Sunday, March 14, 2004
Gibbons Has A Role In Dodgers Decline And Fall?The Dodgers are interested in Jay Gibbons in exchange for a pitcher, the Times says today.
No Giambis In This LineupAnd in the same story, it looks like Jeremy Giambi's back will keep him out of the Dodgers, or any other lineup, as he's due for surgery to "stabilize" it.
Vinny Through 2006Vinny plans on fulfilling his contract through 2006. Vinny, whose prose we have been privileged to hear, says this of the McCourts:
"The new owner has borrowed a lot of money. We all know that," Scully said. "He has a tremendous passion to succeed. My only feeling is a simple one: Give him a chance. He's the one with everything at stake."Well, Vinny, we did, and now lots of folks in the front office have either been fired or are quitting. But it's good to see you're a trouper, still, just like Alvarez. Of course, who knows if the Dodgers' other broadcasters are around much longer. It's not like there aren't those who want to see Monday or Porter go away. As Dodger Blues put it,
At some point, however—probably in the not too distant future—Vin Scully will retire. And at that time, there will be absolutely nothing that is consistently good about Dodger baseball.
Found, in our front yard this afternoon: one long-haired dachshund. No collar. Sweet-natured.
... and very, very tired, especially after a long walk around the neighborhood looking for possible owners. Our two dogs, a husky-shephard mix and an Australian Shephard/Keeshond mix, nearly killed him when we took him in our backyard, even after we did everything we were supposed to. We're not sure what we're going to do, but first we're putting up "found" posters around the neighborhood. After that, he probably will go to the Seal Beach or Huntington Beach shelters. ("Doosie", as my wife has taken to calling him, is curled up under my feet beneath my desk.) We're going to spring training in a week, and this dog just can't be here.
We find too many dogs like this one, really. A year and a half ago in October, while the Angels were busy winning their first championship, I found a little white mop of a dog in the elementary school behind our house. Like an idiot, I conned my parents into taking it, and it has subsequently proven to be a complete bust -- one of the few mean-tempered dogs I've ever known. And then there was another dog I found on one of our walks in the neighborhood, a sweet Lab mix we took to the shelter. That one was tough. Sometimes it works out okay, like the time the guy came and retrieved his dog from us.
Once, when I was in Arkansas visiting my in-laws a few years ago, the power went out in the middle of the worst ice storms in a decade. A sad, short-haired, liver-colored retriever of some kind -- maybe a Springer Spaniel or some kind of coon dog -- came up to my in-laws' house, naturally, wearing no tags. He was freezing -- literally, he had icicles hanging from his belly. With no time to observe formalities with my in-laws' dog, no place to put him besides a downstairs bathroom, and no real heat, we took turns watching him. The next morning, after I left for home (and of course the power came on -- I have a knack for causing natural disasters, a subject of some amusement), his real owner showed up. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, because my sister-in-law's kids had given him a name already.
I hope this little guy has a home. He sure deserves better than to be abandoned.
Update: We washed him and gave him a flea treatment or two. We forget, having used Advantage for years, that dogs really do have fleas, and they need to be kept in check. We hadn't seen a flea for ages, but caught sight of a bunch in the bathroom after we gave J. Random Dog his bath.
U.S. Out Of Baseball!
- occaisionally, someone, frequently a judge, takes the rule of law seriously, and
- naked vote-buying is generally frowned upon.
The government of the Dominican threatens baseball, and worse, the pocketbooks of their already poor citizens, by buying nearly a million dollars in tickets to give away to their friends, thereby associating the game with the Republic's native criminal class. In the U.S., the McCainiacs now threaten baseball with more anti-drug hysteria, when it is crystal clear that all the hype about steroids is election-year humbug on the order of Tell Your Children, aka Reefer Madness. Probably the biggest risk is for reporters, who must brave interviews with surly players, and it is for this reason we hear endless tirades against the stuff. No wonder the Senators left Washington -- twice.
You Could Look It Up
A Slippery Scale"Monkey see, monkey do", goes the old saw, and if you''ve spent any time at all watching this offseason, you'd know that Frank's been watching the Red Sox a lot. Do the Sox have a young stathead brainiac in the GM's chair? Well, time for the Dodgers to pick up one, too. And when it came time to pick a new CEO, McCourt tried to raid the Sox front office by getting Mike Dee. In fact, I'm not sure he even understands he owns the Dodgers. So it is with some trepidation I present this Boston Globe news item about the Red Sox introducing variable pricing:
The right-field seats, which went on sale last week, are priced according to whom the Sox are playing. Tickets for Opening Day, for games against the Blue Jays, games against the Yankees, plus the interleague opponents (Dodgers and Phillies), will sell for $100 apiece. All other games will be for $75. Monster seats, which went for $50 apiece for every game last season, will have a new pricing scale, expected to be announced this week.We should look forward to $12 "cheap seats" in Giants matchups presently in Chavez Ravine. Update: should the Orioles take offense that their away games at Fenway aren't selling for a premium?
"There are about 14 or 15 teams in Major League Baseball that are engaged in some kind of variable pricing," Dee said. "Some are as simple as this. Others are crazy: day of the week, opponents. There's sort of a general migration toward the airline model: You fly on a Tuesday during the peak time on a 14-day advance ticket, you pay less than you would on a Saturday during a peak time, with a two-day advance.
Lies, Lies, Lies, YeahAlso in that same article, McCourt denies earlier reports in the Times that he vetoed the Vlad acquisition.
Eleven years ago, when the Giants were being sold by Bob Lurie to the current ownership group headed by Peter Magowan, Magowan was given the go-ahead by Lurie to sign Barry Bonds to what was then the game's biggest contract, a six-year, $43 million deal. Why couldn't McCourt have done something similar during his transition stage? "Baseball feels very, very strongly that prospective owners not act like presumptive owners," McCourt said. "They feel very, very strongly about that. I am familiar with the Giants situation. That caused a lot of consternation. That was not something we felt any need to replicate in this particular situation. We've already made a very big move here. The big move we made was to bring in Paul DePodesta [as GM].Unfortunately, Paul cannot hit. I think it's altogether possible to draw two valid conclusions here:
- The Dodgers' 2004 is over. There will be no bats added one way or another.
- Frank is a pathological liar. Or, who do we believe more: McCourt, who's already broken several promises, or Bill Stoneman?
Hall of ShameAnd speaking of the front office, Jason Reid in the Times reports that Director of Communications Derrick Hall has resigned due to "philosophical differences" with the McCourts:
The news disturbed All-Star right fielder Shawn Green.Yeah, that makes a lot of sense: a man can only be so creative, and maybe he figured the position would go to the Coen brothers or somebody else with extensive screenwriting experience. (Update: Jon, I know you don't have extensive experience in Hollywood's tarpits, but think of the tongue-in-cheek fun you could have with official press releases!) God knows the truth is going to be pretty harsh in the upcoming weeks and years. I wonder how long it'll take before the peanut vendors develop "philosophical differences" with Frank-n-Jamie? Heck, forget the peanut guys -- what about Vinny?
"He's one of the unsung heroes in the organization," Green said. "He's the best in the business at what he does. I don't know all the dynamics of the situation, but I have a lot of respect for Derrick. I know he would only do this if he felt he had to."
Hall, who had left briefly in 1999 to become a sports radio talk-show host, declined to elaborate on the philosophical differences that drove him from the organization he joined in 1992 as a member of the Vero Beach Dodgers.
However, multiple team sources said Saturday that Hall was concerned about the new owners' handling of many situations and apparently feared his credibility would be called into question.
"In Oakland, They Really Don't Karros"Ross Newhan, with a brain as thick as a rhinoceros tusk (and, thanks to the Times circulation rates, nearly as deadly), goes back to beating dead horse Dan Evans, whom he today wails upon for not picking up an idled Eric Karros:
Deprived of first base in Chicago, Karros scanned the market, saw an opening with the Dodgers, thought about how it might be to possibly end his career where it started, and was relieved to learn over lunch with Tracy that their sometimes heated and closed-door talks involving playing time and other issues in 2002 had left no scars.Nothing like twisting the knife a little, eh Ross? Maybe you could have made it clear whether this was before or after the Vlad revelation, when it became crystal clear that Evans was unable to lift a finger? Update: ... and would Karros have been the answer to any offensive question in a full-time role anyway? I dunno. He might have made a decent acquisition as a bench player, especially now that the Dodgers don't have a full-time solid first baseman.
Ultimately, Karros said, he also talked with Evans and Chairman Bob Daly and came away thinking an offer was imminent, although he laughed in reflection and said:
"It's just that Daly would say he had to clear it with Evans, and Evans would say he had to make sure Trace was on board, and it obviously took Dan about three months to walk downstairs to check with Trace because that's about how long it was before I decided that I'd better find work. In the end, I guess, Dan felt he could go in another direction and there were other things he could do, although I don't know what they were."
Neither does anyone else.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
One Big Bat, Revisited: Inserting Vlad
Jon: Regarding the Dodgers (and by the way, I don't know that a good year from Jeff Weaver is the key to their success any more than a good year from Neifi Perez is for the Giants), here are the questions:Let's take a closer look at those contentions. Using Rob's New Favorite Toy, VORP, let's subtract Burnitz (-7.8), Jordan (11.3), and Henderson (-2.1) from the Dodgers' 2003 lineup and replace them with the 2002, uninjured version of Vlad (71.3). That is a difference of 70 runs, approximately. Plugging this in to last year's stats using Pythagorean projections, that would equate to a WPCT of .573 or a final record of 93-69, not enough to eclipse the Giants but enough to get into the postseason.
* If the Dodgers add one legitimate bat, do they not become a division contender?
* If the Dodgers add two legitimate bats, do they not become division favorites?
I say yes to both.
But that was last year.
I don't have time right now to do a 2004 projection justice, but it's conceivable that this might have worked. But I would be willing to bet that we'd have to keep Brown around.
Angels' 2004 Bullpen Preview
Brendan DonnellyThis one's easy: he's about to decline. You don't just step up, deliver a pre-All-Star-Break ERA of 0.36, and expect to repeat that the next year. Heck, he didn't even deliver that in the second half, once his elbow started breaking apart, he came back down to earth to finish the season with a 1.58 ERA. His age of 32 says he's on the downward slope.
Troy PercivalAnother year of age-related decline as his K/9 took a big hit last year. Last year's degenerative hip condition isn't going away, and he'll continue to make me nervous. Of course, a lot of that nervousness is due to watching Misseur Gagné on the mound, as automatic a closer as I've ever seen.
Francisco RodriguezFrankie's going to bounce back this year with a terriffic year. Like Lackey in the starting rotation, he had an awful sophomore year, but Rodriguez's K/9 went through the roof in the last three months of 2003 even though his ERA took a hit. I see him a big candidate to improve substantially even if he doesn't become Mariano Rivera.
Scot ShieldsShields name, IMO, shouldn't even be on this list -- he should be in spring training working on a third or fourth pitch, working on pitch sequences so he can start. He's better than Lackey was last year. He's got very, very good stuff for five innings, and with some training, I think he could be extended to even more. That said, I'm going to suggest he'll decline a little as his K/9 regresses to his career average.
Ben WeberWeber's 2003 and 2002 K/9 rates are nearly identical, but trending slightly down, and that's where I'm headed with Weber: decline.
The RestMy guess is that Sele's most likely to enter the bullpen, which actually might solidify it further. Scioscia's plan to keep Aaron on a five-inning leash worked for a while, and I tend to think a bullpen job would help him out. If not Sele, then Ortiz, and if it is Ortiz, watch out; his walks ramped up while his strikeouts nosedived. Ortiz in the pen could be gasoline to the fire. I see once-highly-regarded Chris Bootcheck as a longshot to make the pen. Last year's spot starter Kevin Gregg is more likely to supplant Shields as a swingman if it comes to that, though it has been said he's liable to spend his days in AAA. Derrick Turnbow has one option left, and the Angels may deal him a similar fate. Too much depends on who actually ends up here, so I decline judgement until Scioscia and Stoneman make their picks.
Sele Released If He Has A Bad ST?
The good news for Sele is that he's finally healthy and ready to regain the form that helped him win 69 games from 1998 through 2001, the most in the American League in that span.That's a lot of dough to be eating, Arte.
The bad news is that the offseason bolstering of the Angels' pitching rotation with flamethrowers Bartolo Colon has put the heat on Sele this spring. If he doesn't pitch well, he might not be on the team come Opening Day.
Testing 1 2 3
Italicized words go here. Normal font words go here.
Spiezio Wearing Cape And Tights In Seattle?Strange and murky are the fever dreams of statheads and fantasy baseball players, projecting performance with statistical gimcrack and mudflap. Its mystics now divine a new superhero playing third base at Safeco. So read the Optimist's tea leaves. If true, Scott, we are so sorry.
Bonds Flat On His Back Through MondayBarry's horizontal posture is likely to continue through the weekend. How will the curses flow, if Bonds misses large chunks of 2004? Especially since Sabean has gone into full savage-the-farm-win-at-all-costs mode over the last year?
Angels Could Use A Guardian Angel ThemselvesAs if to prove that aging superstars aren't the only ones who get injured in spring training, the Angels have absorbed quite a beating this year. Aside from Donnelly's nasal adventure, third baseman Glaus sprained an ankle, Guillen fouled a ball off his ankle, Anderson still hasn't played in ST thanks to biceps tendonitis, Benji Molina's got stiffness in his legs, and Vlad took a pitch on the hands. It already sounds horribly familiar...
Weaver... 15 K's... ZzzzOne hit. 8.0 innings, 15 K's. No big deal. Wake me when he's in the bigs, will ya?
Friday, March 12, 2004
- working as hard as possible at seeing Frank McCourt to the door.
- getting as many belly laughs at his expense as possible in the meantime.
- cheering on the Dodgers and Angels, the former despite whatever bankrupt stupidity the McCourts may inflict upon that team.
Oh, Frank, You Slay Me!
McCourt also said he hasn't decided to bring in an entirely new front office staff.Just like Dan. I'm sure they all have their resumés faxed off to the Angels, Giants, A's, Diamondbacks, etc. by now.
"Everybody here is going to be given a chance," he said.
Frank, on priorities:
"Spring training is great, but, really, what we're focused on is June 11, 12 and 13 in Fenway," McCourt said, "and, of course, playing in October is as good as it gets."Apparently, the other games don't count for much. Or are you just going to the games you live close to?
On the life expectancy of Dodger players:
"I have a lot of confidence in the players on the squad," McCourt said. "This team is a lot better than people give them credit for. That said, we're going to plug holes."Hah! I knew it! He's going to finally plug Dreifort! I envision a scene like that from The Untouchables where Sean Connery has a violent staged argument with a corpse -- which he promptly and bloodily re-kills, the better to extract information from the live gangsters unaware of the street theater in their presence. After Dreifort, Hundley... and Beltre...
Update: As if that weren't enough, get this Ken Gurnick article. On the Dodgers picking up a hitter before opening day:
Continuing the general feeling around the club that a major acquisition is unlikely, McCourt lowered expectations on player movement.Especially when you can't get one, right, Frank? Just as I suspected: firing Dan Evans had the same atavistic motivation as a dog peeing on a fire hydrant, and so far, with the same results. The lies, the brittle promises, they're all here on display, in as big a showcase as Fox Sports West has for 162 games -- or however many actually get televised. Oops -- there goes another blown promise. But that's okay, we can count on Frank to at least know which team he owns, right?
"I promise to do what is necessary to win on the field," he said. "The emphasis on one bat, a fix-all and cure-all, is a little misguided.
McCourt spoke to reporters before watching his old favorite team play his new favorite team Friday.And just how many of those reasons are really yours, Frank? Go home, Frank. Just sell the team and go home.
"I wouldn't say I have divided loyalties," McCourt said before the game between the Dodgers and Red Sox. "I have 430 million reasons to root for one team and not the other."
It's the Atari 2600 all over again. We didn't buy Sky Worm Attack once we realized it was just Missile Command in a different box. Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? What's the difference? Would the NES have taken off if it turned out to be just an Atari, only with eight colors of square blocks instead of four?And, while the future crash he predicts provides little comfort now to the TV industry execs who are finding out that video gamers aren't watching TV during prime time these days, it might mean a wave of more folks looking for something else to do with their spare time in a few years. Something like... baseball? Nah, that'll never catch on.
All it will take is some other fad, some toy, some other hobby to come along, and interest will fade. It's out there, on somebody's drawing board. Something truly new and different and novel, dammit. The market is ripe for it.
To bolster their woeful offensa
So far it's just Flores
And nobody mores
But he can't hit it over the fencea.
Update: Okay, never again.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Joe Mauer, Joe Mauer, Let Mathis Come Over
Assume, then, that Mauer isn't the best catching prospect in the minors now. That means Jeff Mathis is, which, as an Angels fan, has got to make you feel pretty good.
In Mauer's defense, Aaron Gleeman deconstructs Sheehan's argument by looking at others of similar height, just one inch shorter. The bottom line is that anybody 6'4" in baseball is substantially far to the right on the bell curve, and you'd be lucky to find a decent number of comparables, period.
KNBR Interviews DePodesta
- James Loney "... might be the best young hitter I've ever seen... he's a 19-year-old man." He says Loney will be up in the next couple years most likely.
- Dreifort is going to be in the bullpen -- no surprise there.
Vetting The NL Central
It's hard in lines so very terse
To say whether the Cubs are still cursed.
With Clemens and Pettitte
The Astros might get it
Is Maddux enough to take first?
Score One For The Bard
To rely on the wisdom of scouts
For projecting who hits or makes outs,
And just eyeball at-bats
Without using stats--
Well, that's like trying to write a poem without knowing anything about meter--you might write a good one if you're lucky, but I have my doubts.
Invitation: Blog At The Park
The Good Soldier
"It's about the ring on the finger," he said of that elusive championship. "It's more valuable than whatever money you make in your whole career. Family, friends, everybody remembers when they see the ring. When you're done playing, they don't talk about how much money you made. They talk about how many rings you won. That's what it's all about.God bless you, Wilson. After all the long injury-plagued years at Tampa Bay and the vain, hopeless offseason, after a clumsy and foolish new owner inhumanely fired the friend who brought you here, you're still ready to go, and at least, for the public, putting on a brave face.
"That's all that matters to me now, is to win. I've done everything else in the game. But before I go home, I want a ring. Some guys don't see it that way. But when they get older, they'll know. When I was younger, I just wanted to play and have fun. Now I know you don't feel complete without winning. Thank God, I've got everything else in life. But for a baseball player, there's something else bigger than the money and the personal success."
One Big Bat, One Big Lie
Now, if the outlier 1955 season is unusual, so is the magical year 1988, with it's woefully underperforming offense. Most Dodger championships are right in the middle offensively. One bat, by itself, couldn't have fixed the Dodgers last year, and it won't fix the team this year, either.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
A-Mays-ing: Bonds Won't Set Record Against Dodgers -- Maybe
Or, he'd have to start the season on the DL. Kinda like he is now.
Grumpy Old Pitchers
- The pitcher must have changed teams from 2003 to 2004.
- The pitcher must be 37 or older. This is something of an arbitrary cutoff, but there's a convenient break in the numbers of 36-year-olds and below.
- The pitcher must have thrown 100 or more innings in 2003.
- The pitcher's age is taken from Baseball Prospectus' 2004 PECOTA projections data.
- I use Baseball Prospectus' VORP as the means for assessing player performance. You can find a definition of VORP here. Essentially, it tells you the theoretical number of runs a player will contribute over a league average replacement player (hence, "Value Over Replacement Player"). Its unit, therefore, is the run.
|Curt Schilling||37||Red Sox||55.8||3.35|
So, the question is, which of these guys is most likely to help his team the most? Based on VORP alone, the answer is Schilling, who towers over the rest. But that doesn't consider the replacement guys. Let's look at whose innings these guys will be eating:
BrownBrown replaces, depending on how you look at it, either David Wells or Andy Pettite. Javier Vazquez and his 61.7 projected 2004 VORP will replace Clemens, essentially functioning as the staff ace. Looking at both pitchers' 2003 actual and 2004 VORP brings an interesting picture to bear:
|2003 actual||2004 Proj.|
Brown clearly marks a step up from the 2003 version of either of these guys, Wells especially so. But it's not a huge step up, and it has to come with the caveat that Brown has substantial injury risk at this point, as the Dodgers well know. Brown 2004 represents, essentially, David Wells 2003. If you're the Yankees, though, you're kicking yourself for not re-signing Pettitte, as Brown is done after 2005, but Pettitte still has a lot of gas left in the tank. I'm going to say Brown replaces Pettitte, as they are the most similar.
ClemensClemens' unretirement was something of a surprise to me, though Bosox fans might have a different opinion given his rancorous exit from that club. He replaces Ron Villone, for whom PECOTA projects a 7.9 VORP, one of the lowest in these ratings. Clemens should upgrade the rotation by nearly 25 runs, provided he actually pitches similar numbers of innings.
MadduxThe Cubs situation with Maddux bears startling resemblance to the Astros, except that Maddux is a year younger than Clemens, and he replaces Shawn Estes as the ERA-challenged pitcher getting the boot. As Estes projects to a VORP of only 1.8, though, the 2004 improvement is even bigger, 32 runs.
RogersWhich awful pitcher does Kenny Rogers replace? Judging by the roster, I'll say it was John Thomson, he of the 22.1 2003 VORP. Thomson's projected 2004 VORP is 24.0; of everyone on this list, he actually represents a step down from what he replaced, leading me to question whether anyone in the Rangers organization can recognize quality pitching (or whether PECOTA has lost its mind on this one). This is a -7.7 run "improvement", or a drop of 7.7 runs.
SchillingCurt replaces John Burkett, whose 13.7 2003 VORP got frighteningly close to zero. With the hitter-happy AL East, that just won't cut it, and the Sox wisely let him go. Burkett's 17.8 2004 projected VORP represents a bounceback, but with Schilling so much higher at 55.8, the run gap of 38 is insurmountable.
WellsOf all the pitchers on this list, Wells' standalone effect on the team is most difficult to gauge, because he's actually going to replace not one but one and a quarter other pitchers, specifically, innings eaten in 2003 by Kevin Jarvis, and possibly, one of their 1-3 rotation guys, Lawrence, Peavy, and Eaton, the latter three returning in 2004. The Padres suffered mightily from injury last year, and it shows in their rotation's innings pitched. There's a steep cutoff after Eaton, whose 183 IP ranked third. Wells went the distance last year with 213 IP, but given his injury history, whether he gets that far in 2004 is a big question mark. His projected 29.5 VORP still towers over Jarvis' 10.4 2004 projection, for a 19.1 run improvement. But that has to be watered down with the knowledge that the gain won't, in practice be so large because Wells isn't going to replace just one player.
ConclusionIn short, the Sox accomplished the most by their offseason acquisition, followed by the Cubs, Astros, Padres, Yankees, and Rangers, the latter actually managing to make their pitching worse. That the Yanks pitching turns into a wash (at least, so far as Brown is concerned) shows how far down their player development has gone, and how foolish it was to let Pettitte go.
Bad Swing Shift For Barry
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Bonds hurt his back during batting practice Wednesday and was taken out of the lineup for the San Francisco Giants' game against Texas.Giants fans jitter. This is not serious, they murmur amongst themselves. He will return. He will hit. Won't he?
Bonds swung at a pitch, then walked out of the batting cage and threw his bat down.
He was flat on the grass behind cage as Giants assistant trainer Barney Nugent worked on his back. Several minutes later, Bonds stood up, walked back into the cage, swung at another pitch, then walked off the field.
Portrait of the Pitcher As A Young Stud
Gagné avant Dodger uniform.
Thanks to the Texas League website for this one.
Fast, Fast, Fast Relief
"It gives me an opportunity to play," he said. "All that stuff is going to be a little different, but the city is awesome and Frank [Robinson, the manager] is a great guy."And people worry about rushing Edwin Jackson! That's gotta be some special stuff. I hope his quick ascent to the show doesn't eventually ruin him.
This time last year, Cordero was the closer for Cal State Fullerton. The Expos drafted him in June and called him up in August, and he posted a 1.64 earned-run average in 12 games.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
A Challenge to M's Bloggers
Start writing. You have thirty minutes. At the end of the period, please fold your blue books and hand them to the person on your right.
Update: The answer should be obvious. I'll take the Mariners' situation any day. A bad GM can be fired. Bad ownership cannot, save by the courts.
A National Disgrace
Even Nixon Had Pat
As the Director of Operations for the facility, I attended a number of meetings with Frank, and his lovely wife Jamie, and found them to be earnest, but totally incompetent people. Their ideas were useless...And so the McCourts went down with the ship, with predictable lawsuits and countersuits, with Opryland (the employer of the individual writing this piece) settling for a fraction of its losses.
Imagine my surprise when we began to have delays because, among other things, the diner for the building was sitting on a flatcar in New Jersey because Frank didn't have the money to pay for it. ... The $23M project could not even place the electronic signage for the main entrance into place, because the money wasn't available to get it delivered.
... I was pulled aside one day by the controller, a personal friend who had originally called me in Ohio to tell me about the job. He was ashen. He told me he had just finished a meeting with the McCourts and their financial people, and that the project was doomed.
I asked how he could know that, when we hadn't even yet opened the doors (the delayed opening, which had finally been settled when we informed Frank that he could not open the facility without the diner, since the liquor laws were going to require the eatery for us to get our license, was still about a month away)...and he said "for us to make this work, everything's going to have to be perfect. We're going to have to turn a profit within six months, and we told Frank that this was not realistic; our people had projected it would take 12 to 18 months. This place has to be a cash cow right off the bat, because the debt load is huge. I'd never seen those numbers before, I'd only seen Opryland's numbers. I swear that if I had seen McCourt's, I'd have never called you to fly in here for that interview."
Back to the present, or something like it. In January, the Daily News ran an article including one anonymous baseball insider's estimate of McCourt's financial leash to be no more than three years. In October 2003, the Boston Globe interviewed Sportscorp's Marc Ganis, who said "The Dodgers are losing money. There is not the cash flow to support debt." Despite these reports, despite the litany of actual problems (as opposed to anonymous reports) associated with McCourt ownership, somehow, there are those who still insist that this guy is going to get us to the promised land. The arguments against skepticism all have the qualities of extreme naifdom swirling about them, as flies circle Pigpen. Consider one Tommy Naccarato's words:
Lets [sic] get behind McCourt for a couple of years; help him make the team a winner and hipefully [sic] we can enjoy winning again in Chaves [sic] Ravine. I know for a fact that I certainly miss it.In other words, as he put it earlier, "this is a new era" and we should all close our eyes.
Oh yes, and about Kris Rone, well her job has nothing to do with the team's performance. I'm sorry she isn't going to be getting the chance to NOT stock my size of shirt at the Top of the Park this upcoming season--as if she ever intended too.
Right. I bet that works great if you're a wildebeest amidst lions.
And I've got some news for you, dude. Rone's job has plenty to do with the team's performance: she's the gal who gets the cash that the team plows back into player salaries, scouting operations, and the minor leagues. Losing somebody with her track record is no small matter.
But in the end, results don't -- or won't -- matter. When spring turns to summer and the Dodgers still don't have a hitter (or five, which is more like the number they need), the McCourt apologists will be back at it with their Pollyanna stories about how we all need to get behind the team, and so forth. Everybody needs a supporter come what may, no matter how slimy, or in this case, blatently stupid they might be. Even Nixon had Pat.
Don't Worry, Terry, They're Just Makin' It Up As They Go
Will The Yankees Bail Frank Out?
The Angels added big-time attractions in Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon this off-season, and on Saturday, the first day that fans could purchase single-game tickets, the team sold 58,828.Ah, later on, he clues us in:
The Dodgers did nothing this off-season, and continue to do nothing, and on Saturday, the first day that fans could purchase single-game tickets, the team sold more than 87,000, and close to 100,000 when including package deals. "This will be our biggest year in memory," ticket manager Billy Hunter told The Times.
In fact, 33,000 of the 87,000 single-game Dodger tickets sold Saturday were to just the Yankee series, and "I would imagine a number of people were turned away after the Yankee series was sold out," Hall said, "so rather than leave with nothing, they bought tickets for other games with the Giants, or maybe for July 4th."No kidding, T.J. Who knew that interleague play would bail out the Parking Lot Attendant this year? Well, that's only a few games. We've yet to see whether he's going to get an attendance drop over the course of 81 home games. But maybe it's not the Yanks the fans want to see. Maybe they want to see whether Sheffield even shows up ("Gaaaaryyyyyy..." as they used to chant over the Braves dugout when he was in town.)
It appears we're getting closer and closer to that time when the Dodgers, like the Clippers have been doing for years, begin urging fans to buy tickets for the chance to watch some of the game's greatest players — none, of course, who play for the Dodgers.
Monday, March 08, 2004
"You Have Fifteen Minutes To Reach Minimum Safe Distance"
- Of course, there's the protracted sale itself. If this were such a good deal, MLB ownership would have put this one in the can back in October.
- McCourt's blatant disregard for legitimate fan concern. Come on, Frank, we deserve better than a cheap brush-off.
- His shameful firing of Dan Evans.
- The departure of Graziano and Rone. Rone, the article says, "is credited with increasing sponsorship sales 271% and raising net revenues 51% in five years with the club", so presumably they know a thing or two about business plans.
- Peter O'Malley's timely comments about Frank's plan, or lack thereof. Hmm, has he been talking to Graziano, too?
- Maybe I'm reading too much into this one, but Arte Moreno's comment
"We have a business plan," Moreno said, "and it's not like it's written on the back of a napkin."was delivered by somebody who (a) actually read Frank's business plan, and (b) has made a lot more bucks -- and in an arguably closer-related business -- in his lifetime than Frank. My guess is, it wasn't just a napkin, it was a cocktail napkin.
In the movie Aliens, before the colony's terraforming generator went supercritical, the automated warning voice cried, "You have fifteen minutes to reach minimum safe distance." Whether they have such machinery at Chavez Ravine or not, Graziano blasted off for deep space before the reactor blew. The rest of us will just have to sit and watch.
He's No Haas, Beane
Oct. 9, 1995--For the last 15 years the Walter Haas family has been the flip side of George Steinbrenner: a shining model of altruistic, self-effacing, and successful sports franchise ownership. Now the Oakland A's have been sold to a couple of businessmen, Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman.Of course, this begat the end of the Bash Brother era in Oakland, and the beginning of the Beane era, with treatment of baseball players -- or at least, position players -- as interchangeable parts. While I have to believe that Oakland's consistently winning ways on a strict budget may prove they have a point, it still makes me sorry to think the Dodgers will presently succumb to those bloodless ways. How did the O'Malley's leave? With a bang? With a whimper?
On the final home weekend of the A's season a crowd of 30,112 fans said goodbye to a tenor of baseball enjoyment that had been set by the shy and smiling Walter A. Haas, Jr., who bought the club in 1981 as a means of doing something positive for the economy and the spirits of the city.
The A's won a World Series and three league pennants during Haas' stewardship, but with him, pleasure in the day always outranked winning, and this game (against Minnesota) had the atmosphere of a company picnic. The players sat on folded chairs in the infield, with their wives beside them and their younger children on their laps. In the bleachers and outer stands, there were a half-dozen hand-lettered signs thanking the Haas family: "THANKS FOR HAASPITALITY," "HAASTA LAVISTA," "HAAS #1," and the like.
Haas, who had been in declining health for months was not present but the name "Haas" was spelled out on the green grass and brought the crowd to its feet in a spontaneous roar. The players stood and cheered, too -- and in an instant, it seemed, everyone was up again for Mark McGwire's second-inning 465-foot home run into the left-field bleachers: a shining meteor sent up, everyone knew, for Walter Haas. Three days later he died.
Return To Sender: Griffey Postmarked For Seattle?
Anyway, because the Safeco blogosphere is so heavily peopled, it surprises me that he didn't pick up on a rumored move of injury magnet Ken Griffey, Jr. back to Seattle whence he came*. Of course, as the article says,
The biggest hurdle to returning Griffey could be the five guaranteed years left on his contract, starting at age 34 with major injuries wiping out most of his past two seasons. Balanced against that is the fact that Griffey's money is spread out for years after he is done playing — $6.5 million a year is deferred.Yeah, no surprise there. I wonder whether this is the fever dream of Bavasi along the same lines as Epstein's A-Rod-to-Boston disaster earlier, or just the imaginings of a bored Seattle sportswriter.
In other news, I introduce yet another new Angels blog, Vote For Lou. That makes five of us. He starts off with a post that should warm Nelson's heart, namely, just how badly the Angels have fared against Mariners pitching in recent years.
* Stephen wrote just now to inform me that I wasn't hallucinating: I did see this story on his blog, but he took it down because, well, U.S.S. Mariner already covered it in more detail than he had time for. Eh, don't let it get you down. I have Jon and Terry to compete with on the Dodgers, and at least Purgatory Online and The Pearly Gates for the Angels.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
Making a BeWeaver Out Of Me
Payback, In the Jenks of An Eye
There's actually been a couple stories I missed on Jenks -- one here in the Daily Bulletin that says his stint in winter ball has lead, not to more alcohol-related violations, but to 47 strikeouts in 52 innings, and a frame fifteen pounds lighter. And Stephen Smith says he heard Mike Scioscia on the McDonnell-Douglas show say Bobby's developed a cut fastball in Puerto Rico. Bobby, if you're reading this, we're all pulling for you. I can't wait to see you at Angel Stadium.
Frank Only Makes It To C, Not Dee
Rob-I apologized to Dayn for my labeling him a shill, and that's where things stand.
Poking around and found your Dodgers/Angels blog. Good stuff and some very interesting and thoughtful takes. However, I think you may have misinterpreted my Fox column on DePodesta. Nowhere did I claim that free-spending owners weren't ready and willing to purchase teams (Broad and Checketts are but one example). My point was that, generally speaking, I think MLB selects owners who are willing to toe the "reduce labor costs now!" party line. I think McCourt will be of this mold. I never claimed that the Dodgers had only a group of insolvents to choose from. It's MLB's selection criteria more than anything. When I wrote "It would be better for everyone, the game included, if we had more John Henrys out there willing to invest in their own products. But we don't." I was referring to the current coterie of MLB owners--not prospective owners. I thought that was clear, but perhaps it wasn't. As for my shill status, well, I've critical of Bud Selig and baseball owners on many occasions, and I've yet to be called on the carpet. If I ever were, well, you can ask ESPN.com whether I'm willing to resign when I think I'm being treated unfairly. Many thanks.
One thing I enjoy -- usually -- is being proven right, as in hearing my wife repeat, "I was wrong, you were right" several times over. But sometimes the satisfaction of being right doesn't offset the sickly feeling I get when my nominally pessimistic tendencies prove accurate. The Dodgers 2004 season keeps looking worse and worse. Today, Mariners Wheelhouse redoubles my efforts on Nomo, complete with charts and comparable pitchers. Note to DePodesta: don't trade Perez. Please.
Evolution: How A Salmon Almost Became A Snake
Before the 2001 season, the Diamondbacks were looking for help in right field.Phew. This from a guy that Bill James ranked 72nd all time in his Historical Baseball Abstract in right field:
"As much as I wanted to stay here with one club, that was weighing on me," said Salmon, a former Greenway High School and Grand Canyon University standout who resides with wife Marci and four children in the same Valley neighborhood as Diamondbacks left fielder Luis Gonzalez. " . . . I had a lot of family and friends waiting for me to come home and play."
But Salmon received a four-year contract extension, and the Angels finished third in the American League West. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, signed Reggie Sanders, who slugged 33 home runs as the Diamondbacks made their championship run.
Salmon, 35, admitted he did some deep thinking after the Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series.
"For a little while, I was asking myself what could have been," Salmon said. "But to come back the next year and do it the way we did it with that club, it's ultimately the greatest satisfaction.
An old-fashioned hard-hat kind of player, good arm, not too much speed, works hard and rarely goes into a slump. Ninety walks a year and a .290 average give him an on-base percentage near .400. Has gone over 200 this season (2000) and will probably hit a couple hundred more before the fastballs get too fast for him.Of course, that was 2000. He proceeded to have a simply awful (for him) 2001, and thought about hanging it up shortly into 2002 when the team struggled early.
Salmon is in my mind an archetypal Angel, a quiet, no-nonsense guy who shows up to the park to get his job done. It's pretty obvious, to me at least, that his career is sloping downward faster than James thought four years ago; later in the Arizona Republic article, Salmon questions whether he'll finish his contract. Well, Tim, here's to a productive end.
Saturday, March 06, 2004
Repeat To Self: It's Only Spring Training
Meantime, the Dodgers hit and hit and hit.
It's only spring training, it's only spring training...
Can You Find The Ace In This Picture?
This is not a pretty picture. Nomo's strikeout rate and control have been slipping for three years now. He's clearly on a downward slide, and Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections has even worse things to say about him: he's due for a loss of over half his VORP (subscription required? scroll halfway down). For an ace, that's scary news. I'm a lazy man: here, I'll just copy their 2004 VORP projections for the starting rotation:
|2003 Actual||2004 Projected|
|Hideo Nomo||48.7||Hideo Nomo||20.2|
|Odalis Perez||10.8||Odalis Perez||29.3|
|Kevin Brown||60.2||Jeff Weaver||17.9|
|Kazuhisa Ishii||14.7||Kazuhisa Ishii||4.9|
|Andy Ashby||0.6||Edwin Jackson||18.9|
|Darren Dreifort||6.6||Darren Dreifort||15.5|
|Wilson Alvarez||30.5||Wilson Alvarez||26.4|
|Total pitching VORP||172.1||Total pitching VORP||133.1|
So, PECOTA sees Nomo going down, hard, this year... but tradebait Perez rebounding nicely. Looking at the 2003 DIPS numbers for each of our starters, you see also that OP is on the leaderboard for ERA-dERA, that is, he's been pitching in bad luck, where our friends Ishii and Nomo both are on the dERA-ERA leaderboard -- pitching in good luck.
I've always been leery of trading Odalis. He said what needed to be said last year about the offense. For a combination of durability and dominance, he's going to be extremely hard to replace. I'd look to Perez (if he doesn't get traded), Alvarez, or (gulp) Ishii, in descending order of likelihood, to be the staff ace this year, not Nomo.
Margin Note: No, you're not hallucinating. I took this down for additional info and DIPS analysis.
For Pete's Sake, Don't Blow It, Frank
Former Dodger owner Peter O'Malley, reacting to the resignation of club president Bob Graziano and vice president of business Kris Rone, said Friday that he hoped this didn't portend another long period of instability for the organization and that new co-owner Frank McCourt needed to reveal his vision and agenda as soon as possible.Well, don't you know, Peter, his vision apparently involves learning the A-B-C's beyond the third letter. You know, like H for "hitter". Fortunately, B encompasses "bat", but also "bonehead", which adequately describes many of McCourt's moves in the brief time he's run the show in Dodgertown. Not that Frank would listen to a word Peter would have to say -- after all, O'Malley washed his hands of the team in the end, and took up with Eli Broad on a competing bid when it became obvious the Parking Lot Attendant didn't have enough quarters to buy the team. But I'm sure we'll be treated to lots of fun future press conferences if Peter disagrees violently with the McCarpetbaggers.
"We don't know what his vision and agenda is," O'Malley said. "When we do, maybe we'll have a better understanding and be better able to evaluate these changes.
"It's important he communicates and tells fans what his direction is. You can't fool the fans. My dad and I had their total support for decades because they understood what our direction was."
O'Malley said he wasn't being critical of McCourt. "With change of ownership comes change of management," he said. "I just hope there aren't too many changes in too short of time.
OT: Tricksy, Thieving Bloggers!
These infectious people can be hard to find because they do not always receive attribution for being the first to point to an interesting idea or news item.The researchers said that this is all part of an idea they call "iRank", a ranking of information spread based on who actually originated the material. With everybody hot for the Next Big Search Algorithm, this is actually exciting stuff. So stop stealin' my baseball links! (Note to Jon, Terry, etc.: that was supposed to be a joke.)
Indeed, the team at HP Labs found that when an idea infected at least 10 blogs, 70 percent of the blogs did not provide links back to another blog that had previously mentioned the idea.
To get past this obstacle, the researchers developed techniques to infer where information might have come from, based on the similarities in text, links and infection rates.
For instance, if Blog A used the words "furry germs" to link to an infectious topic like Giantmicrobes just days after Blog B in the same social circle used the exact same words and link, that would be a good sign that Blog A copied Blog B.
Friday, March 05, 2004
Update: now, on mlb.com, too.
Update 3/6/04: Reader Ralph Rooney writes to mention that the MLB World Series link above is wrong about Sandy's won-loss record; he was actually a 25-game winner that year, and Whitey Ford won 24. Ah, the days of four-man rotations. And I should also correct myself: the Reds blanked the Yanks in 1976. But it was the first time anybody had done it.
National Hooky, Er, Pastime Day
OT: An Unhappy Anniversary
Stretching Jenks To Fit The Angels Lineup
"We hope based on his progress that he comes onto our radar," Scioscia said. "It's a stretch to call him depth now, but at some point in the season we hope he jumps up onto the chart. We've got to give him time to get it together."Well, I hope so. It isn't every day you see guys throwing 100+. Speaking of radar,
The story goes that Jenks threw a pitch clocked at 103mph over the winter in Puerto Rico. As usual, opinions are split about the reliability of the radar gun.Good luck, Bobby.
"I've got to think the battery might have been a little bad," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Dodger Staff Stirred, Not Shaken (Much)
But then there's the juicy part. As expected, Bob Graziano finally did, in fact, resign, but it's how he did it that fascinates, in a watching-a-car-wreck-as-it-happens manner:
"I met with Frank and Jamie at the beginning of February, at which time we decided [resignation] would be an appropriate course of action because we had decided to go our separate ways."I suppose you expect a number of shakeups in an organization when a new boss takes over, but it seems every direct underling of McCourt has hit the door. Maybe it's needed -- the team wasn't exactly lighting the NL West on fire -- but it sure doesn't remind anybody of the O'Malley days, either. Well, maybe guys in the business of writing puff pieces about McCourt, but not the rest of us.
Word emerged of the Graziano-Dee shakeup on the same day Dodger executive Kris Rone, the fourth-highest-ranking woman in Major League Baseball, resigned because of philosophical differences with the McCourts.
"My responsibilities within the organization changed significantly" after his February meeting with the McCourts, prompting Graziano to instruct his attorney to send the letter of resignation to the Dodgers on Feb 20. He is scheduled to leave the organization March 22.
Man, would I love to hear what Rone's "philosophical differences" were.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Number 14: Jeff Weaver, 42 ms before his right arm and head detached. Courtesy Harold Edgerton, MIT.
The Effects of Competition Upon The Gate
That's Fine, Jeff, Just Don't Ask Me To Pitch
They Could Do Worse
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Eckstein Will Come Back
A-Rod he ain't. He doesn't have to be.
Another Swipe at DIPS
Update 6/6/04: Changed the link on this one to reflect the reorganization at Baseball Think Factory. They sure don't make it easy to find.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Whose Team Was It?
A player comes into the organization by one of two ways. The scouting department runs the annual drafts and usually has the final call on which players are chosen. The scouts also sign the foreign free agents not eligible for the draft. Once a player turns pro, he comes into the organization by some transaction ultimately orchestrated by the general manager. The farm director may sign some minor league free agents but, for purposes of our analysis, I'm giving that credit to the general manager.I think Stephen meant to say "Once a player makes it to the major league level", since players are pros even in the minor leagues. But be that as it may, his analysis of the 2002 Angel team that won it all breaks down to
|Bob Fontaine, Scouting Director||12|
|Bill Stoneman, GM 2000-2002||11|
|Bill Bavasi, GM 1994-1999||1|
This came as something of a shock to me, so it's maybe worthwhile looking at the 2003 Dodgers through this same prism.
|Player||Acquired By||How Acquired|
|Wilson Alvarez||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Andy Ashby||Kevin Malone||Free Agent|
|Larry Barnes||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Adrian Beltre||Terry Reynolds||1994 International Free Agent|
|Troy Brohawn||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Kevin Brown||Kevin Malone||Free Agent|
|Jeromy Burnitz||Dan Evans||Trade with Mets for three minor leaguers|
|Jolbert Cabrera||Dan Evans||Acquired from Cleveland for LHP Lance Caraccioli|
|Steve Colyer||Terry Reynolds||1997 amateur draft|
|Ron Coomer||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Alex Cora||Terry Reynolds||1996 amateur draft|
|Bubba Crosby||Terry Reynolds||1998 amateur draft, 1st round (!)|
|Darren Dreifort||Terry Reynolds||1993 amateur draft|
|Eric Gagné||Terry Reynolds||1995 amateur draft|
|Shawn Green||Kevin Malone||Free Agent|
|Rickey Henderson||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Chad Hermansen||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Koyie Hill||Ed Creech||2000 amateur draft|
|Todd Hundley||Dan Evans||Trade, with Cubs, for Grudzielanek and Karros|
|Chad Hermansen||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Kazuhisa Ishii||Logan White||2001 international free agent|
|Cesar Izturis||Dan Evans||Trade with Toronto (for Luke Prokopec and Chad Ricketts)|
|Edwin Jackson||Ed Creech||2001 amateur draft|
|Brian Jordan||Dan Evans||Trade, with Atlanta, for Gary Sheffield|
|Masao Kida||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Mike Kinkade||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Paul Loduca||Terry Reynolds||1993 amateur draft|
|Tom Martin||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Fred McGriff||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Guillermo Mota||Dan Evans||Trade, with Expos, for Matt Herges and Jorge Nunez.|
|Scott Mullen||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Rodney Meyers||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Hideo Nomo||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
|Odalis Perez||Dan Evans||Trade, with Atlanta, for Gary Sheffield|
|Paul Quantrill||Dan Evans||Trade with Toronto (for Luke Prokopec and Chad Ricketts)|
|Dave Roberts||Dan Evans||Trade with Cleveland (for Christian Bridenbaugh and Nial Hughes)|
|Jason Romano||Dan Evans||Trade with Colorado (?)|
|Dave Ross||Terry Reynolds||1998 amateur draft|
|Wilken Ruan||Dan Evans||Trade, with Expos, for Matt Herges and Jorge Nunez.|
|Paul Shuey||Dan Evans||Trade, with Cleveland, for Terry Mulholland, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Francisco Cruceta.|
|Joe Thurston||Ed Creech||1999 amateur draft|
|Robin Ventura||Dan Evans||Trade, with Yankees, for Bubba Crosby.|
|Daryle Ward||Dan Evans||Free Agent|
So, in review, the blame for 2003 may be in some measure apportioned to
|Dan Evans, GM 2002-2003||29|
|Terry Reynolds, Dir. of Scouting, 1991-1998||8|
|Kevin Malone, GM 1997-2001||3|
|Ed Creech, Dir. of Scouting, 1999-2001||3|
What's interesting to note here is that Edwin Jackson, our phenom-or-not, was a Malone-era pick by Ed Creech. Greg Miller, ranked even better by some reports, is the highest-rated Logan White era pick. That's not surprising considering most of those guys have barely had a year and a half in the minors. Of Terry Reynolds picks, only Eric Gagné has gone on to anything like stardom, with Loduca a solid player, Beltre arguably a middling disappointment, Dreifort an experiment gone wrong (made far worse by Kevin Malone), and Ross an unknown at this point. It'll be interesting to see how well the Logan White picks progress this year.
Update 3/3/04: Jon writes that it's a bit negative to say an 85-win season requires "blame"; I intended that as a sardonic comment, but on re-reading that, it didn't come across that way. Also, the issue of Dan's salary limitations didn't come up. I hadn't intended them to; this was a simple exercise designed to trace responsibility for an individual player back to the initial signing.
Update 3/5/04: Forgot Ishii.
AL West Pitching Previews: Texas, At Last
Update: Ryan Drese is "still hanging around, hoping for one more chance", he says, and you'd have to believe that after his awful 2003 campaign that had him start the year with a 135.0 ERA. Seattle absolutely shelled him with six runs in 1/3 of an inning. Ouch.
A Run In Tommy's Dodger BlueDoug Krikorian in the Long Beach Press-Telegram recounts a couple good stories from Fred Claire's autobiography, Fred Claire ... My 30 Years in Dodger Blue. First, it turns out that in 1983, Lasorda seriously entertained an offer to become the field manager of the... Yankees? Blecch. And then, further impugning the man, he spreads the blame for the Martinez/Deshields trade around to Lasorda also, saying both Lasorda and Caribbean-area scout Ralph Avila had veto power over the trade. Both agreed to it. Deshields, of course, was a famous bust, while Martinez went on to become one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. (Sorry, Doug, I won't agree he's the most dominant: see Johnson, Randy.) I'm gonna have to get that book.
A Grinning Magowan Looks AheadA story in today's Alameda Times-Star claims that
The Giants begin the season with a payroll just under $80 million, almost identical to their opening-day payroll of $81.5 million last season, and Magowan said he envisioned fairly similar levels over the next two to three years. With the Dodgers expected to retrench under new owner Frank McCourt, the Giants could become the biggest spenders in the division within two years. [emphasis mine]Which, presumably, the Dodgers do not. Frank, there will be no forgiveness from these quarters if you take the Dodgers to bankruptcy. But I won't be surprised, either.
The club also has flexibility to add payroll at the trade deadline, Magowan said.
Monday, March 01, 2004
Canseco, Rickey Can't
Vlad Injury Watch
New right fielder Vladimir Guerrero has been wearing a brace to support his lower back during spring training workouts, and he plans to wear the brace during the regular season.So now he's got a brace on his back. And spring training has barely started.
Guerrero, who signed a five-year, $70-million deal with the Angels this winter, began wearing the brace in July, when the former Montreal Expo star returned from a monthlong absence caused by a herniated disk in his lower back.
"I feel great, but I'm going to continue to use [the brace] because it gives me confidence, it makes me feel more comfortable," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "The day I feel extremely good will be the day I take it off."
Bloggers' AL West Pitching Preview
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Farewell, Ted Williams
OT: Calendar Tricks, and Second Chances
Probably my favorite chronological anomaly is the leap second, made necessary by advances in timekeeping made in the 1950's, and in particular, the invention of the atomic clock. This unimaginably accurate instrument discovered the earth's slow deceleration by roughly one second per 18 months. To compensate, scientists running the world's time system created a leap second periodically if needed. I used to work for a company that made military surveillance satellites, and on the days we would get a leap second, one of the staff would bake a chocolate cake. So perhaps I have a Pavlovian fondness for leap seconds. But, things are speeding up, and the earth itself seems to be one of them. There hasn't been a leap second since 1999 because of that small acceleration, but it strikes me a little sad that the leap second seems destined to go away. Perhaps we should have a chocolate cake today, anyway.