October 2006


Soriano is looking for a deal similar to Carlos Beltran. I’m a Mets fan. Anyone who has read this blog knows that.  And I readily admit that they overpaid for Beltran, but I still think it was a good deal for them. I also believe that Soriano, is as good, if not a better offensive player. Despite all of that, I still wouldn’t want to give nearly as much money to Soriano as the Mets did to Beltran. We have openings at second AND left, but I just don’t want this guy. He strikes out too much. I think the Mets already have enough stars. One more and that lineup starts looking like the kind of fantasy lineup you see across town. Soriano should get 4 years for 60 mil from a team like the Angels.  I don’t want him. I want role players!

It seems to be en vogue to cite the Tigers pitchers fielding woes as a reason for their defeat. See below from Murray Chass in the New York Times:

What we learned from the World Series: Pitchers can throw a baseball 60 feet 6 inches with great precision, but add a few feet, and they’re recklessly inaccurate.

Four times Detroit pitchers failed to throw to first or third base accurately, and the errors resulted in unearned runs that, in turn, resulted in costly losses.

Of course errors never help win championships, but in this case I really believe it was the Cardinals’ depth and their ability to mix and match the right role-players around the middle of their lineup that won the title. This is clearly evident in the choice of David Eckstein as WS MVP. Who would have guessed that the team with Prince Albert hitting in the three hole would have a tiny, scrappy shortstop named MVP?

It was the ability of guys like Eckstein, Spezio, Taguchi, and Belliard who did what needed to be done, rather than each trying to win the game on their own. This is the difference between the Cards and the Yankees.

To be continued…

I can’t believe that labor and management reached a new deal without any hint of possible strife. You can read about it in the NY Times. But the bottom line is that both sides decided to proceed with the status quo.

A quick gripe about this, they have made that stupid rule linking home field advantage in the Series to the All-Star Game. As a Mets fan, my team had this year’s game won pretty much single handedly until that bozo Trevor Hoffman gave it back in the ninth.

Other than that, there is really nothing to gripe about in the agreement. Its clear that players and owners are both making more money than they could ask for. It is also very clear, considering that 7 different teams have won the world series in the past 7 years, that competitive balance is alive and well despite having no salary cap.

My esteemed collaborator, the million dollar arm with a ten-cent brain, tends to be stubbornly pro-management. Yet he likes to wax poetic about players staying on a team for life. I agree that one player on one team for an entire career is ideal. But nothing will kill that faster than a salary cap. The roster turnover in the salary capped sports is insane. I am very happy that we don’t have to face that negotiation again for another five years.

Ultimately, as Jerry Seinfeld famously quipped, sports fans root for the laundry. I think having long-term players on a team is all well and good. However, what is more important to me, as a fan, is having a team identity. Though the Mets don’t have any lifers on their team right now, the team has identity for the first time in years. Its strength is the bullpen and a well-rounded lineup. Every year teams like the As and Twins play well into October and even though the players change they somehow seem like the same team. Effective general managers pick a style of play for the team and prepare their rosters accordingly. I think that kind of thinking will lead to longer-term relationships with players. But we can’t expect to stem the tide of commerce, so in its place I happy with the consolation prize of a strong (winning) team identity.

Read this article in the Houston Chronicle and would just like to note that I like the effort being put forth by the Astros in keeping a player that has meant so much to the fans. Sometimes it’s better to maybe use a lesser player or in this case aging player that the fans have grown so attached to. I was lucky enough to see Tony Gwynn play his entire career in San Diego and think it was one of the reasons I became such a fan. Identifying with players keeps you coming back for more. Would I have liked to watch a few more winning seasons over the years? Sure, but thinking back on it, I would definitely not have wanted to trade wins for a whole new set of players year every year. Management needs to keep this in mind during the winter if baseball wants to remain popular in the “smaller” markets.

I read something by Bernie Miklasz on St. Louis Today .com. He reminded me of something:

I still believe this is much ado about little, because good lefthanded pitchers such as Rogers give the Cardinals fits, and they didn’t hit Rogers even after Rogers came clean (sort of).  

I remember being struck by how bad t. Louis hitters faired against Mets lefties during the LCS. I don’t want to take anything away from Oliver Perez’s gutsy performance, but I think that simply throwing from the left side helped his performance tremendously.

You wouldn’t think it with all of those righties in that lineup, Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion. I’d have to see stats, but my memory was that Edmonds–the lefty–didn’t even fair as badly as some of his right handed teammates. Wonder why that is?

It was the cardinals role players and lesser sticks that did the Mets in. Spezio, Taguchi, and Molina really made the difference. That is why I still like the Cardinals in 6. Once they get back to St. Louis and get to play with real baseball rules LaRussa’s ability to mix and match his lineup — not because of his brilliance but because Walt Jocketty put together such a deep roster — will help them easily take 2 of 3 from the Tigers at home.

Leyland is going to have trouble when he has to decide whether or not to bring in Zumaya to pitch out of a 2-out jam in the 7th, knowing that his spot in the lineup is due up the next inning and they’ll need to pinch hit for him.

If I am right, it should be an interesting game 6 with Rogers heading back to the hill with his team down 3-2 and all of the world looking for a smudge on his palm.

OK, this post is mainly here to test to see whether my name will be displayed as author on this post. No sense in having a two-man blog if readers can’t tell who wrote what.

But while I’m at it, the more I think about it, the more I think it is weird the way LaRussa handled the whole thing. He said he knew going into the game that Rogers was using something. I wonder if his players will resent him since they lost the game. Whether it is true or not, people are bound to think it has to do with his now famous friendship with Leyland.

Also, ESPN has reported that the “dirt” is some sort of medical gunk that is used to help heal wounds. Apparently NFL receivers use this stuff too. They say it remains sticky for 12 hours after washing it off. That would explain why Rogers continued to pitch like a world beater after removing the stain.

Like my esteemed colleague, I guess I don’t care much either. But after being crushed by the Cardinals in a gut-wrenching series, I was sort of planning on rooting for the Tigers too. It is hard enough rooting for those AL communists, but now they are cheaters too…it is getting hard to continue to root for them.

I have to admit I feel a little dirty rooting for the AL team in the World Series, but I’m still looking for my revenge on the Cardinals beating up yet again my Padres. It’s such a bastardization of baseball to me. NL is like chess and AL is like checkers. There is so much less strategy involved. Too many professional hitters. I like seeing a weaker line up. I like seeing a manager struggle with later innings decisions. Should he pinch hit for the strong glove/weak stick man in hopes of a big hit off the bench? Will that decision bite the manager in the butt as the game progresses? All the AL manager has to be aware of whether or not his pitcher is out of gas. Where’s the skill in that? All he has to do is see the juiced up speed of the radar gun to realize his pitcher is starting to slow down. He doesn’t even really have to look at the pitcher. What do these guys do in the dugout? I guess they may have to decide on the occasional defensive substitution in later innings, but not much more then that. Would anybody like to explain to me their love of the AL style of play?

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