Baseball chatter…

Pronk vs. Papi You may remember a little while ago I found a magazine that said Travis Hafner of the Indians is actually a better hitter than my beloved Boston DH, David Ortiz. I got bent out of shape, and then I compared the numbers. But it was early.

It’s not all that early now. How do they compare?

Ortiz: 24 Rs – 12 HRs – 31 RBIs – 22 BBs – .267 BA

Hafner: 35 Rs – 11 HRs – 32 RBIs – 27 BBs – .318 BA

Nice argument to be having, eh? Especially when either guy is on your team. Well…I admit…Pronk’s got the better numbers. Especially that gaudy on-base percentage — .436. Ortiz’ is a “mere” .371. Still, Ortiz is slumping of late. We’ll see one he heats up how the two stack up in mid-July.

Mutter, mutter.

Whither the Cubs?

What’s up with Chicago’s free fall? Yes, the team took a big hit when slugger Derrek Lee went down with a fractured wrist in mid-April. But since then, the team is 6 -15. That’s atrocious and far beyond the impact of a single hitter.

The trendy — and hopeful — pick among pundits this year was Chicago. The stars are aligned, they’re the only team left to shuck off a near century of bad luck after Boston and the Chicago Americans ended their championship droughts. And it was a good pick, too. Lee and Aramis Ramirez are excellent middle-of-the-order hitters, Jaque Jones, Juan Pierre, and Matt Murton a capable outfield. Greg Maddux is having a career year. Carlos Zambrano was a pre-season fave for the Cy Young. The Cubs have a strong bullpen…

But the Cubbies’ recent slide hints at a deeper flaw that Lee’s absence revealed: The Cubs stink. Beyond Ramirez and Lee, they just don’t have many guys who can reach base. Beyond Zambrano and Maddux, they don’t have decent, healthy starting pitching — there’s Glendon Rusch (7.89 ERA), Sean Marshall (4.93 ERA), Angel Guzman (7.00 ERA), Rich Hill (9.00 ERA), and Jerome Williams (7.30 ERA).

There’s also bad luck and poor managing. Valuable contributors aren’t hitting: Pierre’s mired at .238 and Ramirez at .217. Zambrano has been inconsistent despite his 3.87 ERA. And manager Dusty Baker won’t play Todd Walker full time despite his .294 average and .363 on-base percentage.

Luck will swing their way again, and when Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and Derrek Lee return, they will win more ballgames. But even as a full squad the Cubs don’t have a very deep or consistent team. This year they’ll be lucky to win 80.

Fantasyland

I read it. It’s a fantastic book. If you play Rotisserie ball or if you’re a fan of the game, it’s a must read. I feel like I should devote an entire post to this book and “Moneyball” and talk about the metaphysical ramifications of the urge to quantify human behavior.

My fantasy squad: the Glass House Gang

For some reason, I had the genius idea to draft three of MLB’s most fragile players: Scott Rolen, JD Drew, and Austin Kearns, who played 93 games last year — combined — and who all have a history of injury.

Why?

Because they were a steal!

I picked up Rolen in the sixth round, the 81st player picked (it’s a 14-team league). Drew went in the tenth, the 126th overall, and Kearns in the 21st and dead last round, the 284th player selected. As a group, the three are performing at a fantastic rate. Rolen: .300 BA, 3 HRs, 13 RBIs, 14 Rs, 2 SBs. Drew: .287, 7 HRs, 25 RBIs, 19 Rs, 2 SBs. Kearns: .324 BA, 7 HRs, 25 RBIs, 25 Rs, 2 SBs. (Admittedly Rolen already missed some playing time, but that was because of bronchitis, not an injury.)

If those guys weren’t enough, I snapped up Nomar Garciaparra (.352 BA, but averaging 47 games a year over the last three years) off the waiver wire — his previous owner dumped him when he hurt his ribs swinging the bat in a preseason game.

Then I turned around and traded Garciaparra for Ken Griffey Jr (3 HRs in 10 games; averaged 69 games played a year since 2002), who promptly smacked a game-winning 3-run moon shot his first game back after a mysterious knee ailment.

Am I nuts? I’ve got four guys who have next to no chance of getting 400 ABs!

But…they all look good! No one’s limping! No one’s complaining! No one’s appeared to have slowed down!

Here’s the deal: I actually like gimpy guys with high production value when they’re healthy. When they’re in, they play great. And when they’re out, it gives me a roster spot with which I can gamble on a rookie, a streak hitter, a phenom pitcher. I’m in a head-to-head league, so if I need a boost in a particular stat — say stolen bases — I’ve got that roster spot to pick up a guy like Dave Roberts (4 SBs last week) whose age and streakiness keep him on our waiver wire. Rolen, Drew, Kearns, Garciaparra, and Griffey don’t cost much either, so it’s not a huge risk.

Except… …if they all land on the DL at the same time. Then I’m screwed. And considering I have four of these guys on my roster…it’s pretty much inevitable.

By the way, my team is in 7th. Not a great place, but there are five or six teams all within a game of each other. Considering Richie Sexson is hitting like &^&*(!, I feel like I’m doing okay. The top six teams make the playoffs; after that, it’s a new season. Who knows what will happen by September? I’ve just got to keep it close.


  1. Easy answer about the Cubbies’ slide. They have been playing the Padres.

    Excuse me for being overly exuberant here. :)

  2. turner

    Really, you’re a fantasy baseballer? How about looking into Scoresheet Baseball next season? It’s a simulation league in which a computer plays games each week for you against others in the league based on the real-world stats for players that week.

    I didn’t know any Montana lefties did this besides me. It would be nice to have an in-person all-Montana draft instead of drafting on the net. But we’d need 10 owners.

  3. Yeah, I’ve heard about the simulation game. I’m interested! I believe there are at least two other blogger-baseball fans hanging out in the MT blogosphere. ID’s Pogie is a ‘pads fan…

    Tell you what: Remind me about this next…say…February. I’ll post up and see if we can’t get a Missoula fantasy bball league goin’.

  4. Turner

    Sure, I’d drive the 2 and a half hours to Missoula for a live draft. What’s really fun, the way we did it in Alaska, was to have a money draft where you start with a certain amount of fake money and bid against other owners for players. It’s cut-throat fun and works best with start-up leagues. Then you let Scoresheet run the games.

    Check out scoresheet.com, the baseball section. They’re pushing fantasy football now, something I’m not into.

  1. 1 Links… « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Singer’s post title pretty much sums it up. “Conrad Burns: Dumb or Racist? Take Your Pick.” The answer, of course, is “both.” A smart racist keeps his yap shut. A dumb “non-racist” blathers about, oh, his fantasy baseball team. […]




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