Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monumental Collapses, Rizzo Vs. D-Cab and Big Debuts

- On Memorial Day, Major League Baseball teams donned Red flag-adorned caps. It also featured the Rays losing a game in which they once had a 10-0 lead. It also, though it can be argued against, featured the smallest strikezone in MLB History. With 2 outs in the 9th, the Indians scored 7 runs and Rays relievers basically had to pitch down the middle to get strike called.

Don't believe me? Email me @ to get a screenshot of the strikezone.

- Mike Rizzo must be preparing for Stephen Strasburg(Steven Strausberg, for Natinals fans) and a possible grievance from the MLBPA. When asked why he decided to cut bait on Daniel "Wild Thing" Cabrera, Rizzo was quoted in saying "I got tired of watching him." Wow, that's brutally honest. Nothing new, seeing as he once took a swipe at Steve Shell before after cutting the reliever.

- Matt Wieters, David Price and Fernando Martinez will make their season debuts this week. Wieters, the top prospect in all of baseball, will be featured prominently in an interesting line-up that features Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold.

David Price was erratic in his first start, but how much of his ineffeciency can be blamed on the postage stamp of a strike zone that Angel Hernandez was using against the Rays? For those not watching the game, Price featured a 99 mph fastball and a slider that dipped as low as 75 mph. I could be wrong, but a 24 mph difference between mph readings will make Price very intimidating.

Wieters and Price, baseball fans know easily. However, Fernando Martinez should be on radars as well. F-Mart has been playing in the minors since the age of 16 and Ryan Church may get Wally Pipp'D if Fernando continues to hit like he did in AAA.

In lesser-known prospects getting calls, Jake Fox and David Hernandez are both receiving shots at sticking in the majors. Cubs INF Jake Fox had a 1.600 OPS in AAA and Bobby Scales' Cinderella Story was the only thing keeping Jake down. Daniel, on the other hand, is the first in a long line of Baltimore pitching prospects getting calls. He's more of a finesse type, so he's gonna see his fair share of tough outings early on.

Monday, May 18, 2009

High-and-Tight, Steve Phillips and Pat Burrell is a lady-killer

-Apparently the most-likely candidate to get nailed by a pitch on a consistent basis is not Carlos Quentin(who, during his minor league career had a season in which he got nailed by a pitch over 40 times!) but Ian Kinsler. Kinsler must wink at pitchers before at-bats because he's seen fastballs whiz behind him as of late. Bobby Jenks throw a purprose, non-purpose pitch which costed Jenksy 750 dollars that had to have made a huge dent in his McDonalds/Dunkin' Donuts/Blonde Hair Dye budget. Then, a day after he launched 2 HRs of Angels pitchers, he single-handedly took John Lackey out of the game within 2 pitches.

Stop winking, Ian!

-According to Rays Index, Pat Burrell went to stark nakedness to fully-dressed and on the field for the Rays-Indians bench-clearing melee...within 20 seconds. RI has pictures to prove this.

My question is, what kind of past deviousness has PtB done to have him learn to become fully dressed within a split-second? Pat the Bait stories come to my mind right now, tsk tsk young man.

-Steve Phillips hasn't ever been a favorite of mine on any baseball-related program on ESPN. His only successful claim to fame was being the guy who announced that the Mets will select David Wright in the Amateur Draft. He(of the "Let's Give Month Vaughn a Brinks Truck Full of Cash" Fame) along with his successor(Dan Duquette), are the reason why Omar Minaya still has a job with the Mets even after consecutive late-season chokes in the previous seasons that kept the Mets out of the playoffs.

Well, his stupidity has reached another level according to fans. He's made it to the Joe Morgan level of "Did he just say that?"-ness.

Let me unveil to you...(And just now discovered) Fire Steve Phillips dot com!

The commentary on chat wraps alone is worth the visit, unless you don't want to read recycled sentences by Steve, hear some foreshadowing, or read about his love/hate relationship with the Florida Marlins.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wild, Wacky Shtuff...

Been awhile since I've posted here, my apologies to the readers. However, today is a great day to post.

-Note to Joe Maddon, No wine before baseball games.

Today, Joe got caught up in a line-up card snafu today. He accidentally listed 2 3rd basemen on the card, when it was apparent he meant normal 3B Evan Longoria was going to DH and Ben Zobrist was going to play the hot corner. He, thinking out loud, actually wrote 5(the number code for 3B) By MLB rule, either you give an automatic out for every AB for Longoria or you lose the DH and Sonnanstine(the pitcher) takes Longoria's #3 spot in the line-up.

Lucky for us, Sonnanstine has shown in Interleague Play that he is our best hitting pitcher and a doubles machine. He came up with the lumber late and put up an RBI double to knock in our 7th run.

-To keep with random Rays-related news, Kerry Wood and Troy Percival showed youngsters how to show how veteran pitchers clear batters from blocking the plate. Kerry Wood threw a pitch behind Upton(probably pay-back from JP Howell's alleged near-beaning of Victor Martinez) and then up and in. So, when Percival was put in to close out the game, Percy nailed the first batter on the hand. Why Wedge came in to argue, right after his closer started the high and tight pitch war, is beyond me. Why would Percy intentionally put on the possibly game-tying run on?

-Lastly, if you asked people going to '09 who would hit the most and 2nd most HRs through Mid-May between Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett and BJ Upton, I'm sure the order would be Upton, Zobrist and then Bartlett. However Zobrist is at 7, Bartlett is at 5 and Upton just recently hit his 1st 2 HRs of the season. I believe, with 300-400 ABs, Zobrist could hit 15-20 dingers. Funny, seeing that in the minor leagues, Zobrist only had 16 in 1000+ ABs. Looks like someone fixed the former slap-hitters' swing. Bartlett's too, I'm guessing.

-For non-Rays news, Zach Grienke is no longer the kid that almost gave up baseball for non-baseball reasons. He is now a dominant, efficient pitching machine. Much respect to him.

-I, though as a Rays fan shouldn't want to say this, believe that Joba Chamberlain shouldn't be a starting pitcher. He is Kazmir-like bad with pitches per inning and his mid-to-high 90's fastball is now a low-90's fastball as a starter. Add into the fact that past elbow injuries and his cocky fist-pump with meaningless early game strikeouts don't bode well for him.

-Big Papi, Homerless. Manny Ramirez, Roider. Johnny Damon, Yankees Top Power Hitter. Kevin Millar, Old Cowboy still in the AL East(has only the Yankees and Rays left to play for). Who'da Thunk, 5 years later?

-Whither Emilio Bonifacio? SSS Candidate?

-After getting on base Saturday, Alexei Ramirez proceeded to run a total of 690 feet without getting a stolen base and eventually ended getting caught out when a foul ball was caught and thrown to a ready 1B.

-Stephen Strasburg threw a 17-K no hitter last week for San Diego State. He was out-done by a NAIA pitcher, whose name escapes me at the moment, pitched 3 consecutive CGs on 3 consecutive days. After the first game, he asked the coach to pitch to save the bullpen who had been over-used during the week. So how'd he talk him to pitch the 3rd day? He said, he wasn't going to play pro ball and wanted to have his place in history. Neat.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My New Job

For the last two years (when I haven't been away at school) I've spent most of my time working for Marcus Theaters.  In fact, I enjoy the job so much that I've decided to apply for a promotion to assistant manager.  However, I think I'd like to apply for a new job-- with AJ Burnett.

You may have heard that AJ Burnett made a $250,000+ investment in a home theater and of course I was wondering if he was hiring.  I haven't seen anything yet, but I'll keep my eye on it.

For those of you that haven't heard, the theater is brilliant. released the details of the theater which includes a 104-inch screen coming from a 1080p DLP projector and a state of the art sound system.  The article quoted a designer saying, "He can have it as loud as he wants." And if you look at the room, it is very aesthetically pleasing.

What has become somewhat commonplace for many athletes is the touchscreen control system that operates the lights, Blu-Ray player, satellite dish and much more.  Burnett has gone even further than all-out.

The room is big with massive chairs that you could almost live in.  And wondering what is outside?  It's a lobby with movie posters all around and a small little concession stand.  Yes, a concession stand in your house.  Now, it's not manned nor does it have a soda dispenser, but I really don't think he'll have much problem finding popcorn, candy, or (adult) beverages.

Were there any problems?  Surprisingly, yes.  Burnett is a big guy (6'4") in a room that has a 7.5 foot cieling.  Putting the projector in was a little tough, but I think he'll do.

But I am more than amazed with this design.  As a person that loves movies and baseball and loves his job at the theater, I would love to work for Burnett.  AJ, give me a call.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Man He's Fast

Well, quite a bit has happened since we last posted.  Sorry for being a little lazy, but we're here now!

Carl Crawford stole 6 bases on Sunday which tied a modern day Major League record.  4 of the steals came off of Brad Penny and the other two came off of Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez.  Now, Brad Penny doesn't have blazing stuff nor does he have the shortest windup but still, that's a massive amount.  That brings Crawford's total stolen base mark this year up to 17.  Assuming that he doesn't get hurt, he may make a lot of fantasy owners happy.  In fact, as an owner of Crawford in one of my leagues, I couldn't be any happier, especially after his 4-4 day which brought his average up to .317.

The player that may be able to match Crawford's spectacular feet was Rockies rookie Dexter Fowler who had 5 stolen bases earlier in the week.  All five came off of Chris Young who is rather easy to steal off of as it seems he begins to hesitate in his pitching motion, even with runners on base.  I can't say that I'm too surprised of this mark because what we do know about Fowler is that he can run fast and that Chris Young is easy to steal off of.  If I was the Rockies manager, I would have had him steeling each time too.  You may want to keep an eye on this guy as he has gotten off to a pretty quick start with a .284 average.

Who did not see Jacoby Ellsbury steal home too?  Ellsbury has taken a lot of heat not only from "Red Sox Nation", but the entire nation.  I think he may have gotten a lot of his doubters off his back as the one thing that cannot be taught is speed, and he has it.  I would like to see him try and steal it again, just to see if he can.  Fantasy owners also have to love that he is second in the league in SBs so far this year.

Everybody has to love the speed of any athlete.  These three guys have it and so many more in the majors do.  I for one, am incredibly impressed.  Kudos to these guys and let's hope for some more great performance in and out of the base paths.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vote For Julio

ladies and gentlemen, 
in the past i have been called insane, crazy, stupid, nuts, mad, and cuckoo. this summer, i would like to add another word to the list-- genius. 
today i ask you to embark on a journey with me as i try to get julio franco into the 2009 mlb all-star game. i ask for you to please write in his name on the ballot. 
to do so it is simply easy. just launch the ballot on and when it prompts you to fill out the al ballot, write in julio franco's name at the bottom for the indians at the ss position. continue onto the nl ballot where you can write in his name again. this time, select the braves as his team with the ss again being the position. 

with your support we can do this. we could get the immortal julio franco back into the game of baseball. i thank you in advance for your support of julio franco and only wish that you spread the word as well. 

thank you, 
greg zeck 

for more information please go here

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Week That Was...

Baseball is now a week in the books and its hilarious how telling the first week can be, or what I'm perceiving through my own eyes.

-Kevin Gregg is no more, I shall call him KGE or "The Kevin Gregg Experiment". Everytime KGE steps on the mound, Cubs fans know what Rays fans once felt like when Denys Baez was closer and JoeBo wasn't our 8th inning bandaid. 3-2 counts were a given and if he were brought in with 2 outs in the 8th, he was going to blow the save in the 9th.

-Will Carroll and a few others created Evan Longoria's nickname on twitter this week. He's known as "The Keeper" and after his first 6 games, Evan has 5 HRs, 1 SB(Thievan Longoria!) and 3 GIDPs. Also learned this week was that the Rays are above average with RISP(when not dealing with Adam Jones) and high leverage situations.

-Aaron Harang, Chris Carpenter and Josh Johnson are back. 2 are overcoming shoulder injuries and Harang just needs to forget about 2008. However, this is only a week in and Carp needs to prove that he's gonna be in there for the long run.

-The White Sox are already baffling and probably will prove BP wrong again with their projections, mainly because they beat a better team like Minnesota but get shown up by Kansas City.

-Speaking of BP(Baseball Prospectus), they're inviting all bloggers and fans to become a future writer(and with their track record, possibly have a future in front offices). I've been taking my time with my entry essay, but will have it in by the wednesday deadline for sure.

-My heart goes out to the LA Angels, Nick Adenhart's family and the others who were involved in the fatal crash. No surprise to me when "Mr. Nice Guy" Torii Hunter went after Josh Beckett for throwing over Abreu's head after a timeout was called. Hey Boston, go to hell, noone is afraid of you guys anymore. Your "idiot" mentality isn't even funny anymore, either.

-The Yankees will probably be in the running for the playoffs this year, but its looking like it may come by the hands of AJ Burnett and Nick Swisher than CC and Teixiera. Swish is back to his old Oakland self, but clean cut(Yankee rules). The bullpen is shaky outside of Rivera really and KC has proven how hittable they can be in the 7th and 8th innings already.

-If you don't know Emilio Bonifacio, you will soon. He's got more runs scored than games played and turning heads while he's doing it. Beinfest & Company have been owning people in trades for a few years now and Bonifacio's opening day inside-the-park HR made the Marlins' scouting department look like geniuses when people questioned using a horrible on-base guy as their leadoff guy(minor lg stats) at a new position. Speed kills and the marlins have the young pitching to shutdown opposing teams that are trying to counter the Marlins somewhat explosive hitting. Marlins are one of my sleepers, even with the Mets revamped pen.

-It took 6 games for Cleveland to get their first win and Cliff Lee is sucking thus far. I'm glad I didn't gamble on this prediction in Vegas. Hopefully Fausto or some other non-Pavano pitcher can fix the Indians' woes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Remembering Nick Adenhart

Hey everybody,

Today we lost a fantastic young pitcher in 22-year-old Nick Adenhart after he passed away from a car accident last night.  It's hard to believe that the baseball community and the rest of the world that knew this young man has to say goodbye because over the past couple years we've seen flashes of greatness.

Nick Adenhart was (it feels so strange to say "was") a 4-star prospect in the Angels organization that made his big league debut last season.  He was a hard throwing right hander that was drafted out of high school and was drafted in the 14th round a couple years back.  The Angels took a gamble on him dishing out quite a bit of money after he had some minor injuries.  He made his way up through the minors with nothing but tremendous upside.  He was starting to live up to his potential as one of the game's great young pitchers despite some control issues.

In fact, last night Adenhart had a rather stellar performance for the Angels pitching six scoreless innings with five strikeouts.  It seemed that Adenhart finally found his spot on a shaky rotation; a rotation that seemed to be more stable with him.  Being just 22, it's obvious to see why all of the scouts, coaches and fans loved him.

However, his death was very preventable.  A minivan going about 80 mph decided to run a red light as Adenhart's car, which was carrying 4 people, collided with it.  3 people, including Adenhart, died as the final passenger is in intensive care at a nearby hospital.  If that wasn't bad enough, the driver of the minivan tried to flee the scene but was caught by officials.  The man was charged with felony hit and run charges, but that hardly seems to be enough.

I can't help but hope that this man goes to prison for a long time, if not, the rest of his life.  So many questions appear to arise on what was going through this man's head.  Why was he going through the red light?  Why was he going 80 mph!?  It is completely pointless.  There is no excuse for putting safety at risk to get to a location a bit earlier.  This is the perfect reason why.  22 is just too young.

We lost one of our young rising stars today.  So please do what you can to remember this great man, whether it be holding a moment of silence or just saying a simple prayer.  You will be missed Nick Adenhart; may you rest in peace.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 2

It is day 2 of the 2009 MLB season and every team has had at least one game now. I hope that your favorite team is doing well.

Almost everything seems pretty standard and is following trends from past years. So far pitching has ruled hitting. The offensive explosion has been pretty rare thus far (unless you're a Marlins fan) and that seems true to form. Yes, typically, good pitching beats good hitting, but in the past years, pitchers seem to have the edge for the first couple weeks. As the season continues to progress, watch your teams favorite hitters start to develop their "Hitter's eye" and start to produce.

However, what you may not expect was the lack of good pitching by each team's Ace. Sabathia, Lee, Lincecum, Verlander, and Brandon Webb all got roughed up pretty bad. Roy Oswalt gave up a pair of DINGERS and now all of us are wondering our draft strategies for our Fantasy Baseball leagues. Well, stick with these guys (obviously). Only a matter of time before they start spelling their names with K's.

Enjoy the rest of this week's games!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Play Ball!

The smell of pinetar is in the air and, unless you're in Boston or the southside of Chicago, baseball is being played. That is a gripe for later on, but today is the day that we've been waiting for.

No more meaningly games, where closers come in anywhere between the 4th and 6th innings and where minor leaguers get their real "cups of coffee". No more WBC, even.

Its fun to know that you can chide your best friend about his beloved team's free agent signee bottomed out in his debut. Its also fun to know that your hated rivals can't play in the rain, though the real reason could be out of fear of the opposing team or not selling out the stadium on opening day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

From What I hear...

Hey everybody, sorry there have not been too many posts lately.  We've both been pretty busy.

So much of what we perceive of the game of baseball relies on what we hear from the commentators.  Yes, we may think that we know strategy and that we are all smarter than Joe Torre, but then reality sets in and we aren't.  We must hear to what the commentators have to say whether it is on T.V. or radio to make us think about the game that we are interested in.  Every fan may say that their team's guys are the best or the worst,  but what happens when there is no commentary?

Many of you may have heard about the bizarre happenings for the Baltimore Orioles radio team in the New York Post or somewhere else.  Basically, Orioles broadcasters Joe Angel and Fred Manfra were sent home early by their superiors after a rain delay.  That would have been fine and actually quite nice had the game been called off.  The sad thing is for the station is that the game did resume without the commentators.  Didn't the umpire crew think to check in with guys at WJZ-FM.  I mean, you can't have a game without the announcers.  Of course, this is sarcasm;  as a guy who still loves listening to games on the radio, I look down on that station.  

Fans should be able to have the opportunity to listen to the entire game if that was the station's original intent.  At least make sure that the game is going to be called off before sending your crew home.  Are you now paying your broadcasters by the hour in this bad economy?  I originally thought that this story was a joke and then I became pretty astonished at the management of that station.  I was pretty mad.  But then I remembered, that it is just spring training and that it is just the Baltimore Orioles...

Well, that's too short of a post, so it's time to highlight some of the better (and worse) names in baseball broadcasting.

The Good (in no particular order):
  • Vin Scully.  It's hard not to start the list off with the legendary Dodgers radio man.  Pair him with Charlie Steiner and there's none better.
  • Bob Euker.  The guy makes listening to Brewers games tolerable.  Fans from rival teams respect the guy too.  He sang for Cubs fans at Wrigley and got a warm reception.
  • Chip Caray.  Let's just say that I wish the Cubs still had this guy.
  • Joe Buck.  Like his dad, he can call a great baseball game.  He is rather putrid when it comes to football though...
  • Gary Thorne.  I think we can all agree that we're happy that he's replacing Miller and Morgan, even though he is paired up with Steve Phillips...
  • Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow.  This pair is my favorite T.V. team by far.  Over the past few years I've tuned in to Giants guys just to listen to these two guys  do their thing.  They were the voices of the MVP baseball games and the phrase, "Sit Down, Meat!" is still my favorite.
The Bad:
  • Joe Angel and Fred Manfra.  You knew it was coming after last week's fiasco.
  • Keith Hernandez.  HAHA.  Let's move on.
  • Thom Brennamen and Mark Grace.  Thom isn't too bad, but Grace is.
  • John Miller and Joe Morgan.  Morgan isn't too bad on the radio, but Morgan is bad no matter what.
  • Ron Santo.  Love the guy and have a ton of respect for him, but he just is not a very good broadcaster
  • Hawk Harrelson.  His HE GONE and Put it on the board calls are good, but everything else makes you want to put on the mute button.
That's all I've got for you today.  Let the debate begin.  As always, how can the argument be solved when it's all personal opinion?  I think the only thing we can agree upon is Scully, but maybe you'll surprise me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Funny Numbers

Sometime in the 2009, the Chicago Cubs will honor the number 31 and the players that wore it famously(Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux). That's fine and dandy, I can't argue with what they've done. Jenkins is the best canadian-born pitcher ever in the major leagues and Maddux is the prototypical "finesse" pitcher that all non-power pitchers want to one day become.

What I question is...
1.) Why are the Cubs honoring 2 players with 1 number?
2.) Why honor 2 players who played half their careers or less as Cubs?

Out of Jenkins 19 seasons, 10 were as a Cub. The Cubs are correct in honoring Jenkins alone, seeing as that Jenkins' and the Cubs go hand-in-hand. However, they chose to honor Greg Maddux as well with the #31 celebration. That's where I gotta argue.

Maddux and the Cubs aren't synonamous, not at least in my mind. He was great in his early years as a Cub, but he left and made his name as an Atlanta Brave. That's where "Mad Dog" turned into "The Professor" and won most of his Cy Youngs and Golden Gloves. I realize that he got his Hall of Fame "locks"(300 wins, 3000 ks) in his 2nd Coming with the Cubs, but the Cubs traded him and he played 3 more years bouncing between the Dodgers and Padres.

Why honor a guy that you gave up on twice?

My distaste of some number retirings doesn't go beyond just the Cubs. My beloved Rays and the former ownership that enjoyed giving me headaches since "The Hit Show" Days (Thank god for poor aim and vision on my part for missing my tv with the remote when I seen Vinny CASHsteala managing Team Mexico). The Rays only 2 retired numbers are that of Jackie Robinson and Wade Boggs.

Wade BLEEPIN' Boggs!

In a controversial turn of events, Chuck LaMar tried to decide Wade Boggs' HOF plaque's hat fate when he stipulated that if/when Boggs became a HOFer...He'd be a Ray. It was basically a guarantee that he'd get in, seeing that 3,000 career hits cements you as a Hall of Famer. The Baseball Writers Association of America decided otherwise and he's wearing a Boston cap. However, the Rays still decided that it would be good to honor Wade Boggs by retiring his number.

A player who played 90% of his career with division rivals plays 2-3 lackluster years with a team and gets his number retired. Did Boggs give Vince Naimoli tampered chicken?

If the Rays are to have just 1 retired, it should be Fred McGriff. If "The Crime Dog" ever got into the "500" homerun club(he only needs a few), which is usually a lock into the Hall of Fame as a hitter as well, it'd be hard-pressed for someone to argue against McGriff's best years being with the Rays. He held/still holds Rays career records, which is something Boggs can't say. McGriff hasn't ever been tarnished by steroid rumors and is still seen on TV(Thank you Tom Emansky!).

Please Stu and Andrew, retire the Crime Dog's number!

Tourney Troubles

It's March and by the end of the month, 2 touraments will be over and only 1 champion will truly matter. It sure won't be the WBC champion, if you ask me. Not that I don't like the idea, but the timing of it is all wrong.

If you ask a player on Team USA what WBC stands for, I wouldn't be surprised if they answered "We're Broken, Coach!" Is it the poor conditioning by the Team USA players or is it that international players take this tournament more seriously? Honestly, how many freak and almost petty injuries have been inflicted on the USA roster? Dustin Pedroia, David Wright, Chipper Jones, Kevin Youkilis, JP Howell and Matt Lindstrom have all seen more trips to the Trainers' table than most of their major league teammates have on their respective rosters.

I don't know about you, but does the entire idea of the WBC coinciding with Spring Training seem a bit wrong? When a player should be easing into regular season work, players in the WBC are throwing 95+ mph fastballs and running their hardest to beat out throws and put their country closer to winning the WBC.

If it were my choice, the WBC would be better held during the All-Star Break every 4 years. Rather than it being 1 week long, make the Break 3 weeks long. Olympic and Carribean World Series winners and runners-up respective countries would have automatic invites into the WBC. It may be tougher for teams like Australia or South Africa, but honestly have they shown that they're on the level of other teams in the WBC anyways?

This extended break would ensure that pitchers would already be in their extended pitch counts and hitters would be in their greatest shape at that point of the season. There would be less chances of strains and pains that have been appearing thus far.

Just some food for thought..

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Deep-dish with Jonah Keri, Baseball Writer

Been a long-time of Jonah's work, especially from his work on Baseball Prospectus and ESPN. His site, Jonah Keri dot com is a personal favorite of mine and should be bookmarked for all those fans of Sabermetrically-inclined work.
Jake Larsen: For those not familiar, who is Jonah Keri?

Jonah Keri: I'm a Montreal-born and -raised goofball who's lucky enough to write about both the stock market (Investor's Business Daily) and sports (, Wall Street Journal, Penthouse, etc.) for a living. I'm also one of only 12 Montreal Expos fans left on the planet.

JL: Last year, unbelievable stuff happened. Multiple Rays in the All-star game and the Rays going from worst to first. With that said, is there more parity in baseball than 10 years ago? See anymore weird stuff happening this year?

JK: I think the Royals could make a run if things go right, though they shot themselves in the foot for no good reason by spending sizable chunks of cash on stiffs like Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Jacobs (not to mention the prior Jose Guillen contract abomination). I also think the Mets win the NL East, which to mainstream observers might seem weird, given they've been branded as can't-win chokers.

There's definitely more parity now. I mean, the Yankees had just finished a dynasty in 2000.

JL: The big-spending Yankees are back! With the signings of Teixiera, Sabathia and Burnett, have the Yankees surged past the Rays and Red Sox for supremacy of the AL East? Do you think the Yankees moved back the "Dooms day Clock," seeing as their roster still contains numerous aging key veterans, with this offseason? Also, did they overlook their weak bullpen in their spending?

JK: I was set to pick the Yankees second in the division, slightly behind the Rays and slightly ahead of the Red Sox, with all three teams winning 92 games or more. Teixeira and Sabathia figured to help a lot, even though Burnett's health and success was a question mark and questions remained in terms of age and defense at key positions. Now the A-Rod injury knocks them down a peg, such that I now have it Rays-Red Sox-Yankees (with all three teams still topping 90 wins).

JL: While the Red Sox didn't go nuts in the offseason with the top free agents, they locked up key youngsters and signed a lot of low-risk/high-reward signings?

JK: Well there wasn't anything to lock up per se, they just bought out some arbitration years, with a free agent year or two thrown in for good measure. Which can be a fine strategy of course, as any Rays fan would tell you re: Evan Longoria. I liked some of Boston's low-risk, high-reward signings, with Penny-Smoltz-Saito a nice trio on the pitching side. My biggest concerns for the Sox remain with their offense. I expect some bounceback for Ortiz, but catcher is still a hole, Drew's health is never a certainty, we don't know if Ellsbury's going to take the next step, Lowell's fading fast, Bay < Manny, etc..

JL: 2 scandals became more prevalent this spring, steroids and age descrepincies with latin players? The new testing policies seem to be working on the usage, but how does baseball fix "Age Gate", are suspensions and contract terminations the answer?

JK: The Nats story was pretty high-profile just because it was the killshot that finally forced to change its name. Other than that, though, I don't know that I'd agree on age discrepancies suddenly becoming a much bigger deal. That's been an issue for a while.

As for how to fix it, it just requires more diligence on the part of signing teams. The Nats case, and really a lot of what has embarrassed that franchise, can be placed at the feet of Jose Rijo. Penailizing the player in a sense lets teams off the hook for their gullibility.

JL: Its been 101 years for the Cubs, will Cubs fans get that release that Red Sox fans had when they broke "The Curse of the Bambino" anytime soon? Milton Bradley was an interesting pick-up, wasn't it?

JK: I liked the Bradley move, he's been one of my favorites since he was a Vermont Expo. And sure, the Cubs have a shot to win it all. I don't get too caught up in predicting World Series winners.. Eight teams make the playoffs every year, and short series give less talented teams the opportunity to win it all. The Cubs are the favorites in the NL Central. If they get into the postseason, anything's possible.

JL: Desribe a day in the life of Jonah Keri.

JK: There is no standard day. For example, I'm writing this just after finishing my daily column for Investor's Business Daily -- at 12:11 am Madrid time (I'm in Madrid partly for vacation and partly on assignment for a story I'm writing for Penthouse about bullfighting). Other than writing the flagship stock market column for IBD, "The Big Picture", at the market's close every day, anything else is possible on any given day. 2009's going to feature a lot more long-form work than I'm used to doing, which is certainly a challenge. I've always worked best on a tight deadline, not having 10 months to write 100,000 words.

JL: If you had to pick a team to go from worst-to-first, who would it be? Also, what team do you see having a grand fall from grace?

JK: Worst to first: I don't see any team doing it.. The team with the best shot at it is probably the Tigers. They still have plenty of offense, and Verlander and Bonderman could easily bounce back.  

Fall from grace: Brewers. They're going to take a step back with Sheets and Sabathia gone.

JL: What misconceptions do you think there are about sabermetrics and sabermetricians? Murray Chass, Bill Platchke and numerous other well-known writers seem to have in for those types and bloggers who seem to think along those lines.

JK: The biggest misconception, by far, is that numerically-inclined analysts don't love the game. That's not only bat-feces insane, it's completely illogical. Why would people like Tom Tango and others of that ilk spend so much time and effort devising new ways to look at the game, unless they were compleetly gaga for baseball? Some of the smarter analysts out there could be making piles of money if they devoted all their energy to something other than baseball, like...I don't know, software development, rocket science, finding a way into Fort Knox, whatever.

JL: What well-known and less-than-known blogs do you read, whenever you have the chance?

JK: My Google Reader is way too long. Some of my favorites: USSMariner, Squawking Baseball, DRays Bay, Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, , Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, Ken Davidoff, Steven Goldman, McSweeney's, Freakonomics,, Basketball State,, FanGraphs, The Book, Baseball Analysts, Baseball Prospectus, The New Yorker, Tim Marchman, Baseball Think Factory, River Avenue Blues, BrewHoop, TrueHoop, John Hollinger,'s college hoops page, and RotoSynthesis. There are many others too. It's a wonder I ever get anything done.

JL: Jim Bowden or Paul DePodesta, who gets another GM shot next?

JK: DePodesta, though we have to hope that the baseless slams made by the L.A. media while DePo ran the ship don't stick.

JL: As a Rays fan, I couldn't go without asking any Rays-related queries. What do you foresee out of the Rays in the short-term and the long-term future? Will the addition of Pat Burrell make an impact in the young careers of hitting prodigies like Evan Longoria and BJ Upton? The Rays trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett seems to have paid dividends for the Rays, is it still too early to call the Rays the winners of the trade?

JK: They're a better team on paper this year than last with the Burrell signing, more David Price, Joe Nelson and company added to the pen and more depth elsewhere. But that doesn't guarantee a repeat performance, of course. There is no evidence (that I know of) to suggest that lineup protection offers a team significant benefits, so no to the Burrell question. The Rays are the winners of that trade, yes. Young will improve, but Garza's best is yet to come too.

JL: There's a belief that a pitcher's arm has a limited amount of pitches in it and its best for a young pitcher to be slowly acclimated into their careers and that an increase of 30 or more has negative effects on a pitchers career and elbow ligaments. First, do you believe in "The Rule of 30" and do some pitchers get excluded from it(due to their pitching mechanics)? Tim Lincecum looks like he could throw complete games everyday and painlessly for years and CC Sabathia has thrown 512 innings in the last 2 seasons(including the playoffs) without looking like his arm is falling off.

JK: There are no hard and fast rules in baseball. Once you believe something with absolute certainty, there's a good chance you'll soon be proven wrong. So yes, there are certainly exceptions to that, just like any other. With that said, anyone who's willing to bet his life on Sabathia, Lincecum or anyone else staying healthy from now 'til age 40 better start digging his grave now.

JL: To throw your name in the great prospect debate, who would you choose between Matt Wieters or David Price?

JK: Wieters. Hitters are always a safer bet. 

JL: Who are your breakout hitters, pitchers and prospects for this upcoming season?

JK: The Upton brothers, Clayton Kershaw/James McDonald, David Price (duh), Alex Gordon, Chris Tillman, Gordon Beckham, Tim Beckham, Justin Smoak. 

JL: Michel Ynoa thinks he could be in the mix for the Oakland A's rotation in 2 years(at the age of 19) and has yet to throw a professional pitch? Cockiness on his part or is he just that good?

JK: Until age 14, I was convinced I could play in the NBA, and Inoa's just three years older than that. Teenagers are cocky jackasses. That's what makes them teenagers (myself back in the day very much included).

JL: Manny Ramirez took 4 months to finally sign the original offer of the Dodgers. What was his deal, did he honestly believe he was worth more or get talked into the thought that he could get 100 mil?

JK: I am not privy to Manny Ramirez's brain. If I were, I would have stolen his otherworldly strike zone judgment, signed with the Expos years ago, led them to World Series glory, and shoved it in Bud Selig's face.

JL: Should Scott Boras be given the disrespect that is thrown onto him? He's done plenty of underhanded things, but Drew Rosenhaus seems worse to me.

JK: He goes all out to get the most for his client by taking advantage of any loophole he can. If owners don't like it, they should work harder to close loopholes.

JL: Anything that baseball fans should be on the lookout for from you?

JK: I'll be contributing to the Wall Street Journal's new (nearly) daily analytical column, "The Count", throughout the baseball season. Of course I'm hopelessly outgunned by fantastic writers like Tim Marchman, Dave Cameron and Carl Bialik, but until WSJ Sports Editors Sam Walker and Geoff Foster can break into my house and steal the incriminating photos I have of them, I think I'm safe.

JL: Final thoughs?

JK: When it comes to the stock market, always cut your losses quickly. When it comes to your favorite team, forget cutting your losses. Always believe. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In Review: MLB 2k9

Hey people,

So I decided to buy MLB 2k9 today, which is the release date of the game from Sega's 2k Sports.  The past two years I bought the MLB 2k games and really enjoyed them, so as you could imagine, my expectations were very high.  And you may be asking yourself, why not buy MLB 09:  The Show?  Well, I downloaded the demo and hated it.  So, without further adieu...

The first impression  you get from any game is the home screen which automatically jumps the user into the "Exhibition" mode.  Yeah, it's your standard setup for multi player modes.  However, to bring up the menu you must use the right stick.  Without knowing that, I found myself button mashing with no effect.

From there, I went right into the Franchise Mode which was pretty simple.  Everything was going pretty well until I tried to call up/send down prospects.  This was a complete mess.  Instead of the side-by-side format like past versions, you couldn't compare players from the 2 different levels.  It's hard to explain but it was a pain in the ass.

And my other pet peeve in franchise mode is the trading.  I acquired Pujols, Mauer, Peavy, Chris Young, Ben Sheets, and Manny Ramierez and I actually made my payroll cheaper.  CPU's accept trades too easily which can leave you with a super team.  Let's be honest, the Cards would never trade Pujols.

Grade:  C+


Well, honestly, the music is comical at some points.  You have Europe's "The Final Countdown" and can't help but laugh.  But honestly, the music is pretty solid.   As always, you have some established artists thrown in with some indie bands... But one thing is lacking:  there is no song from the Cool Kids.

Gary Thorne and Steve Phillips were a huge relief to hear rather than another year of Miller and Morgan.  Wow.  This is sensational.  The commentary is not perfect, but the retooled a lot of it.  I was pretty impressed and I love Gary Thorne, so I can't complain much.  One cool feature is that Phillips will start a conversation, Thorne will interrupt with the action, and then respond to Phillips comment.

Grade:  B+  (The Final Countdown?  Really??)


Well, I'm playing on a standard definition TV because that's the kind of TV that my roommate brought to school.  Damn you Ken.  But, it looks pretty good still.  The players characteristics look great and the fields are well-designed.

Animations are sub par at best though...

Grade:  A-


They didn't change anything really...

Grade:  B


Well, this was completely redone (again).  I'm not too thrilled about it. It's a two-step system that is just the wind-up and the stick motion.  There is no release this year which makes it rather hard to time up your pitches if you are used to the old style of pitching.  Luckily you can choose to add the final step which I did.  For those of you old-schoolers, you can still assign a pitch to each button and do the old wind up.  It works well.  Overall, the pitching is not as good as last  year's, but it is still good

Grade:  B

Fielding/Base running:

I think my biggest issue of the game is this.  Fielders are slow and have absolutely no urgency.  My outfielders jog to a ball casually and to switch to the nearest fielder, you have to press X/A... It's stupid.

Infielders take their time when making a play which can leave you with men on base from a casual ground ball at times.  Turning a double play is very hard and it leaves you frustrated...

Base running is the same as last year essentially.  The only difference in fielding (other than the slow reaction time) and base running from past games is the fact that the controls are all completely different.  It routinely messes up players that had this game in the past.  2k, why did you mess with our controls?

Grade:  D+


Well, they use a different system that rewards the best players and punishes the average player.  Most of the all-stars peak at about a 90 overall rating while the superstars are the only ones that can get into the high 90's.  Pujols is a 99 (deservedly so) and Lincecum is a 95.  Most of the other players on your team will tend to be in the lower 80s or mid 70's.  However, some of your relievers may get as low as the mid 60's!

As far as team ratings go, the Yanks reign supreme after a 400+ million dollar summer.  Besides the Red Sox, they were significantly better than just about every team.  Well, the Yanks the past few years have been nothing special, so I have an issue with this.

Time will tell if the ratings get fixed as the rosters will be updated each day.  Stay tuned for those.

Grade:  B


The foundation is there, but the execution isn't.  Next year, 2k has to redo a lot of things in this game.  If they can, they will have one of the great sports games on their hands.  Let's hope that they can turn it around after great games from the previous two years.

My advice to you is to rent or download a demo of the game first.  Form your own opinion...

Grade:  B- (with room for improvement)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Deep-dish with Paul DePodesta, Asst. GM of the San Diego Padres

For most baseball fans, Paul DePodesta isn't really a household name like Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein or Andrew Friedman. However, those who read "Moneyball" were introduced to probably the first sabermetrically-inclined baseball executives that were in Oakland's Front Office. Years have past since then, but Paul DePodesta has still made his mark on the baseball world. A little over a year ago, Paul did what no other baseball exec has ever done and started blogging over at It may be go first, where fans get a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at what he does on a day-by-day basis.
Jake Larsen: For those who aren't familiar with you, who are you and how did you
get to where you are right now?

Paul DePodesta: Plenty of luck. I started out in the Canadian Football League, worked nights in the American Hockey League, and then got my big break as the minor league van driver in spring training for the Cleveland Indians. After three years in Cleveland, I spent about 5 1/2 years in Oakland, 1 1/2 in Los Angeles, and now I'm nearing three years here in San Diego.

JL: I'll try to keep the "Moneyball" questions to a minimum, but what are
your thoughts on Michael Lewis' book that gave the common fan a new look
at baseball and how things were starting to change? Any misconceptions that you feel that came about from that?

PD: There were plenty of misconceptions, but that's probably what made it an
engaging story. At the end of the day, it's not really a baseball book. Rather, it's a book that uses baseball to tell a much more common story.
Some of the passages probably shouldn't be read too literally.

JL: Do you still have the laptop computer that Lewis made it sound like was glued to your body?

PD:I think the A's have it stored in Fort Knox.

JL: This offseason has been an unusual one, with the amount of rumors and the slowness of signings. Do you think that the country's economy is
causing this or do you feel that teams are starting to rely on their own farm system and assets to acquire the players that they want?

PD: I can only speak to our situation, but there is no question that the economy is having a major impact.

JL: Living in the Chicagoland area, the Peavy-to-Chicago rumors were abundant and often laughable. Without going into much detail, was this deal as close to happening as Chicago newspapers made it out to be?

PD: I've often said that most deals that are discussed never happen. In this case, the rumors all winter were obviously out ahead of the
reality. After having a season like we did in '08 we felt it was important for us to explore every opportunity that might put us in a
better position to compete in '09 and beyond. Cleary, no potential Peavy deal satisfied that requirement.

JL: Greg Maddux is a legend in his own right, being vocal with his statistics rather than being a huge talker. Do you see him filling any
managerial roles or administrative roles in the future?

PD: We had Greg in spring training last week as a guest instructor, and it was great having him here. We definitely believe he can add a lot of value to the organization even when he's not on the mound.

JL: Chris Young is one of those players that catches your eyes, for obvious and non-obvious reasons. Many people aren't sure how he's gonna be the same, after being nailed by a line-drive. What are your thoughts on him for the upcoming season?

PD: Chris actually had a 3.35 ERA after the All-Star Break last year (missed part of May, all of June, and most of July after being hit) and had a
2.38 ERA in his five September starts. At this point he's fully recovered and we're looking forward to 30 starts from him in '09. He's a key to our Club, both on and off the field.

JL: This offseason seen the Padres and Trevor Hoffman parting ways, plus the trading of Khalil Greene. I know that you can't talk about the players on other teams, but what are your thoughts on these transactions?

PD: Every team has tough decisions to make, and we had a few this off-season. It's always emotionally difficult for fans and us to part with players who have been a part of your fabric for a period of time. Their departures, however, have created great opportunities for some of our younger players, and hopefully those players will take advantage of it.

JL: Heath Bell was a tremendous pick-up a few years ago and is primed to
take over as closer this year. What are your thoughts on Bell? What did you think when you heard about his Wii Fit workouts this offseason and do you think that this workout program should be in every players regimen?

PD: I've actually never played the Wii, so I can't vouch for it, and I'm waiting for my kids to get a little older before we let them indulge. Until then, I'm stuck being a SEGA hockey guy.

JL: Matt Antonelli is a personal fave of mine since his college days. Where do you see him fitting in the Padres plans this year?

PD: Matt will likely begin the season in AAA Portland but who knows after that. He has looked terrific so far in camp, and I think the fresh start this year will help him.

JL: Everth Cabrera was the Rule 5 pick of the Padres this year. He lead the Minor Leagues with 70+ stolen bases last year, do you think he will continue to be a speedburner like he has shown to be? Could you give us fans a short scouting report on him?

PD: Everth is a talented young player with good defensive actions and well above average speed. Some time in the future he could be a true leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position (SS). As the any prospect, the trick is to see if he can fulfill the potential that we envision, but there is no doubt that his tools are exciting.

JL: Mat Latos is one of baseball's best pitching prospects. He was one of the last draft-and-follows, if I recall correctly. Does he have any shot of making the opening day roster or is this camp a learning experience for him?

PD: Major League camp is really meant to be a learning experience for Mat. He has tremendous stuff - #1 or #2 starter type stuff - but he has yet to make it through the rigors of a full season and hasn't pitched at all in the upper levels of the minors yet. We're all excited to see what he does this year, and he's certainly a guy who could move through the minors quickly once he gets rolling.

JL: Have the Padres started scouting any for the 2009 draft? Are there any players that you've pinpointed as possibles at the #3 spot or is it way, way too early to tell?

PD: As with any team, we had already identified guys late last summer, as amateur scouting is almost a year-round task these days. That said it's still early in this season to have a definitive list. My guess is that there will be at least five or ten guys who are worthy of discussion for that slot.

JL: Who do you see being a sleeper for the Padres in camp and fans should start paying attention to?

PD: We have a lot of competition on our pitching staff this spring, and I'm anxious to see who is going to step up and claim some of the key roles. I won't mention names at this point, especially because it's so early, but I think there will be at least a couple of guys who may surprise.

JL: Thank you for your time and the opportunity to pick your mind. Any final thoughts that you'd like to pass along to bloggers like me or
baseball fans alike?

PD: I can't wait for the season to start.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Day The Nats Stood Still...

Around 2 weeks ago, BP's own Christina Kahrl gave me the thumbs up on using an idea of hers(sorta, it was her facebook status) and making a "WWBD?" post. Why make a "What would Bowden do?" post, well mainly because it's easy and it would be a funny post.

Jim Bowden is one of those types of GMs that owners like, but the ones fans love to hate. Fans probably loathe him more than Pat Gillick, Chuck LaMar or Bill Bavasi.However, like those guys, he always manages to find a job and get free-reign of baseball teams(whether fans like it or not).
Knowing he has a job, guarantees that one team's beat writer will have his share of headaches and laughs.

Jim Bowden, the segway-driving, leather pant-wearing GM resigned today from running the Washington Nationals and somewhere Wily Mo Pena sheds a tear. He was on the receiving end of a lot of rumors and turmoil dealing with Latin American prospects. A week after one of his prospects wasn't who he claimed to be and how old he was supposed to be, Bowden decided that it was easier to wave the white flag than risk his career/freedom by continuing in Washington. Freedom, mainly due to Federal inquiries from claims that Bowden and a few select high-ranking officials were part of a widespread bonus-skimming controversy. Not sure if the Carlos Lugo "whoops" was the last straw, but the dominos were falling when Jose Rijo(one of Bowden's special advisors, who also was embroiled in the skimming controversy) took a leave of absence from the team. Rumors started to follow that Bowden was the next to get the axe and Bowden beat the team to it.

When I say Wily Mo Pena shed a tear when Bowden resigned, it's probably not very factual. While its possible that a player is brought to tears by a GM's departure, Wily Mo and Jim Bowden are like the "Bert & Ernie" of baseball. Wily Mo must have an envelope with pictures involving Bowden and farm animals, seeing as no matter where Bowden went...soon Pena was to follow. Cincinnatti the relationship began and Washington was where the "spark" was rekindled. The obsession with his former Cincinatti power-hitting outfielders grew when Bowden acquired oft-injured Austin Kearns and batting average/defensively-challenged Adam Dunn. Christian Guzman, Livan Hernandez and Odalis Perez are all bad contracts that Bowden can be blamed for, as well, and Guzman is the only remaining on the team right now. Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson were both acquired on Bowden's watch too, but they at least have redeeming qualities and possible value.

Luckily for Bowden's sake, Mike Rizzo was put in charge of the Nationals' farm-system and positive personnel moves were made. Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge both came with baggage, due to their preceding teams selling low rather than dealing with them anymore. Jesus Flores was a Rule 5 Draft steal, which some Mets fans still cringe at. Ross Detweiler, Jordan Zimmerman and Aaron Crow(though he didn't sign) are among the talents that Rizzo has directed the Nats to draft. Rizzo has righted the ship of a formerly-poorly ran franchise and is one of two known candidates(the other being Tony Lacava(sp?) of the Toronto Bluejays) likely to takeover the GMing duties.

March 1st was indeed the day that the Nats stood still, figured out they've been standing in a puddle for a couple of years and finally took a step forward.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Drive for 5

Three playoff teams each traded off one of their starters for other needs and will be using this extended Spring Training to audition for what will be their 5th starters. These playoff teams are both Chicago teams and the Tampa Bay Rays. Picking who will win the jobs is like gambling on horses. You know the favorites, you know who you want to win and you have a darkhorse in the back of your mind.

I figure that I will try to handicap each race...

Chicago Cubs

Favorite: Aaron Heilman, major league experience(more as a reliever, but prefers not to) and is "out of options" He's known as a 2-pitch pitcher and both grade out as average pitches(though he's got a devasting slider that he rarely usesN due to lack of confidence)
Fan-Favorite:Sean Marshall, multiple pitches and doesn't walk many batters. What's not to like?
Dark-Horse(s):Jeff Samarizdja and Chad Gaudin, both had good seasons as a reliever but both could be better used as starters. Jeff needs to work on adding a pitch to be a viable starter in the majors. Gaudin just needs to stay healthy.
My Pick: Sean Marshall is believed to have the inside edge by some and showed in spot starts, for Zambrano and Harden, that he's a legit big league starter.

Chicago White Sox
Favorite: Clayton Richard, showed late in the season and playoffs that "big games" don't bother him. When you outshine Javy Vazquez, you've got something going for you in Ozzie's mind. However, he really doesn't have the stuff to be a long-term major league starter.
Fan-favorite: Aaron Poreda, top prospect and has 2 "plus" pitches and was sent to work on adding a 3rd pitch this offseason by Don Cooper.
Dark-Horse: Jeff Marquez, sleeper prospect will soon be a sleeper fantasy pick in many people's minds. Good K/BB, though really doesn't have a blazing fastball. Think Kevin Slowey/Andy Sonnanstine.
My Pick: Jeff Marquez. While Poreda is flashy with the mid-90s heater and nice looping curve, I think he needs to hone a 3rd pitch before you throw him into the fire. Pitchers don't wanna be in Ozzie's doghouse. Jeff Marquez's "finesse" outshines all other candidates. Pitchers that can disregard his lack of velocity by keeping walks to a minimum and getting outs will have success earlier on than "project"-types(like Poreda).

Tampa Bay Rays

Favorite(s): Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel are both "out of options", meaning they have to make the roster or they have to be placed on waivers. Jeff Niemann has the "stuff"(his debut), but has a lengthy injury-plagued past and thoughts around the organization have him possibly being used as a reliever where he may be more likely dominant. Jason Hammel has good "stuff", but his AAA dominance hasn't converted over to the majors. He once combined with former Ray Juan Salas for a no-hitter.
Fan-Favorite: David Price, top prospect and future "ace" written all over him. Plus-plus fastball and slider and very clean mechanics. Organization wants his change-up to improve a little(which many believe may become a "plus"-level pitch too) to be a full-fledged major league starter. Has a little over 100 innings of professional experience and a short 2-3 week stay in AAA could give the Rays an extra year of him.
Dark-Horse(s): Carlos Hernandez, Mitch Talbot and Wade Davis. Carlos has a blazing fastball and past major league experience in the Astros organization(where injuries were the only thing preventing him from being a good major league starter) before a torn labrum put a halt on his career. Not likely to do much, but he could surprise. According to Rays Pitching Coach, Jim Hickey, Talbot's "stuff" probably grades out higher than James Shields'. However, James' intangibles and Mitch's composure problems have set him back. Wade Davis will be a Rays starter sooner or later, just a matter of time and a trade must be made to open up a spot in the Rays rotation. Davis' timetable is where the Rays want it and has a major league fastball right now(as shown from him K'ing half a billion dollars of Yankee property today) but they want him to keep on developing his curveball, change-up and newly added slider in Durham. Why rush WD40(no joke, that's his initials and his number)?
My Pick:David Price is who I want to see, but they proved that they're smarter than me with Longoria last year. After Game 7 of the ALCS, he is a Red Sox killer and needs to be on the team. Convert Niemann to relief, trade/waive Hammel(not like anyone will miss him and rather see him than Price) and let Carlos, Mitch and Wade pitch in Durham.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fun with Letters: Descriptive Abbreviations

If you're a fan of baseball prospects, like I've been known to be, abbreviations are common-place. You don't want to be known as an AAAA player or be listed as a 4C or 1B/OF/DH type. TINSTAAPP and YCSS are abbreviations you really don't want to hear either.

When mentioning a pitching prospect, you'll hear "TINSTAAPP" when someone starts talking about their projected spot or numbers. TINSTAAPP stands for "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect," meaning that noone should discount or really read into a pitchers' minor league stats because it doesn't really matter until the pitcher actually makes it to the majors. The criteria for a promotion for a pitcher differs from pitcher-to-pitcher and level-by-level. Stats like ERA and W-L record may be ignored, when a promotion is determined by K/BB ratio or K% on change-ups. Development is key, stats can often be superficial.

Why does TINSTAAPP exist? Well, there's been thousands of pitchers who have never pitched in a major league game but have had stellar careers in the minors. There's been just as many that have had stellar(albeit rushed) minor league careers to flame out and get absolutely crushed in the majors. Where do you think relievers and closers come from? College?

Pitchers are a strange breed, you never known when things "click" for them. A blue-chip HS pitcher could be a strikeout machine, throwing no-hitters and double-digit strikeout games against HS competition to being completely out of baseball in 3-4 years because his "click" happened too early and professional baseball's immenseness completely scared them. How about the college pitcher that has the right size and pitches, but the stats aren't happening. He could be 3 years into his minor league career and the click happens. He learns, from an arm injury, that his change-up is a strikeout pitch and not his fastball or curve. All this said, Knuckleballers comeout of nowhere and can pitch for decades.


YCSS is "Young Catchers Stagnation Syndrome" and sometimes is combined with Tall Catchers. More often than not, YCSS has created a great number of our power-hitting first basemen or other positional players.

YCSS occurs when a team with an All-Star level catcher has an up-and-coming blue-chip catching prospect being blocked or having their development slowed down by the incumbent. YCSS sufferers either get moved to another position(best-case scenario) or start regressing from repeating levels and start losing their blue-chip status(worst-case scenario).

A legit blue-chip catching prospect is a dying breed, seeing as most catching prospects are "all-bat-no-glove" or vice-versa. To be good at both starts your legs/knees' time-clock, due to the stress squatting for an entire game and the running of the bases, and you only have a matter of time before you're forced to move to another position or retire. So rushing them through the minor league system is common-place is expected. Why waste their time and legs in the minors?

Tall catchers have an even shorter time-clock and YCSS happens to them over 50% of the time.


Abbreviations in baseball sure can be fun, huh? I have yet to even start talking stats.

Cubs V. Sox

Hey everybody, baseball season is approaching and in Chicago that means one thing:  who's better, Cubs or White Sox?

Well, in true Nick Bakay fashion, I'm here to break things down.  It's the tale of the tape:  Cubs vs. White Sox.

CUBS:  Go to college
SOX:  Stay out of prison

CUBS:  The Billy Goat
SOX:  Joe Jackson
ADVANTAGE:  Push in a shocker! Nobody really likes goats, but Jackson's feet smell...

CUBS:  The heckling of the fans
SOX:  The screams from the neighborhoood
ADVANTAGE:  Cubs.  Nobody is dieing.

CUBS:  Harden, Zambrano.  The only sure bet is that one of them will get hurt
SOX:  Thome, Konerko.  
ADVANTAGE:  Sox.  I cringe every time Harden throws something other than a fastball.

CUBS:  Wrigley/The Friendly Confines
SOX: U.S. Cellular/ The Cell.
ADVANTAGE: Cubs.  Let's not kid ourselves.

CUBS:  The Ivy
SOX:  The massive amounts of Concrete
ADVANTAGE:  Cubs.  Go Green.

CUBS:  Sammy Sosa Syringe Day!
SOX:  Fireworks... again...
ADVANTAGE:  Push... Neither had "Free Prostate Exam Night" like the Brewers had a couple years ago...

CUBS:  Sweet Lou
SOX:  Angry Ozzie
ADVANTAGE:  Cubs.  Besides, Ozzie was a bad player.

CUBS:  Soriano may take all of your money
SOX:  Colon and Jenks may eat the entire buffet
ADVANTAGE:  Push.  Nobody wins when there is no food or money...

CUBS:  A Lakers game
SOX:  A Milwaukee Bucks game
ADVANTAGE:  Cubs.  The Milwaukee Bucks never win

CUBS:  Eat small animals
SOX:  Keep feet warm

SOX: 1

So there  you have it.  It's so simple when you break things down scientifically.  In a bit of the lobsided matchup, the advantage goes to-- The Cubs!  Hang in there White Sox, at least the south side has... oh, wait...  Until next time, I'm Greg Zeck reminding you that the numbers never lie.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Deep-Dish with Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus Senior Writer

When I told Will Carroll that I was going to create this blog and would, in the future, contact him for something like this. Will said without delay that he'd be glad to. He's always been like a mentor/big-brother to me and always extended his help or allowed me to pick his brain, if I had a question. He's also helped me with future ideas that will surely be used.

Jake Larsen; With how the steroid scandal hitting the Yankees top player and all the backlash, do you think this will have a positive or adverse effect on Alex's performance or the Yankees W-L record? Could this blow up any more(Selena Robert's book, Yuri speaks, etc.)?

Will Carroll: No, this team is used to the coverage and will it by any worse than the divorce/Madonna stuff has been? I can't imagine either Rodriguez or the Yankees being too affected by anything foreseeable.

Jake: MLB teams have gone almost out of their way to prevent starting pitchers from playing in the WBC, but position players and relievers are basically left alone. With a pitcher like JP Howell, soft-tossing and actually having a descreased inning count from '07 to '08, will the WBC cause any problems for him?

Will:No, I think it's the starters that are the issue and it's fast becoming the Arizona Fall League. Now, that could have some unintended positives for the WBC, like exciting 10-9 games. The casual fans won't know how many players aren't there.

Jake: Within the medical world, is there any new procedures that will decrease the recovery time from players who have undergone Tommy John Surgery or Labrum surgeries?

Will: Those? No, but there's some exciting new things like PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections and everyone raving about the possibilities of new stem cell research, especially the recent study that regrew muscle.

Jake: As somewhat of a Rays fan, what were your thoughts on the magical 2008 season? Thoughts on the Rays offseason?

Will: It made me a fan again. I was living and dying with every pitch, screaming along with David Price's success and aching when Kaz got hosed by the ump. I think the offseason was solid - they didn't NEED to do much, the Burrell signing seems solid, though I have some concern about him in the clubhouse, but the team gets better, younger, and deeper on its own.

Jake: I've been a big proponent for the Rays trading Carl Crawford before he walks and replacing him with Fernando Perez until Desmond Jennings or another outfield prospect is ready. With Perez's solid glove, blazing speed, plate discipline and switch-hitting ability, is there a significant drop-off in production from the LF?

Will: Yes. Crawford could be a superstar and Perez could be a good OF someday, but there's a big difference. The thing to remember here is just how close the AL East is. Even just a small dropoff could be the difference between another October of baseball and watching USF football.

Jake: With the immense upside of David Price and Jeff Niemann's probable easy conversion to long-relief duties, and Mitch Talbot's "stuff", does Jason Hammel have anything positive going for him for a long-term future with the Rays?

Will: I'm not sure about "easy" conversion. Hammel's a nice guy to have around, but I'm sure that he or Niemann will get traded before Opening Day. Well, relatively sure. The construction of the bullpen is still the biggest unknown on the team.

Jake; Between Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Carlos Marmol, who is the most likely to be healthy and who is the most likely to see significant time on the doctor's table with Dr. Andrews or Dr. Yocum?

Will: None of the above? I think Harden will continue to have minor injuries that will cost him starts, but Zambrano's the one I think will break down. Marmol ... not sure yet, but him being in the WBC has to really worry the Cubs.

Jake: With the AL East how it is(Yankee's freespending again and Boston "re-tooling") and the Cubs' frequent shutdowns in the playoffs, who is the more likely team to reach the World Series between the Rays and Cubs?

Will: If likely is odds, it's the Cubs. They have a pretty weak division and an easy schedule. The Rays could win 95 and miss the playoffs. Once there, who knows? The playoffs are a crapshoot. For me, I think the Cubs have to win now, especially with new ownership.

Jake: Do the White Sox have any shot at doing any damage in the AL Central? If not and they only win 73 games, as projected by Baseball Prospectus, are heads gonna roll and will Ozzie/Kenny be looking for new jobs?

Will: Sure, look at last year where they made PECOTA look bad. They have the same kind of potential. Remember, we're talking about probabilities. If they stay healthy, if the Indians fall apart again, if someone steps up, etc etc, then anything CAN happen. It's just that the most likely outcome based on what we know now and project is 73 wins.

Jake: Bigger Wild Card: Dayan Viciedo, Aaron Miles or Wily Aybar?

Will: Viciedo. There's such a range of opinions about where he is, from a weak Double-A guy to an MLB star. With Aybar and Miles, we pretty much know who they are.

Jake: Will any team in the AL West compete with the LA Angels of Anaheim?

Will: Yeah, I think the A's if they're healthy and the Rangers could be ... could be, I say ... a Rays style jump. I think the Rangers are more Rays 07 than 08, but there's that chance that things come together a year early - that Andrus is ready, that the pitching holds together, that Young/Kinsler/Hamilton is just murderous. I really don't like the Angels aside from their starters, which of course is like saying "I don't like Bar Rafaeli aside from her body."

Jake:If the Giants somehow signed Manny Ramirez, are they the team to beat in the NL West?

Will: No. PECOTA makes me wonder if he's worth the money for either the Giants or the Dodgers. Probably on non-baseball levels (tickets,
jerseys) he is.

Jake; Is Tim Lincecum and his unorthodox pitching motion something baseball cannot explain and should watch his probable long career in awe and amazement?

Will: No, it's pretty easily explained, but yes, watch and be awed. It's special.

Jake: Biggest Sleeper in 2009, team-wise and player-wise?

Will: Team? I think the Brewers could be a lot better than expected, but I'm a bit less convinced without Mike Maddux there and I don't think they can catch the Cubs. Player? I think both Uptons are undervalued, but not sure either is a sleeper. I think people are undervaluing Chipper Jones too. Nelson Cruz?

Jake: Adrian Gonzalez has amazing power, even if he plays in power-killing parks like Petco Park and has an occasional series in Pac Bell and Pro Player. If he was to get signed by an AL East team, when he hits free agency, could he hit 50-60 HRs?

Will: 50? Maybe if he's in Coors without the humidor in play. That's a lot. What won the HR title last year, 39? He's not a free agent until 2012, past his peak, so I'll say no.

Jake: Should we expect anything HUGE out of you in 2009?

Will: I'm sure something will happen.

Jake: Over/Under: 3rd Place Finish for Rays in 2009.

Will: Over. I think they finish second when Boston falls under the weight of

Jake: Is there any more of an annoying song than Steve Goodman's "Go Cubs Go"?

Will: Oh god yes. Have you never heard any of the crap from High School Musical?

Jake: Final Thoughts?

Will: I'm pretty sure that I would fail a caffeine test right now.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Maddon Motivational Math and How Non-complaceny Breeds Company

2008: 9=8
2009: '09 (>) '08

Joe Maddon isn't exactly a mathematician, but it's been shown from how the Rays defied the odds by winning the AL East that his players understand his "math". He did this with the 2nd lowest payroll in baseball and without a player having an outrageous, anomalous season. For those not familiar,"9=8" means 9 players playing hard every game equals one of the 8 teams in the playoffs. It basically told every player was that if they played as a team and played hard, they were good enough to be a playoff team. Maddon was right, they improved from being 66-96 into a 97-team without doing anything major(traded troubled former top prospect Delmon Young and pieces for former troubled former top prospect Matt Garza, an error-prone SS and a reliever currently on the brewers. Troy Percival and Cliff Floyd were their Free Agent signings that offseason), but each provided their worth as the season went on. As a Rays fan, I bought into Maddon's "funny math" as the season went on.

It was revealed today that Maddon's Motivational Motto for the 2009 is " '09>'08". No brainer for the common onlooker, but there's more to it. Maddon had said in the offseason that, outside of the bullpen, there was room for improvement in the offensive, defensive and base-running facets of the game. They're gonna also have to be better than they were in 2008, due to the fact that the Yankees just spent 485 Million to compete again, Boston has "re-tooled" and the fact that they're no longer a surprise to any team in baseball. Also, it is to be said that he(Maddon) doesn't exactly want the word "greater" used for this motto(again, he doesn't want unneeded pressure to be put on his team), but there's no mathematical symbol for "better". If there's a t-shirt printed for the motto, the ">" will be put in a circle(which he says would mean better). This offseason also seen the Rays make more prominent moves; As they signed Pat Burrell, Joe Nelson, Gabe Kapler, Adam Kennedy, Brian Shouse and Morgan Ensberg and traded for Matt Joyce. Only 4 of the 7 aforemention septet are expected to make the Opening Day roster, but there's reasons why they were acquired.

The resounding sentiment from the national media is that they feel the Rays will become too complacent on how they made such a tremendous turnaround and the magic that got them there will no longer be there. It happened with the Rockies, happened with the Detroit Tigers and has historically happened to every team that has undergone a 20 game or more turnaround. Kinda like the old saying of taking 1 step forward, but 2 steps back.

To counter this, the Rays loaded up. There aren't many competitions in Rays camp, but just about every position has someone that could readily take over and produce, if an injury were to occur. Outside of maybe James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, Dioner Navarro, Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena, just about every player has their head on a swivel because there's another player that could easily be ready to take their spot. With the young Rays, how can you be complacent when you're paranoid?

I didn't list BJ Upton or Carl Crawford as players who are "locks" for their spots, due to the fact that Upton could be held out for early in the season from offseason surgery to fix his seperation-happy shoulder. His CF spot is likely to be manned by Fernando Perez, until he returns and is deemed 100%. He, then, truly will be a "lock". However, how Perez plays in that span, could spell the end of the Carl Crawford "Era" in Tampa Bay. While Crawford is deemed to be a franchise player, his contract is up after the 2010 season and he is likely to explore the Free Agent Market than resign. Why not try to trade him as long as he remains a household name, as one of the best basestealers of this generation? He could net the Rays a nice assortment of players in return, perhaps. With the Rays newfound success, it is less-likely that they'll draft automatic everyday players and have to rely more on luck and a good scouting department. If they traded Crawford, the net sum in the return for him would act as a security blanket to insure the Rays continue to be a Top 5 Farm System.It's going to be 4-5 years before their historic Brazilian Academy starts producing any prospects that will be stateside-worthy.
When a teams' perceived "franchise" player is probably going to be playing paranoid and with a chip on his shoulder(due to doubters, another post for another time), complacency is not gonna be an issue.

I wonder if the Atlanta Braves heard things like this in the offseason leading into 1992(Year 2 of the 15 year division title run).

Excuse #214: My cousin made me do it.

It's been said "The truth will set you free!"

However, when you're a future Hall-of-Famer like Alex Rodriguez is said to be(or had been), the truth may be more damaging if it's actually revealed. If you remember, when Selena Robert's article revealed Alex was juiced between 2001-2003, Scott Boras and A-Rod went into damage control within 24 hours. Peter Gammons got Alex in an interview, which Alex revealed he did the drugs that he did.

If anyone seen that interview, the powder puff questions and Alex's dodging of the tougher ones was laughable. He wouldn't reveal how he got it or what he really did.

Now, in A-Rod's Spring Training Press Conference, he was a bit more revealing. He, this time, blamed his cousin for talking him into doing an over-the-counter steroid that was available in the Dominican Republic in 2001. A bit better, had you not read from a prepared and most likely rehearsed speech. Speaking from the heart would've been better, unless the aforementioned tale of your "cousin" is fictional and you forgot certain details that would have made you out to be a liar.

Does anyone else think that this 2-week long turmoil will have an adverse effect on Alex's upcoming 5-6 months of play? On paper, having Alex and Teixiera hitting back-to-back would make the Yankees lock for a playoff spot. What if this story eats at him and causes him to play half-heartedly? A bad April could put Alex in a year-long slump that Yankee fans will never allow him to shake off. Remember, these fans have ran off players who need fan approval to build confidence.

Its gonna be interesting how this is gonna play out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's Gonna Happen

These past few years, we have become accustomed to a few things in Major League Baseball:  The Yankees will spend the most money, we will find even more players who used performance enhancing drugs, and Rich Harden will get hurt.

The hard throwing right-hander came up in the majors in 2003 and started 13 games for the Oakland A's.  He had a solid year in 2004 starting 31 games with a 3.99 ERA and in the very next year (which had him missing more than a month due to an oblique injury) he had a 2.53 ERA with 19 starts.  Sadly, everything has been downhill and down at rehab ever since with just 38 starts the past 3 seasons.

The truly sad thing is that Harden has amazing stuff.  His blazing fastball is complimented perfectly with a great changeup.  His splitter is also one of the best in the majors as some of the most experienced hitters have trouble with it.  Over 612.2 career innings of work, he has a stellar 612 strikeouts.  He had even more pitches in his repertoire including a decent curveball before getting hurt with trainers and coaches wanting him to scale it back.

This season, for Rich Harden and Cubs fans alike, is a season of optimism.  Many Cubs fans talk about how important Zambrano is to the starting rotation and how the re-signing of Ryan Dempster was the most important move that Jim Hendry made this offseason.  Well, this is true, but the impact of a healthy Rich Harden would be massive.  This is especially important because of the health of Zambrano the past couple of seasons.  I really wouldn't be surprised if people were taking bets on who would get hurt first...

There is no other player that I have become as intrigued about as Rich Harden.  I love watching this guy pitch.  I really hope for both of our sakes that this is the year where I get to see him pitch without going on the DL every time he seems to get hot.  I still cringe every time this guy throws anything but a fastball to be honest.

However, this is a season of hope for Cubs fans... again.  Cubs fans (and I) hope that Rich Harden and others will be healthy.  Cubs fans hope that they can advance to the NLCS this year.  And Cubs fans will always hope that this is the year that "It's Gonna Happen."  With a healthy Rich Harden, it may actually be the year for the Cubs.  He's that good.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Does Money Really Bring Happiness?

It could be the Ray fan inside of me talking, or living in a city that knows about long droughts of championship-less streaks(Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox Pre-2005) but the free-spending ways of the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs have become more and more comical as years pass. One wonders, Does throwing money at the highest priced free agents really solve the problems that plague teams that are supposed to be winning real championships rather than the "paper championships" that the pundits and national media throw upon them?

Look at the Yankees, they've won 26 championships in their storied history. There is no mistake that the Yankees are the greatest organization in baseball, when it comes to winning the World Series. However, since 2000, they've won none and seen 2 of their own division rivals win a championship or win an AL Pennant. What makes it worse was that the long-time punching-bag known as the Tampa Bay Rays lost the season series against the Yankees in 2008, but beat out the rival Red Sox for the Division and shut the Yankees out of the playoffs for the first time in Derek Jeter's career. They've got the best players that money can buy, but what do the Rays and Red Sox know that the Yankees don't? I've got a theory, but I'll get to that soon enough.

The Cubs, oh the Cubbies, seem to be the Anti-Yankees in the terms of Championships. They've been World Series Title-less in over 100-years, however there's no doubt how well-known and historically significant that they're known worldwide. Everyone who knows baseball knows about "The Billygoat Curse" or "Bartman". However, they've also become a free-spending team, as of late, and they too have nothing to show for it. The closest they've been to the World Series in this millenia was in the 2003 season when the legendary "Bartman" incident took place and eventually sent the Firesale-friendly Florida Marlins to their eventual World Series championship over the New York Yankees. The money has been spent, the "right" manager has been hired and still nothing. Lou Piniella has as many playoff wins for the Cubs that he did when he managed the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

What gives?

Here's my theories why teams that, on paper, should lay waste to their competition...don't and continue to give their fans headaches and/or ulcers.


While it can be argued that a team's chemistry has no effect on it's Win-Loss record, I believe a team's positive chemistry can overcome hundreds of millions of dollars and create "cinderella" stories. When everybody on a team ignores individual performance for the "greater good", this team is more likely to outperform the team whose lined with the best players who put up the best stats and make the most money.

Why? The players who are getting paid the most money from being the best players (because they put up the best stats) also put a lot of undue pressure on themselves to consistently match and surpass their bests on a yearly basis. They do things that they don't normally do and shy away from doing what they did to get them to that "big money" contract. Perfect examples of this is Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu and Alfonso Soriano.

When a team of individuals put the concept of disregarding what current logic says is the best for them as an individual and instead strive to be the best 9 players on a field at once, magic happens.

Its not known if there's discourse and jealousy in the current Cubs and Yankees clubhouses(Torre says there WAS when he was managing the Yankees), but I've got a feeling that there was more then the normal in those 2 than in the other 7 playoff teams' clubhouses.

"Buy needs, not names"

The Yankees in the last decade decided that if they outspent the competition on the top free agents, they'd be locks to be the champs. Instead of fixing glaring holes and needs, they bought names and started the downward spiral that eventually led to the ending of their playoff streak to 2 of their own and hated *gulp* rivals. No big surprise in this offseason, they continued their spending and spent a half-billion dollars on names and not exaclty their "needs". Mark Teixiera will be the Yankees best free agent signing for the last 20+ years just because he was a "need" that they filled, rather than a "name"(though, this can be argued also)

In the same breath, the Cubs have locked themselves in contracts and name players that don't exactly fit "needs." Milton Bradley is the lastest example of this. Lou Piniella has longed for a lefty to break up a righty-heavy line-up since his hiring, so the signing of switch-hitting Milton Bradley can be seen as the team fulfulling a need. However, does the signing of Milton truely make any sense? He isn't truely a lefty and his past(both in injuries and his temper) didn't make him the best player to fulfill this "need". Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn probably would've been better fits, due to their healthy pasts and handedness. Time will tell if Milton surpasses his career high of 120 games played and make Hendry proud when he holds a NCLS or World Series trophy over his head.

So, does money really bring you happiness or was Notorious B.I.G. right when he said "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems"? For those 2 teams, it was the latter.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bang For Your Buck

This offseason's top free agent hitters had 1 complete hitter(Mark Teixiera) and the vast assortment of veteran hitters whose main money-maker is their bat and what they do at the plate. Manny aside, it took until January and February for said player-types to get signed and every single one of them signed for far below their perceived "market" values. Combined, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn and Milton Bradley make as much money as A-Rod's 2009. I realize that Raul Ibanez and Jason Giambi are both veteran bat-only players, but they're in the twilight of his career (ala Manny) and GMs or writers use intangibles as reasons why players get paid what they do.

What is interesting is that 3 out of 4 of the aforementioned undermarket hitters signed for playoff level teams who had glaring needs that these players filled. Yet these teams got bonus value with the fact that every single one of these hitters is a noted on-base threat and has obvious power?

So with the undermarket costs, why did only 1 non-2008 playoff team determine to disregard the ecomonic turmoil and pay what was needed to sign a guaranteed on-base and power threat? Every AL team could've plugged a Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu as they're DHs and negated their perceived defensive inefficiencies.

Was it Milton's tumoltuous past and injury-plagued career, was it Dunn's glove or his questioned "love of the game", Burrell's slow-footedness and 2-month slumps or was it Abreu's sudden diminishing power?

Who knows, but when baseball makes as much as it does...

Does it really matter??

Pizza and Baseball, Thats what Chicago Kids Do!

Greetings, folks! Jake Larsen, here and Welcome to Deep Dish Baseball!

What is Deep Dish Baseball?

Deep Dish Baseball is where fun-loving guys talk about the game that they love, not just the teams they love, and pick the minds of baseball's finest. Blogs nowadays are used by national baseball writers, beat writers of baseball teams, some baseball executives and even players. I've seen a blog go from a basic unknown entity, with only the diehard fans knowing about them, to the level that Front Office people have granted bloggers access that rivals that of the beat writers. It's amazing how much respect that bloggers are starting to get and how well-recognized some bloggers have become.We hope that someday we garner that respect and recognition.

Who are we?

I, That is me, am Jake Larsen. To be honest, I've become the baseball fan that I am today AFTER I graduated from High School. I grew up in a house divided, with my mom being a Cubs fan and my day being a White Sox fan. So naturally, I became a fan of neither. I was a fan of the Oakland A's "Big 3", Carlos Pena, Eric Hinske and other players before I became a Rays fan. To say that it all started with a fan-boy like admiration of Rocco Baldelli would be an understatement, but being a fan of Rocco Baldelli had its positives. With that, I learned about the entire team quicker because of the freak injuries and disorder that he's gone through. I've been a blogger since 2003, writing on my own and writing for blog networks. With that said, I owe thanks to Sam Killay who gave me my first break for the now defunct "Rays Talk" of MVN and David Bloom/Jim Wisinski/RJ Anderson(who I especially thank for being the engine that turned DRays Bay into what it is today) who I've wrote for/with at DRays Bay. Hats off to you guys!

Along with me at Deep Dish Baseball is Greg Zeck("The" Greg Zeck, which makes me chuckle being a student of U of I and not "The Ohio State"), who I've always found it easy to talk baseball with whenever I've encountered him.This is the second blog for Greg, The Zeck Zone, but he's no stranger to writing. He's won awards from his High School days as a writer/editor, so his commitment and dedication as a writer is at level that many current sportswriters had during their early days. We could have the next Peter Gammons, Jay Marriotti, etc on our hands. Greg is a Cubs fan at heart, so the word dedication is one that he knows all too well. He is very open-minded and doesn't show much biasness, if any, in his thoughts.

As the days go by, more and more people may join and changes will be made, but Welcome to Deep Dish Baseball and hope you enjoy and stay for awhile.

Thank you