February 2008

James on Biggio, Me on James

     If you don’t mind, please read this very well written essay of Bill James’ in reference to his admiration for Craig Biggio. I came across this essay in a link that was featured on one of Rob Neyer’s latest blogs. And here is the link that will take one directly to it.  A link that will take one directly to it.

     Now Neyer also refers in his blog, to the book Bill rewrote in 2001 entitled "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract." Which is a book that I currently own, and have owned for about a year now. Neyer doesn’t speak much of the book within his blog, but I am going to discuss something that I never really agreed with in the first place, Starting…….Now!

     James obviously does incredible work. I am sure he obsessively researches each subject presented to him, and generally he has some kind of breakthrough or realization that opens everyone’s eyes up. But in his abstract he has a list featured of the top 10 players of the 90’s. Here it is:

          1) Barry Bonds

          2) Craig Biggio

          3) Frank Thomas

          4) Ken Griffey Jr.

          5) Jeff Bagwell

          6) Rafael Palmeiro

          7) Barry Larkin

          8) Roberto Alomar

          9) Mark Mcgwire

        10) Greg Maddux

          This is a small excerpt from the book following James’ ranking:

                "The number two man, Biggio, is closer in value to the number 10 man than he is to Bonds. Biggio passed Bonds as the best player in baseball in 1997."

     Now that last line I am actually a little confused over. Bonds was the best, but did Biggio become better than Bonds in James’ eyes in 97?’ Then all of a sudden Bonds stormed past him following the final two years of the decade? That seems to be what it is implying, unless it is just a typo of some kind. When I originally read this at Barnes and Noble, before I had even bought the book, I disagreed with it. Biggio was a fine player and I can see how he comes out as being even better than everyone originally thought that he was, through the analysis of all the little things he does. But I have a hard time believing that he was a better player than Bonds, Griffey, or Frank Thomas. The rest of the list is debatable. I can see Biggio being better than some of those sluggers that were very good, but not the absolute best in the game. I would also personally have to put Clemens on this list, and maybe another pitcher or two. But that is beside the point right now. Different people value pitchers in different ways.

     If you have read the essay then you read the part where Bill goes into the fact that Biggio never could hit good pitching. All players are going to perform better against weak pitching than that of good pitching. But James describes Biggio’s split as being much larger than other players. Which leads me even more to agreeing with my previous opinion…That he was not better than the three players who I feel were the best of the 1990’s. I personally have to put some added value on a player who could slug five home runs in a single ALDS (Griffey), or the player who ended up being the best ever ***. Or what may have been the best hitter of the 90’s (Thomas). Bonds actually may still have been the best hitter, but I don’t have the ability to view everything from just one decade. Again, not relevant now.

     And I am enamored with the way Biggio did whatever he could to help his team. I am glad that he "overachieved" as James put it. I am also very intrigued knowing that he was so adept at staying away from the double play. Or that he knew how to get on base frequently from being hit by the baseball, or any way imaginable for that matter. But I have been aware for years now how poorly Biggio did play in the postseason. And now I am aware, through Bill James, how difficult it was for Biggio to hit against opposing pitchers who knew what they were doing when standing on the rubber. Craig Biggio will be in the Hall of Fame, but he was not better, in my eyes, then Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., or The Big Hurt. Feel free to think otherwise, but I will not be convinced until someone convinces me.

And the Red Sox Sign…

     Former Cy Young winner, Bartolo Colon.   Undeserving of that award of course.  Let us jump into why he should not have won that award.  Well the best pitcher in baseball, who might very well still hold that spot on the rubber as we speak, Johan Santana was much better.  And I mean much better. 

     See, Johan had an Adjusted ERA of 155 that season, while Colon posted a 122.  Not all that close.  Johan threw eight more innings than Colon did, not much difference there.  But add in the fact that Johan struck out 238 batters, while Colon struck out only, and when I say "only" it is because of how many Johan took down.  Anyway, Colon struck out only 157.  But Colon had five more wins.  That’s right, Colon is victorious in a stat that isn’t even very important and ultimately ends up winning the award. 

     Johan got shafted, that is all I have to say. 

     Except this, the Sox signing of Colon was a good move that doesn’t involve much risk.  Except for Colon, who may or may not be able to throw a baseball anymore.  I hope he can, simply for the depth of the staff’s sake. 

A Forced Blog

     –  I commend Andy Pettite for admitting his wrongdoing.  Everyone makes mistakes with varying degrees of those mistakes, and this does not define who he is.  I have always had respect for Pettite as a baseball player.  I don’t see everything, but he has always come off as someone who has handled himself well.  I do however feel that someone is cheating me and giving false information about the situation between he and Clemens.   Although it isn’t really cheating "me" singular, but cheating everyone.  Pettite should be able to come up with a better timetable of when he and Clemens did in fact discuss HGH, not just a three year period where it may have happened.  But maybe Pettite’s memory is just unreliable, it is possible I guess. 

     –  Buster Olney had a nice piece on Pat Burrell today.  There were excerpts from various scouts on Pat Burrell’s 2007 season.  Must be ESPN Insider.  Burrell is a pretty good player, far from great, but better than average.  He gets criticism for not being consistently what he is when he is at his best.  But he knows how to get on base, and hits for some power, just not as much power as fans want him too.  He takes plenty of walks, but strikes out just as much.  And as the scouts say within Olney’s blog, he cannot run or play D.  I agree with one of the scouts, DH seems like a nice fit. 

     –  I am so far removed from blogging consistently.  I feel out of whack.  But the season looms just around the corner, and my excitement is heating up as I speak, or should I say blog. 

     –  I saw this before Rob Neyer referred to it in his blog today, but Kason Gabbard may potentially be better than one scout (Keith Law) has indicated.  I watched Gabbard completely dominate the Royals last season.  He was very impressive, no doubt, but a lot of it was deception with that changeup.  And I did not want to think he was good as he appeared.  It was his first time around the league, and hitters needed to get a look at him.  Here is the link to the Gabbard Chronicles, I now regret the Gagne trade :).  Even though this looks like we traded away a future ace, he is far from that I am sure.  He may be a nice back end of the rotation arm, but he will almost for sure be closer to the back, than the front.  Look at the company he shares within Joe Sheehan’s piece. 

     –  Did I say that I feel like my writing is garbage right now?  Oh well. 

NBA Rant

     My father has been instilling this into my head for years now.  And you know what?  He is right.  I have realized this now for at least the entire decade, if not longer.  The NBA allows too many teams into the playoffs, and the sport has suffered.  It has suffered greatly, and I personally have little to no desire to watch a regular season game anymore.  As a matter of fact, the longest I have watched this season is probably the equivalent of one full game.  And that is the amount of four or five games added up, in which I watched pieces of each of them. 

     Sixteen teams?  Are you kidding me?  I know that the NHL may be suffering from the same symptoms, but I cannot speak about that, because I was never a fan.  Not that I dislike the sport, it has always intrigued me a little.  But I have never taken much interest in it. 

     Here is a good example of how meaningless the NBA’s regular season seems to be.  The Celtics are currently 40-9.  Realistically they only need to win probably three of four more games and they will almost all but lock up a playoff spot.  Why bring Kevin Garnett back any earlier then they have to?  Let him rest as long as he needs.  Then bring him back for the stretch run to get back into rhythm for the postseason run.  And on that topic, as much as I respect Garnett for bringing a large amount of intensity to each and every game he plays, it could almost hurt the Celtics chances that three 30+ year old stars are playing their hardest each and every game.  I will not get on their case for playing their hearts out, but while they are leaving everything on the floor each night, other teams are saving if for the playoffs, because that is much more important in the long run.  There is something seriously wrong with this. 

     Bill Simmons has just released one of his All Star break columns.  And one of the things he addresses is how "All Star Weekend" can be improved.  Who really cares?  Simmons has never addressed the problem with sixteen teams making the playoffs in any of his columns, yet he cares about something as miniscule as this?  I have emailed him multiple times, he has never responded, that I know of at least.  And I understand his mailbag is packed, he may not even have seen any of my emails.  But he as a fan, should recognize the problem that the NBA has been facing for a while now. 

     As it stands now, three teams in the eastern conference would make the playoffs with sub .500 records.  That is absolutely pathetic!  Two teams would miss the playoffs with winning records in the west if the playoffs began today.  So the West definitely has more good teams…again, but that isn’t the point.  How many serious championship contenders make the playoffs each year.  Denver and Golden State probably will not make it out of the first round, and do not even deserve to be there.  The top four teams in the East are serious contenders, at least in terms of winning the East, but the bottom three are pathetic, below .500 teams.  Toronto is solid, but wouldn’t deserve to make the playoffs either.  They just aren’t good enough, currently of course. 

     And when the end of the year rolls around, the battle for the final playoff spot in the East may very well consist of the Atlanta Hawks battling the Philadelphia 76ers.  Is that intriguing to anyone?  Two bad teams fighting for the last spot.  Two teams that may be four games below .500 by the end of the season.  Maybe the Bulls make a run and grab a spot.  Who cares?  The Bulls will then proceed to lose in the first round.  So why were they there in the first place?  Because too many teams are there in the FIRST PLACE! 

     Imagine if only four teams from each conference end up in the postseason this season.  Toronto and Cleveland would be a game and a half apart right now.  Two teams with winning records, battling for the last playoff spot.  That is a heck of a lot more compelling than the current setup.  In the West, the Lakers, Spurs, and Mavs would be separated by only a half game for the final playoff spot.  Meaning that two good teams would probably miss out.  But that is the way it is.  If those teams cannot be among the four best in their conference then why should they get a shot at a championship.  It would give the regular season meaning once again.  And until this happens I cannot see myself ever taking this league seriously, even though I happen to play the sport three times a week.  It is sad. 

Schillingless?

     Without Curt Schilling the Red Sox will be fine…as long as they do not suffer too many injuries to the starting rotation.  With Schilling the Red Sox have six starters and Julian Tavarez…without Schilling they have five starters and Tavarez.  I feel good about it either way, but obviously I will feel better if Schilling can make a decent amount of starts this season.  Lester and Buchholz both have the potential to be better than Schilling would be this year, and they both may in fact be better.  But having Schilling insures that they can limit the innings of the youngsters, and Schilling too, as he is simply old in baseball terms.  And of course, once the postseason rolls around, and if the Red Sox are in it, I WANT Schilling on the mound.  He could be pitching with his arm hanging off and still manage a quality start in a big game.  But that being said the Sox will be good with or without Schilling.  But I do hope he can be a somewhat meaningful piece of the rotation this year.

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