Friday, March 20, 2009

Baseball Prospectus on the Royals

If you are more than a casual baseball fan the one site you should subscribe too is Baseball Prospectus. BP contains the most thorough, intelligent baseball analysis on the web. Baseball Prospectus'annual publication and podcasts are essential to all baseball fans that are looking for a deeper understanding of the game. I don't always agree with what is published by BP, but it is always an interesting read.

In his
Hit and Run column today, BP writer Jay Jaffe gives his view of the American League Central. To read the entire article requires a subscription, but Jaffe characterizes the Royals off season and 2009 club as "the good, the bad, and the ugly." Taking the same view as me, Jaffe rates the trade for Coco Crip as good and the signing of Mike Jacobs and Willie Bloomquist as ugly.

Jaffe nails it when he describes Jacobs as an
"OBP-challenged, defensively inept first basemen." He goes on to say first basemen like Jacobs "don't just grow on trees, they grow like weeds in Triple-A-sized ditches across the land, and at least when you pluck those weeds, they're not arbitration eligible."

But Jaffe saved his most astute observation for the Willie Bloomquist signing.
"We've made an off-color joke at his [Bloomquist] expense before, but at least the Mariners weren't paying free-agent prices for the privilege of catching the disease, whereas the Royals are: $3.1 million over two years for a guy whose contribution can be equaled by just about anyone in the phone book." Jaffe won't get any argument from me, or anyone else that understands baseball, about his analysis of the Bloomquist signing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

PED Users in the WBC?

Last week I received this email from Fred, a regular reader of this blog.

"Here's one to ponder in a blog. If J.C. Romero should be able to pitch in the MLB sponsored World Baseball Classic. I say no that if steroid users are able to play in the World Baseball Classic then MLB should pull their sponsorship since he will be serving a 50 game suspension for steroids. Come on MLB lets gets serious about the steroid issue."

Before I comment on the issue Fred raises I want to say a word about J.C. Romero. If I made a list of my favorite all time baseball players J.C. Romero would be near the top. In an entry posted last fall, I discussed my view of J.C. Romero. It was extremely disappointing when it was reported that he tested positive for a banned substance and was being suspended for 50 games. I am not going into detail about the circumstances of Romero's suspension. If you are interested in what happened, I recommend you check out Peter Gammons' report from January.

The World Baseball Classic is an endeavor of Major League Baseball. The coverage of the event on and MLB Network is extensive and Commissioner Bud Selig never misses an opportunity to discuss the merits of the WBC. Given Major League Baseball's commitment to the WBC, the question Fred raises deserves an answer. If Bud Selig and Major League baseball are serious about eliminating the use of performance-enhancing-drugs in the sport, why is a player who is suspended from baseball for PED use allowed to participate in one of baseball's high profile events? Does Commissioner Selig want to avoid bad publicity relating to one of his pet projects? Is MLB trying to avoid an international incident by not dealing with a player from Puerto Rico? Is there a loophole in the drug testing agreement with Players Association that needs to be closed? I don't have the answers to this questions but Commissioner Selig and Major League Baseball owes every fan an answer. Until the answers are provided, the shadow of doubt that performance enhancing drugs have cast over baseball will remain.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


What a game tonight! The Netherlands beating the Dominican Republic 2-1 in the World Baseball Classic didn't have the political implications of the 1980 USA v Soviet Union "Miracle On Ice" Olympic hockey game, but the magnitude of the upset is just as amazing. This game was one of the biggest upsets I can think of. A vaunted Dominican team, loaded with Major League all-stars and future Hall of Famers, falling to a team made up of players from Holland, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba can only be described as unbelievable.

The report on ESPN SportsCenter highlighted the make up of the two teams.

Dominican Rep.
Current MLB Players
$83 million
MLB Salaries
$.4 million
2008 All Stars
Career MLB Wins
Career MLB HR
Note: Sidney Ponson has 90 of the 94 wins and Randell Simon has 49 of the 82 homeruns for the Netherlands.

The two teams squared off last Friday with the Netherlands winning 3-2. This was a shocker but most believed it was a one time event and there was no way the Netherlands would be able to advance. "That was a team we should have trounced 9-0," Dominican Republic manager Felipe Alou was quoted as saying after the game. To be honest, I agreed with Alou. Even though the Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic and put up a great fight before losing to Puerto Rico on Monday, I didn't see a way they could beat the Dominican again.

Because I am a baseball fan and enjoy having competitive games to watch in mid-March, I tuned in last night. Tension rose each scoreless inning as the Netherlands matched the Dominican pitch for pitch. Finally the Dominican pushed a run across in the bottom of the 11th and I don't think I was alone in believing the game was over. But the Dutch battled back and scored twice in the bottom of the 11th to win. Jose Reyes, Miguel Tejada, Jose Guillen, Miguel Olivo and the rest of the Dominican Republic looked on in stunned silence at a group of players, described by KMOX radio host Kevin Wheeler as "a team of has-beens and never-weres - whose best hitter is remembered more for his hit on a racing sausage than for his big league career" widely celebrated.

I've watched a lot of the World Baseball Classic games so far this year. Unlike a lot of baseball fans, I believe the Classic is a good idea and I enjoy it. I know there are flaws but, thanks in part to the 2009 team from the Netherlands, the WBC is on its way to fulfilling Bud Selig's vision when he began the WBC in 2006.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Some Hope From Royals Camp!

In a previous entry I wrote that I was convinced that Ross Gload, "at the expense of better players with more potential," would play a "significant" role for the Royals in 2009." But after reading Bob Dutton's report in today's Kansas City Star, I am now cautiously optimistic I might have been wrong. Is it possible that Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman finally realize that Ross Gload, a player who's only "skill" is making a so-called productive out, has no value to the Royals?

At the time I wrote the entry mentioned above, I didn't believe that Moore would consider releasing Gload and eating his nearly $2 million salary. Ross Gload is Dayton Moore's boy. Moore signed Gload to a two year contract when every other Major League team would have given him a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. But the headline over Dutton's report, "Gload battling the odds to keep spot on Royals’ roster" is a clear indication that Moore and Hillman are, at the very list, thinking about admitting the Gload signing was a mistake and cutting their losses. It is far from certain the Royals will waive Gload but knowing that Moore and Hillman are considering the possibility should make every Royals fan smile.