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