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.

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Contraction in Baseball: An Economic Gain (Part 1)

30 10 2010

Posted by cubs223425

To start, let it be known that I do not believe that the following is what will occur within the game of baseball. It is simply what I believe to be the best course of action for the financial status of the league, along with the best course of action to achieve a better league. I want this to happen, but I do not think it will.

So, over the last several days on

Evan Longoria made it well known throughout the 2010 Season that he was not pleased with the Attendance numbers at Tropicana Field

the MLB Trade Rumors forums, there have been some discussions on baseball’s league and division formatting. People have stated displeasure with the 16-14 setup that is currently in place between the two leagues (16 teams in the NL; 14 in the AL). For some, they propose the league simply move a team over. However, that isn’t exactly a feasible solution.

As of now, baseball is a daily sport. Mondays and Thursdays are the only time that teams are consistently off throughout the year. Because of that, there are 15 games scheduled 5 days of almost every week. If the leagues were 15 teams each, then who would play the fifteenth teams each day? An odd number of teams will not work in a game that requires two teams to play. It would require considerably more doubleheaders or expanded interleague play to the point of almost one game per day. Since that idea has been mostly established as not being feasible, there are two other options: expansion or contraction.

Being the cynic that I am, I elected to handle the contraction article, and WAMCO is working on his own piece in favor of league expansion. In either instance, the idea is to add or subtract two teams, in order to set the American and National leagues on an even playing field in terms of team count, either at 16-16 in a 32-team league or 14-14 in a 28-team one.

Now this is not going to be a simple matter. To determine which teams would best be contracted, we will have to look at a variety of factors. For starters, the team’s popularity has to be considered. Even though the Yankees are a huge payroll with pinstripes, removing them would not be an option because they are also an enormous source of income for the league, which also means more for the other teams in revenue sharing.

Of course, winning is a large factor as well. Though the Rays might not even be drawing 20,000 fans per game, they have done an excellent job of building a winner through the scouting and player development departments. To reward an ownership group with playing the game the right way and succeeding with a giant axe in the back would be crazy.

Team history is also a factor. When comparing a constant loser like the Pirates to the Padres, the team with the 18-year streak of losing seasons might be the easy pick. Still, Pittsburgh has a rather rich baseball history, so just pulling the rug out from under that team might not be the best idea.

When it came down to it, I saw a lot of potential teams. For the sake of time and sanity, though, I elected the commonplace method of examining five teams is the best way to go. I’ve considered several portions of a franchise when I determined if it should be in the final five to be considered for removal from the league. When it came down to it, my personal preferences went to these teams: The San Diego Padres, the Florida Marlins, the New York Mets, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Cleveland Indians.

Before we begin, though, let us cover all of our bases. I am sure there will be fans of some teams that think my choices are without merit, but those questions will be answered in the main portion of the article. Meanwhile, those same fans will start to throw other teams under the bus, suggesting that they are more deserving of a boot. I will quickly voer those teams, just to put those complaints to bed beforehand.

New York Yankees: As I said, it is irrational to think that probably the biggest economic draw in the league would be an option, but many fans have a dire hatred for the way the Yankees operate. That is not their fault, though, as they are well within the league rules, and they feed back into the revenue sharing pool with the huge attendance and merchandise sales.

Tampa Bay Rays: The lack of a crowd draw for a playoff team is almost inexcusable, but they are winning, and how can we really fault them for that? There are plans for a new stadium in the next 3-5 years or so, meaning that the attendance woes will likely lessen over time.

Baltimore Orioles: This team has been a cellar-dwelling team for a long time, so looking at it would be reasonable as well. However, they are building

Building around young talent, such as center fielder Adam Jones, has kept Baltimore off of the hypothetical chopping block.

a great core of players, including  Brian Matusz, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters. They have also been showing a willingness to spend on a big free agent that could change the franchise, such as their efforts with Mark Teixeira before ye got Yank(e)ed away.

Houston Astros: My plan was to only cover NL teams, but I thought that a bit harsh. They were the fifth NL club I considered, but they have done a good job in the fairly recent past, and IO would like to see how they do in a rebuilding effort.

Arizona Diamondbacks: There were thoughts with this team as well. I think that having a professional team near a spring training site is desirable as well, and the team has some young talent. Also, their last World Series was fairly recent.

Washington Nationals: Ultimately, I felt that this team is just in a good location. Having America’s pastime in its capitol is almost a requirement, I think. Like Baltimore, they have started to build  a young core of talent. They were also willing to spend on Adam Dunn, and still might.

Chicago Cubs: As a Cubs fan, this suggestion baffles me. I had someone on the forums mention that the Pirates were not a reasonable choice because of their losing, but that the Cubs are more logical because of their World Series drought. Granted, part of the omission is probably my bias towards my team, but that is a small factor. They have the oldest park in the game, so they clearly are not drawing money from taxpayers like teams that have recently erected new homes like the Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, and Twins. Even without being a title contender in a while (2007 and 2008 were major disappointments), the team draws one of the top-10 largest crowds each year, if not top-5. The farm has improved of late, and they have a new owner, so I see good going forward.

There are my defenses for those teams. In Part 2, I will cover the main idea of my post, so stay tuned.

EDIT: Part 2 is up.





San Diego Padres: Too Good To Have Lost This Many Games

6 09 2010

Posted by Brady

.247/.321/.377. No, that isn’t Nick Punto’s triple slash stat line. It’s close. But, that is the collective offensive output of the first place (for now) San Diego Padres. They don’t hit, and have a team total of 110 home runs, 27 of which belong to Adrian Gonzalez. They are a bad offensive club in every sense of the word. All they can really do is steal a base, but, you do have to get on base to do that. So, how are they in first place (for now)? Remember last offseason when when the Seattle Mariners said they were building around pitching? It didn’t work. San Diego hits just enough to have the “pitching and defense” mantra work for them.

The Friars are easily the best defensive club in baseball, with an MLB-leading UZR of 47.3 (bringing up the caboose? The Indians. -47.3). With an ARM rating of -1.0, which while under the league average isn’t terrible, the Padres catch damn near everything. Who’s anchoring the outfield? Tony Gwynn Jr.

Tony Gwynn Jr. He is leading that outfield, having saved 13.1 runs with his range, and 2 runs with his lack of errors.

He is leading that outfield, having saved 13.1 runs with his range, and 2 runs with his lack of errors. Gwynn, also has one of the weaker arms in the starting outfield, posting a -0.8 ARM. But, he is a centerfielder, and he does get to the balls he needs to, and he’s just under league average in ARM. He is, without a doubt, the leader of the San Diego outfield. He is to the outfield, what Chase Headley is to the infield.

The young third baseman does it all in the field. Incredible range. Headley has

Headley, combined with the man at the other corner at PETCO, Adrian Gonzlaez, are needed with San Diego's extreme groundball starting pitchers.

posted a 14.4 UZR, or an 18.8 UZR/150. Headley is literally twice the defender that Kevin Kouzmanoff was at any time during his tenure with the Padres. Sure, Headley can hit. His 10 home runs, a .272 average, and a .336 OBP attest to that, but defense truly is his bread and butter. Headley, combined with the man at the other corner at PETCO, Adrian Gonzlaez, is needed with San Diego’s extreme groundball starting pitchers.

San Diego has used 8 starting pitchers this season, and only 2 of them have a GB% under 40% (Chris Young and Wade LeBlanc, and Young is only a spot starter). But it really is Mat Latos who stands heads and shoulders above the Padres starters. With an arsenal that includes a 94 MPH fastball and a curveball that rivals Adam Wainwright’s as one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen, Latos has held batters to a .254 BABIP. And he does a lot of it himself. A 9.25 K/9 to go along with a 2.25 ERA and a 3.05 FIP make him one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball this year. What you do hit is probably going on the ground, right to Headley or Gonzalez. And what you are getting in the air, is probably going right to Tony Gwynn Jr.

A 9.25 K/9 to go along with a 2.25 ERA and a3.05 FIP make Mat Latos one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball this year.

Once you get past Latos and the rest of the starters, you have to deal with the San Diego bullpen. They’ve nicknamed themselves “The Penitentiary,” and for good reason. When they come in, the game is locked up. Joe Thatcher and Heath Bell both of a LOB% over 80%. The Pads have used 6 relievers that have struck out more than one batter per inning. And when it come to scoring off of them? Good luck! Thatcher is the proud owner of a 1.42 ERA and a 1.46 FIP.  Bell sports a  1.78 and 1.90. You had better get your runs off the starter, because you sure as hell won’t be getting them off of the bullpen.

And do I even need to talk about the almost anemic offense? It’s been Adrian Gonzalez. Name an offensive category, and Gonzalez is leading in it. He is the complete player, and we all know it, and there is nothing I can say about him that hasn’t already been said.

If this San Diego team can shape up, and figure out what the hell has happened over the last 10 games, and get into the playoffs, with their pitching, and defense, and ability to hit just enough, they could easily be the National League Champions.

Joe Thatcher and Heath Bell both of a LOB% over 80%.





Back to the Future: Mark Prior

6 09 2010

Posted by cubs223425

My procrastination occasionally causes me great stress. Then there are those occasional times that it benefits me. This time is the latter. I have been meaning to post another article on the 2011 1B option for the Cubs (and I will…eventually!), but I’ve been thinking about school and being lazy. Then, I saw that the Texas Rangers had signed Mark Prior. I knew immediately that the aforementioned Cubs article would have to wait (a bit more on that shortly).

So, I was set to start an article on the reappearance of Mark Prior. Of course, though, I was too lazy. I played Call of Duty. I managed my fantasy baseball teams. I banned TrueBlue (I’m sure there were cheers). Well, it all worked out in the end, because now that I shook off the apathy, I started this article on the perfect day.

If Prior can return to his dominant form and stay healthy out of the bullpen, he could possibly snag himself a deal with another big league club this offseason.

Why is today the perfect day? Because Mark Prior made his debut for the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the PCL (AAA) affiliate of the Texas Rangers last night. When I started following baseball, Prior was the guy I latched onto. He was my favorite player, and will always be, whether he comes back on a white stallion or flames out in the minors and gets hurt again. In his one inning of work, Prior threw 16 of his 28 pitches for strikes, allowing two hits, walking one, and striking out a pair of Omaha Royals (he lucked out of facing Mike Moustakas, thankfully). While the RedHawks ultimately lost 9-1, it was a rare occurrence where you could legitimately claim a moral victory.

Anybody who has followed baseball for more than a couple of years knows the story of Mark Prior. #2 pick (behind Joe Mauer). Can’t-miss prospect (leading to that record bonus; a record Stephen Strasburg broke last year). Savior of the Cubs. Well, it seemed to be that way back then.

Prior came onto the scene in Chicago in 2002, after making the AA and AAA hitters he faced to start the year look like children. He posted a  solid 3.32 ERA in 19 starts, good for a  122 ERA+. The following season, there was no minor league stop to make. It was his time, and everyone knew it.

Working off of his previous season’s success, Prior was a dominant ace for the Cubs, as they worked their way into the playoffs behind a deadly pitching staff (anchored by what was thought to be an unstoppable force of Carlos Zambrano, Prior, and Kerry Wood–plus Matt Clement and Shawn Estes). Even looking now, I wonder how he managed the numbers: 211 1/3 IP, 18-6, 2.43 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 4.9 K/BB, 179 ERA+*

*Looking into the 2003 Cy Young voting, I saw Prior finished 3rd. Who won that year? Eric Gagne, and his 337 ERA+, 337! Seriously, what happened to him? You don’t forget how to pitch like that.

Of course, if you know the success, you know the failure. No need to go through the stats, but here’s basically how it went:

Steve Bartman robbed Moises Alou of a catch (that he said he couldn’t get, then said he could). Prior and the Cubs imploded in Game 6 after that, then in Game 7. The Florida Marlins won the World Series, one that Chicago could have gotten if they went into a matchup with the New York Yankees with Prior, Wood, and Zambrano. Then the injuries came.

Honestly, I was too young to remember it all. It was just a constant, depressing blur. The shoulder went. Prior came back. It went again. There was the collision that started it all. There was a liner off of his elbow–the one thing I can still vividly remember; seeing it slam off his elbow. Watching Aramis Ramirez dive into foul territory to make the catch (yeah, he was hit so hard he produced a line out in foul territory to third). Knowing he was gone for a LONG time (even someone as young as I was knew elbows don’t survive that).

This was my guy. I followed him almost religiously. He was my first baseball jersey. Heck, he was baseball to me. I watched all of this, and I didn’t wonder if the baseball gods hated him. I wondered if they hated ME.

He made a few attempts to come back in Chicago, but he kept ending up under the knife. Over. And over. And over. Eventually, the magic was gone, and Prior was, too. He made a couple of attempts with the San Diego Padres, but to the same disastrous ends. But he got an indie league to sign him this season.

Prior made a few appearances, totaling 11 innings. He struck out 22 of the 44 batters he faced. His fastball sat in the 90-92 range, close to what he typically threw pre-injuries (according to him; I was too young to care for MPH when I watched him). Apparently, that domination was enough to convince Texas to take a chance. So far, so good.

Now, here we are, more than 9 years after Prior was Stephen Strasburg. He’s turning 30 tomorrow (September 7th), older than the 21 he was when he made his MLB debut, but nowhere near Jamie Moyer.

Sadly, though, he was signed a few days short of the postseason deadline, but that may be for the best. He can finish up the AAA season and throw some side sessions, all at his own pace. Then, next year, he can show up to Spring Training with the chance to earn a roster spot.

He said himself he doesn’t care about where he gets slotted. Of course, he’s not going to be made a starter (maybe in a year or so, he could, but unlikely). He talks of taking a middle reliever’s job, hoping to be given an occasional 8th inning job. Who know? Maybe he can follow in his former rotation-mate Kerry Wood’s footsteps and become a closer.

But no matter what happens, I’ll still be here–awaiting this rehab as eagerly as the first.