Baseball chatter…

It’s time for another baseball post!

Pronk vs Papi update

You may remember that, waaay back at the beginning of the year, some sports pundit had the audacity to say that Cleveland’s Travis Hafner may be a better hitter than Boston’s David Ortiz. So I compared the two…and well…maybe the dude was right.

How are they doing now?

David Ortiz: .283 BA, 73 runs, 34 HRs, 95 RBIs, .389 OBP, 1.001 OPS

Travis Hafner: .310 BA, 72 runs, 29 HRs, 83 RBIs, .440 OBP, 1.082 OPS

I call it…a tossup! Hafner gets on base more, Ortiz has a little more power.

Is Kansas City the American Siberia?

It’s pretty obvious that the Kansas City Royals have some fundamental problems. They’ve had only one winning season in the past eleven years. You could blame the fact that they play in a small market and can’t afford to keep their talent – only if you look back at the last eleven years, they haven’t developed many quality players.

Since 1995, the Royals have produced Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran, Raul Ibanez, Mike Sweeny, and Joe Randa – that’s it. A couple of fantastic players. But the best pitcher the organization produced during that time was Jeff Suppan, with 94 career wins and a whopping 4.66 ERA.

Compare the Royals to, say, the Minnesota Twins. Check out the lineup you could assemble just from players developed since 1995: C Joe Mauer (with AJ Pierzynski as backup), 1B Justin Morneau, 2B Todd Walker, SS Christian Guzman, 3B Casey Blake/Corey Koskie, LF Matt Lawton, CF Torii Hunter, RF Jaque Jones, DH David Ortiz, SPs Franciso Liriano, Johann Santana, Brad Radke, Mark Redman, and Carlos Silva, RPs Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, JC Romero, Juan Rincon, and Jesse Crain. (And I left out Damian Miller, Doug Mientkiewicz, Mike Cuddyer, and Lew Ford.)

That’s a pretty good team, maybe a little weak up the middle, but you get my point. The Royals don’t know what they’re doing. I suspect if you gave them a cr*pload of money, you’d have the Baltimore Orioles, not the Yankees or Red Sox.

The latest news concerning the Royals is that they basically traded Elmer Dessens for Odalis Perez.

The real story isn’t the trade itself – a middling reliever, prospects, and cash for an erratic, if sometimes brilliant starter – it’s the news behind the trade. You see, Odalis recently caused a ruckus in the Dodger clubhouse, getting bent out of shape for his demotion to the bullpen. (Apparently he doesn’t realize his 6.83 ERA really, really s*cks.) He’s only appeared in games five times since June 28, a very lousy rate for a major-league relief pitcher. Basically he was taking up bullpen space because the Dodgers didn’t want him, but they didn’t want to eat his contract.

Thus, the deal. Let’s face it: the Royals were doing the Dodgers a favor. They take on a chunk of Perez’ salary and get cash and a couple of arms…that’s it. It doesn’t improve their team much, it just gets LA out of a jam. And it tacitly punishes a trouble-maker, by sending him into exile. To Kansas City.

I think the Royals should embrace being the Siberia of MLB. They’re not winning anything any time soon. Why not take on all of MLB’s troublemakers? Just get cash and prospects to sweeten the pot. Kansas City fans might like it, too. Imagine going to see a game with Barry Bonds, Odalis Perez, Shea Hillenbrand, and Carl Everett. You’d never know when a fight will break out in the dugout! You watch guys walk out ground balls, let popups drop, steal third base on their own – it’d be a glorious disaster!

Whither Soriano?

It’s trade deadline time, that means gossip! The biggest rumor circulating is that the White Sox are interested in picking up Alfonso Soriano. They’d have to part with mega-pitching talent Brandon McCarthy.

I smell panic. Adding bats is not the solution.

Last year they won based on a consistent and deep starting rotation. Buehrle, Garcia, Contreras, and Garland each won at least 14 and had ERAs of under 4.00. Not so this year, ERAs are up. Buehrle (4.53), Garland (4.78), and Garcia (4.86) are each up more than a full run. That’s not especially surprising: these marks are closer to each pitcher’s career average. After all, last year we were all waiting for Garland to collapse, but he never did. Apparently he was waiting for this year to revert to his usual numbers.

That’s the long way of saying that pitching is the problem, not hitting. This year, only Jose Contreras (9-3, 3.52 ERA) is having a decent year. But the offense is clicking. Paul Konerko (.298, 25 HRs) and Jermaine Dye (.316, 25 HRs) are en fuego, led by newly acquired Jim Thome who’s second in the AL in HRs (33), third in RBIs (82) and OPS (1.037).

Soriano’s more valuable as a second baseman, and the Sox already have Iguchi there. That means playing left field – which would allow rookie bust, Brian Anderson, to grab some pine. But if pushing Anderson off the field is the goal, there are cheaper alternatives available. Boston’s Trot Nixon, Chicago’s Jaques Jones, Pittsburgh’s Jeromy Burnitz or Craig Wilson, just to name a few. They could probably be had for a couple of borderline prospects and cash.

The point here is that Brandon McCarthy will fix a gaping hole in Chicago’s lineup now. Why trade him away for a player that doesn’t fit?

Say it ain’t so, Barry

Barry Bonds is under investigation by a grand jury for perjury.

Most baseball pundits are saying they’re “bored” of the coverage, or tired of it. Perhaps they’re mistaking the fans’ silence for disinterest and are following suit. I don’t know about you all, but I’m following this thing closely. Barry Bonds, indicted? Are you kidding me? Who says that’s not news?

What’s at stake here isn’t a single player and some lies. If Bonds is indicted and convicted, the whole steroids scandal could bust wide open, and heads could roll, household names, star players. And Bud Selig’s.

If anybody should be held accountable for this steroids mess, it’s Selig. He’s been a zero commissioner since day one. The financial structure of the game is a shambles – thanks in large part to Selig’s overzealous protection of small market teams. And steroids has been an open secret in the game for years. Don’t tell me Selig didn’t know about it, but I imagine he was more interested in salvaging sales after the ’95 strike than in protecting the sport’s integrity.

So, yeah, I’m watching the Bonds’ news closely.

The Glass House Gang update

You may remember from a previous post that my fantasy baseball team carries a number of oft-injured players – Ken Griffey, Austin Kearns, Scott Rolen, and JD Drew – of whom I wrote, “Am I nuts? I’ve got four guys who have next to no chance of getting 400 ABs!”

Oddly enough, none of them have been injured since. (*knocks on wood*)

Last I wrote, my team was in 7th. Since then, things have changed dramatically. For starters, I’m in first place by a 4½ game lead, thanks to awesome pitching performances.

Unlike my hitters, where I prefer older, more predictable veterans, I prefer younger pitchers. Not rookies, but guys in their second or third years. And they have to have high strikeout ratios. My staff? Johann Santana (12-5, 3.04 ERA, 158 Ks), Carlos Zambrano (11-3, 3.27 ERA, 147 Ks), CC Sabathia (7-6, 3.73 ERA, 92 Ks in 101 IP), Justin Verlander (12-4, 2.77 ERA, 80 Ks), and Chris Young (8-4, 3.64 ERA, 111 Ks). Oh, and I drafted Jonathan Papelbon, too, thinking he’d make a nice starter this year, only Boston made him a closer and he’s simply put up eye-popping numbers ever since: 29 saves, 0.53 ERA, and 52 Ks in 51 IP.

Needless to say, I’m first in Ks, ERA, and WHIP.

  1. Mark Tokarski

    As you are a baseball fan, I see now you are pure of heart. Go in peace.

    Us Reds fans are hoping KC will take Joe Mays back. He could be DFA today. Since you have Austin Kearns on your fantasy team, I’m wondering what you might think of the deal that sent him and Lopez and Ryan Wagner to DC for Bray and Majewski and Clayton and a couple of minor leaguers. Since the Reds are 8/11 since, 9/29 before, seems to me to have done some good.

  2. I think the deal stunk. Trade talks around Kearns have been swirling for years. And all they could get for him and one of the best-hitting shortstops is a couple of relievers and a 5th rate SS?

    However, pitching is so scarce, that might have been the appropriate price tag. On the other hand…man! That trade sucked! Couldn’t they have gotten something a little better?

  3. Mark Tokarski

    Seems you’re right. But at the heart of it is Kearns for Bray. All else is peripheral, IMO. Bray is 23, a hard thrower who may develop into either a closer or starter. He’s also a rookie.

    I think the Reds gave up on Lopez, as his defense was so poor, and he seemed at times a head case, making his errors in game-costing situations. But I will miss his bat.

  4. Good points. Of course, a lot of deals depend on seeing how things go down the road. I suspect we’ll forget all about this trade in a couple of years when all parties involved are selling washing machines at Sears…

  5. Lime D. Zeze

    Uhhh…I hate to pick nits, but Raul Ibanez came up with (ie. was “produced” by) the Mariners, not the Royals. Now, if you’re saying he didn’t have a good season until he went to the Royals, that would be true, but when you say the Royals produced him, that to me means they drafted him or acquired him as a prospect and brought him to the big leagues.

  6. Well, I counted anybody who first debuted with the team. But you’re right about Ibanez. He did play with the Ms first, didn’t he?

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