Sunday, July 24, 2005

« The Nats are so desperate for a SS... »

By Suss
They might try to get Barry Larkin to un-retire.

« Uncollected home runs out to sea »

By Suss
The Marlins came to San Francisco, and first baseman Carlos Delgado launched a deep homer into McCovey Cove.

And nobody retrieved it. At least not within the duration of the SportsCenter footage.

With Barry Bonds on the shelf, the dinghy ballshaggers must have decided to not skip work for once, since the Giants have no other true left-handed power hitter. When a home run lands in The Cove, it is usually the army of boats that fight over the souvenir.

Not the case anymore. Now they sit outside Bonds' doctor's office and elbow each other for the discarded gauze.

Bonds hit into the water ("splashdown") 31 times in 5 seasons from '00-'04. In that same stretch, his teammates have had 7 and opposing teams have had 8. Total. He doubled up the universe, and added one on for good measure.

This year might be the first year opposing teams splashdown more than the home team. Right now the score is 3-1, with Russ Branyan going deep and wet like a porn star on April 23, Larry Walker on July 9 and Delgado Saturday night. Michael Tucker has the lone Giant splashdown this year, which happened on April 9.

Now for some trivia, which I came up with after crunching the open source data on splashdowns at the Giants' Web site:
  1. True or false: At least one other Giant other than Bonds has multiple splashdowns.
  2. True or false: A visiting player has hit multiple splashdowns.
  3. Which opposing pitcher has given up the most splashdowns to Giants?
  4. Which Giants pitcher has given up the most splashdowns to visitors?
  5. Which National League team is the only team not to surrender a splashdown?
  6. Two teams have given up 5 splashdowns. One is Colorado. Name the other.

  1. True. Luis Gonzalez hit one in '00 and again in '02.
  2. True. Felipe Crespo and Michael Tucker both have 2 career splashdowns.
  3. John Thomson (twice), then with Colorado. Both came in 2001 to Bonds.
  4. Brett Tomko (twice), in '04 with Cliff Floyd and in '05 to Russ Branyan.
  5. Pittsburgh.
  6. St. Louis.
There have been 49 splashdowns in PNC Park history. Who will hit the 50th, and when?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

« What if only four divisions still existed? »

By Suss
What if there was no Wild Card?

You don't hear much about the old four-division format since Commissioner Bud Selig's brainchild -- the Wild Card -- has produced amazing postseason drama. The last three World Series champs have won the Wild Card, and in the 10 years it's allowed eight teams into postseason play, four teams have been crowned champ. ('97 Marlins, '02 Angels, '03 Marlins, '04 Red Sox).

And it's not just the Wild Card teams -- it has added an extra division winner into the mix every year. And of the 6 division winners that have won a World Series in the past 10 years, four of them had fewer than 95 regular season wins. In previous 10-year spans:

'95-'04: 6 teams
'84-'93: 4 teams
'74-'83: 4 teams*
'64-73: 3 teams

(*-'81 was a strike-shortened season, when the 67-43 Dodgers won it all. But their .572 winning percentage equates to 93 wins in a 162-game season.)

OK, time to run somewhere with this.

The point is, if the Wild Card was a flop in Selig's face, writers everywhere would be wondering what the season would be like.

For example, with the unpopular BCS Championship Series dominating who should play in the bowl games rather than a playoff system, places like are known for making and simulating a 16-team bracket playoff for the national championship. But if there was a sound system in place, people probably wouldn't speculate on another system.

So having said that, it's best to go against the grain and pretend what it would be like in MLB's old four-division format. To refresh everyone's memory, the divisions as of 1993 were spread out like this:
AL East: Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York Yankees, Toronto.
AL West: California (Anaheim), Chicago White Sox, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle, Texas.
NL East: Chicago Cubs, Florida, Montreal (Washington), New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis.
NL West: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco.

Seven-team divisions cut out a lot of good teams from playoffs over the years, like the '93 Giants who won 103 times, but finished a game behind the Braves.

So what would the standings look like today, assuming the Devil Rays expanded to the AL East, the Diamondbacks went to the NL West and the Brewers, who switched divisions in 1998 -- emigrated to the NL East?

AL East . . W - L GB
Boston. . . 53-43 -
NY Yankees. 51-44 1.5
Baltimore . 50-45 2.5
Cleveland . 49-48 4.5
Toronto . . 48-48 5
Detroit . . 47-48 5.5
Tampa Bay . 33-64 20.5

AL West . . W - L GB
Chi. WSox . 63-32 -
LA Angels . 58-39 6
Minnesota . 52-43 11
Oakland . . 51-45 12.5
Texas . . . 48-47 15
Seattle . . 42-53 21
Kansas City 35-61 28.5

NL East . . . . W - L GB
St. Louis . . . 62-34 -
Washington. . . 54-43 8.5
Philadelphia. . 50-47 12.5
NY Mets . . . . 49-47 13
Chi. Cubs . . . 48-48 14
Florida . . . . 47-47 14
Milwaukee . . . 47-50 15.5
Pittsburgh. . . 41-56 21.5

NL West . . . . W - L GB
Atlanta . . . . 54-43 -
Houston . . . . 50-46 3.5
San Diego . . . 50-47 4
Arizona . . . . 47-51 7.5
LA Dodgers. . . 44-52 9.5
San Francisco . 42-53 11
Cincinnati. . . 41-55 12.5
Colorado. . . . 34-61 19

  • The AL East is the most exciting race, with 6 teams all within 6 games of each other, and whoever loses to Tampa Bay the most gets made fun of.
  • With two fewer divisions, the odd teams out are the old AL and NL West division leaders, the Angels and the Padres, who would both be second in the new AL and NL West.
  • With Washington reeling, St. Louis would be a lock to win this division, too. And the Nationals, instead of tied for first with the Braves, struggle to stay less than 10 games within the Cardinals.
  • The White Sox wouldn't be guaranteed the division, since the Angels would move into the neighborhood six games back.
  • A few more teams, like the Rangers, Mets, Phillies, could make decisions on whether or not to buy or sell for a postseason run. (They would all sell, since they would much further back in the standings)
  • But some other teams, like the Tigers, Diamondbacks and Astros, would have a more viable chance for a division championship, making their questions about trades that much more complicated.
  • Florida would never, ever, ever win the World Series.
  • Neither would Boston.
  • Or Colorado. But that's a different problem.
There are a lot of problems to this comparison. For one, Atlanta is the only one in the old NL East playing in the NL West. A lot of their division games were played against over-.500 teams, so maybe their record would be even higher than 54-43.

Records current at the end of games played on July 22.

« 0.31 »

By Suss
According to Baseball Tonight, that's Roger Clemens' road ERA this year in his first 9 starts, winning only four.

And somehow he lost a game in there.

Just thought I'd let you all know.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

« Fisticuffs in Detroit, now with less Artest »

By Suss
Tigers lose to the Royals 5-0, but when a brawl breaks out, nobody cares about the score.

The Tigers definitely won the brawl, when Carlos Guillen pleaded to the umpire he was grazed by a pitch in the leg. In the next pitch, pitcher Runelvys Hernandez plunks Guillen in the helmet.

"You don't miss like that on a lefty."
-Vance Wilson, Tigers' catcher
Benches clear, yadda yadda yadda.

The key video clip in this whole thing (and the video is in the link above) is Kyle Farnsworth's takedown of the Royals' Jeremy Affeldt. That's when the scuffle became a full-on happenings.

Kyle FarnsworthThe 6'4", 240-pound Farnsworth is used to body tackling people. On June 19, 2003, when Farnsworth pitched for the Cubs, he threw in inside pitch to Reds' batter Paul Wilson. Wilson squared to bunt and Farnsworth threw an inside pitch. The two threw down, and Wilson never had a chance. Farnsworth tackled him right into the ground, and the loser walked away Red-faced from shame, blood and uniform.

At least Farnsworth is picking in his own kind. Affeldt and Wilson are both pitchers, and they're not tiny men. Affeldt is 6'4", 220-pounds, and Wilson is 6'5", 211-pounds.

Needless to say, Farnsworth was ejected, as were his teammates Guillen and Jeremy Bonderman (he was furious and held back by several players throughout). On the Royals side: Hernandez (duh), manager Buddy Bell, catcher Alberto Castillo (getting into it with an ump)and outfielder Emil Brown.

But Affeldt was OK. He came into the game two innings later and pitched a scoreless eighth.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

« Since Palmeiro has 3,000, is he a Haller? »

By Suss
Courtesy of ReutersWhen Rafael Palmeiro hit an RBI double to left field, he became the 26th player to accrue 3,000 hits in a major league career.

And with 566 career home runs, he joins elite company in the 3,000/500 Club: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray.

But is he a Hall of Famer?

Aaron, Mays and Murray were all first-ballot Hall entries. So is it a lock for him, too?

The two biggest strikes against him are as follows: He's never won an MVP and he never started an All-Star game.

Viewing the top sports sites, it's evident the media all have the same facts on the guy. They know what he's done and hasn't done, and it comes down to a bare-bones gut feeling on Palmeiro's Hall status:

Palmeiro in the Hall:

Scott Miller, CBS "One of the greatest hitters of our time has played out his career in virtual anonymity."

Jim Caple, "In a sport where day-in, day-out consistency is paramount, few have been as consistently good as Palmeiro."

Tony DeMarco, "Add it all up, and the accomplishments scream first-ballot Hall of Famer, so let’s quit quibbling about what’s not on the resume."

John Donovan, "In the end, when the Hall of Fame voters look at Palmeiro's work over his rare career, his place in history will be undeniable."

Palmeiro great, not a Haller:
Skip Bayless, ESPN's Cold Pizza: "Palmeiro is nothing more than a very good player who has benefited from being a left-handed hitter in bandbox ballparks."

Mark Starr, Newsweek: "Hall of Fame inductees should be players who were transcendent among their baseball generation. Palmeiro has endured more than transcended."

George Maselli, CBS "Many baseball writers are saying the sweet swinger has a guaranteed spot in Cooperstown. And they would be as wrong as David Wells in spandex. "

You get the idea. With some columnists it's as clear as night and day. There seems to be no one on the fence. In the eyes of the writers, it's not the quality of Palmeiro that's at debate it's the standards of the Hall.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

« A thought-ie from tonight's Mud Hens game »

By Suss
Far be it from me to tell a ballgame usher how to do his job, but when he tells little children not to stand in the aisle adjacent to left field, I would have chosen my words better than this:
"All right, kids, go back to your seaties."
Often times I find myself having to wait until people leave before I start laughing. Said quote is no exception.

And the Hens lost 9-6 after Bisons manager was hilariously thrown out after arguing a foul ball/home run call. The hat met dirt, and kicking of it followed. And a total of four Bisons got tossed. And I thought the plural of "bison" was "bison," without the 's.' And I thought they were brown, not green.

QUICK TEENAGE DRAMA RUMOR: OMG, I heard ESPN talking about the Indians trading for ... Alfonso Soriano. Like, that would be, like, soooooo COOL lol! And they'd only give up like two prospects! How sweet is that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

« Midseason recap: Playoff odds, awards »

By Suss
Half the season is over, and the second act resumes Thursday.

So what are the odds for all 30 teams making the playoffs?

How I came up with the numbers: 100 percentage points are allotted to each division, with an extra 100 points for each league to factor in the Wild Card spot.

AL East
Boston: 45. Curt Schilling's off the DL, and they have a slight lead. Start your engines.
New York: 45. So inconsistent they could go on a tear, pick up somebody, lose a few, then win a bunch more.
Baltimore: 10. Going down fast. Erik Bedard's return won't save them.
Toronto: 5. An even record in an eccentric division? Only 5.5 back, although Halladay's injury hurts them a bunch.
Tampa Bay: NO CHANCE. Delmon Young and B.J. Upton should get called up soon, giving the fans at least something to watch.

AL Central
Chicago: 95. Hard to think they'll blow a 9-game lead.
Minnesota: 35. The Bret Boone waiver acquisition will add some runs to that lineup.
Cleveland: 30. Wild Card aspirations very much alive, now that their manager is clean shaven.
Detroit: 5. Too little too late, but they'll be fun to watch. Can Bonderman win 20 after losing 19 two years ago?
Kansas City: NO CHANCE. Rebuilding and hurt. Playing hard, though, given who they got.

AL West
Anaheim: 85. Lost four straight before the break, still 5 games ahead.
Oakland: 25. Beane's boys shut everyone up after a rough start, and they're hotter than Quizno's subs.
Texas: 15. Kenny Rogers hurt the team that fateful day. We all saw it thanks to the cameraman who wasn't pushed.
Seattle: 5. They've got the players and more consistent pitching, but they're way back in last, 9 1/2 back for WC.

NL East Washington: 55. 16 games over .500, given up 4 more runs than they've scored. You figure it out.
Atlanta: 60. They haven't lost a division in 13 years, so why would they miss the playoffs?
Florida: 20. Big disappointment 7 games back.
Philadelphia: 10. Billy Wagner said the team doesn't know how to win. He's right. New York: 5. They're finally healthy, but not moving up in the standings.

NL Central
St. Louis: 100. Eleven-and-a-half game advantages are hard to lose.
Houston: 30. The NL's version of Oakland. Don't count them out either.
Chicago: 15. Another major injury and the team's done. Derrek Lee will be chasing history without his team. Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati: NO CHANCE. Ranked in order of promise for next year, starting with the highest.

NL West
San Diego: 85. The only team in that division with any consistency.
Arizona, Los Angeles: 10. They're both veteran ball clubs with one or two major holes. Whether it's the D-Backs bullpen or LA's injured outfield, their only chance is to catch San Diego.
San Francisco, Colorado: NO CHANCE. The Giants have no Bonds and no pitching depth. As for the Rockies, well, let's just say Todd Helton only has 39 RBI and leave it at that.

Predictions for awards:
AL MVP: Miguel Tejada, Orioles. His team likely won't make the playoffs, but the lineup is basically intact, and with Rafael Palmeiro's increased performance, he'll have a bit of protection and see enough pitches to put up MVP numbers.
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Al is more likely to keep the numbers high than Derrek Lee is to win the Triple Crown. AL Cy Young: Mark Buehrle, White Sox. He's the best pitcher on the best team. If his ERA stays under 3.00 in the league of the DH, he'll be a lock to win it.
NL Cy Young: Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. As everyone will continue to be awestruck by Rocket and D-Train, Carpenter will saw and nail his way to the award.
AL Rookie: Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox. Leads rookies in batting average, hits, at-bats, runs and stolen bases.
NL Rookie: Ryan Church, Nationals. He leads all rookies with a .924 OPS, including a .325 average for a team without a true superstar. He's just one of the gang.
AL Manager: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. Clearly his mentality was the difference in turning them from a promising team to a winning one.
NL Manager: Bobby Cox, Braves. Frank Robinson deserves it too, but if they both make the playoffs, Bobby managed several AA players for a couple months to keep them in it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

« All-Star baseball game instant thoughts »

By Suss
Throughout Tuesday night, I will update my thoughts on the All-Star game at Blogcritics. Full thoughts will be posted here at the end.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

« HR Derby competitors, predictions »

By Suss
The field for Monday's Century 21 Home Run Derby was announced last week. Many of these names are unfamiliar to the Derby. Career totals include this year's stats:
  • United States: Rangers 1B Mark Teixeira (25 HR in '05, 88 HR in 3 seasons)
  • Dominican Republic: Red Sox DH David Ortiz (21 HR, 151 in 10 seasons)
  • Puerto Rico: Tigers C Ivan Rodriguez (6 HR, 256 HR in 15 seasons)
  • Venezuela: Phillies RF Bobby Abreu (18 HR, 184 in 10 seasons)
  • Panama: Brewers LF Carlos Lee (22 HR, 174 in 7 seasons)
  • Canada: Pirates LF Jason Bay (16 HR, 46 in 3 seasons)
  • Netherlands: Braves CF Andruw Jones (27 HR, 277 in 10 seasons)
  • South Korea: Dodgers 1B Hee-Seop Choi (13 HR, 38 in 4 seasons)
The only player to previously participate in a Derby was Ortiz, who went out in the first round of the '04 Derby after hitting only 3 out of Minute Maid Park in Houston. CORRECTION: Pudge did play in the 2000 Derby in Atlanta, but only hit one in the first round.

You can predict the results player by player at's Home Run Derby Challenge. I already played, and I'm sure I don't remember how I entered it, so my prediction will differ from my entry.

Round 1 Prediction

Pudge Rodriguez will hit in his home field, despite having way fewer home runs than anyone else this season. He's not a home run hitter, and he admits it. But let's look at the numbers of the last five Derbies, how the lowest-HR player fared:
  • 2004: Rafael Palmeiro (13): 3rd
  • 2003: Garret Anderson, Gary Sheffield (22): Anderson won, Sheffield 5th
  • 2002: Richie Sexson (19): 4th
  • 2001: Jason Giambi (19): 3rd
  • 2000: Chipper Jones (22): T-6th
And here's how the "hometown player" finished:
  • 2004: Lance Berkman, Minute Maid Park (2nd)
  • 2003: None, U.S. Cellular Field
  • 2002: Richie Sexson, Miller Park (4th)
  • 2001: Bret Boone, SAFECO Field (5th)
  • 2000: Chipper Jones, Turner Field (T-6th)
I guess I should gauge his performance somewhere in between Sexson and Chipper's results, which were fourth and sixth. And while it looks like Pudge will be the fan's favorite (and may have been picked because of it), he does have a lot of homers in his career -- the year he played in the Derby (2000) he hit 26 homers before the break.

I'll put him in the second round.

And if you want head-scratching homer history, the player with the most HR doesn't necessarily win. Let's see how the participant with the most homers pre-break did:
  • 2004: Jim Thome (28), 6th
  • 2003: Jim Edmonds, Carlos Delgado (28), Edmonds 4th, Delgado 6th
  • 2002: Lance Berkman (29), 8th
  • 2001: Barry Bonds (39), 4th
  • 2000: Ken Griffey (28), 2nd
So, in this year's Derby, this stat works against Andruw Jones.
David Ortiz: 10
Mark Teixeira: 8
Carlos Lee: 7
Pudge Rodriguez: 5
Jason Bay: 4
Bobby Abreu: 4
Andruw Jones: 3
Hee-Seop Choi: 1
Round 2 Prediction

David Ortiz has the hot bat at this point, but since because he did poorly in Houston, he doesn't realize a hot bat in the first round has spelled doom in the past four Derbies. None of the early leaders went on to win, and only one even made it to the finals:
  • 2004: Rafael Palmeiro (9 in Round 1, lost in Round 2)
  • 2003: Jason Giambi (12 in Round 1, lost in Round 2)
  • 2002: Sammy Sosa (12 in Round 1, advanced to finals)
  • 2001: Jason Giambi (14 in Round 1, lost in Round 2)
Ortiz cools down, and Pudge sentiment wears off.
Teixeira: 7
Lee: 6
Ortiz: 4
Pudge: 2
Finals Prediction

It's down to Teixeira and Lee, and while the ball carries better to left field, Lee, a righty, has history stacked up against him and Teixeira, a switch hitter but will probably hit left.

In the last 9 Derbies, only 2 of the winners have come from the right side of the plate: Sammy Sosa in 2000 and Miguel Tejada last year. So the fearless prediction from the Futon Report: Mark Teixeira by 2.
Teixeira: 6
Lee: 4

Saturday, July 09, 2005

« Phenom Greinke on pace for 20-loss season »

By Suss
Last year, sports writers were licking their chops at a young pitcher named Zach Greinke.

Said Rob Neyer in a June 4, 2004 column, "I don't know that we've ever seen a 20-year old pitcher quite like Greinke. ... This kid's the real thing, the best young Royals pitcher since Kevin Appier, and maybe a lot better than that."

“Greinke didn't just fall victim to the sophomore slump, he deserves to have it named after him.”
The reason Neyer, and many other sportswriters, loved Greinke was his range of velocity. He throws five pitches, including two different kinds of curveballs. His fastball can get up to about 93 mph, and one of his curveballs will dance over the plate at a lazy 63 mph. And he'll hit every speed in between.

His rookie season was about as commendable as you can get for a 20-year-old phenom -- 8-11, 3.97 ERA. But this year, Greinke didn't just fall victim to the sophomore slump, he deserves to have it named after him.

He's started 18 games. His team has only won three of them. And Greinke has only won one of those.

He's 1-11, and his ERA Atkinsed up to 6.20. Don't ask him about Rick Ankiel anytime soon.

But we can't write off a 21-year-old so early in his career.

Still, Greinke may become the first person to lose 20 games in a season since Mike Maroth lost 21 in 2003.

Maroth was only 25 when he endured a torrential season for the '03 Tigers. But in that same year, 20-year-old Jeremy Bonderman also lost 19 games his rookie season.

Look at Bonderman now: 11-5, 3.99 ERA. Some said he was a favorite to be the Tigers' representative in the All-Star game.

Greinke has nothing to fear. The losses will come because he's pitching for a Royals team that is dead last in runs scored.

The numbers probably wouldn't look so bad because the Royals are winning just 34 percent of their games. However they only win 17 of Royals games, and Greinke's win-loss percentage is half that.

But the personal numbers don't look too good.

In 50 fewer innings than last year, Greinke already has as many walks as he did last year (28) and has already given up three more earned runs yet has struck out 42 fewer batters. To his credit, however, he does have 2 complete games this year -- something he didn't do in '04.

And the kid's a stick. He stands at 6'2, yet according to his Player Card he only weighs 175 pounds. He obviously needs to put on a few (but not to the C.C.Sabathia extreme) before he looks -- and pitches -- like a 15-game winner.

EDIT: A couple syntax errors fixed, brought to my attention by keen reader RJ.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

« Teixeira in Derby, Ichiro may participate »

By Suss
Mark Teixeira has agreed to represent the U.S. in the Home Run Derby, scheduled for July 10.

“I still contend Ichiro has power and never uses it.”
The Texas first baseman born in Annapolis, Maryland has 22 homers on the season, and will represent a country loaded with heavy hitters, including Adam Dunn, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.

Meanwhile, the eighth country, most likely Japan, does not have a representative. Hideki Matsui did not make the team, and Ichiro is the only Japanese player participating in the festivities.

I still contend Ichiro, who averaged 16 homers a year in Japan, has power and never uses it. In all of the three baseball video games I have played, Ichiro has developed into the Mariners' cleanup hitter, hitting as many as 20 or 30 home runs in several seasons. But as a leadoff hitter, there's no way he should be shooting for the seats, especially when his current .308 average is well below his career average. (To be fair, he is 12 for his last 25). Also, he has more homers this season (6) than fellow participant Pudge Rodriguez (5).

« Shelton, Tigers AL Central's X-Factor »

By Suss
Tigers first baseman/designated hitter Chris Shelton is tearing up the big leagues.

In 33 complete games, he's hitting .343 with 5 homers and 22 RBI. While he had a late start, he is on pace to be a serious Rookie of the Year candidate.

Right now the favorites are Tad Iguchi (White Sox second baseman), Nick Swisher (A's outfielder), Robinson Cano (Yankees second baseman) and maybe Jeremy Reed (Mariners outfielder).

And in today's game against the D-Rays, Shelton hit a two-run homer. Today he's the third hitter, only because Pudge isn't in the lineup.

I don't think the team has what it takes to make the playoffs, but they'll make some waves this year with their offense alone, and probably disrupt the flow of any team with a winning streak who swaggers into Detroit.

« Piniella wants to start games with middle relief »

By Suss
Lou Piniella had a novel idea to try and turn things around in Tampa Bay.

After blowing a game in the 8th with his middle relief, he's decided to flip-flop the roles of his rotation and bullpen.

Essentially, Middle relief will start the games. Starters will come on in the third or fourth inning and work their way to Danys Baez, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

First off, don't experiment with a radical pitching lineup against the White Sox. (Or maybe you have nothing to lose?)

However, if your best pitchers are in the rotation, you want them pitching in the close and late innings.

Worth a shot, I guess.

If teams in the AL East aren't yet an attention whore, now they are. (Toronto, we're waiting on you.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

« All-Stars set: Jeter, Ensberg to watch on TV »

By Suss
View both rosters

The teams are set.

And after years of fans getting booed by "smart" fans for selecting undeserving players to the starting lineup, fans did pretty well this year.

For the most part, at least.


Derrek Lee finally beat out Albert Pujols, although they are both having monster seasons and some argue that the second half of last season should count -- which favors Pujols.

Jeff Kent was the best second baseman by far. Clint Barmes was the best shortstop, but his injury took him out of the running, leaving it wide open, and whether Cesar Izturis, David Eckstein or another (I thought Omar Vizquel made a compelling case) was voted, it would have been a good decision.

While Scott Rolen was injured, all of the other third baseman had equally strong numbers (Aramis Ramirez, Troy Glaus, David Wright, Joe Randa and Morgan Ensberg each had a good case). But Rolen, who missed 33 games with a shoulder injury, got the benefit of the doubt, plus they recognized him from the previous three All Star games. Probably another person was more deserving this year -- Ensberg was my personal choice -- but I also voted a few times for Ramirez (better average) and Glaus (favorite team). Ramirez, to his credit, was voted in as a reserve, but Ensberg did not make the team, despite his 22 homers.

The starting outfield does not include either the top two position leader in batting average (Miguel Cabrera, Moises Alou), top four in RBI (Carlos Lee, Pat Burrell, Andruw Jones, Cabrera) or home runs (Jones, Lee, Adam Dunn, Cliff Floyd). But Bobby Abreu deserves the spot, as does Jim Edmonds, if not for his spectacular fielding. But Carlos Beltran, who has really slumped, got it for name recognition. He was not voted into the Midsummer Classic last year, primarily for switching leagues (but he did make the team as a reserve). Abreu, Cabrera and Lee are my picks for outfield, although Jose Guillen deserved consideration as well.

Piazza got the catcher spot -- surprise -- but he probably deserved it at least this time around. He has more homers and RBI than any other catcher, but Paul Lo Duca, who leads NL catchers in average -- made it this year. My sentimental pick was Yady Molina because he's thrown out 65 percent (20 of 31) of attempted basestealers this year, a much better average than the man who's most known for doing it all his career, Pudge Rodriguez.


Jason Varitek as catcher? He leads his competition in average and homers. He's the captain of the defending World Series champions. His team's in first. The next best catcher -- Pudge -- is a reserve. What's left to argue? Next.

Mark Teixeira has the most menacing stats of any AL first baseman, which is amazing considering he's better this year than Richie Sexson, Paul Konerko, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Tino Martinez and Mike Sweeney.

Brian Roberts and Miggy Tejada were both too good to make anyone else start in the middle infield, and nobody could top Alex Rodriguez's numbers. Also, David Ortiz was the only legit candidate for DH (Travis Hafner got hot too late).

The outfield, again, is a little shaky, but only because so many good AL outfielders exist. The three elected -- Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and Vlad Guererro -- not only rank among the elite outfielders, but also coincidentally comprise a true left, center and right fielder. Garret Anderson, Ichiro and Hideki Matsui each could make arguments, and Gary Sheffield almost made it in the top three (bumped by Damon late in the voting), but overall the AL was right on the money.


The problem that kept Ensberg -- and many other deserving candidates -- off this list is the lopsidedness of outfielders on the list. But there were four teams -- Pirates, Diamondbacks, Giants and Brewers -- with one lone representative (Jason Bay, Luis Gonzalez, Moises Alou and Carlos Lee, respectively). Add Cabrera and Jones to the mix, and suddenly the team is more than 25 percent outfield. That will balance itself out as some of the OFers will DH. But Jose Guillen deserved to be on the team, not Alou. Cliff Floyd should be on the team, not Gonzalez. In fact, five players on pace to hit 35 homers are off the list (Floyd, Adam Dunn, Reggie Sanders, Guillen and Pat Burrell). It's probably a testament to how crowded the list is at the top, but somebody's gotta be off the list.

The infield reserves are missing Ensberg, but Ramirez is instead the reserve third baseman. Felipe Lopez is the lone Red at shortstop, only because Dunn couldn't be the tenth outfielder. Izturis joins him, which I can live with, but I'd rather see Vizquel. And Pujols is a first baseman, who will probably DH if not for the fact that there is no other first basemen, so Lee is playing the entire game.

I would have liked to see Chase Utley make the list, as his OPS is strangely .013 higher than Kent's despite 4 fewer home runs. Still, 11 is good for a second baseman. But I can't put Utley over Castillo, who gets on base over 43 percent of the time.


Pudge Rodriguez gets another All-Star appearance, and's Rob Neyer tags him as one of the five most undeserving All Star this year, but who else would you make the reserve catcher? Jorge Posada? He has more homers and RBI, but Pudge has a better average and is a better fielder. Plus they needed a Tiger, and it's going to be played in Detroit.

No one first baseman outside Teixeira is having a remarkable year. They either have great power numbers or a great average, but not both. Having said that, the Royals needed to send someone people have heard of, and Mike Sweeney is the benefactor. Sorry, Emil Brown fans.

Michael Young is having another great year, and I barely noticed. Then again, when you hit .269 in April, .310 in May and .389 in June, you'll sneak up on people. Add that to Tejada's monster year, and of course Young will be forgotten. Thankfully he made it, upon a closer look at his current numbers.


Good picks all around.

Chris Carpenter. Roger Clemens. Livan Hernandez. Dontrelle Willis. Any of these four could s tart the game.

Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are both familiar to the game.

The first place Padres sent their best pitcher, Jake Peavy, as the only representative.

The Rockies sent their most consistent pitcher, Brian Fuentes. I've written about this guy, and a left-handed reliever is always handy, especially if he can close out games in Coors Field with a 3.00 ERA.

And finally, the lights out closing done by Chad Cordero, Jason Isringhausen and Brad Lidge will scare the AL.


While no White Sox were named as starters or picked by the players or managers, their top two pitchers -- Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland -- got their dues with All Star selections. Kenny Rogers, the subject of a mind-boggling incident involving shoving two cameramen, was voted by the players for his merits on the field, and Roy Halladay has been here before as well. Also, it's hard to believe Johan Santana has never been here before, but he will finally be on an All Star team.

The closers have a lot of new faces. While Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera and Bob Wickman have been around, Danys Baez, Justin Duchscherer and B.J. Ryan are all experiencing this for the first time. Baez and Duchscherer (pronounced "DUKE-sher," for some reason) are the lone reps from the D-Rays and A's, respectively.


Tuesday's voting closed for the 32 player, with Scott Podsednik of the American League and Roy Oswalt of the National League.

With Scotty Pods making the team, that means Derek Jeter won't be on the All Star team twice in the past three years. He's a six-time All Star, but Podsednik has never been there and people love base stealers (he has 41 so far).

Podsednik also beat out Hideki Matsui, Torii Hunter and Carl Crawford. My guess is that Matsui and Jeter, teammates, split the Yankee nation vote because Jeter is the fan favorite but Matsui has the numbers. Meanwhile, the rest of the nation stuffed the box with Podsednik. (I must have voted 50 times for him online).

And in the National League, pitchers were voted on for the first time. Roy Oswalt was the only logical choice for this spot, and he won it. Trevor Hoffman, perennial All Star, came in second, followed by Brandon Webb, Billy Wagner and Brett Myers.

Most All Star selections on current teams:
C Pudge Rodriguez: 12
C Mike Piazza: 12
P Roger Clemens: 11
OF Gary Sheffield: 9
P Mariano Rivera: 7
P Pedro Martinez: 7
P John Smoltz: 7

First timers:
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Brian Roberts
P Jon Garland
P Johan Santana
P Danys Baez
P Justin Duchscherer
P B.J. Ryan
1B Derrek Lee
SS David Eckstein
P Chris Carpenter
P Jake Peavy
P Chad Cordero
P Brian Fuentes
P Brad Lidge
3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Cesar Izturis
SS Felipe Lopez
OF Jason Bay
OF Carlos Lee

« International HR Derby? ¡Impresionante! »

By Suss
The Home Run Derby is looking a little different this year.

In recent memory, the Derby has featured eight heavy hitters -- four from each league. The change this year is that instead of the players being selected by division, there will be a one-player-per-country limit.

The idea is to celebrate international participation in the majors and also to get people ready for 2006's "World Cup" of baseball, the World Baseball Classic, in which 16 teams from Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas will participate in their own version of "March Madness."


United States: There has yet to be an announcement for the US player, but there are obviously many good choices. Derrek Lee, with 25 homers, is a good start. But you couldn't go wrong with Morgan Ensberg (22), Adam Dunn (22), Mark Teixiera (22), Cliff Floyd (21), Alex Rodriguez (21) or Ken Griffey (501 career).

Puerto Rico: Pudge Rodriguez has said he will participate. He's not a typical home run hitter, since his only 30-plus homer season came in 1999, and he only has 5 this year. Plus, he'll be teeing off in his home field of Comerica Park. He might have a chance to make it in the top four. The last player not to make the second round that played in a home field Derby was Bret Boone in 2001 at Safeco Field.

Other viable candidates would have been a pair of Carloses. Delgado and Beltran both have good power, but again it's difficult to say no to the home favorite.

Venezuela: Bobby Abreu has agreed to participate. Miguel Cabrera would have also been a slick pick.

Curacao: Andruw Jones, who leads the league with 26 homers, will represent this Netherlands protectorate. And since he's the only major league player from Curacao, it's no contest.

Canada: Jason Bay seems slated to be the Derby's Canuck, but if you wanted to go with the nostalgic pick, why not Larry Walker? He's Derbied before a few times.

Dominican Republic: David Ortiz will represent the DR, and he has the support of last year's Derby champ and fellow DR native Miguel Tejada. Said Tejada of Ortiz on, "He is our home run king in the Dominican." Even if Ortiz nor Tejada were to be hitting them out for the DR, they would still be a favorite to win if Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerrero or Sammy Sosa (to name a few) played. Pujols finished 2nd in the 2003 Derby.

Panama: Carlos Lee, with 22 homers, has agreed to participate.

Japan: If a Japan person plays, it would probably be Hideki Matsui, because while he's not so much a power hitter here, he was in Japan, and he's no slouch when it comes to a batting practice pitch. But what about Ichiro? He is more known for base knocks to all fields, and he has only 6 homers this season and 43 in five seasons. Still, he probably does have the power to knock it out of the park and is just too smart to swing for the fences too much in a game setting.

While these are the eight countries to participate, here's a couple others that merit consideration:

Cuba: How many more times would we get to see Rafael Palmeiro (12 this season, 563 for his career)? He is sorely underrated as a Hall of Fame candidate, and in the twilight of his career it would be so rewarding to see him outhit one of today's power hitters.

Mexico: Maybe this is a stretch, but Jorge Cantu has a career high 13 homers and is a very underrated infielder. Heck, his slugging percentage is almost as good as fellow second baseman Jeff Kent's, and he's not a prototypical power hitter, so why not take the Derby and see what a young infielder does against the Ortizes and Abreus of the league?

Personal predictions will come the afternoon of the Derby. Heh, I say that now. Place your bets on if I keep my promise.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

« Cordero saves No. 30, is 60 in reach? »

By Suss
With yet another one-run victory after a 3-2 triumph over the Mets, Washington improves to 22-7 in one-run games, barely just better than the White Sox in such games.

Also, surprise shutdown closer Chad Cordero saved his 30th game. The record for saves in a season is Bobby Thigpen, who came into close games and let his White Sox win 57 times in 1990.

According to, Cordero is projected to save 57 games this season. But according to the season, he's on pace to save over 60 games.

Will he?

Last year's hot closer was Mariano Rivera. But look at his numbers before and after the All-Star break:
Before All-Star: 0-0, 0.99 ERA, 32/33 sv, .207 opp. avg.
After All-Star: 4-2, 3.24 ERA, 21/24 sv, .248 opp. avg.
He finished with 53 saves. So does Cordero have a chance for even 57?

Probably not. But I'm rooting for the guy. He's the closer for America's sweetheart team, the Nationals. And he's only 23, so he'll have plenty of chances to rack up more saves.

I'll project him to finish with 51.