You’re Killing Me, Buster: The 2014 BBWAA Hall of Fame Jerk-Off Begins

I like Buster Olney. Good writer. Well connected. Level-headed and intelligent. On the topic of the Hall of Fame vote Buster leads the charge among BBWAA writers with the smarts and balls to say aloud that the way their body has been voting is not serving the Hall of Fame or the players well and is in need of reform. I like all that.

Olney suggested this month that new rules are needed in the vote (Insider subscription required) and he’s right. To an extent. Olney cites PEDs, the billion-pound gorilla in the room, and admits his own inability to determine who used and who did not use, and announces what will probably be his ballot under a paradigm of “who cares about PEDs?” That’s great. And that’s what needs to change, the process determining the vote, not the rules. Continue reading

What’s Narrative And What’s Not Narrative

We’re about six weeks from Hall of Fame balloting season, so my nose for BBWAA bullshit is getting really anxious. If you’re not into that kind of thing, you’re advised to click ‘back’ now.

Howard Bryant of ESPN somehow managed to file a long-ish column about baseball that did not have the words “steroid” or “enhancing” or “drug” in it. Bryant, of course, is most noted for his book on the subject of steroids, which he wrote after Jose Canseco’s book and after the whole steroids thing in baseball had been uncovered by other people, rather than before those things and while he was a journalist covering baseball during the steroids era when it was all too obvious to everyone watching what was happening in the game. Now Bryant fills out an empty Hall of Fame ballot, which he described as a “basket of rotten apples.” Bryant, don’t forget, has a book to sell. It’s now a seven year old book, but it remains his best-selling because it’s a sensational, after-the-fact act of wrestling with a pig on a topic that people like to yell and scream and get up in arms about.

When Howard Bryant can sculpt the narrative to serve his image as Steroids Author And Expert, he’ll take the shot. So it’s weird to look on ESPN’s website and find a Bryant column in which the act of narrative is being poo-poo-ed by Bryant.

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My $100 Ottoneu League Needs A New Owner

11 of our 12 owners are returning for next year.  If you are interested, please email themiddle54 at gmail dot com.

If you’re not familiar with Ottoneu, you can read up on the settings here. You should be aware:

  • We use the SABR Points scoring system
  • We are a $99.99 buy-in league
  • Buy-in for next year is due immediately upon your joining the league.
  • Buy-in for subsequent years is due by the last day of the regular season the year prior. (ie the day of the last regular season this year is the day you must be paid for next year). This is because…..
  • Salary arbitration voting begins October 16, and it’s an important part of the season. To get the most value out of the team, you should get in immediately.
  • The league has now run for two full seasons. We have had a few teams turn over, and the league is now almost all (except this team) people who are committed long-term to the league. When we have had openings, they have filled usually within 48 hours. This is a highly competitive league and the spot will fill quickly. It’s a great opportunity if you’re a serious fantasy baseball player and analytically-minded fan.

The roster you would inherit is:

Player POS Salary
Matt Kemp OF $47
Albert Pujols 1B $42
Starlin Castro SS $31
Josh Johnson SP $29
Jacoby Ellsbury OF $27
Matt Wieters C $23
Dylan Bundy RP $15
Roy Halladay SP $15
Jimmy Rollins SS $13
Marco Scutaro 2B $9
Victor Martinez 1B $9
Hunter Pence OF $8
Jonathan Gray SP $6
Dan Haren SP $6
Chris Carter 1B/OF $6
Angel Pagan OF $6
Carlos Quentin OF $5
Archie Bradley SP $5
Carter Capps RP $4
Brandon Moss 1B/OF $4
Ryan Vogelsong SP $4
Bruce Rondon RP $4
Bobby Parnell RP $3
Ichiro Suzuki OF $3
Fernando Rodney RP $3
Joel Peralta RP $3
Homer Bailey SP $3
Jordan Walden RP $3
Carlos Martinez RP/SP $3
Jesse Biddle SP $2
Justin Maxwell OF $2
Kyle Kendrick SP $2
Hyun-Jin Ryu SP $2
A.J. Ellis C $1
James Russell RP $1
Christopher Johnson 1B/3B $1
Avisail Garcia OF $1
Jhonny Peralta SS $1
Edinson Volquez SP $1

Frank Thomas: How We Forget

This was spurred by a couple Tweets I saw today. Jonah Keri said something about Miguel Cabrera, someone asked if Miggy has taken over Albert Pujols as the best right-handed hitter of this generation, Keri said ‘not yet.’ Up to this point, I’m on board, until a reply comes that Pujols’ first ten years make him the best right-handed hitter of any generation.

Not quite, and we don’t need a very long memory to find a player who hit better than Pujols when young, who trails Pujols in career wOBA now, but who is likely to lead Pujols in career hitting once Pujols’ career is in the books. That’s Frank Thomas.

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Ryan Braun Is Out $3.5 Million of the $127 Million He Is Guaranteed

Ryan Braun, aptly named Baseball’s Biggest Dipwad just a little bit ago by Hardball Talk, has been suspended for the rest of the year for his connection to Biogenesis. Braun will miss 65 games and lose $3.5 million in salary. No big deal. Braun has $123.5 million more coming over the next seven years, possibly $11 million more if his mutual option for 2011 is picked up.  Which is to say Ryan Braun, for getting busted for violated the joint drug agreement, has lost about 2.75% of his future salary.

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The Rays Rotation Question When Alex Cobb Returns Isn’t Really A Question

Maddon Tweet

Happy All-Star Break to Rays skipper Joe Maddon, who’s off for some R&R per the Tweet pictured.

Re the first part. Alex Cobb appears ready to return to the Rays after the All-Star Break, after landing on the disabled list due to a comebacker to the head. Maddon believes the return of Cobb will present a “nice problem.”

Nice? Sure. Problem? Nah. It’s pretty easy. The Rays have six starter options, and five spots. Luckily, they have five round pegs for five round holes, and one shitty starting pitcher, simplifying the matter greatly.

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Let’s Say For the Sake Of Argument A Giancarlo Stanton Trade Is a Possibility Even Though It’s Probably Not, Part 1

This stems from a message board discussion I was involved in recently. It took place on a board for Cardinals fans, and the topic was the resurgence this year of the Pittsburgh Pirates. As I start typing this blog entry, Pittsburgh is tied with St. Louis for the best record in baseball. This may or may not be the case by the time I’m done writing this and posting it, a multi-day process. A Pirates fan who frequents the board stopped by to crow about the Pirates being in first place.

The conversation quickly turned where message board conversations often quickly turn: wild trade speculation. The visiting Pittsburgh fan said that some Pirates fans are advocating on another board that the Pirates should go for it with a trade for Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton. It makes sense that Pittsburgh would be looking to make a trade. They have outplayed their talent level this year, overperforming their Pythagorean record by a few wins. The St. Louis team with whom they are tied atop the NL Central has underperformed theirs by as many wins. St. Louis has outscored opponents by 1.4 runs per game, the highest margin since 2001 when the Mariners and A’s posted the two best regular seasons of the current century. Pittsburgh is outscoring opponents by 0.5 runs per game. There is a talent divide, and the Pirates, to remain competitive in the second half need to either continue outperforming their Pythag or they need to improve. A trade is certainly one way to accomplish that.

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Carlos Martinez April 24 v NW Arkansas

Carlos Martinez, in stuff, was about the same last night against Northwest Arkansas as he was when I saw him two years ago in low-A. His four-seam fastball showed plus velocity, sitting 93-95 and touching a bit higher when he reached back for it. Martinez can spin a curveball. Two of his four strikeouts came on whiffs with his curve, including a very impressive at-bat to close out the second inning in which he got strike two swinging with the curve, had the batter looking for the fastball with two strikes, and fooled him with another curve.

Martinez stayed on top of his fastball, throwing it almost exclusively at the knee level or lower. He was a bit erratic–he almost hit Brett Eibner with the first pitch of the game, and did hit Eibner in his second time facing him. I saw mostly four-seam fastballs from Martinez, and the game plan for him in this outing appears to be to have worked on throwing a lot of fastballs, and locating the pitch low in the zone.

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On The Lack Of Absolutes When Prospecting

Some players you just know. Strasburg. Harper. Trout. Verlander. Felix. Kershaw. As prospects, they were gilded, and their pro careers have validated the hype that surrounded them as minor leaguers. Top prospects pan out more than the lower-tier players. The difference between the #2-ranked prospect in baseball and the #12 prospect is far greater than the difference between someone’s list ranking two players #51 and #63.

There is a degree of uncertainty in the very elite prospects, and after you get through that group of less than 10 players each year there are question marks. Pitchers with great stuff who lack command. Undersized left-handed pitchers with great command and a nice changeup but low velocity and little physical projection. Hitters with big power in the batting cage but a significant amount of swing-and-miss in games that limits the translation of that power to game action. Shortstops who can hit but appear unlikely to stick at shortstop. Shortstops who can stick at shortstop but can’t hit. Raw athletes who have not fully developed baseball skills. Even this year’s unanimous top prospect, Jurickson Profar, comes with questions.

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Adam Wainwright Is Shoving It, And Probably Shoving It More Than You Realize

On October 7, 2012 in Game 1 of the NLDS, Adam Wainwright walked Kurt Suzuki. It was the last batter Wainwright faced that night, and now, 9 1/3 more 2012 postseason innings plus 29 2013 regular season innings later, it remains the last batter Wainwright walked.

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