This is Chuck's platform to share
what he thinks. Feel free to express your approval or disagreement with Chuck in our Reader
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
NL Central: I picked the
Cardinals. Who didn't? Is 12.5 games over a sub-.500 team enough to hang on?
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
...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.
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!
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
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.
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:
GM John Hart shows no heart
Really! There are some GMs that I do
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.