Analyzing the (Curious?) Case of Ryan Braun’s Appeal

24 02 2012

When I first heard the news that Ryan Braun won the appeal to overturn his initial 50 game suspension, I had two immediate reactions. The first was surprise; nobody ever won an appeal before. The second was also surprise, but more of a shake-my-head surprise; the MLB had messed up big time.

Well, I was half right.

Yes, Braun was the first player to ever win an appeal. I was right about that. I guess I was sort of right on the second part, but it wasn’t like I thought. The MLB (or whoever was in charge of the testing. For all intents and purposes, I will say the MLB.) apparently failed to follow procedure in collecting the urine sample. Although the urine contained synthetic testosterone (from what I know/read), the reason that Braun had the suspension overturned was the fact that the collector didn’t ship it out to the testing labs in the right time frame. Wow.

What can we deduce from this?

1. The MLB hierarchy has every reason to be livid.

This should send the higher ups in MLB into a frenzy. While you have to be mad that the suspension was overturned, it’s a huge slap in the face that it got overturned because of a stupid technicality. According to an ESPN article, the MLB is “considering its options.” I really can’t think of any options that they might have that can directly punish Braun. From what I know, they can’t appeal the appeal, and they can’t slap a punishment on Braun without some other lapse of judgement from the man. At best, I can only really see him getting fined, and I’m not even sure that’s possible. Essentially, MLB lost this one.

2. Braun won this time…or did he?

Braun may have won the appeal, but how much did he really gain? Yeah, he gets to play in the first fifty games of the season where he might not’ve been able to play before. However, we’ve learned that Braun probably did use synthetic testosterone( from what’s been written and the fact that he hasn’t disputed this). He managed to exploit a protocol

Did Ryan Braun really help himself in the long run?

error, thus allowing him to escape the suspension according to a source. Was it all worth it?

In my opinion, a fifty game suspension and allegations about PED use really hurts. However, I think your reputation is hurt a lot more by beating the suspension just because someone made a technical error. Your image is hurt a lot more, especially since people will now remember that you beat the system for the first time. Essentially, you’re not guilty, but you’re still technically guilty. Braun in a statement said “I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision. It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.” Did this really restore Braun’s reputation? Did he really get through this because he’s innocent? Again, Braun simply might’ve damaged his reputation by getting this appeal on his side. Dodging the suspension might’ve just lowered him even lower than he was before, especially since nothing was tampered with.

3. MLB’s drug testing policy may have had a problem, but the bigger problem was the leaked information.

Yes, we have found that the drug testing policy allowed a player to dodge a suspension apparently because of a simple delivery error. While the procedure simply had that error and not one that concerned tampering or the specific science of determining synthetic testosterone, it is imperative to say that MLB had a large error as well. Two sources leaked out to ESPN that Braun initially tested positive. That is apparently against policy. In fact, more and more information managed to leak from those familiar with the case.

That is simply unacceptable. With the kind of media era we are in and the fact that any PED use will get the fan’s hearts beating, this is an egregious error. You can’t have people thinking that Braun is a dead man walking without confirmation. You also can’t have people believe that he was innocent without that confirmation either. Simply put, the fact that Braun tested positive for PED’s and then won the appeal should’ve only be released today. It should only have been released by the MLBPA after Thursday’s appeal. It simply shouldn’t happen in the future, especially in today’s massive media era. The MLB should know that by now, and enforce the proper measures that this doesn’t happen again. Although this is easily overlooked, it’s still a big problem nonetheless for the reasons stated above.

4. MLB’s image is still tarnished.

Taking the viewpoint of the entire game and not the organization, MLB still took a big hit from Braun’s positive test, even without a suspension. Braun was obviously the NL MVP, but he’s also going to be the target of many headlines this year. Braun without the bat of Prince Fielder was going to be a major headline this year in my opinion. I can assure you that, at least in the first third of the season, 70% of the articles that focus on Braun will have a footnote about the appeal and the general positive test. Is that really the best thing for MLB? There’s also the fact that one of the league’s big stars took a PED. Imagine seeing a headline that stated that Aaron Rodgers or Kevin Durant took a PED. Again, seeing a star dim because of a PED is never good for the general view of a league.

Again, to sum it all up, Braun wiggled out of trouble but still tripped into another problem. From what’s been released, the situation might’ve gotten better right now for all parties involved, including the MLB, but different things will be written about this in the future. The ESPN story written about Braun is titled “Braun Wins.” Did he really?

Written by Teix4MVP

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Questioning the Yankees’ Winter to this Point

10 12 2011

Let me make this point blatantly clear: no, I do not think the Yankees should sign/should have signed any of the big name free agents out there. Pujols, Reyes, and Fielder are obviously not fits due to the presence (and age) of Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. C.J. Wilson wasn’t a good idea in my opinion. A five-year-deal for an early 30s pitcher? He has a “J” in his first name? What could possibly go wrong? Then again, Wilson as a starter has provided more WAR in two years than A. J. (yes, I was referring to him) has in the past five years. Excuse me for being at least a little pessimistic here, but as you can see, I have reasons to have feared a Wilson deal. That’s another story though. Buerhle for four years wasn’t the best idea either. So essentially, I am glad the Yankees managed to control themselves and not splurge on a big free agent for the second year in a row (alert the presses and record books, we’re going for a third next year!). No one was worth it/fit on the Yankees in this year’s class.

However, the Yankees DID manage to re-sign two guys. Sabathia was re-signed for 5 years and 122 million dollars and also one-upped Freddy Garcia for another year for 4 million and potential incentives. I’d like to say this about Sabathia: was it a bit of an overpay? Yes, it seems like at least a tad of an overpay. However, in the end, it is well worth it, as the Yankees didn’t have to watch their ace dip his huge

At least he's back.

foot into the free agent market for a second time. They got it done early and managed to dodge all the heart palpitations and high blood pressure from having to hear rumors of Boston and Sabathia getting together. So that part, I am proud of the Yankees for doing.

I’m going to mention Garcia again in a moment, but first I must mention potentially the BIGGEST Yankees move of the entire offseason (other than re-signing Sabathia): Winning the bid for Hiroyuki Nakajima!!!!!!!!!!!! Ironically, the Yankees might not even SIGN Nakajima as apparently he might just play out the year and try to play for Bobby Valentine and the Sox next season. I’ll save analyzing Nakajima if/when he gets to the Yankees. If he chooses not to, the biggest move for the Yankees will end up being either cutting Andrew Brackman or drafting more guys in the Rule 5 draft. If the Rule 5 draft is the biggest move for the offseason for the NYY, there’s a problem.

The offseason is still young. I understand that. However, I thought the Yankees would be at least a little more aggressive in trying to get starting pitching. A Trevor Cahill deal recently got done. A Parker substitution in that deal could’ve been one of the Killer B’s (err, one or the other now). If the Yankees are reluctant to bring them up, why not trade for a ready commodity? The Yankees are a win-now team. Waiting that 1 or 2 extra years could be the difference from fizzling in the playoffs to winning number 28 for the Bombers.

If you’re not prepared to trade for a starter, the biggest option you have left is Yu Darvish. The Yankees don’t seem to be all that high on him either from what I’ve read. This might be a clever way to sneak in and get the winning bid, but I’m at least a little bit skeptical. So yes, Yu probably won’t be your yearly Yankee addition (see what I did there? hehehe…). If you’re not going to get Yu, then you have to turn

Yu Darvish is apparently not the choice for the Yankees. Should he be?

back to the trade market again if you dislike the likes of Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson. Who’s out there? Shields or Garza? They’re both highly unlikely for the price and the team/executive that has them at the current moment. Gio Gonzalez? The Yankees just don’t know what they’re doing at the moment, as they are choosing not to go through either market.

Why am I catching the anxious Yankees fan syndrome? The simple reason is I fully don’t expect the Yankees to win the AL East next year with the team they had last season, which is essentially the team they have right now with the exception of a few guys. Listen, Boston’s collapse last year was historical. Relying on the same type of thing happening this year is both stupid and unrealistic. Boston is my AL East winner next year barring any major, major setbacks. That leaves the Yankees with the Wild Card spot, which might not even go their way. You have the always feisty Rays with their strong core of young players and the pitching staff of death next year (even if they decide to trade Shields, the rotation is Price-Hellickson-Moore-Davis-Niemann. Yikes.), and the loser of the AL West. Both the Rangers and the Angels are also teams that could leapfrog over the Yankees in a potential Wild Card race this season.

Why am I so pessimistic about the Yankees chances? Quite simply, the Yankees are going to be a year older next year. The pitching staff this year wasn’t as much of a problem as it was before, but I expect it to be this year. Sabathia will be Sabathia, and Nova could capitalize off his great campaign last year. Hughes is still a huge question mark in my mind. I don’t expect Garcia to have as great of a year this year as he did before. Of course, AJ is AJ. To this point, the Yankees have not made a major move for a pitcher. This is why I’m so concerned about their lack of an offseason so far, no matter how early.

Here’s my bottom line: the Yankees in my opinion are not a superior AL East team next year without making an improvement in the pitching staff. What worries me the most is their presence (or lack thereof) of things like Trevor Cahill talks which they could’ve gotten into or their apparently “lukewarm” interest in a potential difference maker like Yu Darvish. So yes, might this be an overreaction to a lack of activity so far? Yup, it probably it. However, it can’t help but worry you if you’re a Yankees fan that the Yankees have been inactive or even patient so far. If they were willing to be aggressive for Sabathia and Garcia early on, why not grab another guy? Yankees fever is hitting me early this year. I just can’t tell if it (or if the team) is good right now.





2012 Chicago Cubs: First Base

15 11 2011

Full speed ahead! Two posts just a few hours apart? Yep, it’s happening. This time, we’re going to venture into a more treacherous area for the Cubs: FIRST BASE.

On the surface, you have a very curious player in Carlos Pena. There is the side of him that mashes, and the side that…well…does not. Guys like Pena have always confused me–if you have such a good eye at the plate that you can manage 101 walks, then how can your eye be so bad that you strike out 161 times while also hitting just .225? Adam Dunn (until this year) has been the same way; these guys are great at taking pitches, but they also cannot make consistently strong contact to save their lives. Pena had a solid season because he plays a decent defensive first, and he hits for power from the left side, something Tyler Colvin failed to repeat for the team after a sneaky 2010.

Pena came on a questionable one-year, $10 million deal that includes $5 million in deferred payments for January 2012. That means he is not there for the Cubs next season, and they have some pre-Christmas shopping to do. Whether or not that shopping amounts to a superstar, a stopgap, or nothing remains to be seen. Certainly, though, the Cubs have a load of options on the market and within their own ranks.

The free agents start with three familiar faces. Pena is out there once again, though he has Scott Boras on his side, king of numerical Twister. He will sit there and shower Pena with praise for those walks and bombs, while saying the strikeouts and horrid average are not that big of a deal. In his mind (and, probably, an AL team), that is worth 2-3 years at his 2011 rate of $10 million or so. Maybe he takes a little less, bypasses the deferred payments, and gets the multiple years that way. However it happens, Pena does not seem like a great fit for the Cubs. They still need that unicorn of lefty power bats, but they are unlikely to compete in a time where Pena is going to do his most damage, as he is not all that young.

Sticking with the Boras team bring us to a divsion rival’s former bat, Prince Fielder. The Cubs would likely kill many times over to have a player like Prince. He plays OK defense (not great), hits from the left sdie (while crushing any and all challengers on the mound), and plays first. Of course, the Jim Hendry era (I have yet to THANK GOD that is over) rears its ugly head even after its death on this one. The Soriano and Zambrano contracts still sting and make any Cubs fan (myself included) cringe at the thought of a contract that pays even more than those clunkers. That Z and Sori still eat so much payroll is cause for concern itself.

The Cubs HAVE to pay Matt Garza eventually (thanks again, Jim!), hopefully soon. They also need a lot more than just a first baseman, so that $20+ million per season will not be a cure-all. It is certainly a start, but it is a pricey one at that. It might not be a bad time with the contract, since many million of dollars have been cut form the 2011 payroll, including Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Jon Grabow (Hendry strikes again), Pena, Samardzija, and so on. The Cubs could afford Fielder if they wanted, but do they?

Then you have his superstar partner in financial crime, Albert Pujols. If the Cubs will not pay Fielder, certainly Albert is no different, right? Maybe not. Prince is their perfect fit, but Albert is Albert Pujols. Though a righty–not the ideal fit of a lefty–Pujols is bigger than life at times. He would draw more fans than Fielder, something that is STARTING to become a slight problem in Wrigley, and he should outperform Fielder for about 5 more seasons. He is the best hitter in MANY years (and the best juice-free one–we think–in decades). There is no other Albert Pujols, no way.

Still, Theo is in charge of the Cubs now. It was not until 2011 that Epstein threw a bunch of money (and prospects) at a first baseman. Before that, he had castoff David Ortiz, patch job fellows like Doug Mientkiewicz and Kevin Millar,  and Boston-grown Kevin Youkilis. That is just the first name in many farmhands Boston brought to the table. You then have Pedroia and Lester, and several others. In fact, some mention that Theo is not the best at free agents deals (see: Crawford, Carl and Lackey, John). One thing people REALLY love with Epstein is his ability to grow a winner. Signing Fielder for Pujols breaks from that idea. In Theo’s world, Herculean hitter Dan Vogelbach of the Cubs’ 2011 draft class will be their future. We do not know much about him beyond SERIOUS power, but Theo works from within more than anything, or he swings a trade (see: Gonzalez, Adrian and Beckett, Josh).

So we are at the small-time options. These might be a mixed bag, but many are there. Of course Vogelbach starts it off. The 2011 pick is nowhere near ready, so he is going to have to take a breather and toil in the minors. Tyler Colvin had some work at first in late-2010 and 2011, but he also was a horrible hitter this season. New Cubs manager X might choose to let him try again, we just do not know on that. He could also be used to replace Fukudome in right or Reed Johnson in the fourth outfielder role. We next turn to the other side of the plate and meet Bryan LaHair.

LaHair is sort of tough to read. The guy just turned twenty-nine, meaning there has to be SOMETHING someone did not like that kept him from the majors for so long (minus 150 ugly plate appearances in 2008 with Seattle). This season saw LaHair rise to the occasion, working out as the AAA hitter of the year for the Iowa Cubs. Hitting a league-healding 38 home runs with a pretty .331 average, LaHair got a little attention from Chicago late in the season. Beware the small sample size, but Bryan did pull off a decent .288 average, .885 OPS, and a pair of MLB homers.

After the three key free agents and three in-house options, you get to start looking at guys like Michael Cuddyer or bringing back Aramis for a positional change (note: Aramis’ agent says that he is done in Chicago). Really, there are only two options that jump out. Pena just will not be of use going forward, so paying serious dollars for a stopgap is pointless. For all of his greatness, making Theo’s first major move as GM the biggest gamble in team history would possibly be a disaster for him, so that leaves Albert out. Some could argue Prince is a bigger gamble, but he will probably be 2-3 years short of Albert’s contract, along with perhaps $5-8 million under in annual salary. The dollars and length make Prince a reasonable risk. He is younger as well, meaning he will be further from his end when the Cubs can compete, likely in the 2013-2014 window, if we’re lucky.

Other than that, you have to stick with who is already here. Again, Vogelbach is not going to be ready until 2014 or so, one would think (depending on how he progresses, maybe 2013 or 2015), putting him out of the question. Really, playing a platoon game might work. The Cubs could let Colvin and LaHair battle it out in Arizona, giving the starting nod to whomever stands out. If neither does, let LaHair be the lefty killer and Colvin his left-handed counterpart (meaning Colvin would get the majority of the chances). If the gamble is on one or the other, LaHair is probably the better bet. He has not proven he cannot hit, while Colvin struggled last season, to put it lightly.

Prince would be an amazing guy to get for ticket sales and generally great production. If Theo is scared of another Crawford move, he should probably let LaHair get first crack at the job come February, seeing as he is a more natural first baseban than Colvin. It is a tough call I would hate to make, that is for sure. The Cubs have a serious issue with this, and Theo is going to have to put all of his talent to task to solve it…once he gets the team a manager, of course.





Are the Twins Trying To Play Moneyball With Their Pitching Staff?

24 03 2011

The Minnesota Twins have had an odd offseason to say the least. First, they trade away J.J. Hardy for relievers Jim Hoey (34.1 Major League innings and a 5.15 FIP) and Brett Jacobson (no Major League innings).

Then they openly discuss trading Fransisco Liriano. For those of you who do not remember, advanced statistics had Liriano as the third best pitcher in the Majors. Right behind Josh Johnson and Cliff Lee. Fangraphs also had his slider as the best slider in baseball.

They then told Nick Blackburn he will be a starter. Nick Blackburn had a 3.8 K/9, and a FIP of 5.09. You could make a case that he was the worst starting pitcher in baseball. All he had working for him was a 50.8% groundball rate.

They picked up lefty Scott Diamond from the Atlanta Braves. Diamond is a reliever who has a career 7.3 K/9 in the minors with some control issues.

The Twins put Pat Neshek on waivers and he was taken by the Padres. Neshek had an option left. I understand that Pat Neshek had a bad year last year (so did Fransiso Liriano his first year after Tommy John surgery) and not a very good Spring, but it’s Spring Training.  He was still striking out a batter an inning and keeping the ball in the park.

And now, it comes out that the Twins are interested in trading Kevin Slowey for relief pitchers. I’m not going to go into why that itself is stupid (Fangraphs wrote a great article about that.)

They drafted Alex Wimmers. Who throws his fastball at 88 MPH.

What are the Twins doing with their pitching staff? Especially with the bullpen. Last season, the Twins had a bullpen that was worth 18.8 WAR. Good for 6th in the league. Who was better? The White Sox, Rockies, Giants, Braves, and Red Sox. Now, they have blown up the bullpen.

What about the rotation? 5th in the leauge in WAR at 15.8. Who’s in front of them? Rockies, Red Sox, White Sox, Cardinals. Now, they have discussed trading 2/5th of that rotation.

The move to the bullpen will keep Slowey's innings down, and presumably keep him off the disabled list.

Or have the Twins heard of the Rule of 17? And do they think that the Rule of 17 would be most beneficial to Kevin Slowey?

For those of you who don’t know, the Rule of 17 is the theory that when a starer transitions to the bullpen, his K/9 will increase, his BABIP will decrease, and his HR/9 will decrease. All  by about 17%. So, in the case of Kevin Slowey, his K/9 will rise to 8.1, his HR/9 will fall to 1.2, and his BABIP will fall to .290. Most ERAs fall by about a run.

The move to the bullpen will keep Slowey’s innings down, and presumably keep him off the disabled list. And with the limited free passes he’s issued, and the increased K/9 we can reasonably expect, Kevin Slowey will be one of the more dominant middle relievers in the American League.

Maybe the Twins know what they’re doing with their pitching staff. The trades for Matt Capps, Brian Fuentes, Ron Mahay, and Jon Rauch all worked out pretty well for Bill Smith and company, but it seems that they have been going after every middling Minor League reliever they can acquire, and drafting hordes of Brad Radke clones in the last few years. Every move they’ve made involving pitching has me worried. Except for Slowey to the pen. That is assuming that they don’t trade him for someone like Joba Chamberlain.





The Hall of Fame Isn’t Far for Roberto Alomar.

21 11 2010

Posted by Brady

Ten Gold Gloves (deservedly), two World Series rings, 474 stolen bases, and 12 All-Star games make up Roberto Alomar’s Hall of Fame resume. Alomar, along with Bert Blyleven, should easily make it baseball’s shrine on this ballot.

When people speak about Alomar, the phrase “greatest second baseman in history” is often times uttered. And rightfully so. According to baseball-reference.com, several of the most similar hitters to Alomar are Hall of

When people speak about Roberto Alomar, the phrase "greatest second baseman in history" is often times uttered.

Famers. Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, Bill Mazeroski, Frankie Frisch, Charlie Gehringer, and Bobby Doerr are all Hall of Fame second basemen, keeping this Hall of Fame second baseman company.

Alomar spent most of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays (5 whole years) and won two World Series rings with Cito Gaston’s Blue Jays. And he was a stud in the Jays title drive. He hit .320 /.380/.471 during it. Alomar took home the ALCS MVP in 1992. In 1993, during the Jays second title drive, it was a similar story, but no MVP award.

After the 1995 season, Alomar signed with the Baltimore Orioles, and he did not miss a beat. He put up almost identical numbers, and proved to be one of the best top of the order hitters around. Though he didn’t run as much in Baltimore as he did in Toronto (his Baltimore high stolen base total was 17, which would have been his low in Toronto), he did find more power. He clouted an at the time career high 22 home runs and 43 doubles.  As productive as Alomar was in Baltimore, his first season there was not without its controversy. After arguing with an umpire over a third strike call, Alomar hurled his saliva in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. Naturally he was thrown out of the game, and fined. But, luckily for Alomar and Ty Cobb, being a nice person is not a requirement for enshrinement, despite how much some voters try to tell you it is.

After Alomar was done with Baltimore in 1998, he went to Cleveland, to play with older brother Sandy Alomar. This was actually the second time the two would play on the same team. They both played on the 1988 and 1989 Padres team. He put up great numbers in every aspect of the game, and his first year in Cleveland, he hammered a new career high in home runs. 24.

Through his time with Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland, Alomar was racking up the awards. 12 straight All-Star games, 10 Gold Gloves, and 4 Silver Sluggers.

He was as disiplined at the plate as they come. He never struck out more than 96 times, and he walked more than he struck out seven times.

It’s hard to keep Alomar out of the Hall of Fame. The only question is what insignia will he have on his cap? My guess is Toronto.





In 2011, Vote for Blyleven

6 11 2010

Posted by Brady

“I’m really sad. I took it for granted that Dawson and Blyleven were going to get in.”-Hall of Famer, owner of 8 NL batting titles, and 3141 base hits, Tony Gwynn had to say about Bert Blyleven’s Hall of Fame snub last year. When Robin Yount was a rookie he said “If I have to face guys like Bert Blyleven, I don’t think I’m going to make it at this level.” and after facing Blyleven 114 times, he hit .182 with 1 home run. And Robin Yount was a damn good hitter.

The main knock against Blyleven is the notion that he wasn’t dominant enough. I suppose it all depends on your definition of “dominant.” He falls squarely into the mantra for current Twins pitching. Throw strikes. And he did that. Posting a 1.14 WHIP in his first stint with the Twins, and a 1.2 WHIP through the rest of his career.  Blyleven retired with a 1.198 WHIP.

 

When Robin Yount was a rookie he said "If I have to face guys like Bert Blyleven, I don't think I'm going to make it at this level."

But limiting walks wasn’t the only thing “The Frying Dutchman” could do. He knew how to hold on to the baseball. In his 22 MLB seasons, Bert Blyleven pitched 200 innings 17 times, and 300 innings once. With 242 complete games and 60 shutouts, he ranks second all time in both categories. Second only to the immortal Nolan Ryan. That’s not where the Nolan Ryan comparisons end, either. Ryan is the all-time strikeout leader with 5,714.  Blyleven is fifth with 3,701.  Right after Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton. And while the Anti-Blyleven crowd often expresses admiration for his strikeout total, the very next thing they say is “He was an accumulator. He stuck around to get that lofty total.”  But they never seem to realize that out of every member of the 3,000 strikeout club, that have officially retired, only Tom Seaver, Fergie Jenkins, Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Walter Johnson had shorter careers. They also have less strikeouts. And the only one has a WHIP that is ridiculously higher than Blyleven is Walter Johnson at 1.009. Blyleven is every bit as dominant, from a statistical standpoint than every one of these pitchers.

There are two knocks against Blyleven when it comes to his not being in the Hall of Fame. The lack of a Cy Young Award, falling 12 wins short of 300. Both of these truly confuse me. Bob Gibson has 251 wins, and Nolan Ryan doesn’t have any Cy Young Awards. He has the misfortune to have played in an era when wins were THE way that starting pitchers were evaluated. And when he became eligible for induction, we were still in that era. He also had the misfortune to pitch for a team that had Joe Lis (who?) as the starting first baseman. Hardly Blyeven’s fault. He does, however, have a no-hitter.

September 22, 1977. On Blyleven’s last start of the season. Blyleven hurled 9 no hit innings, striking out 7 California Angels, and coming one walk away from a perfect game. 28 batters faced him, and he retired 27. He and teammate Dock Ellis likely went out to party that night.

When confronted with his lack of baseball immortality, Blyleven handles it with

Having fallen 5 votes short in 2010, Blyleven should be expecting a call in 2011

humor. It was at TwinsFest 2010, when I ran into Bert Blyleven. Andre Dawson had just been elected to the Hall, while Blyleven fell 5 votes short. “**** the Hall of Fame” I said to Bert. He laughed, looked at me and said “Don’t say that loudly. They’re here right now.” But then he whispered, but you’re right. **** them.”

Having fallen 5 votes short in 2010, Blyleven should be expecting a call in 2011. It should be a great early birthday present.





Potential Hall of Famer: Joe Mauer

28 09 2010

This is the third installment of PTPP’s ongoing series about current players, who could one day be enshrined in Cooperstown. The greatest of this generation. We’re not talking about Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter or Ichiro. We’re

Right now, when Joe Mauer comes up to bat at Target Field, they play "What You Know About That?" but they could easily play the theme from "The Natural"

talking about Chase Utley, and Miguel Cabrera. And today, we’re going to focus on the man behind the dish. Four time All-Star, one time Most Valuable Player, who was also drafted number one, overall. Ahead of Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira. The face of the Minnesota Twins franchise Joe Mauer.

Advanced statics, such as WAR, don’t really illustrate a catcher’s value. His career WAR comes solely from his offensive numbers, as there is not yet a reliable defensive metric for catchers. That being said, Mauer could end up being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. Take a guess as to which of the following four catchers is who.

Catcher A: .308/.377/.545

Catcher B: .267/.342/.476

Catcher C: .327/.408/.428

Catcher D: .285/.348/.482

Catcher A is Mike Piazza, B is Johnny Bench, C is Mauer, and D is Yogi Berra. As we can plainly see, Mauer gets on base more than any of them, but he has less power than all of them. But his raw hitting, is superior to all of them. Which makes sense. He does have three batting titles.

Mauer has been said to have the greatest left handed swing since Ken Griffey Jr.'s.

Only 2 catchers in history have a batting title. Bubbles Hargrave in 1926, and Ernie Lombardi won two. One in 1938 and one in 1942.  Mauer has been said to have the greatest left handed swing since Ken Griffey Jr.’s. Sports Illustrated said he’s the best bet to be next player to hit over .400.  His 2009 season proved that he is capable of Roy Hobbs-esque feats.

The only thing that has derailed him are a few injuries, but he’s always come better than before.

Right now, when Joe Mauer comes up to bat at Target Field, they play “What You Know About That?” but they could easily play the theme from “The Natural” like they do in Texas for Josh Hamilton, and I don’t think anyone could blame them.

In Minnesota, you can say to anybody on the street, and say “What did Joe do last night?” And you’ll get one of two responses. It will either be “I don’t watch baseball.” Or “3-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.” He’s truly loved here. Any baseball fan knows how much Twins fans swoon over Kirby Puckett. Kirby has nothing on Joe. He’s just a local St. Paul boy, making good.