Cy Youngs: Felix Hernandez and Cole Hamels (who will have a good chunk of the season matching up against No. 4 and No. 5 starters)
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
- Tim Lincecum (2010 IP including postseason - 238, 2009 - 225, 2008 - 227)
- Matt Cain (244, 217, 217)
- Jonathan Sanchez (212, 163, 158)
Looking back at three recent World Series young guns, you the drop off the following year is obvious: (note: I didn't include C.C. Sabathia, who even though is in the same age range, was a fairly established starter at that point and I didn't include anyone from the Cardinals' WS squad since the only young pitcher among their starters was Jason Marquis, and he was hardly their Cy Young candidate.)
Of all of these pitchers, only Dice-K managed an improvement the following year, but he has been on the decline ever since. Of the others, only Brett Myers managed an ERA even close to that of his world series year, but injuries kept him under 100 innings.If recent history is any indicator, it's unlikely that any of the trifecta of Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez will repeat their performance in 2011. Hopefully, the slightly tweaked line-up will be able to put together enough to offer more consistent help to the staff.
Monday, March 28, 2011
- 1B - Paul Konerko - The poster child of the prospect that the Dodgers never should have sent away. From Eric Karros to James Loney, Konerko is better. He was a little slow hitting his prime, but in hindsight, should have been kept. He was traded with Dennys Reyes (who just made another 40-man roster) for Jeff Shaw, who never even made a single plate appearance for the Dodgers. (Oh, yeah. He was a closer. He had a bunch of saves over a few years, but that's beside the point. No playoff wins.)
- 2B - Blake DeWitt - Truth be told, the jury is out here. He was dealt for Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot. Lilly looks like a serviceable starter. The fact that he was a former Dodger farmhand before he became any good doesn't help this argument, though. He did land the Dodgers Mark Grudzielanek, whose name I still can't spell unless I'm sober.
- 3B - Andy LaRoche - Okay, Casey Blake is better, but he cost us Santana. I'm sure there was some free agent available somewhere along the line that wouldn't have cost us a "five-tool catcher". Sigh.
- SS - None of note.
- OF - Shane Victorino - He's better than Jay Gibbons/Marcus Thames/Tony Gwynn's Kid. That's for sure. He was drafted in the Rule 5 draft by the Padres. Then returned to LA. He was drafted in the Rule 5 draft by the Phillies. They kept him. Gave L.A. a few bucks. Awesome.
- OF - Franklin Gutierrez - Outside of Ichiro and the future Justin Smoak, he's the only player in the Mariners' lineup that anyone cares about. Oh, and he could probably cover two outfield positions by himself. Even better, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for headcase, and board-game namesake Milton Bradley, who currently clogs left field in Seattle. At least Guti gets to show his range with a limited left-side partner at Safeco.
- He doesn't have years and years worth of major league plate appearances to reference
- He followed a season and change of very, very good hitting with a season of very, very mediocre hitting.
- Sandoval hit significantly better as a right-handed hitter in 2009: 1.028 OPS as a righty, vs. .914 as a lefty. In 2010, however: .589 OPS as a righty, .779 as a lefty
- He had torrid hitting months in April and August last year (1.008 and .908 OPS, respectively), but was below .650 in all other months, two of them below .600
- He was a productive hitter on the road in 2009 (.877 OPS), but stunk like a scared skunk rolling in rotten eggs on the road in 2010 (.565 OPS)
- p/pa (2009/2010): 3.44/3.43
- g/f ratio (2009/2010): 0.82/0.81
- bb/k ratio (2009/2010): 0.63/0.58
- Pablo in an 0-1 count (2009/2010): 1.037 in 60 pa's/.560 in 75 pa's
- Pablo in a 1-1 count (2009/2010): 1.123 in 49 pa's/.450 in 53 pa's
Sunday, March 27, 2011
- Feliz competently fielding ground balls at 3rd base, showing decent range and a strong arm, or
- Feliz flailing at sliders away and neck-level fastballs and missing, or Feliz making contact with sliders away and grounding out and making contact with neck-level fastballs and popping out.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
The article also mentions that several other revenue sharing recipients (Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals) made nice profits, but they are also genuinely small-market teams.
My problem isn't with teams making money. My problem isn't with teams pulling a profit at the expense of not paying players. Someone stupid is going to come along and do it, whether they deserve it or not. It is a business. Don't get me wrong. It would be nice if those teams spent the money on players, but it's not like any MLB quality player is going hungry because the Pirates are trying to bank an extra million. I just question why are the Oakland A's, San Diego Padres and even the Florida (soon to be Miami) Marlins recipients of revenue sharing money.
Revenue sharing should be balancing for teams in their ability to generate revenue. To expect Milwaukee and its 39th ranked metropolitan statistical area, or MSA for short (by population), to compete revenue-wise with New York, a market that's approximately 13 times larger, is a ridiculous proposition. However, the Miami MSA is the 7th largest in America. I've heard the stadium issue ad nauseum, and Miami is finally solving it, but is that issue really the big revenue teams' issue? So, is revenue sharing supposedly helping "small market" teams, as that's the term that's been thrown around, or are they helping out teams are are not efficient in capitalizing on their market size? By the same token, Oakland is in the 13th largest market (and if you add the San Jose/Santa Clara MSA which is on their doorstep, it'd be 5th). San Diego is 17th.
It's one thing to help teams that can't legitimately compete due to inequalities in markets, but it's not the big market guys' fault that that the Marlins' owner Jeff Loria can't generate a competitive revenue stream in a market of 5.5 million people.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Standing barefoot in the public restroom, I knew I’d hit rock bottom.
Oh, wait, wrong blog. But it’s still an excellent segway into the land of the Los Angeles Dodgers, or the evil enemy for the perspective of this blog. I’ve got to admit, that over the past season, there has been so much back-and-forth in the Frank & Jamie McCourt divorce drama, I’ve lost track of who has won which battle, but it’s apparent that the continuing battle is holding back the Dodgers, so let’s just let this thing get ugly quickly, so it can end quickly. Too much about the owners’ personal finances have been made public, and no team or their owners want their finances made public. Just ask any NFL owner. Frank spending a few hundred thousand on a Russian dude in Boston to think positive thoughts for the team instead of spending it on a long reliever just doesn’t sit well with the fans. So, getting this fiasco over will inevitably and hopefully leave the owner(s) in ruins and force them to sell the team. Sheesh. Second largest market in America, you’d think the boys in blue could muster more help for the offense than Juan Uribe.
Anyway, from a fan’s perspective, it’s easy to gripe about why the team hasn’t been made a lot better. Truth be told, few teams are usually in the market for the big names, and they’re usually the subject of a ridiculous bidding war, so it’s hard to get too worked up over not landing top-level help. If my team had just paid what the Nationals paid for (former Dodger) Jayson Werth, I’d be questioning that decision as much as I’m questioning their inactivity.
So, what’s going to come of the Dodgers for 2011? My gut says they’re in the right division. Even though the San Francisco Giants (it kills me linking that picture there, but gotta give props ... they earned it) are the reigning league champs, they didn’t exactly win the division running away. They got hot at the right time, and they have the strong pitching that wins a playoff series by shutting down a strong lineup. Their lineup keeps them from looking like a 95+ win team, so that keeps the door open for other contenders. Yet with their strong core of pitching, I wouldn’t count on a step backward, either. The Colorado Rockies appear to be only other serious threat in the division, but they have defined “split personality” over the past few years. I think everyone can agree that the Arizona D’Backs and the San Diego Padres will be non-factors. Given the records in the division over the past several years, it looks like 90 wins could take the division, so the door looks open for these three teams.
The Dodgers, to me, look like a team where their ceiling is about what they’d need to win the division. Their star power looks limited. On offense, Matt Kemp looked like he’d be in that discussion now, but had a sophomore slump in his junior year. Andre Ethier is clearly an upper-echelon player, but given that he’s pushing 30, it’s looking more and more unlikely he’ll hit the ultimate tier. The rest of their lineup looks average at best. Rafael Furcal’s best days are behind him. James Loney is miscast as an efficient, yet unspectacular slap-hitter playing first base. 37-year old Casey Blake, who’s starting the season injured, can’t have much left in the tank. Rod Barajas and Juan Uribe are those nice players that have been in the league for years, but unless you’re a true fantasy geek or they didn’t play for your team, you don’t know them outside of their rare SportsCenter moment. And left field looks like a wasteland of a platoon of a has-been (Jay Gibbons), a never-quite-was (Marcus Thames) and isn’t-close-to-being-as-good-as-dad (Tony Gwynn, Jr.). Being “average” looks like a best-case scenario for this bunch. Obviously, if you're looking at a three headed monster like that in left field, bench depth isn't a strength. When you're lead backup is Jamey Carroll (a player with the rare distinction of being a 37-year old major leaguer and having been in the league long enough to have been a Montreal Expo, yet is still obscure enough to be familiar to but a precious few fans).
The pitching staff has one player who has the potential to be the biggest star on the 25-man roster, Clayton Kershaw. His numbers are on the upswing and it seems like he’s been on the brink of being the ace for ages, so it’s easy to forget that he’s only 22 years old. If he makes that next step, not only does he become the presumptive ace of the staff, he becomes the game changer that makes this team look that much better when it comes to a playoff series. He’d be vital in that role, because the rest of their starting pitching is filled with those nice pitchers that fill out a rotation, but not the guys you’d want to count on as a #2 in a playoff series. Hiroka Kuroda, Chad Billingsley (not to be confused with Peter Billingsley), Jon Garland, Ted Lilly, Vincente Padilla … all guys you envision as #3 or #4 starters. Not guys you want going up against the #2 starters of the Giants, Philadelphia Phillies or St. Louis Cardinals in a five game series.
Breaking down a bullpen, outside of the closer, is probably one of the most difficult feats in the world of prognostication. Bullpens are baseball’s equivalent of offensive linemen in football. You really only hear names called when they come in and give up the big inning. Quick: outside of your favorite team or two (or the New York Yankees, because they just threw all kinds of cash at Rafael Soriano), name another team’s 7th or 8th inning guy. And most of these guys fall from grace just as quickly. One year, you hear about a team having an amazing bullpen, two years later, you’re hearing these same names as spring training non-roster invitees. But the big name here is Jonathan Broxton. His career path seems to be following Matt Kemp’s with a sophomore slump in his junior year. However, being a pitcher … hell, especially being a closer, a loss in velocity is far more concerning than a fielder having mental blunders or a lack of focus, which appears to be Matt Kemp’s issue. A bounce-back from Broxton looks critical, as anyone else in the pen stepping in would be a serious step back from the Broxton the Dodgers had in ’09 or the first half of ’10.
Long story short, if the Dodgers catch lightning in a bottle with this bunch, 90 wins seems plausible. And depending how the chips fall, that may be enough to win the NL West. 92 wins would win half the seasons in the NL West in the past decade. If spring training injuries to Casey Blake and Jon Garland are a harbinger of things to come, it looks like it’ll be a long year with glimpses of Ivan DeJesus, Jr. or Dee Gordon.
Somewhere, Rupert Murdoch is laughing. So is Darren Dreifort, but for other, yet completely legitimate reasons.
Oh, and thanks to Daniel for inviting me to be the voice of the enemy for the sake of this blog. Yup, I'm an avid Dodger fan. One that most readers here probably cannot fathom how someone could have such a point of view, and I for one, am still stinging from the day that Orel Hersheiser signed a free agent deal with the Gints. Somehow, getting Juan Uribe this year doesn't seem like it'll be an equal and opposite reaction.