Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mets Delima

At the beginning of the season I was pondering a move to a different park in New York since it is available. However a couple melodic problems ensue. For one the upcoming season in Shea will be its last, well suppose to be its last. The move into Citi Field is on the horizon. How will the effects of the new stadium change is a guess at the moment. Will it remain pitcher friendly or will it change to a more friendly hitters park. The only thing we do know, it will happen. My actual thoughts from what I have seen is that it won't change dramatically other than the name change. Well, maybe doubles might change to neutral.

I thought about moving to Yankee Stadium and keeping the team as the Mets for the upcoming season. I won my first ever division title in Yankee Stadium so I know what to do there. I pondered it during All-Star break and looked the team over and shook my head. There is no way this team could play there. Besides, the current Yankee Stadium we use will fall by the wayside at the same time also. I expect the new Yankee Stadium to have effects like Minute Maid. Dover might ponder that move. In the end, the Mets will stay put and enjoy their up coming season in another cellar dwelling quest.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

All Eyes On The Big Series!

Before we get to the Big Series, lets look at the preseason predictions.

AL North - It was pretty much a given that Seattle would be the team to beat. On paper they were the better team and they performed like it. I liked Toronto also and they didn't disappoint either until the playoffs.

AL East - Had this division pretty much pegged as Boston delivered on my promise.

AL South - This division was up for grabs pretty much the entire season as expected. My choice was Tampa Bay, it was theirs to lose and in the final days they did. Congrats to Little Rock for being the surprise darlings of the AL, sneaking past Toronto in the first round and playing their hearts out against Seattle.

AL West - Undeniably the toughest division to extract the best team at the beginning of the season and they all fought hard all season long. I liked Helena but they faded at the end, then Vegas came into the picture. Lo and behold, the Padres came from kinda way back to take it. The Slobs may have blown the division crown at the end but exacted revenge in the playoffs but just didn't have the mojo to overturn Seattle.

NL North - The biggest surprise here was the dismal showing of the Reds who will wind up picking first in the draft. The Pirates was the choice and they proved their point once again. The Brewers did hold on for sixth seed as expected and surprised Salem in the first round.

NL East - The Phillies were odds on favorite to win the division and finished a good furlong or two ahead of the pack.

NL South - The Marlins were the favorites although the Astros kept it relatively close all season. Mexico City was probably the surprise team of the NL making a run for a Wild Card spot that fell short.

NL West - The Super Trees was the favorite and there they were at the end but their uncharacteristic play-off run came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Brewers. The Dodgers came up short in their run to gain a play-off spot. A bow to the D'Backs as they had their best season in 11 years.

For the pundits, I was 6 for 6 in the NL and 3 for 6 in the AL.

Now for the big Series. I have looked over and not overlooked the rosters, stats and ball parks. It will not be a one-sided affair by a long shot. The only thing that stands out is the Inglorious Bastard who will be very at home in either park. It is my belief that Seattle has the best offensive capability. How many 2-1 or 3-1 games will we be able to endure? I think it will go 7 games and the winner will be the team that wins four of them. Oh wait, that is a poor prediction isn't it. This series could actually boil down to the best managerial skills. Okay we are talking about the SIM that does some very awkward things at times whether the manager has any input or not. So in reality do I pick the best pitcher over the best offense? By admission the best pitcher has had an underachieving season, can he redeem himself? Do I pick the team with the most experience? For some reason I like the offense so I will side with Seattle.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Little Rock looks aHEADS

F. Scott Fitzgerald once remarked to Ernest Hemingway that “The rich are different than you and I”.
Hemingway responded,”Yeah, they have more money.”
I thought of this exchange as I was scouting the next opponent in the Head’s improbable journey, The Seattle Mariners.
Now, I know that OAV is a broad measuring stick that implies a value that may or may not be attained, and sometimes is a bald face liar. I am sure that if this year’s real-life David Ortiz had an OAV, it might be around 68, and he’s a great hitter who has made a huge contribution to his team.
But still, OAV is a unit of measure which expresses a player’s potential value in shorthand. And it could be reasonably assumed that a roster that has better than the league average in OAV has a better chance of winning.
I should add about 27 caveats to the above, but for those of you still reading; you know what I mean.
Seattle has 15 players with an OAV at 74 or above.
Little Rock has 2.
The Mariners finished the season at 113-49; the Heads managed a record of 79-83.
That’s right: The Mariners lost thirty less games than the Heads won.
In short, this is the biggest mismatch in my life since I told my (then) 13 year old daughter that she was banned from the mall for a year.
 I have no chance.
But, I did notice something else about the Mariners.
In season 17, they also had a record of 79-83, the exact same record we have this season.
And then their kids started to arrive; just like ours will.
Now, not one player yet drafted by the Heads has reached the ML level, but they are coming.
The Mariner’s journey tells me that the Heads should not be fooled by our unlikely success this season; and that we should remain focused on our pipeline and player development, while still fighting to win every game.
Okay; decision made. We are not going to look in the mirror and see anything but our record, and the Mariner’s season 17; and their success this year.
So, we will trust the process.
But, man o man, are we enjoying the ride…………….

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Mets End of Season Musings

The Mets and their fans are rather joyous and celebrating their Season 20 play. Big par-tay in Queens tonight. You might find that funny but there are several reasons for the party. For one, our record harbingers a hopeful beginning for a drive to a pennant. Not since season 7 have the Mets won more games. Not since seasons 7 and 8 have they not finished last in the division two years in a row. Okay, so last year was a tie for third and the tie-breaker made us third.

Most of the offensive categories improved but the biggest let down was final production. We had a lot of stranded runners. Pitching seemed to be be the biggest downfall however. We were 50-50 on 1-run games, at best you need to be positive in that category to have a .500 season. We led the league in extra inning games which means we fought hard but an 8-13 record just won't get the job done in that area either.

There will be lots to do in the off-season and to ponder also. A break down by position and possible solutions.

C: Gary Stanley is a FA at the end of season. He will 35 next season and will retire afterwards. He isn't wanting much in the way of a contract but rollover might just zap him so we will have to patient. We have two capable youngsters and a vet under contract in the minors so it might actually be a moot point. Rob Webster is our primary catcher but a good backup is a concern due to fatigue issues.

1B: Tomas Guerrero had a decent defensive year but his offensive production was down a bit. It looks like his production is cyclic at the plate in average but walk-to-SO tendency was normal. It also could be caused by where he was slotted in the lineup. He is a tough one to place.

2B: John McInerney has emerged as a young superstar in the making. He didn't improve his ratings at all during the season but we think he might improve during the off-season. He is arb eligible for the second time and will want a big contract, we have no choice to give his asking price.

3B: Chun-Lim Satou had a respectful season in our minds, however we know it could be better and might be due to finding the right place in the batting order.

SS: Pedro Johnson played the tough position after we found out his bat was better in the lineup. It is a hot topic on whether to resign him next year. For one he will be a first time arb eligible and his production was actually a smoke screen. His defense was actually substandard in our minds and chances are slim there will be any improvement. Tomas Trevino was signed to a moderate contract to play the position at the beginning of the season but was used as a platoon player instead as he can't hit a punching bag. We have a prospect we think can do an overall better job at the position.

LF: Dan Radke did a much better job defensively this year. Offensively however was a disappointment.

CF: Abdul Riggs started last year as the outfield anchor. This year we came across Clarence Valentin who looked like he could handle a bat much better. We had to wait to sign him as money was tight and we were hoping no one else would grab him until his price fell into our range. What we found out in the end, we needed to play both of them to give us a three headed base stealing approach. Valentin can play several positions which is great until you had to leave someone out of the lineup.

RF: Domingo Jose played the position as well as could be expected and would make a much better LF. His bat disappointed.

Daiki Xaio was used as an everywhere platoon player but doesn't have a job next year as he won't be affordable as a second year arb.

We have 7 potential position prospects we are looking at heavily for the majors next season. However most will stay in the minors for another year and that may be the wise thing to do. We think we will go with a rookie SS for most of the season next year however.

One thing we may try to do in the off-season is find a left-handed bat. That is one glaring hole in the offense that might help us.

Pitching was a let down and an area to improve on the most. Injuries hurt the most as George Atkins didn't recover well and may be demoted to long relief next season.

Charlie Hicks was another that lost a lot to the injury bug. He is at the end of his contract and will probably be a FA casualty.

Several pitchers may find themselves hoping they can cash in with the FA market as we are not too keen on resigning many.

Harry Rodriguez was called up for a tryout at roster expansion and may have secured a job. Pitching well against the D'Backs and Browns was not much of an impossible task but showed he could do the job. His thrashing at home against the Marlins may have been a little overwhelming to any rookie pitcher.

Ted Maxwell was also called up and as long as he keeps throwing strikes has secured a pen job as well.

Al Limon will be offered a contract also.

Wayne Hampton didn't have a spectacular season but I think we had him in the wrong role.

The biggest problem was in the starting staff, they just couldn't get to the 6th inning and that hurt. When they did pitch well, the pen would find a way to blow it or the offense gave little support. Finding quality pitching next year is a must or we will be just the same so-so team.

Last Game of the Season

It is time for the final out of the the regular season. All but one playoff spot has been wrapped up at this point.

To the AL where:

1. Seattle Mariners has the best record of Season 20. Odds on favorite to win it all this year.

2. Boston Red Sox wins the East.

3. San Diego Padres came from a big hole to at least share the division crown or win it outright with a final win but has taken the #3 seed with the head-to-head first tie breaker.

4. An all or nothing game tonight between the Tampa Bay Rays and Little Rock Heads will settle the South crown and the #4 seed.

5. Toronto Blue Jays has landed here even if they lose and Las Vegas wins due to the second tie breaker.

6. Las Vegas Slobs fell from the #3 to the #6 seed in the final three games, such disappointment.

To the NL:

1. Florida Marlins claims the top spot as expected.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates grabs the #2 spot and the bye.

3. Salem Super Sequoias slides there way in.

4. Philadelphia Phillies canters into the 4 slot.

5. Houston Astros though the Texans could be a better name for them homers into the the #5 spot.

6. Milwaukee Brewers slosh their way into the playoffs though we think a PEDS pipeline outage may have been the culprit to their near demise.

Monday, August 15, 2011

13 Games To Go

The season is winding down and with a few games to go there is still some excitement left.

The NL hasn't changed all that much as the Florida Marlins still hold the #1 seed thanks to the Inglorious Bastard known as Ivan Johnson.

The Pittsburgh Pirates hold the #2 seed with a solid team led by hitting star Bernard Shelley and another solid season by the aged Ken Shumpert.

The Salem Super Sequoias could still make a run at the #2 seed as the Homer Duo of Greg Woods and Jim Griffin can scare the daylights out of any opposing pitcher, couple that with a pen that has a tendency to save games like no other.

The Philadelphia Phillies are just cantering along taking it easy with no real threat and not much to gain as the #seed
The Houston Astros are 8 back and the #5 seed, chances of moving up is rather unrealistic but are not giving up it seems.

The Milwaukee Brewers as the #6 seed had better stop pouring the lagers on their Corn Flakes as the Los Angeles Dodgers are gaining ground quickly and may turn it into a race.

As it stands now in the NL, the only change to last years playoff bracket could be the #6 seed. If the Duck Dodgers do sneak in as the #6 seed then it will be a complete repeat. Don't expect the same results however.

The AL on the other hand is completely out of control. The Seattle Mariners have the #1 seed and the best record of any team. Now to win in the playoffs which I think they will.

The Boston Red Sox are sitting pretty in the #2 seed but are keeping a stressful eye on the West.

The Las Vegas Slobs hold the teetering #3 seed. Helena Hot Pockets have fallen off the pace as the microwave blew a condensing coil and the pastry chefs are on strike. The streaking San Diego Padres have prayed their way into the picture. The Anaheim Angels were even making a showing but couldn't sustain the halogram after the power outage.

The Tampa Bay Rays are in the #4 seed slot and have a vicarious 5 game lead which should be enough to hang on.

The Toronto Blue Jays have the the #5 seed and like Boston are keeping a stressful eye on the tumultuous West.

The #6 seed will be the loser of the crown in the West which may not be decided until the last out is called.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Heads Stop Making Sense.................

As season 20 began, the parsimonious Heads signed SS Lorenzo Rosado the cornerstone of our franchise, to our first long term contract.

He had the qualities we believe you build a team around: OBP and excellent defense in the middle of the field.

He was a slick fielding SS, and was leading the World in range factor, before he tore up his knee, early this season. He has not, and will not regain his range. Now, he’s a $4.6M platoon infielder; for the next four years.

As our front office was digesting this horrible news, we were hit with another bombshell. We chose Ray Winder field in Little Rock as our home park, because it was the most neutral park in the entire World. It was only after we had occupied this field for two years that we learned the horrible truth.

Ray Winder Field no longer exists. Once, one of the gems of the minor league circuit, the park is now gone. Some people wanted to turn it into a great community diamond for local teams, or an Asian elephant exhibit (I am NOT making this up); but in the end, Ray Winder Field was destroyed to make way for a parking lot.

When we further learned that the field that Jackie Robinson once graced was built by prison-labor (read that as slave labor)-, this made perfect sense to us…………..and explains to me why we really, really need fake fantasy.

Back to baseball. Before season 20, we sifted through the budgetary process like a reality TV hoarder, holding on to our dollars like grim death. And we doubled-down on our prospect dollars by over-paying for the best scouting money could buy.

We wuz robbed. Somewhere in fake heaven, Bernie Maddof is a scout.

What I don’t get about this game, is if I’m paying $18M for this scout or that scout, why is every kid they piss on in Tijuana, a “future superstar”? Shouldn’t the cover letter that accompanies their scouting report be in synch?

This is like someone sending you a JPEG of their privates, with the email header, “My Uncle John at a picnic”.

Anyway, our scouts didn’t deliver-and while we landed some talent; our ROI re: prospects, which were our number one mission, our prime reason for being; was really disappointing.

So, let me summarize so far:

-We committed to a long term-term contract to a player who can no longer tie his cleats.

-Our entire planning process was nullified by alcoholic scouts, who sold Enron stock at exactly the right time.

-Ray Winder Field was built by criminals and then criminally neglected.

In terms of new talent, we did add future closer Max Mercado. I don’t know about your park, but in Little Rock, +80 in control and GB/FB plays big time. Consider the strange case of local cult hero, Horacio Diaz;. His OAV may be 51, but with his control and GB/FB numbers, he has held opponents to a batting avg. of .205 in over 50 games. The dude really is a RH specialist. Screw this split crap. The best pitch in baseball is still “strike one”.

We also added Lloyd Bass and Harry Blanco so pitching help is coming to Little Rock; but maybe not soon enough……

I am not sure why any team pays big bucks for closers. Our current closer, Jerome Bourn has been excellent, saving 28/31 games. Now, I know that like every owner reading this has forgotten more than I know, but I can’t understand why big bucks are thrown at closers. We have no problem paying 360K for a 90% save percentage. And when he’s asks for big bucks, we have like 6 relievers on the farm that promise to be equally effective. We think.

Speaking of the farm, we were getting all excited, because Kendry Armas was leading Hia in runs created. We thought this was a big deal, what with his .332 avg, 40 SB, .966 OPS and 76 extra base hits. Kendry has an OAV of 79, and he could be in the majors next season, but he did not finish first in Runs Created, because someone named" target="_blank">Gene Burgess&lt did.

Please take a look at Mr. Burgess's ratings and tell me how this guy could hit 47 HR, and drive in 166 runs.

Every time we think we might unglue the sticky secrets of this game, out pops a Gene Burgess…….

So, it was not a great year. We are getting impatient. It might be time to raise payroll and push the kids.

And if you see Lorenzo Rosado, ask him for his autograph. No one has asked him for that in quite a while………………………….

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GM of the Season

Pittsburgh Pirates - Chase39
NL North Champs (11 game lead)

Philadelphia Phillies - Wholck
NL East Champs (huge lead)

Florida Marlins - Sdhizzle
NL South Champs (huge lead)

Salem Super Sequoias - Jsholmes
NL West Champs (13 game lead)

Milwaukee Brewers
Projected Wild Card

Mexico City Diablos Rojos - Sjpratt
8 games back in the Wild Card but over .500

Houston Astros - Boydndahood
Projected Wild Card

Seattle Mariners - Dakar
AL North Champs (huge lead)

Boston Red Sox - Pfontaine
AL East Champs (huge lead)

Toronto Blue Jays - Northerngaul
Projected Wild Card

Helena Hot Pockets - Thomas36is
1 game lead in the AL West

Las Vegas Slobs - Slobs
1 game back of Helena in the AL West

30 Games to Go

With 30 games to go things look rather settled in the NL, the AL not so much. Being almost a given that each team should win 10 games makes the predictions pretty easy baring a sudden unaccountable win streak that does happen.

Pittsburgh Pirates has the NL North in hand with an 11 game lead. It is doubtful that the Milwaukee Brewers has a chance at catching them but may need to fight to hold on to a wild card spot.

Seattle Mariners don't even need to win 10 games to wrap up the AL North. With a 15 game lead it is just a matter of time. The Toronto Blue Jays can't stay complacent to hold on to a wild card spot.

Philadelphia Phillies are pretty comfy and 10 wins or 10 losses by the distant pack will sew it up in the NL East.

The Boston Red Sox ran away from the pack in the early second half and are setting pretty comfy in the AL East with a 16 game lead.

Florida Marlins has the NL South under control by 15 games and a likely #1 seed. The Houston Astros are struggling to maintain the wild card lead.

Tampa Bay Rays are in front in the AL South, but it is a very tentative lead as the rest of the pack can't be ruled out especially the Heads and the Rangers who have a good shot at the crown yet. The resume' of the division champ isn't going to regale anybody for sure.

Salem Super Sequoias have thing well in hand once again in the NL West as their 14 game lead looks pretty solid.

Helena Hot Pockets and Las Vegas Slobs have been duking it out all season and neither can get very far ahead of the other. This looks to be a struggle down to the wire and don't count the San Diego Padres out .----0either as they have closed the gap a bit.

The Wild Card race in the NL looks solid at the moment with the Astros and Brewers, but the Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Los Angeles Dodgers still have hope.

The Wild Card race in the AL looks a little more tentative with the Blue Jays leading the pack with the last spot going to the second place finisher in the West at a minimum. If the Jays hit a skid though, then it could open the door for another West hopeful.

As for my favorite team, the Mets, well (thats a hole in the ground with water at the bottom where they belong) not much I can say. I was really hoping for a better season. A 70 win season is not out of the question yet however and that might make me feel a bit better.

Offensively it is a bit of a let down at this point. We have surpassed last years stolen base total already and will likely have three players with more than 30 thefts. We need three more dingers to surpass last years home run total. We have a long way to go to even get close to the doubles output along with total hits which I find terminally surprising.

Pitching hasn't been what I had hoped for at all. With last years star pitcher, George Atkins, going down with an injury for much of the season didn't help. His recovery doesn't look all that impressive either but will be back in the rotation when expansion happens. There is some help in this regard on the horizon but it looks like the Mets will look for help in the off-season to shore up this area of terminally unrelenting trouble.

Here is an oddity of sorts: The NL East minors, (excluding the instructional Rookie League I don't consider the minors), other than the AAA Phillies will have a .500 record or better. Not sure I have ever seen that though I haven't paid much attention to minor league records much in the past.