I wasnít even supposed to be in New York City that day, but I had an interview for a job. I donít think the interview went too well. I only met with the Human Resources lady. The interview was supposed to be with a manager instead. All of HR is rubber-stamping pencil-pushers. I wanted to talk with someone with decision making authority. I felt like Willie Randolf going on a token interview. The company was just following guidelines where they had to interview X number of people for a position that is not really available. Then the power went down and I had to use any means at my disposal to get home. This meant a combination of walking, strap-hanging, and hitching.
Yet the thing that upset me the most about that day wasnít my jobbing at the interview. It also wasnít a 20 minute commute getting turned into a 6 hour ordeal. It was the Mets/Giants game getting cancelled. I missed getting a game out of Jose Reyes and this kid is incredible. He strikes out too much and makes too many rookie mistakes, but he is exciting to watch. In my keeper league I just traded away Roger Clemens to get Jose Reyes. I heard the Mets even turned down a speculated Reyes for A-Rod deal. Reyes is a keeper.
I donít understand what the big deal is with teams going ape over left-handed starting pitching. Iím all about the numbers and if a pitcher has good numbers, I donít care if he is a lefty, a righty, or a sidearm knuckleballer. When faced with a lefty starting pitcher, the opposing manager just adds more right-handed hitting into his lineup to compensate. So it doesnít really help at all. Iíd say overall there is no significant advantage to having a lefty starter over a righty.
The Yankees were high on Hitchcock because he was a lefty starter. They also were making a big deal about getting Orosco because he is a lefty, even though he is old enough to have played with Don Zimmer. The New York media criticized the Yankees when they got Nelson because he is not a lefty. It is as if putting up good numbers is not enough in this town.
A few years ago the Twins were hailed as geniuses for signing their young pitchers with potential to long-term deals before they got to the open market where they could command more money. One of these guys was Eric Milton. The Twins overlooked his too-high ERA because he was a young lefty. This year he is among all of these Twins starters who are let-downs.
The only exception is a young guy out of the bullpen called Johan Santana. When I said in my first column that he could be better than Pedro Martinez nobody believed me. At the time Santana was stuck in the bullpen. People said, ďHe canít be the teamís best pitcher if heís stuck in middle relief.Ē Well, that usually would be true except in the case when the manager is a fucking idiot. The Twins manager refused to put Santana in the rotation because he said he needed a lefty in the bullpen. Here being a lefty cost Santana innings and cost the Twins wins. Even after Santana had great spot starts against Boston and Arizona, the manager would still pull him out of the rotation in favor of less talented starters. It wasnít until Rick Reed got injured in July that Santana got to stay in the rotation and prove his manager wrong. Last year the Twins won the Central division. I still think they should win it again this year with their favorable schedule. But if they donít make the playoffs, their manager should be the first casualty during the offseason.
A Wolf in Umpireís Clothing:
Speaking of overhyped lefties, Randy Wolf is the most overrated of all. At this yearís All-Star break he was one of the biggest stories. They mostly talked him up because he is a young lefty starter and the National League doesnít have many of those. The update to the story is that Randy Wolf isnít that special. His numbers havenít been good since that All-Star game. Now he can blame his manager and his pitching coach, but at least he canít blame his brother.
As much as his brother would like to help him out Jim Wolf isnít allowed behind the plate at games that Randy pitches. This is not to say that Jim isnít still doing his best to help the Phillies win. He is allowed to umpire the games of Florida and he has no problem screwing the Marlins to help get his brother get into the playoffs. This conflict of interest could be avoided if MLB would require him to umpire in the AL-only, but that would make too much sense. If I were a Marlin player, Iíd feel safer being officiated by the questionable Questec than by this unscrupulous umpire.
Andy Pettite and Keith Foulke are now USELESS:
So are Mark Redman, Jose Contreras, and Lance Carter. In our fantasy league they are all owned by a team that just ran out of innings. That owner has passed 1,250 innings and his pitching statistics are now locked in. He couldíve been able to get some value out of these guys by trading them, but the trade deadline just past. Now his entire pitching staff is useless.
As I said in my first column, about how starting pitching is overvalued, by the time the trade deadline hit it became more and more true. As owners were running out of innings, top starters were getting less and less valuable. By the time of the trade deadline, the best you could get for Dontrelle Willis was a Larry Walker. And this is not even the good Larry Walker of years past, but the light-hitting Larry Walker of today.
There actually is a trick to beating the Yahoo soft-cap of 1,250 innings. On the day you exceed their maximum number of innings, they allow in all your pitching stats no matter how much you exceed the innings total. So once I get down to a handful of innings remaining, I can wait for a day I have 3 starters going at once to overload the system and finish with 1,280 innings.
Churn Baby Churn:
Itís important to use all your available innings and all of your available games. Because of rainouts and finicky managers, it is nearly impossible to max out your games played. Still you can churn players to do the best you can. One way to do this is to use all possible double-headers, so you get the extra games played. The other way is to add a position player every Sunday so heís available on Monday. Mondays are the lightest scheduled in Baseball. Sometimes only 6 teams will play on that day, so it would help on that day to have some of the people who are playing even if they arenít that great.
The hardest position to max out games played is catcher. Since I spent such a high 3rd round pick on Posada, I didnít feel the need to take a backup catcher. Had I a backup I could play him every day game following a Posada night game to churn better at that position. One reason for my success is that I am first in the league in churning. My players are on pace to miss only 31 games, mostly at catcher. The average player in the league is on pace to miss 131 games. Even with similar talent, given an extra 100 games itís no wonder my team has better stats. The categories of HR, SB, Runs, and RBIs all increase the more games played. The only stat that decreases is Batting Average. Iíd have a higher average if Iíd sit players in unfavorable matchups, but taking a hit in the average is a small price to pay for the other four stats. As far as churning goes, Merciful Death is in second place with only 43 projected missed games. This is a big reason for his success.
Who is better?
Willis or Webb
These are the two top choices in the National League Rookie of the Year race. Both are phenomenal pitchers. Keep in mind that Webb has pitched 26 more innings.
In fantasy ball, Iíll take Webb. His ERA and WHIP totals are much better. He also has a better K ratio with 8.8 per 9 IP to Willis 8.1 per 9 IP.
In the real NL ROY voting, they both have even odds to win. The voters pay more attention to Wins than all the other statistics. Willis has more a much better win ratio. He has .84 wins per 9 IP. Webb has a poor .50 wins per 9 IP (poor run support). I wouldnít be surprised if Willis wins the award.
Bottom of the Barrell Award:
Best Waiver Pick of the Week: Scorpions
I wasnít too impressed by the leagueís waiver picks of the last few weeks.
My favorite pick was when I took Robby Hammock. Hammock can be used at catcher and third base, two weak offensive positions. He just had a red-hot week for me. His play is keeping Arizona in the wild-card race. Projecting his stats with a full season of 162 Games, would give him .321 Ave, 29 HR, 7 SB, 96 Runs, and 96 RBIs. Those are impressive numbers at any position. With those numbers, Arizona is forced to keep him in the everyday lineup.
Yeah, I've been checking the games available all year. 43 missed at the moment with 28 of them at catcher. I was spewing when you stole Hammock too. I had him in his first stint and when he was playing everyday he was my starting catcher, despite the fact most of his starts were at 3rd or OF. I've sure been through some "talented" catchers since. I hope Inge and Fordyce can keep up the solid work.
Jenkins going down today is gunna hurt me big. 6 runs, 4 HR and 12 RBI in the last week with a .448 avg was damn nice. I hope Ludwick can get half that and that DeJean can pick up a few more Ws.
I haven`t seen an issue of Beckett`s Baseball Card Monthly on your average newsstand in ages. I used to have a subscription in junior high. I`m sure you can find it in bookstores and maybe more specialty places, like a comic shop.