Archive for November, 2012

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One of prized possessions.

By: Matthew Kohl
Email: virtualsportsman@gmail.com
Twitter: @virtuallymatt

Baseball will sorely miss Chipper Jones. In one player you had one of the ten best third basemen in history, arguably one of the top three switch hitters in history, an MVP, a World Series Champion, an eight time all-star, a batting title winner, a surefire Hall of Famer, and one of the few players who had no problem taking a lower paying contract to stay and help his team. The Braves really had a top tier guy with Jones and they were lucky to have him and keep him for 19 seasons. Just ask Todd Van Poppel.

The MLB was lucky to have him as well. With all the performance enhancing what-have-yous and ugly ugly UGLY things going on in baseball and professional sports in general in the last 20 years, players of Chipper’s ilk are a heavenly shining light of hope for a game slowly losing public interest to other less classy endeavors. Jones’ retirement makes professional baseball a little less comfortable and a lot less polished. I’m not saying that baseball needs spotless players who keep a Clark Kent lifestyle and share his sense of truth, justice, and yada yada yada, but I cannot stress enough that it’s becoming harder to find those types in the sea of douchebaggery that seems to have invaded professional sports. When a juiced up ass like Alex Rodriguez is paid more than a consistently productive stand up player like Chipper Jones, it means that there are many misplaced priorities in the sport.

I had said in a previous article that my first baseball team love was the Atlanta Braves. I literally began following baseball in a serious way in 1990. It may be just a coincidence that Chipper Jones was the first overall pick in the 1990 draft, but baseball is a superstitious beast. Who am I to say it wasn’t fate that the beginning of my interest in baseball wasn’t destined to parallel the start of such an auspicious career? I’m pretty sure at this point that I’m coming off like a Chipper Jones super fan, but to an extent I am. Jones started playing for the Braves organization at the time when my baseball senses were at their highest. This, like many, was when I was a child with  rookie cards and all and it didn’t hurt that TBS broadcasted every single Braves game into my living room. How else does a kid from Illinois get to name Tom Glavine as his favorite pitcher of all time? It sure as hell wasn’t from watching him play with the Mets. I’m a huge fan of what I can see and I saw more of the Atlanta Braves between 1990 and 1999 than any other team in baseball. I felt the sting of loss in 1992 and the immense joy of victory 1995. I still consider myself lucky to have been able to see a decent amount of Chipper’s MVP season in 1999. After that cable got a bit too expensive.

After that I was forced to watch the Cubs.

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I continued to follow as best as I could, but to be perfectly honest I lost track of the man for a while. I was surprised to find him still there when I heard he won the NL batting title in 2008. Then when I came back to baseball for good a few years ago I found he was still waiting for me. He was still in the same uniform and he was still great. It’s hard to imagine another player doing the same thing in this era of big dollar free agents and inflated egos. I assumed a solid consistent player like ol’ Chipper would seep through the cracks and decline as his career went on but he hadn’t.

Chipper Jones IS a Hall of Fame player. In the truest sense of it. When his name hits the ballot in five years, there won’t be any doubt about his chances. There won’t be any questions about his character. No one will be saying “he’s just getting in because there’s nobody worth voting for this time.” They won’t wait until he dies to say yes.

There will be no asterisk mentioned.

I’m hoping he won’t be the last player we can say those things about. Let’s face it. If there’s a question about a player, then the Hall of Fame shouldn’t be the answer. I hope sports writers will think of Chipper Jones just a little bit when they vote for the 2013 inductees. It’s a high bar to set, but it’s worth raising our standards if it means we get to keep the integrity of the game of baseball intact.

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We can call this new standard “The Chipper Line.”

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Foreword by Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr.

HEY YOU! YEAH YOU! WANT TO KNOW HOW TO COOK LIKE THE EXPRESS? WELL CHOO CHOO MOTHERFUCKER YOU BETTER BUCKLE UP BECAUSE THE RAPE TRAIN AIN’T GOT NO BRAKES AND IT’S COMING FOR YOUR MOUTH NOW! LEARN HOW TO COOK LIKE A MAN WITH ME, LYNN NOLAN RYAN JR.!

Scott Feldman

Feldman’s inability to strand runners and keep them from scoring ultimately got him booted from the Rangers rotation. Before that, he was showing some pretty decent skills, with career bests in both strikeout and walk rates. Unfortunately, he was either leaving too many meatballs over the plate or just suffering from some poor fortune, as his line drive rate was a whopping 26%. He might even consider himself lucky for only allowing a .318 BABIP, but to be fair, he also induced pop-ups at a strong 15.2%. Feldman has been in and out of the Rangers rotation and has typically fared poorly, and at this point of his career, there’s little reason to expect much differently going forward.”

Fangraphs.com

 

“Feldman, 29, posted a 5.09 ERA in 123 2/3 innings (21 starts, eight relief appearances) for Texas this season. He recorded a sharp 3.0 K/BB, but a poor 10.1 hits allowed per nine innings kept runners circling the bases. He is largely a control-and-finesse pitcher, striking out just 96 batters and allowing a high 82.5 percent contact rate. The danger of giving up contact so often — particularly with a fastball averaging just 90.5 mph — is plenty of chances for hits to fall in, and that did in Feldman this season.”

CBS Sports

“Now in his eighth season with the Rangers, Feldman has amassed a 4.84 ERA, 5.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 across seven-hundred nineteen career innings. The way Feldman’s contract was structured may lead one to believe the Rangers were hoping to see growth from the right-hander that just has not occurred. There are several reasons I am not a general manager, but $9.25 million seems like a lot to give to a long reliever and sometime spot-starter putting up replacement level numbers.”

SB Nation

“In the closing of the post, I noted that Feldman “might be one of the best buys on the market.” Well, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s headed to the north side of Chicago — the Cubs are making themselves the destination for undervalued starting pitchers.”

Fangraphs.com

“Though Feldman had a 5.08 ERA last season, his 3.81 FIP gives reason for optimism. His strikeout rate jumped to a career-high 17.9 percent, and his walk rate plummeted to just four percent, both good indicators of an improving player. One of the reasons for such a large difference between Feldman’s ERA and his FIP can be found in Feldman’s ability to hold runners on base. Last season, Feldman only stranded 61 percent of all runners on base. That’s far off his career-average, which sits at 67.1 percent. A difference that large is likely to bounce back, and should contribute to Feldman being more effective next year.”

CBS Sports

“In 2012, he was healthy, but not that great: 29 appearances, 21 starts, with a 5.06 ERA and 1.383 WHIP. The Cubs are hoping the transition to the National League will help those numbers improve;”

SB Nation

 

It’s odd how a player’s outlook can improve by simply signing with another team. Jed Hoyer said this of Feldman: “If you look inside his [2012] numbers, they weren’t what he hoped but he also was one of the least lucky pitchers. It wasn’t as bad as the ERA on paper.” I’m not quite convinced that Feldman will have enough success to bring back value in a trade or last 180 ip. I do think the Cubs will have to tinker with his stuff for him to be successful. A move from Arlington to Wrigley isn’t as kind as people make it out to be.

Here are his home road splits over his career. Take from that what you will…

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mrubiophoto52@gmail.com
twitter: @MRubio52

Cubs fans should take note of the Evan Longoria extension. The 3B is locked up to be in Tampa Bay until 2023, well beyond his peak value as a player. His best years are likely to be in Tampa (unless he is traded).

Chicago Cubs fans have a reflex, a default setting that refuses to be turned off. We desperately want to win a World Series but our collective idea of how that should be accomplished is just off. When Prince Fielder hit the free agent market while the Cubs were beginning the tear down phase we the fans judged that the big market Cubs should sign Fielder and try to compete THIS YEAR.

In fact, anytime a free agent hits the market (Pujols comes to mind immediately) we the Cubs fans pine for said player  desperately hoping that he is the solution to the apparent Curse of the Cubs. It’s what we default to. It’s how we react to big names that can be had for big bucks.

It’s incredibly short-sighted and given recent events it’s likely to become more and more unlikely.

TV revenue is going up in baseball which means that more teams have more money to play with. I mean hell, the Dodgers pulled off trades for Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, and Brandon League while taking on an ungodly amount of payroll and then bid 25.7MM to have exclusive negotiating rights with Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin. And none of that money matters as much because they just got a TV deal worth 6-7 billion dollars. I think they will be able to afford to keep their young talent on the roster.

More teams are going to try and extend their talent like the Nationals did with Zimmerman, what the Rays just did with Longoria, and what the Cubs did with Castro. The upcoming free agent classes are pretty weak. Going on a spending spree and trying to fix it all via free agency is a flawed plan, there aren’t enough solutions that are likely to hit the market anytime soon.

We don’t like the rebuilding thing. It bothers us as fans. I’ve heard a lot of arguments to the contrary, mainly the “I pay a lot of money for season tickets I want them to go for it NOW!” variety (other hits? “How long do I have to wait?” “We’re a big market team we should spend like a big market team.” “We don’t know if any of the prospects will be any good.”).

Yet the Cubs will continue to rebuild. In all honesty the complete tear down isn’t quite complete yet. Soriano and Garza are still on the books and we’re only one draft into this experiment.

The Cubs are going to have to do this with smart player development and good trades. You know, do it like a good baseball organization. There is a tremendous organization in the NL Central that the Cubs will have to deal with. The St. Louis Cardinals have a tremendous mix of star players and great young talent waiting for their turn. If you think the Cubs best option for dealing with a Cardinals organization that is capable of unloading and reloading with good talent is to spend short-term and have an empty cupboard of minor league talent…well, I can’t help you then.

Because I don’t.

Ahh…just 132 days until Opening Day. It doesn’t feel that far away! Well, actually, yes, it feels very very far away.

The White Sox released their Spring Training schedule today, however. Feel free to enjoy it.

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by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.

email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

“Remember where they were when Pujols had no homers for two months? The thing is they finish in the exact same spot with or without him (Trout) and there was a dominant player to take his team to the playoffs in Miggy.”

-The Internet

Let’s get this out-of-the-way, I don’t think Miguel Cabrera had a better year than Mike Trout did and I also think he was a fine choice for the MVP. This isn’t a case of Zolio Versalles winning the MVP award. It’s not a travesty, nobody was “robbed” of anything, it’s a choice that a group of older baseball writers made and it’s probably the last dying gasp of the dinosaurs that guard the game.

Essentially what the BBWAA told us is that Miggy carried his team to the playoffs while Trout put up empty selfish numbers that did not help his team as much as Miggy did. They are positing that it does not matter that Trout did what he did because the Angels would’ve been in the same place had he not existed at all in 2012.

This is ludicrous and ultimately where I take issue with the MVP vote.

Saying Miggy carried the Tigers to the playoffs assumes that Justin Verlander did not go 5-1 in Sept./Oct. (posting a 1.93 ERA with a 4-1 K/BB ratio), assumes that Prince Fielder didn’t OPS .978 over the same span, assumes that there was zero production from Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer and it also assumes that the White Sox did not collapse in the final stretch of the season.

The Angels actually outplayed the Tigers in a tougher division against tougher opposition, and Mike Trout did put up historic numbers as well. If we look at the whole set of statistics and how they helped their respective teams you have to say that Mike Trout contributed more en total on both offense and defense than Miggy did. This is a case that can be made without the “scary stat-head” creation, WAR. Mike Trout was 4 points of average behind Miguel Cabrera. If Trout gets 5 more hits over the course of a long season he is likely the MVP. Trout got on base at a better clip than Miggy did, Trout did more damage while on base via his ability to steal bases at a high percentage and his base running skills. Mike Trout plays a premium defensive position at an extremely high level, Miggy struggles at an easier defensive position.

The larger conclusion out of this is that the MVP voters do not value defense at all and only see this as a best hitter award which they still arguably got wrong.

Baseball is a game of individual match ups but it’s not basketball, an individual does not give a team +30 Wins. Giving Miggy the award isn’t a crime, but the made up reasons for giving him the award is sad.

Old man rant

I’ve seen a lot of stupid on the internet in recent days. Most of it stems from ESPN blowhards like Rob Parker who still insist that numbers are scary and the WAR guys are still crying in their chocolate milk.

This fucking guy

In the larger picture all the bullshit opinions you’ll read on Twitter usually stem from this “Embrace Debate” crap First Take is shoving down viewer’s throats. This has been extremely well documented elsewhere, ESPN has figured out that what gets people to watch is two guys yelling at each other on every single sports subject there is. This is ridiculous because it assumes that every sports topic has two equal views worth debating.

That line of thinking is false and insane.

You see, what happens when we all “Embrace Debate” on every single issue is that you end up with a lot of wrong, uninformed, stupid idiots on twitter making fun of guys who look at the sport they cover in an objective manner. This doesn’t accomplish anything and it only serves to clutter intellectual space in the collective sports consciousness.

To put it bluntly, it fills our heads with useless bullshit.

What it creates is an entire segment of the sports watching community that thinks they are right and only pursues the information that confirms what they think. Instead of objective analysis we get buzzwords and highlights. Instead of an open exchange of ideas we get people yelling at each other. Instead of people looking to advance the conversation we get a group of people who believe that their way is the right way and there is nothing that can possibly augment or enhance their way of thinking.

Terms like underrated, overrated, great, elite, awful, lose their meaning because they are so often used and misused. We are a sports viewing culture that cares only about the extremes and cares not for the subtlety of it all.

Look, I get that I’m going off on something that really doesn’t matter. It’s just sports. I do think that this is perhaps reflective of our overall line of thinking, however. It’s disheartening to see professionals deny a new idea merely because it flies in the face of what they believe to be an absolute truth.

It reflects poorly on the culture overall when the rejection of new ideas is encouraged.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.

email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

“I’m hoping we can get this thing moving along. I’m hoping to re-energize (South Florida elected officials). We all have to get together to make this thing happen — everybody who wants to save baseball in South Florida.”

-Jeffery Loria

Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonafacio, Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, John Buck, Josh Johnson. That was the 2012 Opening Day lineup for the Miami Marlins. The same Miami Marlins that went on a spending spree that winter, acquiring Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes. Those Marlins fooled the city of Miami, Miami Dade County, and the state of Florida to invest in a brand new ballpark as a new era of competitive baseball in South Florida was about to begin.

At least that’s what Jeffery Loria told everybody who would listen. He was fucking lying.

Look, we shouldn’t be surprised. This is the same franchise that sold off their best players following a World Series win in 1997. This is the same piece of shit owner that played hard ball with the Expos, sold them to MLB under conspicuous terms, bought the Marlins in a sketchy deal right afterwards, and proceeded to build a World Series Winner…

…And then sold off the pieces again in 2005.

12/5/11: “The owner, Jeffrey Loria, he really wants to win,” [Heath] Bell said. “I heard great things about the ownership there.”

 -@joe_sheehan

 

In an ideal world the Marlins would be contracted. It’s pretty clear that Florida cannot support a Major League Baseball team. They’ve had several chances to enjoy a great Tampa Bay  franchise and they drag ass in the attendance standings. They don’t go to Marlins games. They don’t care about MLB baseball.

The Marlins are a mockery. Heading into the year they were riding high on hype. They sold the baseball viewing public on the acquisitions of high-priced talent and then starting selling that talent midstream. Hanley Ramirez is a Dodger. Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes are about to become Blue Jays. In return the Marlins will get cheap talent and try to sell Miami on a rebuilding plan that might pay off in a few years.

That’s what 508.8 MM will get you, Miami, a half-assed promise of being good in a few years only to watch the owner rinse and repeat.

There’s a strong possibility that it will too, but to what end? So that the talent that becomes great in 2016 gets traded in 2017? Usually a rebuilding plan has a model of sustainable success as it’s centerpiece. The Marlins plan usually ends in another fire sale, not an extended period of competition. I mean at this point MLB has more than enough teams. You can contract two and be perfectly fine.

That won’t happen though.

In a slightly less ideal world the Marlins would move out of Florida and into another market that at least has a chance at sustaining attendance numbers. Florida baseball doesn’t draw. It’s embarrassing. Maybe this would be a great opportunity to expand to San Juan Puerto Rico. Maybe you get crazy and go to New Orleans. I mean at this point so long as the Marlins are not in Florida I can live with it.

That won’t happen either.

All of what Loria has done, from the shady deals to extorting the city out of money, makes him a baseball villain. He is well on his way to surpassing Hal Chase as the biggest villain in baseball history. It is grounds for dismissal from baseball. He is a fucking joke. He is Rachel Phelps. It’s time to remove him as an owner because he’s embarrassing the brand.

Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen either.

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