Friday, October 31, 2008

Reaction to the Mike Jacobs Trade

In my October 27 post I wrote my views about the rumored trade that would bring 1B Mike Jacobs to the Kansas City Royals. Later in the week it was announced that Kansas City had traded relief pitcher Leo Nunez to the Marlins for Mike Jacobs. Since I have already expressed my opinion of this trade I thought I would use this entry to post what others are saying about the move.

Respected Baseball Prospectus writer Rany Jazayerli wrote the following on his
blog before the trade was announced:

"But let me be clear about this: trading for Mike Jacobs is a terrible idea."

"Jacobs wasn’t even all that good in 2008. He certainly had his uses; he hit 32 homers in just 141 games, and slugged .514 for the Marlins. But he drew just 36 walks, and his OBP was .299. Two-ninety-nine."

"The mere fact that Moore is talking to the Marlins about Jacobs tells me he still doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get that what really ails his offense isn’t the lack of power, it’s the lack of walks."

"There were 29 players this season who batted at least 300 times and played at least half their games at first base. Only two of them had a lower OBP than Ross Gload’s .317. One was John Bowker, rookie first baseman for the Giants, who had a .300 OBP. The other – with the lowest OBP of any first baseman in the game – was Jacobs. That’s right: Moore has managed to find a first baseman that actually reached base less often than Ross Gload. And he’s willing to give up talent to get him."

Miami Herald Newspaper was not complimentary in describing Jacobs.

"...the former catcher [Jacobs] was a defensive liability and had a low on-base percentage."

The Kansas City Star's
Upon Further Review blog was not overly critical of the trade, but the writers did point out interesting facts relating to the trade:

"Jacobs and Jose Guillen posted two of the 10-lowest on-base percentages among all qualifying hitters in big-league baseball during the 2008 season. Now they are likely to be paired back-to-back in the Royals' batting order."

" I've written many times, the most typical age for a hitter to have his career season is 27. Prior to last season, Jacobs hit 20 and 17 homers for the Marlins in a similar number of plate appearances. So there is a good chance that Mike Jacobs is never going to threaten the 30 home-run mark again."

Ted Carlson, who writes a very good blog for didn't see Dayton Moore's rational for making the trade:

"But I fail to see this as a necessary upgrade for the Royals. It seems to create more headaches than anything else, and I'm already shuddering at the thought of the club trying to slot Jacobs into the fourth spot. You just know they're going to try it. And Jacobs is going to stink as a No. 4 hitter in the AL, just as he stunk when he tried to be the No. 4 hitter for the Marlins this past year."

The final word on the Royals' ridiculous move comes from fantasy baseball website

"The Royals' finished with a .320 team OBP that ranked 27th in the majors last season, and Dayton Moore's answer to that problem is to pick up a first baseman who finished at .299. Jacobs did hit 32 homers, but he's a 28-year-old with a career .262/.318/.498 line and he's a below average defender at first base."

There is not much to like about this trade and Royals fans can only hope that Dayton Moore does not make anymore senseless moves this off season.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Congratulations to J.C. Romero and the Phillies

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a fan of the Salt Lake Bees is watching players move on to success in the Major Leagues. Salt Lake baseball fans have been fortunate to watch many good players cut their teeth here before establishing themselves as solid Major Leaguers. David Ortiz, Torii Hunter, John Lackey, and Chone Figgins are a few of the players that fans in Utah have had the pleasure to watch. But of all the Salt Lake players that I have had the opportunity to watch and get to know Phillies reliever J.C. Romero is my all time favorite. It was because of Romero that I was rooting for the Phillies to win the World Series.

Romero made his first appearance for Salt Lake in 1999. At that time my 11 year old son and I attended almost every home game. We would sit on the front row by the bullpen which gave us an opportunity to talk to the pitchers. Game after game J.C. was outgoing and friendly toward my son and he quickly become my son's favorite player. It was very special to an 11 year old boy to feel like he was friends with a professional ball player. The following year Romero started the season with the Twins but was sent back to Salt Lake. My son was excited to have his favorite player coming back to town but I was worried he was setting himself up for disappointment. I explained to him the previous season was a long time ago and that Romero might not even remember him. As it turned out my worries were unfounded. Romero made a point to talk to my son and it was clear that J.C. remembered my son. From that moment I've always rooted for J.C. Romero.

Romero was outstanding for the Phillies in the 2009 post-season. He did not give up a run in 7.1 innings, striking out 4 without walking a hitter. He was the winning pitcher in 2 World Series games. The ultimate goal of every Major League player is to play on a World Series winner. J.C. Romero has now accomplished that goal and in the process proving that truly good guys can succeed in sports. Congratulations to J.C. and the rest of the Phillies.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Lesson to Learn From the Yankees

Beginning in 1947 and continuing through 1964 the New York Yankees won 16 American League pennants and 10 World Series titles. In 1965 the Yankees finished 9 games below .500 and in 6th place. Yankees fans were shocked. How could a team that made a habit out of winning pennants and championships fall so far so fast? This is an important question for the Angels because if they don't make significant moves this off season they could end up experiencing the same fate as the Yankees of the 1960s.

The 1965 Yankees had future Hall of Fame players Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford and former AL MVP winners Elston Howard and Roger Maris. But in 1965 Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, and Roger Maris were getting old. Bobby Richardson, Clete Boyer and Tom Tresh were above average but not the type of players a pennant winning team is built around. Young players such as Bobby Murcer, Jake Gibbs, Roy White, and Roger Repoz never developed into the championship-caliber type of players the Yankees front office believed they would. In 1966 the Yankees finished behind the Washington Senators and Kansas City A's in last place. It would be 9 more seasons before the Yankees would reach the post-season.

This period of New York Yankees history should not be lost on the Angels. Beginning in 2002, the Angels have won a World Series championship and 4 division titles. But unless drastic changes are made during this off season, the 2009 version of the Angels could follow the same path as the 1965 Yankees. Vlad Guerrero and Garret Anderson are getting older. The Angels have picked up Vlad's 2009 option but it is questionable if Anderson will be back. Torii Hunter and Chone Figgins are both solid players players but neither are corner stones of a World Series winner. Experts have said that Howie Kendrick, Eric Aybar, Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, and Kendry Morales have potential but it remains to be seen if they can produce at the Major League level.

The starting pitching the 2009 Angels will have is something the Yankees of the mid to late 1960s did not have. John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, and Jered Weaver have all proven to be Major League quality pitchers. There is no arguing that John Lackey is a true ace. But starting pitching alone is not enough to guarantee continued success when the offensive line up has so many holes. Most Angels fans believe signing Mark Teixeira is the most important off season move the team should make. But signing Teixeira is not enough to ensure continued success. It is time for Reagins and Scioscia to attempt to make several changes to this team's lineup through trades and free agents signings to ensure that October baseball is not a distant memory for the Angels.

This entry is also posted on the blog.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big Mistake by Joe Maddon

The conventional wisdom of baseball says win the game being played today and worry about tomorrow's game tomorrow. According to this morning's St. Petersburg Times, Rays manager Joe Maddon is going against this strategy. The newspaper reports that Maddon is planning to use his bullpen to finish the suspended game 5 and save starting pitchers James Shields and Matt Garza to pitch games 6 and 7. Maddon is quoted in the article as saying "we have to win this game [suspended game 5] to get to Garza." By choosing to use his bullpen, Maddon is setting his team up to have their season end Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

The Tampa Bay bullpen has been less than stellar in the World Series. Grant Balfour, Chad Bradford, Edwin Jackson, Trever Miller, David Price, Dan Wheeler, and J.P. Howell have combined to pitch 14.2 innings. They have allowed 12 hits, 5 homeruns, walked 8 batters, and allowed 8 runs. In the only game of the Series the Rays have won, starting pitcher James Shields pitched 5+ innings of shut out baseball. In an elimination game, Maddon should use the best pitcher he has available. That pitcher is staff ace James Shields. If Maddon goes through with his plan to use his bullpen the next game Shields or Matt Garza will pitch will in the opening series of the 2009 season.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mike Jacobs to the Royals?

After a hectic summer and fall I am again posting my thoughts on baseball and other sports here on Rounding Third and Heading Home.
The following appeared in this mornings online edition of the Miami Herald:

The Marlins have decided to raise their payroll to the $30-$35 million range and have been in serious talks to trade Mike Jacobs...The Marlins wanted to deal Jacobs to Kansas City, but the deal died last week

If trading for a player like Mike Jacobs is general manager Dayton Moore's idea of improving the team, the Kansas City Royals will never be a contending team in the American League Central Division.

Mike Jacobs is a free swinging first baseman with some pop in his bat. In 2008 he hit 32 homeruns and drove in 93 for the Marlins. But he also posted a .248 batting average, struck out 119 times, and showed poor plate discipline by posting a .299 OBP. Jacobs will also command a huge pay raise this off season as he is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time. The Royals also have options to man first base in 2009. Kila Ka'aihue had a monster year for AAA Omaha and Ryan Shealy is fully recovered from his injuries and performed well for Kansas City in September. It is likely that either Ka'aihue or Shealy would be able to produce nearly as well as Jacobs for close to the Major League minimum salary.

I don't see any realistic options for the Royals to become a legitimate contender in 2009. In 2008 the White Sox and Twins fought to the end for the division title and the Indians played at a .543 clip in the final 81 games of the season. There is no reason to believe that any of these teams will have a drop off in 2009. Heading into this off season my fear for the Royals is they will add players that might help them to a respectable record in 2009 but not move the team closer to contending for the post-season. Dayton Moore needs to understand that 2009 is not the year for the Royals to compete for the post-season and begin to lay the groundwork for the club to contend in 2010 or 2011. Acquiring a mediocre player like Mike Jacobs is not going to move the club toward contention.