Thursday, November 27, 2008

From IDWT with love

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Thanks to Theresa K for the picture.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The latest on Teahen trade rumors

PRELUDE: This post is borderline NSFW.

When the hot stove cools, leave it to MLB Trade Rumors to turn up the heat. The latest from Tim Dierkes:

Earlier today I spoke with a source familiar with the Cubs' thinking, and dug up enough info for a fresh post.

  • While Mark Teahen is a player of interest for the Cubs, they certainly won't be trading Mike Fontenot and Sean Marshall for him. The Cubs don't consider Teahen the middle of the order bat they require.
  • Royals outfielder David DeJesus also interests the Cubs, but the source has the impression Dayton Moore would have to be overwhelmed to trade him. There seems a good chance DeJesus stays put this winter.

The reaction from Cubs fans to potentially acquiring Teahen, as far as we can tell, ranges from "I would rather have [Jim] Edmonds" to "I don't think wasting money (or talent) on Teahan [sic] is a very good idea at all." We thought foisting Teahen on the Cubs for Fontenot and Marshall was a stretch to begin with -- heck, we'd take Fontenot straight up -- but then we heard, just tonight, that someone or other said the deal may involve Jose Guillen and Kosuke Fukudome. In which case -- if this were even remotely true -- fuk yes! But the chances of Guillen/Teahen for Fukudome are fairly close to nil, and once again we feel it necessary to remind everyone that rumors are fun to indulge in but ultimately meaningless.

This post will self-erase in five minutes.

And yes, we did this to lower the bar of expectation so we'll have something to be pleasantly surprised about when the Teahen deal finally goes through.

POSTSCRIPT: Here's my bit of fun for tonight, thanks to Royals Review (HT to Royals on Radio Etc.): a couple days ago the guys over at RR linked to a site called GenderAnalyzer and listed the "manliest" Royals sites on the 'Net. Obviously something's wrong with their top 5, because No. 1 comes in at 92% (Rany on the Royals), while this site checks in at 94%. So, what's up with that?

Anyway, we know why our score's so high: more than one picture of women. Another one's below, which -- I'm not making this up -- is one of the hits of a Google search for "Fukudome." Again, I
can't make this stuff up.

And don't worry, she's wearing underwear.

UPDATE, 2:38 a.m. ET: As we've already opened this can of worms, there's no reason not to take it to its logical conclusion -- other women who've appeared in pictures on this blog, arranged from latest to earliest: Anne V, Miss Atomic Bomb, Alyssa Milano, Tina Cervasio, Erin Andrews, Jessica Alba.

And, of course, Red Sox girl:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Goodbye to Lumsden, inroads to India and a new Royals blog

Three items at this late hour:

1. Tyler Lumsden, the prospect we were all excited about in the Mike MacDougal trade (now we're all excited about that other guy in the deal, Daniel Cortes), was packed and shipped to Houston yesterday for "a player to be named later or cash." The "or" is strange. It can't be both? And how much cash? We're guessing a pittance for baseball standards, a few hundred-thousand perhaps. Maybe it'd be better to take the player, but... who? Such mystery. PTBNL is a scourge.

2. This is a rather amazing story out of Pittsburgh/India: a U.S. marketer decided to organize a baseball-throwing contest in India called Million Dollar Arm in which the contestant to throw a series of pitches that hit at least 85 m.p.h. on the radar, and all for strikes, would win $100,000 (which, in India, is a lot) and baseball training in the United States. That's quite a contest, if we may say. The winner, 19-year-old lefty Rinku Singh, threw in the low-90s. But Pittsburgh scouts at this event were so impressed with another guy, 20-year-old righty Dinesh Patel, who was a little wild but threw harder, that they decided to sign them both. And with one stroke of the pen -- or handshake or phone call or whatever -- Singh and Patel became the first-ever Indian athletes to sign professional sports contracts outside their country.

That bears repeating: the two are the first athletes from India to sign professional sports contracts outside of India, a country of more than 1.1 billion people. (According to AP -- we don't want to get the wording wrong -- "They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional sports contracts outside their country" (italics ours).)

An incredible story, really. We said earlier this summer and last year (in a post titled "Imports," coincidentally enough) we'd keep our eyes on Pirates GM Neal Huntington; it's nice of him to justify that attention so soon. The Pirates: a team you can feel right rooting for.

3. New blog to report: Royalscentricity, a clean-looking site which has eight posts up as of this writing.

We're finding out about these things every week, especially as it's the offseason and more and more fans are jumping on the bandwagon -- who knew the Royals had such a large blogger bandwagon, right? -- so do let us know if our blogroll is missing anything.

And we're officially soliciting advice as to whether "blog roll" should be one word or two. We've oscillated from the very beginning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's on the young people

Nineteen-, 20-, 21-year-olds dictate the direction of baseball franchises, and so it is that Baseball America fulfills a need, giving fans glimpses of the future, sometimes long before it's arrived (or ever arrives at all). Here's its list of the Royals' 10 best prospects:

  1. Mike Moustakas
  2. Eric Hosmer
  3. Daniel Cortes
  4. Mike Montgomery
  5. Tim Melville
  6. Danny Duffy
  7. Danny Gutierrez
  8. Carlos Rosa
  9. Kila Ka'aihue
  10. Blake Wood

Most of these guys have name recognition, and many of them, judging by their early-career success, give us reason for optimism.

Here was 2007's list:

  1. Mike Moustakas, ss
  2. Daniel Cortes, rhp
  3. Luke Hochevar, rhp
  4. Blake Wood, rhp
  5. Danny Duffy, lhp
  6. Carlos Rosa, rhp
  7. Julio Pimentel, rhp
  8. Matt Mitchell, rhp
  9. Yasuhiko Yabuta, rhp
  10. Derrick Robinson, of

Notice that Hosmer, Montgomery and Melville were all new draftees in the class of '08. It has to be a good sign they all jumped immediately into the top 5, and that one of the players in last year's top 5 is now on the big-league roster.

Here's where nos. 6-10 are now:

Pimentel, age 22, acquired via trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers (along with Blake Johnson and Odalis Perez) for Elmer Dessens. Double-A Arkansas. Regressed last season with a 5.38 ERA, 115 strikeouts and 52 walks in 157.1 innings, but he's still very young.

Mitchell, 19, drafted in 14th round in 2007. Last year at Class-A Burlington: 8-8, 3.47 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 77 K and 25 BB in 116.2 innings. Not bad for a 19-year-old.

Yabuta, 35. Optioned to Triple-A Omaha but, unlike Luke Hudson, opted not to file for free agency.

Robinson, 21, drafted in 4th round in 2006. Showed no power in Class-A Wilmington but did steal 62 bases last season. Career line: .243/.314/.314. More grooming necessary.

An oblique but earnest thought: is anything in the world tougher than parenting?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On relievers and Dick Vitale

Yes, Dick Vitale weighs in on the Ramon Ramirez-Coco Crisp trade. This is completely ripped out of a Joe Posnanski blog post, by the way:

“Oh and hey, by the way, out there in Kansas City, I think they got a great deal with Coco Crisp. They traded that reliever, Ramirez, and he’s pretty good, but I think Coco Crisp really helps that Kansas City. And then, you know, getting Mike Jacobs earlier from Florida, he gives the Royals some power, I think that was a big addition too, I think the Royals could be knocking on the door up there, I saw it with Tampa, I can see it in Kansas City, with Jacobs hitting some home runs, and Crisp running down fly balls in centerfield …”

While we're on the subject, Posnanski's column in the KC Star today points out that Dayton Moore has a propensity for trading away relievers. Poz lists: Jeremy Affeldt, J.P. Howell, Ambiorix Burgos, Andy Sisco, Octavio Dotel and Leo Nuñez. And what the Royals got in return:

  • Howell for Joey Gathright: Dayton Moore's first trade intoxicated us all -- maybe just a buzz, at least -- and no matter how you assessed this, you have to admit you had fun with it. This video (scroll to the bottom), remember?

  • Affeldt for Ryan Shealy (basically): Affeldt's been alright in Colorado and Shealy, let's face it, hasn't lived up to his potential, but there's time yet. We all know the September Big Sully had last season, giving us hope there may be more of where that came from.

  • Burgos for Brian Bannister: Burgos blew out his arm and may never be the same again -- a wild, unreliable reliever. Bannister had a good year followed by a bad year, but tell me you don't love him. Seriously. For about a month last off-season, he more or less single-handedly made Kansas City the cynosure of sabermetricians everywhere.

  • Sisco for Ross Gload: naysay to your heart's content, but Sisco has done nothing and Gload has been a consummate professional. Sure, not the ideal starting first baseman, but he's done what's been asked of him and, let's face it, the Royals would have about three fewer wins against the Yankees if not for Gload's bat (career 1.083 OPS against the Yanks, with three homers, tied for most against any opponent).

  • Dotel for Kyle Davies: very young pitcher who went 4-1 in September with 2.27 ERA and 24 strikeouts and only seven walks in 31.2 innings.

  • Nunez for Mike Jacobs. Nothing more needs to be said here for a while.

Not on the list: Elmer Dessens, Horacio Ramirez, Denny Bautista... do miss any of them?

One more: Royal Tower, which just ascended some 20 spots on our blogroll (really my fault for not pushing 'em up earlier), has come out with another fine analysis of a Royals prospect, RHP Daniel Cortes. Writes Keith: "He went from short and skinny (short by scout's standards) to tall and well built, and it's helped him throw harder and put more spin on his breaking pitches. Luckily, a lot of that filling out came with the Royals and not the White Sox..." Another steal by Dayton Moore, yessiree. Remember, all he surrendered was Mike MacDougal... a reliever.

Oh, and there's this: the Royals added Henry Barrera to the 40-man roster today. Who's Henry Barrera? Just someone who struck out 78 in 57.2 innings in Class A Wilmington last year with a 2.81 ERA. Lock and load, baby. The bullpen's getting restocked as we speak.

Two new Royals blogs/sites

Found out about these two recently, mostly thanks to Royals Authority:

There seems to be a few new Royals blogs each offseason, which is only natural and good. The blog roll to the right, ever expanding, reflects a nation's growing interest in our hometown team.

Of course, we lose a few blogs every offseason as well. So it goes, the cycle of life and death. What is life in the face of death? More life, just life.

UPDATE: And another one: Royals Home Plate.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Royals trade another middle reliever for Coco Crisp

Guess Dayton Moore wasn't done after all. Coco Crisp adds much-coveted speed to the Royals lineup and defensive prowess to the outfield. He'll be the Opening Day center fielder, meaning David DeJesus will move to his more natural positition in left. Although Bob Dutton's article for the KC Star doesn't mention Crisp's on-base percentage (admit it, you were skimming the page or scrolling down to find it), it was a healthy .344 last season, which was around league average. It would've ranked fifth among Royals regulars in '08.

Dick Kaegel of has a longer story about the trade, in which Moore is quoted:

"He's somebody with a lot of experience, been a part of championship teams, has the ability to play center field and has had success at the top of the lineup. That was very appealing for us."

Another hard-throwing middle reliever jettisoned for offense: we've seen Moore do this before, and we're on the record as saying it's almost always a good value deal. Of course, Crisp stands to make five million more dollars than Ramirez next season, pushing the Royals' payroll close to $70 million. Not sure how owner David Glass is taking this -- perhaps apprehensively, with a large cup of black coffee -- but if it'll get the Royals to .500 on the road to contention in 2010, we're all for it. And let's be realistic: Crisp is a bridge, not a solution. He has an $8 million option on his contract for after this season, and by that point -- unless Jose Guillen gets dumped -- he really may be too expensive to keep.

The flip-side: as Red Sox fans get to know Ramon Ramirez, we have a feeling they'll come to appreciate his contributions. Here's Boston GM Theo Epstein on the record about the guy who was Joakim Soria's primary setup man:

"He has a plus fastball, 92 to 95 miles per hour, and an outstanding power changeup. A lot of people think it's a split, it's actually a changeup, 87 to 88. That's a swing-and-miss pitch for him against lefthanded and righthanded hitters, and a pretty good slider. He's very quietly had a tremendous amount of success in the major leagues over the last two seasons. We were looking for that type of upgrade to add to our bullpen."

Then again, there's been a lot of talk of the Red Sox flipping Ramirez to another team (Texas, for instance) for a catcher, but who knows. The Ramirez boat has sailed, and what happens from here depends on the will of the gods. Not that we didn't appreciate his services, but as this commenter on the Red Sox blog The Joy of Sox points out, "Why does this make me sad? Because when any player leaves the team, unless you absolutely hated him (and maybe not even then), you feel sad." This was just before someone said, "I feel sorry for Coco going to a bad team. He deserves better," followed by, "And to Kansas City. Poor guy," then this kick to the gonads: "As a fan of Coco I hope the Royals flip him to another team. I don't see that happening but for a veteran, proven player like Coco who could be any team's starting CF, it's a kick to the nuts to be traded to KC at this point in that franchise's history." With Boston Dirt Dogs jesting, "Midwest Not Best: Coco Can Kiss the Postseason Goodbye," you'll have to excuse this French: fucking New Englanders!

One more word on Coco: he's been on this site before. Entertaining the ladies.

POSTSCRIPT: We'll keep our eyes on the Mark Teahen/Cubs trade rumors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What they're saying about the Royals: UmpBump

From that site's offseason "What they need now" series:

The 2008 Royals were twelth [sic] out of 14 AL teams in OBP. So what did the Royals do to address the problem? They kicked off the trade season by dealing for Marlins 1B Mike Jacobs, that’s what.

Or put another way:

The 2008 Royals were thirteenth out of 14 AL teams in HR. So what did the Royals do to address the problem? They kicked off the trade season by dealing for Marlins 1B Mike Jacobs, that’s what.

There. See what a little positive spin can do? The sun is out, and it's a gonna be a fine day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fourth? FOURTH???

Actually, that's not bad. Congratulations to Mike Aviles for finishing fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Or, maybe not congratulations, but something close to that that you'd say to an unlikely shortstop who practically no one knew before the season but managed to secure a place on the roster by hitting and hitting and hitting some more, even hitting better than the guys who finished second (Alexei Ramirez) and third (Jacoby Ellsbury) in voting.

We'll give you one guess as to who won.

UPDATE, 11/11: Not all's lost: Aviles was named the team's player of the year, and Joakim Soria -- Senor Smoke, the Mexicutioner -- won pitcher of the year. Zack Greinke also got a prize.

Monday, November 10, 2008

BP's Christina Kahrl talks about the Jacobs-Nunez trade

Eric Sanlnocencio of Blog Talk Radio recently interviewed Baseball Prospectus's Christina Kahrl about, among other things, the Mike Jacobs-Leo Nunez trade. No, this topic will not die. You can hear the entire show here, or scroll to the 43-minute mark, where Kahrl comes in:

My initial reaction was really kind of just disappointment, because while Mike Jacobs had value and is probably one of the 30 best first baseman in Major League today, and while it would be easy to make a comparison and say, "Yeah, he's an improvement over Ross Gload" -- but there again, then you get into there are probably a dozen people, like in the minor leagues, who would be an improvement over Ross Gload, so that's really kind of a straw man, you can't make that comparison and just say, "Wow, they got Mike Jacobs and they've upgraded at first base." Well of course they had, it would almost be impossible to do worse.

So that's really I think the basis of comparison you have to go on, which is, in the entire universe of potential first baseman, why would you go get Mike Jacobs? It's a combination of factors that are involved, but really just makes you wonder what they were thinking. I mean, between the amount of depth they have at first base in the organization -- I mean, it's one of the only poisitons where the royals have a glut of talent, is first baseman on the way up -- and beyond that, Jacobs is now arbitration eligible...

She goes on for a while to list all the cons of this trade we've already heard. Here's the thing: when you're talking about basis of comparison, shouldn't that be between Mike Jacobs and Leo Nunez? Says Kahrl later on: "What is Mike Jacobs's worth? Well he really probably is worth only about a guy like Leo Nunez, who is just another live-armed right-hander who got a good fastball, but he isn't striking people out with it, and maybe he turns into something and maybe he just becomes a reliable middle reliever."

One more line:

Okay, so you're gunning for someday getting to 77 wins? Is this really the master plan?

Of course not. But baseball GMs seem smarter these days, or if not smarter, at least not as dumb. Sure, ideally we'd have Josh Hamilton, but there aren't too many Hamilton-types who can be plucked for cheap. And the Royals have problems: years of mismanagement have depleted their farm system and there just aren't that many tradeable parts. So, again, allow us to say: giving up a middle reliever for a power-hitting lefty is not a bad trade.

But I don't want to sound cantankerous. Kahrl does a great job over at BP, and her article (subscription only) on the transaction was actually quite fair and balanced, weighing pros with cons and analyzing the trade from the Marlins' perspective as well. And as we're all about optimism over here, we'll excerpt Kahrl's concluding paragraph:

Finally, to touch base on the waiver claim as Moore raids his former employers in Atlanta, Cuevas might represent an easy one-for-one replacement for Nunez. He may be a reliever in the making—he's a beefy guy with a violent delivery that perhaps exacerbated the labrum issues that shelved him much of the season. His fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range and touches the mid-90s, but his curve and changeup aren't great. If the Dominican's lack of a solid secondary pitch, the health woes, and the fact that he'll be 25 all add up to a change in roles, it wouldn't be entirely surprising, and if it pans out, it would rate as a nice little free-talent find. If it doesn't, consider it a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained.

That's Jairo Cuevas, claimed from the Braves last month. Raid away, Dayton.

POSTSCRIPT: The Royal Tower's analysis of Dayton Moore's trades from the past two seasons.

UPDATE, 11/26: Damn!
Cuevas was claimed off waivers from Atlanta on Oct. 24 but, on Wednesday, the Braves claimed him back off waivers from the Royals.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dayton Moore speaks on potential winter signings

Today's Kansas City Star tells us that as for winter signings, there basically may not be any more. Bob Dutton reporting:

Payroll is the primary problem.

The Royals’ projected $60 million budget already has $41.4 million committed to nine players. Club officials now expect Jacobs to cost $3 million or more after briefings this week from MLB officials on the anticipated state of the market.

Moore was also good enough to state the obvious on the Mike Jacobs trade:

“Don’t get confused when we bring a player in, and he doesn’t fit the mold. We can only take advantage of those players who are available.

“Should we do nothing because (Jacobs’) on-base percentage is not what we want? Should we do nothing even though our coaches think they can help this guy improve and when we know this guy is a hard worker?

“Mike Jacobs has the kind of raw power you can’t develop, and that we can’t afford in the free-agent market. So when you get a chance to acquire someone like that, you do it. I think it makes our team better.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On trade rumors

The latest out of MLB Trade Rumors (HT to reader Lukas J.):

The Braves are mentioning Jeff Francoeur "in trade talks with anyone who will listen." Royals GM Dayton Moore is known to be a fan. Looking at 2008's bottom ten in OBP...Moore signed Jose Guillen (.300), acquired Mike Jacobs (.299), and has been linked in trade talks to Francoeur (.294) and Yuniesky Betancourt (.300). And don't forget Willy Taveras (.308).

Across Royals Nation (or municipality, maybe), folks are rising with pitchforks. Jeff Francoeur? .294 OBP! .294 OBP! .294 OBP!

But let's slow down a bit. Where did this rumor originate? Why is Dayton Moore "known to be a fan"? Let's see, shall we?

Aug. 15, KC Star's Mike Flanagan writes a post on his blog titled "Braves' Francoeur to the Royals?" The first line of that post reads: "OK, OK, that's pure speculation."

Sept. 20, Sarah Green of MLB Trade Rumors writes a post titled "Francoeur to the Royals?" The first line reads, "Pure speculation here, but the Jeff Francoeur-to-the-Royals rumors continue."

(Don't bother with that "rumors" link. It takes you to a July 24 Trade Rumors post that says, without disclaimer, "The Royals are said to be interested in Francoeur.")

Nov. 3, Braves blog Talking Chop writes a post titled "Does Anyone Want Jeff Francoeur?" In it contains this line: "It occurred to me that the Royals might have some interest. After all, they did just acquire Mike Jacobs....

"I'm not seriously advocating this, but in the world of rumors, if the Royals think Jacobs can help them, then they probably think Francoeur can too. Add to that the obvious connection to the Braves that Royals GM Dayton Moore has, and it's not too much of a leap."

So, as far as we can tell, the sources of "known to be a fan" comes from 1) speculation and 2) self-censured speculation.

Dayton Moore has said he would consider all possibilities for making the team better, and if that means trading another middle reliever for Jeff Francoeur, it would be brilliant. Of course, we don't think the Braves would part with the former SI cover boy for so little, but that's beyond the point. From here on, let's take rumors for what they are: salty, unappetizing, teeth-crunching grist. You can try to have fun with them, but don't throw them at others or go crazy with the extrapolations.

As for Betancourt, it's been reported that the Royals tried to get him for Billy Butler before the 2007 season. That was, of course, when Betancourt was still a prospect bursting with potential. As Bob Dutton reports for the KC Star:

The Mariners have a new general manager in Jack Zduriencik. They lost 101 games last season. Betancourt’s development plateaued over the last two years. And Seattle can use some punch after scoring fewer runs last season than all but one American League team.

It’s a long shot that also produced claims by both clubs that no talks have taken place.

The Francoeur talks we can deal with: grist for the rumor mill, why not. Betancourt? Let's put a stop to that now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A voice of reason speaks on *that* trade

Clark Fosler of the redesigned Royals Authority asks simply, "Why all the angst over Mike Jacobs?"

Picture via Wax Heaven, the guy who in this video ("Florida Marlins trade Mike Jacobs for NOTHING") calls the Royals "baseball purgatory." A Marlins fan calls Kansas City purgatory... now there's the day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A celebration of baseball, the Cubs and Wrigley Field

"Don't worry about it! Enjoy it! Enjoy it! Don't worry about it! There are no holes in this team! This is the ball club!"
--Ron Santo, talking about the Cubs, in August

As it's now the offseason, and this is Gary Smith writing in Sports Illustrated after all, we feel it acceptable to do this without needing to apologize to Cubs fans...

These are excerpts from the story "Are you ready for a howling, pagan, YouTube Oktoberfiesta?", from the Sept. 29 issue, on a subject so good (and pure (as to transcend winning and losing)?) that it forced the writer to deploy the word "walkingest":

Excerpt 1:

On this team's worst days, the bleachers at Wrigley were the best place in sports; I was itching to see what they'd be like on the Cubs' best days. What sort of winners were the Lovable Losers, I wondered. What happens to a victim when his victimhood, in its 100th year, turns to dominance? Or so it seemed....

The Cubs were entering this series playing at a .721 clip at home, owned baseball's best record and sat six games ahead of the second-place Brewers. Could God be that heartless? Could this all be another cruel joke?

No. It couldn't be...

Excerpt 2:

"...I know I should be expecting doom, because I always have before, and if you don't, you're not a real Cubs fan. But I don't this time. I just don't."

Excerpt 3:

But Lynn was sure Ronnie Santo was right. "We're used to devastation," she said, "but I just don't have that feeling this year."

SI ran the cover story just before the playoffs, and per format, the letters in response to the story were printed three weeks later, some bemoaning the cover curse ("I speak for all Cubs fans when I ask you to please never put us on the cover again. In fact, don't even mention us in the magazine at all. When the 2009 baseball preview comes out, pretend we don't exist") and others having fun at the team's expense ("I have finally figured out what Cubs fans meant by their constant proclamation, It's Gonna Happen. They were obviously referring to being swept out of the postseason in the first round"). The last two were especially good: a reference to the Phillies and "the 1989 movie Back to the Future Part II."

If that isn't enough to get you to click on the story link, understand this: ultimately, Gary Smith's story is a naked, unreserved, unabashed celebration of the Cubs and baseball -- and a part of us which is intrinsically human -- and my point in linking to it isn't to provoke Cubs fans still smarting from last month's loss but to remind them that there is something intrinsically good about being a baseball fan in general and, yes, a Cubs fan in particular, and that if you think about it, there's only a shade over three months' time until pitchers and catchers report, and only a few weeks after that when spring training begins, and a month more when the game we love rises again like a quiet sunrise to reveal the spring bloom in its all-American splendor. Comfort in the tides of time, which roll forth regardless of your wanting its acceleration or delay; peace in the coming of days.

The heat was savage. Today's was an afternoon game. Here was Wrigleyville broiled to its essence, young men and women pouring from the surrounding bars into the bleachers, pausing on the outdoor concourse to purchase a pair of 16-ounce plastic cups of beer, double-fisting them to an unclaimed patch of bench, stripping down to bare chests and bikini tops and settling in for a four-hour house party, the scents of suntan lotion, hops, barley and baked flesh inseparable by the bottom of the second. Marvelous multitaskers, able to eat, drink, text, troll, couple and clamor for the Cubbies all at once.


"I've been all over the world," Fred continued, unperturbed. "I've scuba-dived the Great Barrier Reef and motorcycled the Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies, and, yes, they're both
beautiful. But I realized when I first came here 45 years ago that this ballpark on a sunny day was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen, and that it still is today. So the bathrooms smell like piss? So Larry Craig wouldn't like our men's room? Well, I don't watch the ball game from there. This ballpark doesn't need a damn thing. Winning or losing stopped making me happy or sad years ago. I just love to be here."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"The greatest World Series speech in the history of sports"

So says the blog The Fightins. Judge for yourself:


POSTSCRIPT 1: Jason Werth, who stands after Chase Utley delivered those words, was probably drunk. Via Deadspin:

Photo by Meghan Zamborsky

POSTSCRIPT 2: You won't get the full article unless you're a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, but the first few paragraphs from this article by Joe Sheehan is well worth reading:

Baseball is just fine. Rain, cold weather, long games, late games, poor TV ratings, worse umpiring... none of it matters. Nothing that makes this many people this happy is ever going to go away.

More on the Jacobs-Nunez trade

As Mike Jacobs and Leo Nunez are the talk of baseball -- Baseball Think Factory and Boys of Summer are the latest to weigh in on the trade -- we'd like to present, via RoyalsRetro of Royals Review, Jacobs's and Nunez's ZIPS projections:

2009 ZiPS Projection - Mike Jacobs
2009 478 67 125 33 1 24 82 36 100 1 .262 .313 .485 106 -7
Opt. (15%) 544 84 152 40 2 30 101 44 104 1 .279 .334 .526 122 -5
Pes. (15%) 412 43 98 24 1 17 60 28 94 0 .238 .287 .425 84 -10
Top Offensive Comps: Rico Brogna, Gordy Coleman
2009 ZiPS Projection - Leo Nunez
2009 2 2 43 0 49 49 23 6 19 36 4.22 101
Opt. (15%) 4 2 47 0 56 50 20 5 18 45 3.21 133
Pes. (15%) 2 2 36 0 39 43 23 6 19 27 5.31 81
Top Comps: John Verhoeven, Joey McLaughlin

ZIPS is a system developed by Dan Szymborski to project individual performance. You can learn much more about it here (download-able RTF file).

In his post, RoyalsRetro takes a sarcastic tone and tosses out this bit of preemptive mockery: "He failed to factor in grit though. Is Jacobs gritty? He is white. He has played for a contender. He is a former catcher. The signs of grit are there." No one's called Jacobs "gritty" yet, as far as I can tell, but when someone does... joke's on you!

As for us here, we'd like to focus on the positives from the trade, several of which detailed in yesterday's post. Here're more:

  • As Boys of Summer points out, Jacobs's batting average on balls in play was an abnormal .260, which is about as low as Brian Bannister's BABIP was in 2007 (.262). The league average is around .300. When Bannister's BABIP strayed towards that mean this past season -- .310 -- it led to an increase of nearly two full earned runs allowed per nine innings (5.76 from 3.87). Why shouldn't we expect an equivalent jump in batting average -- let's say, oh, 20 points -- and whatever the equivalent of that would be in on-base percentage for Jacobs this year?

  • Jacobs's OPS was .114 lower at Dolphin Stadium than on the road in 2008, which makes sense because Miami is an awful place to play baseball. For his career there's a difference of 10 in OPS+ in his home/away splits, which is significant. (In the interest of fairness, we'd like to point out that Kauffman Stadium was statistically as much a pitcher's park as Dolphin Stadium last season, but about 30 times prettier.)

  • Have we mentioned Leo Nunez is a middle reliever who has a hard time staying healthy? Look, we all loved Nunez. The man has electric stuff, and he always gave maximum effort (though from a guy his size, that's kind of scary). But at the risk of besmirching his good name, this wasn't a big loss.

    Of course, if he turns into a dominant starter... but you didn't hear that here.

That's enough for now. Dayton's not done dealing though, so stay tuned.