Saturday, April 29, 2006

No. 10

Wow, Arizona actually made the pick while I was relieving myself. I love that: a team being that decisive about a player that they can take it in the time that a man can take a piss.

No. 9

Decision time: you just signed two mediocre QBs in the off-season, and you're on the clock with Matt freakin' Leinart on the board. And two valuable DTs as well. So what do you do? Do you trade down when trading down means a much, much worse pick? Or do you do what Oakland and Buffalo have done and just take the top guy on your board?

The theme of this year's draft has been taking YOUR guy, no matter where he's slotted. Forget the hype, just take your guy. Make ridiculous demands for your pick, and when no team bites, do what benefits your team the most. I'm down with that strategy.

Here it is. Will Matt Millen's idiocy grow?

Wow. Real early. I remember a few weeks ago, I thought the G-Men had a legitimate shot at Sims, though I thought that a small trade-down might have been necessary. But really, I never saw Ernie as a top-ten pick. And now the Cardinals are going to take Leinart. I'm taking a piss...hopefully the pick isn't announced before I return.

No. 8

So you have the safe pick in Bunkley, and you have the sexy pick in Leinart. But when you break it all down, Leinart is the sexy pick AND the pick with all the potential in the world.

Sal Paolantonio just checked in, saying that there are a few teams interested in taking the eighth pick off the Bills hands. However, since the Bills are in a quite sad state, I think they have to use this pick on Bunkley, Ngata, or Leinart. All three could benefit the team, and while having more draft picks will help them in the long run, they do have immediate options.

WARNING: We're on the No. 8 pick, and roughly an hour and a half into the draft. And this keg is still going strong. So yeah, some of my commentary might seem...a little off. And if I miss a selection, it's because I'm using the bathroom.

Here's Tags.

Curveball? Boomer just mentioned a curveball. Maybe Randy threw a curveball when he gave up a double to Wells earlier.

Uh, who? Okay, I know who Donte Whitner is, but this is a freakin knuckleball. Completely unexpected. And now the Lions have a decision to make. More on that in a sec.

No. 8

So you have the safe pick in Bunkley, and you have the sexy pick in Leinart. But when you break it all down, Leinart is the sexy pick AND the pick with all the potential in the world.

Sal Paolantonio just checked in, saying that there are a few teams interested in taking the eighth pick off the Bills hands. However, since the Bills are in a quite sad state, I think they have to use this pick on Bunkley, Ngata, or Leinart. All three could benefit the team, and while having more draft picks will help them in the long run, they do have immediate options.

WARNING: We're on the No. 8 pick, and roughly an hour and a half into the draft. And this keg is still going strong. So yeah, some of my commentary might seem...a little off. And if I miss a selection, it's because I'm using the bathroom.

Here's Tags.

Curveball? Boomer just mentioned a curveball. Maybe Randy threw a curveball when he gave up a double to Wells earlier.

Uh, who? Okay, I know who Donte Whitner is, but this is a freakin knuckleball. Completely unexpected. And now the Lions have a decision to make. More on that in a sec.

No. 7

Really, the only options here are to take Leinart or trade down. There are a few guys here, and while you can't go wrong drafting Brodrick Bunkley or Haloti Ngata, I don't expect Al Davis to take such a defensive lineman with the pick. Huff maybe? I'd be suprised.

Here's Tags.

Wow. Huff. Complete surprise. I mean, I like Huff and all, and I think this is a good selection. Just uncharacteristic of Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. This draft is beginning to open up.

I know I've said it before today, but Buffalo would be idiots to pass up on Leinart. What, you're going to trust Losman next year? Hell no. You have a new GM, you realize your past mistakes, and you take freakin' Matt Leinart and upgrade the most integral position on a team.

No. 7

Really, the only options here are to take Leinart or trade down. There are a few guys here, and while you can't go wrong drafting Brodrick Bunkley or Haloti Ngata, I don't expect Al Davis to take such a defensive lineman with the pick. Huff maybe? I'd be suprised.

Here's Tags.

Wow. Huff. Complete surprise. I mean, I like Huff and all, and I think this is a good selection. Just uncharacteristic of Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. This draft is beginning to open up.

I know I've said it before today, but Buffalo would be idiots to pass up on Leinart. What, you're going to trust Losman next year? Hell no. You have a new GM, you realize your past mistakes, and you take freakin' Matt Leinart and upgrade the most integral position on a team.

No. 6

Okay, if San Fran does the predictable here and take Vernon Davis. Here's Tags.

Yep. We're following most mock drafts at this point, which means that Leinart should come off the board here.

The big question in the Basement Room: is it even a remote possibility that the Jets dish the No. 29, No. 35, and next year's No. 1 for Leinart? And even if that was a possibility, would it be worth it?

My reasoning behind proposing it: I just don't think there will be a QB like Leinart around next year. Sure, Brady Quinn will be available, but he's just not Lienart.

Yeah, I think you can tell I'm high on this guy.

No. 5

With Mario Williams and Ferguson now off the board, it looks like the Packers are going to take A.J. Of course, there has been more than one monkey wrench throw into this draft, so for all we know, Vernon Davis could be the guy.

The Basement Room consensus: trade the bank to get Leinart. Of course, this is an emotional and irrational notion, but I really think Leinart would thrive in New York. And now, he'll be playing in front of the psychotic Oakland contingency.

Here's Tags to announce A.J:

This pick was so expected, I really can't comment. Berman just summed up my feelings on Hawk: safest pick in the draft.

All I can say now is: I want Pozluznly next year.

No. 4

Here it is, all the marbles. There's no way the Jets should trade down at this point, with Leinart and Ferguson still on the board. In all reality, this is the ideal situation for the Jets: three picks done, two of which were guys the Jets didn't want.

While there are quite a few options available here, there are two at the forefront: Leinart or Ferguson. And we know the reaction from the Jets Faithful for each. Leinart will be heralded as the next Broadway Joe, and Ferguson will be booed like Kyle Brady when we could have had Warren Sapp.

Thanks to Mozilla and having roughly eight tabs open right now (all draft or food related), I'm able to tune out Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson. While I like Jackson, Irvin brings out the worst in him, and when they're paired I can't understand a word they freakin say. Not that I understand Boomer any better.

Here's Tags!

I am crushed. Okay, I understand the sensibility of selecting Ferguson. It makes sense to take an anchor. And surprisingly, the Jets contingency isn't booing as horribly as I had predicted. But really, I think it was a mistake to pass on Leinart.

No. 3

On the clock: Tennessee

This is the big pick for the Jets. If the Titans take Vince, that opens up Leinart for the Jets. And really, there's nothing I want to see more than Leinart doing a Lambeau Leap into the Jets contingency.

Here's Tags.

It's YOUNG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All I have to say about that.

Lei-nart, Lei-nart! Mangini, you are officially nicknamed "Mangina" if you don't take Leinart.

Looks like Titans owner Bud Adams got his way in the end. This is only good for the Jets. Four picks done, two of which were guys the Jets didn't want anyway.

No. 2

On the clock: New Orleans.

The consensus from the Basement Room (our version of the War Room) is that D'Brickashaw would have made more sense for the Texans. With Moulds on board along with Andre Johnson (and the aforementioned Domnick Davis), the offense would benefit tenfold from a solid LT. Now, they face the same problems from years past: David Carr under constant pressure from a rushing defense. Thankfully, this is a deep draft for offensive linemen, and the Texans hold the first pick in each round. Look for a tackle in Round 2.

Here's Tags:

Reggie Bush. No surprise here. As I've read elsewhere, they drafted Deuce with Ricky Williams under contract, so this makes sense in the minds of the Saints.

Best part of the pick: Jets fans booing like mad. In fact, the Basement Room resounded with boos as Tags announced the pick. But whatever. If the Saints want to pick a guy they don't necessarily need, more power to 'em.

Plus, they'll be picking Top Three again next year, so it's no biggie for the Saints.

No Mock

Yeah, so we didn't watch ESPN (or have a computer in front of us) when we did our mock draft last night, and obviously the Mario Williams situation threw a monkey wrench in our plans. So the idea is nixed.

However, and my father will sign an afidavit to this, I've been saying for the past week that from a pure value standpoint, Mario Williams helps the Texans more than Reggie Bush. Bush is an upgrade from Domnick Davis, an already adequate back. Mario Williams is an upgrade from a nobody at DE. Ergo, Williams provides the team with more of what they need.

Saints up with No. 2. My official prediction: they'll wind up taking Bush.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Draft, Coming Up

I’ve had one thought racing through my mind like Ben Johnson today: the NFL Draft. I mean, I’ve been getting psyched for months, reading up on all the prospects, familiarizing myself with the needs of each team, and generally acting like a football junkie. In fact, I have a printout in my room of every player eligible for the Draft, and have been furiously studying the college careers of each.

Tomorrow is like a Guy’s Only holiday. Unfortunately, the bulk of my friends either aren’t football fans (heathens!) or no longer live in the area, so it’s going to be a smaller party than I’m used to. However, with a keg on ice, I think we’ll be making the most of it. I’ve also secured a laptop for the day, meaning we can not only scrutinize every pick to the bone, but I’ll be able to keep up with the draft live on The Sporting Brews.

Before tomorrow at noon (likely late tonight), I’ll have a mock draft up. I know you’ve read thousands of these to this point, but would it hurt to read one more? And not just any ordinary mock draft, but one updated at the 11th hour, assembled by three reasonably intelligent young men. This isn’t Cold Pizza here (which I’m watching right now, just for laughs), where they have a few tooly lookin middle age men pretending they’re in the War Room.

So, as my pre-mock draft, I’d like to say a little ditty about each of the players either rumors to be in the Jets sights, or whom I want the Jets to draft.

[MORE]
1. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, RT, Virginia. Yeah, the safety pick, the guy everyone believes the Jets will select with the No. 4 pick. I have to admit, though, that I’d rather deal down with Oakland to the No. 7 spot. There will be plenty of options available there, and since the Jets have a flurry of needs, any of the elite players in the draft can help them. One of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Mario Williams, Ferguson, Vernon Davis, and A.J. Hawk will be available with the seventh pick, and I’d be satisfied with any of them (though Bush and Williams are obviously out of the question). And, to boot, Brodrick Bunkley and Haloti Ngata will be on the board, should the Jets feel that the D-line could use some solifying.

2. Matt Leinart, QB, USC. I’m a sucker for Leinart, and it’s been getting worse as we’ve been getting closer to the Draft. To start, he wants to play for the Jets. Think about that for a second. He truly wants to play for a team picking in the Top Five. That’s an automatic plus in his column. Secondly, had he entered the draft last year, he would have been a 49er without question. So why did his draft stock move from “Surely the No. 1 overall selection” last year to, “draft status up in the air” this year? Simply, because 2005 was his victory lap. He saw the options in front of him, and opted to hang out for one last year before he got serious about his football playing career. Personally, I admire that move, since it implies that he’ll be ready to work come training camp. Obviously, I could be wrong, but that’s how I read the situation. As a result of having the “victory lap” mindset, Leinart proceeded to mail in the first half of a few USC games, which is the main detriment to his draft stock. In the end, I’m fairly certain that he’ll be the best QB of this class. To pass him up should he be on the board at No. 4, even if Ferguson is around, would be a few degrees of foolish.

3. A.J. Hawk, OLB, Ohio St. Imagine for a minute a linebacking corps led by Jonathan Vilma and deputed by Hawk. Then, take a step back and look at the Jets current situation. They’re going to need four linebackers this year, since Mangini is converting the defense to a 3-4. Hawk seems their best opportunity to beef up that corps, since the other linebacking prospects, Iowa’s Chad Greenway and Hawk’s teammate Bobby Carpenter, will likely be off the board by the 29th pick. And don’t expect the Jets to slide up from that 29th unless Jay Cutler slips to somewhere around 15.

4. Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland. Guy may not be huge (6’3, 255), but he runs by far the fastest 40 out of all tight ends in the draft, clocking a 4.38 (though we know those times are exaggerated). My only gripe with selecting Davis is that we could have had Heath Miller last year, but opted for Doug freakin’ Jolly instead, which turned out to be a terrible, terrible mistake. Drafting Davis would mean the sure ouster of Jolly, meaning that in essence, Terry Bradway traded Heath Miller for Mike Nugent. And while I think Nuge might have some long term potential (how ambiguous of me), I think Miller would have filled a greater need.

That’s it for my wants at the No. 4 (or No. 7) slot. Mario Williams’s name is noticeably absent, mainly because he’s not the guy Mangini would want playing DE in a 3-4, and he’s too large to convert to linebacker. If for some reason the draft order goes Bush-Ferguson-Leinart, I would hope the Jets new front office would have the wherewithal to either take Hawk or trade down. Now, for the guys I’d like with the 29th pick and beyond.

1. Eric Winston, LT, The U. So many things to like about Winston, beginning with the fact that he’s a product of the U of Miami system. I can’t laud them enough for their system and how many NFL players they have produced. But let’s move on to his physical stature. He stands at 6 feet, 6 inches, and weighs in at 319, putting him right along with the majority of available tackles. However, his 40 time clocks in at under 5 seconds, a rarity among tackles, especially of his size. He also ran a relatively quick 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone drill, though not as impressive as his 40 time. At No. 35, he’d be a steal. At 29, he’d be a reasonable pickup. However, at 29…

2. Nick Mangold, C, Ohio St. Let’s face it: we don’t want Pete Kendall snapping this year. Don’t get me wrong, he’s fine as a guard. And maybe with a few capable interior linemen surrounding him, he could work as a center. But he’s getting on in years, and could certainly benefit from playing guard. Enter Mangold, far and away the top center prospect in the draft. The only reason he’s not rated higher is because of the viewed importance of a center. The Jets, however, could use an apt body at the position, and would be wise to use the 29th selection on him. Trust me, they’ll be glad if they select Mangold over the predicted-to-slide LenDale White.

3. Andrew Whitworth, OT, LSU. I actually came across this guy while playing NCAA Football 2006, and decided to do my homework on him. If, for some reason, the Jets don’t take a tackle by the 35th pick and Winston is no longer available, Whitworth seems like the next best option. He only ran the 40, performed the vertical leap, and bench-pressed at the combine – or at least that’s all the data I can find at this time. His 40 time was a little below average, but he makes up for it by benching 225 pounds 28 times (above average), and has a massive 9 foot, four inch wingspan. I realize that physical traits don’t necessarily translate to success in the NFL, but it’s hard to ignore a brick wall of a lineman who is incredibly long. The Jets would be taking him a bit earlier than most forecasts with the 35th pick, but since they won’t be picking until the third round, they either take Whitworth there or trade up from the fourth pick in the third round. I say take the flier and select him.

4. Omar Jacobs, QB, Bowling Green. There’s much to be said for Jacobs, but it’s mainly that he was able to thrive as a young player with lesser talents around him. Of course, he spent 2005 on the sidelines with an injury, and surely that injury affected his combine numbers (most notably his 4.88 time in the 40, and he didn’t bench press). But he’s 6’4, 232, which is as prototypical for a quarterback as it gets. I’d rather have him than Brodie Croyle, Charlie Whitehurst, and Kellen Clemens, all of whom are generally rated higher than Jacobs. Should he fall to the third round and the Jets haven’t taken a QB, I would hope Mangini and Co. would realize his potential and snag him. If he fell to their supplemental pick at the end of the third round, it would be sheer idiocy to pass on him.

5. Derek Hagan, WR, Arizona State. People have short memories. Hagan was widely regarded as an upper echelon wide receiving prospect until he slipped up in 2005. However, I believe that he’ll be a valuable asset in the future. Maybe not in 2006, but given time, he could certainly flourish into a solid No. 2 wide receiver. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Jets have picks to blow on wide receivers in this draft, so I’m fairly certain that Hagan will go unnoticed to the Jets brass.

6. Leon Williams, MLB, The U. I’m basing this on sheer physical traits. The guy stands at 6’3 and weighs 245, putting him at the top of the MLB pack in terms of size. And he runs a 4.55 40, which makes him far and away the fastest MLB in the draft. No one comes within .05 seconds of that time, and no one rated ahead of him comes within .11 seconds. Pair him up with former U teammate Jonathan Vilma, and you have a linebacking corps that can’t be denied. Here’s to hoping that Williams falls far enough for the Jets to make use of him. The supplemental pick in the third is where I’d ideally like to pick him, but it may be too late at that point. Really, it depends on where No. 2 ranked Abdul Hodge winds up. The rest of the MLB pack will be decided from there.

That’s all for now, folks. I hope you’re all as psyched as I am. As I said, check back late tonight or early tomorrow morning for a Mock Draft, and stay tuned throughout draft day for live updates and analysis.

Yanks 4, Rays 1


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Matsui.173Chacon.185
Jeter.170Myers.101
A-Rod.126Rivera.070
Giambi-.001Farnsworth.021
Phillips-.002Sturtze-.035
Williams-.043
Posada-.059
Cano-.061
Damon-.069
Sheffield-.126


Apparently Hideki Matsui responds well to criticism. I’ve been hard on him of late, mainly because his swing looks like it’s got a hole. But he came through tonight, mashing a double to put the Yanks up for good, proving that they don’t need to score eight runs to win a game. Why don’t they need to score eight runs this year?

Pitching, pitching, pitching. After starting the season a bit shaky, Chacon has come through of late. The commentators (mostly Kay and Sterling) talk about how much he loves being a Yankee and pitching in front of the Bronx crowd, and I can only hope that it’s true. He may not be an ace, but I’ll take him as my three or four man any time. But, I’d want to see him continue this success throughout the season before offering him dollar bills in free agency.

Remember last year, when the bullpen bit so bad that the Yanks had to cut various veterans throughout the season? Karsay, Groom, Stanton, and Quantrill were all shown the door. Problem was, there weren’t a good number of adequate replacements, and we were stuck watching Tanyon Sturtze using his stellar month of May to write his ticket for the rest of the season. But this year, the personnel looks a bit more trustworthy (though we still see Tanyon’s ugly mug from time to time).

Mike Myers is the man, and I’m still convinced he’s the most underrated addition to the team. I fear, however, that his effectiveness will be limited as the season progresses. His approach is based on unfamiliarity, and it’s possible that hitters will begin to hit him as they see him more; such is the natural progression of things. But, for the time being, he’s the best lefty specialist we’ve had since Stanton’s first stint.

So, all in all, great game tonight. They did everything they didn’t do on Wednesday night night, and came away with a win. I’ll take a few of those types of wins weekly, thank you very much. But tonight, oh tonight.

Tonight we brace ourselves, as Jaret Wright takes the hill. He could implode at any second out there, or at least could tear a rotator cuff. Thankfully, Scotty Proctor is well rested and should be ready in the likely scenario that J-Wright blows it within the first three innings. Personally, I think Proctor should be getting the start, but $7 million talks.

Once again, I’ll take two of three this weekend. Just so long as one of the two comes Sunday.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Things I'm Learning Watching the Phillies Game

1) If you're a God-fearing American, you should be bracing for the Apocalypse, as David Bell is 2 for 2. Yes, that David Bell. And that's 2 for 2 as in two hits in two at bats, not two strikeouts.

2) No matter what went down between he and the Yankees, I still pull for Jon Lieber. Mind you, I despise Philly sports.

3) If I didn't know better, I'd say that Sal Fasano made a cameo in Major League as Clue Haywood (this year's home run champion. He led the AL in most offensive categories, including nose hairs).

Rays 4, Yanks 2



PlayerWEPitcherWE
Giambi.153Wang.210
Damon.056Farnsworth.110
Cano.038Rivera-.264
Crosby-.005
Jeter-.045
Williams-.062
Sheffield-.105
Posada-.154
A-Rod-.167
Matsui-.274


Does anyone really want to read about this game? We heard it all throughout the night: the Devil Rays issued 14 walks, and the Yanks left 16 on the base paths in the 4-2 loss. Of note, Mo blew another game, though a few inches here and there, and you get a completely different outcome. But, in the end, it fell on his shoulders.

Other notables from this game (in bullet points, since I’m too pissed to recap the whole thing):


  • Matsui continues his piss poor plate performance, going 0 for 4 with only an intentional walk. Gotta question Joe Madden’s decision there, since pitching to Hideki is basically a guaranteed out at this point.

  • Notice Sheffield’s negative WE, despite his 2-run shot to tie the game in the fifth. That’s what happens when you make the last out with two on in a tie game in the eighth, and make the last out in the game with the bases loaded. Nice effort, Sheff, but you don’t get a free pass for hitting a dinger.

  • Thankfully, even inconsistent pitchers have good outings here and there, hence the term ‘inconsistent.’ We got one from Wanger tonight, which means he’ll toss a few more duds before another one like this. Yes yes, I’m King Pessimist.

  • Good Lord did Farnsworth look dominant. He needed just 12 pitches to plow down three D-Rays. It literally looked efortless.

  • Crosby: 1 for 2 with a walk and a sacrifice. I’ll take that once a week.

  • Giambi: 0 for 1 with four walks. Holy freakin shmoley.

  • A-Rod: what the hell has he done this season?

  • Cano’s hit streak continues



Two things before I wrap up. First, with regard to WE, there was a bit of subjectivity tonight. I charged Jorge 50 percent for all stolen bases (Wang with the other 50 percent), which I said I was going to do from the get-go. I guess that makes up for the gift points he got last night. I also gave credit for the intentional walk to nobody. Matsui sure could have used the points, but he sure as hell doesn’t deserve them.

Finally, Kim Jones is the biggest idiot in the world. I’m serious, I don’t know anyone more retarded (not in the handicap sense, in the “she’s a freakin’ moron” sense). Joe Beningo put it best last year on the FAN when he wondered aloud whether Jones knew which teams were playing that day. Only she would ask the following questions (paraphrased):

To Bubba Crosby: “Would you rather have won in your first start of the year?”
To Jorge Posada: “Would you say the reason you lost is that you didn’t capitalize with runners on?”
To Mariano: “Would you have liked Gaithright’s single back?” (the chopper up the middle in the 10th)

And that’s not even mentioning the inane questions she asks Joe Torre nightly. She is the sorriest excuse for a journalist I have ever witnessed. Duuuuuhhhhh, no Kim, I’m glad we lost in the only game I’ve started this year. No, Kim, I’m glad Gaithright hit that single and scored the eventual winning run. You know what? I’m with Beningo. I’m willing to bet she doesn’t know who is playing on a given night.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Albert Pujols is the Best Player in Baseball

Let's set the scene. Top of the ninth, 3-2 Cardinals as their esteemed closer, Jason Isringhausen, tries to shut down the NL cellar dewlling Pirates. Not a terribly difficult task, and Izzy makes quick work of Craig Wilson and Joe Randa, leaving 36-year-old Jose Hernandez with all the pressure. And somehow, going against the grain of his mediocre-at-best career, he sends a shot over the left field wall, tying the game and leaving Izzy shamed.

Now in the bottom of the ninth, all the Cardinals need is a single run off 40-something Roberto Hernandez to save Izzy from his blunder. With one out and none on, white boy extraordinaire David Eckstein singles, followed by a broken bat poke to center field by Hector Luna. New Busch Stadium erupts, as Albert Pujols makes his way from the on-deck circle to the batters box. FOX Sports is ready, boasting that Albert has hit seven walk-off hits, and six walk-off homers.

Things don't look so hot at first, as Pujols quickly finds himself down 0-2. Of course, striking out isn't the end of the world, since that still leaves the Cardinals with one more chance to knock in Eckstein. But this is Albert freakin' Pujols, and he's not about Juan Encarnacion decide his team's fate. So, in typical Pujols fashion, he rips one down the left field line, easily scoring Eckstein and winning the game.

Of course, this act alone doesn't qualify Pujols as the best player in baseball. Rather, it's his career progression to this point. His .330/.430/.609 was good enough for NL MVP in 2005, an award he well could have won even if Juice had played the entire season. More importantly, he did it in a consistent manner, never hitting an exceeding hot streak or abysmal cold streak, a la the AL MVP, Alex Rodriguez.

(Aside: Don't get me wrong; A-Rod had my vote for MVP. But we all known that he's prone to streakiness, which will impede his future MVP bids.)

It seems like this could be the year Albert crowns himself the new Bonds, the hands-down best player in the game. The man has even gone so far as to pull a Ruthian home run call against Oliver Perez. From St. Louis Today:

"He struck me out last year and did all his dancing and I remember that," Pujols said. "That's what happened in Pittsburgh. I hit that ground ball back to him (in the first inning) and he did his little dance again and I got real upset. I went to the video room and told my guy Chad (Blair), 'I'm going to hit the next ball and I'm going to hit it a long way. But don't look at the ball. Look at where the bat is going to land.'"


And, of course, Albert delivered. Not only that, but he took Perez deep again this year. Boy oh boy, do I bet Perez is embarassed. I think Jim Tracy would do his ace some good by working his rotation around him when they're facing St. Louis throughout the year.

Yanks 9, Rays 1


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Jeter.125Mussina.201
Damon.097Sturtze.011
Cairo.051Villone.004
Posada.050Proctor.001
A-Rod.017
Matsui-.009
Giambi-.014
Sheffield-.022
Phillips-.052


Last night was a pleasant surprise, I must say. Of all the match-ups this week, the Mussina (track record of inconsistency) vs. Kazmir (young fireballer, which the Yankees are prone to) one scared me the most. And, in all likelihood, this will actually be the easiest it will get for the Yanks this week. Tomorrow it’s Seth McClung, leaving the team open to the “he’s young and we haven’t seen a lot of him” excuse. And Thursday it’s Mark Hendrickson, whom the Yankees made look like a guy with a rack full of Cy Youngs.

But enough about the shakiness I feel about the coming games. Last night exemplified the notion of Win Expectancy: it’s not what you do, it’s when you do it. Case and point: Jason Giambi, whose rip shot double in the sixth put the Yanks up 8-1. But with a 6-1 lead late in the game, Giambi’s two RBI didn’t really help the team as much as his GIDP in the third hurt them. And the sac fly in the eighth was all but meaningless.

[MORE]Another point of note in tonight’s WE table is Posada’s positive contribution. Usually when you go 0 for 3 with a walk, you don’t contribute five percent to the win. That, however, may be my fault. See, Posada reached on an error in the first, allowing Giambi to score. The way the WE tracker is set up, there’s no way to really take the credit away from the hitter on plays like this (but you can charge the fielder instead of the pitcher for the outcome). So, figuring I’d be fair, I came up with a wacky idea: give Jorge the result of the play (reaching first, the equivalent of a single or a walk), and charge him with the third out (thus diminishing his contribution to the play). Then, I would simply reduce the outs back to two after the play, and go from there.

I realized the flaw in my logic after seeing Posada’s net WE: I had given him credit for the run. Looking back, I should have ran a play where Jorge committed the third out, thus lowering his WE as he had grounded out to end the inning. Then, I could have deleted Posada’s name and ran an anonymous play moving the runners up and scoring the run. That way, no single player would have gotten credit for the run scored. But, I wasn’t about to go back and run the whole game through the WE tracker again. Since Phillips was charged -.040 for committing the final out of the inning, and Posada was credited .057 for the should-have-been out, I could simply change Jorge’s WE for the game to -.047 (which isn’t totally accurate, but close enough). If I get enough comments voting for that, I’ll change it. Else, I’m just keeping it the way it is and hoping that someone comes up with a good formula for such errors.

Much like Sunday’s game was all about Randy and Jason, tonight was about Mike and Derek. Mussina continues to impress, and he’d better damn well continue that on Sunday, as I attend my first Yankees game of the year (in the bleachers, the only seats for which I’ll pony up the dough). His one-hit performance, including four 1-2-3 innings, was complemented by Derek Jeter’s two-run shot in the first, which would end up being all the Yanks would need. Thankfully, they’re not satisfied with that, and had to prove their manhood against Kazmir. I like the kid and all, but it was nice to see him get knocked around, not only because I’d like to see the Yanks score as many as possible per game, but because he made the Red Sox look like girly men last week in Fenway. Oh, and Jonny Gomes went deep in that game, too – though the ball he hit off Mussina wouldn’t have ended up on the Mass. Pike.

Another observation from the game: Matsui has recorded his sixth straight game with a negative WE, and that includes Saturday, when he doubled with the bases loaded. How, you ask, did he manage a negative WE in that game? Simple: he sucked otherwise, and his double came when the Yanks were already winning, thus owning a probability of winning over 50 percent. His other plate appearance: GIDP, fielder’s choice with guys on first and second and none out, fly out to center. This isn’t even to mention how lost he’s generally looked at the plate, striking out ten times in 73 plate appearances this year (obviously, once every 7.3 plate appearances). For comparison, in 2005, he struck out once every nine plate appearances. After watching him for three years, however, this looks like the kind of funk to which he’s prone.

On a final note, I’m not jumping on the “I Hate A-Rod” Bandwagon (championed by my father), but has anyone else been generally unimpressed with him this season? His numbers look fine, but it seems like he’s taking weak hacks at shitty pitches. Once again, I’m confident he’ll right the ship. And when he does, holy Lord, the Yankees are only going to be scarier.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Worst Season Ever

As most of you have already read (and have had a good hearty laugh at), Tony Womack was designated for assignment yesterday by the Cincinnati Reds. A flurry of questions raced through my mind upon reading the news, including, “did we catch then Reds GM Dan O’Brien in the midst of a peyote binge?” and, “couldn’t have Wayne Krivsky have just saved his team a huge headache and cut Womack loose during spring training?” But then perhaps the most important question of all dawned on me:

Was Tony Womack’s 2005 the worst single-season performance by a Yankee since 1996?

The answer at first was a resounding, “of course, dummy!” Memories tend to be short, and since Womack’s 2005 was still fresh in my mind, it was the obvious choice for worst single-season performance. But then the whole Rondell White debacle in 2002 returned to memory. So I decided to do some simple research to shed some light on the issue.

Methodically, this experiment was rather simple. I took three key indicators of value to determine the worst – or most underperforming – Yankee in each year from 1996 through 2005: lowest on base percentage, lowest slugging percentage, and lowest OPS + (a player’s OPS, park adjusted, compared to the rest of the league; 100 is average). The minimum at bat requirement is 300. Simply, if a player was in the cellar for all three categories in a given year, he became a candidate for Worst Season Ever.

[MORE]Here are the year-by-year results:

1996:
Low OBP: Ruben Sierra, .327
Low SLG: Joe Girardi, .374
Low OPS+: Girardi, 81; Sierra, 82

1997:
Low OBP: Girardi, .311
Low SLG: Girardi, .334
Low OPS+: Girardi, 70

1998:
Low OBP: Jorge Posada, .350
Low SLG: Chad Curtis, .360
Low OPS+: Curtis, 89

1999:
Low OBP: Scott Brosius, .307
Low SLG: Jorge Posada, .401
Low OPS+: Brosius, 90

2000:
Low OBP: Brosius, .299
Low SLG: Brosius, .374
Low OPS+: Brosius, 67

2001:
Low OBP: Alfonso Soriano, .304
Low SLG: Chuck Knoblauch, .351
Low OPS+: Knoblauch, 83

2002:
Low OBP: Rondell White, .288
Low SLG: White, .378
Low OPS+: White, 77

2003:
Low OBP: Raul Mondesi, .330
Low SLG: Bernie Williams, .411
Low OPS+: Bernie, 109

2004:
Low OBP: Sierra, .296
Low SLG: Miguel Cairo, .417
Low OPS+: Sierra, 96

2005:
Low OBP: Tony Womack, .276
Low SLG: Womack, .280
Low OPS+: Womack, 47

Ladies and Gentlemen, your nominees are: Joe Girardi in 1997, Scott Brosius in 2000, Rondell White in 2002, and Tony Womack in 2005. Herein, however, lies the problem: it’s difficult to consider Brosius and Girardi for such an egregious award because of their major contributions to other Yankees teams. But, there is no bias in this study; it’s all about what the numbers tell us.

Thankfully, we can immediately eliminate Giardi from the running. While his 1997 may have been atrocious by most standards (.264/.311/.334 in 398 AB), he still managed to get his OBP and Slugging over .300, a feat Womack couldn’t match. And he’s a catcher, a position more valued for defense than offense. Once again, my inner bias wants to eliminate Brosius, and one look at his 2000 Slugging Percentage of .374 has me nearly pressing the button. However, he committed his atrocity over 470 at bats, more than anyone else in the study. Additionally, he plays the more offensive oriented position of third base. Sorry, Scotty, but you’re stickin’ around for now.

PlayerABAvgOBPSlgK/BBPA/KPA/BBSingles/Extra Base Hits
Brosius470.230.299.3741.627.1111.532.00
White455.240.288.3783.445.7519.762.11
Womack329.249.276.2804.087.1629.258.11


After punching these numbers into the table, the winner becomes painfully obvious. While Brosius had the lowest batting average among the group, his OBP (while still in the dumpster) was the highest. He also boasted a slugging percentage a mere .004 points lower than White while playing at a more defensive oriented position. He had the best strikeout to walk ratio, neared Womack for the lowest strikeout rate, and walked at a much greater rate than the others. Scott Brosius, you are officially pardoned.

That brings us to the issue of Rondell White in 2002. As a left fielder, more is expected of him as a hitter than Womack, who played the majority of his time in center and at second base (though he did see plenty of time in left field). And, seeing as his slugging percentage was nearly 100 points higher than Womack’s, I think we can safely say White outperformed him. For the kicker, Womack’s ratio of one extra base hit for ever 8.11 singles pales in comparison to White’s 2.11 ratio. Oh yeah, and White walked more than once every 29 and a quarter plate appearances.

In fact, it looks pretty clear that Womack is the worst of the group, making Dan O’Brien look even more the fool for giving up any more than a pack of cigarettes for the dismal utility player. And, in the process, Cashman was able to right a wrong committed by the Tampa Contingent. And to boot, Cashman got more value than he did for Rondell (Mark Phillips – who? – and Bubba “Disappearing Boy” Trammell). So in retrospect, the Womack deal wasn’t a total killer. It may have cost the team a game or three, which just made them play harder in September, sans Womack, to make up for it.

You know what? I see potential for a follow-up here. Considering his lowly OBP, SLG, walk rate, power numbers, and OPS+, could Womack’s 2005 have been the worst season since, say, 1980 by a player with 300 AB? Of course, I’d need a bit more time for this question, but I think it’s one worth studying. Then again, the idea of “worst season ever” reeks of subjectivity, and I’m bound to run into a flurry of contradicting opinions along the way.

I guess, if nothing else, it would prove my undying hatred for one Tony Womack and the mental anguish he caused millions of Yankees fans in 2005. I have but one message for the soon-to-be free agent: enjoy your retirement, Tony. It begins today.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I Think I Just Wet Myself

Okay, so you could just click on the article to your left, but I just have to chime in here. Tony Womack just got DFA'd by the Reds. If nothing else, this move insures that Dan O'Brien will never find employment at the GM level, if ever again in baseball.

The move was a no-brainer, since Womack is horrible and newcomer Brandon Phillips is more than holding his own. With Rich Aurilia and Ryan Freel on board, the Reds infield was rather clogged, and flushing Womack was obviously the best remedy.

This even further begs the question of what O'Brien was thinking when he traded two prospects. Of course, they aren't of the can't miss breed, but they are warm bodies that have more potential to succeed in the coming years than Womack.

Reds GM Wayne Krivsky won't be as lucky as Brian Cashman in finding a trade partner for Womack, mainly because O'Brien isn't currently in the game. So, Womack should become a free agent sometime next week, where he'll be able to find out once and for all that he's a washed-up never-was. If any team offers him anything more than a minor league deal, their GM will be filling out job applications by the end of the season.

Yanks 7, Orioles 1


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Giambi.276Randy.215
Phillips.120Rivera.003
Cano.021
Posada.010
Sheffield.002
Jeter.000
Crosby.000
A-Rod-.006
Matsui-.035
Damon-.112


Oh, if only every game could go so smoothly. We worriers were biting our nails yesterday after the Tejada shot, but the norm was restored shortly thereafter as Randy cruised to an impressive win to take the series against the Orioles. His co-pilot, Giambi, carried the offense on his shoulders, tying the game within minutes of the Tejada homer, and putting the game all but out of reach with a two-run shot in the very next inning.

[MORE]Don’t forget about Andy Phillips in the mix of this. Not only was this his first game with a positive WE, but his RBI in the third inning was all Randy would need to shut down the Birds. Unfortunately, we know Joe won’t play him for another week now, and he’ll slip back into the same old routine of striking out and looking generally inept at the plate. Such a sad fate for a guy who could make a solid yet modest contribution off the bench. I’m starting to empathize with Aaron Gleeman, as the Yanks are doing to Phillips what the Twins are doing to Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett.

You know, one year ago I – along with plenty of you out there – was signing Giambi’s death certificate. I figured that without steroids, he’d lack his normal power, but with his keen eye, could still rack up the walks and see enough good pitches to keep his average up. I think my direct quote was “dude, Giambi owes us a .310/.425 season. Anything short and he’s a freakin’ bum,” so a .224/.395 April wasn’t exactly winning me over. After he began his resurgence in June, I officially apologized, and would like to take this time to further apologize. The misjudgment was totally my fault; the power surge was unexpected, but any time you have a proven hitter with an Isolated Discipline rating of .171, an improvement is all but inevitable. Congrats, Jason.

So, in reality, we should have swept that Orioles series. I realize that umps are fallible, but the overhead view of strike three to Matsui clearly shows it was ball four. Clearly. That was the tying run, and while a victory surely wasn’t guaranteed at that point, I figure they could have gotten to the young Ray for one more, considering the bases were loaded. But that’s the beauty of a 162-game schedule; the Yanks can make up for that loss this coming week, as we take on those pesky Devil Rays and the Sox-killing Blue Jays.

I know Tampa was a thorn in our side last year, but I don’t expect that to continue this season. The Yankees have had their way with mediocre pitching of late, and Tampa Bay will shuttle out two of that breed this week. The biggest challenge will be getting past Scott Kazmir, who mowed down the Red Sox last week. Double D’oh: he’ll be up against Chien-Ming "Lack of Focus" Wang, which inspires exactly zero confidence. Update: Last night, ESPN had Kazmir scheduled for Wednesday against Wang when, in fact, he's going Tuesday against Moose. Just another reason to hate the boys from Bristol. I swear, if they didn't have such a comprehensive game log from years past (and didn't host my favorite writer, Bill Simmons), I'd just cut them out completely.

Triple D’oh: we’re seeing Jaret Wright on Saturday (unless Joe realizes that Proctor is the right guy for the gig), which means he’ll get into Tuesday and/or Wednesday’s game so he can keep sharp. And by keep sharp, I mean throw a few live pitches so he’ll only give up five runs instead of nine over three innings. Hopefully, another poor performance or two by Wright will inspire Cashman to give him the Quantrill/Stanton/Karsay treatment. Surely, the Yanks will buy out the final year of Wright’s deal at season’s end, meaning he’s in the last year of his deal, much like the aforementioned trio. He’s vastly overpaid to vastly underperform, making him expendable, also much like the aforementioned trio. And with Carl Pavano, Aaron Small, and Octavio Dotel set to return from the DL over the course of the next month and a half (a lil optimistic for Pavano, maybe), cuts will become necessity. While many want to see Sturtze jettisoned, I think I’d rather see Wright go first. Of course, the first move will be to demote Matt Smith, which I think is just plain foolish. Yeah, let’s forget about the relatively young, hard throwing lefty and let Wright and Sturtze lose us a few more games. Impeccable strategy.