- Jason Bay is actually a good player. Read my latest post at Fire Brand…if you dare!
- Joe Mauer is experiencing lower back problems. Simply put, not good. If Mauer misses a significant amount of time, it could very well be the difference between the division. Sort of like what was going to happen with ARod, except this is probably 80-88 wins, rather than 90-97. Just imagine that Twins lineup with no Mauer. Just, Justin Morneau. Yea. Not scary at all.
- Speaking of that ARod surgery. I was an advocate for the possibility that Rodriguez should postpone surgery. But they found a way for him to miss time and most likely getting through the season without the pain that he would have encountered. This isn’t a bad route, as it is much easier to find a replacement for two months rather than 4.
- Fangraphs touched up on the overabundance of bunting in the WBC. I posted a comment in reference to that. But my feeling was that –as the US players especially– are still timing the baseball, then “waiting around for the three run homer” may not be as relevant as it normally is during the regular season when everyone is ready to swing the bat. My response was that “it may not be logical, but that it is probably “less illogical.” Interested in any thoughts that you all have. And if you love the bunt, then my guess is that you will love it even more in this scenario.
- If anyone is interested, my three favorite sites for analysis are: Fangraphs, Baseball Analysts, and ESPN (Law 1st, and a little Rob Neyer). My go to stat resources are: BP (the current frontrunner), Baseball Reference, and Fangraphs (has everything except a cumulative stat that I have a grasp for). The Hardball Times is right there, too.
- Speaking of ESPN, the current poll question is entitled, “Would you want your current team to sign Pedro Martinez after his WBC performance.” That performance of course was good. Pedro would be a solid addition if he wasn’t penciled into the rotation, if he was simply used as depth. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if he stuck around in the NL too. And of course no more than a one year deal. A team desperate for starting options, or a team wanting to add depth would be most logical. But penciling in Pedro for 60-100 inning is needed (and definitley no more), so they would need to have another starter to replace those remaining 100+ or so innings from that spot in the rotation. Having Pedro shoot for a June or July beginning might even be best scenario, if the team has some real depth.
No, I haven’t forgotten about my top five lists. This is actually my favorite part of blogging. And I still have two positions remaining after this: RF and C. And then of course I will come up with some kind of list with the top starters, maybe even the top five relievers after that–although I may stay away from relievers because it will be so difficult to do. Other than my Kevin Youkilis tragedy, I feel that I am doing pretty well with my lIsts, and the number five spot always seems to be the most debated.
On to the list…
- Manny Ramirez: I guess until Manny proves us that he cannot play great, then we must assume that he is great. Manny was a good hitter with the Red Sox IN 2008, but was having a year in which everyone realized that this wasn’t 2004 Manny anymore. Manny posted an OPS+ of 136, which is good, but was the second worst that he posted since 1994–when he played only 91 games at age 22. Ramirez was clearly having trouble with the harder pitching in the game, and then of course the fiasco that followed…Then out of nowhere, whether it was the weaker NL pitching, or another level of being motivated, Manny absolutely killed the ball for a few months. Posted an OPS+ of 219, and it rivaled some of the greatest stretches that I have ever seen as a fan. A .396 average over those 53 games. An incredible .743 slugging percentage. An unheard of 32% of his balls in play were line drives. 32%!!! Over the past 4 seasons, plus his 100 games with the Red Sox, the closest Manny has come to that is 24%. And we are talking about one of the greatest hitters to ever step into the box. Granted, it was a fairly small sample size, as 53 games isn’t 153 games. But it is still pretty remarkable.
- Matt Holiday: It truly is difficult for me to post what I think is such a question mark this high. After all, Holliday isn’t great away from Coors, although his splits have been becoming a bit more comparable, a bit less deceiving, it seems. As far as I have heard and researched, Holliday is a better baserunner than the next guy, and a better defender, which is really what separates him. And both Holliday and the next player will be making difficult transitions to the American League this season, meaning we will really be seeing what kind of players they are.
- Jason Bay: I know Jay Bay sucked in 2007. But in both 2006 and 2008 he was a very good player, maybe not a great player, but very good. Bay has a weak arm and doesn’t exactly play defense all that well. But Bay is a great hitter and has been for a while now. Bay has posted OPS+’s of 132 or greater in 4 of his five years in which he has earned enough playing time to matter. It is funny that some seem to be down on Bay. Pecota doesn’t love him this season, but still thinks he will be a pretty good player. And after seeing what Manny did with the Dodgers, and what Manny has done over his career, Red Sox fans seem to be weary of Jason Bay. Understand that he is NOT Manny. And he will probably hit between .270-.280. But Bay will slug .500 and get on base well above the league average. He isn’t Manny, but it could be much worse, definitely.
- Ryan Braun: Braun could move up after this season, but I cannot go any higher than this yet. And the players he would be passing aren’t exactly finished playing well. Braun is a very good hitter. His 2007 season was incredible in only 113 games, and Braun wasn’t quite as good in 2008. But the guy can swing the stick, posting OPS+’s of 153 and 128 in what is a very young career. I chose him over the next few guys (that ones that could fill slot number 5) because his flaws seem to be less detrimental to a team.
- Adam Dunn: The fifth spot is up for grabs. All Dunn can do well is hit, and hit he does. Gets on base a ton, and hits for lots of power. A simple description, I know. Dunn also hits very consistently, as everyone makes us aware of. But move any of the following names into this spot and I have no problem.
The “stuff your sorry’s in a sack, Mr.” section: Carl Crawford: Hit more. Pat Burrell: You could have been fifth I guess. Carlos Quentin: Continue to play well and you will take away the fifth spot. Alfonso Soriano: Could have been fifth too, I guess.
That fifth spot is not exactly set in stone. None of them are though, I guess. So place whichever player you wish in that last spot, as long as it isn’t too ridiculous.
This is not originally my thought, but I agree.
I am not exactly an advocate for giving props to someone for having the most resources, and ultimately succeeding. But although I think that Brian Cashman is far from the best GM in baseball, I also think that sometimes he has received too much blame in the past when no other General Manager had a Steinbrenner breathing down his neck.
This offseason has resulted in the Yankees acquiring three Type-A free agents, creating a loss of three draft picks. Giving these players more money than anyone else would give them? Not exactly a praise-worthy strategy. However, acquiring all three in the same season, meaning that the Yankees surrender a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick, well, if that was planned (as I believe it was) then it actually was a good decision by Cashman.
Rather than sign one high-profile player each season for the next three years, in turn, losing a first round pick each year, Cashman chose to make his moves in the same free agent market, and the positive aspect of that, was losing fewer first round picks. Now, this is better than signing them in different seasons, but comparing this to not signing them at all is a different story. If one feels that Cashman should have avoided signing any of these particular free agents, then so be it, but I am simply giving Cashman credit for doing it all in the same year, and not in seperate years.
Next years free agent class, or so I’ve heard, is going to be very limited, at least in relation to the current one. So that is another reason Cashman is making these moves, now, rather than later. That and the “expecting” by Yankees fans and the little Steinbrenner sons that the Yankees must win right now. I would imagine that the Yanks will make a run at Matt Holliday next season, or even Jason Bay if the Red Sox do not extend Bay’s contract beforehand. But other than that, the Yankees will not come close to spending the amount of money that they have spent for the three free agents that they just brought to the Bronx.
So even though Cashman is in the best position to succeed, it isn’t as though he is a clueless General Manager.
Baseball Analysts originally brought this to my attention, and it caught me by surprise, and “surprise” may be an understatement. Brian Giles has enjoyed a very rewarding career, numbers wise, and I am sure he can’t complain about his finances either. Giles’ case is the exact reason I rely on numbers, rather than a reliance on media created markets, and the same reason why I try and do my own thinking, and not place too much emphasis on what ESPN tells me to think.
See, Brian Giles has basically played on two teams throughout his career, aside from a brief two year stint with the Cleveland Indians. The two teams that Giles has spent a combined ten years on, are the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Diego Padres. Now tell me, who outside of those two cities actually watches the two teams play on a regular basis? I sure don’t, in fact, even if I do choose to watch a few National League teams play, I can sure find some teams that are more exciting to watch than them. They don’t win, or haven’t been consistent winners, other than some decent years by the Padres in which they seemed to be the worst team to make the playoffs when they did. The Pirates even more so, they just don’t win, and have not experienced winning in some time now.
But back to Giles; the RF has put up some pretty stunning numbers for a player that gets little attention. Have many ever referred to Giles as a great player? An OPS+ of 139 in 14 seasons suggests that he might very well have been. Giles has batted .294 over the duration of his career, reached base at a clip of .404, and slugged a very good .511. Giles is a corner OF, so his expectations at the plate are slightly more demanding than most other positions. But he has gone above and beyond that. Giles hit 35+ home runs in four straight full seasons before splitting time between San Diego and Pittsburgh in 2003. After that, Giles never even came close to hitting 30 home runs again, most likely because Petco was the park that he played in, and partially I am sure because was no longer in his “prime.”
The “counting stats” are not there, and that has something to do with Petco, definitely. But even if Giles played in a neutral park, he probably would still fall short of the numbers a player “requires” to be inducted into Cooperstown. 300 home runs are not going to grab anyone’s attention 6+ seasons from now, but an OPS+ over 135 might, if the voters actually looked at it. That .404 OBP might, if they focused on it a little more. I am not suggesting that Giles is a Hall of Famer, necessarily, simply pointing out that his case is much stronger than most would probably think of it to be. “Under the radar” is what Pittsburgh does to a player, just ask Jason Bay who has gone from underrated, to possibly being overrated after 2009 is spent in Boston (Bay is a very good player, but a few walk-offs in Boston may have him closer to the Pujols category in the minds of some fans).
So this is why I rely on the numbers. Must I say it again? I don’t watch Brian Giles enough, and almost definitely never will watch him enough in the future either. He has gone somewhat unnoticed in two small markets, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he is off of the Hall of Fame ballot after a single year. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t worthy of at least sticking around a few years, or more…