Unrestricted View

"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Willis Trade in the Cards?

Yesterday rumors began spreading that the Cardinals were in serious discussions with the Marlins on a deal that would bring Dontrelle Willis to St Louis. The Cards would then send top rookie pitcher Anthony Reyes, top outfield prospect Colby Rasmus, and prospects Chris Duncan and Stu Pomeranz to Florida.

Viva El Birdos one of the more respected baseball blogs with solid inside connections was all over the story. Interestingly enough, a reader of the site sent an email to Dontrelle Willis' agent asking about the rumor. Willis' agent was kind enough to reply. You can see his reply here.

This time of year we hear a lot of trade rumors - most of them unfounded or simply ridiculous. But this Dontrelle rumor seems to have some validity. I still don't think Dontrelle will be traded anywhere, but we've seen Walt Jockety pull of some big deadline deals in the past. (McGwire, Rolen, Walker)

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

MLB Notes and Rumors

I haven't posted in a few days, namely because I've been reading The 48 Laws of Power , but I wanted to touch on a few hot items arouond the league.

Speaking of hot, the Twins have now won 29 of their last 36 games, moving up 7 games in the Wild Card hunt to sit only 4 games behind the White Sox. While the odds are still stacked against them, (Baseball Prospectus has them at a 10% chance to make the playoffs) they are going to make this an exciting 2nd half for Twins fans. As excited as Twins fans are, other AL teams are equally depressed. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has any desire whatsoever to face both Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano in a best of five series.

This afternoon the Braves completed a deal that sent minor leaguer Max Ramirez to Cleveland in exchange for Bob Wickman. Talking Chop has some good analysis on the deal. Even though Wickman is no Mariano Rivera, he's still far better than anything the Braves had. This looks like a typical John Schuerholz move to me.

Word is that the Tigers could have Bobby Abreu while only giving up Marcus Thames, Zach Miner, and some cash. If that's true, I'm not sure why Abreu isn't on his way to Detroit as we speak. He's the left-handed outfielder with the great OBP they've been looking for - all at a reasonable price.

Shea Hillenbrand was designated for assingment after after you know what hit the fan with he and manager John Gibbons. This means he will almost certainly be traded by the end of the weekend. The problem is that the Jays have no leverage now. I'm not quite sure why they couldn't have traded him earlier or tried to keep this under wraps until they could. There must be something we still don't know - and will likely never know.

It's hard to believe that four playoff contenders (NYY, STL, LAD, MIL) would have people from their organization scouting Kyle Lohse and his 7.18 ERA.

Sabernomics takes a look at which teams you can expect to improve or decline over the second half of the season.

Francisco Lirano continued his bid for the Cy Young by outdueling fellow 22 year old lefty Scott Kazmir on Tuesday. Seth Speaks has a remarkably detail analysis of the two pitchers. It's worth a look even if you no interest in all in either the Twins or the Rays.

And last but not least, for those of you old enough to remember Tecmo Bowl, here's proof that being Bo Jackson and the Raiders was no less cheating than sitting over your buddy's shoulder and looking at what play he picked.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Keith Davis Loves to Get Shot

Cowboys safety Keith Davis was shot early Sunday morning while driving on the 635 Loop in Dallas. Seeing as how this is the second time in Davis' short career that he has been gunned down, I think it's safe to say that there is no riskier move than standing next to Keith Davis.

I don't want to tell Keith Davis who to hang out with and where or where not to do it. After all, it would be mighty hypocritical of me to do so, considering I spend most of my afternoons "riding dirty" with The Chamillionaire on Houston's South Side. But damn! What kind of NFL player gets shot twice in a three year span? This seems like something out of a rap video.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Around the Blogosphere

Here's a quick round-up of a few blog stories going on today.

Terrell Owens says he was misquoted in his newest autobiography, T.O. Of course, this begs the question of whether or not it's even possible to be misquoted in an autobiography. Either you weren't misquoted or it wasn't an autobiography. It can be one or the other - not both.

Aaron Gleeman shows that Johan Santana is the best left-handed starter in baseball, not Cliff Lee as Steve Phillips believes.

The sentencing of Deadspin legend Mike Cooper took place this afternoon. For those of you not in the know, Cooper is the Ohio State fan who was caught masturbating in the library by Cleveland's investigative reporter Carl Monday.

Fathers, keep your daughters away from Flozell Adams.

Once before, on this site, I did a very brief comparison of Francisco Liriano and Felix Hernandez. The Hardball Times has put together a much more in-depth look at the two pitchers young careers.

I'm not so sure why athletes at Auburn getting preferential treatment is much of a story.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Astros Trade for Huff

Early this morning Astros GM Tim Purpura announced a deal that will bring Aubrey Huff and cash to Houston for two minor leaguers, Mitch Talbot and Ben Zobrist.

As much as I hate to praise the Astros, this looks to be a good deal for them. Huff is in his age 30 season and certainly doesn't have the break-out potential many believed he had 2-3 years ago, but he's still a quality bat for a lineup that sorely needs one. Other than last year, which was probably fluky, Huff has OPSed .800 or better every year since 2002. In 63 games this season he is hitting .283/.348/461. Those numbers are pretty much right in line with his career averages, so there is no reason to think he can't maintain that pace.

The only criticism I have for the Astros on this deal is that the optioned Jason Lane to the minor leagues in order to make room for Huff on the roster. I know Lane has been far from what the Astros expected, but most of that is from one horrendous month of May in which he OPSed a measly .542. In April and June he had OPSes .870 and .838, respectively. He has already walked 40 times this season and I wouldn't be surprised if much of struggles are a result of being jerked in and out of the lineup for the past month. And I fail to see how Orlando Palmiero and his .215/.292/.262 line is any kind of improvement over Lane.

As for the 2 prospects dealt to Tampa, they both appear to be mid-level guys at this moment. Talbot is a 22 year old righthander recently promoted to AA. In 90 innings he has struck out 96 and walked 29 while only giving up 4 long balls. Those numbers indicate he's got good stuff with the ability to miss bats, which is probably the most important indicator for minor league pitchers. His control seems to need work, as is the case for most young pitchers, but it doesn't appear to be a huge problem. Overall, he appears to be a decent to good prospect, but as the saying goes, "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect."

Ben Zobrist has a monster line in AA Corpus Christi. A shortstop that hits .327/.434/.473 is nothing to take lightly. The only problem with Zobrist seems to be his age. A 25 year old in AA isn't exactly a youngster. I'm not sure he has much of a future in MLB, but it's not out of the question.

More excitement from this deal may be on it's way. I've heard rumblings of Morgan Ensberg possibly being on the block (bad idea) and that the Astros are actively shopping Willy Taveras. (great idea) Huff can play both corner outfield positions, 3rd base, and 1st base. That gives the Astros alot of flexibility to move either Ensberg, Taveras, or Lane.

From my perspective Ensberg should not be traded at all. Even in a down year he still has an OPS hovering around .900. That's not easy to find, especially for under $4 million. Taveras should be traded for young pitching prospects. He's not going to bring a blue chipper by any means, so Purpura should be looking for gems still down in Single A ball. Lane should be made available, but right now his trade value appears to be at it's lowest point. "You don't make money in the market buying high and selling low." I forget what movie that's from. Wall Street is probably as good of guess as any.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Being Joe Mauer

There's alot of talk in baseball about Joe Mauer this year, largely because his batting average was close to .400 for a good two to three weeks. As a Twins fan, I love all the attention he's getting. But I bet it can be tiring for others. So if I didn't have such a huge man crush on Mauer, here's 5 reasons I would hate him.

1. Those stupid, stick-on sideburns they hand out at the Metrodome for fans to wear. Truth be told, they're about as nerdy as wearing Spock ears to a Star Trek Convention.

2. Everytime the Twins play a road game, the opposing announcers go all ga-ga over Mauer for the full 9 innings. That must get mighty annoying for fans of the home team. Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano fall into this category as well.

3. He's dating Miss USA, Chelsea Cooley. I am just jealous of that.

4. His grandfather actually compared him to Ted Williams when he was still in diapers. No wonder he's sometimes called "The Golden Boy." A nickname like that is just one more reason to hate him.

5. He struck out only one time in his entire 4 year high school career. And I'm assuming that includes the ladies too. Basically, he succeeds ridiculously well at everything he does and he's wildly successful at age 23 - a year younger than me. That bugs me. I believe it's called "player hating."

Of course, since I am a Twins fan I overlook all these things and continue to talk about him for atleast 90 minutes of every Twins game - while wearing my stick-on sideburns and lusting over his girlfriend.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Steve Phillips is an Idiot

Okay, so it's not like we need any further evidence of Steve Phillips being an idiot, but just in case you do take a look at his score from a quiz on baseball history that was given to the ESPN MLB analysts.

In case you are too lazy to go through the trouble of clicking a link, I'll lay it out for you. Of the 50 questions, Phillips answered only 31 of them correctly, ranking him dead last amongst the other analysts. Not good. Here's a guy who once got paid a large sum of money to be the braintrust of a MLB franchise located in the country's largest city. He's also they guy who currently gets paid a large sum of money to sit in front of a camera and tell you and me all we need to know about the game of baseball.

Considering I was able to answer 7 more questions correctly than Steve Phillips, perhaps is time for the two of us to switch careers.

Take the Steve Phillips Challenge and see if you can beat his 31 out of 50.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Brent Musberger - Wordsmith

I just sat down to watch the World Cup Finals and heard Brent Musberger as this question:

"How often in a lifetime do you see a once-in-a-lifetime player like..."

By definition I'll say one time, Brent.

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Midseason Awards

We are now past the halfway mark in the season and with the All Star break coming I and seemingly everyone else) figured it would be a good time to hand out midseason awards. I'm only doing MVP, CY Young, and ROY because I think Manager of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year are stupid awards.


AL - Jim Thome
NL - Albert Pujols

It's tough to give the the MVP to a DH unless his hitting is greatly superior to that of any position player. This is the year it happens with the top 4 candidates arguably being Thome, Ortiz, Hafner, and Giambi. Manny Ramirez, Jermaine Dye, and Joe Mauer also deserve consideration.

Even with the games missed, Pujols is the clear winner in the NL with an OPS more than 100 points higher than his closest competitor Lance Berkman. Alot of people will want to put David Wright here, but even Carlos Beltran is a more worthy candidate.

Cy Young

AL - Francisco Liriano
NL - Brandon Webb

Liriano doesn't have the innings that some of the others have, but when your ERA is almost a full run less than second place Johan Santana, I don't know how I can justify not giving Liriano the award. He's only the second rookie to have 10 wins at the All Star breaking and the league is OPSing a mere .544 off him. Ridiculous. By the end of the season this award might be Santana's or Lackey's but right now it's going to the kid.

Josh Johnson leads the NL in ERA, but Webb isn't far behind and he's pitched 55 more innings. Webb gets an added bonus for pitching in one of the most hitter friendly parks while Johnson is in one of the most pitcher friendly. Johnson's ERA is fluky anyhow. Jason Schmidt was a strong contender here too, along with Arroyo, Carpenter, and a few others.

Rookie of the Year

AL - Francisco Liriano
NL - Dan Uggla

I wanted to throw Pappelbon a bone here since I've already given Liriano the Cy. Pappelbon has been simply great, but say what you want about closers, I'll take the guy who's been just as great and thrown twoce as many innings. Maybe a co-winner is in order here.

By the end of the year i expect this award to belong to Zimmerman or Fielder because I don't think Uggla can sustain this level of play, but at this point it's his to lose.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Suprise, Suprise

Okay, take a look at these anonymous stat lines and tell me who you would vote into the All Star Game.

Player A - .319/.461/.656 - 24 hr - 70 rbi
Player B - .271/.334/.497 - 15 hr - 59 rbi
Player C - .326/.371/.446 - 5 hr - 28 rbi
Player D - 1.99 era - 9 wins - 94/20 k/bb
Player E - 3.01 era - 10 wins - 69/33 k/bb

Who would you vote for? Obviously it's got to be player A or D, right? If you're gonna go pitcher, player D is clearly better than player E. And if you want a bat it's not even close. Player A is far more productive than either B or C.

What if you, for some reason were dead set on selecting a player that plays a particular position, say catcher, and you notice that player C fits that bill? You might be inclined to vote for him. But what if I told you player B also fits that bill? You might look at the offensive production and notice that player B has a higher OPS than player C. I would also tell you he is a better defensive catcher than C. In fact, player B has caught 28 of 56 would be base-stealers for a rate of 50%. Player C, on the other hand, has caught only 17 of 57 for a success rate of 29.8%. You'd have to take player B over player C if you wanted a catcher, right?

Wrong. The whole point of this little exercise is that AJ Piersynski (player C) won the fan vote for the final All Star roster spot. Just looking at those numbers makes it clear that not only was he not the best choice for the spot, he was actually the worst. I don't know why this stuff drives me nuts, because I really couldn't care less about the ASG. I guess it's just that when fans consistently vote in undeserving players, it shows that the average fan still knows next to nothing about what makes a baseball player successful.

I don't know how to fix this, but it gets real irksome having the same argument with people over and over about the merits OPS over BA and all the other relatively simple concepts statistical analysis has proved over the years. Maybe it's time to add Bill James' Baseball Abstracts to the junior high PE curriculum.

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Introducing Ryan Parker....Bengal Fan

Typically when a fan comes up with a theme song for his or her favorite team, that song immediately becomes the laughing stock of the blogosphere and an embarrassment to all the other fans of said team. This is true of the recent Mets song, the A&M song, "Sweet Shaun Alexander", and of course, the infamous Lil' Ronnie.

I think for the most part this is due to the tendancy to rip off some lame hip-hop song that wasn't good in the first place, replace about 40% of the original words with your team name, a few of your favortie players, and a handful of generic "crush you's" and "wreck shop's." In the end, no matter how hard you try it's going to come out pretty lame. And that fact that you shot a video for it on your stepdad's home video recorder makes you look like a bigger douchebag.

That pretty much sums up my feelings about your typical fan song until today. Enter Ryan Parker. For some reason I actually like his song Ballad of the Bengals. It can't place the exact reason this one stands out from the others. Maybe it's that all the lyrics are entirely original and focus on a specific theme rather than just some random "Palmer is great, but Bettis is gay" lines thrown together incoherently. Maybe it's because the video is full of actual Bengal clips that coordinate with the song rather than some asshole bouncing around the street of Cincinnati. Whatever it is, it's a helluva lot better than all the other crap. So kudos to you Ryan Parker! You've finally written a sports song that doesn't make people embarassed to be a fan.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Blockbuster In The Works?

I don't have the time to comment on this trade rumor, but it's interesting enough that it warrants a random link. MLB Trade Rumors is reporting a possible trade involving Alex Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez, and Jacque Jones. There are also reports of the Braves sending Andruw Jones to the White Sox.

Obviously, either of these deals would be blockbusters in the truest sense of the word. Even though I don't really see Andruw Jones being moved, I find it more likely than the possibility of A-Rod being shipped off. As much heat as he catches from the New York media and fans, I still believe Cashman and Steinbrenner realize how valuable he is to that team. Regardless, it's interesting to read the rumors.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Your 2006 MLB All Stars...and Mark Redman

It's still a few hours before the All Star rosters are to be announced, but MLB has slipped up and put the jerseys for sale on their main website. You can see the AL roster here and the NL roster here.

Unrestricted View's efforts to get Neifi Perez and Juan Castro elected were unsuccessful - as expected. But it was fun nonetheless.

I know there isn't room for everybody, but Francisco Liriano was inexplicably left off the list. As of tonight he is currently the AL ERA leader (1.99) by over half a run. He's pitched over 80 innings now. In my mind that is more than enough to qualify. I don't see how one can argue that Kenny Rogers and Mark Buehrle - 15th and 19th respectively in AL ERA - are more deserving of a roster spot than Liriano. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Ozzie would reach for one of his own.


The official rosters have been released.

American League Starters

1B David Ortiz, BOS
2B Mark Loretta, BOS
3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY
SS Derek Jeter, NYY
C Ivan Rodriguez, DET
OF Vladimir Guerrero, LAA
OF Manny Ramirez, BOS
OF Ichiro Suzuki, SEA

American League Pitchers

SP Mark Buerhle, CWS
SP Jose Contreras, CWS
SP Roy Halladay, TOR
SP Scott Kazmir, TB
SP Mark Redman, KC
SP Kenny Rogers, DET
SP Johan Santana, MIN
SP Barry Zito, OAK

RP Bobby Jenks, CWS
RP Jon Papelbon, BOS
RP Mariano Rivera, NYY
RP B.J. Ryan, TOR

American League Reserves

1B Paul Konerko, CWS
1B Jim Thome, CWS
2B Robinson Cano, NYY (injured-will not participate)
2B Jose Lopez, SEA
3B Troy Glaus, TOR
SS Miguel Tejada, BAL
SS Michael Young, TEX
C Joe Mauer, MIN
OF Jermaine Dye, CWS
OF Alex Rios, TOR (injured-will not participate)
OF Gary Matthews, Jr., TEX
OF Grady Sizemore, CLE
OF Vernon Wells, TOR

National League Starters

1B Albert Pujols, STL
2B Chase Utley, PHI
3B David Wright, NYM
SS Jose Reyes, NYM
C Paul Lo Duca, NYM
OF Jason Bay, PIT
OF Carlos Beltran, NYM
OF Alfonso Soriano, WSH

National League Pitchers

SP Carlos Zambrano, CHC
SP Bronson Arroyo, CIN
SP Brad Penny, LAD
SP Tom Glavine, NYM
SP Pedro Martinez, NYM
SP Chris Carpenter, STL
SP Jason Schmidt, SF

RP Brian Fuentes, COL
RP Derrick Turnbow, MIL
RP Tom Gordon, PHI
RP Trevor Hoffman, SD

National League Reserves

1B Lance Berkman, HOU
1B Ryan Howard, PHI
2B Dan Uggla, FLA
3B Miguel Cabrera, FLA
3B Freddy Sanchez, PIT
3B Scott Rolen, STL
SS Edgar Renteria, ATL
C Brian McCann, ATL
OF Andruw Jones, ATL
OF Matt Holliday, COL
OF Carlos Lee, MIL

Ozzie Guillen and Phil Garner actually did a pretty good job rounding out the rosters. I'm a bit surprised Garner didn't bring Roy Oswalt along and utterly shocked he didn't feel Brandon Webb was worthy, but overall he did a nice job with the pitchers. All 7 of the starters are among the top 11 in NL ERA.

Ozzie is bringing 6 of his guys with him to Pittsburgh. Except for Buehrle, all of them are pretty deserving so there's not much to complain about there. I'm not quite sure how he missed Travis Hafner and Jason Giambi though. They could easily replace Gary Matthews Jr and Troy Glaus. Although how many terrible defensive first baseman can you have on one team? Mark Redman will go down as the worst All Star player of all-time. I'm guessing Ozzie just looked for the Royal pitcher with the most wins.

That's all you'll hear from me about this year's ASG. I'm not going to waste anymore words on it.


One more thing. Here are your choices for the final vote:

AL - Francisco Liriano, Ramon Hernandez, Justin Verlander, AJ Pierzynski, and Travis Hafner

NL - Nomar Garciaparra, Bobby Abreu, Chris Capuano, Billy Wagner, and Chris Young

Okay, last update-

Brandon Webb actually is on the roster. His name does not appear on the "By League" page on mlb.com, but he is listed on the "By Team" page. Sorry for any confusion.

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