Siberian Baseball

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Countdown to the Trade Deadline

Baseball Tonight just wrapped up its Saturday trade deadline special and as I don't have inSider with ESPN, I just jotted notes as Buster Olney gave away the top bullet points.

I'm cheap like that.

Bobby Abreu to the Yankees? Looks kinda sketchy. Would you want to be Philly's GM explaining this the year after letting Jim Thome go and watching him find new life in Chicago?

Yeah, me neither.

Brad Lidge to Rangers? I have no idea why this made the end of the show graphic. They shot this one down as they were talking about it. Get your shit together, ESPN. First Soriano to Chicago, now this?

Just for the sake of arguement, can you imagine his trade value at this time last year? Or if last year's post-season never happened?

Miguel Tejada to Houston? Whoever gets Tejada should be a happy, happy team. After watching him play quite a bit in Baltimore, I'm a believer.

Alfonso Soriano still waiting to be dealt? The Twins are the fashionable team as frontrunners today. They were playing last week's frontrunners, the Tigers. As much as Minnesota makes me nervous (and skeptical) as contenders, add Soriano and they immediately become serious players in the AL Wild Card race.


Phillies looking to move Jon Lieber? Eh. So? I have nothing to say here. Instead, did you see Manny Ramirez make that throw home today? Wow, it's amazing what happens when he gives a damn.

Also, the Neifi Perez out on So Taguchi when Taguchi missed tagging back on second base in the Cubs/Cards game today? Pretty crazy, too.

How sick do you feel if you're a Phillies fan watching Cole Hamels get drilled? Hungover sick or bad clams sick?

Red Sox large 3 or 4 team deal? Mike Lowell and San Diego's favorite stable pony Scott Linebrink are rumored to be pieces of this trade. As always, the more teams and crazy double- and triple-loopbacks between teams for salary reasons and other concerns, the less likely the teams will make the trade.

The so-so Coco Crisp was reportedly offered straight up for the struggling Mark Buehrle and that deal was shot down. The chances of pulling off all the necessary twists and turns in time makes things dicey at best.

And finally, while not technically part of the final rundown, check the power rankings. Anyone who needs more fuel for the "NL teams are slipping aginst the AL" fire needs only to count to 10.

Top four are AL teams and seven of the top 10. Subjective rankings? Sure, but give me a strong arguement of which NL teams should be there that aren't. Exactly.

(Image from the New Number Two -

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


I was cruising the Outlet today and found a few cool items in just a few minutes.

Between my teams, friends and a brother in law who are White Sox fans and just general baseball stuff, I'll find things every now and again.

In the middle of all this, I question how's pricing department employees walk with testicles that big the financial prudence of charging $143.97 (plus shipping!) for their leftover Nomar Garciaparra jerseys.

If I was a gambler, I'd buy as many of these as possible and beat Mitchell and Ness at their own game in 15 years.

You know, in a perfect world, a shortstop who was injured for 80 perecent of his tenure with a given team wouldn't have such a steep price tag associated with his obsolete jerseys... I'm just saying, is all.

(Image from

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Time to check the brakes on the Twins bandwagon

It's getting to be pretty unsafe riding the Twins bandwagon these days. It's crowded, it's moving too fast and people are expecting too much out of it, which means a serious crash would cause pretty severe injuries.

After winning 34 of the past 43 games (including last night's loss to the Tigers despite Francisco Liriano's 12 strikeouts) people were getting pretty dizzy in the Twin Cities. Frank the Tank and I went back and forth a bit about fan bases this week and we had a pretty good time with that.

After spending much of the week in the truck, I've been catching a lot of sports talk lately. Honestly, it's out of control.

Some of the hosts whipped people into a frenzy with talk of the "unbeatable Twins." I'm pretty sure they were kidding. I'm also pretty sure the callers were not.

Even Buster Olney got into the act - publishing this gem this week -

If you doled out truth serum to the White Sox, they'd probably admit they are worried about the Twins, because on those days when Santana and Francisco Liriano start, they are all but unbeatable. Since April 27, the Twins are 27-4 in games started by the hard-throwing left-handers, and an .871 winning percentage for a couple of your starters usually translates pretty well in a pennant race, as the ring-heavy veterans from the Schilling-Johnson '01 Diamondbacks will testify.

As the Twins' pitching continues to get better and better, the White Sox pitching has become a problem rather than a solution, with the ERA of Chicago's starters now up to 4.64. No wonder that as rival executives speak with White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, their sense is that he is looking to shake things up, looking to make a deal. Wanting doesn't always mean doing -- remember how frustrated Williams was last year when he couldn't get a deal done before the deadline? -- but the desire is there. Chicago is struggling, although I don't know that adding Alfonso Soriano is necessarily the solution or even within Williams' grasp. The White Sox need better pitching, either from the guys they have or from somebody they might acquire. Williams is a deal-maker and so is Oakland GM Billy Beane, and you have to wonder if Barry Zito's name will come up in their conversations this week.

Here's the problem with that logic - the Twins are not the 2001 Diamondbacks.

Here, look:
Catcher: Damian Miller / Joe Mauer
1B: Mark Grace / Justin Morneau
2B: Jay Bell / Luis Castillo
3B: Matt Williams / Nick Punto
SS: Tony Womack / Jason Bartlett
LF: Luis Gonzalez / Rondell White
CF: Steve Finley / Jason Tyner
RF: Reggie Sanders / Michael Cuddyer

(As a side note, the Twins depth chart has no listing for center field on their Web site and only White out in left.)

While the Twins have arguable upgrades at a few positions, the outfield is no contest (even if Torii Hunter was back), it's not like they're loaded at this point. Keep in mind what a slow start they saw to begin the season.

Not to take anything away from the Twins and what they've done so far - to claw back into the race with the roster they've put together is nothing short of amazing - but this team should be making Twins fans nervous.

The continued success of the Twins hinges on solid output from Punto, White and Tyner. Compare that to the White Sox rotation finding its bearings or the newly revamped Texas Rangers beginning to take over with the addition of Carlos Lee's bat to the lineup.

That's a pretty simple question there - who do you trust more: The White Sox pitchers, Texas' bats or Punto, White and Tyner?

Game 2 against Detroit is tonight at the Dome - we'll see what happens.

Monday, July 24, 2006

White Sox fans rejoice!

While it's not official yet, ESPN is reporting that Alfonso Soriano will be rented by the Chicago White Sox for the remainder of the season.

The Detroit Tigers have just vaulted ahead to lead the American League in SPR (shit to pants ratio - it's a technical term we Sabermaticians use).

This is on the heels of the acquisition of Mike MacDougal from the Royals who was a fantasy darling in his All-Star 2003 rookie season until being sidelined by arm trouble. All told, it's shaping up to be a good month for the White Sox on the trade front.

Damn, that kills me to have to admit that.

Adding one of the most productive hitters of the season (31 HR / 62 RBI / .361 OBP / .288 Avg.) to a lineup that didn't really need the help seems a little unfair. Like having a knife in a gunfight unfair.

Enjoy that Yankees, Twins, Blue Jays, Rangers and Angels fans. Tiger fans, you might want to take a minute and wipe up a little.

We'll wait.

* Also off the wires today, the Washington Nationals have a new daddy! According to ESPN, Major League Baseball has announced the official transfer of ownership from MLB to a group headed by Ted Lerner; named Mike Rizzo assistant general manager and vice president of baseball operations. First order of business? Keep your team's only real star from flying the coop to keep your fan base in check. Or immediately trade him to the White Sox.

* Sandy's back in Chicago with the eldest Alomar brother coming back one more time for the White Sox. How old is that guy now? 45? 50?

* Bob Wickman is living out of a HoJo's in Atlanta now, signaling the end of Cleveland's season. Hope you had fun, Indians fans. Your team no longer cares this year. Now, who the fuck is Max Ramirez?

* The Cubs have polished brass (the Scott Williamson for prospects trade) and rearranged deck chairs (Derek Lee to the DL) on the Titanic. This has been going on in some way, shape or form every season since 50 years before the actual Titanic sank.

(Image from - Yes, that's William Lidge. Yes, he's drinking to Soriano tonight.)

Blind squirrel, meet nut




In Interweb speak, "WTF?" In Spanish it's a simple, "Que?" In my house, it's, "Rondell White did what?" running neck and neck with "How many skulls did you find hidden in the wall downstairs?" in terms of shocking news.

One of my bosses pointed this out just as things were starting to get interesting. With Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart sidelined with girls' names, White was released from death row and brought back for one more cup of coffee.

What happened?

After hitting .136 in March and April, .263 in May, .059 in eight games in June and having zero home runs in that time with 15 RBI, he exploded after the All-Star Break, hitting .448 with three homers (two on July 19) and 10 RBI. The full stats are here and are pretty shocking to see when they get laid out like that.

It's been pretty funny to listen to AM radio following this recent surge by White. This is a guy who was batting 0.79 early in the season and despite his outburst is now at .219 today. This man is not your savior.

He's a good patch and can give you some production, but Twins fans are a little to optimistic right now. As the pennant race begins to heat up in August, the Twins are running a tough race to keep up with the Wild Card teams and if they hang around will do so because of great pitching from Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will keep the offense moving and there are a few role players who will be valuable if the team has any hope of October baseball.

However, to count on White as a consistent contributor seems far-fetched. While he has been a likeable player and never lashed out at the media or fans as he was being openly mocked, I can't imagine sitting in a bar five years from now and recounting White's heroics as he led the Twins to an improbable Wild Card berth.

While I can see this happening with plenty of players - including any of the four Twins mentioned above - I cannot in good conscience believe in the Rondell White-related playoff run. Especially when our sample size come at the hands of Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

When it happens in Chicago or Detroit, then maybe.

"Rondell's a sleeper!" my gleeful employer told me.

"Sometimes dead people look like they're sleeping," was my only reply.

(Photo from

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Win some, lose most

It inspired. It uplifted the community. It raised the ire of Devil Rays fans. It was more than a little off-base.

My bad, but at least this isn't the only mea culpa floating around these days...

In terms of stupid ideas, listing preseason predictions down the right column of a blog has to be up there, but I'll stand by my best guesses and see how things wash out in the second half. Just after the break, here's how it looks.

Predictions are to the left, with the actual standings today to the right and how many games everyone are behind the leaders.

If only there was a way for me to capitalize on picking the final three spots in each division while still crapping the bed on the eventual winners, I'd have a corner on the Internet oddsmaking department.
AL East
New YorkBoston (X)
BostonNew York (1)
TorontoToronto (4)
BaltimoreBatimore (13.5)
Tampa Bay Tampa Bay (15)
AL Central
ChicagoDetroit (X)
ClevelandChicago (4)
MinnesotaMinnesota (12)
DetroitCleveland (19.5)
Kansas City Kansas City (29.5)
AL West
OaklandOakland (X)
Los AngelesTexas (.5)
SeattleLos Angeles (2.5)
TexasSeattle (3.5)
NL East
AtlantaNew York (X)
New York Phildelphia (12)
WashingtonAtlanta (12.5)
PhiladelphiaFlorida (14)
FloridaWashington (16)
NL Central
St. Louis St. Louis (X)
ChicagoCincinnati (4)
MilwaukeeHouston (7)
HoustonMilwaukee (7.5)
CincinnatiChicago (16)
PittsburghPitsburgh (20.5)
NL West
Los Angeles San Diego (X)
San Diego Los Angeles (3)
San Francisco San Francisco (3)
ArizonaArizona (4)
ColoradoColorado (4.5)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Of home runs and furry horses

Not to take anything away from Ryan Howard and his win in the home run derby last night, but let's face it, it wasn't much to write home about.

Worse was the hype being spat out by the ESPN crew.

"It's a coming out party for these young stars like Howard and David Wright!" I'll give you that, especially for Howard. Maybe now he can stop living in the shadow of a slugger who left the team in the offseason. Anyone who didn't know Wright before last night hasn't been paying attention.

"The NL has a good crop of young guys ready to turn the corner to superstardom! Look! Look!" Easy, Tiger... Yes, there are some great young guys in the NL, but it's not like the AL's starting nine are ready for Medicare yet. And let's not forget the AL's crop of rookies and sophomores, either. Let's just pump the brakes a bit on the NL bandwagon before we get too out of control.

"This is definitive proof that the NL will return to dominance in the next 45 days!" Whoa! Just, slow down. How did we make that leap of faith?

While it's great that for the second year in a row an NL guy (and a Phillie, no less) won the home run derby, let's just step back a second and try to assess just how far in the hole the NL has gotten. I'd say using the home run derby as a sign of its revival tells us all we need to know.

While neither league had a sparkling crop this year - especially in some key positions like second and center field - it seems very premature that we're using this as the clarion call for the NL. Yes, you won the home run derby. Yes, it was fun for a night. No, it does not mean that the NL win win the World Series this year. Or next. Or even the one after that...

Are the NL teams as bad as wants us to believe? No. Are they competitive with the AL? Look at the interleague results.

In any event, the end of the derby left me with a pretty foul taste in my mouth as the announcers tried to overhype the significance of the win by Howard.

Saying that the NL is on par because of his championship is like saying that Peru is on the same economic playing field with the US because they won the head to head matchup in llama exports. It's a start, but let's not get carried away.

(Image from:

Monday, July 10, 2006

All-Star Lame

"Hey, are you going to go home and watch the home run derby tonight?" asked a co-worker as he was leaving the office tonight.

"The What-what Derby?" I asked.

Oh, right. Home Run Derby... yeah, about that...

Just as Bill Simmons has his plan to rescue the NBA's mid-season circle jerk, I came up with no fewer than three new events for baseball to try on in lieu of the usual snooze-fest that is the homer contest. Seeing as the celebrity softball game is much more entertaining than the events featuring the actual stars, it's not like there's a lot to lose.

First, taking the premise of the NHL's All-Star weekend, why doesn't MLB adopt an overall skills competition? Even the NFL has the fastest man and various QB competitions, so it's not like we're reinventing the wheel.

Rather, it's like slapping someone upside the head and pointing repeatedly while yelling, "Wheel, dumbass! Wheel!"

Borrow the breakaway plates from the NHL and have catchers try to break them as they are placed inches above second. Have a speedster like Scott Podsednik try to reach second before the outfield can throw a ball from left to right and back in. See how many pichers can break a few dishes given a running clock and 10 baseballs.

How can this idea lose?

Adding even a few new events would break the stale atmosphere that surrounds the All-Star events and might make the game watchable again. Wouldn't it be nice to see Jason Varitek and Joe Mauer square off as they try to pick off virtual runners with five targets and 10 balls?

Hell, people pay to do this shit at a carnival, right?

Without getting too over the top and full of beans (I propose a boxing match between AJ Pierzinski and a kangaroo or maybe a robot) here are a few quick ideas that I wouldn't even demand credit for on a national stage - however a small stipend might be nice.

* Catcher Pickoff - The cornerstone of this brainstorm. Take 10 balls, five targets and let fly like the NHL shooting competition. Let's see who comes out on top for the "defensive" catchers of the league who can't hit worth a damn, but keep their jobs on the strength of their arms.

* Around the Horn - Ball starts in left field and a runner starts from home plate. The ball must go from left to right field before it can be thrown to second. Might need tweaking depending on how quickly the ball goes around the outfield. Maybe a simpler version with an OF, cutoff man and catcher in a race home from third would be better.

I'm cool either way.

* MLB's Fastest Man - The NHL and NFL have this competition, why not here? Two runners race to first base in a simple footrace to answer who's faster - Ichiro or Juan Pierre?

* Pitching Control - Get more plates and see how many pitches it takes to paint all the corners of the plate. Simple, simple.

* Pitching Velocity - Another one stolen from the NHL, but get a half dozen flamethrowers together to see who has the fastest stuff in the league. Who knows, Kyle Farnsworth might be a winner for the first time in his life.

Let's get it cracka-lackin' MLB. We'll be waiting for a significant improvement next year.

(Images from /

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Baseball corners the market on another nerd-based industry

Wired has a good piece on and how it's helping to revolutionize the online world and maybe level the playing field as part of the CBA.

The article can be found here.

I guess I didn't realize that the servers handled all the traffic for the NCAA tournament in March - pretty impressive. Now managing the MLS and World Track Championships? Not so much.

Those sites have to pull what - three four guests and hour? Kind of like bragging about handling site traffic for this blog.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Case closed

I'll spare you the All-Star rant right now. The rosters have some ugly spots as always, but I don't have the strength right now and it's passable on the whole.

Still, it was interesting to see that the top names in the bullpen for the AL were new kids with Bobby Jenks and Jonathan Papelbon. I've been thinking about closers for a few days now since Joe Nathan notched his 100th career save against the Cubs last weekend in Minneapolis.

Frank the Tank and I have gone back and forth about closers and what we'd be looking for if we were GMs.

Seeing Joe Nathan on a more consistient basis makes me appreciate what he brings to the table, but I still contend (and not necessarily against Frank's opinions) that while every team has a guy at the end of the bench, it takes a special breed of cat to close out games.

Even more rare are guys who can come in and break a team's spirit. That list more or less began and ended with Mariano Rivera and Eric Gagne.

Leading the majors in saves (and yes, I know that it's a pretty artificial stat and that the A's have figured out ways to exploit it for cash considerations) as of today are Jenks (25), Papelbon (25), Jason Isringhausen (24), Derrick Turnbow(23), Todd Jones (22), BJ Ryan (22), Tom Gordon (21), Trevor Hoffman (20), Brad Lidge (20), Chris Ray (20), Francisco Rodriguez (19), and Rivera (18).

I had to expand that to a top 12 to get K Rod and Rivera in there. Huston Street is 13th and the list goes on from there.

The truth is that no one is really going out there and terrifying teams right now. There are a few guys you really don't want to see, but no one on par with Rivera in his untouchable prime. For me, that's the key - it's not so much a matter of how well you're throwing as much as what the batters are seeing.

Begining as a throw away position at a time when relievers were starters who couldn't hack it and were used only when a starter couldn't pitch the whole game, relievers started to come into their own in the 70's.

Some guys will never pull off the requisite swagger. See Exhibit A, LaTroy Hawkins. After doing well as the set up man in Minnesota he was given the keys and got his ass handed to him for the better part of two seasons. I was there when he was booed at last year's home opener and saw him implode again this year in the Metrodome as a long reliever.

Now look at Jenks and Papelbon who aren't world-beaters yet, but after being thrown to the wolves have thrived.

All of this swirls about in the debate over closers, ranging from pure stats to my favorite indicator - do you want to hit the reset button on the PS2 when that guy comes in at the end of the game against you? As it stands from looking at the saves leaders right now, I'm still waiting to see who steps up as the next big closer in the majors.

The way I see it, there are a few key factors here:

* Strong arm
* Short memory
* Reputation
* Mean streak
* Winning team (no brainer as without save situations, there's little reason for a closer)
* Fan confidence
* Cool song

Who will be the next Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, Mo Rivera or Lee Smith? Smart money says it's not going to be any of the middle relievers in circulation right now. Gagne is having a hard time staying in the lineup and Rivera has lost his untouchable status (but remains one of the top few closers in the league despite his demotion from unhittable god).

Who'll be next? Who has the lack of brains or abundance of stones to step in and shut down games day after day? As the Tank is fond of pointing out, it's probably not going to be Ryan Dempster (see number 5).

(Image from


Back in the saddle

One of the nice things about being a baseball fan is being able to check out for a few days or weeks and not missing a whole lot. During a busy week I can see a few games and be just as much in the loop as I would be if I watched 15 or 20.

This may be because I don't pay a lot of attention to begin with, but that's just splitting hairs.

While I plan on restocking the blog tomorrow, it's worth noting that when we got back in tonight, I started surfing around a bit and saw that the Twins have stayed red hot and according to Deadspin's calculations, have won 20 of their last 22.

"They're still like 11 games back, right?" asked the girl and she's right, they're 10 games back. Detroit is 8-2 and Chicago is 7-3 in the past 10 games, so they only made up two games in the past 10 games.


When we talk Twins at work, the consensus is that it's great for the team, but they're in the wrong division to make a run regardless of how hot they get. Unfortunately, no one seems to be paying much attention to Detroit or Chicago's record when they hear that the Twins won on the radio on the drive to work.