This is Chuck's platform to share what he thinks. Feel free to express your approval or disagreement with Chuck in our Reader Forum.

 

1/21/06

Sorry for the lagging of new content. Busy home lives have kept us from being as active on the site as we had liked. Enough about me...let's talk more about me. What I mean is "let's take a look at my entries throughout the 2005 season and use hindsight to see how big an idiot I am."

 

  • On 2/26/05, I dissed Ken Griffey Jr. for being injury prone. I was wrong about him in 2005, however. It took until only one month left in the season for him to suffer a season-ending injury. Please accept my deepest and most sincere apologies.

  • My concerns about the health of the Marlins pitching staff were proven to be overdramatic. With all the early-season complete games, Beckett, Burnett & Willis didn't suffer any serious threat to their arms. Perhaps we won't see the effect until 2006.

  • On 5/3/05, everybody was talking about how horrible the Yankees were. I said "they're not done yet" and expected over 90 wins. They finished in a tie for first with 95 wins. Mark that one up in my favor.

  • On 5/23/05 I said the Twins were still the team to beat in the AL Central. I also said that Marlins would stay in it for the long haul with the Braves. I must not have been having a good day.

  • 7/6/05 was a good day for me. Yankees were 4 games out, I said they'd still win the division. They did. (Well, they tied.) The Twins were my only pre-season pick as division winner that I considered conceding. The Angels hung on to their division lead, the Braves more than made up their 4.5 game deficit to the Nationals, and the Cardinals & Padres hung on to win their division leads. Correctly picking 5 out of 6 preseason division winners isn't bad.

  • My last entry was a long time ago (way too long ago) but it was dead-on. The big mid-season stories were the White Sox & Nationals. They both played their way to division leads with tremendous records in 1-run games. On this day, I exposed the Nationals for being frauds (they were) and propped the White Sox as legit (they were).

Maybe in 2006 I'll be able to post all the accurate prognostications and forget to post on the days I'll end up being dead wrong.

 

 

7/7/05

Two of the best stories this year involve the success of the White Sox and the Nationals. Other than being surprise first place teams, another thing they have in common is a terrific record in one-run games. Chicago is 22-8 and Washington is 23-7. To what do we owe credit for one-run wins? A good bullpen? A team just having the knack to pull it out?

 

Some take to think that a good record in one-run games is due to a quality bullpen. I don't think that's necessarily the case. Just because a team wins by a run doesn't mean that the bullpen did its job. Perhaps the team has a 3-run lead and a poor bullpen dwindled that lead down to 1. If the bullpen was any good, the team might win more 3-run games rather than winning by only one.

 

Or a team could be losing by several runs and a good bullpen will shut down the opposition and wait for the offense to come back. Only the offense doesn't come back all the way and falls short by a single run. In this case, the team with the good bullpen loses a one-run game. Does record in one-run games tell us anything about a bullpen? I don't think so.

 

I think there's room for discussion that a team that just "knows how to win" will win some one-run games. But how do we know that the team that does the little things to win will do so by a single run? Why couldn't they do the little things enough to win by 2, 3 or 4 runs? I don't think that's really the answer.

 

I think record in one-run games is mostly due to luck. Now I don't believe in luck as some mystical force or charm that brings good fortune. But rather, by luck I mean that things just happened to go their way. In other words, they caught some breaks and won or lost more close games than other teams simply due to circumstance; when the breaks fall and who the breaks favor.

 

So I don't think a good record in one-run games in an indication of the quality of a team. Sometimes a team looks better than they are because of an inflated record in one-run games. Maybe a series of bad breaks causes a team to lose several one-run games giving them a worse record than truly represents the quality of the team.

 

To truly determine the value of a team, I like to look at the reverse of one-run games. Is it not obvious that a team that wins by 2 or more runs regularly is better than a team with loses by 2+ runs more often than it wins?

 

The Reds are presently 21 games behind the Cardinals. Their respective records in one-run games are 12-14 and 14-12. St. Louis is barely any better than the Reds in games decided by one-runs games. The outcomes of these games are due to the circumstances of the breaks of a game. The fact that the Cardinals have won 40 games by 2+ runs and the Reds have won only 21 games by 2+ and have lost 37 is what tells us that the Cardinals are much better than the Reds. The Cardinals have only lost by 2+ 18 times. A team's true value comes out in when examining their record in games decided by 2+ runs.

 

A winning record in one-run games does not mean that team is necessarily any good. From the best team in baseball to the worst team in baseball, they are all capable of going about .500 in close games. It's the number of times a team is dominated or dominates the opposition is a better indication of how poor or good a team is. Even Tampa Bay is nearly .500, 11-13, in one-run games. Anybody can win one-run games. Anybody can lose one-run games.

 

Let's look at the White Sox and Nationals. Taking out the one-run games, the White Sox still have a record of 35-18, winning at a .660 pace. This tells me that the team's good record is not due to a series of fluky wins. They are winning several non-fluky games.

 

However, the Nationals are only 28-27 in games determined by 2+ runs. They are being dominated by their opponents as often as they dominate them. They've had several fluky wins.

 

Look for the Nationals to fall back to the pack in time.

 

 

7/6/05

Since we're at the midpoint of the season, let's look at how my division picks are doing:

AL East: I picked the Yankees. They're 4 games behind the Red Sox. I still think the Yankees will win it.

AL Central: I picked the Twins. They are 9.5 games behind the White Sox. I'd still take the Twins in a head-to-head series, but I can't say for sure that they'll catch Chicago.

AL West: I picked the Angels. They're in control, 7.5 ahead of the slumping Rangers and 9.5 ahead of the surging A's.

NL East: I picked the Braves. The Nationals have been a feel good story, but emotion and newness only lasts so long. The Braves will make up their current 4.5 game deficit to win the division.

NL Central: I picked the Cardinals. Who didn't? Is 12.5 games over a sub-.500 team enough to hang on? Definitely.

NL West: I picked the Padres. The rest of the division is sub-.500 and though their lead isn't great, I don't think they'll be caught.

 

The only division winner I might be partially willing to concede is the Twins to the White Sox. But I'm not willing to give up on that yet either. The White Sox have been driven by great pitching. If it keeps up, they should coast to 95-100 wins. An injury or slump to a starting pitcher here or there and they could drop to about 92-94 wins in which case the Twins could catch them.

 

My wildcard picks were Boston and Florida. The Red Sox are currently winning their division. The Marlins have been a bit sluggish, but they still are just 3.5 behind the Braves in the present wild card standings.

 

 

5/23/05

The Yankees are back in the race with a 10-game winning streak. Am I surprised? (read the May 3 entry below)

 

The White Sox have received tons of pub with their hot start, and deservedly so. This hot start has allowed the real team-to-beat in the division to go nearly unrecognized. Watch out for the Twins. Minnesota is hanging close and as soon as the White Sox cool off they'll suddenly find themselves in second place.

 

The best division race to watch is shaping up to be Florida & Atlanta. They're both good and they'll both be in it for the long haul. They will provide the most exciting division title run this year.

 

 

5/3/05

What's with all this talk about the Yankees panicking because of their lineup shuffling? They're just trying to make things work. Bernie Williams? He wasn't working out. So they bring up their best prospect in the upper half of their system hoping something else will work better.

 

Sure, there are concerns about their pitching and their age. But it's not unrealistic to think that a 90+ win team might have a sub-.500 month somewhere along the line. Maybe their sub-.500 month has already passed and they'll only climb the standings from here.

 

To be honest, I do think it's obvious that we're nearing the end of the Yankees' run, but unless they're still struggling at the All-Star Break, I won't believe they're done for yet. You shouldn't believe it either.

 

 

4/14/05

Is it just me? Or is anyone else scared for the health of the Marlins starting pitchers? Florida pitching coach Mark Wiley is old school. He's so old school he doesn't believe in pitch counts. He doesn't even keep track. Only 9 games into the season his starting pitchers have completed 4 of them. Sure, Josh Beckett, A. J. Burnett and Dontrelle Willis are good pitchers. And when they're pitching well, who would want to take them out of the game? I understand that. But I'm just a bit concerned, especially for guys like Beckett and Burnett who have had a history or arm problems. We'll see how long their health lasts. The Marlins will need them to compete for the division.

 

4/4/05

Not only is Tigers 22-year old Jeremy Bonderman the youngest pitcher to make an Opening Day start since Doc Gooden, but there were only two AL pitchers in 2004 who had more K/IN and fewer H/IN than Bonderman; Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez. Pretty good company to be in. Maybe this will be the breakout year for Bonderman that many are calling for. If not, he'll still be only 23 next year. And by the time he's 26 and has come into his own....he'll be free agent eligible and pitching elsewhere.

 

3/3/05

Thank you, Dwaine, for your contribution to our Reader Forum. I apologize for my recent comments indicating that I expect Griffey will be hurt again soon. I don't apologize that I implied he would be injured. I only apologize that I couldn't think of anything better on a subject that has been re-tread several times over the past few years. It's just that I logged on to mlb.com one day to see the big headline "Griffey Ready for a Healthy 2005." I just had to laugh and then get it off my chest.

 

The ironic thing is that just tonight I was looking at the Bill James Handbook (stat geek + Red Sox consultant = Bill James) and he forecasted the players most likely to be injured in 2005. Using regression analysis and all kinds of other geek formulas, James has studied the last 30+ years of baseball injuries and of the 6 players most likely to be injured entering the 2004 season, 4 of them did indeed suffer serious injuries

 

So, who does James have at the top of his list as the player most likely to suffer an injury in the 2005 season? That's right. Ken Griffey, Jr. Surprise, surprise. Suspects 2 through 5 include Cliff Floyd, Mark McLemore, Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield. Remember those names and we'll see later in the year whether Bill James and his injury predictor is full of crap.

 

 

2/26/05

What's all this I hear about Ken Griffey, Jr. finally being healthy and looking for a big season? Really? Good for him! Because we're told he's ready, I'm going to predict he hits 55 homeruns and wins the NL MVP as he leads the Reds to the division title! This time I believe it!

 

...Back to reality.

 

This is the 5th Spring Training in a row we have had to hear this. Any pools going around over Griffey's first injury of the 2005 season? May? Mid-March? Personally, I think he's ready for a long duration and primed to go a whole 3 at-bats into the 5th inning of the season. And if I'm wrong, I'll be in the minority.

 

 

2/17/05

It was brought to my attention today that the last time the NHL failed to award the Stanley Cup was 1919. The defending World Series champion at the time? The Boston Red Sox. As a hockey fan, all I can say is 'Curse those darn chowderheads!' I hope it's another 86 years.  ...And they better not repeat!

 

 

1/26/05

What a difference a year makes! A year ago, the Tigers were pushing and pushing hard after Rich Aurilia. They lost that battle when Aurilia signed with the Mariners causing Carlos Guillen to become expendable, who the Tigers were forced to settle for instead. Since then, Aurilia has a miserable half-season with Seattle, is designated for assignment by the All-Star Break, and is relegated to signing with the Reds to a minor league contract and an invitation to spring training. Meanwhile, Guillen has established himself as one of the best shortstops in the American League. Go figure!

 

 

1/23/05

Well, I see Phil screwed up his Top 10 First Base Prospects list.

 

I say that in jest because we have had a friendly though long-running feud debating Fielder vs. Kotchman. Okay, so Kotchman has had a few freak injuries. But they're in his past. Phil even said that he doesn't play like he's ever been hurt and in 2004 he played more than he did in either of his two previous seasons, so the injury issues are for the most part behind him.

 

Besides, in a few years when Fielder is pushing 4 bills and is relegated to DH because he won't be able to move quickly enough around the bag, his bat speed will be dramatically slowed trying to get his fat arms around his male bosom. Oh, he'll still have his power, but that's all he'll have.

 

Several years from now we'll look back and see that it was a no-brainer.

 

 

1/22/05

Is there anyone else who thinks that now that Carlos Beltran has his 7 years and $119M, that he won't hit a disappointing .260 and underachieve on a Mets team that will shortly realize they stuck themselves with what will become one of the biggest albatross contracts in the game?

 

Incidentally, after I wrote that blurb but before I posted it, I read from Tim Kurkjian in ESPN Magazine (which, ironically, is a magazine I barely ever look at) that among active players with over 3,000 at-bats, Beltran has the 43rd highest slugging percentage and 62nd best on-base percentage. Yet the Mets are paying him like he should be in the top 5 of each. Way to go, Omar!

 

Mets GM Omar Minaya has not impressed me. You can also read some of my thoughts on another GM who does not impress me:

Rangers GM John Hart shows no heart

 

Really! There are some GMs that I do like!

 

 

1/16/05

Hello. This is where I get to say whatever I want, and Phil can't stop me!

 

Just a few quick hitters:

  • Phil's take on the Yankees getting old and decrepit is right on. The Yankees will pay $16 million on Johnson through 2007. Johnson will turn 44 before the contract extension is fulfilled. He'll be damaged goods by then.

  • I can't believe we're already just one month away from pitchers and catchers reporting. ...woohoo!

  • The first of the positional top prospect lists will be up shortly. I'm working on catchers while Phil is doing first base. This will be exciting for us.