Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Great Debate: Mike Quade Vs. Ryne Sandberg

It was announced this morning that Mike Quade would have his interim tag dropped and the Cubs would choose him, over a small handful of candidates, for the Cubs managerial job. By doing this, this sparked a firestorm of discussion around Cubs fandom. Although there was 5 candidates for the job, it was almost a given that it'd come down to 3. Mike Quade, Ryne Sandberg and the possibility of Joe Girardi after the MLB playoffs concluded were the front-runners. Former Indians skipper Eric Wedge was also a candidate, however he just had taken the Seattle Mariners managerial position.

Cub fans everywhere thought Ryne Sandberg was slowly being groomed and would become Cubs skipper once Lou Piniella left. He was slowly working his way up through the Cubs full-season leagues and once Lou resigned and a quick Interim manager was picked to finish the year, Ryne seemed poised to walk into the 2011 season as Cubs manager.

Enter Mike Quade

Mike Quade was a long-time Cubs coach and former manager for various teams throughout the organization. He'd worked with a great majority of the players at some time or another and was already on Lou's staff after his resignation. If anyone could quickly assimilate to the managerial role and finish the season, it was Quade.

Surprisingly the Cubs mish-mash of talent, after a small firesale, bought into Quade's style and the Cubs played spoilers and inspired baseball to finish the season. In fact, only the Philadelphia Phillies had a better record in the period that the Cubs had Quade as manager.

Was this turnaround of a horrible season to a somewhat mediocre season caused by Quade's mixture of old and new or due to the fact it happened during the point in the year in which prospects and players were brought up to show the organization if they've got a future with the team? Its unclear to which was the catalyst of this, however the results showed enough to give the Cubs good reason to remove the Interim tag and give Mike a 2-year extension and forego the "Ryne Sandberg Coronation" for another 2 years.

Cubs fans are probably still debating whether the 6 weeks of Quade is enough to overlook the 3-4 year process that Sandberg was part of. On the other side, it's unclear if Ryne is "ready" for the majors and the headache of "larger than life" egos and primadonna players in the MLB. Sandberg's name has been thrown around for other managerial jobs(Seattle and the still-open Toronto job), so he still has a shot to be managing in the MLB in 2011. However, Toronto's never-ending list of interviewees lends to the fact that they're unsure if anyone is truly "perfect" for the job just yet.

I'd like to point out to Cub fans the length of Quade's deal, 2 years. Why do I point this out? Well, due to the fact that this will be when Zambrano and Soriano's albatross-like contracts are diminished enough to where the Cubs can trade them without having to add prospects also to get even a marginal return in a trade. If not a trade, these players can be diminished enough in ability where a non-tender isn't bally-hooed by fans. If Ryne remains in the organization until then, this opens the door for him to be given the Cubs managerial job with a completely clean slate.

Now if the Cubs could only work on replacing their GM, Jim Hendry...

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning How to Deal

With the 2010 MLB coming to an end, teams will be re-tooling or rebuilding towards the 2011 season. Two interesting teams that will be doing A LOT of work in this upcomingoffseason will be the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago Cubs(oh, the cruel irony). The reasons why these teams will be working the most are different, however it is what it is.

The Chicago Cubs, always in the discussion for being a contender at the beginning of the season, need to decide if they're going to be slowly converted into a middle-spending(smart-spending, though), big-market teams or if there's going to be a continuance of the old ways of The Tribune Company. Personally, Tom Ricketts' background and his ownership press conference show that the Cubs will eventually be a tad more dependent on their Top 15 farm system and less dependent on making big splashes on the Free Agent market. The Cubs need to choose their manager, but that likely won't happen until after the World Series. The biggest question marks ahead for the Cubs are 1B, Outfield and the back-end of the rotation and non-closing relief. With youngsters like Tyler "Dracula" Colvin and Starlin Castro, Cubs don't need HUGE moves but a lot of little ones.

The Tampa Bay Rays, on the other end, have just come off their best 3-year stretch in franchise history. 2-Time AL East Champs, 3 consecutive "winning" seasons and 1 World Series Appearance. However, this is the "Winter of Discontent" for the franchise. The Rays owner announced in Spring Training of the 2010 season that the team planned on "slashing payroll" from the 70 MIL range that they were at in 2010 season to a more acceptable/workable 50 MIL. The Rays have 9 Free Agents and 6 or so will be definite goners. The Rays have an absolutely loaded farm system, so there's a great chance that the Rays could re-tool from within on some of those lost players. The Rays' biggest holes in the offseason to work on will be the back-end of their bullpen and their bench and they'll likely have 14-18 MIL to work with.

Bad news, fans, is that these offseason moves won't happen until January. Gonna be a looooooong, loooooong wait.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The AL Cy Young Debate and How I picked a fight with an ESPN analyst

"King" Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, David Price, Trevor Cahill, Jon Lester, Francisco Liriano and Cliff Lee make up what is most likely the top vote-getters in the AL Cy Young Race. Those pitchers make up a very dominant staff and all have their reasons why they should be considered for the award. However, when its all said and done, Felix-Sabathia-Price will be most likely the 3 finalists.

To put things into perspective, Felix being a finalist is due to the influx of "stat-head" voters that have been added to the Baseball Writers Association of America(BBWAA) and have effected the MVP races in the past with their sabermetric approach. Saber-heads, like me, love Felix's gaudy stats that make up for lack of wins and run-support for what is going to be statistically one of the worst hitting teams in the last 40 or so years. Felix leads the AL in ERA, Innings Pitched, Strikeouts and has 30 Quality Starts(6 Innings Pitched and given up 3 or less runs). There's been 6 pitchers that have 30 QS in a season in the last 3 decades and they all won the Cy Young Award. However, traditionalist BBWAA see the lack of Wins(usually somewhere around 20 is a lock to win it) and the 12 losses and throw Felix out of any discussion. Felix is also undefeated* against all teams in the ALDS. More on why I asterisk'd undefeated to come.

CC Sabathia is a traditionalist BBWAA member's dream. He's got 20+ Wins, an ERA hovering in the low 3's, is pitching in a pennant race and he comes from a large market(which means he's always pitching in front of big crowds). However, stat-heads point out that 1/2 of Sabathia's wins come from Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle. Those 3 teams will all be in the running for worst records in the AL. Also in the nay-sayer file for Sabathia is that he has only 1 win against the team his Yankees are fighting for the division crown with, the Tampa Bay Rays. He hasn't pitched well against them at all. Also, going against him, is the fact that he's got strong run-support. The Yankees top the majors in runs scored and give Sabathia close to a 5-6 run cushion when he starts. When a pitcher is given that, he's got to be AJ Burnett-bad to blow it. He, on the other hand, has taken advantage of it.

David Price is probably a long-shot to win it, however people unsure if Sabathia or Felix truly deserve it may vote Price because he's a blend of traditionalist stats and sabermetric stats. Price has 19 Wins(Not 20, but close to it), has a sub-3 ERA, decent amount of strikeouts and a low WHIP(walks and hits per innings pitched) and holds batters to a .222 batting average. He's got 11 wins against AL East opponents, which is seemingly a very tough division to play in. His downfalls: he plays for what is deemed a "small-market" team, his walks are a tad high(75), he's got the 2nd highest scoring team in baseball hitting behind him and this is also his 1st full year in the majors. Whether or not voters hold the youth issue against Price or not is unclear, however he's gotta have a Tim Lincecum-like year to give voters enough security to vote Price over Felix or CC.

My best guess is that Sabathia has done enough to get the majority of voters on his side, however there's been enough evidence that sabermetrically-inclined voters have swayed award voting before(Greinke over Felix, NL and AL MVP voting last year).

So...why did I asterisk the word undefeated and why did I name my article so?

Well... You see... Today, on twitter, a media member(who will remain nameless) that has been linked to work on ESPN decided to start tweeting facts that support King Felix's CY candidacy. One of those tweets was that Felix was undefeated versus all AL playoff teams this season. Well, in technical terms, the writer was correct. However, in actuality, his tweet was a fallacy. King Felix is undefeated against Texas, Minnesota and New York. However, he hadn't faced the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. Every match-up between Seattle and Tampa either came the day after a Felix start or the days preceding it. In pointing out this fact and stating that he should correct himself, the writer angrily told me that I was a "homer" and told me to "go away". I went on to say that I'm technically "in the right" for my statements and that due to his high follower counts, he should correct himself for the sake of baseball fans. Doing so resulted in him "blocking" me. No sleep lost here, however goes to show that there's still people who act like children with jobs that pay decent money. If you're able to write a blog and put it behind a money-subscription firewall and attract people into buying it, don't be a baby and run away from the truth.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jake's Reaction To Comments made by Rays Owner, Stu Sternberg, on future of Rays Franchise

I know I promised the "losers" part of the draft review, however what's on my mind right now is how Rays bloggers and fans have been reacting towards comments made by Rays majority owner Stu Sternberg yesterday.

In short, Stu announced that the current stadium(Tropicana Field) and its current location(Downtown St. Petersburg, FL) aren't viable towards the improvement and success of the franchise. He basically stated that he's looking into more centralized populated areas still in the surrounding area(though preferably closer to the Tampa area) because he feels both he, business-wise, and fans deserve a better venue.

News came out today that if they can't find a location and if Tampa/St. Pete can't work together finding a new home for the Rays, he'd either sell the team or move it. With that said, I applaud Stu for getting the ball rolling. He did it the right way, when trying to put his own plan together with his initial stadium idea. Residents poo-pooed that idea, but he never gave up the idea. Now, he had to use the next tactic, which is a somewhat threatening tone. If a town/city wants to sit on their hands and act as if nothing is a problem, you gotta push them sometimes.

He's correct, #s don't lie, when saying that the current location isn't viable. Barely half the population of the greater downtown st. Pete area is within a 30 minute drive. While places like Tampa and other possible sites have a more centralized population.

I'm an outsider, I'm from IL, but I'd like to visit FL and go to a Rays game where I didn't have to drive 30+ minutes to drive to a stadium where there's only 1 way to get in and out. Next thing, after finding a new location, is creating and mass-transit system. We're in the 2000s, Tampa and St. Pete, use technology for once.

However, if they can't find a new location, I hope Stu keeps ownership of the team and relocates it...Art Moddell-style.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Winners and Losers of the 2010 Rule 4 Amateur Draft- Part 1: Winners

Last week was one of my favorite times of the year when it comes to baseball. The MLB Amateur Draft(aka "The Rule 4 Draft") is how teams build their farm systems and how GMs/Scouting Directors are evaluated by fans. If you draft the "Best Player Available", no matter the chances of actually signing all the players, you'll be praised for having a great draft. If you draft with money in mind, fans will point out overdrafts and may start calling for the heads of management. However, with only 1 week elapsed, opinions on the picks alone can be made. How good of a draft a team had, however, cannot be truly judged until August 16th's signing deadline for all college non-seniors.

If you had to ask me who had this year's 5 best drafts, I'd have to give it to Boston, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Pittsburgh and Seattle's drafts were surprising to most only because of what they did with their picks. Both teams have known to be very cautious with picks, so this year they seemed to throw caution to the wind and draft high-end talent while teams decide to shy away on those players due to salary demands.

The St. Louis Cardinals draft was benefited by draft-day slides. These slides were caused by higher pick teams picking players that they hadn't believed to be available or by a players' bonus demands. Most mock drafts had Zach Cox(Arkansas) going in the Top 10, so getting him at #25 was a steal for St. Louis. Arizona State's Seth Blair and Prepster Tyrell Jenkins also fell far enough to fall to the Cardinals in the Sandwich round. However, the biggest "wow" pick by the Cardinals was selecting HS "stud" Austin Wilson in the 12th round rather in the Top 15 picks that most believed that he'd be picked in. Many teams soured on Wilson as the draft neared when it was believed Wilson was asking for 2-3 MIL and was a hard sign away from his commitment to Stanford. However, after his pick, Wilson said that all the rumors regarding him were more fiction than fact.

If one asked me who made most of their picks and picking seemingly-signable talent, that would go to the Tampa Bay Rays. In the Rays' history of drafting, this was the 1st year that they had multiple 1st round picks. Like the Cardinals, they benefited hugely to slides. Their 1st pick, Prepster Josh Sale, was perceived to be gone in the 1st 8 picks. Getting him with the 17th pick was a shocker to most, but the 1st of many "steals" for them. With the 31st pick, a compensatory unprotected pick for failing to sign last year's 1st round pick(LeVon Washington), many believed the Rays would've gone safe with a college player that would be more apt to agree to a draft-day deal. So when the Rays picked another prepster in Justin O'Connor, who many thought could've gone as early as 7th to the Mets or even 15th to the Cubs, it shocked some prognosticators. Even more shocking, to most, was that the Rays and O'Connor had an agreement in principle to a deal already in place. So, with the 1st picks being prepsters, it shocked many Rays fans when Rays decided to draft another prepster from Washington state in outfielder Drew Vettleson. While not as powerful as Sale projects to be, Vettleson has a strong arm and enough power and contact skills to project as a future major leaguer. The Rays went safer with their initial 2nd round pick, but returned to the Washington draft pool with picks of Ryan Brett(who was believed to be the 3rd best WA talent, behind the aforementioned Sale and Vettleson) and highly projectable Ian Kendall. Rays, later on, managed to benefit from another draft-day slide when they got Jesse Hahn(whose draft stock fell due to a draft-day forearm problem).

The Boston Red Sox can thank the draft day gods and great scouting for what I believe was the best draft overall. They selected the best players available, no matter what the believed price to sign them is. With their 1st 3 picks, Boston drafted 3 of the best college players in this year's draft in Ball State's Kolbrin Vitek, Middle Tennessee State's Bryce Brentz and LSU's "ace" Anthony Ranaudo. Vitek and Brentz are mashers that may be major league-ready in 1-2 yrs, however where they play and if their bats resemble what they looked like in college are the questions that surround them. In Ranaudo, Boston is gambling that his arm is back to where it was in the beginning of the season when most considered him one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball before it faded due to some ailments that caused astounding drops in velocity and control. Boston continued their great picks when selecting Brandon Workman(Texas' ace/co-ace), prepster w/ huge upside in Sean Coyle and Gerin Cecchini who fell pray to injury and an almost lock-tight commitment to LSU that caused a fall from the 1st round. The only problem with this draft, if there is even a "problem", is whether or not Boston will go vastly over-slot recommendations with all these top-end talents to sign them. Luckily for them, they drafted enough to make up for not signing others.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts on Mr. McGwire

This is a tad bit belated, but it's still worth a post. Plus, I feel that I've had enough time to allow this to stew within my head to reach even more conclusions on this.

It's impossible to put a number on what percentage of players used steroids the past couple of decades. Every time I reach a number, it seems to dwindle down and be less than I previously anticipated.

Many believed that for the longest time that this was a game of cheaters against cheaters. I don't believe that at all. There is no doubt that many of the biggest names used PEDs (and even some that were not too well-known), but for every one of these players, there seems to be a person we know that didn't cheat. For every Roger Clemmens there is a Greg Maddux, for every Mark McGwire, a Ryne Sandberg.

I will not take this reasoning that McGwire deserves to be in the HOF. Under no circumstances should cheaters be allowed into the HOF. I know it's not the biggest sin in Baseball, but in today's society, it might as well be. Gambling is more of a thing of the past, and MLB should step up there game and determine the eligibility for cheaters.

I'm not even sure that McGwire feels remorseful, either. Sure he cried, but for about a decade he blatantly broke the rules. He says he wishes he never got involved but I bet if he had the chance, he'd do it all over again. Mark McGwire is one of the most selfish players I've ever seen. Apparently the man's family didn't even know about his usage, and it was all to make his career last a little longer.

And who says that we can believe Jose Canseco? The one thing that we can trust from him is that he is a pathological liar. I believe more out of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy than I do from Jose. Jose claims that the mentions of McGwire are true and that they injected each other. I doubt it.

The whole lesson that I've taken from this is that we should not trust anybody involved with PEDs period. Everything is simply hearsay. Believe nothing of what these men say, as they have no integrity. They have no pride in what they do or in the game they supposedly love. None of their words should be taken seriously.

Besides, I'm not even sure I want to know what really went down...

Coming Soon

We're going to try and get this blog up and running again. My other website is in it's off-season and with baseball season starting to heat up, I have something to write about again.

Jake is starting to write for another blog, but said he will also work on this one

Hope you check back here often