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    Baseball Told the Right Way
    In-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!

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    John & Curt
      "You may run like Mays, but you hit like shit."
    Scott Podsednik is one of those guys that just comes out of nowhere. Never really a big time prospect, he bounced around from the Rangers, to Brewers, to Mariners, and back to the Brewers systems before getting called up last year. Needless to say, Scott never looked back and finished the year with a .314/.375/.440 in 558 at bats, including 43/53 in stolen base attempts. Scott's minor league numbers in nine seasons (.265/.344/.347) werent all that impressive, so a lot of people wrote it off as one of those Dwayne Hosey, Tuffy Rhodes, flukey type seasons. In 2004 pitchers would soon find his weakness and exploit it until he gave up and left for Japan, right?

    Well, so far it ain't happening, Scott is hitting .281/.366/.483 in his first 21 games, and is on pace for 93! stolen bases. Is it possible for a non-prospect to exceed his minor league numbers in the majors? Well, yeah its possible, but how likely is it really? Its a great story, even greater if he can keep it up. His GM, Doug Melvin is optimistic,
    I'm a big believer that guys with speed develop late. Otis Nixon, Lance Johnson, Dave Roberts. You want them to hit when they're 22. Sometimes, it takes longer.
    I got to thinking about this a little bit, he does give three pretty good examples. It also makes sense. Think about it, there are plenty of guys who get drafted based on their 'tools'. Why not draft a sprinter and let him spend six or seven years in the minors learning to hit a curveball? Donnie Sadler comes immediately to mind. Unlike Sadler, the guys who make it might just be the ones who learned how to hit, and they might learn a little later than is typical.

    So I went back over the last ten years or so and picked out anyone I could think of that was a similar type player to Podsednik. Basically I picked anybody who put together at least a couple full seasons at the major league level, and whos biggest asset was their speed.

    I first excluded guys that are too young to really make a judgement on their careers (Pierre, Furcal, Crawford, Sanchez, Baldelli, Rollins). All these guys, with the possible exception of Alex Sanchez, made the majors at a relatively young age (21-23) and still might have their best years ahead of them. After that I split up the rest of the players depending on whether they peaked quickly or late in their career, and also by when they made their debut. Early I considered age 20-24, normal I considered 24-28, and late I considered after age 28. This ought to bring back some memories,
    Late BloomersQuick PeakNormal
    Normal DebutLate DebutNormal DebutEarly DebutCareer
    Lance Johnson
    Mark McLemore
    Brett Butler
    Devon White
    Otis Nixon
    Dave Roberts
    Kenny Lofton
    Eric Young
    Brian Hunter
    Tom Goodwin
    Tony Womack
    Doug Glanville
    Luis Polonia
    Roger Cedeno
    Luis Castillo
    Chuck Carr
    Quilvio Veras
    Johnny Damon
    Darin Erstad
    Chuck Knoblauch
    Delino DeShields
    Vince Coleman
    So where does Scott Podsednik fit in this chart? He would fit well in column 2, and on the older side of column 1 or 3. Most of the guys on the list peaked within a few years of their debut and faded into ineffectiveness and obscurity. Out of the players with similar paths, only Lofton, Young and Nixon achieved any level of sustained success. If we can make a general observation it is that the guys who turned their speed into a successful major league career all showed the ability to get on base. This bodes well for Podsednik who has shown the ability to take a walk in both the minors and to a lesser extent so far in the majors, but the company he is placed in suggests his chances of maintaining his success are pretty small.

    Even though I think Melvin might be on to something with Podsednik, I don’t think his theory that speedsters develop later holds too much ground. In fact, there are not many players at all who broke into the majors past the age of Podsednik and had any kind of success, regardless of whether they were speedsters or not. If there is a theory to be made about speedsters, it would have to do with the fact that most of them flame out quickly and become pinch runners and part time players.

    More accurately, if a guys best asset is his speed, its very likely that he won't age well as a ballplayer. Think about it, a good hitter can still hit well until his bat speed becomes too slow (Edgar Martinez anyone?). As a speedster gets older he is going to lose a step on the basepaths. If he is no longer successful stealing bases or reaching on infield singles then its likely he is no longer a productive ballplayer. A lot of times he either has to bulk up like Marquis Grissom or he becomes a liability pretty quick and is out of baseball by the age of 32.

    Recent history is against Podsednik continuing his success, as most of his comparable players burn out quickly. I like the guy as a ballplayer though, I think he plays the game the right way and is fun to watch. So here's hoping Scott Podsednik proves me wrong and turns into the next Otis Nixon and stays productive into his mid-30s.
      Is there really a fan group that is more "Knowledgeable" than any other?
    This past weekend Curt and I met with a bunch of other friends that are huge baseball fans and we began to debate. One of the topics was that of which teams fans are the most knowledgeable. The teams that were represented were the Cubs, Red Sox, White Sox, and the Tigers.

    White Sox fans argue that the Cubs fans are Dumb and that we know nothing about the game. How can anyone determine this. Yes we sell out very often and there are many fans that are there because its the place to be over the summer, but there are an equal or greater amount who can tell you who pitched the night before in Triple A. I would argue that White Sox fans don't even goto the games so how would they know anything about baseball. Curt and I went to see the White Sox Vs. the D-Rays on Saturday and spent $26 on a seat. I think we were six of a possible 10,000 fans at most that attended the game. The White Sox benched Magglio for one of my favorite players, Ross Gload. The fans surrounding us had no idea who he was and I had to explain to them that Gload came from The Rockies and is a pretty decent hitter. At Wrigley, that wouldn't happen. The entire experience was terrible on Saturday, I ordered Chicken strips and waited for an entire inning for them to be finished. What happened to walk-up service?

    Curt believes that Red Sox fans are the most knowledgeable. He really didn't go into detail why he thinks this way but I am sure he will comment on that on the board.

    I personally believe it is impossible to determine this argument because there is no way to figure out who knows what in every stadium. I would love to hear from everyone about why they think that their teams fans are the smartest. Leave your team name and argument on the comment board.

      Stay calm people, its only April.
    I just finished listening (donations to Curt's MLB Extra Innings fund are now being accepted) to another AMAZING matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees. Pedro Martinez was at his best, working out of a couple small jams, and slightly outdueling Javier Vazquez. Look at their lines from today,
    Pedro Martinez7.040170
    Javier Vazquez6.042181
    First off, is Pedro back in form or what? I think we can stop worrying about him now. Secondly, those are two very similar lines from two dominating pitchers. The difference? Well, two reasons: a little bit of luck, and Manny Ramirez. Vazquez made one mistake that Manny absolutely crushed (this one makes watching Sportscenter worth it). Credit the Red Sox plate discipline being just a little better than the Yankees, working the count, and getting Vazquez to throw a lot of pitches and only be able to finish 6.

    The Red Sox bullpen extended its scoreless streak to 24 2/3 innings. You really have to love that improvement over last year. Speaking of the bullpen, its really great that Tito is gaining confidence in his best relievers. Francona left Foulke in for two innings in a tie game on Saturday, and left Scott Williamson, who was throwing real well, in for a two inning save on Sunday. Those two guys are going to make a huge difference for the Sox, especially if Francona continues his trend of 'non-traditional' bullpen useage (where are you now Shaugnessy?).

    Things are looking good for Red Sox fans. The Sox just put 4.5 games between them and the Yankees and are sitting atop the AL East. The Sox improve to 12-6, after starting an infield of David McCarty, Cesar Crespo, Pokey Reese, and Mark Bellhorn today. Nomar, Trot, and BH Kim are steadily making progress back from the DL and should all be back sometime in May. They'll be back in time for a month of playing Toronto, Tampa Bay, and the powerhouse AL Central teams, while the Yankees have a month of playing Oakland, Seattle, and Anaheim, including two west coast swings. If the Yankees don’t come out of their collective slump soon they could be in an even bigger hole come June.

    The Yankees (with a few exceptions) are collectively playing like the '03 Tigers. Maybe we can temper those 105 win projections a little, but this team is too good to be sitting at 8-11. They may not get to 100 wins, but Mussina will be back in form in no time, Arod and Jeter will start hitting, and this team will be back in the running by the end of the year. However, the one BIG result of these two series is that George Steinbrenner is undoubtedly fuming. There are some changes coming to the Yankees, and I guarrantee when the Sox return to the Bronx at the end of June, they will be facing a different Yankee team. I have money saying at least Lofton and Contreras are no longer with the team. When George starts making decisions on-tilt, he generally puts unreasonable demands on Brian Cashman (i.e. Raul Mondesi) and there's always the potential for Torre and Cashman to be gone in a month.

    I can't remember the Red Sox ever taking six of seven games from the Yankees in such a short period of time. I can't remember NY fans ever booing Derek Jeter. I expect them to boo Arod, but Jeter? Their love-child? I can't ever remember Yankee fans with the look of panic on their faces. As a Red Sox fan, I know better than to get excited in April, but today is a good day. This Yankee team scares me, and I want them buried as soon as possible, and so far the Red Sox are doing exactly that.

      Pull him Tito, Chris Gomez is coming up!
    Something that always frustrates me is watching a manager leave his pitchers in too long. Tonight against the Blue Jays Curt Schilling didn't have his best stuff. Even without his best stuff, Curt Schilling is very effective, and he was tonight. Through six innings Schilling had a line of 1 ER, 6 H, 4/0 K/BB. The Sox had given him a 3-1 lead and they looked to be cruising to a fourth straight win and a sweep of the struggling Blue Jays.

    Then in the seventh, after striking out the first two, the Jays started getting to Schilling. They got four straight hits and scored twice to tie the game before Schilling got out of the inning. Schilling had gone a strong 7 innings without his best stuff. The score was tied, Curt's pitch count was at 105, and it was pretty obvious that he was tired, he was laboring after every pitch.

    Why in the hell did Terry Francona decide that a tired Schilling needed to go back out for the eigth when he had a full bullpen (only Foulke was unavailable) and Delgado, Phelps, and Hinske were coming up. It was a perfect time to bring in Embree to pitch to the two lefties. In the shocker everyone expected, Schilling proceeded to give up a grand slam to Chris "Barry Bonds' OBP is higher than my career OPS" Gomez. It was almost predictable. How could Francona not see that Schilling was breaking down?

    What probablly happened (pure speculation) is that when asked how he felt, Schilling displayed the loud-mouthed arrogance we are coming to know and love and said: 'Tito, you take me out of this game, I'm gonna give you a swirlie.' Grow a pair Francona, we didn't run Grady Gump out of town to put up with you doing the same thing.

    At least Dusty can use the bullpen as an excuse for leaving in Prior and Wood too long in last years playoffs. The much improved Red Sox bullpen has a 2.28 ERA so far in 2004, why not go to the pen. I thought the only requirement for hiring a Red Sox manager this year was that he NOT be Grady Little. Apparantly, I was wrong and that bastards still ruining my summer.

      My Stadium Rankings
    I found a ton of similarities in Pro Player Stadium and U.S. Cellular...No Fans. The best is Wrigley, there is nothing close in comparison. Here is the list of parks I have gone to in order of best to worst:

    1. Wrigley
    2. Miller Park
    3. Busch
    4. Old Comisky
    5. Pro Player
    6. Milwaukee County
    7. U.S. Cellular

    I give the White Sox credit for trying to better what they have. The engineer just set the park up in the wrong direction.

    This guy has been to every major league ballpark (quit drooling). He's got a review of the two new parks in Philly and San Diego, and his ranking of all the current ones, pretty cool stuff.

    I haven't been to many, because I've been holed up in the northeast my whole life, but I'm going to try this summer to hit up Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, maybe Detroit, Milwaukee too. Here's my short ranking of the ballparks I've been to:

    1. Fenway
    2. Wrigley
    3. Busch Stadium
    4. Comiskey

      Seductive Tools.
    Hee Seop Choi, the first Korean-born position player in the MLB, finally got a chance at a full-time gig last year. Choi got the majority of playing time until June 7th when he was injured after a nasty collision with Kerry Wood. After the injury, Choi struggled some, as you might expect from someone recovering from a concussion and trying to hit 95 MPH fastballs. He then got benched in favor of a red hot Eric Karros and later for Randall "Yep that Randall" Simon.

    Now, I'm not holding anything against the Cubs for not playing him, or for shipping him off for Derrek Lee. Even if Lee ends up only being marginally better than Choi, he still brings stability to a team that needs another solid bat in the middle of the order. Good trade for both teams.

    It seems, however, that even now as Choi is batting .290/.436/.774 with 5 home runs already, he still is not getting the credit he deserves. True to form, a quick search of ESPN brought up this by Jason Stark,
    Derrek Lee is gone. His replacement, Hee Seop Choi, is viewed by many scouts as no more than a platoon player with seductive tools.
    I really want to meet these scouts. No forget it, I want to meet the GM that these scouts work for. I could do a better job than these morons, and I'm currently looking for employment.

    Before his injury in 2003, Choi used his 'seductive tools' to bat .244/.389/.496 in his first 49 games. In Choi’s case the .244 average is deceptive when you look at the fact that his .885 OPS would have been good for 20th in the NL last year. Ironically, Choi would have been sandwiched between the man he replaces, Derrek Lee, and just above All-Star Mike Lowell. Not a bad start to the 24 year old’s career.

    Choi also used his 'seductive tools' to completely tear up minor league pitching. One of his years of AAA was spent battling injuries and he still posted above average numbers.


    I don’t understand how a scout can look at Choi and see seductive tools. This guy is a left handed Derrek Lee. Seriously, he is. The guy has a great batting eye, he's big, strong, and he crushes the ball. How could a scout not like that?

    Then again, maybe no scout is actually that dumb. Maybe Jason Stark is just making up stories about players he doesn't like to fit in nicely with the theme of his column. Who knows? There has to be a reason people refuse to recognize Choi. I have no idea what that reason is, but if he keeps up this hot start people won't be able to ignore him any longer.

      There is no curse.
    There is just something different about baseball in Boston. With all due respect to the great fans of New York, Philly, Chicago, St. Louis, there is just something different. I really can't work my head around it, but there is a reason Red Sox games get higher ratings than the Patriots' Super Bowl. There is a reason, however idiotic it may be, that "Yankees Suck!" chants have started everywhere from high-school cafeterias, Super Bowl parades, concerts, opera houses, and church. I'll let you decide which one I made up.

    There is something to be said about coming so close and always falling short, but the disappointment does not define the experience. It does not make casual sports fans passionate and avid sports fans insane when April rolls around. The disappointment is only part of the experience, the painful part. Some people would have you believe that the devotion and obsession of Red Sox fans is somehow related to the curse, or the losing, but I've never seen Yankee fans lose interest, and like it or not (on both sides) New Yorkers and Bostonians have a lot more in common than they would care to admit, even outside of sports.
    "People say the Yankees are the team to beat. But it's really the other way around. They're the ones that have to beat everybody."
    -Toronto RHP Miguel Batista
    And they do. It's not often we can take words of wisdom from an obscure pitcher who has only started one game against the Yankees, but it's true. Nobody at the top stays there by sitting back and admiring their successes, ask the '02 Angels. The Yankees have never rested, never paused, never taken 'no' for an answer. Like all successful organizations, it starts at the top. George Steinbrenner, despite his faults, remains the single most devoted owner in any professional sport. The Patriots saw what a devoted fan turned owner could do for a franchise, the Dallas Mavericks are watching it now.

    One of Steinbrenner's best traits is that he demands the best out of his employees. If you don’t give it all, you are gone, and this trickles down to his general manager, Brian Cashman, who remains one of the most underrated (how is this possible) GMs in the game. Cashman has engineered a run of Yankee teams that has to be included in any mention of sports dynasties. Most of the time, Yankee success has come at the price of Red Sox disappointment. The Red Sox now have six straight years in second place, many of those years good enough to be a playoff team, if only the Yankees would take a year off. All signs pointed to last year being that year, but then again every year seems like that year.

    Every year, regular season matchups between the Red Sox and Yankees raise the intensity another notch. The intensity becomes a fever in the playoffs, and it became a fire in last years playoffs. We all know what happened, all I have to say is that they beat up our groundskeeper.

    Regardless, the Red Sox came within five outs of a trip to the World Series. A team finding itself up three runs with the bases empty and five outs to go will win the game 96.7% of the time, although things like the law of averages just do not apply to the Red Sox. After all, someone needs to be the 3.3%.

    And then the offseason.

    I'd actually like some old-timer to humor me with a story about one with more, but there was certainly more drama this offseason than any in my life. The Red Sox traded for one of the best starting pitchers, and signed one of the best relievers in the game. In doing so, they essentially replaced 300 innings of John Burkett, Todd Jones, and Ramiro Mendoza with 300 innings of Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. There is no doubt in my mind that if Curt Schilling had been pitching in October instead of Burkett, the Red Sox would have tested the best offense in the league against the dominance of Josh Beckett. To really put a dagger into worried Yankee fans, the Sox then came within hours of acquiring my arch nemesis, who might also happen to be the best player in the game.

    It has never been easy before, and it sure wasn’t going to be any different this year. Always the first to recognize an opportunity to put the up-starteddy little kid back where he belongs, Steinbrenner and Cashman countered every move, and then proceeded to up the ante. They acquired two legitimate aces to more than makeup for the departure of the ambiguously gay duo. They also signed one of the scariest hitters in the game and fixed their most serious flaw from 03, the bullpen. The Yankees were already a better team.

    Then Cashman pulled some magic Yankee perks out of his magic bean bag and shocked the baseball world. Can anyone really say that, above all other feelings, they weren't shocked that Arod decided to move to third base (however dumb it may be) if only the Yankees would come calling.

    Throw in some insults (and chairs) tossed around, Steinbrenner making Larry Lucchino look like the clown that he is, a little too much media hype, a little too many dumb player comments, a little too long to wait after another game seven disappointment, and you have a nation more than ready. Red Sox Nation has been waiting for this season for what seems like 86 years. We only thought it was happening all those other times. This time its for real, and we're not leaving anything up to the law of averages. When BH Kim outduels Kerry Wood in a Game 6 shutout performance, the percentage chance of the Red Sox losing this one will be zero. This time, when another Yankee fan says 1918, all I have to do is smile and say 2004. Mom and Dad, I promise it won't be me setting fires to the city in October, but I can't promise much more than that.

    The Red Sox and Yankees play seven times in the next ten days.

    Those of you who know me personally, try to understand the fine line between intensity and insanity. Give me space if I need it, and keep the snide comments to yourself if you value the bone structure in your face.

      Bonds: Why Should We Care?
    Barry Bonds recently passed up his godfather Willie Mays by hitting his 661st homerun. ESPN gave all of us the liberty to see each and every at-bat that Barry had so far this entire season. Personally, I was very unhappy with their decision to do this. I agree it is a great feat but I would have rather watched what was going on in the Anaheim game. We all saw the homerun a hundred times after it happened so why did they have to cut from a live game? Barry may or may not have taken steroids but I have a very convincing argument that he most defiantly did. Before the magical 73 homerun season, Barry never hit more than 49 homeruns. In fact, he only hit 40 or more before that 4 times. He went from 34 homers in 99' to 49 homers in 2000 to 73 homers in 2001. A little strange if you ask me. Did he walk as much as he does now? No, not nearly as much. So what is the media even asking the question of his foul play when nobody even has argued that angle. Everyone complaines about how Barry acts like a 12 year old kid yet they still publicize him more than any other player.

    How can anyone argue he is the greatest of all time? How can anyone not just easily say Ruth is the greatest hands down? Ruth was the first to hit 30,40,50, and 60 in a season. He out-homered several teams by himself. Ruth had outstanding numbers in an era that had nothing.

    Bonds is just another player that does a pretty average thing these days. Players like Brett Boone and Marcus Giles got big over an offseason and suddenly are deep homerun threats. The players we see are average ballplayers and are incomparable to those of the throwback years. The closest player we have to that time is Garrett Anderson. He is a quiet, under the radar type guy who just kept getting better each year as time passed. We can play the game of juiced or not juiced.

    Baseball is not what it was. It still is a great game but tradition and history seem to be of less value.

      Koreans and Freaks (not neccesarily in that order)
    Couple of things that interested me. If you guys liked the Mets preview, Studes over at the Hardball Times has an excellent article about Jae Seo.

    Also, if you want to know just how much a freak of nature Billy Wagner is, check out this article.

    In Boston, there has always been some type of controversy following Pedro Martinez. Part of this is because Pedro is an honest guy, and makes a great interview. I admire people who won't bullshit and I always love listening to Pedro speak his mind. As a result, he will say things that stir up controversy and the media will jump all over it. Lately, most of the Pedro that we hear (when we do hear him) is him making a push for a new contract. He knows that he is the best pitcher in the league, and he wants a contract extension that guarantees him some security and pays him as the best pitcher in the league.

    There are a suprising number of Sox fans and writers who try to detract from Pedro any way they can, and their points are getting a lot of airplay recently. Mostly, they center around the injury risk, which is valid. I will get to that a little later, but the point that people bring up that I just don’t understand is somehow insinuating that Pedro has lost effectiveness and is now "not even that good anymore".

    Obviously, Pedro isn't giving the Red Sox the same performance as in 1999-2000, but this hasn't stopped him from being the best starter in the league, by a healthy margin. Baseball fans got spoiled in 99 & 00. We were witnessing one of the greatest two year span of pitching in the history of the game. I wish I could remember exactly where I read this, but a little while back (Gammons maybe?) someone looked at the greatest seasons of all time. They compared performance not only to a players biggest competition, but also to the league average. Babe Ruth's season when he hit 60 HRs and out-homered all seven AL teams ranked #1. Pedro's 2000 season was a close second. Stop for a minute and let that sink in.

    Koufax, Ryan, Williams, Mays, Aaron, Cobb, Wagner, Bonds, Henderson, Young, Musial, Gibson, Hornsby, Mantle and all the rest..........

    Nope. For a single season its Ruth, and then its Pedro.

    As JBH over on Sox Therapy kindly pointed out to me,
    the difference between his ERA+ and the #2 guy [Jason Schmidt] in the majors, was the same as the difference between Barry Zito and Mike Mussina and a league average pitcher. Or if you prefer, it was bigger than the difference between Bartolo Colon and John Burkett.
    (An ERA+ of 120 means a pitcher is ~20% better than league average and an ERA+ of 80 means a pitcher is ~20% worse) Pedro's career ERA+ is 174, (closest competition: Maddux & Johnson at 143) and his last seven years look like this: 221, 160, 245, 285, 189, 196, 212. His league ranking the six years he qualified in, ERA+: 1,2,1,1,1,1; K/9: 1,2,1,1,1,1; H+BB/9: 1,2,1,1,1,1. Damn you Clemens for screwing up a 6 year run of #1's.

    It is time to stop expecting so much out of Pedro. How many times do you expect a pitcher to be able to put up seasons that rank close to the best of all time? Take Pedro for what he is: the best pitcher in the league in the tail end of his prime. So what if he hits the DL once a year, and can only pitch 180 innings. Take what you can get and stop being so greedy, and stop complaining about how his velocity is down. We hear this every year, but Pedro has pitched at 88-92 every year since his injuries in '01, and uh, well, see the above stats for how its worked up until now.

    If I were Theo (IIWT..…sort of like my WWTD bracelet), I would make a careful evaluation of the established level you expect Pedro to perform at over the next 3-5 years. To me this is no worse than the top tier of pitchers in the game, and at best is #1 for a couple more years as he begins to tail off. Then I would figure out just what 180 IP of that pitcher is worth on the open market, and I would offer him a yearly contract that exceeded that number by $2-3M per year. Off the top of my head, I think a 4 yr $60M contract extension would get it done and would return excellent value.

    I am afraid that watching Pedro these last seven years has been sort of like Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter. Brady will never know just how good he had it until he plays on the mediocre teams that are sure to follow. Likewise, baseball fans won't understand just how good Pedro was until he is gone. He provided us with my vote for the greatest post-season performance until Josh Beckett spoiled us last year. In my lifetime, there is Pedro, there is Greg Maddux, there is Roger Clemens, and then there is everyone else. Nobody in their prime came close to Pedro, and its likely we won't see another pitcher like him for quite some time.

      Against all better judgement…….
    Since it is early in the year and you already saw our picks, I thought I might bring up a team that has a real possibility to surprise people this season. I never really understood the obsession with rooting for underdogs, so I'm not talking about everyone's 2004 version Angels or Marlins who will make a run at the title. Instead, there are teams that have the potential, if everything breaks just right, to be a lot better than most "analysts" predict, and possibly even make the playoffs. More than this, there are a few teams moving in the right direction, making strides to set themselves up to be a serious contender in a few years, or when the Red Sox and Yankees are both scratching their heads trying to figure out how to overcome 3 years of “win now at all costs” strategy. Against my better judgement, I have to admit that I like the Mets. I usually root heavily against them but the Amazing Mess (a.k.a. Mets) really do look like a team that has got their head on straight.

    Needless to say, this hasn’t been the case for a team that was in the World Series as recently as 2000. Since 2000, the Mets have been going the wrong way on the steep path. 94, 82, 75, 66 wins each season and Mets fans are still trying to figure out what the hell happened. Four years of needlessly throwing away money for overpaid, overweight, over-the-hill, overrated, injury prone, and just plain bad players will do that to an organization. A lot of this can be blamed on management, Steve Phillips in particular, and this is a popular battle cry from Mets fans. But please Met fans, Phillips at least deserves credit for building a world series team and I also remember those very same Mets fans getting excited at signings like Glavine or Floyd and being ecstatic at the trade that brought Jeromy Burnitz and Jeff D’Amico to Queens.

    No matter though, that is all in the past. The Mets have new management and coaching and new reasons to be optimistic. Hopefully, they have looked back and learned what is meant by prime and career years (among other things). Lets look forward and see what the new management has done so far under the reign of Jim Duquette.

    The first thing JD did was purge all of the mediocre veterans for whatever spare parts other teams were willing to give up. Could he have gotten better deals? Possibly. He didn’t get back any top prospects, but he didn’t exactly have superstars to trade away either. Victor Diaz, a 22-year-old 2B, and Royce Ring, a potential future closer get honorable mention, but credit him in this case with recognizing mistakes and trying to cut the losses.

    His biggest offseason move was signing Mike Cameron for 3 yrs. $19.5M. This was more of a purpose signing than anything else. I'll explain. After taking over, Jim Duquette quickly hired a stats guy, and if you noticed, the A’s were the other team that was heavily after Cameron. Player evaluation is now being approached in ways your typical batting average and counting stats GM has yet to grasp. This is Duquette's first attempt at trying to break himself free from the previous management and show that the old way is out. (although he was, of course, a part of it and deserves a share of the blame)

    For example, by all measures, Mike Cameron is one of the best defensive CF in the game. Actually, Cameron is one of the few CF’s that can even claim to be sniffing Darrin Erstad's ass in terms of defensive ability. ***According to UZR, Cameron saved an average of 26 runs a season from 2000-2003. Baseball Prospectus had him saving 21 in 2003, and Bill James’ Win Shares gave him 7.7 win shares, or worth about 2½ wins by his defense alone! Its not like the guy can't hit either, a line of .260/.350/.450 and a 20/20 season is probably reasonable to expect. Mets fans will be up in arms with a .260 average and a lot of strikeouts, but the league average for CFs is .269/.330/.410. In Shea, a pitchers park, it would be less, and Cameron’s moving from another pitchers park in Seattle so you can expect a line similar to his career averages.

    *** If you would like an explanation of defensive stats, email me and I’d be happy to explain them, or check out some of the links on the right. And no, Andruw Jones is not even in the same ballpark as Erstad or Cameron, although he'll undeservingly win another Gold Glove. And yes, Jeter still sucks. ***

    Duquette also signed “little” Matsui to play short (stats). I'm not about to try and predict how well he will do, but if he can hit ~.290 with a little power, and play good defense then he will be a solid signing at $7M when Tejada got $10M. Based on early scouting reports and his numbers in Japan, Matsui will achieve at least that, and could very well surpass it. The real question is how the move to 2B will affect Jose Reyes, which brings me to the young kids.

    The young kids are the real reason to get excited about this team. There is a lot to offer here. Jae Seo and Jason Phillips provided pretty solid performances last year. Aaron Heilman struggled, but most scouts think he will turn into a solid middle of the rotation starter. Jose Reyes struggled early, then adjusted and put together a pretty good start to his career. In fact, the pattern for Reyes has been for him to struggle for a bit when he moves to a higher level, and then he makes adjustments and starts terrorizing pitchers. This coupled with the fact that he has been young for every level along the way bodes real well for him in the future. Just hope the move to 2B won't negatively affect him, or the Matsui signing could be a disaster.

    The rest of the Mets farm system is extremely top-heavy, but there are three very good prospects that could step in as early as 2005. Justin Huber is another all-offense, no-defense catcher who makes the move of Piazza to first an even better idea. David Wright should be able to step up and fill the gaping hole at third the Mets have recently been plugging with scrubs like Super Joe and Ty "not Vlad" Wigginton. Lastly, the prize of the Mets farm system is, of course, 20-year-old phenom Scott Kazmir. All Kazmir did was strike out 179 batters in 127.3 innings in his young minor league career. If he stays healthy (read: the Mets don’t AJ Burnett his arm) he could be dominant real soon, taking a path similar to Josh Beckett. In the 2004 Baseball Prospectus, they write about Kazmir: His stuff is so good he could spread it on sandwiches. Gotta love that, Mets fans.

    This could be the lineup/rotation somewhere around 2005/2006:
    C: Huber
    1B: Piazza (w/ Jason Phillips getting ~400 ABs between C, 1B, and maybe LF)
    2B: Reyes
    3B: Wright
    SS: Matsui
    LF: Floyd (yes he’ll still be around)
    CF: Cameron
    RF: Free agent (Vlad would sure have looked good here, eh Mets fans, but I guess a little leaguer shagging fly balls would be better than Cedeno)
    Scott Kazmir
    Aaron Heilman
    Al Leiter
    Tom Glavine
    Jae Seo

    With such a young and cheap team (and a potential $100M payroll) there will be plenty of money to replace Leiter and Glavine with some quality free agents. Derek Lowe, Matt Morris, one of Mulder/Hudson/Zito come immediately to mind. If I were a Mets fan, I would be reasonably excited for the future.

      Our Predictions For the Upcoming Season!
    Here is how we think that the year will shape out:

    AL MVPEric ChavezAlex Rodriguez
    NL MVPSammy SosaAlbert Pujols
    AL CYCurt SchillingPedro Martinez
    NL CYKerry WoodMark Prior
    AL ROYBobby CrosbyJoe Mauer
    NL ROYKaz MatsuiKaz Matsui

    AL Standings:
    YankeesWhite SoxAngelsRed SoxWhite SoxA's
    Red SoxTigersMarinersYankeesTwinsAngels
    Blue JaysTwinsA'sBlue JaysIndiansMariners
    Devil RaysIndians-Devil RaysTigers-

    NL Standings:

    WildcardRed SoxYankees
    AL 1st RoundAngels over YankeesRed Sox over White Sox
    Red Sox over White SoxA's over Yankees
    NL 1st RoundPhillies over AstrosCubs over Phillies
    Cubs over DodgersAstros over Giants
    LCSRed Sox over AngelsRed Sox over A's
    Cubs over PhilliesCubs over Astros
    World SeriesCubs over Red SoxRed Sox over Cubs

    We're not biased though, seriously, we're not........gonna be a damn damn good year, discuss away guys.

    John & Curt
      Is there a curse?
    If there is a curse against the Red Sox, we might as well call it the curse of Jayson Stark. You think I was a little harsh on Arod, well you aint seen nothing yet. Jayson Stark is dumb, and it annoys me more because I dont pretend that I could do Arod's job, but I really believe that John or I, or hell 65% of the country could do Stark's job better than he does.

    Here Stark says,
    Clear your calendar for Halloween week, because this is The Year.

    The Boston Red Sox are going to win the World Series. Really.
    That right there is enough to darken my day. I was so excited for the real opening day and Jayson Stark had to come and ruin it. He back's up his claim with nothing (as usual). Well, maybe not exactly nothing, he does remind us that the Red Sox have added Schilling and Foulke, as if I haven't already informed half the country of this fact. He also gives us some inside information like this,
    "The Red Sox," says one American League GM, "are the best team in baseball."
    Uhhhh.....could it be Theo Epstein he is getting his annonymous quotes from? Groundbreaking work here, glad I read this.

    Dumb people predicting your favorite team to win the world series shouldn't make you upset, but somehow it just makes me a little less optimistic then I was yesterday.

    The real opening day is today guys, and even though the forecast is for rain in Baltimore you all should start getting excited for a season that may be like no other. As a Red Sox fan I feel like an inmate on the eve of my execution, or like a virgin on prom night, take your pick.

      Results from our Scientific Study:
    55% Said Move Jeter to 3rd Arod to Short
    33% Didnt Care What the heck happens
    11% Said Jeter is a DH and ARod is the Shortstop
    0% Said Jeter should be the Shortstop

    Thats the results that I was expecting!

      The AL Central Might As Well Be Called The Pacific Coast League!
    There was a buzz in the Whitesox nation eariler today about the possibility of acquiring Ken Griffey Jr for Paul Konerko. Why should the baseball world care? The AL Central could be won by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at this point. My predictions for the final standings are as follows:
    1. Whitesox
    2. Detroit
    3. Twins
    4. Royals
    5. Indians

    My reasoning for the Sox to win the division is simple...Big league hitting. They are still a terrible team but to play as many games in the AL Central as they will would make a star out of players like Estaban Loiza. If the Whitesox dont win the division by at least 15 games it will prove that the league is equally terrible.

    The Detroit Tigers are the only team that had any improvement by adding players that had some talent at some point in their careers. Ivan Rodriguez saw dollar signs when he knew he would face pitching like Dan Wright, Jason Stanford, a young Jimmy Gobble, and an old Brad Radke. He will have an outstanding year and i look for he and other aquisitions to make an impact on a worthless 2nd place race.

    The Minnesota Twins seem to have not gotten the idea of resigning anyone. Everyday Eddie is in Seattle, Latroy is in Chicago, Milton is close to 100 percent and playing in the NL East, and A.J. is catching for Jason Schmidt. What does this mean? A whole lot of lost talent. They have an up and coming star in Johan Santana but he has yet to play a whole season and Joe Nathan scared the team so much they have been actively trying to acquire a proven closer. There is too much doubt and not enough offense to stop the pitching woes of the Twinkies this year. I look for them to be terrible for their standards.

    The Royals have a great possibility to do some damage in the Central. Problem: They are the Kansas City Disabled List! The trainer has his hands full on this team with all the arm injuries to such a young staff. Everyday a new name is added to the hit list. I think that their offense is probably second best in the division but the pitching is worse off than most. At least the Tigers have healthy starters. I look for them, barring further injuries, to be a player in the following season after the new one.

    Last but not least, The Indians. They have an outstanding amount of potential with one of the best farm systems in recent years. They are just too young and inexperienced. Pitchers will have to do their homework on up and coming stars such as Jody Gerut (Elmhurst,Il) and Ryan Ludwick. The pitching staff is also going to be pretty good down the road but its just too early for them to do that much that fast. They have a great upside and may end up in a higher place as long as they rid themselves of Milton Bradley and his selfish attitude. We need to see Coco Crisp as an everyday guy!

    The AL Central this upcoming season, is the worst division I have seen in my entire life. Expect the teams to be fighting out whom they can trade away at the trade deadline because the Whitesox should run away with this division. All that and I am a Cubbie fan.