Saturday, March 27, 2004

Predicting Everything

I've thought about experimenting with this blog: writing drunk, writing with my eyes closed, making an audio entry. But in the interest of writing when one has run out of ideas, I've decided to predict the winners of all the divisions for 2004. It's unoriginal, and will probably break no new ground.

AL East:

Yankees. Big fucking surprise there. The reason? Simply the money. Steinbrenner will have an aneurism if they fall behind the Red Sox, and he'll just bail out some greedy owner of a shitty team, by taking that team's best player, and trading for millions of dollars, plus a minor leaguer. As long as the Reds, and Brewers are in the MLB, the practice will continue.

AL Central: Twins again! The pitching staff is weak, but still the best in the division. Torii Hunter will make on offensive comeback, and the core of the team is young and strong offensively. Koskie is one of the best third baseman in the game.

AL West: Angels. Again, the money factor. Moreno will simply buy what he needs. The bullpen is great on paper, but old, and there are problems with the pitching staff. Enter a strong farm system featuring psycho redneck giant Bobby Jenks. He throws over 100 mph. And not just in practice but in actual games. And he has two kids at the age of 23.

AL Wildcard: The A's. I'm soooooo tempted to have this team win the West, just because Beane is a clever bastard, and great at making mid season trades. But Mulder is a collector of freak injuries, and the offense is the worst ever. OBP proves me wrong year after year though. (That was a Moneyball reference for you luddites).

NL East: The Phillies. I was shocked that they screwed up last year, but this year, once they fire Larry Bowa, they'll rocket to the top. Their pitching staff is phenomenal, and if Burrell comes back, their offense will be too. Easily the best team in the NL right now, and also have the highest payroll too. Bet you didn't know that.

NL Central: The Astros. Outside of giving Ausmus a two year deal, this is a really well run team. They have a low payroll, but the roster is far more balanced than rival Cubs. Their pitching isn't as good as the Cubs, but they play in a pitcher's park, and the staff is still decent. The offense is also quite good, but old. Berkman is the mainstay there. They're just better than the Cubs in my opinion, and they only finished 1/2 game behind them last year. The Cubs haven't really improved this offseason, with the exception of Derrek Lee, but Alou and Sosa are ancient, and it's gonig to show.

NL West: Ok, ok, I've stated that the Dodgers are going to win the West. On paper as it stands, the D-backs are the best team. But I really think the Dodgers are one trade away from dominance. Saying goodbye to Ishii, or Perez, followed by a Jackson invitation up from the minors, and we still have a decent pitching staff in return for a hitter. So long as that hitter isn't named Burnitz, we'll be fine. And a mid-season invite to Loney, and we have a solid first baseman. And that's a team that will win the division. The D-backs are the best, not because they're a good team, but because they're just slightly better than the rest.

And what of the Giants? Offensive declines at all the outfield positions, first base, second base, shortstop (especially shortstop with Neifi Perez) are guaranteed. Catcher will probably stay the same, and third base, Alfonso, will improve somewhat. That makes for a shitty offense. Yes people, Barry is mortal. And that great pitching staff? Schmidt had a freak year, and Reuter's k/9 rating is so abysmal, I think this is his last year as a player. His career is finished, and he'll cease to be effective. Jerome Williams, their version of Edwin Jackson, is not as talented as Jackson, and hasn't been playing too well this Spring. Regardless, the window of opportunity the Giants had with Barry is over. They're not going to make the playoffs this year, and they're probably going to make Barry retire after this season.

NL Wildcard: The Braves. Schuerholz is such a clever bastard, he'll find a way. Wildcard teams tend to come in the division where the winner ran away with the lead, and that's what's going to happen with the Phillies. The Mets, Expos, and Marlins are really weak, and the Phillies will be playing each of those teams at least 19 times. That's a lot of wins. The Braves will do well against them too, just not as well.

And that's that...

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Smack my Bitch Up

Watching the Lakers dominate the Kings last night was everything I could hope for and more. In fifty years when I'm near death, and my little grandchildren are around me, I'm going to tell them the story of the greasy Maloof brothers, and how they owned an unsuccessful basketball franchise. By then the Kings will be like the Red Sox are now, perpetual almost-rans. It will be wondrous.

But my grandchildren won't believe me, in part because I'll probably be senile, and in part because the word Maloof will probably have become a verb and a noun in the popular lexicon, meaning greaseball, someone sleazy, a guy in a pink overcoat, no shirt, smoking a cigarette, most likely of Southern European, or Middle Eastern descent, at a night club, hanging out. Hey, over there, a Maloof, or stop acting like such a goddamn Maloof. No one will believe that a family was actually named that.

And it's great to have a team like the Lakers in LA, especially when you have to deal day in and day out with a team like the Dodgers. I was perusing the various baseball team websites last night, like a dork, and saw that several of them have posted the commericals they'll be running to advertise on television. Most of them were actually funny, and well done. The Dodgers' commercials were nowhere to be seen, of course, but if you remember them from television, they're the ones with the Dodgers in grainy film footage, and a voice over with one of our nameless players talking about how great life is. And life is great, when you're an overpaid millionaire, and you have a laid back media, that never criticizes any of your shitty paying.

I think the Dodgers should re-do their commercials. They're not as shitty as the Angels commercials, that have gangbangers spray painting the Anarchy symbol on various signs in LA, and it looks like it's been shot with a camcorder, by someone having an epileptic seizure. But the Dodgers should still redo them. Maybe show Gagne at a pie eating contest, Lo Duca screaming at his fellow players to hit better, until one lof the smaller Latin players reminds him that he lead the league last year in hitting into double plays, and then he goes into a rage, and beats him over the head with a bat. Or maybe one commercial could have Shawn Green with his favorite hobby of listening, or watching grass grow, or sitting still. Something to get to know the players better. They all have their quirks, and that's part of the reason we go to the ballpark. Also, I go to the ballpark to give cigarettes to the opposing pitchers in the bullpen, but that's just me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

More Spring Training BS

The Dodgers website has an article to scare the bejesus out of you here. Basically it's about Shawn Green, and due to the fact that he's coming off of shoulder surgery, and lost most of his power last season, they look at his spring stats to determine that he'll probably suck for 2004 . Of course he's hit zero homeruns before 2002, and only 3 before 2003. This Spring he's hit zero as well. We all need to chill.

Now the thing to get scared shitless at is Weaver's performance. This guy just got shelled once again, and batters are currently batting .943 against him. That means I could get a base hit off of him. And he's supposed to be our number three guy? What was Evans thinking? An injured Kevin Brown would probably have been a better proposition.

Nomo, Ishii, Weaver, and Jackson, our #1, #4, #3, and #5 starters all have ERAs over five this spring. Only Perez is pitching well, and he's the one with the most trade rumors swirling. I'm beginning to think we might as well not dump any of our prospects, and hold our breath this year. This might be a fifth place team. Considering that no moves have been made by DePodesta, I fully blame Dan Evans for this mess, and challenge him and all his defenders to duel.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Roster is Filling Out

Just as a fat woman fits out a tight dress, so doth the Dodgers fill out their 25 man roster. We know the obvious ones: Lo Duca at catcher, Beltre at third, career minor leaguers who got lucky at second, shortstop, and center field. Shawn Green will be at first, Robin Ventura a career 3rd baseman will be at first.

The Bench Coach has some great analysis on the roster spots; I'll try to add to it if I can. I'm tired of writing about McCourt, I figure there's nothing I can do short of murder to stop the man, so I've decided to have blind faith in him, much Central Europe did in their leaders in the 1930s.

Cabrera, Trammell, Chen, Giambi (Jeremy not Jason), Ruan, Saenz, and Thurston round out the bench. By the mere fact that Ron Coomer is no longer on the team, we are immediately guaranteed a finish two games ahead of last year, so that is the first note of good news.

Cabrera in his longest stint, 312 plate appearances for the Indians in 2001, he had a Cora-esque OPS+ of 74. Trammell's longest stint was 546 plate appearances in 2001, with OPS+ of 112. Both are competing for the fourth outfield position, both bat right. Cabrera is a little more versatile, able to play the entire infield except catcher, as well as the entire outfield.

As important as defense is, our team reeks of it. Cabrera is the obvious defensive choice, Trammell the obvious offensive choice. Jim Tracy is judging Trammell on his spring training record, and I think that's foolish. Trammell isn't playing too well, but Spring Training should never be used as a measurement of a player's ability, especially when said player has considerable major league experience. Trammell might just be good enough to be a full time left fielder. On the Dodgers, he's DEFINITELY good enough to be a full time left fielder.

The fact that he is, by far, the superior right handed hitter, and coupled with the fact that Robin Ventura is left handed, the Dodgers should have spent Spring Training with Trammell trying out first base, rather than Green. An offensive left/right handed platoon at first would have been perfect.

Here's a theoretical lineup based on what we've seen so far in Spring Training. Handedness of players is emphasized:

1. Roberts (left)
2. Izturis (both, but better at right)
3. Lo Duca (right)
4. Green (left)
5. Beltre (right)
6. Trammell/Cabrera (right)
7. Ventura (left)
8. Cora (left)
9. Pitcher

Any offensive ability Izturis has is usually destroyed by Tracy batting him left handed, with his OPS falling 43 points. But considering the amount Izturis bats as a right hander, a full 246 more at bats as a lefty, he's probably as shitty right handed too, pitchers just don't see enough of it. There are five left handers in the lineup with Izturis, and three right handers. Anything from the bench, should bat right handed. That would preclude Giambi and Thurston from serious roles.

The more I write about this, the more of a mess I realize it is. The best way to stop the bleeding is offensive platoons, and a prayer to Allah that Loney, Thurston, or one of the other offensive guys in the pipeline might be what Miguel Cabrera was for the Marlins in 2003. Otherwise, we've got problems.

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