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Thursday, March 31, 2005
Custodians. John J Perricone:
If McGwire (or Bonds, or Sosa, or Brady Anderson, or whoever) used steroids prior to 2002, it wasn't cheating, it wasn't against the rules, and they didn't hurt anyone. Bill Madden, (or any one of these sportswriters) writing that Bonds should retire, for the good of the game, cannot make the same claim. He is writing something that is hurtful, that is not based on facts, and in fact, is against the rules (the journalistic code of ethics). Hall of Fame voters saying that they will keep Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame are doing the same thing. They are abusing the privilege they enjoy, for reasons that have no business being included in the discussion, based on innuendo and speculation and slander.

Furthermore, as writers like Bill James and Joe Sheehan have begun to question the Hall of Fame voters exclusive status, let me say that should these voters be pompous and self-righteous enough to deny Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds his plaque in Cooperstown; it will be their downfall. They've kept Rose out, to the anger and frustration of many, many fans. Their exclusivity is a privilege, and fans will put up with only so much. Should they follow through on their foolish stance; they will force the Hall to reconsider the current arrangement, the fans will make sure of it. Mark McGwire is a Hall of Fame player, and the fans idolize him. Denying him his place in the Hall will not be tolerated.
(Only Baseball Matters)

More of John J Perricone's excellent posts about steroids and baseball are collected here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide...and I'm on TV. Jay Jaffe will be appearing live on MSNBC's Connected Coast to Coast today (Wednesday) at 12 noon EST/9 AM PST. Topic: steroids. (Futility Infielder)

First Time Caller, Long Time Moron.
The greatest of all sports talk traditions is the mock trade. Two rules of the call-in show mock trade:

1. Assume the prospect you've heard about on your team is as valuable as the best prospects in the game. If Daric Barton and Dan Haren add up to Mark Mulder, then Todd Linden and Brad Hennessey must equal Mark Mulder, too. Why didn't the stupid Giants trade for Mulder?

2. The scapegoat of the Giants needs to go in the trade. However, and this is crucial, the player's value is not affected by his being overpriced and/or terrible. In 2001, Marvin Benard was in every trade proposal. In 2004, it was Neifi. This year, make sure your trade includes Kirk Rueter. Now that makes it Linden/Hennessey/Rueter for Mulder.

That's all there is to it. This, of course, was all just a long-winded lead-in to my open call for trade ideas. The Giants might need a centerfielder. They could definitely use another strong bullpen arm. What are your mock trades?
(McCovey Chronicles)

Offseason Rankings: Part Two. "I'll just say this about New York's offseason. If you had come up to me, a Red Sox fan, in early November and hand me a sheet of paper listing everything the Yankees ended up doing and told me that's what the Yankees would do, I would have been thrilled." (The Hardball Times)

Offseason Rankings: Part Three. "It's pretty simple, really. Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez were probably the two best free agents available this offseason, and the Mets got both of them. They paid a lot to get them, but all that matters is they did get them, and that will make them a lot better." (The Hardball Times)

New York Mets Preview. "In the off-season, the Mets hired Omar Minaya as General Manager. After years of dealing with microscopic budgets in Montreal, Minaya must have been thrilled by the resources in New York. He promptly signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, and hired Willie Randolph to manage the club. With these additions, the Mets are considered by many to have a legitimate chance at winning the division. Do they, really?" (Batter's Box Baseball Blog)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Cards move Ankiel to outfield.
JUPITER, Fla. -- Cardinals lefthander Rick Ankiel, once deemed the game's most promising young arm, will convert from pitcher to outfielder, effective immediately.

The Cardinals confirmed the move Wednesday morning shortly after rain washed out what was scheduled to be Ankiel's spring debut in a B game against the Florida Marlins.

"We are fully supportive of Rick's decision to convert to an everyday outfielder," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said in a prepared statement. "Rick will continue to train with the major league club this spring, and we look forward to seeing his development as a full-time batter and outfielder."
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Prospectus Triple Play: Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers. "If you want an early read on how the Astros view this season, keep your eye on second base. A team that believes that they're making one last valiant run at contention just might fall into the veteran leadership trap and run Vizcaino out there every day. The smarter choice is to realize that this team likely won't keep up with the Cards and the Cubs, and get Burke the experience that he needs." (Baseball Prospectus)

Detroit Tigers Preview. "I think if you look at the moves the Tigers have made, the reason that a lot of sabermetric analysts are dismissive of those moves is that they are a relatively expensive way of ensuring a slightly below-average team solidifies into a fairly average team. Percival, Farnsworth and Ordonez are not likely to push this team to contend with New York, Boston, or Anaheim. What the Tigers have done in this offseason certainly hurts their push to be an elite team down the road. But it is a move towards being an average team. And an average team in the AL Central, will win about 83-84 games and contend; that's the kind of division it is." (Batter's Box Baseball Blog)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
For my eyes only. John J Perricone: "From what I have read, the list of side effects associated with steroids could hardly be described as life-threatening; or even very dramatic; it's possible this could happen, maybe that could happen. There seems to be little proof of these side effects, other than to say, lots of people think they are real. Even if it's a given that high doses of steroids can be said to have side effects, these side effects certainly don't seem to be any worse than the side effects for almost any of the prescription drugs you can find advertised on television these days." (Only Baseball Matters)

Hypocrisy 101. "I don't understand, if [the owners] knew that steroid use was such a tragedy, such a tremendous risk to the players life and health, they would have done something, anything, to save the life of a player, no? Wouldn't Schuerholz or Towers or Selig or somebody intervene and save somebody's life? Why didn't they? Because they know that it's not that big a risk, not measured against wins and losses and money. And even if it was, they couldn't have cared less, just like they couldn't care less now. If baseball owners cared so much about the players health, they'd shut down the game right now if that's what it took to stop players from the vicious cycle of uppers and downers so common to today's game." (Only Baseball Matters)

Giambi homers as Yankees bash Sox. The Yankees pick up right where they left the top of the 9th inning of Game 4 of the ALCS. (Yahoo!)

Thursday, March 03, 2005
Breakfast With Bill James. Part One. (The Baseball Analysts)

Breakfast With Bill James (Part Two).
RL: There you go. In the 1982 Baseball Abstract, you introduced the Defensive Spectrum, which I believe was one of your biggest contributions. How did you develop that and does it still hold true to today?

BJ: It still holds true. I use the Defensive Spectrum as an example to try to explain to somebody why the definition of sabermetrics proposed by the dictionary ("computerized study of baseball records") is totally wrong. The Defensive Spectrum doesn't have anything to do with numbers, doesn't have anything to do with computers, statistics or anything. It has to do with organizing concepts so that you can understand them.

The Defensive Spectrum is still tremendously useful to me. The Red Sox...we don't have a shortstop -- we're losing (Orlando) Cabrera -- so there's a debate in the organization. If we had no second baseman and could come up with a lefthanded-hitting second baseman and a righthanded-hitting second baseman that were pretty good, no one would worry too much about it. But shortstop is really hard to find guys who are good. If you wind up filling in someone at that position, you almost, by definition, wind up weak. If we needed to attune at first base, we'd be fine. We'd find a guy who could crush lefties and a lefty who was pretty good, and we'd be fine.

At shortstop, if you have to fill in, you're in trouble most of the time. The Defensive Spectrum is a necessary concept to explain why that is true because there is nobody drifting into the shortstop position because he failed [chuckling to himself] at somewhere else. Nobody! There are guys who are good and there are the guys who are not shortstops because they're not good.
(The Baseball Analysts)

Breakfast With Bill James (Part Three). (The Baseball Analysts)

An Interview with JP Ricciardi.
During this past off-season, free-agent salaries jumped significantly and unexpectedly. Was this a permanent change, or just a one-year blip? "I don’t know," said JP. "[What] you have to think about is, the Mets were under pressure to do something, and the Diamondbacks had money. The hardest thing to do is what we are doing in Toronto: we’re rebuilding and trying to be competitive at the same time. Fans don’t want to hear that, but it’s the reality of where we are.

"If the Diamondbacks don’t want to wait, and go and sign [Russ] Ortiz, etc. then good for them," said the GM. "But all credit to Paul Godfrey for saying, 'Let’s do it the right way.' I honestly believe we’re not that far away – when we turn the corner, we’re going to be good for a while, and I think we have a chance to be .500 this year. The way we’re doing it takes time, but I think that in 2006 and 2007, the best baseball will be played here."
(Batter's Box Baseball Blog)

Offseason Rankings: Part One. Ben looks back at the off-season and ranks the 30 teams based on what they did.
Talking about the Pirates is depressing, so I'll try to keep this one brief. Basically, they finally got rid of Jason Kendall, but didn't even get rid of his whole contract, and they replaced him with the ancient Benito Santiago. In the Kendall deal, they picked up a mediocre starter (Mark Redman) and an old reliever (Arthur Rhodes), who they then flipped for an old, injury-prone outfielder who makes about $7 million and is basically an average player at his position (Matt Lawton).

So let me get this straight, the Pirates got rid of a player, who is actually good, because he makes too much money, and they ended up with three players who are each average at best and combine to make even more money (in 2005) than the guy they got rid of?
(The Hardball Times)

San Diego Padres Preview. "From being drafted 9th overall in 1998 through to a solid first full season in the big leagues in 2003, Sean Burroughs' career path was straight out of a textbook. In 2004 he hit a bump, a bump that cost him 40 points of slugging percentage. Call it the sophomore jinx, blame it on PETCO, whatever – at 24-years-old, it’s much too soon to write Sean off. In fact, he’s best candidate in the Padre lineup to have a breakout year." (Batter's Box Baseball Blog)

Several Red Sox Players Hit by Line Drives While Staring at Johnny Damon’s Wife.
"It’s become a little bit of a problem," said Terry Francona, while holding ice over his own swollen eye. (Francona said he injured the eye while walking into a door.) "We like having Michelle here, but the players have to learn to control themselves and concentrate." Kevin Millar agrees with Francona, but says it’s easier said than done. "I’ve been hit three times since Spring Training started," he said. "You try to stay focused on what you’re doing on the field, but then your eyes start to wander a little bit, and before you know it you're staring at her and saying, 'Oh, my G-,' and then boom! My knee is still pretty swollen."
(Call of the Green Monster)

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