Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Ben Sheets Question

I keep hoping my schedule will clear up enough to take a detailed look at Ben Sheets (statistics, win share, injury history, recommended value), but it never seems to. I will continue to hope, but we'll see.

I was enjoying my morning coffee (mmmmmm hot) to take the chill out of my bones (it was FORTY EIGHT DEGREES this morning! My GOD that's cold!) and surfing around the Cardinal web. Something C70 said today caught my eye:

"Ben Sheets apparently wants a guaranteed contract. Of course, we can't always get what we want, as some obscure rock group sang. That said, if he'd go with an $7-8
million guarantee with some incentive clauses built in, I still think it makes sense for the Cardinals. Even if he goes down, the odds of getting their money back on the contract are pretty high."

$7 to 8 Mil for Sheets? That would be a pay cut; he hasn't been paid that little since 2005 (you'll have to scroll down to find Sheets, the link is in alphabetical order). Even given the current state of the economy, and the slow free agent market we've experienced this off-season (101 free agents still out there, some really good players with out a home yet), I'm not sure Sheets would be happy taking that little.

Then again, I'd be very happy if my employer compensated me for my time with a Seven Million Dollar salary. Especially if I'd made upwards of Forty Million Dollars so far in my lifetime playing baseball for a living. But that's me.

A modest pay cut has got to be better than sitting on the sidelines all year with nowhere to play. Maybe Mo is playing poker again, like he did with Lohse; that worked out pretty well for us last season.

So who knows what will happen.

I will say this, though: Ben Sheets' injury history remains a big red flag for me. However, IF we could sign him for less than Joel Piniero is going to make ($7.5M to suck - God Bless America) that's a win in my book. And something that should be seriously pursued.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jay McGwire's an IDIOT

I've been purposefully mum about the reports Mark McGwire's brother Jay is shopping a tell-all book in which he describes introducing Mark to steroids in 1994. But I have a couple of things I'd like to offer, as public comment:

- Deadspin broke the news, so I wasn't sure if it was real or a really good spoof.

- For those who believe Mark used steroids, this new allegation will come with the 'I told you so' tag.

- Several publishing houses have passed on the project. This from an industry that once green-lighted OJ to write a book describing how he would have killed his wife and Goldman kid if he had done it. So if these people, who will publish anything, won't touch this manuscript it's probably false.

- Jay and Mark are estranged, which again questions the veracity of the manuscript.

- This quote from Jay:

"My bringing the truth to surface about Mark is out of love. I want Mark to
live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom
-- which is the only way to live. "

What a pompous ass.

My comment? Jay's an IDIOT, and I don't think we need to give Jay another thought.

Monday, January 26, 2009

San Diego SABR meeting - 24 Jan 09

There hasn't been much said on this site about the San Diego SABR branch that I am a part of. That's because in trying to complete my Masters (which will FINALLY finish 1 Apr), I've really pared down on the things I do outside of work, so I have enough time to complete the coursework. This has put a crimp in my SABR style, to the point where I went to last January's meeting and haven't been to a single function since.

Which has made my life poorer as a result.

However, the clouds parted long enough this weekend for me to attend most of our Winter Meeting, which was Saturday. On the agenda, in addition to the normal research presentations, was a question and answer period with Merv Rettenmund, Major League baseball player and coach, and Warren Miller, Director of Media Relations for the Padres. I was able to stay for all of Mr. Rettenmund's comments, but not for Mr. Miller, which was unfortunate, because I had some questions I wanted to ask him. Maybe some other time.

Because Mr. Rettenmund was the Padres hitting coach until 31 Aug 2007, and therefore had some insight into Khalil Greene, I was really looking forward to hearing him speak. Some interesting things that he offered during his 45 minutes with us (NOTE: These aren't exact quotes unless so indicated, rather, my interpretation and paraphrasing what was said):

- A long, slow swing means you're probably a good fastball hitter, not a good breaking ball hitter (I always thought it was the opposite).

- Older generations of hitters might have gotten 8000 minor league at bats; now you're lucky to get 800. The number of broken bats we see may be due to players not having taken enough swings to really learn how to hit.

- On inside pitches, don't shift your body to get your shoulder out of the way, get your hands through sooner (I've been shifting my body. Good tip)

- There is no such thing as 2 strike hitting. What can you do? Get ready earlier, swing slower, get to the ball? Hitting's all about timing.

- Choking up makes no sense with today's lighter bats. Players 50 years ago using 35-40 oz bats, you could choke up and have some bat left. Now, you choke up and have what, 20 oz? You got no bat left.

- Hardest parks to hit in: Comerica, old Arlington Stadium in Texas, Oakland Alameda, and Petco. He loved to hit in Tiger Stadium. He REALLY likes the new ballpark in St Louis.

- Petco: DEAD in Apr/May. When the weather heats up, the ball jumps better. You can hit it out to CF if it's to straightaway CF. Wind will knock it down in the gaps. RF - that's ridiculous.

- He likes Khalil Greene - called him one of the smartest ballplayers he's ever worked with.

- Didn't have much good to say about the current state of the Padres. They are a bad team (99 losses last year, that's no secret) with a bare farm system. He wouldn't be surprised to see the Padres trade Peavy (that's the worst kept secret in the league) and Adrain Gonzalez for prospects (that's interesting, and makes sense).

- Being a good hitter is all about timing, not so much mechanics. Getting ready at a good pace.

- Tony Gwynn thought the extra weight he put on gave him better balance at the plate.

- He had a lot of interesting things to say about hitting. Don't hack, have a plan. Look for a certain pitch at a certain speed in an area. When you get it, hit it. Count doesn't matter so much. He stated that lefties were high-ball hitters and righties low-ball hitters, but that's shifted 180 degrees the last 20 years.

- Greene can't hit a breaking ball. He had positive things to say about Hal McRae, and that Greene needed a change of scenery, but he still can't hit a breaking ball.

- You hit a breaking ball with your eyes. If you see a guy swinging at a breaking ball while looking at the centerfield camera he's got no shot.

- He things the big clubs draft too many players, because there aren't enough teams for them all to play on (this was interesting also. Too many guys splitting time at positions to get into games, so no one gets enough at bats or reps to really improve. He believes you get better by playing the game regularly, and I agree).

- Not a fan of players taking a lot of BP from coaches, because it doesn't simulate a game.

- MLB players suck at running the bases. Quote: ".220 hitters aren't on base enough to work on it."

All in all, a great 45 minutes. Did nothing to assuage my misgivings about Greene, though.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Just a quick note before my hellacious day starts.

Troy Glaus is having surgery to fix a nagging shoulder ailment from last season. Complete details are here. Affected shoulder?

His right shoulder.

His throwing shoulder.

While today's report states this is a muscle tear in the muscle holding his shoulder to his chest (you know, the one helping prevent his arm from falling off or at least dangling at an obnoxious angle), and not the labrum, this is serious.

So serious, that in 24 hours the estimate of the amount of time he'll miss went from the first 2 weeks of the season, to a month, to 5 weeks, to 5 weeks being called "extremely optimistic".

A clean MRI after the season, and now a torn muscle in his chest. There are two possibilities:

a) The guy who read the MRI in October is the same bonehead who read my skull X-ray in 2004 and concluded I didn't have a broken jaw (which I actually did; try eating for 3 weeks when it hurts to bite a scrambled egg. MOTRIN = GOOOOD) ; OR

b) he hurt himself during his off-season work routine.

a) would further reinforce the widely held perception the Cardinals Medical staff commutes to work together in a Clown Car. b) is bad luck.

Either way, the projected left side of our infield now consists a third baseman who will miss at least a month, and a shortstop who is guaranteed to miss a month when completes his annual 'gotta break a finger, but which one?' tasker. Great.

David Freese was floated as a potential replacement for Glaus. I guess we'll see how well Mo did when he traded Edmonds away (all reports indicate this was a steal of a deal, BTW).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THe 'Cardinal Fans are Restless' saga gains steam

Well now Jerry Crasnick is reporting we Cardinals fans are upset with the moves the team has made this off-season.

I'm not the wanderer of sports pages and Cardinal Blogs I was even 12 months ago, but I haven't been able to find any real, tangible evidence fans are angry with the tact Mozeliak has taken to improving the roster. Other than me with the Lohse and Greene deals, which are easily attributable to my 'grumpy old man' persona (and fiscal conservatism, and mistrust of players who are always injured), that is.

I can only imagine the bile spilling out of KMOX and other sports talkradio stations around the greater St Louis area. If its anything like what was said in San Diego during the Padre and Charger seasons on the radio, it must be long on emotion and short on rational thought.

So I wanted to share my opinion with Mr. Crasnick. There's a link at the bottom of his post, saying he can be reached via email. I even composed the email in my head as I was waiting for the page to load:

Mr. Crasnick,

Not all Cardinals fans are angry or impatient at the way Mozeliak has
handled this off-season. Those of us capable of rational thought support
the moves he's made, and the restraint he's shown. Put me squarely in the
camp support Mr. Mozeliak and his efforts to improve the team.

As an aside, I can't believe some would support the acquisition of Ben
Sheets. Haven't they had enough of oft-injured elite pitchers (Carpenter,
Mulder, Stottlemyre, Andy Benes, Danny Cox)?
(I hate to include Carpenter here, but facts are facts).

Cheers, Mike
Stan Musial's Stance (

The World Wide Leader is a devious organization, however; when you click on the email Crasnick link, you get sent to the Insider page, and are asked to sign up for an account/membership.


So I'm left to my humble little forum here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pujols and the WBC

Today's Post Dispatch headline article discusses Albert Pujols. Because I'm constantly accused of having an opinion on everything, here are some thoughts:

- Albert's ready to go this season, and claims he's physically healthy. GOOD.

- Albert expects to get paid when he's a free agent next, is open to continuing to play in St Louis, but doesn't rule anything out. I think AP sees the fiscal reality of the times. The Cardinals, although making moves to improve the team, have made an organization decision not to spend ridiculous amounts of money on players. I don't have a problem with this strategy at all. I do think, however, for those few players that are the very very best at what they do (and AP certainly qualifies as one of those guys), the team should open the coffers to pay that guy fair market value. Especially when he's the face of the franchise, as AP is right now.

Who knows what AP will be worth on the open market in 2012. Since Texieria got $180M for 8 years this offseason ($22.5M per season), you can expect AP to be worth between 25 and 30 million a season, even though he'll be 32 at the end of the 2012 season. Think of him as a younger Manny Ramirez as far as free agent dollars goes. I don't know if the Cardinals will be willing to pay him that much for 5 more years, but they need to consider it, and I'm sure Mo is running the numbers even now.

I've watch the Padre debacle (RE: Peavy, Hoffman) with detatched bemusement. I'd really like to avoid that type of soap-opera scenario (jettisioning a productive member of the team, a franchise face-type guy, due to monetary reasons) with Pujols.

As far as his 'they could trade me' comments, well, noted. That's life.

- Albert wants to play in the World Baseball Classic. Cardinals don't want him to play without insurance provided by MLB. This one is interesting.

The Rincon saga was mentioned in the article. I think the Cardinals should DEMAND MLB indemnify them against injury to AP if he plays in the WBC and gets hurt. In a lot of ways, AP is our most important player; losing him to an injury suffered in this event would be devastating, both to the team and to the ownership. That only makes sense.

What I found most interesting about this discussion was AP's desire to play for the Dominican Republic. Especially in light of his becoming a US Citizen in 2007. The USA certainly isn't hurting for quality first baseman (Derrek Lee and the aforementioned Texieria among them, although I don't know if they're playing for Team USA this year), but why wouldn't AP play for this country? After all, he's lived most of his life here.

This isn't meant to imply he should be ashamed of being from the Dominican, or downplay his heritage. Far from it. And I don't know if he holds dual citizenship in the US and the DR. But does anyone else find it curious that he would rather play for that team than for ours? The DR has some guys who can play, but so does the USA. Come on AP, represent the red white and blue.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eckstein's a Padre

David Eckstein has signed a 1 year, $850K deal with the Padres, apparently to play second base, as reported by (among others). On the one hand, good for David. On the other hand, as a casual Padre observer (mostly because I get bombarded with San Diego Padre news since I live in San Diego) it doesn't make sense, since Edgar Gonzalez had a good year with the bat in 2008 (one of the few Padres who did) in about 4 months of work, and he demonstrated some competency at the bag.

You could stretch the truth and say the Cardinals traded Eckstein for Greene (ignoring the reality of Eckker playing for Toronto and Arizona last year), which is a net upgrade in range and power for us. And a commensurate loss of a leadoff hitter and OBP guy.

Whoo Hoo.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hall of Fame Results

Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Famer. As he should be.

Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer. A good ballplayer, not great. He should remember the sports reporters in the NE area with a Christmas card for the rest of his life. If he could get an accurate address list for every Red Sox Nation fanatic, who lit up phone lines whining about Rice not being in the hall, a fruit basket to each of them would be a nice touch, too.

McGwire lost 10 votes from last year, and is stuck at 21%. Which is frustrating, but won't really REALLY piss me off until Sammy Sosa is voted in.

Dawson didn't make it, again. Good. I always thought he was overrated. Rob Neyer wrote an excellent article today torpedoing the Hawk's HOF credentials when compared to Tim Raines. You should read it.