Monday, December 31, 2007

Casting My Hall of Fame Ballot

First, we need to qualify my Hall of Fame. There are players in there that don’t belong, in my opinion (Bruce Sutter, Lloyd Waner, Bill Mazeroski, the list goes on). So I’m more an elitist, purist, pick-the-word-for-baseball-snob. I’m voting for the people, in my eyes, that are no-brainers. I want an idealized Baseball Hall of Fame. I don’t want borderline people there. So with that in mind, here are my selections for 2008 induction.

1. Mark McGwire – He did steroids, andro, rubbed Moises Alou’s urine on his hands… Yes, he did all of that. But he was an absolute monster during the years when it’s safe to say everyone was juicing or impossible to prove anyone wasn’t juicing. There were a few years in there when Marge Schott was probably juicing -- God Bless her racist soul. So, all things considered, how do you leave out Mark McGwire? He should be in already, you puritans. Now go churn your butter!

2. Bert Blyeven – His case has been made to the point of over saturation. If you’d like, check out this, this or just watch Bert drop the F-bomb a few times:

3. Goose Goosage – He was the Mariano Rivera of his day. Frankly, he was way more dominant than Sutter. Throwing out his first four seasons where the teams he played for tried him as a starter, he’d have a 2.55 ERA in 1366.1 innings. Um, that’s pretty good. He’s a Hall of Famer. Don't believe me, I'm sure opposing hitters will attest to it.

That’s it for my votes. I’d let Raines wait a few years then reconsider him. Trammel, Murphy, Dawson and Lee Smith were good players, sometimes great, but they’re not Hall of Famers. Let's put it this way, did anyone ever watch Alan Trammel and say, "Now there's a Hall of Famer"? Or at least anyone outside of Detroit and sober?


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Around the Majors

1. Friends over at Inside Dodgers Baseball think the blue are out of the running for Bedard and Johan Santana. To me, this makes perfect sense. Dodgers need a bat with their lineup stacked with slap and run hitters.

2. A Yankee minor league blog, Pinstriped Scranton, talks about how Robinson Cano was, um, yanked from winter ball. Why he was even there to begin with is beyond me.

3. A Minnesota Twins farm system blog has a flashy picture of a slimmed down Miguel Cabrera. Next stop, Trimspa commercials!

4. People over at The Grand Jury have some possible scenarios on Mark Prior in Friar Tuck-brown. I choose option A.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Aramis Ramirez, Rebound or Reject

Looking forward to 2008, we look back at what happened with Aramis Ramirez in 2007. His stats were: 72/26/101/.310. Not numbers that killed your team, but, for where you had to draft him, he definitely didn’t produce numbers that made you happy. In fact, Adrian Beltre finished ahead of him on our PLAYER RATER (explanation of our player rater HERE). Aramis’s 26 home runs were his lowest total since 2002 when he hit a paltry 18. So what happened?

On April 13th, 2007, this is what was reported by ESPN:

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, one of the Chicago Cubs' hottest hitters during the first eight games, was out of the lineup with a swollen right wrist Friday and was sent to a hand specialist to be examined.

As we’ve seen time and again, wrist injuries completely zap the power from hitters -- I’m talking to you, Derrek Lee. Then to compound matters in June, Aramis hit the DL with knee tendonitis. Hard to say when the pain subsided, but his numbers look like he was playing through injury for a while. He had only six home runs combined in June, July and August. His batting eye, though, never wavered, batting nearly .340 for those months. So what can be expected for 2008?

Well, wrist injuries linger -- I'm talking to you, Hideki Matsui, through a translator, of course -- yet there was an extremely promising sign for Aramis’s 2008 campaign. In September of ‘07, Aramis hit 8 of his 26 home runs, a sign that his power was already returning as the season drew to a close. With some extra R & R in the offseason (Aramis seems like a deep-sea fisherman to me), he should be back to swatting home runs in the friendly confines. While your leaguemates look at Aramis’s ’07 numbers and pass him by on draft day, you can draft him with confidence as a rebound is in order.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Birth of Razzball

By Senior Contributing Writer Rudy Gamble

One of the greater joys of fantasy baseball is the satisfaction of properly valuing a player – e.g., selecting the right 1st round pick, getting a ‘steal’ in a later round, avoiding a guy who you know is going to have a bad year, trading a guy right before he tanks, etc. But while there are rewards in avoiding or trading overvalued players, the greater rewards are in retaining and acquiring the most successful players.

This reward system is one-sided. In investing, you can short-sell stocks that you know are going to tank and be rewarded. But if you KNEW Jason Bay was going to suck in 2007, all you could do was avoid him. What kind of reward is that?

This inequity is at the heart of a new fantasy baseball game that we at this FLB Blog are christening as Razzball. Razz is a card game similar to Texas Hold-em where the object is to have the worst hand possible. The objective of Razzball is to compile the worst fantasy baseball team possible.

The rosters are the same as currently found in standard MLB leagues: 13 hitters (C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B / 5 OF / Corner IF / Middle IF / UTIL) and 9 pitchers.

The stats are a bit different as there is a need to both reward below-average performance while making sure this isn’t achieved by avoiding active players. Since the aim is to be able to use a Yahoo or Sportsline free league for Razzball, we stuck with statistics that are generally available in those services:

AB (High = 10 points)
R (Low)
HR (Low)
RBI (Low)
K (High)
AVG (Low)

Minimum – 5200 team ABs (avg of 400 per position). Any ABs short will receive the pro-rated stats of 550 ABs at .320 AVG / 120 R / 35 HR / 120 RBI / 50 K

IP (High = 10 points)
L (High)
HR allowed (High)
ERA (High)
WHIP (High)
K (Low)

Maximum – 180 starts

For hitters, R / HR / RBI / AVG are the core offensive Razzball stats. The lowest in each category gets 10 points, highest 1 point.

Since this could conceivably be done via inactive players, several countermeasures are in place. ABs rewards teams that use active players (Outs would be better but it is an unavailable stat in standard online leagues). Strikeouts also serve as a reward for keeping an active roster while reflecting the least valuable action a hitter can contribute (Ok, GIDP is worse but roll w/ it). The minimum of 5200 ABs penalizes any team that falls short of a 400 AB per position minimum.

One exception that was made vs. traditional fantasy hitting stats was the removal of SB. This has always been an admittedly overrated stat in FLB (vis-à-vis actual value). We considered using Caught Stealing but it’s rather unpredictable and low in frequency. In addition, removing SB makes it easier to draft OFs as speed-only guys like Juan Pierre and Willy Taveras become attractive high AB, low HR/RBI guys.

For pitchers, L / ERA / WHIP / K serve as the core pitching Razzball stats. Losses makes for a great replacement over wins as it rewards playing bad active pitchers. ERA/WHIP/K are similar to R/HR/RBI/AVG in that teams are rewarded for poorest performance (highest for ERA and WHIP, lowest for K’s). IP is added as a countermeasure and HR serves as a mirror to offensive Ks (the least valuable action a pitcher can contribute). The maximum of 180 starts is consistent with many leagues and protects against an extreme amount of pitcher flighting.

The exception vs. traditional pitching stats is the absence of Saves. We considered blown saves but this is somewhat unpredictable and VERY low in frequency. So it’s likely that many closers will not be drafted – rather, there will be the greatest demand for middle relievers that pitch a lot of poor quality innings with, hopefully, some of those games on the line (to accrue Losses). We also considered using BB instead of low Ks but felt that was already factored into WHIP.

We’re still undecided on whether roster changes can be made on a daily or weekly basis but we’re leaning towards weekly.

Since Razzball is such a new concept, it’s really a blank slate for strategy. No collective wisdom over years and years of play and analysis. No publications or ‘experts’ to rely on. Should make for an exciting inaugural season.

As with regular FLB, strategy is dictated by the depth in performance at each position. Since MLB leagues tend to use about half the starting player pool, the depth in positions is nearly inverse so that the lowest valuable contributor (or Best Available Option as we’ve opined here and here) is very similar in both leagues – think Luis Gonzalez for OF (.277 / 74 R / 16 HR / 68 RBI).

Also similar to regular FLB, predicting pitching proves to be more unpredictable than hitting. In fact, the most valuable Razzball starter of 2007 was drafted in most regular leagues (Scott Olsen).

This points to an additional factor that makes for a very exciting variable – the chances that a below average performing player remains in the lineup / staff. The worst enemies are a player’s low upside, antsy coaches, contending teams, and unforgiving local media. Your best friends? A player’s high upside, smug coaches, floundering teams, and ineffectual local media.

Since there are only so many poor performing players out there, it will be important to retain them on your roster. So on the hitter side, we expect a similar amount of player activity as seen in FLB – there’s no way you’re dropping a Cristian Guzman but you’re going to rotate through 5th OFs in hopes of finding a guy on a cold streak or stumbling on a big find like a Norris Hopper (Reds OF from last year that managed 0 HR and 14 RBIs in 307 ABs!).

For pitching, it’ll be key to retain dud starters like Kip Wells and awful relief pitchers but we do foresee more turnover in pitchers than FLB since starting pitching reinforcements are generally worse than the pitching they replaced.


Best 2007 Razzball Pitchers:
1. Scott Olsen (FLA) - 176.2 IP / 15 L / 29 HR / 5.81 ERA / 1.77 WHIP / 133 K
2. Livan Hernandez (ARI) – 204.1 IP / 11 L / 34 HR / 4.93 ERA / 1.60 WHIP / 90 K
3. Woody Williams (HOU) – 188 IP / 15 L / 35 HR / 5.27 ERA / 1.43 WHIP / 101 K
4. Daniel Cabrera (BAL) – 204.1 / 18 L / 25 HR / 5.55 ERA / 1.54 WHIP / 166 K
5. Dontrelle Willis (FLA) – 205.1 / 15 L / 29 HR / 5.17 ERA / 1.60 WHIP / 146 K
6. Jose Contreras (CHI-A) – 189 IP / 17 L / 21 HR / 5.57 ERA / 1.56 WHIP / 113 K
7. Adam Eaton (PHI) – 161.2 IP / 10 L / 30 HR / 6.29 ERA / 1.63 WHIP / 97 K
8. Edwin Jackson (TB) – 161 IP / 15 L / 19 HR / 5.76 ERA / 1.76 WHIP / 128 K
9. Kip Wells (STL) – 162.2 IP / 17 L / 19 HR / 5.70 ERA / 1.63 WHIP / 122 K
10. Kyle Davies (KC) – 136 IP / 15 L / 22 HR / 6.09 ERA / 1.65 WHIP / 99 K

Honorable Mention to Mike Maroth who had a fantastic 6.89 ERA / 1.88 WHIP / 51 Ks but his measly 7 Ls and 116 IP keeps him out of the top 10.

Best 2007 Razz Hitters:
1. Nick Punto (MIN – 3B) – 472 AB / 53 R / 1 HR / 25 RBI / 90 K / .210 AVG
2. Felipe Lopez (WAS – 2B/SS) – 603 AB / 70 R / 9 HR / 50 RBI / 109 K / .245 AVG
3. Alex Gordon (KC – 3B) – 543 AB / 60 R / 15 HR / 60 RBI / 137 K / .247 AVG
4. Brandon Inge (DET – 3B) – 508 AB / 64 R / 14 HR / 71 RBI / 150 K / .236 AVG
5. Nook Logan (WAS - OF) – 325 AB / 39 R / 0 HR / 21 RBI / 86 K / .265 AVG
6. Marcus Giles (SD – 2B) – 420 AB / 52 R / 4 HR / 39 RBI / 82 K / .229 AVG
7. Stephen Drew (ARI - SS) – 543 AB / 60 R / 12 HR / 60 RBI / 100 K / .238 AVG
8. Gerald Laird (TEX - C) – 407 AB / 48 R / 9 HR / 47 RBI / 103 K / .224 AVG
9. Brad Ausmus (HOU - C) – 349 AB / 38 R / 3 HR / 25 RBI / 103 K / .235 AVG
10. Craig Biggio (HOU – 2B) – 517 AB / 68 R / 10 HR / 50 RBI / 112 K / .251 AVG

Honorable Mention to Lyle Overbay who was able to out-Razz Richie Sexson due to 425 ABs that managed 49 R / 10 HR / 44 RBI / 100 K / .240 AVG in the usually productive 1B slot. He was just good enough to stay out of the top 10.

This won’t be the first article on Razzball. Follow-ups will include a 2007 Razzball Player Rater, an evolving Razzball Glossary, and details on our inaugural 10 team league.

We will be reserving at least 5 slots for fellow fantasy baseball bloggers/columnists.
Any open slots will be filled by submissions on this site. To get your name in early, comment on this article. The more you comment on the site, the more you’ll be considered (of course, if you’re a dumbass on the boards that won’t help your cause…even though that might seem to be a positive trait for Razzball). Also, Razzball questions can be sent directly to or you can check

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Recap and Hate Mail

With this past Monday being the last day to WGA picket for 2007 and no Project Runway this week (Sweet Pea!), there was plenty of time to write fantasy baseball blog posts this week and since it’s Friday, it’s time to recap. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Why are you making this sound like a regular feature of your blog when you’ve never done it before?” because it will be a regular feature, now stop pointing out the obvious and let’s recap.

The week started off with Jeff Francoeur being dissected. He was gutted, splayed out under a harsh fluorescent and picked apart for answers. What we found wasn’t pretty and Frenchy was rejected.

Next we turned our eyes to Eric Byrnes, a man I could see saying, “I hate Arizona’s lack of vegan restaurants, but please don’t say I said so -- I’m a fan favorite!” and Shane “Mahalo” Victorino. They were propped against a wall and analyzed. One came out on top, one came out with curly hair and they both undoubtedly smoke pot.

Then it was onto Jason Bay, the most vanilla baseball player since the 1950s. I picture the Pirates doing a stage rendition of “Far From Heaven” with Bay in the Quaid role. But I digress. Jason Bay had a miserable 2007, but next year can be a fresh start… though we predict that it will be more of the same.

Finally, we tried to understand Manny and his career trajectory. Does he have one good year left in him? Why do you do what you do, Manny? We looked at historical data, yearly statistics, career averages and then, finally, we made a few broad assumptions. Face it, Manny’s an enigma wrapped in a pupusa.

Now we leave you with a piece of Earl Weaver-style hate mail from one loyal reader… No, we didn’t get any hate mail this week, but I doubt that’s because everyone agrees with us. Feel free to troll, flame and be spiteful as all get-out in the comments section. I was beaten as a child and I could use the love. Thanks and flame on, flamer.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Manny Ramirez, Rebound or Reject

I love Manny. I’m a lifelong Yankees fan and I love Manny. He’s totally gootarded (goofy and retarded). I can’t wait for Manny’s Hall of Fame speech, “Manny is very happy to have plaque, but my dentist is not.” Only Rickey Henderson’s Hall of Fame speech has a chance to equal it on the unintentional comedy scale. Today, however, we’re concerned with what Manny Ramirez will do in 2008, not 2015 when undoubtedly there will be flying cars.

In the last two years, Manny has missed 61 games, maybe twenty of them were from Manny being hurt rather than Manny being Manny. Last year his numbers were actually bad for where you had to draft him: 84/20/88/.296. Carlos Pena did this by June. Manny hits in a tremendous lineup and he has amazing strike-zone discipline. He should be able to post similar numbers to 2007 with his eyes closed. Unfortunately, Manny seems like he decided to get some shut-eye about two years ago. He’s the kid working the summer job at Friendly’s over Labor Day weekend. Tuesday’s back to school, and the kid just doesn’t care if you said Jimmies on the Happy Ending Sundae, you're not getting Jimmies. Well, Manny just doesn’t care anymore. The sundae will still be good, but you’re not getting the Jimmies. For where you have to draft Manny, I say reject.

BTW, this picture reminded me of Manny being Manny:


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jason Bay, Rebound or Reject?

Many of you would have preferred to have the “taco burns” than to have owned Jason Bay last year. He flailed at every inside pitch he was thrown, desperately trying to get something going. He managed to make people envious of Xavier Nady’s numbers.

People have long predicted Bay was nothing but a skinnier Bobby Higginson. If you look at Higginson’s career stats, he was also very useful early in his career. Now Higginson’s age 29 season is particularly interesting (the same one Bay will be entering), Higgy just came off an egregious season (just like Bay did) and he bounced back for a very productive season. So the same might be expected of Bay. But this is misinterpreting the facts. The facts:

His lineup is not getting better in 2008. In this off-season, a physician did not tend to the knee that hindered his running in 2007. Bay, instead, opted to let time heal all wounds. This does not bode well for a return to 10 or 15 steals. His BABIP for 2004, 2005 and 2006 were .352, .355 and .338 respectively. When he stopped getting so lucky in 2007, his average plummeted to .247. In 2007, Bay couldn’t catch up to any inside pitches as you can see from this graphic:

This is usually a sign that a player’s bat is slowing.

A slowing bat at 28, a horrible lineup around him and a player that had some good fortune with BABIP in the past does not equal a candidate for a rebound. So I might have suggested you draft Higginson in 2000, but I can’t do the same for Bay in 2008. Stamped: Rejected.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eric Byrnes vs. Shane Victorino

In 2007, Eric Byrnes had a career year, cashed out with a huge contract and became the first white spokesman for Soul Glo. Shane Victorino had a productive year, but was injured, costing him just over twenty games. Eric Byrnes will invariably go before Shane Victorino in 2008 fantasy baseball drafts, but should he?

Let’s look at how dramatically different 2007 was for Eric Byrnes compared to other years. His seasonal averages are 85/19/68/.267/23. Last year his numbers were 103/21/83/.286/50. He had a career high in runs, RBIs, steals and bested his seasonal average of homers. So when it’s said he had a career year, it's not an exaggeration. And if you’re just hoping to get at least steals from Byrnes, his previous high in steals was 25. Don’t get caught up in the perception that he’s on the rise. He was 31 last year. Sure, he hustles, but he always hustled and he didn’t always put up decent numbers. Maybe he finally feels like a part of organization with Arizona, but he was there in 2006 and he only stole 25 bases. Last year was a great year to have Byrnes, that doesn’t mean 2008 will be. Don’t compound your error of missing Byrnes last year by taking him this year.

Shane Victorino should be at the top of the Phillies lineup next year, which means 100 runs without blinking. His speed is obvious. Last year he had 37 steals in 131 games with only 4 times caught. His power is surprising and, in that ballpark, he’s good for 15 homers if he plays an entire year. His average is not a negative, after batting .285 combined in his first three years with the Phillies. He’s only 27. Just about the only thing Byrnes will definitely eclipse Victorino in is RBIs and that’s simply a result of where they will be batting in their respective lineup.

Finally, the most exciting thing about Victorino, he will be drafted after Byrnes in your league. Remember, always go for value over the name.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Jeff Francoeur in 2008

In two full seasons, Jeff Francoeur has averaged nearly 500 outs per season. 507 outs in 2006, which put him in the top 100 of all-time, then 477 outs in 2007. Coupled with his lack of walks, Francoeur rarely sees a pitch he doesn’t like. Though he did see a few more pitches in 2007 then he did in 2006, nearly doubling his walk total. Still his 2007 walk total of 43 isn’t a number to be proud of. Delving deeper into Francoeur’s numbers you find more of the same -- a free-swinging hacker.

Checking out his baseball-reference page, you find one bright side in all of this. At his age, he compares to Harold Baines. Okay, he’s not being compared to Willie Mays, but Baines had an extremely productive career and took very few walks along the way. Another bright side, he’s only going to be 24 in 2008 and he’s played every Braves game of the last two years. He’s durable and he has some time to hone his strike-zone discipline.

The biggest red flag for me is 19 homers in 2007 after hitting 29 in 2006. It seems his attempt at plate discipline is coming at a price. Granted, his doubles shot up to 40 in 2007, but he does have good speed so these could have been well-placed gapers.

Another concern, he’s a sexy name to breakout. Maybe it’s his boyish good looks, but for some reason his average draft place and his output don’t correspond. Some players annually draft higher than they should (Hey, Jeter!) and Francoeur seems to fall into this category. A dangerous category for someone with his downside. (Jeter, fortunately, doesn’t offer the same downside.)

In 2008, maybe Francoeur will double his walks again…

Maybe his doubles will turn back into homers…

Maybe his BABIP will stay above his average…

Better yet, maybe you should just draft someone that’s a bit more dependable and let someone else worry about these headaches.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Names NOT in The Mitchell Report

The blog is about fantasy baseball, but it’s sometimes hard to ignore what goes on in the real baseball world. Frankly, if we weren’t baseball fans first, we wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about fantasy baseball. So, with a heavy heart I write, yesterday was a tough day to be a fan. Taint on lots of big names, past and present -- Bonds, Clemens, Pettitte, McGwire, Bagwell, Gagne, Sosa, Justice, Tejada and, um, F.P. Santangelo. The list goes on for pages. If you want to read The Mitchell Report in its entirety, you can here. It’s lengthy and pretty depressing, kinda like if Ken Burns did a seven-part documentary on Tonya from The Real World. But today is a new day, and I’m going to try and put a positive spin on things. Here is a list of some players NOT in The Mitchell Report. If you will, a tribute.

Greg Maddux – 347 wins going into 2008. In 1998, while McGwire racked up 70 homers, Maddux went 18-9 with a 2.22 ERA and 208 strikeouts. Good to hear the Padres are bringing him back for another year. Maybe he’ll pass Clemens on the all-time wins list.

Tom Glavine – 303 wins, 2570 career Ks, and a lifetime 3.51 ERA. In 1998, Sosa hit 66 homers, but went 0 for 4 against Glavine with three strikeouts. In the Cubs second game against Glavine in 1998, Sosa sat out to give Matt Mieske some at-bats.

Randy Johnson – 4616 career strikeouts. Hopefully, he can make it back for his 300th win. It would be nice to see. In 2001, while Bonds hit 73 homers, Randy struck out 372 batters, which is eleventh most for a season and the most since Nolan Ryan in 1973.

Pedro Martinez – From 1997 to 2003, the heart of the having-a-trainer-inject-my-ass-with-something era, Pedro had ERAs of 1.90, 2.89, 2.07, 1.74, 2.39, 2.226 and 2.22 respectively.

Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera – Combined they have over 900 saves and zero mentions in The Mitchell Report. What’s that? Gagne had trouble bouncing back day after day? Trevor smiles at Mariano then, “Try it for twelve years.”

Cy Young Winners from 1996 ‘til present – Jake Peavy, Johan Santana, Brandon Webb, Chris Carpenter, John Smoltz, C.C. Sabathia, Roy Halladay and Barry Zito.

Alex Rodriguez – Canseco claims Arod should be in the Mitchell Report, but he’s not. I say we give him the benefit of the doubt. BTW, he’s arguably the best hitter in the game. When you’re in that argument, you’re pretty good.

Albert Pujols – See that premature balding is hereditary! BTW, second best hitter in the game.

Todd Helton – In 2001, he batted 132/49/146/.336. Too bad it was overshadowed.

Vladimir Guerrero – Some players medicate when they’re hobbled by injuries, some hobble. Here’s one for the hobblers.

Ichiro Suzuki – For not being in The Mitchell Report -- arrigato.

Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder – If they test positive, it’s because their steak was injected on the way to the slaughterhouse.

Frank Thomas – Okay, so he’s the Henry Hill of all of this, but it’s still a shame his 500 home runs came at a time when that was a ticket for Copperstown consideration and not a ticket to Copperstown.

Manny Ramirez – The thought of Manny trying to inject himself with something is ludicrous. Actually, the thought of Manny thinking is pretty ludicrous, but Manny get a hug from Big Papi for not being in The Report.

David Ortiz – While we’re here, someone Big Papi wasn’t hugging was McNamee.

Ken Griffey Jr.
– Maybe if Griffey took the shortcut many of colleagues did to help recuperate from injury, he would be approaching 800 home runs. Maybe his self-respect meant too much.

I wish these players above had received more recognition then and now. There’s lots of names I’m failing to mention. Please feel free to comment below some names that weren’t on The Mitchell Report.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report

The Mitchell Report is 409-page indictment on baseball. I’ve posted below some of the more interesting parts. If you wish to download the whole thing, you can do it here.


Page 116 of the Mitchell Report:

In March 1992, Pittsburgh columnist Gene Collier addressed the perception that baseball was not a sport for steroids users. Collier derided the suggestion that the game of baseball “is simply too complex to be positively augmented by some injectable.” He quoted Penn State professor Charles Yesalis, an outspoken critic of steroid use, who said that steroids were a “natural” fit for baseball:
I don’t know how common it is, but I have colleagues in the sports medicine community who say “Yeah, they’re doing it. . . . You know baseball players are lifting weights. They’re in gyms where the steroids are, and pro baseball players know pro football players.” After discussing the problems posed by human growth hormone and other substances that were difficult to detect in drug tests, Collier concluded that baseball “should consider testing if only to show how it feels about a level field being mandatory.
In 1992, Barry Bonds won the NL MVP.

Page 117
In August 1992, Peter Gammons reported in the Boston Globe that while there was not much discussion of steroid use in baseball, “there’s a growing suspicion that it’s much greater than anyone lets on.” Ten years before Rob Manfred’s 2002 Senate testimony, Gammons wrote that a recent increase in injuries in Major League Baseball could be the result of steroid use, as “players’ muscle mass becomes too great for their bodies, resulting in the odd back and leg breakdowns . . .”

Page 122
Peter Gammons also revisited the issue in a pre-season roundup before the 1997 season began, reporting that “physicians and GMs are increasingly concerned about steroid use in baseball. As one team physician said last week, ‘The owners won’t do anything about it because the cost of testing for steroids is very high, and they don’t want to face the costs or the circumstances.’” Gammons criticized the Commissioner’s Office for “turn[ing] its back on such issues.”


Page 125
In late August 1998, Steve Wilstein, an Associated Press reporter who was following Mark McGwire’s progress toward a new single-season home run record, noticed a bottle in McGwire’s locker labeled “Androstenedione.” The ensuing AP news story led to renewed scrutiny of the use of “andro” and other substances by major league players. As previously mentioned, Commissioner Selig and others in baseball have said that this incident more than any other caused them to focus on the use of performance enhancing substances as a possible problem.

Page 128
Dr. Lewis Maharam, a prominent sports medicine practitioner who is now the race doctor for the New York City Marathon, was a vocal critic, saying that “[i]f McGwire is truly taking this, then he’s cheating.” He criticized McGwire for failing to warn young athletes about the dangers of using andro. Sometime thereafter, Dr. Maharam received a call from Dr. Robert Millman, a physician who at the time also served as the medical director for Major League Baseball. During the call, Dr. Maharam said in an interview, Dr. Millman told him that “everyone in Major League Baseball is irritated with you” and that “if you don’t shut up, they are going to sue you.” Dr. Maharam was unfazed, but a week later he received a second call in which Dr. Millman told him that if he was willing to “shut up in the press,” he would be invited to make a presentation to Major League Baseball and the Players Association about the dangers of steroids and andro. Two weeks later, Dr. Maharam made a one-hour presentation to Dr. Millman, another official from Major League Baseball, and Dr. Joel Solomon, the medical director for the Players Association. Dr. Maharam recalled that, at the conclusion of the meeting, Dr. Millman expressed the view that there was not sufficient medical evidence that andro raised testosterone levels enough to be a cause for concern.


Page 216
Toward the end of the road trip which included the Marlins series, or shortly after the Blue Jays returned home to Toronto, Clemens approached McNamee (Toronto Blue Jays strength and conditioning coach) and, for the first time, brought up the subject of using steroids. Clemens said that he was not able to inject himself, and he asked for McNamee’s help.
Later that summer, Clemens asked McNamee to inject him with Winstrol, which Clemens supplied. McNamee knew the substance was Winstrol because the vials Clemens gave him were so labeled. McNamee injected Clemens approximately four times in the buttocks over a several-week period with needles that Clemens provided. Each incident took place in Clemens’s apartment at the SkyDome. McNamee never asked Clemens where he obtained the steroids.

The players listed go on for pages upon pages. All the names you’ve heard, Giambi, Sosa, Palmeiro. Some you haven’t heard as much about...


Page 224
McNamee traveled to Tampa at Pettitte’s request and spent about ten days assisting Pettitte with his rehabilitation. McNamee recalled that he injected Pettitte with human growth hormone that McNamee obtained from Radomski on two to four occasions. Pettitte paid McNamee for the trip and his expenses; there was no separate payment for the human growth hormone.

According to McNamee, around the time in 2003 that the BALCO searches became public, Pettitte asked what he should say if a reporter asked Pettitte whether he ever used performance enhancing substances. McNamee told him he was free to say what he wanted, but that he should not go out of his way to bring it up.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jayson Stark Turns Blog Over

As anyone who is a loyal reader of Jayson Stark's blog will know, he pretty much talks about nothing substantial. Hey, it worked for Seinfeld. Well, today he allows a friend of mine to talk about nothing substantial for him. Check out Matthew Mougalian's fine work here.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kosuke Fukudome to the Majors

Star center fielder for the Chunichi Dragons, Kosuke Fukudome, has announced he will play in the majors in ’08. Likely teams at this point are the Padres, Cubs and White Sox, according to ESPN.

Last year, Fukudome had an injury-plagued year, hurting his right elbow, and only played in 81 games, missing almost sixty games and the Japan Series (their World Series, guess our World doesn’t include them). Reports are that he’s fully recovered, but even fully recovered what can we expect from Fukudome in ’08? Well, let's look at his stats for his final year in Japan.

84/32/77/.285/8 are very worthwhile numbers, they are, however, not Fukudome’s stats in his final year. Huh? You thought this was about Fukudome? Well, it is. Those stats were Iwamura’s stats his final year in Japan. The year before in Japan, Iwamura hit 30 homers; in '04, he hit 44 homers. Last year, Iwamura, still only at the coveted age of 27, hit 7 homers for the Rays.

Fukudome’s last season he played a full slate in Japan was 2006 when he had excellent numbers: 117/31/104/.351/11. But as we saw from Iwamura, Japanese players’ stats get lost in translation. Not to mention, Fukudome is three years older than Iwamura. His power isn’t peaking. If anything, it’s declining. If he ends up on the Padres, with their cavernous ballpark and coming off an injury-plagued year, Fukudome is liable to put up 80/15/80/.300/10 numbers. Not bad for a fifth outfielder, but you’re going to have to take him in second outfielder draft range because of the unknown quality he’ll have going for him. He’s got a great eye, and that’s not going to change, but he’s just not worth the gamble. My advice: steer clear of Fukudome.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Curtis Granderson vs. Nick Markakis

Curtis Granderson and Nick Markakis are two players that will probably be drafted very close to each other, but who has more value?

Curtis Granderson is playing with fire. Here’s why: his strikeouts are in average killer territory of a Ryan Howard or an Adam Dunn. Right now, Granderson has been maintaining his batting average with a high BABIP. Can he get his strikeouts in check? Perhaps, but his walk rate actually declined from ’06 to ’07. Not the makings of someone learning to be more patient. Now, his runs were high, but as discussed here, runs are the least of your worries when evaluating hitters. So if I can put on my Nostradamus hat, I’ll say Granderson is more or less the player he was this year, but maybe a few more homers and a bit less average, giving him: 115/27/85/.280/25. There’s a chance Leyland moves him out of the leadoff position, but that’s doubtful. If he does, give him more RBIs and less runs. Those are good numbers. But with the Ks, his average could be .260 over 600 at-bats and absolutely hurt your team. In 2008, Granderson will be drafted way before he should. Know someone who won’t bat .260?

Nick Markakis

His predicted numbers are 100/27/115/.300/20. And guess what? That’s not a ceiling. If he can put together a full productive season, Markakis can easily reach 35 homers. Thus far, that’s been the catch with Markakis. He’s had an okay first half and then turned it on in the second half. So his very solid ’06 numbers are from another stellar second half. But what about the team around him, you ask. Yes, his team may not be as strong offensively, but Markakis is a better offensive player. Tejada, if he stays with the Orioles, should be healthy all year, after a fluke injury this year, and he will make Markakis’s numbers better. When drafting you want the better overall player, you want the player that has better natural skills, you want Nick Markakis.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Stay Away From Kevin Kouzmanoff

Read an interesting piece in the Newsweek blog about how a person’s name affects their natural proclivity for certain items.

Examples: Chris Carpenter rehabs while dining on caviar, Placido Polanco jogs while listening to Paula Poundstone, Tom Trebelhorn totes around his toddler in a Toyota.

Alliteration in lieu of science, perhaps, but the article backs up its Sally-sells-seashells-science with baseball statistics.

…Based on data from 1913 through 2006, for the 6,397 players with at least 100 plate appearances, “batters whose names began with K struck out at a higher rate (in 18.8% of their plate appearances) than the remaining batters (17.2%),” the researchers find. The reason, they suggest, is that players whose first or last name starts with K like their initial so much that “even Karl ‘Koley’ Kolseth would find a strikeout aversive, but he might find it a little less aversive than players who do not share his initials, and therefore he might avoid striking out less enthusiastically.” Granted, 18.8% vs. 17.2% is not a huge difference, but it was statistically significant—that is, not likely to be due to chance.
Might want to bump up Kazmir and drop Kevin Kouzmanoff on your draft cheat sheet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Victor Martinez vs. Carlos Ruiz

As we continue our ongoing series looking at low-priced alternatives, we turn our eyes to the catching position and Victor Martinez and Carlos Ruiz. Victor Martinez numbers last year were impressive for a catcher: 78/25/114/0/.301. Falling slightly above his seasonal average of 82/21/104/0/.301. Anyway you slice it, Victor Martinez’s numbers dwarfed the majority of catchers, but by how much?

The best available option of catcher as covered here was 47/13/57/2/.273 (i.e. Paul Lo Duca, Johnny Estrada, AJ Pierzynski), by far the weakest of any position. So if you don’t get a big name (V-Mart, Posada, Russell Martin), you can’t really do that wrong with all of the others. The best method you can employ is to find a catcher with the most upside and take a flier in the very late rounds of your mixed draft. Enter, Carlos Ruiz.

Carlos Ruiz’s numbers last year were, 42/6/54/6/.259 in 374 at-bats, but they only tell a part of the story. In his previous two years in Triple-A, Carlos hit over .300 and a high of 16 homers in ‘06. At the start of '08, Carlos will be 28 years old. An age when catchers really begin to ripen (catchers tend to develop a bit later than other positions). There’s no reason to think Ruiz can’t, at the least, match the aforementioned best available option numbers. His ceiling? Obviously much greater than Paul Lo Duca, Johnny Estrada and AJ Pierzynski. Why can't Carlos Ruiz come close to 60/17/70/6/.275? When you consider he’s entering the prime of his career, he’s hitting in Citizen’s Bank in half of his games and he should see some more at-bats, those numbers aren't a far reach. So if you fail to take a catcher early, don’t fear. Carlos Ruiz should be sitting there in the later rounds.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The New Juan Pierre

For years, Juan Pierre has given teams a boost in steals, a decent average and little else. Well, there’s going to be a new Juan Pierre and his name is Michael Bourn. Or maybe Willy Taveras was the new Juan Pierre and Michael Bourn will be the new Willy Taveras, or Michael Bourn will be the new new Juan Pierre. Now that that is muddled appropriately, let’s look at the new new Juan Pierre.

Michael Bourn will presumably bat first for the Houston Astros. A great place for a prospect that Baseball America pointed out as having the "Best Strike Zone Discipline." Okay, not exactly Best Newcomer at the AVN Awards, but strike zone discipline is not a bad thing to have for a leadoff man. I'm talking to you, Granderson.

What made Baseball America bestow Bourn with such an honor? He had a career Minor League OPS: .855 (.426 OBP). To go hand and hand with his strike zone discipline, he has demon-like speed. In Low-A he stole 57 bases in 63 attempts - a success rate of over ninety percent. BTW, those 57 bases were in only 106 games. In one and a half years at Double-A, he was 68 for 84. Triple-A, a tidy 15 for 16. Last year on the Phillies, Bourn was used primarily as a pinch runner and stole 18 of 19 bags. In 119 at-bats in the majors, he registered a .348 OBP. Oh, and Bourn hit six homers in Double-A. Juan Pierre doesn’t have six homers if you combine ‘05, ‘06 and ’07 or almost 2000 at-bats.

Also, in this great featherweight match, Michael Bourn is more than four and a half years younger than Juan Pierre. Now nowhere will you find me endorsing you draft a speed-only type like Bourn, but if you find yourself in need of a quick boost of steals, Bourn will be drafted probably ten rounds later than Juan Pierre in mixed leagues. For that kind of value, avoid Pierre and grab Bourn.