuflect on your way out, baboons."

Tracy To Return, Signed To Two-Year Deal

Weeeelll, I suppose FJT won't like this one little bit, but Jim Tracy has been resigned by the Dodgers, to a two-year deal. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed, and no comment has been made yet about the coaching staff.

Damian Miller A Brewer

Considering the plight of the Buccos, who have a good but highly overpaid catcher in Jason Kendall, you'd think the same-division, same-league Brewers would make some efforts to avoid the same mistake. Instead, they bought the services of 35-year-old Damian Miller for two years at $3.25M per, and a $3.75M club option on a third year. As Richard asked, where did they get the money? New owner Mark Attanasio, an LA-based investor, apparently has more money than ex-owner and used-car salesman Bud Selig. This isn't a horrible deal, but IMO the club's overspending for a guy surely to decline who isn't that offensively-minded to begin with. More importantly for the Dodgers, it's one catcher off the market in a very thin free agent market for the thinking man's position.

Buddy Carlyle In The 2005 Rotation?

Interesting speculation in the Bellevue Leader that unknown Buddy Carlyle might be in the Dodgers starting rotation next year. Carlyle, who had a 4.05 ERA with the Yankees' AAA Columbus affiliate, also sported 1.77 BB/9 and 7.76 K/BB rates -- quite impressive in 106.2 IP. According to the article,
Carlyle hopes the Dodgers become the right spot for him. If early indications mean anything, Carlyle may have found the perfect situation.

"I got a call from (Dodgers General Manager) Paul DePodesta the very first day minor league players were able to sign contracts and he was one of about seven calls I got from teams that day," Carlyle said. "The fact that a GM is the one contacting you makes me believe I have a great chance.

OT: Peak Oil

We are running out of oil, that is to say, we are running out of cheap oil, but the difference is more or less academic. The petroleum geologists, using a forecasting method pioneered by Shell geologist King Hubbert, now say we will soon hit a production peak from which we will never return. When will we hit it? It could be happening now, but the consensus seems to be between 2004-2010. The big difference-makers are the unexpected and enormous growth in usage in China and India.

A Google search on "peak oil" yields a number of resources on this topic, some more optimistic than others, but the pessimistic ones are frightening in the extreme, to the point I would call them millennialist and write them off -- except that so much petroleum energy goes into food production, it's not entirely possible to do so. After all, one of the great causes of the Depression was mechanization of farms, which resulted in enormous gains in crop production -- driving prices down and farmers off their land. Take away oil from farming, and suddenly productivity goes down.

The present administration listens to an energy secretary from Michigan, and hears what it wants to hear about oil. If you believe the more conspiratorially-minded, we launched upon the Iraq war fully well knowing that country had some of the biggest undeveloped oil reserves in the world.

For balance -- that is, to provide the anti-peak point of view -- I provide this article by Leonardo Maugeri from Italy's Eni oil company. His argument is fairly typical; this is a dialogue split along the fault lines of discipline, that is, the geologists versus economists, and may briefly be summarized in this way:

Economists: Oil is a price-driven commodity, whose presence or absence is determined by that price.

Geologists: Okay, show me the reserves.

$50/bbl oil is here now. We've probably seen the last of $30/bbl oil. $5/gallon gasoline is coming, and soon.

This is not pleasant stuff. It's very easy to see how this could turn into a full-scale depression, and much, much worse. The need to conserve is becoming increasingly obvious, as is the need to invest in research in renewables, and by this I mean any and all of them, up to and including fusion. Likewise, we need to start reinvigorating nuclear power by building breeder reactors and finding cleaner ways to burn coal. And we need to do all of this now before rising fossil fuel prices make it uneconomic to effect the changes we need.

A big shoutout to Dodgerkid, aka Rick Todd, for pointing this out to me. He has also blogged on this subject on Autoguy .

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

OC Supes Vote Down Anaheim Name Change

NBC 4 reports the Orange County Board of Supervisors has gotten into the act, and is telling Arte where he can stuff his Los Angeles Angels.

Dodgers Add Seven To 40-Man Roster

Ken Gurnick at MLB.com writes that the Dodgers have added seven players to the 40-man roster. These are

Monday, November 22, 2004

OT: Information Superhighway Robbery

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are selling off one billion dollars worth of their shares, this on the heels of the company's warning that its current growth rate "may not be sustainable". Duh, but why cash out unless you want to reinforce the point? Dude, ripping off your IPO investors is so 1999.


Two Mailbag items from the respective sites. Ken Gurnick at dodgers.com: Doug Miller at angelsbaseball.com:

Don't Mean Beans To Pinto: More On "Contactball"

Continuing the debate on "Contactball", I noticed David Pinto had a followup on his blog, looking at Steve Lombardi's discussion. There are several important points here:
  1. Given two teams with identical OBP, the one with the higher batting average is going to score more runs. This was a point Pinto made earlier.
  2. Lombardi's FSC stat isn't what he thinks it is. What he wants to measure is
    FSC2 = -----------
    but instead he has
    H * ((AB+BB+HBP+SH+SF)-SO-BB)
    AB * (AB+BB+HBP+SH+SF)
    The key is that he uses TPA as the denominator for his RC/G analysis of frequently-walking teams, but fails to do the same with high batting average teams. The second formula leaves him with an AB2 term in the denominator, but this glosses over an even more important question: why do you care about the percentage of hits times the percentage of contact?
  3. He doesn't actually do correlation analysis on the results. The point of the game is to score runs, period. The only way to know if a certain strategy works is to see whether it results in more runs scored. The first -- but far from necessary -- test is correlation. If you can't see correlation, you won't be able to prove causality. Lombardi just looks at a few select teams and observes that "teams who were good at frequent contact while hitting safely often are better at batting than teams who used the walking often approach". Taking a look at correlation for the two even limited to the 11-year period 1994 through 2004 gives us these results:
    Stat    r
    OBP   .684
    AVG   .596
    FSC   .452
    FSC2  .439
    Once again, the connection to runs scored fails to materialize.
I understand what he's trying to do; I just don't see that he's shown what he thinks he has.

DC Statehood Advocate Grabs Stage At DC Baseball Naming Press Conference

Prior to the press conference announcing that the new DC baseball team will be named the Nationals, a man took the stage protesting the stadium deal. The man, Adam Eidinger, was from the DC Statehood Green party.

Report: Yanks Offer Pedro $50M/4 Years

In the Portsmouth Herald, the Yankees have offered Pedro Martinez $50 million for four years.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

It's The Washington Nationals

Blah. The owner, whoever he/she/it/they turn[s] out to be, can rename the team-in-name-only after they buy it. However, I'm somewhat dismayed to learn that the Washington Homestead Grays' actual home was in Pittsburgh. Huh?

Pickoff Moves

More On Guillen Trade

More on yesterday's trade from the Times:
"We know we're losing a 100-RBI guy," General Manager Bill Stoneman said of Guillen, who finished a breakout season batting .294 with 27 homers and 104 runs batted in. "... We'll fill those spots as the winter progresses. We'll have another move or two."

Rivera is expected to be a reserve, but the Angels might have found a starting shortstop in Izturis. Stoneman said Izturis, 24, the younger brother of Dodger shortstop Cesar Izturis, would be given the opportunity to win the job in spring training. David Eckstein is slated to move to second base until Adam Kennedy returns from a right knee injury that is expected to sideline him early in the season.

Hoo, boy, they went the wrong direction with this trade. No way do you start Izturis.

Morales Update

In that same Times article:
The Angels are one of five teams that have expressed interest in Cuban defector Kendry Morales, a switch-hitting first baseman and left fielder. Morales, 21, might be willing to sign an incentive-laden contract for the opportunity to play in the major leagues, his agent, David Valdes, said.

"This is a kid that hit cleanup on the Cuban national team at 19 years old," said Eddie Bane, the Angels' scouting director. "This isn't like anyone else who has come out of Cuba. He's legitimate."

Chronicles covered this yesterday, based on this Register story. So did RWBB, with Richard going so far as to call it a ruse to force Jared Weaver to sign, or else wait out another year, declaring "the Angels have more leverage than Weaver under the rules of the draft." I'd like to see Weaver in an Angels uniform, but not if Boras is going to try to rape the team along the way.

Booth Moves

The Dodgers will announce on Monday that Charlie Steiner is Ross Porter's replacement. Fortunately, Eric Karros declined an offer to stay with the team as a color announcer, saving me endless hours of grief.

In somewhat older news, the Cubs have hired ex-Diamondback manager Bob Brenly as Steve Stone's replacement. Cub Reporter questions whether he can fit in Stone's "size 27 shoes". It's not quite the leap from Vinny to Rick Monday, but you get some idea of the chasm here.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Pickoff Moves

Hail Fellow, Bad Met

Angels fans recall the trade that ended Mo Vaughn's career as an Angel, and sent former Met pitcher Kevin Appier to Anaheim. It's surprising to read that, from the New York perspective, that trade was a bust for the Angels; but even more surprising is the news that Vaughn is thinking of returning to the majors. First, he'll have to think of somebody dumb enough to sign him.


The Player's Association now wants MLB's salary "suggestions" in writing. Previously, these numbers were arrived at by a cellphone call or an e-mail. So big deal -- players' agents will now be getting reams of paperwork.

... An' I Wan' A Pony, Too

The Giants supposedly are in the hunt for Randy Johnson, with the team in total and complete "win now" mode. But not to be surprised. Barry Bonds also wants Carlos Beltran hitting behind him. I'm sure we all have Christmas wishlists.

Adam "Angees" Riggs Joins Yakult Swallows

Adam Riggs has moved to the Japanese leagues, joining the Yakult Swallows, thereby missing an opportunity to "hook on with the Rangees, Brewees, or Tigees".

A's Take The Kool-Aid, Sign Jack Cust

Via Rotoworld, Jack Cust is now in the A's system. Cust has never really caught on anywhere for a reason: he's never shown himself to be more than adequate at the major league level, or at least, he's not as good as the scouts thought, making this an odd choice for the A's. He's a low-risk, low-cost gamble. Thanks to AN for the heads up.

Update: More from Blez: it seems Beane's always had his panties in a bundle over Cust. Now he finally gets his man, though how useful he is is still open to question. As Blez put it, "at least they've added a something to a suddenly depleted Sacramento River Cats squad", a fact for which they have Paul DePodesta to thank.

Guillen Traded To Washington

Raul reports Jose Guillen has been traded to the Washington Whatisits for RF Juan Rivera and SS Maicer Izturis, Cesar's little brother. Guillen has apologized to Mike, apparently, and Raul promises more later. Thanks for the nod, Raul.

Update: now on MLB.com.

Brief analysis:

Izzy's little brother is a -1.9 VORP player, which is to say, bad hitting seems to run in the family to a degree. The fact that his PECOTA projection has a bunch of nondescript nobodies in it -- guys like Alfredo Amezega at worst, Chone Figgins and big brother Cesar at best -- is not encouraging, but the number of comparables is low (32, anything over 50 is considered typical in PECOTA). No data on his glove yet from BP, so that will have to wait until later.

As for Juan... well, his 22.3 VORP obviously represents a big step down from Jose Guillen's numbers, and his glovework is hardly above average at any position. PECOTA doesn't like him much, either, though he actually fell between the 75 and 90 percentile projection this year. The notes declare him tradebait, a barely-above-average player of the sort the Yankees love to flip for established veterans.

In short, the Angels took a slight hit on this trade, but the probabilities of either of these two players becoming anything other than useful spare parts on opening day are slim. If Izturis is a better-hitting version of Alfredo Amezega (hey, at least he can stay over the Mendoza line) and Jose replaces the substantially older (24 vs. 30) Jeff DaVanon as the Angels' fourth outfielder, the Angels effected an acceptable trade, provided they realize that they still need some more offense.

Update 4:25 pm: Chronicles has two pieces on this. He's much more positive on this, linking to the BTF analysis, which declares the trade a coup for Stoneman. I still see this as being pretty even considering the offense involved, but if Maicer develops to anywhere near the glove man his big brother is, David Eckstein needs to start looking for another line of work. That's the odd thing about this trade: considering all the talent in the Angels' minors up-the-middle, why pick up Izturis? Again, to me, this is all about the bench and not about starters.

Update, 8:30 pm-ish: Richard has a nice little summary of the reaction around the blogosphere, including David Cameron, who sneers that Bowden is "breaking the major league record for worst week ever." I just don't see it. Let's use WSAA as our metric, which is much more all-encompassing:

Player           WSAA
Jose Guillen      +6
Maicer Izturis    -2
Juan Rivera       +2
As I said in the U.S.S. Mariner comments, the problem here is you get two guys who haven't contributed anything at the major league level, so Stoneman's betting on the come. I don't think it's a terrible trade, I just think it's not an especially good one, either. Cameron suffers from too many years of GMs who can't trade, no matter the time of year; perhaps he's stir-crazy.

Transaction Guy thinks Bowden snookered the Angels. With reaction all over the map, it's pretty clear there's no concensus -- which means we'll know who won this at the end of the year.

How Much Time Do These Guys Spend Thinking Up Heds?

"A-Rod Dreams Of Playing With Pedro". Somebody's taking that "switching teams" thing a bit too figuratively.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Yu Drafted, Too?

Meantime, back in Japan, Yu Darvish, the Japanese-Iranian prep pitcher I wrote about earlier this year, was drafted in the first round by the Nippon Ham Fighters. Darvish was said to be unimpressed -- I suppose he would rather play for the Yomiuri Giants (who wouldn't?) -- but I have to admit that I put this up mainly because I just saw an uptick in the number of searches looking for him, and because he apparently makes the girls hearts all aflutter. And now, enough of that.

Saving The Harvest: 40-Man Update

The Angels added RHP Steven Shell, RHP Ervin Santana, LHP Joe Saunders, C Jeff Mathis, and INF Alberto Callaspo to the 40-man roster. I won't bother with the details here; most of these guys have been on the Angels' top prospects lists for a while. The net result, of course, is that these guys are close to being in the big club -- or should be near that point.

Pickoff Moves, Lazy Thursday Offseason Blues Edition

Keepin' it real -- well, really full of something, anyway.

Percy's Signing Doesn't Signal The Close Of The Closer Market

The Chicago Sun-Times writes that the Cubs, who were scheduled to meet with Troy Percival tomorrow, are now talking to... get this... Matt Mantei. The Sawyer, Michigan native will be closer to home if he and the Cubs can agree to a deal, and the early reports are that both sides expect a one-year deal. Say this for Hendry: he was only willing to extend Percy a single year. Good for him.

Percy Gives A Shoutout To The Other Troy

Speaking of the former Angel, SI quotes a Detroit News story saying he's suggested the former Angels slugger move to the Tigers with him. Funny stuff, if true. It's all big risks, of course, for a Tigers team hardly rolling in dough, but nobody can fault them for not trying. Of course, the problem is -- trying to do what?

OT: Auld Lang Syne, Polly

I admit to being sucked in by Suck, the once-raucous website-cum-cobwebsite. In its day, it was as good a place as any for biting social commentary, and its resident doyenne was Heather Havrilesky. Then writing under the pseudonym Polly Esther, she's now Salon's TV critic. LAist recently interviewed her; her answer to this question pretty much summarizes the reason for this blog:
6. What purpose does writing the Rabbit Blog serve for you?

Well, as free as I am at Salon, I still find myself wanting to spiral off into an abyss of total idiocy, self-indulgent meandering, extreme self-deprecation, repugnant delusions of grandeur, pointless goofiness, spitty outbursts, and gratuitous maliciousness. I also like to hand out bad advice, and hurl bratty insults at our current president. Doesn't my blog sound enriching and informative?

At last, we have something in common!

Being Brian Sabean

Okay, I admit, I think the Omar Vizquel signing is nuts (and so does at least one Giants blogger), but Studes takes a shot at making sense of this from Sabean's point of view. Sure, Vizquel is relatively old at 37, but if you look at old players, there's a big washout at about that age, after which the quality of player at that age starts to increase. Yup. Whether Vizquel is one of those guys the Giants will get to find out.

Alert The Boys At Retrosheet

Virtually all the published newspapers prior to 1924 will be made digitally available -- i.e., searchable -- on the Internet, thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. Will that help SABR and Retrosheet volunteers track down the happenings in early baseball scores? I would hope so...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Percy Signs With Tigers

Troy Percival signed with the Detroit Tigers, for two years and $12M.

Update: Cub Reporter is grateful he's not headed toward Wrigley (as he should be). Transaction Guy observes Percy's declining K rate and health problems and sees a Detroit team overspending on a name.

From Carlos Beltran To Chone Figgins

In this Register story, Stoneman makes it apparent that there will be two choices in Anaheim at center: one named Carlos, and the other Chone:
"If we can find a center fielder we like even better than Figgy, we'll go that route. But we're not going to take just anybody," Stoneman said. "I think Figgy is a real good center fielder and that is a tough position to fill. It takes a particular skill set and he's got that skill set."
Sigh. Uh... Bill?
Garret Anderson94211-694
Chone Figgins5492-392
Jeff DaVanon38720100
Darin Erstad*14345227119
Mark Kotsay**14534716111
Carlos Beltran***882012103
*using Erstad's 2002
**reference only, to show what a full year from a quality active CF looks like
***as an Astro, combined fielding rate stats unavailable from his DT card

Now, I'm certainly willing to cut Figgy some slack here considering this year was his first playing center and he was learning on the job. Versatile he is, but a slick fielding centerfielder he is not. The Angels' best defensive option in center is actually Jeff DaVanon, believe it or not, but in a contest of the bats, it's not particularly close (33.7 VORP for Figgins vs 21.9 for DaVanon). The difference in fielding isn't nearly as great as the offensive difference; that's what the team's looking at, and why Figgins could be the team's starting centerfielder next year, assuming ESPN malarky about a Kotchman-for-Vernon Wells trade is just that.

Treating Junk Stat Pollution

Stephen Smith, who does a wonderful job with Future Angels, has charged after a windmill that never needed knocking down, namely, the idea that OBP corresponds to runs scored. He gives it quite a try, but in the end, fails to prove that which he set out to do. He observes that offensive efficiency could be measured by the number of plate appearances divided by the number of runs scored. Ideally, of course, all your players would hit home runs each time they got to the plate, so the best case is unity, but the worst case -- impossible to occur in the real world -- is infinity (no runs scored but some non-zero number of plate appearances). Smith doesn't do any correlation analysis on his efficiency rating, so I thought I would do it for him. I start in 1930 -- an arbitrary cutoff, to be sure, but I didn't want to spend the rest of my night crawling MLB.com, not to mention there are some major rule changes that occurred around that time (such as the end of calling the modern ground rule double a home run). Here's some correlation figures between three different statistics and runs scored:
Stat      r
OBP     .800
Avg     .735
TPA/R  -.115
So, on base percentage historically correlates well with runs scored, followed by batting average. TPA/R actually has a negative correlation -- as we would expect, considering a good team should theoretically have a lower ratio than a bad team -- but an extremely weak one. (A good correlation can still be negative; the closer to zero it is, either way, the less useful it is.) And this isn't even doing park or league adjustments.

Smith later brings up dat ol' debbil Productive Outs, introduced earlier this year in a Buster Olney ESPN column, to back up his claims. I won't bother flaying the value of this statistic, as it's already been ably done by Larry Mahnken at Hardball Times. Mahnken's comment about Productive Outs seems equally apropos of Smith's treatment of the subject, namely, that "making productive outs is not an important part of winning ballgames" and that nobody -- neither Olney nor Smith -- have shown otherwise. If indeed this is what the Angels are teaching their prospects in the minors, the club is systematically wrecking the careers of the "waves of talent" from a farm system David Cameron labeled "the best in the game".

Update: Apparently the boys over at Baseball Think Factory have glommed onto this. Some good reading there; one reader asserts Smith's strikeout calculations are wrong, and also notices that

Simply looking at who scored the most runs is misleading, because one team could have sent many more players to the plate than the other. So let's find a common denominator.
But's that's exactly it! High OBP teams strive to send more players to the plate because they makes outs at a slower rate! The ratio of runs to plate appearances is irrelevant.

Since he missed this obvious fact at the beginning, the rest of the column is dangles on a broken branch.

David Pinto also shares his thoughts:
The point of Mr. Smith's article is one Bill James made 20 years ago. Given two teams with the same OBA, the team with the higher batting average will have the better offense. Hits are simply more valuable than walks in advancing baserunners.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

OT: Water Drinker? Fire-Water, Maybe

So, Yasser Arafat died of cirrhosis. In the original French if you so desire, or with the funny Google translation. Maybe they can behead him after the fact.

WTF? WCP's List O' Beltran Bids

Is Will Carroll talking through his hat? Or are his mystery sources right? Whatever, I'm shocked to see the Angels on top of this list of bids for Beltran's services, with a $20M/5 year bid. I just can't believe Stoneman's been given the authority to make that call. I sure hope we get outbid on this one. The chances of the Angels becoming chumps in a year or three when Carlos pulls his back out and misses half a season strike me as pretty dang big.

Update: interesting that that post no longer exists. From Google cache:

... There’s a number of offers on the table and through various sources, I’ve been able to put together a bunch of them. While these are believed to be accurate, remember a couple things:

a) We don’t have all the details. We know where the devil lives. Things like voidables, options, private jets, suites, and bonuses aren’t reflected here.

b) In only a few cases do I have rock solid info. All of it is “good” and I can’t differentiate the “great” from the “good” without putting some sources at risk.

c) Money isn’t the only factor. The interesting thing with the teams competing for Beltran is that all are teams that aren’t so much looking for a franchise player as much as they are an “over the top” player.

d) The market isn’t set. The Omar Vizquel signing certainly looks like something from 2001, but no one thinks this will be like that “bubble.” These offers certainly show there’s money out there and will likely set the market if this deal gets done quickly. (I don’t think this will get done quickly.)

e) These are just offers. If I know them, I’m certain that the other GMs know them and will adjust their offers, make counter-offers, fly Beltran in and try to go SMU on them, whatever. This isn’t final, to be sure.

Enough caveats. Here’s the list, in order of which I think is “best” or most likely to be acceptable -

Angels = 5x20 ($100m)
Phillies = 10x15.5 ($155m)
Yankees = 8x18.1 ($145m)
Orioles = 6x18.3 ($110m)
Red Sox = 7x17 ($119m)
Astros = 10x11 ($110m)
Dodgers = 5x18 ($90m)
Cubs = 7x16 ($112m)
Rangers = 7x15.7 ($110m)
White Sox = 6x15 ($90m)

So with the cards on the table, who’s in?

Vlad Wins AL MVP

On AP via ESPN and MLB.com. I daresay he deserved it, though I admit, as with Richard, that the voting was peculiarly lopsided. But there is yet an explanation. Bill James some time ago concluded that three things could result in a player being overrated, one of them playing in LA or New York. This MVP award maybe signals the beginning of an era when the Angels, so long thought of as the megaplex's "other" team, now has some of that gloss (though not Glaus), too.

Pickoff Moves

Non-Story Stories: Beltre Considering His Options

The question before the house, as always, is: is Scott Boras acting for Adrian Beltre? Or is Adrian Beltre his own man? Encouraging noises that the latter is true came in this Times story:
"No doubt, the Dodgers are going to have the first option," Beltre said. "I don't know exactly what they're thinking about or what they're going to do. I'm happy with the organization. I couldn't ask for better treatment. Now is the time I have the choice to stay or go, but I'm not thinking about leaving yet; I'm thinking about my family and the chance to go to the World Series."

... "Just the way the season finished and the way the fans supported me all year, I couldn't have asked for more," he said. "I cannot point to one thing that changed for me, though. A lot of things came together early this year. Being almost seven years in the big leagues, and the fact I have a daughter, my life has changed."

Ultimately, he said, "I helped myself personally so I would get more attention from other teams. But I don't know how it's going to work out. When I pick the team, I know they want me and will have a chance to be in the playoffs. I'm just sitting back to see what my options are. But, until it happens, I don't know how it's going to end."

Belly, Boras, and DePodesta are expected to talk "perhaps by the end of the week, to discuss the future of the franchise and his place in it."

Bonds: Give Me My Precious

Barry wants the hardware, and who can blame him? I'm skeptical; the Giants have a little more financial flexibility this year in the absence of Robb Nen, but when they start signing guys like Omar Vizquel, it makes you wonder how serious they are about contending. Their best team -- the 2002 edition -- hardly had a hole on it. Despite my initial misgivings that the 2004 club was Barry and the Seven Dwarves, it still lacked supporting stars; there's no Jeff Kent now, no Reggie Sanders. The ring may never come.

Meanwhile, Back In Boston

Boston waterfront property is getting harder to move, so the Pritzker family is subdividing their Fan Pier lots. This is the same strategy Frank has pursued, so far to no avail. Of course, it's unclear how much actual debt service he has to make, so we'll just sit and observe that this means the value of Frank's property is likely badly overvalued.

A's Shopping Zito

This Boston Herald column indicates the A's and Red Sox have been talking about Barry Zito, whom the A's are said to be interested in moving "for economic reasons". No terms, of course; nothing at this point is serious.

Yanks Persue Delgado

The Yankees, who never seem to have enough first basemen, are pursuing Carlos Delgado. Are they trying to make this into reality?

More On Ortiz, Erstad

This Times story lends credence to the idea that Ramon Ortiz will be with the Angels in 2005:
Stoneman said he would not rule out a return to the rotation for Ortiz, who was 4-5 with a 5.47 ERA in 14 starts and 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 20 relief appearances.

"Command got him into trouble," Stoneman said. "If he can find the command we've seen from him in the past then, shoot, he can be a starter."

Also in that same article: a confirmation that the Angels won't move Erstad back to centerfield. "Stoneman said he preferred to keep Gold Glove winner Darin Erstad at first base next season rather than move him back to the outfield, solidifying the team's need for an additional outfielder as it attempts to trade Jose Guillen."

Percy To The Tigers?

Sure, why not. Percy is also in talks with Cleveland, the Cubs, and San Francisco, the latter, IMO, probably the best of his options.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Chisox Pass On Boras Clients

Kenny Williams, who I have previously castigated as one of the dumber GMs in the business, may have exemplified that yet again -- or shown himself to be at least brighter than Rangers owner Tom Hicks and/or John Hart: he has categorically refused to sign any Scott Boras client.
"I do not expect to sign any Scott Boras clients," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said Monday.


"Let's just say that we both respectfully agree to disagree on the value of his players," Williams replied.

Which means the White Sox will be somewhat limited in their examination of the free-agent market because Boras has 11 of the very best clients in what is considered to be a very good crop.

That, of course, includes Ordonez, whose days as a White Sox outfielder are all but officially over.

"I think that ship has sailed," Williams said.

Williams and Boras met at last week's GM meetings in Florida to discuss not only Ordonez but other White Sox holes that could be filled by outfielders such as Beltran and Drew, a catcher such as Varitek, a third baseman such as Beltre and pitchers such as Lowe and Millwood. Williams had particular interest in Beltran, the valedictorian of this off-season's class.

Williams is not alone in his assessment of Boras' estimated worth of his clients. Several teams have refused in the past to bid for high-profile Boras players for just that reason. Already this winter, the world champion Red Sox are balking at his demands for Varitek, whom they consider a "necessity" for repeating.

Well, the good news, I suppose, is that the Chisox won't be in the mix for Beltre, but then, they never were. Boras sets his numbers too high for almost everyone, and this year, even the Yankees are acting like they have a budget. Boras may well, once more, end up costing his clients more than he gains them.

Angels Exercise Option On Molina, Waive Ortiz

The AP reports the Angels have exercised their option on Benjie Molina for 2005; he will make $3 million. Ramon Ortiz's option was waived, and he will receive a $100,000 buyout. Ortiz remains on the 40-man roster, and will be eligible for arbitration.

Update: Why do people think Ortiz is going anywhere? He's still on the 40-man roster...

OT: Blogger Internationalizes

If you were itching to create a blog using Spanish or French, or any of about a dozen languages, you can now. Or, you can, but now all the buttons and whatnot will be internationalized for you. Very, very soon. Something that perhaps might prove useful for Raul. Or not.

Through A Glaus, Darkly: Early Returns On Player Projections

Peter Gammons has an article posted yesterday projecting 2005 performance of some of the more interesting free agents -- and their presumptive replacements -- including Troy Glaus, this courtesy of the 2005 Bill James Handbook. Respectively:
Player             AVG   OPS   HR
Troy Glaus        .254	.884   39
Dallas McPherson  .293	.945   37
Of course, what this doesn't tell you is the number of at-bats McPherson will get vs. Glaus, something of a proxy for health. Baseball Prospectus won't have their PECOTA projections up for two or three months yet, so we have to make do with those that are available now. Baseball Think Factory does have their ZiPS projections up, and they do give at-bats. Look:
Player              AB  AVG   OBP   SLG   HR
Troy Glaus         391 .258  .368  .471   21
Dallas McPherson   501 .275  .341  .513   27
Unsurprisingly, it says Glaus will lose about a month's worth of at-bats vs. McPherson. Of course, this is all spitting in the wind; we really have no idea how healthy he will be, and frankly, the state of player projection in the face of injuries is really a big unknown.

I'm much more pessimistic about McPherson's ability to contribute here -- if we get .258/.341/.471 (the lower of each number) I'd be thrilled. 2005 will be his rookie year. If he hits 27 homers, he'd be a serious RoY candidate.

A couple other points:

Beltre, says James, projects to a .287 AVG, 34 HR, .866 OPS season.

Bonds Wins NL MVP, Beltre Runner Up

No surprise on this one. Bonds received 24 first place votes, while Beltre received six. One of these days, Bonds will retire, but until then, it's likely that he'll continue his string of MVP awards -- and deserve them.

Administrivia: Slightly Improved Archiving

Blogger some time ago discontinued the archive page, which turns out to be a bummer if you have a lot of old posts. Already archive-by-week is starting to look like a mistake because it has so many rows, and I don't even have a year's worth of material up. I'm trying an experiment here that will not only give the date but the title for each post, as well as internal section heads for things like my innumerable Pickoff Moves posts. Right now the date order is screwed up because the output comes directly from parsing the blog HTML, but I expect to have that fixed in a day or so. Once that happens, there'll be a permalink to the article title archive.

One reason this change is mildly important (okay, to me only, probably) is that the Google search doesn't necessarily keep everything searchable. One example is to search for "angels big johnson", which should turn up the article I wrote back on June 18th, titled "Why The Angels Don't Need A Big Johnson". Normally, Google is very sensitive to keywords that also appear in the URL and/or appear in <h2> tags, but in this case, it misses this article entirely (and no, it's not because of naughtiness filtering, either). Better here than nowhere.

In the future, look for this blog to move to monthly archives as the number of archive rows grows to infinity. This will break links that pointed to earlier articles; oh, well.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

An Offer He Can't Refuson?

The Arizona Republic reports Grady Fuson has been offered a job as a consultant in the A's organization after losing the presumptive GM's job to incumbent John Hart. (Thanks to Texas Rangers Blog for the link.) After the Angels didn't place in the top five for their 2004 draft, it's damned annoying to see the man who drafted Jason Giambi and Hudson/Mulder/Zito get away... and back to the A's.

Pickoff Moves, Taps Edition

A couple notes before heading out for the gym:

More Speculation On Beltran To The Angels

This time from Kevin Kennedy:
But the Angels aren't done. They have also said that Garret Anderson will most likely return to left field next season after being out with injuries and arthritis a good part of this past year. That probably means that Jose Guillen, who was suspended in the final weeks of the 2004 season, will likely be released with the team absorbing the remainder of his contract. This also opens the door for a major offer to Carlos Beltran.

The team could be very appealing to Beltran with the Latin connection that begins with owner Arte Moreno. The opportunity to play center alongside Vladimir Guerrero may also be tempting for Beltran. He would be joining a club with a solid core group, a popular owner, and a manager, Mike Scioscia, who gets along with all his players. The Yanks better take notice. Getting Beltran may not be a slam dunk.

You mean the Angels will trade Guillen, not release him. Feh.

Percy Interested In Detroit, Too

The most prominent names mentioned alongside newly minted free agent Troy Percival have been the Cubs and Indians. Now you can add Detroit to that list.

A-Rod Haunted, Seeks Ghostbuster

No kidding:
"The fact that I got what I got, I deserved every bit of it because I was brought here to help win a championship and we didn't get that done," Rodriguez said. "Therefore, we failed. I don't think you can point your finger at any one guy because we win and lose as a team. But if you had to point a finger, I think you would point it right at me."

... "The fact that I haven't won a championship bothers me," Rodriguez said. "Until I do, I will not sleep or be comfortable with my career.

Whatever, Alex. Lay off that sissy slap maneuver, and you might have had more champagne.

Angels Minor League Acquisition

Nothing gets by us here at 6-4-2, which is why I'm writing about the following dust mote: canoe.ca writes that the Angels have purchased the contract of Northern League RHP T.J. Stanton. Formerly of the Winnipeg Goldeneyes, his interesting stats are:
ERA    IP  GS  W-L   H/9   K/9  BB/9
4.72  87.2  9  5-5  8.11  8.79  3.08
Looks like he gets hit pretty hard (.240 AVG against), but also strikes out a fair number too, without walking many. Unknown where he will start, but my guess would be Provo; likely this is organizational fodder. Stanton had been out of baseball for three years, and last pitched for the University of Florida Gators.

Vizquel The Rumor: Giants Sign Shortstop

Thanks to Richard for catching this one: the Giants signed Omar Vizquel to a $12.25M/3-year contract. Pretty nutty for a 37-year-old, but unfortunately, it likely signals the end of Cody Ransom, much beloved of Dodgers fans.

Not Again: More Johnson To Anaheim Talk

Again, from the Times, more talk of the Angels pursuing Randy Johnson.
The Florida Marlins have expressed considerable interest in troubled Angel outfielder Jose Guillen, but an inability to consummate a two-team trade has motivated executives to be more creative by formulating possible three-team deals, one of which could net the Angels pitcher Randy Johnson.

Talks are in the exploratory phase, but according to baseball sources, the Angels, Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks have discussed a trade that would send Guillen to the Marlins, Johnson to Anaheim and a package of prospects — and possibly a big league player or two — to Arizona from Anaheim and Florida.

Negotiations between the Angels and Marlins apparently stalled when Florida refused to part with speedy center fielder Juan Pierre. The Angels want to trade Guillen, who hit .294 with 27 home runs and 104 runs batted in last season but was suspended for the final eight games of the regular season and the playoffs because of insubordination, and move center fielder Garret Anderson back to left.

The Marlins, knowing Arizona's affection for their power-hitting first-base prospect, Jason Stokes, and the Angels' infatuation with Johnson, expanded talks to include the Diamondbacks. Arizona is in danger of losing free-agent first baseman Richie Sexson, who was reportedly not thrilled by the team's recent contract offer.

The article goes on to say the Angels are in the hunt for Carlos Beltran (duh), and probably wouldn't complete a trade for Johnson unless they have a centerfielder in the bag first. Unnamed sources, again. As far as I'm concerned, the reasons to avoid him are far more compelling than the reasons to acquire him, though temper that with the possibility that the Snakes may be less interested in keeping Johnson than they were even as of the 2004 trade deadline.

Sosa Petitions MLBPA To Restructure Contract

Sammy Sosa has petitioned the player's association to allow him to restructure his contract so 2006 isn't guaranteed in case of a trade. The Cubs are in talks with the Mets about a possible trade.

Pickoff Moves

The War Of The Rose

Jon links to this Sacramento Bee story indicating the Dodgers have signed minor league catcher Mike Rose as a minor league free agent. Rose hit .281/.407/.401 in 2004 with the Oakland A's AAA River Cats affiliate in the hitter-friendly PCL; contrast this with David Ross's .297/.384/.519 in his last full year in AAA Las Vegas, 2003.

Also signed as free agents from Oakland's AAA River Cats were Mike Edwards (.287/.384/.432) and Jon Weber (.343/.381/.468). The article incorrectly says the Dodgers still control Todd Hundley, when in fact he is a free agent.

Frank Expands Home Turf

Jaimie McCourt has purchased the house next door. If the two properties were to be combined, they would be among the largest contiguous parcels in Holmby Hills.

That's nice, but we'd better have Beltre signed by Spring Training or know the reason why.

Byline Bingo

Am I missing something, or is this the first time Ken Rosenthal's byline has appeared in a Times story? The story itself contains standard-issue CW (Beltre won't sign with the Dodgers, Glaus will go to Boston) as well as speculation that Beltre might end up in an Orioles uniform. He also suggests Belly might not end up in Seattle because "the Mariners rarely spend big and play in a park that neutralizes right-handed power." This interests me because U.S.S. Mariner has actively stumped for the M's to sign him; and ESPN's park factors seem to indicate Safeco's a slightly better park for hitting homers than Dodger Stadium.

The Free Agent Glass Yanked Half Empty

For those so inclined, Leone For Third has his free agent destination picks up.

The Yanks will have a logjam at several positions, to say the least.

Still The Orioles

From Will Lingo's chat:
 Q:  Ron from South Bend, IN asks:
Where would have Townsend been in this list if he would have signed?

Will Lingo: Ouch. That was a painful draft pick to not get anything out of. Considering the Orioles had no chance to sign him, I never really looked at Townsend in comparison to any of their other guys, but he has the stuff to be considered with Penn and Adam Loewen, who are the top two pitching prospects in the organization.

 Q:  Toby Boyce from Delaware, Ohio asks:
The O's Top 10 seems to be significantly older than what we are used to seeing in Baseball America. Is the system that thin? Or are these late bloomers that are just now asserting themselves?

Will Lingo: The system is pretty thin.

 Q:  Ulrath from Virginia.... asks:
Is there any hope at all?

Will Lingo: I think that's a good question to end on. Thanks for joining us and I hope Orioles fans get all the free agents they're hoping for this Christmas.

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Big Red, Yet Somehow Inactive, C

No sooner do I add The Big Red C to the sidebar but he closes shop and moves across the street to Cub Reporter. Congratulations, Derek.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Religion Of Veteran Presence

The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism. Any fool, once he is admitted to holy orders, becomes infallible. Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us.
-- H. L. Mencken, "Aftermath" (of the Scopes trial)
I dug that up after the day's discovery that disciples of Lysenkoism had grabbed hold of a school board in the Pennsylvania outback, the savants thereupon decreeing Intelligent Design as fit for propagation as those explanations proffered by Darwin and his intellectual descendants. How different is it, really, from the way most baseball teams are operated? Not very, I would gather. They have their insane prejudices, and nine-tenths of them are the surest bilge. Every year -- every day, it seems, now that we languish in the offseason -- we hear of some absurd trade, the baseball equivalent of giving out a twenty for two ones.

Lo: gasp with delayed amazement at the discovery the Cubs had signed Neifi Perez (or at Cub Reporter, if you like). Think about it: what kind of insanity causes a team to spend a million dollars on a player who hasn't had a full-season OBP over .300 in three years, and that when he played in the Valhalla known as Coors Field! Months ago, Cubs fans supposed Hendry a smart man for nabbing Nomar. Wait Til Next Year even published a long article extolling how good Hendry has been (at the time of writing, about the time of the seemingly-miraculous Nomar acquisition, about 58 Win Shares). So why do you sign a Neifi Perez, who is a -5 WSAA/9.4 VORP player -- clearly fringe, by either metric -- to a contract that large?

No wonder Cub fans worry Hendry might make a trade with DePodesta:

For no reason in particular, I worry about the Cubs trading with a GM like DePodesta. I really shouldn’t feel this way, since even a smart GM can make a good trade that doesn’t work out: DePo was right, for example, to trade Lo Duca and Mota, but it didn’t work out in the end... at least for the 2004 season. That said, I just think the chance that the Cubs get the short end of the stick may be higher in dealing with a smarty-pants guy like DePodesta.
With a bench -- so far -- consisting of Neifi Perez, Jose Macias, and Jason Dubois, they have reason to fear. But perhaps I have charged Hendry too much with being a kind of baseball witch doctor. Perhaps the actual cleric is Dusty Baker. Well, does it matter who wears the robes if the liturgy is the same?
Coda: I realize the Cubs aren't the only team so afflicted. In Kansas City, where they can't even spell the name of the minor leaguer acquired for Carlos Beltran, we read earlier of the Royals trading for Darrell May and Ryan Bukvich. How bad this trade is depends on what metric you use:
Player             VORP  WSAA
Ryan Bukvich        2.1    1
Darrell May        -1.2   -6
Dennis Tankersley  -2.6   -5
Terrence Long      12.3   -3
Make no mistake, this is a trade of players now on the scrap heap; the only difference is that Long might make actual coin at some point (though little from the Royals, thanks to an offsetting infusion of cash). One of the reasons KC picked up Long, Allard Baird said, was because "he's been on winners."

Veteran presence. Again.

But -- enough. It's time we all started up manufacturing our own trades, or at least, rumors of trades. Leone For Third shows us how, with a handy template; the example is this finished product:

In search of a new left fielder to replace free agent Moises Alou, the Cubs have inquired as to the availability of Anaheim outfielder Jose Guillen. The Angels – who could then move Darin Erstad back to the outfield to make room for hot prospect Casey Kotchman – are looking to address a weakness by adding some young pitching, and could ask for AA pitcher Bobby Brownlie in return.
There now, wasn't that easy?

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