Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Closing Thoughts on the Greatest Hitter Debate

We've crunched a bunch of numbers now, from the traditonal to the sabermetric. I've been mum on my top-five throughout this process, partially because I wanted the numbers to speak for themselves and partially because it's still tough for me to decide.

I know we'll never be able to get a universal top-five or even a solid number one, but we can agree on the fact that there are far too many factors to declare someone the greatest of all time. This isn't like track where things stay relatively the same. Yes, runners are now stronger and faster than they used to be, but time hasn't changed, the distance hasn't changed, it's all fairly comparable. There aren't nearly as many factors that have drastically changed the sport of track as there are in baseball. There was integration, the lowering and highering of the mound, the creation of new pitches like the splitter, the outlawing of other pitches like the spit ball, the specialization of relief pitchers, steroids, and countless others. There is so much that changes from era to era; we even have a time period known as the deadball era.

What would you say is more impressive? Sosa's '98 season when he posted 66 HR with .308/.377/.647/1.024 for rate stats of Yaz's '68 season when he posted 23 HR with .301/.426/.495/.921 for rate stats? The raw numbers say Sosa, but it doesn't paint the whole picture. If you look at the more realiable OPS+, Yaz actually looks more impressive with and OPS+ of 171 vs. Sosa's 160 (kudos to UCLASoxFan for brining that up). This example illustrates just how hard it is to compare different eras.

Even though it took me a good amount of time (thank you flight delays at O'Hare) I think you can for the most part throw the first data table out. It's unfair to make comparisons based on stats that aren't normalized to each year or to the competition. The whole process, though, was interesting to me; I definitely learned a lot about some of history's greatest players, and I can now make better assumptions because of it, but to make any decisions based solely on that particular set of data would be fallacious. There's a distinct possibility that I may revisit the first data chart and recalibrate things with a weighting system, but it won't be until later in the month, maybe during winter break.

The second set of data, albeit not perfect, is a whole lot more realiable. I'm willing to make some assumptions and base some of my thoughts on it.

Ruth is unbelievably dominant. He is among the all-time most dominant players of any sport. You could put up there with him, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Edwin Moses (won the 400-meter hurdles 122 straight times), Roy Jones Jr. when he was in his prime, and John Wooden's UCLA Bruins.

Gehrig and Teddy Ballgame were pretty damn unreal too. It's a shame Williams lost years to the war; he would have put up even better numbers without that gap. Gehrig had to be the ultimate protection for Ruth. If you think Manny and Papi are great back to back or Thome-Konerko-Dye is unbelievable, they have NOTHING on Ruth and Gehrig.

Although Pujols hasn't played for that long, there's no denying he is on a historical projectory. I'm praying injuries don't bite him in the ass they did Griffey.

Those that think Big Frank doesn't deserve to be a first ballot hall-of-famer are delusional. I stand by my claime that he is the greatest pure hitter (both in the sense of straight hitting ability and steroids) of the 90's.

Alrite, so the long awaited list, here is what my top-5 of pure hitting ability looks like.

1. Babe Ruth
2. Ted Williams
3. Lou Gehrig
4. Willie Mays
5. Rogers Hornsby

With Aaron just off the pace (as much as that pains me to do). I actually keep flip-floping Aaron in my mind with Hornsby. Prior to all this stat stuff, my top five would have been (no particular order) Ruth, Williams, Mays, Aaron, and Mantle.

Just to pull things together here's a final data chart which tracks how each player rated and scored in the previous two charts, and give a final ranking based on those performances.

(Chart coming tomorrow, it doesn't want to upload at the moment)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sparking a Debate: Who's the Best Hitter, Part 2

As promised here is a more sabermetric approach to the question at hand. I'm not going to say that this set of data paints a clearer picture, but it does at least try to factor in a number of different variables the first set of data couldn't. I used 7 stats to come up with my rankings, BA diff, OBP diff, SLG diff, RC/27, OPS+, EqA, and Warp-3/season. Before you freak out on me, allow me to explain what each stat means and what each stat factors in.

BA, OBP, and SLG diff - Are the difference between a player's career BA/OBP/SLG compared to the league average BA/OBP/SLG. For example, to figure out Ruth's BA diff I took his career batting average, .342 and subtracted the league average for that time period, .285, and got a difference of .057.
It's hard to compare hitters from different eras; one person may have played during a time where high averages were expected with little power and another player may have been around during a time when the averages were down and pitching dominated. By comparing them to the league average, it's possible to see how far ahead of the pack they were. This is essentially my goal for this entire data set. In the first data chart I compared the players to eachother, but here I'm trying to quantify how much they outperformed players who were playing under similar circumstances and then comparing that to the other all-time greats.

RC/27 - RC on it's own is an estimator created by Bill James (of the Bill James Handbook). RC by itself doesn't help us much since it is a cumulative stat, so those players with longer careers would logically have high RC's, but if you take RC/27 which basically measures how many runs a lineup featuring 9 of the same player would produce per game; you have a good comparison stat.
Imagine 9 Babe Ruth's in one lineup; would you ever have him bunt?

OPS+ - An OPS+ is adjusted to compare the specific season(s) to which it is being applied to. OPS+ is just the OPS of a player measured against the league average for the same time period. Sort of what I did what BA/OBP/SLG diff, but it also accounts for park factors. An OPS+ of 100 is considered to be league average. An OPS+ of 125 means the player was 25% better than a a league average player.

EqA - I'm just going to straight quote Baseball Prospectus here, "A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching." EqA incorporates baserunning but not defense. EqA is derived from something called Raw EqA, which is calculated by the following formula: (H + TB + 1.5*(BB + HBP + SB) + SH + SF) divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF + CS + SB)"
It's an eye-sore, I will admit, but it's a damn good tool to compare hitters. EqA is set on a scale like that of batting average, so it's easy to tell what is good and bad. An average EqA is .260.

Warp-3/Season - Again this is straight from Baseball Prospectus "Wins Above Replacement Player, level 1. The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season."
Unfortunately this has a defensive component in it, but it is still a useful tool. I tweaked slightly for our purpose. Warp-3 is a cumulative stat over the span of a career, so I turned it into a players avg Warp-3 over a 162 game season. To get this, I took a players career WARP and multiplied by 162, and then divided by the total number of games he has played.

So enough talk, onto the data chart. Again, some of my thoughts follow the numbers, and if you want a good view just click on the chart and it will expand.

-Ruth is almost across the board, number 1. Considering the fact that he dwarfed most his contemporaries, I'm not surprised.

-Teddy Ballgame, Ruth, Gehrig, and Hornsby all stayed in the top-5. Bonds jumped up into the top-5 this time knocking out Pujols.

-I'm most surprised by Hornsby staying in the top-5. I think Hornsby and Gehrig are now tied for the prestigious, Player that Jeeves' Underrated the Most Award.

-I personally think Bonds' numbers were terribly inflated by his steroid use, but again there's no denying how impressive his stats are.

-A-Rod was the big dropper from data chart 1 to data chart 2, falling ten spots.

-It's disappointing to see Mays so far down the list again. He was always near the top of my list of best players, but I may have to reconsider where I place him now. More on that coming later, when I try and take all these numbers into consideration and change around my personal top-10.

-Thoughts anyone? Still think I'm crazy? Think I'm onto something? Let me hear it.

Welcome Back Gload

The Sox resigned Ross Gload on Monday to a one-year $625,000 contract.

All I can say is, "yay!" Gload is a great bench player for us; I think he's vastly underrated, and I'm glad to see him back on the South Side. Hopefully he'll get some decent PT, because he certainly deserves it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sparking a Debate: Who's the Best Hitter?

First off I have to give thanks to for their bevy of stats and to DA Humber for inspiring me to do undertake this post. After DA invited me to participate in his Friday Five, I was inspired to take a more in depth look at who the best hitter in baseball history was. In my original analysis, I took a cursory view of 8 different players, but I clearly left out a number of the all-time greats.

So before I delve into all the stats and their explanations, I must first give a disclaimer. The table I created (below) is by no means supposed be an end-all type of thing. I'm not trying to prove that a certain player is in fact the greatest hitter of all time. I just wanted to look take a look at the stats and see if I could get a better idea of how some of the all-time greats stacked up when compared to one another. Considering the fact that I'm still in college, I have hardly seen any of the all-time greats in action. I think my exclusion of Lou Gehrig in my analysis in the Friday Five is evidence enough that I didn't have a full for the game's history. I feel now after compiling all this data that I have a clearer picture, but not necessarily a full picture.
Please note that this is purely an exercise in numbers. It does not take into account overall play or prowess in the field. Mays is considered by many (I was among the many for awhile) to be the best all-around player of all-time, the five-tool player, but since I'm only looking at hitting he doesn't come out of this looking as impressive.
Finally, I will be posting another article similar to this (probably on Tuesday) looking at the same players but using sabermetrics to get a different view on the situation

So, without further ado, here is Table 1 followed by some observations. (Table 2 will follow in another post, most likely on Tuesday). To see a proper view of the table click on it.

Method to the Madenss - I took the career stats of Gehrig, Ruth, Pujols, Teddy Ballgame, Rogers Honrnsby, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Bonds, A-Rod, Cobb, Musial, Cap Anson, Hank Aaron, Mantle, Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Honus Wagner, Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Yaz, and to get a White Sox feel, I added Frank Thomas and Shoeless Joe. I crunched the numbers and compared their per game averages for runs, hits, doubles, homers, and RBIs as well as their batting average, OBP, SLG and OPS. I ranked each player in each category, and then added up the points, with the lowest number being best.

My Thoughts

-I can't believe how terribly I underrated Lou Gehrig. He was among the leaders in each category, finishing no worse than 8th. The original Iron Man was an RBI machine, averaging relatively close to an RBI a game!

-I'm shocked to see how high Pujols is. I realize that when he gets toward the end of his career, he'll put up less impressive number which will subsequently lower his averages, but it's still damn impressive that he ended up ranking third.

-It's interesting seeing hitters from the earlier years compared to power hitters from more recent times. Hornsby more than holds his own, as do Cobb, Anson, and Shoeless Joe.

-A good number of people would put Hank Aaron and/or Willie Mays in their top-5, yet in this table, they rank 15th and 18th respectively. Both Hank and Willie were consistent over long careers, which allowed them to amass their ridiculous career totals.

-In my original analysis, I left out Bonds, because the steroid cloud surrounding him takes him out of the running for my top five, but there's no denying the impressiveness of his stats.

-Clemente was undoubtedly a good player (but unless I'm missing something here) he seems rather pedestrian compared against the others. Perhaps his tragic death increased his legend.

-Any and all discussion is welcome. Feel free to leave any postive or negative feedback. If you think I missed the boat completely let me know, or if this helped open you eyes to the merits of one player's career, tell me. I'd love to head your all-time top five or ten, or your ranking of all these players. I suppose my main objective outside of braddening my view on some of the all-time great players is to try and stimulate some discussion.

Coming Soon, part 2. A comparison of these players vs. their contemporaries.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

PS - If you've been wondering about the silence from my site, there's two reasons. A.) I had to finish all my work so I didn't have to worry about it over break, and B.) I'm working on a really ambitious post, so keep an eye out for that. I think the ETA for it will be Fri or Sat.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sox Prospects

I don't know about y'all, but I don't have a comprehensive view over our prospects. I am knowledgeable about our upper-echelon minor leaguers, but if you were to ask me to name the top ten prosepects in the organizations, I'd probably get stuck around 6 or so. Luckily for me, The Cheat pays great attention to this and has compiled a list of the top ten prospects from our organization with big league aplyer comparisons. I'm re-posting the top ten list, but I highly recommend reading over Cheat's notes.
  1. Ryan Sweeney
  2. Josh Fields
  3. Lance Broadway
  4. Aaron Cunningham
  5. Charlie Haegar
  6. Kyle McCulloch
  7. Jack Egbert
  8. Lucas Harrell
  9. Chris "Vernon" Carter
  10. Oneli Perez

Poll Madness (The final part of the three part series)

The polls are out! The polls are out!

So what does this mean for America's top football programs?

I'll take the easy part first; Ohio State, pack your bags, you're headed to Glendale!

Now things get a little stickier. Michigan retained their second place ranking in both the AP Poll (which I realize is irrelevant, just wanted to point it out) and more importantly in the BCS standings even though they slipped to third in the Coaches' and Harris' polls. Now before you get all up in arms about this, USC fans, I have some good news. It looks as though The Trojans, do in fact, control their own destiny. Michigan's hold on second place is tenuous at best. They are a Casino Royale-esque .007 points ahead of USC (.926 and .919 respecitively).

Considering the fact that Michigan is done playing for the year, they have no where to go but down in the standings unless USC, Arkansas, or Florida lose. If USC wins against Notre Dame, especially in an impressive fashion, they should be able to make up the .007 points, no problem.

Things will get interesting though, if USC loses. If they lose, then all hell will break loose. I don't think it's possible to predict how the BCS will play out in the event of a USC loss. It'll be dependent on who the computers love and how against a rematch some voters would be.

Some Observations Concerning the Polls

-One thing I noticed that could indirectly help the Gators cause would be a Louisville loss. You may be wondering on earth that could affect the Gators, but there is a correlation. Arkansas currently has a .770 ranking from the computers, while Louisville clocks in at .780. Assuming Arkansas beats LSU (which will give the Razorbacks a boost in the human polls), they would be in position to pick up the computer points that Lousiville would lose with a loss. Now stay with me; so, if Arkansas picks up those extra points, and proceed to lose to Florida, Florida's win will look even more impressive.

-Upon closer examination, if USC truly wants to control their destiny, they will need to put on decent performances against ND and UCLA. I think at this point most people expect the Golden Domers to go down (correct me if I'm wrong), so if USC struggles, their win may not count for as much in the eyes of the voters and the circuits of the computers. Their lead in the human polls is razor thin (21 votes in the Harris and 16 in the Coaches'); if they struggle against both UCLA and the ND team that Michigan destroyed, they may lose some valuable points.

-If Boise State wins at Nevada they will lock up a BCS bid. Don't assume that they will win though, they have struggled at times recently, and Nevada won't be a cake walk. The Wolfpack are 8-3 and undefeated at home. I could easily imagine Boise going down a la Rutgers.

-Sorry Badgers' fans, the Citru- er Capitol One Bowl it is. Even if Florida, Arkansas, West Virginia, Notre Dame, and USC were all somehow to lose, you would not be in a BCS bowl even though you would conceivably be 3rd in the BCS rankings. Only two teams per conference are allowed in BCS bowls.
It is pretty impressive that the Big Ten has three teams in the top 8 of the BCS rankings, granted in Wisconsin's only big game, they lost.

-It's interesting that the computers love Cal so much. I can't figure out why. They're ranked (rightfully so) 23/22 in the human polls, but 14th by the computers. Cal has lost its two biggest games of the year as well as a stinker against suddenly hot Arizona. How come Tennessee fans aren't irate about being ranked a spot lower than the Golden Bears in the BCS Rankings and 3 spots lower by the computers? Afterall, they beat Cal and their losses came against Florida (by 1), LSU (by 4) and at Arkansas, the 4, 10, and 6th place team in the rankings.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Only the Cubs

I must both applaud and deride the Cubs' apparent signing of Soriano to an 8-year $136 million contract.

I have to applaud the Tribune Company's desire to be a contender in the NL. Perhaps they saw how a weak Cardinals team was able to win the Wrold Series and were inspired to go for a title now, rather than rebuild. With the signings of Pinella, Soriano, Ramirez, Wood, Miller, Blanco, and DeRosa, the Cubs have already spent $242.5 million (cumulatively speaking). I'm not going to debate whether or not the Cubs' moves are going to pay off, because frankly, (my dear) I don't give a damn.

BUT I will note that the contract the Cubs gave Soriano is absolutely ridiculous. 8 years! Only the Flubs would give Soriano an eight year contract, well maybe the Yankees would too. Soriano will be nearly 39 years old by the time his contract ends. Soriano's skills will definitely diminsh withing 5 years, if not earlier, so the Cubs will be stuck with an albatross of a contract. Soriano's deal is the fifth biggest in baseball history, only trailing A-Rod($252 mil-10 years), Jeter ($189 mil - 10 years), Manny ($160 mil - 10 years), and Helton ($141.5 -11 years). I think it's unbelieveable that Soriano got more money than Beltran did.

The interesting thing will be to see how this deal plays out over the next 8 years, and to see what this will do to the contract negotiations to such players as Carlos Lee.

A Michigan-OSU Rematch? A Schizophrenic Jeeves Debates Himself (Part two of a three part series)

(See part one of the series here. A BCS Mess)

Does Michigan still deserve to play in the National Championship?

That's the question on everyone's mind. Trust me, all the talking heads are going to be, well talking about it. Judging from some college football analysts' mailbags, I think fans were more concerned about the idea of a rematch than the original game itself. I've decided to take a look at this, but I'm going at it from both angles. In this post, you'll get to hear from Jeeves, the NCAA football fan and Jeeves, the Michigan football fan.

School of thought 1: Michigan had their chance, and they blew it.

The danger of having Michigan in the title game, is the risk of devaluing the regular season. People have long regarded the regular season as the "playoffs" of college football, which is part of the appeal of the game itself. Whereas in pro football, one loss doesn't neccesarily mean much in the scheme of things, one loss in college can dictate whether you're playing in the Rose Bowl or the Outback Bowl. By having Michigan in the championship game, it would essentially be saying that the Big Ten finale didn't mean anything. Even though they lost, they would still be on equal footing to Ohio State with regards to winning the National Championship. What would happen if Michigan actually won the rematch? The first game between the teams would mean absolutely nothing. Yes, Ohio State would have a Big Ten championship, but Michigan would have the grand prize.

Such a scenario reminds me of how Nebraska backed into the title game against Miami. They were absolutely masacred by Colorado and still had a shot to compete for the 'ship. Now, I do realize that the Michigan game was very close, but that's not the parallel I'm looking to draw. The connection is the fact that Michigan wasn't good enough to win their own conference, so how do they deserve to win the National Title?

Michigan had their shot at the Buckeyes; they played valiantly and damn near pulled it out (they were maybe one Crable roughing the passer penatly away from a win), but they missed their opportunity. It's time to let another top team in the nation have a go at the Buckeyes.

School of thought 2: Michigan may have lost, but they're still the second best team in the nation.

So what if Michigan lost? They weren't blown out; it was unbelievably close. Hell, no one has challenged Ohio State this much since last year's Texas game. In my books Michigan is still the second best team in the nation, and the purpose of the BCS is to match up the two best teams so they can battle it out for the title.

Yes, Florida is a good team. If they win out against FSU and Arkansas, they can boast a strong argument for a spot in the title game, but they're not as solid as Michigan is. Florida may have an offensive mastermind as a coach, but their offense does not reflect their coach. It is still developing. Some will say that Michigan's offense isn't all that great either, so I will just refer those folks to today's scoreboard. Florida's defense isn't a match for Michigan's either; they are just overall a small notch below the Wolverines. USC? They've struggled to beat the dregs of the Pac-10, actually losing to one of them. Notre Dame? Yep, demolished by Michigan. Arkansas? That opening game really is an eyesore.

Michigan's loss was against the #1 team in the land. Ohio State has unanimously been number one for quite some time now. A three point loss to them just proves that Michigan can give OSU a run for their money in the 'ship.

Say, Michigan and Ohio State played their rivalry game Labor Day weekend a la FSU and Miami. Everything else equal, Michigan would almost unanimously be ranked #2 in the nation. They would have had plenty of time to climb up the rankings as every other team lost to lesser opponents. It's unjust to penalize Michigan for saving it's toughest match up for the end of the year. Afterall, a loss is a loss, so what if it came a few months later?

In pro football, it's quite possible that the teams set to play in the Super Bowl have played eachother in the regular season. Does that mean that the team that lost during the season should be ousted from the championship game? No. Some critics say that a rematch would lessen the importance of the first game and diminsh its importance. To an extent it would, but any regular season game is dwarfed by the championship. Plus this past game would play heavily upon the championship. Whole game plans would be set based on the results of the first game.

A BCS Mess (Part one of a three part series)

Now that the long-awaited Michigan-Ohio State tilt is over, it is time to start sorting out the mess that is the BCS. Ohio State has locked up its place in the title game, but who will earn the right to be the National Runner-Up? Will USC reprise its role from last year, or will it be one of the SEC teams, Arkansas or Florida? Could we see a rematch in the title game, and see Big Blue get a second shot at the Crimson and Gray? Or will hell freeze over (making James a happy man in the process) with the Fighting Irish in the 'ship?

At this point, it's tough to say. I think odds are the Torjans will move into the driver's seat, but a lot of this is going to depend on what the voters say about Michigan's loss. Voters can either reward Michigan for playing Ohio State very closely IN Ohio State, I may add, by not dropping them that far or they can reward the Trojans for their win against Cal, thereby penalizing the Wolverines. As of last week's polls, Michigan held a 200 vote lead over the Trojans in the Harris Poll and about a 150 vote lead in the Coaches' poll (the Trojans are third in the Harris and fourth, behind Florida, in the Coaches'). I think USC will move up to third in the Coaches' poll, at the least. Living out on the West Coast, I have a good feel for how big of a win this was, having seen both teams all year long, and I think USC will be justly rewarded for their win. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the coaches won't penalize Michigan as much as the Harris pollers will. I have no evidence for that, but it's just a hunch. That difference could potentially keep Michigan in a viable spot for the title, but that's purely speculation.

We also have to factor in the computers into this mess. It's hard enough when you're just dealing with people, but things are going to change drastically in the computer rankings. Prior to this week, the comps have had a raging, mega-boner for the Wolverines. They had all first place votes from the computers, while the Rutgers Scarlet Knights(!!!) were the team favored the second most by the computers. With Michigan's loss and Rutgers' loss who abosrb all those votes?

As you can see it's all up in the air, and until the polls are released we aren't going to know anything else. When that day comes, expect a full-blown article about it, but until then, here are some of the scenario's each school is going to have to hope for to get into the 'ship.
(in order of likeliness that we will see them in the 'ship)

Ohio State Buckeyes - Need their plane to take off on time and land at the right airport.

USC Trojans - Win out. A win against Notre Dame should be enough to secure a place in the championship, regardless of how the SEC plays out.

Florida Gators - Win out and hope that USC loses against UCLA or Notre Dame. If worst comes to worst, blow out Arkansas in the title game and pray that USC has two last second victories, which probably still wouldn't be enough.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Win out and put a voodoo spell on the SEC, so that Florida loses to Florida St. but beats Arkansas in the SEC title game. OR absolutely destroy USC and hope that Arkansas winning in an unimprseeive fashion is enough to get into the game.

Arkansas Razorbacks - Steal the luck from the Irish, and then have my boys, UCLA, take care of USC (afterall, a Trojan is only good once) and then pound Florida into oblivion.

Rutgers - Fuh-get-about-it

Michigan - TBD determined once we find out how the plays out.

Boise State - Move to a BCS conference.

Texas - Get a time machine and make sure you don't lose a week ago.

Coming soon...Part 2: Does Michigan deserve a spot in the title game? (A biased and unbiased view)
Part 3: Now that the polls are out, what should we expect?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rumor Mill is Churning

Now it seems like Texas is interested in Garland. Ken Rosenthal reported that the Sox are close to trading Jon Garland to the Rangers for a package centering around minor league pitcher John Danks.

I'm going to see if I can find anything else about this pacakge and post accordingly. At the least, I'll make a post about Danks later in the day.

Keys to Victory in the Game

I'm giddy with joy as this game approaches, and my this game yes, I mean Michigan-OSU. I may be Chicago fan for all things sports, but I was introduced to college football by my uncle from Michigan, and he converted me at a young age to a Michigan fan; so this game is a big deal for me. Rather than just analyze the game like EVERYONE in the world has done, I'm just going to point out some keys to victory for each team.

Ohio State will win if...

-Troy Smith realizes he's great at running the football. This season he has been deadset on proving himself as a pass first QB, but he most dangerous when the threat of him taking off running is present.

-They get Anthony Gonzalez going. Gonzalez gashed Michigan for big yardage last year. While Ginn gets most of the big receptions and ESPN worthy catches, Gonzalez is solid as hell and I think he'll have more of an impact than Ginn.

-Mike Hart is limited. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but Michigan has a ridiculous record when Hart has over 100 yards. It's like 25-2 or something in that ballpark.

Michigan will win if...

-They get pressure on Troy Smith, but ensure that he doesn't escape for a big scramble. Michigan has potentially the best front line in the nation. Tey can and will get seom serious pressure on Smith; it's just a matter of whether or not he can scramble away.

-Mario Manningham gets involved early. If Michigan gets Mario invovled with a deep ball, that's going to keep the OSU defense honest.

-Give Steve Breaston and Mike Hart touches. Hart, although small will wear down defenses. Breaston, like Ginn but to a lesser degree, can bust one at any moment for a huge gain. He had his first big game of the season last week, which bodes well for Michigan.

I'm not going to make a score prediction because I'm obviously biased, so all I'm going to say is GO BLUE!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Update on Ozzie's Wet Dream and Onto Jeeves' (not so wet) Dream

Crisis averted. Apparently Bruce Levine reported on the radio that the Sox are not the team that offered the 3-year $15 mil contract to Alex Gonzalez. Those sounds you here are the collective sigh of relief by Sox fans and Ozzie's stiffled sobs as his dream player won't be coming to Chicago.

While that rumor died fast, there are even more rumors circulating around the Sox. It looks like yet another team has entered the Freddy Garcia derby. According to the Sun Times

Among the more interesting scenarios is a pitch that sources say the Los Angeles Angels made for right-hander Freddy Garcia, whom they highly covet. The Angels' deal would call for a package that includes right-hander Ervin Santana, who turns 24 on Dec. 12.
Santana, who went 16-8 with a 4.28 ERA, has been dangled by the Angels in talks about acquiring offensive help. But they would part with their key trading chip to land Garcia, 30, who has done some of his best work at Angel Stadium, going 8-1 with a 2.99 ERA during his career.

I'm praying that this rumor is true. While Ervin is no Johan Santana, he is still a damn good pitcher and certainly is worthy of the Santana surname. If I was Kenny, I would pull the trigger on Santana for Freddy straight up, let alone a package including Santana. Odds are, this rumor will never come to fruition, because it would be a ridiculous move for the Angels to make. Garcia looked good with his cutter, but he will be a free agent after next season, whereas Santana is locked up for four more years.

Ozzie's Wet Dream: Hold Your Breath Sox Fans

I was perusing Jim's page to see what he thought about the Cotts trade, and what do you know, there's talk of ANOTHER move by the Sox. Let me tell you, if this is true, I'm very disappointed in Kenny. According to a blogger for the Boston Globe, SS Alex Gonzalez (from the Red Sox, the one that Ozzie loooooves) has received a three-year $15 million contract from an undisclosed team. Cafardo, the blogger, then goes on to say that the offer didn't come from the Bo-Sox nor the Blue Jays. He cites that sources say the team could be either the White Sox or the Reds. Not exactly the most definite proof, but it's worrisome nonetheless.

We're potentially giving this guy $5 mil a year, which I think is obscene. I'd say Juan plays slightly better D, and has slightly better hitting numbers, with Juan coming up bigger in power numbers. Jim points out over the last 3 years Juan has averaged .257/.296/.454 with 27 2B's and 20 HR's vs. Alex's .249/.294/.397 with 28 2B's and 12 HR's. Both players had their career year factored into that 3 year span. I can't speculate whether or not the Sox are actually the team that offered him the contract, seeing as I'm a modest blogger with no real industry sources, but I can speculate about the Sox options from here on out.

Option A.) Realize they are crazy and withdraw their offer to Gonzalez

Option B.) Trade Uribe to a team in the market for a SS. IE the Reds or the Red Sox.

Option C.) Trade Gonzalez to a team in the market for a SS. IE the Reds or the Red Sox. (This would be the all time sneakiest move. Take a free-agent and then trade him immediately, essentially getting something for nothing. Does anyone know if such a move would even be allowed. I know in European soccer a player isn't allowed to change teams more than once per transfer period).

Option D.) Trade Alex Cintron to a team in the market for a SS or a 2B.

Option E.) Package one of said SS for prospect and/or a good back up catcher that can hit lefties and/or bullpen help and/or a competent left fielder.

Option F.) Do didly and be ridiculously deep at one position.

Oh yes, before I forget Gonazalez is 2 years older than Juan, yet another reason why I wouldn't want him to replace Uribe as our SS.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Friday Five

It is officially Friday, and D.A. Humber has officially put up the Friday Five. Check it out, yours truly is there!

Cross-town Trade

That's right, KDubs has pulled off a trade with the our cross-town rivals, the Flubs, er I mean the Cubs. There isn't a clear winner in this trade, although I'll say be got the better end of the deal, whereas Cubs fans will say they got the better deal. I just hope it turns out as one sided as our last deal with the Cubs...Matt Karchner for Jon Garland.

So, to the trade. Neal Cotts is heading north, and in return we get bug-eyed David Aardsma and minor league reliever Carlos Vasquez. Vasquez, a 23 year-old lefty, had decent numbers in high-A ball and AA ball. In 85 innings he had a 2.75 ERA with 91 K's. In 45 appearances for the Cubs, Aardsma (who you may remember for replacing Hank Aaron as the player listed first alphabetically in basbeball history) had a 4.08 ERA. In 53 innings of work he had 49 K's and 28 BB's. He may not look like much, but his second half was markedly better, which bodes well. Post-ASB, he had a 3.12 ERA in 35.2 innings and had 35 K's along with 14 BB's.

The rap on Aardsma is that he has a good amount of potential, but has had trouble with his mechanics. His faulty mechanics have caused his fastball to drop from the 93-97 mph range he reached in college to the low 90's. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I'm thinking Matt Thornton here. Coop's specialty seems to be taking high potential guys, twiddling with their mechanics, and getting results. If he can be anywhere near as productive as Thornton, this will be a good trade for us, regardless of how Vasquez pans out.

At first, I will admit, that I was a little upset about giving up Cotts for what seemed like so little, but as I thought about it, Cotts was never that great to begin with. Yes, he was lights out for us in '05, and he played a huge role in our World Series run, but outside of that year, he has been pretty mediocre. Last year he had a 5.17 ERA and always threatened to put a crooked number up on the board; in '04 he had a 5.65 ERA in 65 innings. The more and more I thought about it, the less likely it seemed that Cotts would bounce back. I think he bounced back last his crappier ways of the past.

I think the Cubs are banking on Cotts returning to his '05 form. There has also been talks about him being given a shot in the rotation. KW had talked about such a move in the past, but it just never worked out considering how set we are with regards to starters. The Cubs on the other hand have Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Zambrano, so there's a good chance Cotts will become a starter again (he was mainly a starter in the minors, even starting the Future's Game one year). My advice to the Cubs is to stick him in the 'pen. Cotts has a decent fastball and a mediocre slider. He essentially a two pitch pitcher, which won't serve him well if he is a starter.

So good-bye to you Neal; we'll always have '05.

And welcome David and Carlos

(See he does have crazy eyes!)

Baseball Panel

Every Friday during the off-season D.A. Humber facilitates a discussion about some of the hot-topic issues in baseball. He supplies 5 statements to a panel of 3 bloggers and they agree or disagree with the statement and add their thoughts. Last week's version looked like this.

D.A. has been kind enough to invite me to be part of the panel for this Friday, so I highly recommened you take a look.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Bears Layeth the Smackdown

The one thing I hate most about being a Chicago sports fan is the fact that it has been ingrained in me to be pessimistic about all things related to sports. Sometimes I combat that with undue optimism (that usually happens with the White Sox), but more often times than not, I keep all my optimistic predictions and plans in check with the cold hard reality that Chicago teams have an uncanny ability to blow a good thing.

As the Bears ran up their undefeated record, I was overjoyed. We were playing great defense and we actually had more than just a semblance of an offense. Even after watching us sneak by Hollywood Leinart and the Cards, I still had a sneaking feeling the proverbial shit was going to hit the fan (part of that could be attributed to Mike Brown being lost for the year).

The Bears sleep walked through their game against Miami and then continued to bend over and take it from behind against the Giants in the first half until there were 35 seconds left. All the while, I couldn't help but think, shit, this if this is the best we can do, cancel that victory parade. I mean, I was hoping for a win, I knew we had the ability to pull it out, but I wasn't unduly optimistic.

I was actually in town to watch this game, well the beginning at least. I left for the airport as the Bears punted with 6+ minutes left in the game. I was down in the dumps at this point; leaving home and all AND the Bears losing, but I loyally listened on the radio nonetheless.

That's when things changed. We showed some life before the half, and then as I sat at my gate surrounded by 3 Grossman jerseys, and an Urlacher jersey, watching the game on a TV that had a 20 second delay (it really did, I was talking to someone on the phone during parts of the game and for some reason the TV in the airport was way behind her TV) the Bears transformed in the team we all knew they could be, into the team we all hoped they would be again.

Everyone that watched the Seahawks game saw how damn good this team is, but in the weeks since then, a combination of bad opponents and some sloppy play rubbed off some of the luster from that win. The Bears were starting to look, dare I say it, overlooked. But after they came out all guns a'blazing in the second half they reclaimed they place as team to beat in the NFC and perhaps in the NFL.

This had to be a seriously demoralizing game for other NFC teams. The Beasts (I typoed Beast instead of Bears, but it's fitting so it's going to stay) played a sloppy first half and for all intensive purposes looked ready to prove my turnover theory all over again, yet were only down 3 at halftime. The Giants were playing well, they were bringing it to the Bears; they looked like the team that was in the midst of a 5 game winning streak. The hottest team in the NFC, the heirs to title of best team in the NFC could only muster a 3 point lead at half. The Bears finally pulled it together and blew them out of the water in the second half.

For all the New Orleans of the world and the Carolinas, how do you feel after that game? The Bears came in with no momentum, whereas the Giants came in with all the momentum in the world and were sqaushed. The Bears shut down Eli, Plaxico, and the NY passing game (note to all receivers, don't talk trash; it makes the Bears really angry, and there's no reason to give them extra incentive to beat you, shut you down, crush you, rape you wives, etc). Tiki Barber even had a 7.4 average per carry (19-141), but that gave the Giants bupkus; they still were humbled. Urlacher summed it up pretty well "We took the Giants' best shot and survived. They took it to us early, but we hung in there. That's why this was a big win for us.''

With this win, the Bears have reestablished their dominance and have made it clear that the road to the Super Bowl will run through Soldier Field. So to hell with skepticism for now. I'm going to ride this wave of optimism for all it's worth. Who cares if we got gouged again by the opponents running game; who cares if the loss of Mike Brown may end up killing us. At this moment, I'm just pumped that the Bears Layeth the Smackdown upon the Giants. Excuse me for my optimism, but 15-1 and Super Bowl number 2, here we come!

White Sox Roundtable Part 3

The final episode of our Trilogy: Kenny's quest for more rings

I linked to the Elias Sports Bureau's Free Agent Compensation Ratings last week, but I didn't even think to look at where Alomar and Riske ranked. I just assumed that they were worthless and wouldn't be offered arbitration. That's not the case, however, as Keith pointed out in the comments section, Riske is a Type A free agent. My question to you: What should the Sox do with Riske?

Tom: You can find a pitcher just like Riske for less than $2.5 million. Sure, it's not much, but it's $2.5 million that can go towards Joe Crede's salary.

Keith: I'd offer him arbitration. Afterall, Wayne Krivsky could always use another reliever, right? He'll willingly throw 2 years, $4 million at Riske...

But seriously, I think that offering Riske arbitration is a pretty small risk (no pun intended). If he accepts, it'd be easy to trade him as he'd be making what, $2.5 million? And, you might get lucky and have a team sign him. The Sox could always use an extra high draft pick.

Jeeves: I agree. Worst case scenario we get stuck with an OK arm in the 'pen. Unless we make some extravagant move, we shouldn't have the need to pinch pennies, so paying him $2.5 mil won't be that big of a deal.

James: But $2.5 million for a non-closer/ non-setup guy? Yeah, my budget screams for that. Then again, I think his salary will decline if he accepts the arbitration, and how often does that happen? (I read that note at MLB Trade Rumors that a lot of teams are offering two and three year deals to relievers not titled closer more often, and in the fickle and fragile world of middle relief -- anyone that's not a closer -- I'm not sure why that's a smart thing.)

Do you play russian roulette here hoping that another team signs him and take the salary hit if they don't? I didn't realize the MLB was governed by NASDAQ and CBOE rules of trade? Or maybe I'm just naive.

Criminal Appeal: I agree that it makes no sense to spend big money on relievers, especially one's who pitch limited innings in generally low-leverage situations. Having said that, if the Sox could turn Riske into a draft pick I'd just about wet myself with excitement. I guess it's a risk/reqrd analysis. Is the market for middle relievers strong enough that you trust someone else to pay to take Riske off our hands in this scenario? It may be with all the talk about the Jamie Walkers and Justin Speiers of the world.

Jim: I'm amazed that David F. Riske has produced the toughest question so far. Everybody has good points.

If the way he ended the season was any indication (only three of his last 10 outings were scoreless), I wouldn't offer it to him, unless the Sox had a strong feeling he'd reject it.

$2.5 million doesn't mean a lot for position players, but it can make a difference in a bullpen. A difference-maker Riske ain't. I'd keep that money stored away for the deadline next year, when the Sox are only buying half a season of relief if they're in need of bullpen help.

Cheat: I'm glad you guys came up with the $2.5M number on your own. When I originally wrote the question, I sort of answered it myself using $2.5M as my guesstimated arbitration award. Either we're all really smart, or well, let's not talk about the alternative.

As for what I would do: I'd offer him arbitration. If for no other reason than some team will be willing to guarantee him multiple years on the free agent market. He's not going to get that here. So from Riske's point of view, he'd be deciding between 2.5 for a year on the southside or something like 4-5M over two years somewhere else. Most players will take the latter.

Trades: Name your three biggest targets, and try to come up with three trades you can see the Sox making. (those don't necessarily have to be for your three top targets.)

Criminal Appeal: As has been mentioned, Kenny Williams tends to come at the trade block from unforeseen directions. Plus, there is always far more smoke than fire in trade rumors. Still, the Sox need to add a left fielder, and probably a short stop or center fielder, so that they're not lugging around dead weight at more than one position next season. My guess is that they'll shop for value on the free agent market at one position, trade to fill one position, and let the kids battle it out at one position (or let Uribe sit tight if the remaining position is SS). So, where might that trade fit in? I think three of the most intriguing names are Michael Young, Carl Crawford and Coco Crisp (I'm considering A-Rod a pipe dream and hoping to be shocked at this point).

Young is coming off a season in which his on-base percentage was over .350, he hit 14 homeruns, and he played an outstanding defensive shortstop. The defense is an improvement for him, but the other numbers were right around Baseball Prospectus's projection for him. Plus, he's 29 years old. So, he seems like a safe bet to repeat his established production for the next few years.

Crawford hit 18 homeruns this season and posted an on-base percentage just under .350. He plays a below average defense in left field. He outperformed his mean projection in somewhere in the range of the 75th to 90th percentile. Right now Young is the better player, but Crawford is 24 and getting better.

Crisp is the most interesting case because of his injury problems this year. He was limited to about 100 games and his on-base percentage dipped to .317. Offensively, Crisp under-performed his 10th percentile projection this year. He's an average CF, and played excellent defense in LF in 2005, when he was out there regularly. In all likelihood, he is both undervalued, and going to bounce back if healthy. He's 26, which means he's probably full developed and will never be much better than he was in 2005. But a .350 on-base percentage, 15 home runs and great LF defense would be a welcome addition.

I guess that of these three guys, my first preference would be Young. However, if the Sox can get Crisp at a discount because of his struggles in 2006, then that's an opportunity that I wouldn't pass on. Whoever the Sox acquire, we know the bargaining chips: a starting pitcher (Garcia or Buehrle) plus a prospect (hopefully not Fields). I'd give up those two assets for any of the above.


  1. Coco Crisp. I think the Sox really admire his game, and he's the typical Sox target. Very good defensive left fielder, likes to run -- and while his OBP dropped as he battled nagging injuries, he stole 22 of 26 bases, by far the best percentage of his career.
    Who they'd give up: Freddy Garcia. Though I'd hope to get some sort of prospect back as well, given the situation Boston's in.
  2. Chone Figgins. He seems like he's going to be pushed out eventually with this new wave of players coming in. He has the speed Ozzie likes, and can play a few positions decently.
    Who they'd give up: I have no clue. The Angels could use some high-OBP guys, and the Sox don't have a wealth of those in the minors.
  3. Jeff DaVanon: My thinking is: If Brady Clark, why not DaVanon? DaVanon's cheaper, younger, more versatile, and just as likely to be pushed out of the AZ outfield picture. I'm not sure how much he'll cost -- from what I can tell, he'll be in the $900,000 - $1,000,000 range. He's coming off ankle surgery, which could depress his value. AZ may not want to part with him since Eric Byrnes needs to get out first, but I'd try for DaVanon before thinking about Clark.
    Who they'd give up: Arizona could use pitching. Heath Phillips-caliber plus another body?
Vince: I don't know if this is the least bit likely, but I want to throw the idea out if we're talking about huge, smack-your-forehead trades that Kenny Williams could make. Vernon Wells. The Jays are interested in moving him because he doesn't want to stay in Toronto beyond the end of his contract, which ends in 2007. Wells will be eligible for free agency after the upcoming season.
The upsides are that Wells is a tremendous player on both sides of the ball, a replacement for Podsednik (albeit, one who would play center field) and a huge addition to the offense that offsets regression from players such as Dye and Crede or, in the case of Crede, if he gets traded. Another upside is that it allows the Sox to let Brian Anderson and Ryan Sweeney split left field.
The risks are that the Sox would have to give up a lot of talent to get Wells with the uncertainty of whether they would have him for more than one year, and another potential long-term contract if the Sox were able to re-sign him.
I agree that the Sox are targeting Michael Young. I think they will be better off without Young, unless they somehow convinced him to play second base. I worry about Young's defense, although I think he scored better on Chris Dial's Zone Rating-related metric this year.
A third big trade target? I highly, highly doubt it, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like the deal, but I'll say ... Dontrelle Willis.

Keith: I'm sorry to Vince, but I'm going to have to snatch his idea in my trade thoughts.
The first trade I see is the obvious move of a starting pitcher. With Contreras' no trade clause, moving Garcia makes the most sense. I've been preaching it for the past two months, so why stop now? Garcia + Cintron (completing the Mets' secondbase platoon) for Aaron Heilman + Lastings Milledge.
The Sox then send a package centered around Milledge to Toronto for Vernon Wells. Since question six seems geared towards these hypothetical trades, I'll say Milledge + Fields + Broadway for Wells. The Sox would empty out the farm system, but, as in most cases (/aside: damn Vazquez/Young trade), Williams gets back the best player. Wells is in his prime, and if he comes close to matching his production from last season, is a top twenty player in all of baseball.
It doesn't solve the "problem" of not having a leadoff hitter, but you could easily slip Wells into the two spot and slide Iguchi to leadoff.
BTW -- I think Terrero will end up as the 4th OFer, for better or for worse.

James: Will the Sox try the Milwaukee well again and pursue a very cheap Brady Clark? Or how about former trading partner Arizona and Gold Glover Orlando Hudson? Would KW try and justify the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow, A-Rod? Or will Michael Young be shipped our way for the enigma that is Freddy Garcia?
Let me ask this: was Jim Thome on any of our radars last off-season? Well, he wasn't on mine; that trade was a complete shock. But the Javy Vazquez trade wasn't as much of a shock cuz KW had made no secret of his desire for him. The point is...expect something from KW. He's never been shy about trading youth for talent or potential for experience. And yet we all heard about him casing Mark Prior last year. What is certain is that KW has an eye for underappreciated and undervalued talent, and he will bring someone in.
This question, though, was about specific trades, and I have to pose at least one serious scenario, so here it is...
The big trade, if it happens, will be trading from a position of strength (starting pitching). Either Garcia, McCarthy or Vazquez will be traded (Buehrle is the only lefty starter the Sox will count on) along with either Sweeney, Fields, Broadway or Owens for Ichiro (doubtful but intriguing), Mike Cameron (a decent fit) or Coco Crisp (if healthy). I really think KW's focus is lead-off hitter/left fielder with OBP and defense in mind.

Tom: Of the names I've heard thrown around the one that really makes my mouth water is easily Michael Young. I would LOVE to see that guy in a White Sox uniform. He can field, he can hit, and he's as clutch as anybody in the Majors in big situations.
Carl Crawford is another guy who I like, my only question is how much we would have to give up for him. The price would be high to get him, and how much we would have to pay him to get him to stay here would be large so I fear it may cost us somebody else.
I don't really like Coco Crisp that much. He tends to kill the White Sox, and suck against everybody else. So if he was on the Sox he would suck full time.
I will make it clear that I do NOT want A-Rod. It's nothing against his ability as a baseball player, I just hate the guy, and would feel horrible if I had to root for him.
I wouldn't mind seeing Mike Cameron back in a White Sox uniform either.

Jeeves: Most of the trades I've heard about and mulled over have been said already, so there's no point in me repeating them, but I did come across a trade proposal by some blogger (I can't remember from where)as I was surfing the net a couple weeks ago... Freddy Garcia to the Padres for Scott Linebrink and Mike Cameron. I'm not quite familiar enough with the Padres to comment on whether or not they would be likely to make such a trade, but it would plug up two holes for us.

Cheat: Elsewhere I had proposed a swap of Scott Podsednik for Yorvit Torrealba based on the rumors that the Rockies were interested in Dave Roberts and Sarge Jr. But just now after looking through the '06 Rockies roster, I discovered that they've already got a bunch of crappy light-hitting speed guys who play CF poorly. They don't need Podsednik when they've got Cory Sullivan, Choo Freeman, and Ryan Spilborghs. They've probably got a Nook Logan in there somewhere too.
Come to think of it, didn't Logan end the year with the Nationals, who are about to lose one outfielder to free agency? The Nationals don't have much of anything in their minor league system, and Bowden's not the sharpest tool in the shed; maybe he'll part with Ryan Church, whose respectability has been wasted by spending far too much time in New Orleans. Church would fit perfectly into the role that Rob Mackowiak was forced into last season. That doesn't fix our problem hitting lefties, and probably means Rob is our full-time LFer or on his way out of town via trade.
Before even reading Keith's response, I had the same idea with the exception of targeting Carl Crawford instead of Wells. I have bad memories of trading for Blue Jays named Wells, even if we did "win" that trade.
I think the conundrum then becomes which would you prefer; Garcia for Crisp, or the package for Garcia plus some of our top prospects flipped for Wells/Crawford?
I wasn't really able to find a fit for Podsednik, who I think we all acknowledge will be gone, but I suspect he's coveted by a few teams supposedly in the market for a leadoff hitter. Can you guys come up with anything that will work for both sides?
This concludes the White Sox Bloggers of the Roundtable. I'd like to thank the other Sox bloggers -- and Keith -- for their participation and the Cheat for arranging all this. Maybe we'll get something like this together for spring training, or to analyze the off-season, who knows?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

White Sox Roundtable Part 2

My input in MLBTradeRumors top 50 free agents list resulted in the Sox being shut out in their predictions. I couldn't see the Sox being the top bidder for anyone on that list. Is there anyone on that list who you think the Sox will be pursuing heavily?

Criminal Appeal: I could see, and would definately like to see, the Sox take a serious run at Dave Roberts. He can play an adequate CF, or above average LF, gets on base, and should come cheaper than some other options. I think he'd be a great fit.

Jeeves: I could definitely see us going after Dave Roberts. He'll be affordable (a plus in KW's eyes) and he's speedy and can steal bases (a plus in Ozzie's eye). He won't be the solution for the foreseeable future, but he's an upgrade over our current situation.

Keith: Dave Roberts: I don't think Kenny Williams really wants Pierre or Matthews, but I'd also bet that Ozzie is pressuring him to get some type of "speedster" in here to leadoff. Roberts is acceptable in that he won't get the money that Pierre or Matthews will get, but he can be a nice one or two year stop gap. Then again, it goes against Kenny's MO to just go for the stop-gap and not necessarily the best solution out there, which is why I have absolutely no idea who will be the White Sox' starting left-fielder in 2007.

Who I think the Sox will pursue differs heavily from who I want the Sox to pursue: Moises Alou. The guy will be 40 next season, but he can still rake. The reason I really want Alou is because of his numbers vs lefties. Over his career, his OPS against lefties (.952) is almost 100 points higher than his OPS vs righties. Albeit in a fairly small sample size (~175 ABs), his OPS the past two seasons vs lefties is north of 1.100. I also like Alou because I think you can get him at a pretty good price for one year, allowing Sweeney to develop and take over in 2008. I know that signing Alou wouldn't solve the leadoff hitter problem, but frankly, I don't really care. I'll take the 35+ homers that a healthy Alou could provide over the 40 stolen bases from the typical leadoff hitter.

Vince: I think a good reason not to sign Alou is defense. He was pretty poor playing right field last year (-12 runs/150 games according to Chris Dial's version of Zone Rating). Another good reason is that he adds another old player to the roster, and old players bring injury risks.

James:Unfortunately, Alou is the kinda guy KW just might pursue if his first, second and third choices are unavailable especially cuz he'll essentially be a rental player for one season until Sweeney is ready.

This will mean more leadoff for Iguchi and possibly BA, and those are ideas I can't live with. Don't be surprised to see Pods back for one more season if KW can't get his man to replace him.

Cheat: Iguchi leading off: I think that was Keith's point. He has a skill set better equipped for the lead off spot than any other player on the Sox 40-man roster. He works deep counts, is fast enough, and gets on base at a reasonable clip. I also don't understand the rush to get a sub-20 HR guy into an "rbi slot" in the lineup.

Jeeves: I think we'll make a run at Gary Matthews Jr, but ultimately he'll be priced out of the range we're willing to pay.

Personally, I think this is a good thing. I'm really unsure as to whether or not he'll put up such good numbers again next year. His numbers, across the board, are significantly better, and I don't know if it's a one year aberration or a sign of things to come. Plus, he's somehow parlayed his leaping, wall scaling catch into a reputation as a great fielder. He's decent, but not earth-shatteringly good. Zone rating actually has ranked him pretty low; he's ranked as one of the lowest of regular center fielders. And as Keith said, we need to keep a good D behind our pitchers to give them the best possible shot at rebounding.

James: I, too, think Matthews will price himself out of the White Sox price range which means Soriano will be somewhere near Mars when it comes to the Sox and money. And that's too bad; Soriano has an offensive skill set every team would die for. I'm not really that sold on Matthews, anyways. He's in his 30's already, and he's just had his career year. Regression will happen, and while left field would seem a better fit for his defensive skill set, I'm not sure he'd be willing to move.

Lets remember that Kenny Williams likes to pick up under the radar FA's with less value and more upside, so I can see him pursing a David Dellucci (I cqan't believe he's 32 alrady). I have a feeling that Dave Roberts may be a Pods-clone in the making with the weak arm and an uncertain CFer (will BA be okay?) Would you want Roberts patrolling CF?

I don't think there'll be much FA hunting from KW, instead I expect him to more actively pursue trades to fix his position holes.

Tom: I think Juan Pierre and Dave Roberts are two very distinct possibilities.

Jim: This looks to be a trade year for KW, though you could say that about every year. Given the shape and state of the market, I don't think the "big" names like Carlos Lee are going to get what they're looking for, but I think the mid-level guys are going to get a nice boost.

If David Dellucci were right-handed, he'd be ideal. Same with Frank Catalanotto. I think Dave Roberts is pushing harder for the Sox than the other way around -- it's a team that'd make him look good, even if he declines.

If only the Sox could commit to the idea of Ross Gload as a left fielder and give him playing time there in winter and spring, Craig Wilson would be a hell of an idea. He plays a decent first, a bad outfield (like Carl Everett, from what I've seen), and can crush lefties.

It'd be a great move in MVP 2005, anyway.

I probably should have asked this prior to the Free Agent question... KW and the local Sox beat reporters have been very quiet on the Sox budget for '07. I know one national online columnists keeps writing that the Sox are looking to drop payroll, which I think we all can agree is bunk. But the question is Where does the 2007 budget wind up? Is Kenny being quiet because they're ready to really step to the next level of spending thanks to a boatload of sellouts, creative marketing deals, and a new section of high price seating, or is Jerry looking to line the pockets of the investors with their newfound revenue streams? I guess what I'm really asking is Kenny going to surprise us with a big free agent signing or blockbuster trade?

Jeeves: I don't see the Sox making a big splash in the free agency markert. Zito, Soriano, CLee, and Matsuzaka are all going to cost far too much money. Outside of them, there aren't really any desireable, young free agents for us to pick up, and Kenny isn't the type to spend money just for the sake of spending money.

It's conceivable that KW would pick someone up via trade but I can't think of anyone with such a large salary that it would be an issue. We've all heard the A-Rod rumors, but I think it's doubtful that we'll get him.

Keith: I think that Kenny will be allowed to spend a number right around $105 million. I would like to think that the "cap" is a little closer to $110, but $105 is plenty. Whether or not Kenny decides to use that or not is the obvious question, and honestly, I have no idea what to expect this winter.

My strongest convictions this winter are that Freddy Garcia will be traded, and that Juan Uribe will be our starting SS.

James: I really don't see a change in organizational philosophy, i.e., spending low for FA's, splash big with trades, coming anytime soon. KW's recent big spending has been more to retain his own FA's, not sign new ones.

That being said, in order to remain even at the status quo in on-the-field performance the payroll will almost certainly increase, and if Cashman were to ask the right price, KW would take A-Rod in a heartbeat.

The White Sox revenue pool will continue to grow next season so expect the Sox to remain in the thick of things. (If the Sox are competitive next season, expect a much more active KW around the trade deadline.)

So, yes, expect the salary budget to increase this season but mostly thru trades and resigning our own (Joe Crede extension after arbitration, maybe Mark Buehrle?) FA's.

Tom: I don't think we'll increase the payroll too much, if at all.

I don't expect any kind of big name free agent signing, but I'm fully expecting KW to make some kind of trade. Whether it's a blockbuster or not, I don't know. I assume it would be large, cuz if KW has showed us anything it's that he likes to make the big move in the offseason rather than in July.

Criminal Appeal: Anyone have a copy of Baseball Between the Numbers lying around? My recollection is that the financial windfall from a World Series win lingers for five years or so, which would indicate that the Sox should be able to keep spending among the upper tier of teams. This organization has always been willing to use a fair portion of its resources to put the best possible product on the field. The decisions aren't always perfect, but the commitment has been there.

Jim: I don't see what Kenny or the Sox have to gain by disclosing the budget this year, no matter what happens. Last year, given that the Sox were going to re-sign Paul Konerko for a big deal and had arbitration for Jon Garland, it was a given that payroll was going to shoot up. I don't think they were hurting negotiation leverage any.

Crede's the only incumbent question mark in terms of this year's payroll, so they're better off saying less. Still, with the amount of roster spots up for grabs in 2008, they have to be really careful about what they do this year, for a team not needing any real face lift. I don't see any drastic changes with regards to money, maybe $105-110M.

Vince: I think the budget will go up a bit more. I think that the 2006 budget, effectively, was about $95 million or so, counting the money the Sox received as part of the Thome and Vázquez trades. I haven't heard anything to suggest that season-ticket renewals fell off. I agree with the point above that the Reinsdorf ownership group has generally been willing to use revenue increases to boost payroll. I think $105 million, if the Sox find players worth spending it on, is about right.

Cheat: I was really trying to get somebody to drop the name Mark Mulder.
  • He's a local boy, grew up a Sox fan.
  • His reduced effectiveness the last two seasons can be traced directly to the injury in his throwing shoulder for which he underwent surgery in September. The injury altered his throwing motion and resulted in a decrease in velocity.
  • He's expressed interest in working with "a great pitching coach," though he was referring to Leo Mazzone when he said that.
  • Mulder fits Kenny's recent acquisitions of (possibly) undervalued above-average starters. (see: Garcia, Contreras, Vazquez, and even Hernandez)
  • Most importantly, he's not represented by Scott Boras.
I haven't seen the Sox connected to Mulder, but I think they're in the mix. The only question is will one of the other 8 teams who've expressed early interest go crazy with a long-term guaranteed deal.
Jim: After Javier Vazquez, could the Sox afford to take another so-so NL pitcher as a reclamation project?
I like Mulder -- he and Buehrle were awesome in 2003, when they pitched three sub-two-hour games. If this were 2004 or '05, he'd be great. 2007? Pass.
Cheat: I don't have a good handle on what Mulder will command in this market given his current status. I'd offer him 2/$15M guaranteed (structured $5M in '07, 10M in '08), with a $15M third-year option. That'd be the Sox standard 3/$30M deal, though a little more creative because of the circumstances. But will there be a team out there willing to top that offer? Probably.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

White Sox Roundtable Part 1

Since the Sox demise at the end of August, it's been awfully tough to find any good discussions about the Sox. I mean, after all my year ending stuff, CHI SOX blog became just a general sports blog. To help generate some discussion, The Cheat from South Side Sox invited some of the best Sox bloggers -- and Keith. He's not much of a blogger -- to join in a friendly chat about the issues facing the Sox this off-season. Partaking in the discussion were Jim from The Sox Machine, Vince from Exile in Wrigleyville, Keith from up there in cheesehead country, James from Fleece the Pig, Flog the Pony, Tom Fornelli from Foul Balls, Criminal Appeal from around Ron Karkovice Fan Club, and your truly.

The discussion ended up being just a tad over 600,000 words, or somewhere in that neighborhood, so we're going to break it up into a few parts. Let's call this Part 1 of 24: laying the groundwork.

Before the 83-win Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, I had taken to calling the '06 White Sox "90-win Failures." I think the Cards' title might have taken some of the sting off the season, for me at least. How did you react to seeing a number of playoff teams with gaping holes playing in October? Has the fickle nature of post-season changed your view at all? Or did you never consider missing the playoffs a failure?

Jeeves: For me, the Cardinals triumph actually furthered my frustrations with the Sox season, but it didn't make it any less or any more of a failure in my eyes.

As the season wore on, I clung to the belief that as long as the Sox somehow slipped into the playoffs, they would be able to do some damage and make a legitimate run at the title. I will admit that outright homer-ism did fuel this belief, to an extent, but looking back at some of the prior World Series participants from the Wild Card era fed this feeling as well.

After all, the Sox did sputter in the second half before sweeping away Cleveland's hopes and running through the playoffs in '05. Then there's the '04 Wild Card Red Sox miraculous come back from an 0-3 deficit in the ALCS, plus the Wild Card Marlins from '03 and the Wild Card Angels from '02. I'm not trying to spark a debate about whether or not it's important to finish the regular season strongly or whether or not the best team always wins, but I do think the MLB playoffs are the biggest crapshoot of all the major sports. No matter how bad your team looks on paper, if you make it to the post-season there's a decent chance you could take the title.
The Cardinals only reinforced this idea with their win. All the pundits, talking heads, anda good number of bloggers dismissed the Cards, but they came through and won it all. All the while, all I could think, is that could have been our boys out there.

Now by all means, I don't count this season as a complete failure. Our goal coming into the season was to repeat as Champs, so in that respect we failed, but we did have a pretty solid season. This is the first time since the Go-Go Sox of '63,'64 and '65 that we've had back-to-back 90 win seasons. Some of our players regressed to their career means, but we still put together a good run. If we can improve on this performance, next year; we just may have another banner to raise. So in my opinion, the season wasn't a complete fiasco, but it wasn't satisfactory either.

James: If recent World Series winners tell us anything, it's that anyone can win in October as long as the pitching is solid. Four of the last seven WS were wild card entrants, but those WC teams had some solid pitching.

How the St. Louis Cardinals won with a pitching staff full of more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese is a mystery to me. And that exacerbates the failure of the White Sox 90-win season even more so.

Obviously the whole team is to blame, but the lion's share of the failure lay squarely at the feet of the White Sox pitching staff, a clearly superior staff to that of the Cardinals. Were someone to play a seven-game series on paper between the White Sox and Cardinals, eight out of the ten sheets would have the White Sox winning.

How does it not feel like salt in the wound that a team with Jeff Weaver (a modern day Jack McDowell -- overrated) leading them won?

Keith: I'm dissappointed in the simple sense that this team didn't make the playoffs when it was built to precisely do that.

But unfortunately, it's not that simple. Looking within the context of this division, you had a team who had the best pitching in baseball and the best defense in baseball. You had another team that, for around three months (give or take), had arguably the two best lefties -- some could make a case to change "lefties" to "starting pitchers" -- pitching two out of every five days. That same team had two MVP candidates in Mauer and Morneau.

Looking back at it, the Sox had (in my mind) three starters who pitched a fair chunk of the season injured, in Garcia, Contreras, and probably even Buehrle. The last name might be pure speculation on my part, but when Buehrle's fastball is topping out at 86 MPH, something is wrong. Whether or not the situation of handling these "injured" pitchers was handled appropriately is another topic within itself.

It wasn't all gloom, though. Jermaine Dye put together one of the best offensive seasons in a Sox uniform that I have personally seen in my short lifetime. Joe Crede finally had the year we Sox fans have all been waiting for.

So, in the context of everything, I'm not as disappointed as one might think a White Sox fan should be. Going strictly on intangibles and the senses, this 2006 team just didn't have the "feel" of the 2005 group.

Jim: It was a failure in the dictionary sense of the word. I thought they would get into the playoffs, the Sox thought they would get into the playoffs, and they didn't. That's a failure.

But as far as the emotions tied to failure -- anger, disappointment, frustration -- those didn't surface on the radar in anything more than a fleeting state. They were outplayed by worthier teams. It's not like an AL East team feasted on three bottom-feeders to beat them out for a playoff spot.

The Tigers and Twins had to play the same schedule as the Sox, and the Sox had a bigger hole than either team -- having nobody on the pitching staff, rotation or bullpen, on whom they could rely. That wasn't a problem of planning or even usage, but getting the job done. Sometimes that doesn't happen. We move on.

Vince: I considered it a failure that the White Sox did not make the playoffs, but only a small failure. Considering where the franchise as a whole is now compared with two or especially three years ago, the 2006 White Sox have to be considered a qualified success. The Sox were legitimate contenders for nearly the entire season, reinforcing what they accomplished in 2005. Off the field, the Sox are more successful than they have been in years, with ticket sales and TV ratings up significantly. The playoffs, and specifically the success of the Cardinals, didn't change my thinking about the 2006 White Sox.

Tom: For me it pissed me off a little more. I didn't like seeing a team with so many flaws win a World Series, but at the same time I wasn't that surprised.

I think it just went to show how bad the National League was this year. Sure the Cardinals won the World Series, but they just got "hot" at the right time, and ran into Detroit when they were at their worst. Had the Cardinals been in the AL they would have been a 4th place team in the AL East and Central, while finishing 3rd in the West.

Heading into this off-season, what do you see as the Sox' 'gaping holes?'

Jeeves: The things that most people point to that need fixin' are the pitching, the outfield, shortstop, middle relief, and the lack of a lead off hitter. You must admit, that's a pretty long laundry list of things to improve. We may have holes at all of those positions, but I wouldn't necessarily say that all of them are gaping. The two things I would most like to see addressed are the outfield and the pitching.

I'll start with the outfield, because I believe that we'll have to look outside the organization to solve our problems. We are weak defensively and offensively in left, and we are weak offensively in center. I won't address specifically what we should do to solve the problem, because I'm sure that's fodder for another question (correct me if I'm wrong Cheat), but I will say Pods has to go. I think between Anderson, Sweeney, Mackowiak (only if he's in left), Pablo, and Jerry Owens, we could cover one of the outfield spots, but I would like to see a savvy (i.e. don't panic and overpay) move to plug into the other spot.

The pitching is where things get hairy. It ultimately needs to be addressed, but the question is how and to what extent. Do we shake up the rotation or do we see if our starters return to form and pitch more like the '05 staff? If we do shake things up, who gets shipped out? Those are tough questions to answer. It seems like either way we go, we could plausibly come out smelling like roses or come out regretting our decision.

Our starters weren't terrible; they were just terribly inconsistent. Any change in the rotation would require the jettisoning of one of our starters, as I highly doubt any of them would move into the `pen. When it comes down to the `pen, I think KW can solve that problem much as he has in the past with Jenks, Thornton, MacDougal, Cotts of '05, et al.

So, to make a long circuitous answer more direct, the biggest holes in my mind are left and center field and the pitching, although, the pitching has the potential to straighten itself out.

James: My White Sox gaping holes, in order of importance...

  1. Relief pitching...Anyone who knows me knows I was pretty hard on Mark Buehrle last season, but as the numbers bear out, he typically goes thru some sort of slide from time to time, so it wasn't completely unexpected. What really came as a shock was the regression of Neal Cotts. The poster boy for the failures of the Sox relief staff not only lost his location but his confidence as well. Maybe the ball started rolling with the injury to Cliff Politte, maybe going into the regular season with a rookie left-handed LOOGY was a sign of bigger troubles. Whatever the case, outside of Matt Thornton, should White Sox fans trust anyone in the bullpen? And even they had their shaky moments down the stretch. Jenks is a balky back away from seeing a Freudian-like specialist, and I doubt torque-armed Mike MacDougal will ever make it through any season without a stint on the injured list.
  2. Leadoff Hitter...Pods mental meltdown at the plate leads the list of position player failures for 2006, and I'm sure KW is fast pursuing an alternative to the take-strike-one, swing-at-strike-two, take-strike-three king.
  3. Injury List...I know this is more subjective than anything, but lets be frank, in 2005, outside of the Big Hurt (pun intended), the team was very very healthy. Fast forward to 2006; 3 out of the 5 starters had ailments, we lost Politte and Nelson for the season. Pods had hammy issues to start the season; JD, Joe Crede, Tad Iguchi and Jim Thome all had ailments at the end of the season -- ailments I contend were of more than the usual "long season" variety. A return to good health would go a long way toward the White Sox success in 2007.

Keith: In order of importance (and a couple of general comments at the end):

  • Starting pitching. Unfortunately, I really don't think this is something that Kenny Williams can fix from the outside. Outside of moving someone like Garcia and plugging in McCarthy (which, in itself, most likely won't be an upgrade, as McCarthy certainly isn't a lock to give the Sox 215 innings of a 4.50 ERA, which is what Garcia gave the 2006 team), I doubt there is a whole lot that can be done. I've said this a lot, and I'll continue to stress it all throughout the winter: The 2007 rotation is going to be built on hope. Hope that the 2006 Mark Buehrle was nothing more than an abberation. Hope that Jose Contreras can stay healthy. Hope that Brandon McCarthy is the pitcher he was down the 2005 stretch, not the pitcher who came out of the bullpen in 2006.
  • Left field. This was the position that provided the least to the 2006 teams. At least with the other highly berated positions such as centerfield and shortstop, you had strong-to-superb defense coming from those spots. Scott Podsednik provided absolutely nothing to the 2006 White Sox, and he (arguably) even held them back. I know the metrics say that Podsednik was a good left-fielder, but after watching him night in, night out for the past two years, I can't really say that Podsednik is anything more than average. Kenny Williams cannot go into 2007 with Podsednik as his starting left-fielder. So how does he fix the spot? I'm looking forward to that part of the conversation, as my ideas on how to fix the hole in left have ran everywhere from Carl Crawford to Ryan Sweeney.
  • Relief pitching. I don't really see this as a huge problem. I believe the backend of the White Sox bullpen is as good as you will find in all of baseball, with three similar-but-still-different styles in Jenks, MacDougal, and Thorton. I think Charlie Haeger has all but locked up the "mop-up" spot in the 2007 bullpen, leaving two spots (in a six man bullpen). I think it's reasonable to guess that one of Neal Cotts or Boone Logan will take one of those two spots as a LOOGY, leaving one spot. Again, this is a spot that the Sox could go a number of different ways. They could go via free agency (Justin Speier and Kerry Wood are the two names I've liked); they could go via the international market (Japanese pitchers have seemingly excelled in bullpen spots across MLB. At the very least, they seem to have a one year 'grace' period, ala Shingo in 2004). They could also delve into their very own farm system, as Oneli Perez stormed through the ranks last year and will make some impression on the 2007 White Sox (big or small).
  • For the record, I don't view SS or CF as holes. I still feel the main objective this offseason should be to improve the pitching, and an indirect way of helping the pitching is by making sure you have eight damn good defenders working with your pitcher. Thus, any upgrades offensively to SS and CF are most likely (there are exceptions) to come with a downgrade to the defense and ultimately a downgrade to the pitching.
  • I also don't see "leadoff hitter" as a spot that needs to be addressed. I feel that the Sox have a perfectly acceptable leadoff man already on the roster in Tadahito Iguchi. I also don't think that Williams should be limited in his LF search. By that I mean that he shouldn't just be looking for that slap hitting LFer who will steal 35 bases. I'll expound on this later, but I think that one of the best options for LF available in the free agent market that doesn't necessarily fit into the leadoff hitter or number two hitter mold is Moises Alou.

Criminal Appeal: I actually don't think the White Sox have any gaping holes. Keep in mind, this team was within a margin wholly attributable to luck from having the same record as it did in 2005. The 2006 Sox had a third order expected record of 89-73 according to Baseball Prospectus. Their 2005 expected record was 91-71. In other words, the 2006 White Sox were a health dose of luck from being right back in the play-offs.

To the extent, the Sox were not quite as good in 2005 as they were in 2006, the fall off is entirely attributable to the pitching. The Sox scored more runs, more consistently in 2006 than the previous year.

I'm not sure how to fix the pitching, and, as someone mentioned, I'm sure specific remedies for specific problems are sure to be future topics. I suppose inserting McCarthy and hoping for the best is the most likely step. For what it's worth, I think Buehrle is the guy we can trade for whom we might get fair value. I'm also pessimistic that Buehrle will ever be the pitcher he was before 2006.

I'm less worried about the bullpen, QUITE FRANKLY (those words must always be shouted at the top of the speaker's lungs). I think Jenks, Thornton and MacDougall will be just fine at the back end. So, I'd hate to see the Sox use resources for the pen that could be better spent elsewhere.

As I mentioned, I'm also pretty happy with the offense. However, in a division with four legitimate contenders, you have to aim high. Since it's hard to fix your starting rotation through free agency, I'd love to see the Sox invest even more on offense. I guess it's obvious that shortstop, left and center field are the team's holes. Uribe was below replacement level offensiveley, Podsednik is essentially worthless at this point and Brian Anderson plays a great defensive centerfield, but is essentially worthless with the bat. It may be unrealistic to expect Dye, Thome and Konerko to repeat their production from 2006. They aren't kids. So, it's risky to carry a couple of dead bats in the line-up, even at short and center. Still, Pods is the worst of the group, and plays a position that should be an offensive spot. However many of these guys are replaced, at least one of the new guys must be a high percentage on-base guy. That means Dave Roberts, not Juan Pierre (also, Matthews had a great year, but it came out of nowhere, and he's a poor fielder; I'd rather spend less and get Roberts). I also wouldn't mind if the Mike Young rumors are true.

Overall, this team's remaining window is a small one. While none of their holes are gaping, I wouldn't be afraid to trade prospects to fill what holes there are. A couple of moves and a little luck, and the 2007 White Sox could be right back where the '05 edition was.

Vince:With the benefit of getting to read the previous comments, I think the only gaping hole is left field. Scott Podsednik may bounce back somewhat in 2007, but it is going to have to be with another team. I can't see the Sox giving him another chance, and I don't think that they should. At his best, Podsednik is only a marginally useful left fielder, and I don't think his body can handle the pounding of the steal attempts any longer. I'll refrain for now in suggesting his replacement.

I think most of the rest of the gaping holes are in the form of whether certain players -- Mark Buehrle, Neal Cotts, Juan Uribe -- can return to previous levels of performance.

Tom: I think getting a leadoff hitter would be huge. Yes, the pitching is important, but a large reason this team failed in 2006 was Scott Podsednik.

Why did the Sox have to rely on the long ball tactics this season compared to last?

Cuz nobody else got on base besides Dye, Konerko, Thome, and Crede.

As far as the pitching, I'm not sure I would consider our starting rotation to have any gaping holes. I think what we all felt as fans as to how horrible the starters were this year was directly related to how great they were in 2005. Sure, Buehrle fucking sucked, but I have confidence he'll get better again next season. After Freddy developed that splitter in September, I do NOT want to see him traded now. I can deal with moving Vazquez and Mark, but for all the shit we give Freddy, we seem to forget he won 17 games this year.

Also I'd like to see some competent middle relief, and I don't mean David Riske.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Urlacher is Mightier than Mere Mortals

Praise the Lord! Urlacher is going to be okay! At the end of the Dolphins game, Brian Urlacher, our all world MLB, got his foot twisted in a pileup with about a minute left in the game. Bears' fans across the country held their breath as he left the field thinking shades of Mike Brown (who's gone for the season). Urlacher underwent an MRI today and broke the machine with his sheer awesomeness. Seriosuly thought, he had an MRI, and it turns out it's just a sprained left big toe.

Officially Urlacher is questionable for the upcoming showdown with Giants, but I have a strong feeling he won't miss the game. It's a huge matchup, and reportedly, Urlacher was seen walking into a meeting without a limp.

My confidence in the Bears, has just been boosted!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Freddy to the Mets Rumors

They have inquired about the White Sox's Freddy Garcia, but the request of
Milledge and Phil Humber or Mike Pelfrey is too much for a pitcher a year from
free agency.

New York Post

It's long been known that the Sox are looking to deal a pitcher in order to get Brandon McCarthy into the rotation. I think the fact that the Mets are calling us, inquiring about a trade, rather than the other way around bodes well for us. The article states that the Sox asked for too much for Minaya's liking, which I think is another good thing.

This year, pitching is definitely a seller's market. Outside of Zito, Schmidt (if he's healthy), and Matsuzaka there aren't any top of the line starters out there. Now, I'm not suggesting Freddy is a number one starter, but you could do a lot worse than 17 wins and a 4.50 ERA, especially considering how he closed the season. With the lack of quality arms out there, it is essential that Kenny gets as much as possible for whichever pitcher he ends up dealing. That's the reason, why I'm happy about the Sox asking for so much. It's still very early in the off-season, so there's no reason to panic yet and accept a low ball offer. If the Mets do end up dropping out of the Zito sweepstakes, they'll definitely be very interested in what the Sox have to offer; they'll be doubly interested, if Pedro's future remains in doubt. Come a few weeks or a month, the Mets may in fact be willing to part with Milledge and Humber/Pelfry.

If Vazquez could fetch the likes of Chris Young from us, I think Freddy should net the Sox even more, and I'd be willing to accept a combination of Milledge and Humber/Pelfry.

Milledge could be a very good fit for us. He could slide into either center or left field. While I haven't completely given up on Brian Anderson (yes, I'm one of the few), Milledge would provide the most value at center. He doesn't have great power, which you generally would like from a corner outfielder; he hit 11 HR between the majors (166 AB) and the minors (307 AB), which is up from the 8 he hit in the minors in '05. The Sox have gotten away with Pods in left, so it's quite doable to have him out there, even if he doesn't have good power numbers; just as long as Dye, Thome, and Paulie can carry the offense again. Milledge is a plus defender and every place I look, lists him as having great athleticism. He has speed, but needs to refine his base stealing technique. He was 13 for 23 in the minors. His OBP is pretty good at .388, but he should probably walk more; he had 43 which is a vast improvement over previous seasons. Milledge would fit nicely into our team and at age 21 he has plenty of time to grow and progress, although he wouldn't exactly be the base stealing threat that Ozzie is looking for to lead things off this season.

Humber is young as well, he's 23. Last season was his first after recovering from Tommy John surgery. He is a bit of an unknwon commodity. He posted a 2.83 ERA in 14 starts in the minors this year. He has the potential to become a solid starter come a couple years, but it's hard to judge him from only 76 innings of work. I will say though, that his periherals look good.

Pelfrey is 22 and holds a lot of potential. In 18 starts, he went 7-3 with a 2.43 ERA. He had 109 K's in only 96 innings. I think he holds even more potential than Humber. He has a good fastball which tops out at 98 mph, and also throws a two seamer to go with his curve and circle change. Pelfrey made some appearances for the Mets and could be ready to start as early as this year, although it's more likely he'd play in the bigs consistently come '08.

I would love to trade Freddy for Pelfrey and Milledge, but it's still very early in the game. For all we know, we could get a better offer elsewhere, or the Mets could sign Zito and no longer have a need for Garcia.

Rumblings on Turnovers and the Dolphins

I think I've unlocked the key to a Super Bowl victory for the Bears. No, I'm not expecting any payment as a consultant from the Bears or anything like that; a Super Bowl win would be payment enough. But after watching hours of game film, and analyzing blitz schemes and nickel packages alike, I've figured things out. Turnovers. Now, now, I know what you're thinking, that's an easy answer, it's obvious, yadda yadda, but seriously just a cursory look at the numbers paints a telling story.

Bears 26 Green Bay 0
Turnover battle- 1 :3

Bears 34 Detroit 7
Turnover battle - 1:3

Bears 19 Minnesota 16
Turnover battle - 2:2

Bears 37 Seattle 6
Turnover battle - 0:2

Bears 40 Buffalo 7
Turnover battle - 1:5

Bears 24 Arizona 23
Turnover battle - 6:2

Bears 41 San Fran 10
Turnover battle - 0:5

Bears 13 Miami 31
Turnover battle - 6:2

Against Minnesota we had equal TO's, and in the game we should lost and the game we did lose, we lost the battle 6:2. It's not coincidental at all that those numbers are the case. This game really stood out in particular. It seemed like every turnover either snuffed a scoring threat (i.e. Gage's fumble) or gave Miami points or at the least ridiculous starting position (i.e. Hester fumble at our 6, Taylor's pick for six, Hill's pick returned to our 24).

We have a ridiculously dominant defense, but even the greatest defense will give up points if the opposition continuously has a short field. The offense needs to learn to hang onto the ball, and Rex has to make sure to throw off his back foot as little as possible. I know it's an overused saying now, but Rex does have a little Favre in him, but let's use the mid 90's Favre, ok Rex?

As long as the Bears can keep their TO's in check, I have confidence that they will win, but if we have any more 6 turnover outbursts, you can end all hopes of repeating the 85 Bears' 15-1 season.

Oh yah, speaking of those Bears...Why the hell did we have to lose to the DOLPHINS? I would have accepted a loss to the Giants no problem, but of course it had to be to the damn Dolphins. Just like '85 they ruin our party. I bet Shula and all those other old timers are having themselves a good laugh. I almost hope the Colts go undefeated just to shut them up, and just to make our Super Bowl win all that much more impressive.
Free Hit Counter